This entry is part 12 of 33 in the series For the Broken Girl: Reflections of You

I have never heard a silence quite so loud
I walk in the room and you don’t make a sound, make a sound
You’re good at making me feel small
If it doesn’t hurt me, why do I still cry?
If it didn’t kill me, then I’m half alive
Something’s Gotta Give, Camila Cabello


Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Lucky & Elizabeth’s Apartment: Bedroom

Elizabeth pressed her hand to Cameron’s forehead and sighed. He was still running a fever.

He’d been fine yesterday, until sometime after dinner when suddenly, his face had looked flushed. He’d spent the entire night throwing up or using a lot of diapers. She’d barely slept, trying to keep him clean and calm, but now she and her son were both exhausted as Cameron lay on his back, looking at her with sad eyes.

“Tummy hurts,” he managed.

“I know, sweetheart. But Mommy can’t stay home—” She’d already asked Epiphany to move the schedule around enough with her grandmother out of town. Some of the other surgical nurses had complained about favoritism, and Elizabeth just knew if she called out sick today, she’d never hear the end of it.

“He any better?” Lucky asked from the doorway as he sipped a glass of water. “I barely got any sleep last night.”

Elizabeth turned away from her husband and pressed her lips together. Lucky had complained from the sofa bed and had done nothing to help. But she couldn’t worry about that right now.  “He’s not going to be able to go to the daycare. I’m not going to be the mother who makes other kids sick.” She braced herself. “Can you stay with him today?”

“Elizabeth—”

“I know, I know, but—” Elizabeth twisted to face him. “I’m sorry. I can’t miss another day.” Not after she’d ducked out on Friday’s shift early because he’d forgotten to pick Cameron up in the first place. “I might be able to get Epiphany to let me leave at four, but there’s no way I can miss the entire shift. We can’t afford it, and she’s already done me enough favors—”

Lucky scowled. “I only have a few more days to pass the physical—”

“I know that, but he’s sick, Lucky. Can’t you go tomorrow? Bobbie can watch him tomorrow during the day. I already called her—”

“Can’t you call someone else?”

“There’s no one else—” Elizabeth broke off as hysteria bubbled in her throat. “Lucky, please. I need this promotion to work out. As soon as I can start scrubbing into surgeries, I’ll have better hours. But I need to put in the grunt work first. We need this to work.”

“We need me to get back to active duty so you can stay home with him more.” Lucky shook his head. “I can’t miss therapy—”

“Lucky, I don’t ask you for a lot. I—I know better—”

“What does that mean?” Lucky demanded, narrowing his eyes and stepping towards her. She backed up a step. “What are you talking about?” He clenched his hands at his sides.

Her heart skipped a beat as Elizabeth swallowed hard. It was just a flicker she’d seen. It was gone now. “I mean, I know better than to ask you to give up time from your rehab. I don’t. Not after you made it clear when Gram decided to go to Memphis. I got that covered, didn’t I? Between Epiphany moving my schedule around and Bobbie—I haven’t asked you for much.”

“No, I—” Lucky exhaled slowly. “No, not really. I know how supportive you’ve tried to be. I know you’re in a tight spot, Elizabeth. I wish I could help—”

Help. Oh, God. She swallowed a sob. “Lucky, please don’t make me beg,” she said softly. “I’ll call in any favors I have left so that you can go to therapy tonight. I’ll do my best. But I need to go to work.”

Lucky sighed, rubbed the back of his neck. “All right,” he said finally. “I’ll figure something out about therapy. Maybe I can find someone who can watch him. But this is the last time. I need to pass that test on Friday, Elizabeth.”

“I know.” She managed a wobbly smile and didn’t even flinch when he kissed her cheek. “I know you need to pass the test.”

They all needed him to pass that test. If he didn’t get back to work soon, she was going to lose her mind. “Thank you,” she said. “This means a lot.”

When he smiled at her, she managed to keep her own expression upbeat. Even if everything inside her was screaming that something was terribly wrong with her marriage and this couldn’t keep happening.

“Anything for you,” Lucky said as he kissed her again. “I mean it.”

“I…need to get ready for work,” she managed as she ducked into the bathroom, closed the door, then pressed her head against the cool wood.

“Just a few more days,” she murmured. “I can do this a little longer. He’ll go back to work, and it’ll all be okay.”

Maybe if she said it enough, she would believe it.

General Hospital: Nurse’s Station

Elizabeth pressed a hand to her head and took a deep breath. She just…needed a nap. Maybe on her next break, she could manage twenty minutes.

“You okay?” Epiphany asked as she set down some charts. “You look beat.” She hesitated. “If you’re not well—”

“Cameron has a stomach virus,” Elizabeth said. “I needed to—I was up with him most of the night. Lucky has him now, but I didn’t sleep a lot. I can work, I promise. I won’t ask for any more time off.”

“Okay.” Epiphany sighed, then scowled as Manny pushed the janitor cart past them. He stopped to offer Elizabeth a jaunty salute. Her stomach pitched, then rolled as bile rose in her throat. Oh, man. She did not need that today. “I really hate him.”

“I guess he didn’t follow Skye to Miami after all,” Elizabeth managed. Her hands trembled as she picked up a chart. Maybe he hadn’t been planning anything nefarious for Skye. Maybe Elizabeth had overreacted.

Or maybe Jason was right, and Manny was just playing games.

“I need to talk to Stan again,” Epiphany said with a shake of her head. “You know, I hate what my boy does for a living, but you look at a man like Manny Ruiz, and you think…”

“Maybe sometimes taking the law into your own hands isn’t such a terrible idea,” Elizabeth muttered. They both watched as the janitor disappeared down the hall—whistling. “Jason said they’re watching him closely.”

“I bet it’s still too high profile. Another month, if we’re lucky, and maybe we can get rid of him.” Epiphany shrugged. “Anyway, I’ll try to get you some downtime in the break room—”

“Thanks,” Elizabeth said as the elevator doors slid open, and Jason stepped out of them. She winced as he headed straight for her. “Why does the universe hate me?”

“I ask myself that every day,” Epiphany said. “You want me to get rid of him?”

“No. If he’s here, it’s for a reason—” It had damn well better be.

Elizabeth stepped out of the nurse’s station and met Jason over in the waiting area. “Hey. What—um—why are you here?”

“I told you I had a meeting with Alan.” Jason glanced around. “Have you seen Manny today?”

“Yeah, just a few minutes ago. He—” Elizabeth swallowed hard. “He smiled at me and gave me a salute. So…you know, that was great.” She sighed. “What did Alan say?”

“Can we talk somewhere where Manny won’t see us together?”

Elizabeth scowled. “Why didn’t you think of that before you came to see me at my job—” She bit off the rest of her retort as the wheel of the custodian cart’s came into earshot. They both turned to see Manny rolling by again. He smiled at them both, a wide grin that did nothing to make Elizabeth feel any better.

“Oh. Good. That’s just—” She waited until the psycho had gone down another hall before grabbing Jason’s arm and dragging him towards an empty hospital room.

“Elizabeth—”

“Why? Why couldn’t you just call?” Elizabeth demanded. She dragged her hands through her hair. “Why? And he’s following me. You know he is. Because he just rolled that stupid cart by two minutes ago. It’s the third time he’s gone past the nurse’s station today—”

“I’ll tell Alan he needs to be reassigned—”

“I just don’t want any of this. I don’t want this—” She shoved down the hysteria that had been threatening to spill over since her argument with Lucky that morning. “I’m sorry,” Elizabeth said after a long moment and a deep breath. “I didn’t sleep well last night. Cam is sick. And I just—I know this Manny thing is something I brought on myself. I got involved. I’m not sorry I did, but I annoyed him on my own. That had nothing to do with you.”

“Elizabeth—”

“I just—I’m asking you not to make it worse.” She looked at him. “If you need to talk to me, call me. I don’t want Manny thinking anything stupid, okay? Maybe right now he hasn’t decided to do anything, but if he thinks—”

“If he thinks it’ll mess with me,” Jason said, “he might actually go after you. Yeah, I know. I’m sorry. I didn’t think. I just—I wanted to tell you that Alan was on board with any extra security I wanted to add to make sure you were okay. To keep Manny from hurting anyone. He’s trying to get Manny let go, but he’s part of some community service program—”

“Right.” Elizabeth folded her arms. “Okay. I just—” She bit her lip, looked down. “I meant what I said yesterday, Jason. I can’t do this anymore.”

“Elizabeth—”

“So if it can be a phone call—”

“Yeah, okay. Hey—” He didn’t say anything else until Elizabeth lifted her eyes to meet his. “Is Cam okay? Can I do anything?”

Tears burned at the back of her eyes as she struggled to form words. Why did he have to ask the one thing she didn’t have a defense against? “He’s just—a stomach thing. It’s fine. But thanks.”

“Okay,” Jason repeated. “I don’t—” His voice was rough now. “I don’t mean to make anything harder. I just—” He looked away. “I just want to take care of—” He broke off abruptly. “I want to make sure you’re taken care of,” he said instead, even though Elizabeth knew what he’d nearly said.

I just want to take care of you.

“I can take care of myself, but I appreciate you looking out for me with Manny,” Elizabeth said. “I need to get back to work.”

“Okay.”

They’d no sooner stepped back out into the hallway when Elizabeth heard a screaming child—her screaming child. She and Jason both turned to look as Lucky rounded the corner, a wailing Cameron in his arms.

“What the hell—” Elizabeth started. She darted forward. “Is he okay? Did his fever go higher—”

Lucky didn’t seem to notice Jason following Elizabeth until after he’d shoved Cameron into her arms. The force of it nearly knocked Elizabeth back as Cameron buried her face in her shoulder. Elizabeth wrapped her arms around her shaking son. “Mommy!”

“Hey, it’s okay, baby—Lucky, what’s wrong?” she asked him again.

“Nothing,” Lucky said. He finally seemed to notice the other man, then narrowed his eyes. “What are you doing here?”

“Why are you here?” Elizabeth demanded before Lucky could pick a fight with Jason. “Why is Cameron—”

“I watched him like I was supposed to. But I told you—I can’t miss another session, and I couldn’t find anyone to watch him—”

“What the hell is all this noise?” Epiphany demanded as she stalked towards them. She glared at the three of them. “Why is that child crying?”

Elizabeth pushed Cameron’s sweaty curls off his forehead as her son started to quiet down to just sniffles and occasional hiccups. “He still has a fever—and oh, God—” She found herself looking at Jason instead of Lucky as panic seeped in. “It’s worse than it was before.” She looked at Lucky now. “When did it get higher? Did you take his temperature?”

“I don’t know,” Lucky shrugged. “But you’ve got doctors here. I have to go, or I’ll be late.” He frowned at her for a moment, swayed slightly, his eyes glassy as if he’d been the one to stay up all night. “I’ll see you at home—”

“Wait, I have to work—”

But Lucky had already gone, with a wave of his hand over his shoulder as he left, turning the corner like he hadn’t just dumped Elizabeth’s sick son on her like a sack of potatoes.

“Mommy, my tummy hurts,” Cameron whimpered.

“Elizabeth,” Epiphany began.

But then Cameron coughed, and then—

Then he vomited, the mixture of mucus, food, and stomach juices violently launching out of his mouth and all over Elizabeth’s scrubs, her arms, and onto the floor. Elizabeth gasped as Cameron continued to heave.

Epiphany went across the hall to grab a phone to page a doctor, then passed Jason a plastic tub and towel from a linen cart. Jason wrapped the towel around Cameron and held the tub near his mouth as the toddler continued to retch.

“Oh, my God,” Elizabeth managed to choke out as her son started to cry again, scared by everyone’s reactions and his own pain and discomfort. Her cheeks were flaming with embarrassment as Jason used the towel to mop at Cameron’s face and her scrub top, some of her son’s vomit getting on him.

“Oh, God, I’m sorry—” she babbled as Patrick jogged up, his handsome face frowning at the sight.

“Elizabeth, what’s wrong—” He shuddered. “Oh, ew. What—”

Epiphany smacked him in the arm. “I swear to God, boy, if you don’t get yourself together—”

“Yeah, yeah, grab us an examining room. Ow,” he muttered as he approached Elizabeth and Jason. “What’s wrong with Cam?”

“It’s—it’s a stomach thing, and he was supposed to be at home, but—” Her throat closed up, and she couldn’t force a single word out. Her baby should have been resting at home, comfortable in his bed, but instead, Lucky had dragged him out of the house and probably hadn’t been too gentle about it.

Jason accepted another towel from Epiphany and gently lifted Cameron from Elizabeth’s arms, wrapped the toddler in it, and held him in his arms. “It’s okay,” he told her as tears slid down her cheeks. “Let’s go get him checked out and you can clean up—”

“You don’t have to—” But she couldn’t finish that sentence as Epiphany herded them into an empty patient room. Jason set Cameron on the bed, and Patrick gave Epiphany a few things he’d need.

“I’ll bring back a fresh set of scrubs, too,” Epiphany promised Elizabeth. She eyed Jason’s stained t-shirt. “And I’ll steal Drake Junior’s extra shirt from his locker.”

“I’d argue with her,” Patrick said as the other nurse left, “but she’d just hit me again.”

“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth apologized again. “You’re not a pediatrician, and—”

“But I did my time in that ward, so let’s just take a look.” Patrick shrugged. “You’re right about the stomach thing. It’s ripping through the hospital. And—” He pressed his hand to Cameron’s forehead. “I’m concerned about the fever. I’ll want to prescribe him something to bring that down. He needs rest—”

“He was—” Elizabeth swallowed down a sob. “He was supposed to be at home. Resting. B-But Lucky—” She shook her head, closing her eyes. Jason put an arm around her shoulder, and she couldn’t stop herself from curling into his embrace for just a moment.

For just one moment, she didn’t want to feel so damned alone. Even if Jason Morgan was the last person she should lean on for comfort.

Mercifully, Patrick let it drop as Epiphany returned with clothes and the thermometer Patrick had asked for. He did a quick exam on Cameron, who had grown a bit listless and laid on the bed with a glazed expression.

“I’ll write the prescription for something to bring down the fever,” Patrick told her. “I wouldn’t normally on a kid this age, but I’m worried. And he looks like he hasn’t kept much down—”

“Some juice and applesauce mostly. I tried but—” Elizabeth shook her head. “I had to go to work. Lucky—he was—”

“Well, get some of that Pedialyte stuff,” Patrick told her. He looked away, uncomfortable as if he wanted to say more.

“But I—” She looked at Epiphany. “I have to work, and my grandmother is still in Memphis—”

“You go on home and take care of your baby,” Epiphany told her. “I’ll clear it. I know you don’t want to use any more of your sick time, but—”

“I don’t have a choice,” she murmured. “Oh. Oh, God. Lucky probably didn’t leave me the car seat. We only have one, and I left it in his car because he was supposed to be with him—”

How was she supposed to—

Jason spoke up. “I’ll take you home,” he told her. “I have the SUV, so you can sit in the back with him and hold him. You don’t live that far.”

“Jason—”

“I’ll have someone take your car home—”

“I can’t ask you—”

“It seems like a good idea to me,” Epiphany said briskly. “Now, Jason, go into the bathroom there and change. Elizabeth, go take a shower and change in the locker room. I’ll look after your boy.”

“I—” Elizabeth sighed. “Thank you. Epiphany, Jason, and Patrick. Thank you. I just—” She sighed. “I’ll go wash up.”

When she’d left, Patrick scowled. “How the hell did Cameron end up here?” he demanded. “This kid is sick and shouldn’t be outside—”

“Lucky brought him here,” Jason said, a bit unnerved with the way Lucky had dumped the screaming child on his mother, clearly unconcerned with Cameron or his health. Anyone could see the kid was sick. And it killed him to see Elizabeth looking so lost, so fragile.

“He’s an asshole,” Epiphany muttered. “You make sure she has the medicine this kid needs, Morgan. You make sure she gets home and has everything she needs.” She turned her fish eye on Patrick Drake, who put his hands up in surrender. “And you make sure whatever prescription you gave her is covered by our insurance here.”

“Yeah, yeah, okay. But she’d be better off losing the husband.” He hesitated, shook his head. Jason frowned at him.

“That is something none of us can fix. All I can do is take care of her here at work.” She looked at Jason again. “And we’d all be better off if that psycho Manny Ruiz wasn’t breathing down our necks.”

“I’m trying,” Jason said, finding himself feeling oddly defensive. “I have people watching him. I’m not going to let him hurt anyone else.”

“See that you don’t. Now go change out of that shirt before Elizabeth comes in here and gets upset all over again that you’re covered in her kid’s throw-up.”

Lucky & Elizabeth’s Apartment: Street

By the time Elizabeth pushed open her apartment door an hour later, she’d become numb. The mixture of humiliation, fury, and sheer exhaustion had rendered her incapable of feeling. She’d sat in the backseat of the SUV Jason had driven to the hospital, cuddling her sick baby while he’d gone into the pharmacy to get whatever Patrick had told him to get.

She probably should have offered to pay, but she couldn’t bring herself to speak. Instead, as Jason pulled out of the parking lot, she found herself dozing off slightly, her head slumping against Cameron’s.

She didn’t know how much time passed before there was a gentle touch on her elbow. Elizabeth opened her eyes and realized Jason was standing in the street, the door open. “Hey, let me get you upstairs, and you can both get some sleep.”

Elizabeth sighed, closed her eyes, then nodded. “Okay.”

“Here, let me take him up.” Jason reached in and easily lifted the dozing toddler into his arms. The bag from the pharmacy was looped around one of his wrists. She should offer to take it from him.

But it took everything she could muster to get herself out of the car and upstairs. She must have been running at the hospital on sheer willpower because the moment she’d left, taking a single step had become the hardest thing.

“Is his bedroom through there?” Jason asked quietly as he stood with Elizabeth in the doorway, taking in the shambles of her apartment. Lucky had left laundry strewn all over the place, and breakfast dishes were still sitting on the end table, his sofa bed still pulled out.

She stared at it, wishing that she could just close her eyes and make it all disappear. Without waiting for an answer, Jason opened the door. Dimly she could hear his voice, soothing as Cameron stirred, then he must have fallen back asleep as Jason came out and gently closed the door.

The humiliation fought its way past the paralyzing exhaustion as Jason began to fold up the sofa bed. She stepped forward and touched his arm. “No, let me—”

“I don’t mind.” Jason looked at her for a long moment, a touch of worry in his light blue eyes. “I can’t make Cameron feel better, but I can do this. You look so tired, Elizabeth.”

“I just—” Couldn’t let herself depend on anyone. But she also didn’t quite have the strength to stop him, so Jason closed up the sofa bed, steered her to sit down, and then took the dishes into the kitchen.

Elizabeth scrubbed her hands over her face. Almost from the moment Cameron had thrown up, Jason had stuck. Hadn’t flinched when he’d been splashed with vomit or been confronted with her dingy, shabby apartment left a mess by the man who was supposed to love Cameron as his own.

When the water stopped running, Jason came back out and sat on the other end of the sofa. “You should get some sleep—”

“Thank you.” She cleared her throat, made eye contact with him. “I should—I should have said that before.”

“Yeah, of course.” They stared at one another for a long time before Jason pushed himself to his feet. “Do you need anything else? I put Cam’s medicine and the stuff Patrick told me to get him in the fridge.”

“Thank you,” she repeated. She stood up. “I—I had a moment at the hospital where I think I was going to fall apart. I didn’t. I think part of me knew you wouldn’t leave until I was okay. And…” Her voice broke. “There are just some days when you need that.”

“It’s none of my business,” Jason said slowly, “but I don’t…understand what happened. Or why Lucky—”

“Didn’t seem to care or notice how sick Cameron was?” Elizabeth finished. She shook her head. “I don’t know. I could make a list of excuses. I probably will before he gets home. I’ve always been good at that.” She offered a humorless smile. “I guess old habits never really die.”

“Why?” Jason scowled. “Why put yourself through it?”

“Maybe you might not understand this,” Elizabeth said slowly, “but there are just—there some things I can’t think about. Not right now. I know that doesn’t make the problems go away, but—”

“Elizabeth, I just—” He lifted both his hands. “You deserve better.”

“Maybe.” She could feel the tears sliding down her cheeks, the cool tracks they made on her skin. “But I can’t do this right now.”

“When?”

“Don’t—” She pressed her hands to her face. “Don’t ask me that. Please.”

“Okay.” Jason crossed the distance between them and pulled her into his arms, wrapping his strong arms around her for the second time that day. She let herself have ten seconds of that before she pulled away.

But she didn’t step away. Elizabeth glanced up at him to find him already looking at her, their faces close. With one of his hands, he cupped her cheek and wiped away a tear with his thumb.

“It kills me to see you like this. Let me help.”

“You did,” Elizabeth told him. “I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but—” Impulse had her leaning forward slightly, tilting her head up just a bit to press her lips to his cheek. Stupid. Stupid.

Their breath mingled as she started to pull back, and instead of taking a giant step away from him—she leaned in. His lips brushed hers gently, and the soft touch sent a shock down her spine. She so badly just wanted to sink into him, to lose herself—

She nearly did—nearly forgot everything—until his hand cupped her jaw. The feel of his fingers on her skin jolted her back.

Elizabeth jerked away, putting half the room between them. “No. We—No.” She took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I think—I think you should go.”

“Yeah.” Looking as stunned as she was, Jason swallowed hard. Nodded. “But if you need anything—”

“I’ll figure it out. You should go before Lucky comes home.”

With a sigh, Jason nodded. “Yeah, okay. But get some sleep. I’ll—” He fisted his hand at his side. “I’ll see you around,” he said finally.

And then he was gone.

Elizabeth closed her eyes, pressed her fingers to her lips, and, this time, didn’t fight the tears as the sobs wracked her body. Oh, God. What was she going to do now?

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason was still a bit shaken when he went home after leaving Elizabeth’s apartment. He hadn’t—He’d never planned to—

He didn’t even know how it had happened, and he knew it shouldn’t happen again. She was married. He was engaged. And Elizabeth was right—they couldn’t be friends.

He dropped his keys on the desk and scrubbed his hands over his face.

“Since when do you wear dress shirts to work?” Sam asked from the top of the stairs. He looked up to find her on the landing, a duffel bag at her feet.

“I—I thought you’d left for the airport.”

“Not yet.” She came down to the bottom of the stairs, gestured at the blue shirt Jason wore. “Did I miss a party?”

“Uh—” Jason had forgotten he wore Patrick Drake’s borrowed shirt. “I—” He looked at Sam and realized he didn’t want to tell her. He wanted to lie to her, to make her stop looking at him, and asking questions. And if he didn’t tell her the truth, didn’t that mean something about their relationship?

Didn’t that mean something about how much he trusted Sam? He’d just kissed another woman—a woman he would have sworn a month ago he had put in his past.

“Jason,” Sam pressed when he didn’t answer. “What happened to your shirt?”

“I was at the hospital,” Jason said after a long moment, “arranging security at the hospital for Elizabeth. With Skye gone, I’m worried Manny will target her.”

“I know, but that doesn’t explain the shirt—”

“It’s Cameron’s,” Jason said finally. “I went to tell Elizabeth what Alan and I talked about, and he threw up. He’s sick.”

“I—” Sam frowned. “What was Cameron even doing there? And why—” She took a deep breath. “Why did you have to go and tell her in person?”

“I probably should have called,” Jason admitted. “But Lucky showed up and just—” He broke off. It felt wrong to describe that scene for anyone who hadn’t been there. As if he were betraying some secret Elizabeth would have rather kept to herself. “I didn’t want to leave her alone with a sick kid, so I stayed with her until I knew Cameron was okay.”

Sam exhaled slowly. “You know, I wasn’t going—I wasn’t going to do this. I wasn’t going to say anything because I didn’t think I’d want the answers. But I was on the docks. Yesterday.”

Jason blinked. “Yesterday.”

“I heard your conversation with Elizabeth. The entire conversation,” Sam clarified. “From the part where you told her Skye had left Port Charles straight on through to where Elizabeth told you couldn’t be friends anymore because it hurt too much—”

“Sam—”

“And you should know—” With a quiet dignity he hadn’t expected, Sam lifted her chin. “You should know that from someone who was just listening, it sounded like two people who’d never really moved on—”

“That’s not—” He shook his head. “That’s not how it was—” Except he was starting to think maybe that was exactly what it was, and Jason couldn’t begin to understand what to do with that.

“I listened to you all but beg her to tell you why she left. As if the reason could possibly matter after all this time.”

“Sam—”

“I don’t need you to reassure me. I don’t know if you could. I just—” She took a deep breath. “I need you to figure out what the hell is going on in your head. A month ago, Elizabeth Spencer wasn’t so much as a blip on either of our radars. And now, it’s like ever since you found out she thought you cheated on her, you’ve been obsessed with finding out why she left you. How do you think that makes me feel?”

He didn’t have an answer for that. He knew Sam was right. He’d gone from not even thinking about Elizabeth to only worrying about her. He’d just kissed her. Despite the promises he’d made to Sam, Jason hadn’t been thinking about his fiancée while standing in that apartment. And he didn’t think Sam would be comforted by the idea that this…situation with Elizabeth hadn’t started with the fight with Emily.

That he’d already been thinking about her.

And what kind of man did that make him?

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. Because I think we both need to—” Sam looked away. “It’s like we keep bashing our heads together having the same arguments. But neither one of us is saying anything. You hate the fact that I’m going on this job, but you refuse to tell me why. How is what I’m doing any different than what you do?”

This was something he could explain. Because he’d always known what his issue was with her returning to work as a con artist.

“The life I live…” Jason hesitated. “It’s violent, and I commit crimes. I break laws. But the people who get hurt sign up for this life. The people I go after—they choose to be part of this. The people you pull these tricks on—they didn’t.”

“Oh, so what you do is honest, and what I do is a lie? Are you serious—”

“I didn’t say it makes sense,” Jason interrupted. “I said that’s how I see it. Manny Ruiz chose this life. His brother and their father—made that choice. But this woman you’re going to steal money from—she thinks the guy she’s dealing with is legit. You’re stealing from people who never asked to play the game. So, yeah, I think what you do is worse.”

Sam flinched, almost as if she’d been hit, then glared at him. “So you think a man who’s killed people and beaten people up for a living is somehow better than me? That’s what we’re getting to. You’re an honorable criminal, and I’m trash—”

“I never said that—”

“But somehow, my crimes are dirtier and more wrong.” Sam nodded. “Thanks. Thanks for clearing that up.” She pursed her lips, nodded again. “And while we’re being honest, I think you’re still in love with Elizabeth Spencer. I think that’s what Courtney meant when she told me I was a cheap substitute for you and for Sonny. She was talking about Elizabeth.”

“I—”

“And it was fine when you thought she’d left you because of your job. You could live with that. You could settle for me. But now you know she left because you hurt her and treated her like garbage. And it’s killing you. Because now settling doesn’t seem like it makes you happy anymore.”

Jason said nothing, and Sam nodded. “Thank you for not denying it.”

“I don’t know if anything you said is right, I just know—I know it’s not wrong,” Jason admitted painfully. “Sam—”

“She doesn’t want you, Jason. She has a husband and a new life. So you need to figure out if you can let her go. Because if you can’t, then I don’t know how I can stay.” She lifted up her duffel bag. “All I ask you is to just…stop having these heart to hearts where people can see you. Or hear you. I don’t deserve to be humiliated on top of everything else.”

“Sam—” he said again.

“I’m going to Florida. Let’s…both take this time to regroup. Because I deserve more than this. And so does she.”

Sam pushed past him, and Jason let her go. He didn’t even know what he could say to her, except she was right. Everyone deserved better than the way he was treating them, and he just—he needed to get things under control again.

Elizabeth wanted him to stay away if it wasn’t about Manny, and this time, he thought that was a good idea. Until he got his head on straight.

Lucky & Elizabeth’s Apartment: Living Room

By the time Lucky came home from therapy around seven that night, Elizabeth had slept and felt slightly more human. She had decided to ignore the entire…incident with Jason and explain it to her brain as stress and hysteria. She’d lost her mind for a few minutes, but she was okay now.

Whatever had happened with Jason, no matter how guilty she felt about it—it didn’t change what Lucky had done. Lucky had promised her to look after Cameron, and instead, he’d put his health at risk by dragging him out with a fever.

She gave Cameron another small glass of the Pedialyte juice Jason had purchased at the pharmacy. It was his second dose since he’d woken up from his earlier nap, and already he looked more comfortable. With Cameron feeling better, and a few hours of sleep behind her, Elizabeth felt ready to at least attempt to figure things out with Lucky.

Lucky dropped his keys on the coffee table and offered a sheepish grin. “Hey. Look, I know you’re angry—”

“Angry isn’t really the word.” She took a deep breath. “I lost half my shift at work, and it would have been more if Epiphany didn’t cover for me. You left me without a car seat, and Cameron had a fever. Did you even give a damn—”

“Of course I did!” Lucky’s cheeks flushed. “Did you? I told you I couldn’t miss another session—”

“And I—” She closed her eyes. “You agreed. Don’t pretend you didn’t. I had to beg you, but you agreed—”

“I only have three days before I lose my spot on the squad!” Lucky shot back. “Damn it, isn’t that supposed to be the most important thing? Get back on active duty and full pay so you can take off a fucking day work to take care of your kid?”

Your kid. God, she’d seen it for months, but she’d ignored it. After a year, Cameron was her kid. Not theirs. Not his. But he was Elizabeth’s responsibility, and Lucky had made it clear every time he put himself above what Cameron needed.

“No, the most important thing to me is my son. And he had a fever. Five seconds after you walked away, Lucky, Cameron threw up all over me and Jason. Epiphany had to call Patrick. He had a fever,” she repeated. “And you left me without his car seat. How the hell did you think I’d get home?”

“I—I forgot.” Lucky grimaced. “I’m sorry. I just—I figured if I left him with you, Epiphany would cover for you. She likes you.”

“But she has a job to do, and she can’t keep covering—” Elizabeth shook her head. “What is wrong with you, Lucky? You promised me—you swore we’d be a family—and every time I ask you to do something for Cameron, it’s like I’m asking you to commit a crime. He was sick, and he’s just a baby! How could you drag him all the way to the hospital and leave him like that? He was crying—”

“Oh, come on! This isn’t fair! He was crying here, too. And hey, it looks like he needed to go to the hospital if he’s still sick—”

Elizabeth could scarcely breathe as her throat closed, and the tears burned. “You said you wanted to adopt Cameron. You wanted us to be family. But Cameron doesn’t matter to you at all, does he?”

“Oh, calm down. It’s not that serious.” Lucky rolled his eyes. He stalked to the kitchen and yanked open the fridge to pull out a beer. He shoved aside Cameron’s orange Pedialyte and frowned at it. “What is this?”

“It’s for Cameron. He can’t keep a lot of food down.” Elizabeth dragged her hands through her hair. “Lucky—”

Lucky’s voice was quiet, almost contemplative, and she didn’t know what to think about that. “How did you get home? Did Emily drive you? Did you call a cab?”

When Elizabeth didn’t answer, Lucky frowned and turned away from the fridge, the Pedialyte still in his hand. “How much did the fucking cab cost? And what about this? Didn’t the pharmacy have their own brand? How much money did you spend today?”

“Jason drove us home,” Elizabeth said finally, and swallowed hard as Lucky stared at her, the color draining from his face. “He was there—you know that. And he was worried after Cameron threw up on me, on him—” She jumped as Lucky threw the plastic bottle in the sink, the flush returning to his cheeks. “He did me a favor, okay? I didn’t have a car seat, and—he went into the pharmacy for me. To get Cam’s prescription and anything else Patrick told him to—”

“Patrick Drake? That doctor who likes to screw all the nurses? You sleeping with him, too?” Lucky demanded. “Screwing the doctor, taking favors from criminals—anything else you want to tell me, Elizabeth?”

“It’s not—he—” She took a step back before she even realized it, holding her hands up. “He just wanted to help, okay?”

“Because he’s so much better than me, isn’t he?” Lucky growled. He stalked over to the sink and grabbed the Pedialyte, twisting the cap off. “My wife isn’t going to owe any fucking mobster a goddamn favor—”

“No, don’t!” Elizabeth sprang forward as Lucky started to dump the Pedialyte in the sink. Cameron needed that, and they couldn’t get any more at this hour—the pharmacy had already closed. She grabbed his arms, trying to get a grip on the bottle so she could wrench it away. Her baby needed that to get better—

“Let me go, you goddamn whore—” Lucky shoved his elbow back, putting the full force of his body into it as Elizabeth went flying back towards the arch that divided the kitchen from the living room.

Her temple slammed into the doorway, and pain exploded in her head, her vision dimming, filled with stars—were her ears ringing?

Elizabeth slumped to the ground, clutching the side of her head, not even sure what had just happened. Had…had Lucky actually pushed her? Oh, God, why couldn’t she focus?

“Oh my God, Elizabeth—” His voice sounded like it was coming from very far away. As she felt his hands on her shoulders, she managed to swat them away.

“Get—” She choked. “Get away from me—” She crawled a few feet as her head ached. Her vision finally righted itself even as her head continued to throb. She leaned against the sofa, facing the kitchen, taking in Lucky’s stricken face. “Get away,” she managed.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—” He stopped his advance as she feebly kicked at him. “Let me get you an ice pack—”

“Stay away from me—” Elizabeth closed her eyes, swallowed the sobs. Oh, God. What did she do now?

“It was an accident. Oh, God, I’m so sorry. I would never hurt you. Please.”

Her Lucky was in those words, his voice, the boy she’d fallen in love with. She could hear him, but when she opened her eyes, she still didn’t know if she could see him. Lucky looked upset, but she didn’t—

She didn’t know what to do. What to think. Had he meant to hurt her? Send her flying like that? Or had he just reacted? And did it even matter?

“Cameron needs that…” Elizabeth finally managed. “Don’t…please don’t.”

“I’m sorry. I was mad.” Lucky got up and hurried to the sink. He showed her the bottle, half its contents gone. He screwed the cap back on and shoved it back in the fridge. “I was mad that Jason did something for you, and you’re right. I’m sorry. I never should have—I just—” He was crying now. “I’m sorry.”

“You should—” Everything hurt, and her head felt like she was swimming against a very rough tide. “You should go.”

“No, you need to believe me. I need to make this okay.” He knelt down, offering her hand. “Let me help you up—”

“D-Don’t touch me.” She slapped his hand away, and he backed away again. “Don’t—go away.”

“I can’t. If I leave, you’ll never forgive me. Please. It’s just—God, Elizabeth, I’m sorry. I just—I don’t know. I feel like if I could just get back on active duty, everything will be okay again, you know? You can stop working so much, and we can get a house. And we can be happy again. I’m sorry. Please. Please. I’d rather cut off my arm than hurt you.”

She wasn’t sure if she believed him because she needed to or if she thought he was sincere, Elizabeth finally allowed Lucky to pull her to feet and help her sit on the sofa. He hurried over with an ice pack that she pressed to the side of her face.

“I’m sorry—”

“Sorry doesn’t change anything,” Elizabeth murmured. “I just…I’m tired, Lucky. And I don’t want to argue anymore.”

“We won’t. I’m sorry. I won’t—I’m sorry,” he said again.

“I’m going to bed. I’m going to sleep in Cameron’s room. I just—” She shook her head as he started to follow her. “No, I just—God, I need some space.”

“Right, right. And he needs you, too.”

Elizabeth closed the door on Lucky’s eager, apologetic face, flipping the lock. She slid down the door, closing her eyes, and silently continued to cry.

This entry is part 11 of 33 in the series For the Broken Girl: Reflections of You

All the world is a stage
And everyone has their part
But how was I to know which way the story’d go
How was I to know you’d break
You’d break my heart
I’ve always been in love with you
Guess you’ve always known
You took my love for granted, why oh why
The show is over, say good-bye
Take a Bow, Madonna


Monday, April 3, 2006

Greystone Manor: Living Room

Jason stalked into the living room, past a worried and flustered Mac, then slammed the double doors of the room closed behind him. “You put a guy on me.”

Sonny arched his brows and looked at him as he sat in the armchair, lounging with a tumbler of bourbon. “You met with Lorenzo Alcazar without telling me.” He shrugged. “Some of the guys got worried.”

Jason doubted that. “So instead of talking to me, asking what was going on, you sent some rookie to tail me,” Jason spat as he stared at his clearly former best friend, his fists clenched. “I made him in about five seconds, Sonny. What was the damn point?”

“To remind you who is in charge!” Sonny spat. He set the liquor aside, then surged to his feet. “You don’t meet with my enemies without my permission!”

Jason fell back a step with a scowl and bewildered. “You knew there was a situation with Ruiz and Skye. It needed to be dealt with. Manny made a move—”

“Yeah? You didn’t tell me—”

“Because you wouldn’t have listened. And I’m tired of waiting for you to deal with it. Alcazar is gone. He took Skye with him to Miami to finish the takeover of the Ruiz territory. With any luck, Ruiz will follow him—”

“And you took our best warehouse guard off his detail to follow a cop’s wife—” Sonny snorted. “Going to the cops, going to Alcazar—you know, I never thought I’d see the day when you’d turn on me—”

“Turn on you—” Jason repeated. He didn’t even know how to respond to that. “Cody isn’t following a cop’s wife. He’s following Elizabeth. Elizabeth, who put herself in between Manny and Skye. She’s the reason Manny couldn’t make his move. All I’m doing is keeping her safe—”

Sonny’s fury only deepened. “Elizabeth had her chance to walk on this side of the line. She got too scared and ran, so you know, it’s her cop husband’s job to look out for her. Or Alcazar. Why the hell isn’t—”

Jason took a deep breath. He’d known for weeks that Sonny was teetering on the balance of that dark place. If Jason gave in to the anger right now, if he gave into the fury that Sonny expected Jason to walk away from Elizabeth, then he’d never be able to salvage this.

“This isn’t like you,” Jason said finally. He let himself see the other signs he’d been denying— the way Sonny’s gaze kept darting around, the way his hand fumbled—even the slightly disheveled hair. The physical signs were usually something he noticed first, but Jason had been distracted. Sonny was headed for another breakdown at the worst possible time. This was what he’d been worried about all along — what he hadn’t wanted Emily to go through.

“Oh, don’t start with me—”

“She’s not just a cop’s wife, Sonny. And Elizabeth didn’t get scared and run away. That’s not why we broke up.” Jason could say that now with a confidence he hadn’t entirely believed only a few weeks ago. “She’s never flinched from who we are. Even when she should have. She came to us because Lucky refused to help her. Because the PCPD let her down. You know Elizabeth better than that.”

Sonny stared at him for a long time, then swallowed. He sat down in the chair, bowed his head, and dragged his hands through his hair. “It’s happening again, isn’t it?” he murmured.

“Sonny—”

“I know you’re right. I—” Sonny looked up, took a deep breath. “What do you mean, Elizabeth got in the middle of Manny and Skye? How?”

Briefly, Jason told him about Manny showing up again during Skye’s appointment — on a floor he wasn’t even assigned to work that day. And how Elizabeth kept him from following Skye around the hospital.

“Even if he didn’t make an actual move,” Jason said, “Elizabeth tipped her hand. He’s not stupid. He had to know she was deliberately separating him from Skye. And now Skye’s gone. He’s going to make the connection.”

“That girl is going to get herself killed one day trying to protect other people,” Sonny muttered. Jason breathed a sigh of relief. Because there it was. That was how he expected Sonny to react when learning that someone who had put herself on the line for them time and time again was in danger. “And you were already worried Manny was letting Elizabeth see her. Does he know about you and her?”

“That we—” Jason shook his head. “I don’t know. He saw us at the hospital together a few weeks ago, but he’d have to be following one of us.”

“And if he is?” Sonny arched his brow. “Would he have seen you two together?”

“Uh…” Jason hesitated, winced. “Yeah. A few times. It’s not like that, Sonny. She’s—”

“I didn’t say that—” Sonny pressed his lips together. “You got Cody on her. She’s at the hospital where Manny’s got guys on him. Fine.” He looked at Jason. “You…you haven’t said anything about Emily in the last few weeks. Not since…” He hesitated. “Not since that last day here.”

“No, I—” Jason shook his head. “I hate that you both lied to me. That you let yourself get distracted from things that were happening, and then refused to let me deal with anything. I’m not happy it’s happening.”

After a moment, when Sonny said nothing, Jason continued, “But it’s not my job to live Emily’s life or choose how she gets hurt. Or how you get hurt. I just—” He looked away. “She’s my sister, Sonny. And it’s not like it was with Courtney. It’s not about the danger.”

“Not that danger.” Sonny nodded after a long moment. “None of the things you said before…were entirely wrong,” he said finally. “But I never asked you to clean up after me.”

Jason nearly called him a liar because Sonny had always put him in the middle — first by making Jason be the one to jilt Brenda and humiliate her — and then he and Carly had both shoved him in the middle. But that wouldn’t help anything if he pointed that out. So Jason just nodded. “Okay.”

“And maybe it’s time you stopped.”

“Fine. Tell my sister to leave Sam and Elizabeth alone and stop dragging them into this.”

“You could try telling her yourself—”

Remembering Sam’s pale face and Elizabeth’s mortification, Jason shook his head. “I’m not ready to be in the same room with her yet.”

“She’s not going to apologize to you, Jase—” Sonny shrugged. “She doesn’t think she’s wrong—”

“Did she tell you what exactly she said?” Jason demanded. “Because she was wrong. She told Sam she was a whore who’d used her dead daughter to con her way into an engagement ring, she told me that all I do is hurt people and accused me of cheating on Elizabeth, and she told Elizabeth—” Jason shook his head. “Sam and Elizabeth had nothing to do with any of this. She can come at me all she wants. Not them.”

“Still juggling two women at a time,” Sonny smirked, picked up his bourbon. “And you tell me I treat women like trash.”

Jason blinked, shook his head, then took a deep breath. The mood swings were part of it. He just had to manage until Sonny either hit rock bottom or pulled out of it. “I am not—”

“I was pretty terrible to Sam, too. But you’re not making me promise to leave her alone or demanding an apology on her behalf. And you’ve been here convincing me of Elizabeth’s loyalty. Man, you really don’t hear yourself sometimes.”

“I’m going—”

“Emily’s not wrong about Sam, by the way,” Sonny called, but Jason didn’t even bother looking back. It wasn’t worth it.

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Elizabeth stepped out of the diner and winced as Cameron saw Emily first and wiggled out of her grasp to run over to where Emily was sitting at a table alone.

“Em, Em, Em!”

Emily picked Cameron up into a tight hug, kissed his cheeks, then tickled him. Cameron giggled manically. “Em!” He turned to look at his mother. “Mommy, it’s Em!”

“Yes, it is.” Elizabeth let Kelly’s door close behind her. “Hey, Em.”

“So, you’re talking to me?” Emily asked, with an arch of her brow. She let Cameron slid to the ground, but the toddler didn’t seem to notice the tension in the air. He climbed up into the seat next to her and looked his mother expectantly.

Elizabeth looked down at the brown bag that held their lunches. “He missed having breakfast with you last week. Can we join you?”

“Sure.” Emily’s smile was thin as Elizabeth sat down and set Cameron up with the food she’d ordered. “You haven’t returned my phone calls.”

“You mean the one time you called me last week?” Elizabeth shrugged. “Sorry I got busy. Gram’s out of town, and I had to find another baby sitter.” She handed Cameron his juice. “Are things better at home?”

“Well, Grandfather isn’t talking to me, but he stopped leaving the room when I walk in. And Dad and Mom have stopped threatening to throw me out, so I guess there’s that.” Emily lifted her chin. “Would have been nice to have your support, but I guess you couldn’t manage it.”

“You never gave me a chance to offer it,” Elizabeth murmured. “You came to work that first day ready to go to war. I tried to help you with Jason — I told him to give you a break—”

Emily snorted. “Yeah. A lot of good that did me when he stood by while his whore threw me out—”

“Stop it, Emily—” Elizabeth scowled and looked pointedly at Cameron, who blinked at his mother, but thankfully didn’t ask what a “whore” was. Emily winced. “I don’t want to get involved in this, I really don’t. But I’m sorry, I have to ask — did you even give him a chance to change his mind. Or did you go in the penthouse again to attack him? Did you attack Sam?”

“I—” Emily closed her mouth. “Why do you care?”

“I care because this—this is happening to me now, too. You dragged me into this.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Because Jason decided I had to know he’d never cheated on me. Which, you know, is a super fun conversation to have—”

Emily narrowed her eyes. “All I’m doing is the same thing you always did when it came to Jason.”

Elizabeth wrinkled her nose, shook her head. “What does that mean?”

“It means,” Emily said, flatly, “is you told a lot of people to go to hell that December. Your grandmother, Nikolas, me—anyone who ever gave a damn about you. We didn’t matter as long as you had Jason.”

Elizabeth stared at her best friend for a long moment. “That’s not what happened. And you know it—”

“Oh, okay—”

“What happened was that I saved your brother’s life. And then a bunch of people who I thought loved me decided they had a right to know what was going on. Nikolas followed me back to the studio and burst in on me, changing Jason’s bandage, and then he attacked him. So if you think I was wrong to lie to Nikolas about my relationship with Jason so that he would leave him alone, then I don’t know what to tell you.”

“What about me? Why didn’t you tell me what was going on? If Jason was that sick and you really weren’t sleeping together—”

“Because I don’t owe you anything.” Elizabeth smiled at Cameron. “Hey, buddy, Aunt Em has to get to the hospital, so we’re going to take our lunch to go after all.”

“Okay.” Cameron sighed. “Sorry, Em. I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Emily said with a sigh as Elizabeth started packing up his sandwich. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to argue with you again—”

This is the difference between what happened then and what’s going on now. I told a lot of people to go to hell because I wanted to control my own life. And no, I was not technically with Jason back then. But I wanted to be. And I was tired of being sad all the time. He didn’t want me, Emily. Not then.” And maybe not really ever, but she let that go.

She got to her feet. “None of that changes the fact that I never tore anyone else down to get what I wanted.”

Emily also stood. “Elizabeth—”

“I never threw your past in your face—all I ever said was that seeing you happy made it hard for me some times. That’s it. I never told your secrets to anyone else, I never used the thing you hate about yourself as a weapon. I never punched down, Em. And that’s all you’ve been doing. Right now—”

Elizabeth took a deep breath. “Right now, I could use my best friend. I’m—” Her voice broke. “I’m drowning. And you don’t see it. And I don’t ask you for help. Because I know I can’t go to you. You won’t be there.”

Stricken, Emily stepped back. “What—Elizabeth—”

“I told you what I told you about Jason in confidence. I never wanted to talk about it again. And now—” Elizabeth squeezed her hand into fists.

“Mommy?” Cam looked up at her, tugging on her pant leg. “You mad at Em? I like Em.”

“I like Em, too,” Elizabeth told her son. She looked at Emily. “I love you, Emily. I know you love me. I know you never meant to hurt me. And I know you love Jason. He’s dying over this. But you and Sonny—I don’t know, maybe you deserve each other.”

She took Cameron by the hand and headed for the parking lot. Emily, thankfully, did not follow.

“Mommy?” Cameron sniffled. “Are we mad at Em?”

“No, sweetie. But Aunt Emily is in timeout for a few days,” Elizabeth said with a sigh as they reached their car. She set their food on the driver’s seat so that she could put Cameron into his car seat.

“She was bad?”

“Little bit.”

“Like when I climbded the walls, and you got mad?”

“No, more like when you got into my lipstick and drew all over the sofa and yourself.” Elizabeth eyed her grinning son. “We can still see the color on the side of the sofa.”

“I like red.”

“Yeah, so you said when I was scrubbing it off you in the bathtub.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. She closed the back door, then got into the front seat, shoving their food onto the passenger seat. She reached into her pocket for her keys and knocked her cell phone out at the same time.

She frowned. “I have a voice mail—I didn’t even hear it ring—”

“Who calleded, Mommy?”

She flipped open the phone and opened her voice mails. “Jason.” She looked at the ceiling of her car. “A whole year. I went basically an entire year without being around him, and it was fine. Why are you doing this?”

“Who you talking to? Mommy?” In her rearview mirror, she could see Cameron craning his head to look up.

“The world.”

“Oh, okay.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath, pressed play, and put the phone to her ear. “Hey, Elizabeth. It’s, uh, me. Jason. I—I wanted to let you know—We need to talk. About Manny. Call me when you get this.”

She wrinkled her nose and dialed his number. Well, at least she wouldn’t have to see him—

“Elizabeth?”

“Hey. I got your call.” Elizabeth turned in her seat to check on Cameron again. “What’s up?”

“Do you have time? Can—” She heard him pause. “Can we talk in person?” When she didn’t say anything right away, he added, “It’s important.”

No. Not a chance. She was changing her name and moving to Alaska. “Okay. Uh, can you give me about thirty minutes? I’m dropping Cameron off at Bobbie’s to play with Morgan.”

“Yeah, I’ll meet you on Elm Street Pier in thirty.”

Elm Street Pier

Elizabeth restlessly laced her fingers together as she watched Jason walk towards her from Pier 52 and the Corinthos-Morgan warehouse. She’d hoped for a few more days before she had to face him — what the hell had possessed her to tell him she loved him, too?

This…strange retread down memory lane with Jason was the absolutely last thing her life needed right now. Especially today, after that fight with Emily—

“Hey,” Jason said as he approached her. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. “Thanks for meeting me.”

“No problem. You said it was important—” Elizabeth gestured behind her. “And Cody’s here. He said he’d keep out of sight—”

“Yeah, hopefully, you won’t need him much longer, but…” Jason hesitated and looked at her. “I talked to Alcazar. Skye had already told him. He moved her to Miami. They were already moving there, so he just…pushed up the time table.”

“Oh.” She wrinkled her brow. “Is that what you needed to tell me? Because that really could have been said over the phone.”

Jason hesitated, a bit taken aback. “Part of it—”

“Skye called me this morning. She told me—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “She told me they were in Miami. She didn’t want me to worry. And she was worried about me.”

“Oh.” Jason cleared his throat. “Right. Well, you have Cody for now—but Manny—” He cleared his throat. “That’s still a thing.”

Right. And that was the whole reason she’d gone to him in the first place. It was stupid to pretend that because Skye was on her guard and safe in Miami, that it was over. “At least for now.” Elizabeth chewed on her bottom lip. “Maybe he’ll leave.”

“We’re hoping. Not that I want Skye in danger in Miami, but Alcazar’s on high alert now, and hopefully so she is, too. If he follows them—”

“He’ll leave me alone.” Elizabeth sighed and sat on the bench. “You hope that’s what will happen, but you don’t think it will.”

“I—” Jason sat next to her, but this time made sure to keep a few feet between them. “No. I can’t afford to take any chances. Skye’s gone right after you put yourself in the middle. Manny’s not stupid.”

“You’re still annoyed I got involved.” Elizabeth looked at her hands in her lap. “I know you told me not to—”

“For all you knew, Manny would have jumped her in a stairwell or followed her after the appointment. You—” A corner of Jason’s mouth hitched up in a half-smile. “You told me you wouldn’t let someone get hurt. I should have believed you.”

“I should have thought about it more,” Elizabeth admitted. “It was stupid to do that. I could have offered to walk Skye downstairs or—” She frowned. “Or maybe Manny would have gone after us both. It’s not like I’m a lot of competition.”

“No, and maybe he wasn’t planning anything. He could have refused to go with you, he could have hurt you and gone after Skye anyway. He didn’t.” Jason exhaled slowly and looked out over the lake. “With anyone else, I might think he’d backed down and decided it was too risky. But that’s not Manny Ruiz. He plays games.”

“So, what do I do?”

“Stay on your toes,” Jason advised. “When do you work again?”

“Oh. Tomorrow. I’m on the 10-6 shift. Why?”

“I’m gonna call Alan, set up a meeting. You put yourself in danger to protect Skye, and he still thinks of her as his daughter. I want Cody at the hospital with you, but I don’t want anyone to know.”

“Okay, just keep me in the loop.” Elizabeth nodded. “And thanks. I appreciate it.”

“You took a risk coming to me with this info about Manny. And—” Jason jerked a shoulder, looked away from her. “I’m not gonna let anything happen to you.”

“Okay.” Go. Now. Elizabeth got to her feet. “I should go get Cam from Bobbie—”

“Wait—” He touched her elbow as he also stood. “Look, I just—about yesterday—”

She closed her eyes. “Can’t we just be done with all of that, Jason? I mean it. It’s been over for years. What does any of this matter anymore?”

“I don’t know,” Jason admitted. “I just—I don’t know. You were right. We shouldn’t have said anything.”

“Good, so—”

“But we did.”

Elizabeth pressed her lips together, turned, and faced him with a lift of her chin. “We cleared the air. It doesn’t matter.” It couldn’t matter. She didn’t have time for it to matter.

“If it doesn’t matter,” Jason said, his voice dropping slightly, “then why is it so difficult to talk about it?”

Her stomach rolled as Elizabeth struggled to speak past the lump in her throat. “It’s not supposed to matter,’’ she said softly. She met his eyes. “What do you want me to say? What’s left?”

“I don’t know. I guess—” Jason hesitated. “I always thought you left because I couldn’t tell you what was going on. Or maybe you were tired of being shot at. I don’t know.”

“And you never asked.” She tilted her head. “Are you asking me now?”

“I—” Jason swallowed. He stepped a bit closer to her. “I guess I am.”

She sighed, looked away for a long moment. She should tell him no. That there had been a time and place when it would have been useful to have this conversation. He hadn’t asked back then, and she hadn’t really pushed him. And there was a reason they hadn’t done the work. There had to be.

But she didn’t tell him no. She looked at him, at those eyes that she had fallen in love with first, then sighed.

Because even though it was more than three years too late, even though she knew it was a mistake—

He was asking.

“It’s been so long since I let myself think of that time,” Elizabeth admitted. “I put it away. I had to. It was the only way I could breathe. By the time Emily asked why I had left, it was easier to tell her I left because of Courtney. But that just…that was just how I explained it to myself.”

She folded her arms, looked at him again. “I left because you lied to me. Because I thought—I still think—I deserved to know the truth about what you and Sonny were doing. I thought—after all the lies I had told for you—all the ways I had protected you—that I deserved that much. I always understood I couldn’t know everything. I don’t want to know everything, but I think—”

Elizabeth broke off, shook her head. “Never mind.”

“No, finish it,” Jason said, his voice slightly hoarse. “What did you think?”

“I think—” She bit her lip. “I still think that when I—or anyone,” she added hastily, “step over to your side of the line, when I put my life in your hands, I should get to know things that put my life at risk.”

On a long slow breath, Jason exhaled, but he said nothing. Didn’t look away. So she continued.

“And Sonny faking his death put me at risk. It put Carly at risk. Because anyone could have come in to make trouble. That’s exactly what happened, wasn’t it? I thought you were out there, running everything, not coming home—to the penthouse,” she corrected, “and there were nights you didn’t come back, you didn’t call—I wondered if you were dead. If anyone would even remember to tell me.”

“Elizabeth—”

“And I thought—” A tear slid down her cheek. “That I had already sat through one relationship where I didn’t matter. Where I’d been patted on the head and lied to for my own good—and I just thought I deserved better. And I thought if you loved me, you wouldn’t do that to me. So I left.”

“I—” He shook his head. “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well…maybe if you’d asked me that question four years ago—” Elizabeth shrugged. “But you told me it had nothing to do with me. And I realized you were right. Because I wasn’t part of your life, and you’d made that clear. So I left. And when it didn’t seem to bother you, I told myself it was because of Courtney. Because you’d been falling in love with her, and that…I could live with that.”

She met his eyes as tears continued to slide down her cheeks. “But that’s not true. You can tell yourself that you loved me back then, but you didn’t trust me. Maybe you didn’t think I’d stick around, but it’s not like you gave me a reason to.”

“No,” Jason said finally. “I guess I didn’t.”

Elizabeth wiped at her cheeks. “Is that it? Any other questions you want me to answer? Can we finally be done with this?”

“No, there’s nothing else.” Jason cleared his throat. “You’re right. I didn’t think you’d stay. So when you left, I just…I expected it. I let it happen.”

“I get it. Maybe I even deserved it. After everything I did—”

“No—” Jason shook his head. “No. I just—it wasn’t about any of that. It was just—” He looked away. “I don’t know. I don’t know,” he said again.

“Can we be done with this?” Elizabeth asked again. “There’s no point to drag this back up, Jason. We just—we made mistakes. And we hurt each other. It’s over. It’s been over for a long time. It’s time to stop. Thank you for looking out for me with Manny. But maybe when he’s not a threat anymore, we should go back to the way things were.”

“We can’t—” He hesitated. “We can’t be friends?”

“We’re not just friends,” Elizabeth told him, kindly but firmly. “And we haven’t been just friends in a long time, Jason. It hurts too much.”

“Okay.” Jason scrubbed his hands over his face. “Okay. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well, it’s four years too late for any of this, but I’m sorry, too.”

“I should—I should get back to work.” But Jason waited a long moment before breaking eye contact as if she might say something else. Change her mind. But Elizabeth had made up her mind, so he left.

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, then sat back on the bench to collect her thoughts. It was better this way. If she was going to make her marriage work, if she was going to deal with Lucky and the life she’d built with him, she couldn’t have Jason around reminding her of all the chances she’d thrown away.

“I think you and I should have a chat.”

Elizabeth turned at the voice, then sighed as Sam came round the corner, with her brows lifted. “Sure, why not?” she murmured to the sky. “Just keep kicking me.”


Clearly, Elizabeth was unhappy with Sam’s presence, but Sam didn’t really care. She’d gone to the warehouse to talk to Jason, to try and get past this, but she’d seen him leave the warehouse and walk towards the pier. She’d wanted to catch up with him—had nearly called out after him—

Until she’d seen who he was meeting. So she’d ducked behind a corner to listen. Because she knew something was going on. And he was never going to tell her unless she had something to confront him with.

“So, what exactly were the two of you talking about yesterday?” Sam demanded. “That you shouldn’t have talked about?”

“If you have questions, then maybe you should have asked your fiance.” Elizabeth got to her feet. “He’s the one that owes you answers, not me—”

“Oh—not so fast.” Sam put out a hand to stop Elizabeth. “No, woman to woman, I’m asking you what the hell is going on. Because—” she grimaced. “You are not the type of woman to have an affair. Maybe if Jason were single, I could see it. But he’s not. I just can’t see you doing that to someone else.”

“We’re not—” Elizabeth bit off a protest. “Look, a long time ago, we were almost something. But we both ran from it. We both assumed we knew why the other ran. It might sound insane, but it’s just—I guess we never talked about it. It’s just closure, Sam—”

“Almost something,” Sam repeated. “Then why does it seem to be such a big deal now? It’s been years, Elizabeth. Why—” Her voice faltered. “Why can’t he seem to stop asking you? I heard you. You kept shutting him down—but he kept asking. Do you get it? He was desperate to understand what went wrong—”

“I—” Elizabeth hesitated. “Sam, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t live in Jason’s head.”

“But—”

“You should talk to him,” she repeated.

“I keep trying,” Sam admitted. She scowled. “But we just—it’s like we’re speaking different languages. We’re fighting all the time—ever since that stupid maternity test—” She grimaced. “Apparently, I have you to thank for making sure he told me at all.”

“He would have told you, Sam. He was just—he loves you,” Elizabeth told her. “And he just wanted to protect you. He was wrong. I told him that. But he just wanted to help—”

“I don’t need that kind of help. It should have been up to me—”

“Yeah, you’re right. But that’s not how it worked out. Look, if you and Jason are arguing all the time, that just—it can’t be my problem. And I can’t be someone—” Elizabeth huffed. “I’m not doing this. I deserve better than this from literally everyone. Go to talk to your fiance.”

“Why can he just pour his heart out to you and not me?” Sam demanded as Elizabeth pushed past her.

“Is that what you think he was doing?” Elizabeth demanded as she spun around to face Sam again. “Were you even listening? I broke open a vein because he needed to know why the hell I left. And he couldn’t even be bothered to tell me why he treated me that way! I begged him to stop asking—”

“Then why did you answer him? Why even have the conversation?” Sam shot back.

“Because…” Elizabeth shook her head. “Maybe I’m selfish. Maybe I needed to know why he couldn’t love me. Why is it so hard to love me? To treat me with some damn respect? Is that so much to ask? Don’t I deserve that?”

“I—” Sam blinked. Because now they were having a completely different conversation, and she was less comfortable now. “Yeah. Elizabeth—”

Tears slid down the other woman’s face as her voice broke. “But there’s no way Jason loved me. No one ever has. Not my parents. My family. Ric. Lucky—he can’t even bring himself to love my son much less me—” She broke off with a shuddering sob as she tilted her head to the sky. “I don’t know what you want from me, Sam.”

“I don’t either,” Sam admitted on a shaky breath. “I don’t know what I want from myself most of the time. I guess—maybe it didn’t sound to you like Jason was opening up, but that’s more than he’s talked to me in weeks. I’m jealous. I want him to look at me like that, and I don’t think he ever has.”

Elizabeth looked at Sam. “Then why are you still here?”

“I don’t know,” Sam repeated. “Why are you? If Lucky doesn’t love you or your son—”

“Where am I going to go?” Elizabeth murmured. Her hands fell to her side. “Because if I’m not Lucky’s wife, who am I? That’s all I’ve ever been. No one even gives a damn about me. I don’t ever get to come first.”

“Because being unhappy and miserable is somehow better than being alone,” Sam finished with a slow nod. “I’m sorry. I should…I should take this to Jason.” She bit her lip. “But you know, you’re right. I don’t think you and Jason can ever be just friends. And that’s not fair to the people you promised to love.”

“No, it’s not. So, I’m just—I’m going to go home to my son and put all of this behind me. I’m tired.”

This time, Sam let Elizabeth go. She didn’t understand any of this any better than she had before she’d confronted Elizabeth, but she knew that this wasn’t the end of it. Despite Elizabeth’s protest, Sam had a sinking feeling that the worst was still to come.

Your Update Link: For the Broken Girl – Chapter Nine

This will be a short and sweet text update — I’ll be back at the end of the week with your June Site & Story update status and I’ve got a big one planned so stay tuned for that.

I was REALLY excited to post Chapter Eight on Friday, and you guys didn’t disappoint! That Jason & Elizabeth scene was unplanned — I hadn’t intended for them to have THAT conversation yet. They weren’t supposed to get the close until closer to Chapter 20. After I wrote that scene, I had to stop and decide if I was going to revisit the entire Liason relationship in Book 1 or rewrite the scene. I decided to do the first one, even though it was harder. The book is so much better for that decision, I think, and it’s one of the reasons Broken Girl didn’t need to be a trilogy.

I’m excited for you guys to see where we go next — this week’s chapters really kick up the action, the drama, and the romance! Enjoy!

This entry is part 10 of 33 in the series For the Broken Girl: Reflections of You

But I’m only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I’m only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
‘Cause I’m only human, yeah
human, Christina Perri


Friday, March 31, 2006

Elm Street: Outside of the Brownstone

Elizabeth pulled her car to a stop in front of Bobbie’s house and just rested her forehead against the steering wheel for a moment. Instead of finishing paperwork at the end of her shift, maybe lingering for a few minutes to run downstairs and catch up with Nadine who had worked the same shift—

She was here, picking up her son.

Elizabeth had been standing in the nurse’s station, searching for a pen that wasn’t out of ink when Epiphany had given her a message from Bobbie. Not that it was an emergency or anything, Bobbie had told her, but that it was almost seven, and Lucky hadn’t picked up Cameron yet.

Elizabeth had stared at the words on the paper Epiphany handed her and fought the urge to crumble it into a ball, to fling it across the room. She’d asked him this one thing—one—thing—Bobbie was having dinner with Lucy and Kevin, who were only in town for a few days, and she’d needed Cameron picked up earlier than usual.

It shouldn’t have been an issue. Lucky didn’t have physical therapy that day, and Elizabeth had only asked Bobbie to watch Cameron because he’d said something about staying late at work. She’d wanted him to have that—to have that connection to the job he was so desperately trying to get back to—

But he’d forgotten. He hadn’t picked up Cameron. The one time all week she’d asked him to slightly adjust his own schedule—

She was trying so hard to keep things together, to put one foot in front of the other, but it just felt like the universe was against her this week. Manny and Skye, Sonny and Emily—and these insane conversations with Jason that felt like she was ripping her heart out and displaying it to him every time they spoke—

And what was the damn point? He was engaged. She was married. They’d both moved on. Why couldn’t he—why couldn’t she just let it go—

Elizabeth jumped as knuckles rapped sharply on her closed driver’s side window. She turned and blinked at Carly’s face, standing on the sidewalk, a hand on her hip. She rolled down the window. “Carly?”

“Mama was worried. Asked me to check on you.” Carly pursed her lips. “You okay?”

Elizabeth sighed, switched off the engine, then grabbed her purse before she got out of the car. “Yeah, I’m just tired. It was a long day at the hospital—”

“And you weren’t expecting to have to come over here to get Cameron, Mama said. Lucky was supposed to.”

Together they walked towards the front steps. Carly stopped her a moment before she reached for the doorknob. “Listen, you know, Mama has had Morgan a few times this week. My kid likes yours.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth nodded. “Yeah, Cam said something about it. I’m—” She hesitated. “I’m glad. I’m trying to get Cam into nursery school next year, and it’s good for him to be around kids his age. I know Morgan is a little older—”

“A few months, yeah, but they’re getting to the age where that doesn’t matter as much.” Carly folded her arms. “I don’t like you,” she declared.

“I’ve never been a fan of you either.”

“But,” Carly continued, even as she tossed Elizabeth a glare, “there aren’t many parents who…are eager to let their kids hang out with mine. Because of Sonny. I’ve tried…playdates. Michael has the same issue. I know—I know Lucky’s a cop and everything, but I was hoping that you might not be annoying.”

“Well, I’m sure you’ll find another reason to call me annoying,” Elizabeth said dryly. “But not about this. I don’t know why Lucky would care. He grew up hanging out with Sonny, so I really don’t want to hear his crap on this anyway.”

“Fair enough.” Carly pushed open the door, and Elizabeth had to smile as she saw Cameron running after Morgan, who was a bit taller and steadier on his feet. “They’re playing…I’m not sure, but they seem to know the rules. Mama is upstairs, getting dressed for dinner.”

“Oh, well—” Elizabeth watched her son as he laughed, tackled Morgan, and pumped his fist in the air. “I should get Cam home, I guess.”

“Yeah. Or you could wait a few minutes for Mama to come down and talk to you because she’ll just hunt you down otherwise. The boys can play.”

“Mommy!” Cameron ran towards her, hugged her legs. “You say hi to Morgan.” He grinned at Carly. “Hi, Car. I like cars.”

Carly pursed her lips, but her eyes twinkled. “Car-ly,” she said, and clearly it was not the first time she’d instructed Elizabeth’s son on the pronunciation of her name. “Morgan, do you remember Elizabeth?”

“Uh-huh.” Morgan, who looked like a miniature version of his father with dark hair, dark eyes, and a dimple flashing in his cheek. “Ice cream. You buy it for me.”

“That was last summer,” Elizabeth said when Carly frowned at her. “I saw Morgan and Michael in the park with Leticia. I was getting Cameron ice cream, and…” She shrugged. “I’m glad you remember me, Morgan. You’re so smart!”

He grinned. “Bestest and most handsomest, right, Mommy?” He looked to Carly. “Cam leave?”

“Not yet, kid. You guys keep playing. We’re going to wait in the kitchen for Grammy.”

Morgan and Cameron ran back towards their pile of toys as Elizabeth followed Carly into the kitchen. “Michael isn’t here?”

“He’s at basketball practice. I like that Morgan gets to have this time with my mother. A nanny is nice for me when I’m at work, but I want him—” Carly looked at Morgan, who was giggling maniacally. “I’m trying very hard for Morgan to have a more normal childhood than Michael. Michael spent a lot of time with nannies.”

“They’re great kids, Carly. You’re doing something right.”

Carly frowned at her. “Did you just compliment me?”

“I think we’re both getting too old to fight over nothing at all.” Elizabeth sat down at the table and stretched her arm over her neck. “How are the boys doing? After losing Courtney…and with…” She grimaced. “The tabloids.”

Carly rolled her eyes. “Oh, God, right? It’s like one thing after another. They’re…adjusting. Courtney was a big part of their lives, but Morgan’s younger. Courtney will fade for him. It’s not fair—she took care of him so much when he was born because I was…in the hospital. And he won’t remember her at all.” She rubbed her face. “Michael’s managing. He looks at pictures of her, and we talk about her when he brings it up.”

She managed a half-smile for Elizabeth. “Thank you, though. For asking. I feel like Sonny has completely forgotten Courtney. I feel like—” Carly took a long breath. “I feel like everyone has. Jax hasn’t, but it’s more about John for him. And I know Nikolas is grieving. But it’s just—life went on. And it sucks.”

“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth said. “And I’m sorry if this thing with Sonny and Emily is creating more problems for the boys. Especially Michael. He’s in school, so I’m sure it comes up.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s been a real joy. You know—” Carly shook her head. “I knew something was going on with Sonny. Jason and I knew it weeks ago. He was ditching meetings with Jason, breaking promises to the boys—” She looked at Elizabeth. “Did you notice anything with Emily?”

“I did,” Elizabeth admitted. “She called out on a few shifts, and she’s—she broke a few promises to Cameron. I guess, with hindsight, we could see it coming. But I guess I thought she was over it.”

“And it’s still going on,” Carly said, disgusted. “Like, Sonny didn’t even stop to think how the way the news came out effects his kids—they don’t live with him, so he doesn’t have to feel it. A weekend here and there isn’t the same.” She grimaced. “Jason won’t talk about it, but I think he and Emily are fighting.”

Elizabeth hesitated, but she nodded. “Emily told me she’d been…” She bit her lip. “Well, you know how sometimes people who feel defensive go on the attack?”

“Know it? It’s pretty much my entire philosophy on life.” Carly wiggled her shoulders. “So Emily’s lashing out. At Jason?”

“Yeah,” Elizabeth admitted. “And—well, everyone. She thought Jason and I might come around on the whole Sonny thing, so when we didn’t both…I don’t know—I guess when we weren’t on board, she just—” She shook her head. “Anyway. It’s not been fun. She screams at Jason and Sam—they’ve both thrown her out. Then she comes to work, screams at me—”

“Jason threw her out? Huh.” Carly pursed her lips. “I’ve been bugging him about this. Trying to make him—I don’t know—fix it. But that’s not fair. I know that. I tell him all the time he shouldn’t spend his life cleaning up after Sonny and me, but I guess old habits are hard to break. When my boys are hurting, I can’t ask Sonny to help. He won’t. But I know Jason will.”

“No, but I get it. When things are wrong, and you can’t fix it yourself, Jason—” Elizabeth closed her mouth as Carly merely arched a brow.

“Jason, what?” she prompted when Elizabeth didn’t continue.

“Sometimes, you forget that Jason can’t fix everything,” Elizabeth said quietly.

Carly tipped her head to the side, squinted at her, but clearly decided to let it go. “No, I guess not. Well, hopefully, this Sonny and Emily crap will run its course before we all lose our damn mind.”

“Carly? Elizabeth?” Bobbie’s voice from the foyer drifted back towards them.

“We’re in here, Mama!” Carly called. “I’m just having a pleasant conversation with Elizabeth, so you might want to mark down this date.”

“And it’s not even my birthday,” Bobbie said with a grin as she came into the kitchen. She kissed her daughter’s cheek, then Elizabeth’s.

“I should get going,” Elizabeth said. “I’ve been on my feet all day, and I want to get Cameron down to sleep soon.” She looked to Carly. “You should—you should call me. We’ll set up a playdate for Morgan and Cameron.”

“Yeah, that sounds great. Thanks.”

Elm Street Pier

Jason sat on the bench on the pier, stretched out his legs, then looked out past Bannister’s Wharf, towards the cluster of buildings where he knew Elizabeth’s apartment was located.

The apartment she shared with her husband and son.

I loved you, too.

He exhaled slowly. He wasn’t entirely sure why his thoughts were drifting to her more and more these days. He’d been able to go entire weeks without thinking about Elizabeth. But asking her to run that maternity test for him had been a mistake in more ways than one.

Because now it’s worse.

I loved you, too.

He heard the footsteps before he saw the man, and it gave Jason a chance to get to his feet before Lorenzo Alcazar reached the bottom of the stairs.

The two men eyed each other uneasily. There was a mutual loathing, to be sure, but at the moment, Jason had no problem with Alcazar.

“I was surprised to get your request for a meeting,” Lorenzo said with an arch of his brow. “Until I spoke with Skye last night.” The older man cast his dark eyes to the side before meeting Jason’s gaze. “I owe your friend Elizabeth a debt of gratitude. For looking out for Skye.”

“So, you already know.”

“I do, and I suppose…I had offered Skye a guard, but she didn’t want one.” Lorenzo managed a half-smile, a bit pained. “I should have pressed her more. But she agreed to one last night, and she agreed to move to Miami a little early. She’d hoped to have the baby here, with her family, but…” He shrugged.

“Miami—” Jason frowned. “So you’re taking over the Ruiz territory.” He’d wondered why Alcazar had been laying so low these days, but it made sense—

“It’s there, and…there’s no room to expand here in Port Charles. Not without a lot of trouble.” Lorenzo waited a long moment. “I’m concerned, though, about Elizabeth Spencer. If Skye told me her story correctly, Elizabeth…put herself in the line of fire. Can I offer any protection for her? A guard—”

“I’m taking care of that.”

“I see.” Lorenzo paused and looked at him for a long moment. “Well, until next we meet, Morgan.” Lorenzo offered him a nod before going back up the stairs.

Jason exhaled his first easy breath as the other man disappeared behind a corner. Lorenzo Alcazar had never been a serious threat—he’d never had the connections. He’d been in a thorn in their side since the beginning thanks to Carly and her lingering affection for him.

He’d be gone now—but he was right. Without Alcazar or Skye to focus on, Manny would either follow them to Miami—

Or stay here for his revenge.

If Manny blamed Elizabeth for Skye’s disappearance…

He took out his phone and called Cody. “Hey—do you—do you have eyes on Elizabeth—No, I don’t want to know where she is. That’s—she’s okay? Okay. Yeah, you’re just—if she’s in danger. Manny might be targeting her. Okay.”

He hung up but still didn’t feel better. He needed to get rid of Manny Ruiz sooner rather than later.

Lucky & Elizabeth’s Apartment: Living Room

Elizabeth set Cameron down on the floor and watched as the toddler made a beeline for his toybox. She put her hands on her hips and glared at her husband, sprawled out on the sofa, watching the television with a glazed look in his eyes.

“Did you forget something?” she demanded.

Lucky blinked, looked at her for a long moment as if he couldn’t quite focus. “What? What did I forget?”

“Bobbie couldn’t keep Cameron until I was done my shift. You were supposed to pick him up at six—”

“Oh.” Still not seeming to engage in the conversation, Lucky cleared his throat. “Wait. What day is it?”

Frowning now, Elizabeth sat next to him, put a hand to his cheek. “Are you okay? You look sick—”

He slapped her hands away. “I’m fine. Leave me alone—”

“What’s wrong with you?” Elizabeth demanded. “You forgot Cameron, you didn’t come home last night—”

“I crashed at the club. I was with my Dad, and you didn’t really seem to need me.” Lucky shrugged. Closed his eyes. “Therapy’s been taking a lot out of me. Double sessions.”

“Yeah, but—”

“I’m sorry. I forgot Bobbie couldn’t keep him.” Lucky looked at her. “Did you have to leave work early?”

“Yeah, almost a half-hour. Not only did I lose that money, Lucky, but I also have a ton of paperwork I still have to do at the start of the next shift. You know that. Bobbie is doing us—me—a huge favor by taking him so much. I just—I asked you for one thing, Lucky. One. And you couldn’t manage that.”

He just stared at her without saying anything. Exhausted, Elizabeth shook her head and got to her feet. She went into the kitchen and started to pull together a meal for Cameron’s dinner. “I’m so tired,” she murmured. “And you don’t even seem to care.”

“I do care, but I can’t…I’m sorry,” Lucky repeated. But he didn’t get up. Didn’t even take his eyes off the television.

She let the subject drop because what would continuing the argument change? He didn’t care he’d cost her money, time and energy—that he’d proven, again, how much Cameron didn’t matter to him. She wanted to believe that it would be okay when Lucky went back to work—

But would it?

She stared at the fridge, at the photograph she’d pinned with a magnet of her wedding day. Of her and Lucky. That moment in time when she’d thought everything was perfect. Elizabeth put her hand on her own face, tracing the smile.

If it wasn’t for her son, Elizabeth wasn’t sure the last time she could remember smiling.

With her brain not occupied with her job, with being irritated with Lucky, it drifted back to the previous day.

She’d gone back to work after leaving the warehouse, but she hadn’t been able to stop thinking about that terrible conversation she’d shared with Jason—of that moment he’d looked at her and told her—

“It means I loved you.”

God. He’d really thought it’d be better if they cleared the air? She’d rather go back to thinking that he’d loved Courtney. At least then she could blame someone else.

How was she ever going to face him? She couldn’t even get his voice out of her head.

It means I loved you.

I loved you.

Elizabeth took a deep breath and gathered her thoughts. “No point in thinking about it,” she reminded herself. It was over. She’d gone on with her life. She had her precious little boy and—

She looked out into the living room where her husband was sitting, She had her marriage. And Jason hadn’t exactly pined away for her either. He’d married another woman. Was engaged to a second one.

They’d both ended up where they were supposed to be, and it was no good to think about the road they hadn’t taken. It was just…she was tired. And things were hard with Lucky right now. She just needed to get through the next few weeks—

It means I loved you.

Elizabeth huffed. How many damn times she was going to have to tell herself to let this go? “I need to have my head examined,” she muttered as she set Cameron’s dinner on the table. “Cameron, come eat dinner!”

I loved you.

Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

Sam was packing a duffel bag when Jason came upstairs later that afternoon. He frowned at the clothes strewn across the bed. “So, I guess you’re going.”

“Oh, he speaks.” Sam raised her brows. She shrugged, then shoved a pair of jeans into the bag. “Yeah, I’m going to Florida. The job is starting sometime next week, but…” She sighed. “I need a few more things in the guest room.”

She eyed him when he said nothing. “You know, where I’ve been sleeping for the last week.”

Jason nodded. “I know. You were mad after that fight with Sonny. About how I handled it. I didn’t know what to say to you. It felt like I was always making it worse—”

“So, what—you decided to just let it go? Hope I calmed down—”

Jason winced because yeah, that was pretty much how he’d decided to handle it, but now he could see now it was a mistake. “Sam—”

“Didn’t it bother you that I was angry?” Sam demanded. “That I was upset enough to move out of our bedroom for a week?”

Jason exhaled slowly. The answer was no, it hadn’t bothered him. He knew he handled things badly, but he’d been irritated with Sam about the way she’d spoken to Elizabeth, and yeah, the fact that she’d decided to go back to being a con artist—

“Sam—”

Sam growled and turned on him. “Let’s get this straight. I am pissed at you. You don’t get to be mad at me because I’m pulling a job. You forced my mother down my throat, you let your sister attack me, you’re calling me a mess to clean up, and you’re…I don’t know…up to something with your ex-girlfriend—” She stabbed a finger in his direction. “So just remember you’re the asshole, not me—”

Jason exhaled slowly. “Some of that is true,” he admitted. “I made a mistake with the DNA test, and I’ve apologized for that. I didn’t let Emily attack you—”

She rolled her eyes. “Sure—”

“She’s not allowed upstairs without permission from now on. I threw her out the first day, you threw her out the second day.” He shook his head. “I never called you a mess I had to clean up—”

“I know what I heard—”

“You know what Sonny said to you. I never said it.” He shook his head. “You know, I don’t know what to tell you, Sam. You’re mad at me for a lot of things that aren’t my fault—”

“What about Elizabeth?” Sam threw back at him. “You’re going to tell me I don’t have a reason to be mad at you about that?”

“I told you. Elizabeth has been passing me info about Manny Ruiz from the hospital—”

“Oh, sure—”

“And yesterday, she had something important I needed to know. She knew Skye was in danger, that Manny had something planned.” He grimaced. “And you wasted her time and mine by refusing to tell her where I was.”

Sam lifted her chin, her eyes a bit defiant. “She’s a big girl. She can take care of herself. And she had no problem ratting me out. What, did she come over to cry on your shoulder?” She rolled her eyes and returned to her packing.

Jason was surprised when he felt his hands fist at his side. “She’s never done anything to you. You’re angry at her about the maternity test, but she never would have run it if I told her it was for you. You’re angry at Emily, at Sonny—fine. Take it out on me. On them. But leave her out of it—”

“You don’t even hear yourself, do you?” Sam shook her head. “You know, I don’t get it. If the two of you were so obsessed with each other, why the hell did you leave her? Was she bad in bed or something?”

“I—” Jason’s voice faltered. He looked at this woman he’d asked to marry him, who just weeks ago, he would have told anyone was the love of his life. The woman who understood him. And it was like she was a stranger. “That’s not fair. And you know it.”

Sam squeezed her eyes shut, clenching a t-shirt in her hands. “I’m sorry,” she said finally. “I know you’re right. I know that—I know that you didn’t do anything. I just—it’s like I don’t even know who I am. I thought I did. I thought I had things figured out, but I don’t. And you and I—”

She looked at him, her dark eyes wet with tears. “We just can’t talk. I keep trying, and I know you’re trying. But everything we say to each other—it just feels wrong.”

Sam sucked in a shaky breath. “And then there’s this woman who’s important to you, and I didn’t even know that. I should have known that. I know about Carly and Robin, I know about Courtney. But it’s like…either she didn’t matter enough to talk about, or she mattered too much. And she’s back in your life, and you talk to her. And she gets you. I don’t get you anymore. Do you know what it’s like to watch you with her, to listen to you talk about her?”

Jason said nothing as Sam shook her head. “Why can’t you just be honest with me?”

“What am I supposed to say?” Jason asked in a dull voice. He didn’t want to have this conversation. He didn’t want to talk about Elizabeth at all, and he certainly didn’t want to get into it with Sam.

Not after the warehouse.

Because now it’s worse.

“Why didn’t you tell me about Elizabeth freaking Spencer? Did she matter too much, or did she mean nothing?”

Because I loved you, too.

He didn’t think there was an answer that would make her feel better, so Jason went with the truth. “She mattered too much,” he said finally. “It was easier not to think about her. So I didn’t.”

And we threw it away.

She waited, maybe to see if he’d say something else But he didn’t. So she nodded. “Thank you for not lying,” Sam said finally. She put a toiletry bag into her bag, then zipped it. “Are you sorry?”

Jason frowned. “For…what?”

“That it’s not her in this penthouse? That you didn’t marry her? Have a kid with her? Are you sorry that it’s me and not her standing in front of you?”

Jason scowled. “That’s—that’s not a fair question.”

“Maybe, but it’s a simple one. Yes or no. And you didn’t answer it. So maybe while I’m gone next week, you can figure out why—”

“Sam—” Jason stopped her by putting an arm on her hand. “Don’t do this, okay? Let’s just—” He took a deep breath because she’d—she’d been right. He hadn’t been fair to her or given her any real space to deal with any of this. “Just—let’s just talk. Okay? You’re right. We’re not talking.”

Sam’s mouth curved into a smirk. “You want to talk? Now? When you’ve made it clear how you feel about me doing this job?”

“I want to talk about why you don’t trust me—”

“I trust you,” Sam told him. “Hell, I even trust Elizabeth Spencer. But I don’t trust me. I’m going to ruin this, Jason. I ruin everything.”

“Sam—”

“But sure.” She set the bag down. “Sure. Let’s trying talking again.” Sam tilted her head to the side, let her hand slide down his t-shirt. “Or maybe we shouldn’t talk at all.”

Jason hesitated, just a moment, and her eyes hardened. She snatched up the bag and stalked out of the room. “Sam—”

“You had your chance,” she told him flatly as she walked into a guest room, tossed the bag on the bed. She put her hand on the door. “You don’t want me, fine. We can co-exist until I leave on Tuesday.”

“Sam, I never said—”

“Maybe I don’t want you,” she snarled, curling her hand around the edge of the door like a claw. “When I know you won’t be thinking of me when you’re screwing me. You know, maybe if you get drunk enough, you could even pretend—”

“Shut up,” Jason snapped, and Sam’s smirk only deepened—even as her dark eyes were wild with hurt and rejection. He hadn’t meant to do that—hadn’t wanted to hurt her at all. He just didn’t think jumping into bed was going to fix anything—

But now, as she slammed the door in his face, he didn’t know if what was wrong could be fixed. Or if even he even wanted it to be.

Monday, April 3, 2006

Lucky & Elizabeth’s Apartment: Bathroom

Elizabeth enjoyed having days off during the week — Lucky was gone all day, she could take Cameron with her to run errands and get some snuggle time with him. He was racing towards his second birthday, and next year, if she could get him into a nursery program, he’d be in school. Before she knew it, he’d be grown up.

But for right now, he was her whole world, and she was determined to make up for the haphazard treatment from his stepfather. “It’ll be different,” she told her reflection in the mirror. “When he gets back to work.”

And she wasn’t going to let herself think about what would happen if Lucky’s test next Friday didn’t come back more positively—if he didn’t make it back on active duty. That wasn’t something she could allow for.

She left the bathroom, walked through Cameron’s room, and into the living room where Cameron was constructing a Lego tower. “You ready to go to the bank, Cam?”

“No, want to stay and play.” Cameron furrowed his brow. “Stay here.”

“Mommy has things to do—” Elizabeth winced as her cell phone rang. She went over to her purse, hoping Epiphany wasn’t going to call her in. She didn’t recognize the number on the caller ID but answered it anyway. “Hello?”

“Hello? Elizabeth? It’s Skye.”

Elizabeth exhaled on a breath of relief. “Oh, hey. Skye. I was thinking about you the other day—”

“I just wanted to get in touch with you—I didn’t want you to worry when you didn’t see me around.” Skye waited a moment. “Thank you for telling me about Manny, and for encouraging me to tell Lorenzo. Jason got in touch with him and told him his own concerns, so I’m glad I was in front of it.”

“I’m just sorry I waited so long—”

“It’s all right, really. I’m safe. Lorenzo and I were planning to move to Miami later this year anyway. For a fresh start with our baby. We just decided to move it up several months. Thank you again for taking the time and—” Skye hesitated. “The risk. I’m worried about you, about what happened last week—”

“Don’t worry,” Elizabeth said.

“Lorenzo told me he’d offered Jason protection for you, but Jason assured him it was being handled. I supposed I just wanted to make sure—”

“I have a guard,” Elizabeth said with a wrinkle of her nose. She’d mostly been able to forget that. Cody followed her in his car and hung around the hospital, but she hadn’t really seen him other than that. “So don’t worry about me. Manny might still follow you to Miami.”

“Yes, well, I’ve taken your advice.” Skye’s end of the line fell silent. “All of it. I thought about the life I was choosing and whether it was one that I really wanted for me. For my daughter. Thank you. For taking the time to open up to me like that. I won’t forget it.”

“I’m glad I could help—”

“And I suppose I just wanted to—” Skye paused. “I don’t know. I wish there was something I could do in return. Something I could say that would mean as much. I just—I’m glad I made the choice. That I thought about it. I don’t want Lorenzo and our family to be one—not taking the chance to be something I regret.”

“I’m glad,” Elizabeth repeated. Her throat swelled. “Life is too short,” she managed, “for those kinds of regrets.”

“It is. Thank you again for taking the chance and helping me. If you ever need anything, you only have to ask.”

Kelly’s: Parking Lot

Jason swung his leg over his bike, adjusting the kickstand so that it stayed upright. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a dark sedan pull into another parking spot, on the other side, two down from his spot.

The same sedan he’d seen at the warehouse. And parked outside the Towers when he’d left the parking garage that morning.

Jason exhaled slowly and walked towards the diner. Instead of going through the courtyard, he headed for the alley behind the building. He quickened his pace—just slightly—so that it wasn’t noticed but so that he could gain a few extra seconds.

Once he was in the alley, he ducked down behind the dumpster—and waited.

Until he heard footsteps. They stopped halfway down the alley, just feet away from him—as if the person following him wasn’t sure if he’d simply lost Jason or if he’d gone inside the restaurant using the back door.

Jason frowned, realizing he knew the man—

And when his pursuer was only two or three feet away, Jason shot out of hiding, the momentum of his movement propelling him across the alley as he crashed into the man and shoved him against the brick back wall of Kelly’s.

“Why the hell are you following me?” he demanded, as he shook the guard. He narrowed his eyes.

“Uh—uh—” Jimmy, one of the younger guards hired in the last six months—looked back and forth, his eyes bulging as Jason cut off the air to his windpipe. “Orders.”

Jason released the pressure slightly, stepping back. “Whose?” he demanded.

“Mr. Corinthos—”

Jason let Jimmy crash to the ground as the younger man rolled onto all fours, gasping for air. “How long?”

“Just since Saturday.” Jimmy looked up at him, his face white. “I’m sorry—”

“Tell Francis you need to go through the training again. I made you five minutes after you started following me. You need to change cars—” Disgusted, Jason shook his head. “Do you know why I didn’t kick your ass five hours ago?”

“Uh—”

“Because—” Jason leaned down. “I wanted you to think I was going about my day so that I could ambush you. If I’d been anyone else, you’d be dead right now. You get it?”

“Yeah—yeah—”

“Go back to Francis.”

And then Jason stalked back down the alley, back towards his bike. He had someone to see.

May 22, 2020

This entry is part 9 of 33 in the series For the Broken Girl: Reflections of You

Maybe I’ve been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Rufus Wainwright


Thursday, March 30, 2006

General Hospital: Nurse’s Hub

Elizabeth’s smile was quick and warm as Skye stepped up to her at the nurse’s station. “This is starting to be a regular occurrence,” she teased the other woman. “Are you following me?”

“Of course,” Skye said with a laugh as she put a hand on the strap of her purse, holding it to her shoulder. “I’ve decided my approach to motherhood is just to find the best one and follow her around.”

“Hardly the best,” Elizabeth replied as her cheeks flushed. “Are you looking for Alan again?”

“No, today, I’m actually on my way to an appointment with my OB, Kelly Lee. Do you know her? She just took over for Dr. Meadows.”

“I do. She’s the absolute best. You’re in good hands.” Elizabeth frowned. “But you’re on the wrong floor. She’s on the fourth—”

“Oh, I know that, but I know you work up here, and I just…” Skye sighed. “I felt a bit…I don’t know…guilty about all those personal questions I asked you at Kelly’s. It really wasn’t any of my business—”

It hadn’t been, but… “And if I hadn’t wanted to answer them, I wouldn’t have. It’s really okay, Skye.” Elizabeth grimaced. “Unfortunately, it’s something I’ve been dealing with all week, so really — it’s fine.”

“Is everything okay?” Skye asked, lifting her brows. “Is it about Emily? You know the mansion is in an uproar over her relationship with Sonny. I offered my support, but she didn’t seem particularly interested. I know she’s arguing with Jason. She keeps telling everyone that no one is on her side, not even Sonny’s best friend.”

“Yeah, she’s been having some pretty vicious fights with…well, everyone.” Elizabeth shook her head. “You know the Quartermaines and how they fight.”

“Yeah, they stick together like glue except when they’re attacking each other. I’ve never seen a family more vicious. It’s like…” Skye shook her head with a rueful smile. “It’s like a game they play. How can I hurt this person as much as I’m hurting? And double points if you make them cry or storm out.”

“Yeah, well, Emily might be adopted, but she’s a pro.” Elizabeth shrugged. “Anyway. You had questions, Skye. I’m just sorry I couldn’t answer them—”

“No, you did. More than you realize. You made me…” Skye hesitated. “You know, it starts out like this…secret. This moment you share with someone else that you never would have pictured in your life. And you make this connection.” She bit her lip. “But then…something happens, and you’re forced to confront all the other parts of their life.”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth looked at Skye, clenching the pen more tightly in her hand. “That’s usually how it starts. By the time you remember what they do…”

“You’re already hooked.” Skye tipped her head. “But you were right, you know. That I had to think about whether I really accepted Lorenzo and his life. That I couldn’t pretend who he was wasn’t related to what he does for a living. I don’t think I’d thought about it that way before.”

“So, what did you decide?” Elizabeth asked.

“I’m not sure I have made a decision, to be honest. I know that the world isn’t simple,” Skye told her. “That things are never…all one thing or another. I do know that Lorenzo is a good man who didn’t…entirely pick this life. I know he’s tried to live another life. But this is who he was when I met him. It’s not fair to hold it against him now.”

“No, but it would be fair to decide not to make it your life,” Elizabeth pointed out. “I’m sure he is a good man. I know he was kind to Carly at a time he needed her. But I also know some of the damage he’s tried to do. I mean…”

“He’s the reason the Ruiz family came to Port Charles,” Skye finished. “I didn’t know you knew that.”

“I—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Look…I think you should know, and maybe I should have told you—but the last two times we’ve talked, I’ve seen Manny Ruiz hanging around you.”

Skye straightened, her lips pressed together in a thin line. “You have?”

“I tried to tell Lucky, but—the cops just can’t do anything.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “So I told Jason. And…we talked about…well, anyway, you should be careful. And you should tell Lorenzo. You really should have a guard.”

“Yeah, I…” Skye exhaled slowly. “Yeah. I can…” She frowned. “You told Jason? Really?”

“I didn’t know if he’d do anything,” Elizabeth lied. It felt better than telling her that Sonny and Jason hadn’t felt like she was important enough to protect. “I felt better knowing he…was involved. I’m sorry—I should have said something—”

“No, no, I understand. And I appreciate the concern. You’re right. I should tell Lorenzo. I will.” Skye hesitated. “You said before…that I…had the right to decide that this doesn’t have to be my life.”

“This thing with Manny? It won’t be the last time someone tries to hurt you to get at Lorenzo. It doesn’t happen often, but there will always be someone who will go after you. And maybe even your child.”

Skye pressed her hand to her abdomen, some of her color sliding from her already pale face. “So I should…leave him?”

Elizabeth hesitated. “Plenty of people will tell you to do that. I won’t. It’s your life, Skye, and it’s your family. Whatever you decide to do, don’t… don’t let it be someone else’s choice.”

Skye slowly nodded. “You really did love him, didn’t you?” she murmured.

Elizabeth stared at her for a long moment. “Why do you say that?”

“Because you’re just…so nonchalant about all of this. You’ve lived through this, and it…it doesn’t faze you. You were—you said you were kidnapped. Shot at. Nearly blown up.”

“I—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Yeah. I really loved him. I accepted everything. And I would have—” Done whatever she needed to do to be in his life. To be a part of it. “But it doesn’t matter anymore.”

“No, I guess not.” Skye sighed. “Thank you, Elizabeth. I appreciate the time you’ve given me. The advice. I should get to my appointment—”

She turned and stopped suddenly as the janitor’s cart came around the corner, pushed by Manny Ruiz. The custodian smiled as he looked at the two of them. “Well, hello, pretty ladies.”

Skye just stared at him while Elizabeth picked up a pair of scissors that were lying on the hub counter, then let her hand fall to her side. “Manny. I thought you were on the Pediatrics floor today.”

“You know my schedule. I’m touched.” Manny pressed a hand to his chest with another smile. It might have been charming on another man, but his eyes were as cold as a shark’s. “What do such pretty ladies have to talk about?”

“Skye, why don’t you get going?” Elizabeth told her. “As long as Manny is up here, he can help me.” Her pulse racing as she locked eyes with the amused psycho. “We-we need a clean up in one of the post-op cubicles.”

“Anything for such a lovely face. You know, Elizabeth, you’re always so sweet to me. Smiling when we see each other.” Manny’s smile deepened. “It’d be nice if everyone was as polite as you.”

“Skye, you don’t want to be late.”

“No,” Skye breathed. “No, I don’t.” She turned and stalked towards the elevators. She jabbed the button.

“Manny, I’ll show you where we need you,” Elizabeth said. She picked up a file with her free hand, then brought it to her chest, managing to slip the scissors inside.

Just in case.

Courtland Street: Alley

Santiago smirked as he sauntered towards their meeting spot. “Again? My friend, I think you have a problem.”

Lucky scowled and shoved his hand into his pocket for his wallet, drawing out the last of the cash he’d earned after pawning his wedding ring. He was right — Elizabeth was working so much and so tired all the time—she hadn’t even noticed the absence of his wedding ring.

He hated how hard she had to work and told himself everything he was doing right now was so she wouldn’t have to do that anymore. She deserved better from him. As soon as he got back to work, he’d make it up to her.

He’d even finally accept Nikolas’s offer for a second honeymoon—a real honeymoon. Wherever she wanted.

“You screwed me the last time,” Lucky shot back. “You were supposed to give me twenty pills. There’s no way you gave me enough.”

Santiago’s brows shot up. “I did give you twenty pills, mi amigo. You got a problem,” he repeated, then shrugged. “But it’s profitable to me, so whatever.” He held out his hand. “Pay up—”

Lucky blinked. Had he really gone through twenty pills in four days? Damn it. “I’ve been doubling up on my therapy sessions,” he muttered as he slapped the five twenties into Santiago’s hand. “I got a week to pass my physical and get back to work.”

“Sure, sure. Until then, maybe you want something stronger?” Santiago prompted. He dipped down into a crate just behind a cluster of trash cans, then drew out a cardboard tube that looked like a toilet paper roll.

Lucky knew what it was immediately from his patrol days. “Fuck that. I’m not a drug addict. I don’t need to smoke that shit.”

“You sure? You don’t wanna chase the dragon?” Santiago shrugged. “You’re a good customer. I’d give you this one for free.” He pushed it towards Lucky. “You said you wanted the pain to go away.”

“I am not a drug addict,” Lucky repeated. He held out his hand. “There’s an asshole doctor who refuses to give me a prescription any other doctor would give me. He probably wants to screw my wife.”

“Yeah, she’s the pretty nurse, right?” Santiago grinned, a gold tooth flashing. “I can see why he’d want to dick you over. You get back to work, buy the pretty lady something nice.”

Lucky stared at the cardboard tube. He knew it was wrong. He knew all the reasons why he should walk away. Shouldn’t even take the pills Santiago was selling him.

It was one thing to justify the pain pills he was buying. He had a right to that relief—the asshole Drake was denying him treatment—but if he smoked the heroin…

He was a week away from his final deadline—April 7, Mac had made it clear. And the pain still wasn’t going away. He’d doubled up on the therapy, but he couldn’t always get through the second session. He’d seen guys get stabbed high on heroin and not feel a thing.

He just…he wanted to feel that way once. For the first time in five months—not to feel any pain—God, wasn’t it worth the try?

He’d do anything to make the pain stop.

“You’d spot me this once?” Lucky said, finally.

“Sure.” Santiago gave it to him. “Try it before you go. Just to make sure.” He took out a lighter, then flicked the igniter, his face lighting up in the shadows of the alley. “What do you say?”

Morgan Penthouse: Hallway

Elizabeth tapped her foot as she waited for the door to open. It had been an excruciating ten minutes spent with Manny Ruiz as the custodian had cleaned up the mess she hadn’t been lying about. She didn’t need to stay with him, but if he was with her—he wasn’t with Skye.

But Manny made her skin crawl, and she was worried that she’d made this worse—that she’d done exactly what Jason had told her not to do. She’d made Manny look at her, and not Skye.

Jason was going to kill her.

She’d debated for exactly thirty seconds whether or not she should tell Jason about the whole thing. They hadn’t spoken or seen each other since that incredibly awkward and painful conversation on the docks the week before, and Elizabeth was really hoping to keep that streak going.

But then she’d remembered Jason making it very clear that she was not to get involved or bring attention to herself with Manny. She was pretty sure that standing in a room alone with him for ten minutes while Manny’s target got away was the definition of getting involved.

So she’d told Epiphany everything, and her supervisor had practically ordered her to call him. When Jason didn’t answer his cell phone or get back to her within twenty minutes, Epiphany had sent Elizabeth to find him, promising to cover for her.

Epiphany didn’t like her son’s line of work, but she liked Manny Ruiz even less after being held hostage by him in the operating room. Jason and Sonny were the only people that might be able to keep them safe. Epiphany was a practical woman.

Elizabeth sighed in relief when Sam opened the door. “Hey. I’m so sorry to just show up like this—”

“How did you get up here?” Sam demanded. She didn’t open the door any wider, and Elizabeth blinked at her harsh tone. “We’re just letting cop’s wives have the run of the place?”

“I—” Elizabeth pressed her lips together. “I don’t know. I guess…they never…revoked my access.”

“Oh, right, from when you lived with Jason. Yeah, I heard all about it from his sister. Funny, you never told me that. Jason didn’t, either.” Sam arched her brows. “You here to plead Emily’s case? Make me see that I should be nicer to her?”

“No, I actually—I haven’t talked to Emily since…” Elizabeth frowned. “Sam, I’m sorry. I’m not exactly sure why you’re so angry with me.”

“Because it’s like playing fucking Whack-a-Mole. I’ve gone my entire life in Port Charles not having to know you, and now I can’t get rid of you,” Sam shot back. “I get it. You used to date my fiance. You don’t anymore, so why the hell are you still around?”

“Uh…” Elizabeth blinked, then remembered that she’d run the maternity test for Jason on Sam’s behalf. Maybe Sam was just mad that she’d done that for him—or—

Sam had looked pretty irritated when she’d found her and Jason talking on the pier the week before. But Elizabeth really didn’t get it.

“Um, listen, I just…I need to talk to Jason, okay? Whatever fight you two are having has nothing to do with me, okay?” Elizabeth held up her hands in mock surrender. “I’m just—he wasn’t answering his phone.”

“Maybe you should buy a clue then and stop chasing after him. God, you’re married to a cop.” Sam narrowed her eyes. “What, he’s not satisfying you? You couldn’t make Jason happy before. So, why are you bothering him now?”

“I’m—” Stung, Elizabeth took a step back. “I’m gonna go.”

“You do that. And while you’re at it, don’t come back.” Sam slammed the door, the sound of the heavy oak hidden the frame like a jolt Elizabeth felt down to her bones.

What. The. Hell.

Elizabeth squeezed her eyes shut. You couldn’t make Jason happy before. Jesus Christ, did everyone know?

“That’s not important,” she muttered as she went back to the elevator. She just—she just wanted to talk to Jason about Skye. And Manny. And once Manny Ruiz was out of their lives for good, she’d go back to ignoring Jason’s existence.

And maybe this time, she’d be able to forget him for good.

Warehouse: Jason’s Office

Cody Paul, one of the guards assigned to the offices, knocked on Jason’s ajar door. “Hey, Elizabeth Webber is here to see you.”

Jason frowned, got to his feet, then took his phone out of his pocket, then winced. He had two missed calls from her — and one from Sam. “Did something happen? Is she okay? Let her in,” he added before Cody could answer either of the first two questions.

“Nothing happened that I know of,” Cody said as he gestured with a free hand towards the outside office. “He’ll see you now, Miss Webber.”

“Thanks.” Elizabeth strode in, dressed in a pair of pink scrubs, a white jacket hanging open over them. She had a white knit hat clenched in her hands, twisting it back and forth. “I’m sorry to just show up like this, but—”

“You tried to call,” he finished. “I’m sorry. I had—I had some things to do, and I—” Had been ignoring his calls, not wanting to talk to Sam. Or anyone else. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine. We get busy. I, um,” Elizabeth bit her lip, pausing. Their eyes met, then she looked away, her cheeks flushing. “I’m sorry, I don’t have a lot of time. Epiphany is covering my shift, and I—I think I did that thing you told me not to do, and I’m sorry.”

Jason frowned again. He hadn’t expected to see her again, not after their last conversation on the docks. If she was here now—

He rounded the desk and took the hat from her, setting it on the desk. “Sit down. What’s going on?”

With a heavy sigh, Elizabeth set her purse and coat down on the sofa but didn’t take a seat. “I was talking to Skye at the hospital—she had an appointment and came up to…talk to me about something. Just—that part isn’t important,” she said quickly. “We were talking for a few minutes, and when she turned to go, she ran right into Manny. We didn’t even see him coming—he had to be just around a corner or something.”

“Okay,” Jason said slowly. He put his hands at his waist and squinted, not really sure how this was making anything worse. “And then what?”

“And then I was afraid if Skye went downstairs to her appointment, Manny would follow her. I told him I had something for him to do. So he had to come to clean a room. And I stayed with him until he was done, until I was sure Skye was at her appointment. And then I called Alan to make sure he’d be there to walk her out.”

Jason stared at her for a long moment. “What do you mean exactly by you stayed with Manny until he was done?”

“I mean, I stood in the room to make sure he did it.”

“You were alone with him.”

“Um…” Elizabeth bit her lip again and slide her gaze away. “For…a few minutes. Yes.”

He closed his eyes. “What was the one thing I asked you not to do?”

“Not to get involved, but in my defense, I also told you that I wasn’t going to sit by and let someone get hurt—”

“Elizabeth—”

“And I was fine. I took scissors with me. I hid them, so he didn’t know I had them. But I was armed—”

“With a pair of scissors,” Jason muttered. He stalked forward and yanked open the door. “Cody!”

“Yeah, boss?”

“You’re on Elizabeth until further notice.”

“Um…” Cody glanced at the irritated brunette behind Jason. “Okay.”

“That is entirely unnecessary,” Elizabeth told him as Jason turned back to her and closed the door. “I don’t need a guard—”

“It was bad enough when we thought maybe he was letting you see him on purpose. But you made a point to separate him from Skye. You put yourself between him and Skye. That kind of thing pisses him off.”

“Which is why I’m here telling you. And I also told Skye that he was following her. That she should tell Alcazar.” Elizabeth scowled. “And why doesn’t he already have a guard on her? She’s pregnant! What kind of mobster is he?”

Jason’s irritation only deepened. “Elizabeth—”

“Oh, I’m not supposed to say that out loud, I guess. Sorry. What does he pretend he really does? You’re coffee importers. What’s he again?”

She returned his glare with a bland expression. “That doesn’t matter. You told her to tell Alcazar?”

“Yes. I should have done it earlier, after we—after you said—” She gritted her teeth. “After we talked last week. But after Skye and I were talking today, I just knew I had to do something—” She shook her head. “But maybe I should have just let her deal with it—”

“I—” Jason hesitated, then leaned against the desk. “I’m meeting Alcazar tomorrow to tell him. It’s already set up.”

She stared at him for a long moment. “I thought you said this wasn’t your problem.”

“I said that’s what Sonny said.” Jason exhaled slowly. “And he was technically right — Skye’s safety should be Alcazar’s priority. But I decided I wasn’t comfortable waiting for him to get around to it. So I arranged a meeting.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth folded her arms, shifted her weight from one foot to another. “Oh,” she repeated.

“But you knew I’d change my mind,” Jason told her. When she frowned at him, “You’re here, aren’t you?”

“I—” A breath of air escaped her lips as she looked at her hands. “I wasn’t going to. Epiphany basically forced me. And then I called you, but you didn’t answer.”

“I’m sorry,” he apologized again, but she shook her head.

“No, it’s—look, I know what I said about you not thinking this mattered, but I guess—” She paused. “I knew that if I got myself in trouble, I could at least—” She lifted a shoulder. “I could tell you.”

“I’m glad,” Jason told her when she met his eyes. They held for a moment. “I know I told you not to help—but I know you didn’t feel like you had a choice. And I’m glad you told Skye. She’ll tell him what happened today, and he’ll be more likely to listen to me.”

“Right. So that’s…all taken care of then.” Elizabeth went to pick up her coat and purse, then sighed. She muttered something to herself. She turned back to him. “Listen. Is Sam mad at me or something?”

“No,” Jason said, but then he paused, a slow sinking dread rising in his throat. “Why?”

“Because I went to the penthouse first—” her cheeks flushed. “She was mad that the guards let me upstairs, and then mad that I was looking for you. She said—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Never mind.”

“What did Sam say?” Jason pressed. He stepped in front of the door, blocking any exit she might try to make. “Elizabeth.”

“She told me to stop chasing after you. More or less.” Elizabeth finally looked at him, her eyes filled with confusion. “Why would she say that? Why—” She sighed. “This is about Emily, isn’t it? Emily said something.” Her cheeks drained. “Oh my God, I didn’t even think about it—Emily said all that—about—well, she said it in front of Sam—”

“Yeah, it’s been…” Jason sighed. He dragged his hands through his hair. “It’s been a long week. Sam and I are fighting about a lot of things. She’s…I guess I never really told her—I don’t know. It never came up.”

“Well, no, why would it?” Elizabeth blinked, then tried to step around him again, but Jason didn’t budge. “Look, I’m sorry Sam is mad at me. Or you. Or the world. And I’ll just avoid her until this cools down—”

“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea, but—” Jason grimaced. “Look, I know you said you don’t want to talk about it—”

“And I don’t.” Elizabeth shook her head. “So we’re not going to talk about it—”

“But I think we should—”

“Oh my God, what is everyone’s obsession with this right now?” Elizabeth demanded. She threw her bag and coat back on the sofa with a huff. “It’s been four years—”

“Three and a half,” Jason corrected, but she wasn’t listening to him anyway.

“And it was like this….blip that didn’t even go anywhere, but every time I turn around, Emily’s throwing at your face like a goddamn bomb, Sam is accusing me of something, and Lucky still thinks I’m picking you over him, Skye’s coming to me for advice, and now you—you want to talk about it!”

She jabbed a finger at him, her face flushed, and hair falling out of the messy updo it had been fastened in when she came in. “Blip?” he repeated because it was the only part of her tirade that he could really take in. “What does that mean?”

“Oh, man—” Elizabeth slumped onto the sofa and put her head into her hands. “I really did something to the universe this time. I pissed someone off, didn’t I?”

“Elizabeth—” He stopped. “Wait, why is Skye asking you for advice?”

“Who knows,” Elizabeth muttered and got back to her feet. “None of it matters. It’s over. It never even started. You told Courtney that once, remember? Well, you were right, and I got the message—”

She started past him again, but he grabbed her elbow and swung her back around. “What—what do you mean—how do you know what I said to Courtney?”

“I am going to staple my mouth shut.” Elizabeth pressed her lips together in a mutinous line. “I told you, Jason, I don’t want to talk about this—”

“I think we need to—”

“Why? Why do you want to hash this out now? What good could it possibly do?” She threw up her hands.

“I don’t know,” Jason admitted. “Probably none. But—” He paused. “Ever since we talked on the docks, since you told me—”

Elizabeth pressed her hands over her face with a low moan. “Oh, man—”

“I was not falling in love with Courtney while you were at the penthouse.”

Jason’s flat statement had Elizabeth lower her hands slightly so she could peer at him suspiciously. “What?”

“I never even thought about her that way until—until it came out of nowhere. In…December. After you made it clear at Luke’s that we were done.”

“You—” Her eyes widened, and she stabbed a finger in his direction. “You got married to Brenda—what the hell was I supposed to say—”

“Now, why the hell is Skye asking you for advice?” Jason demanded, losing his patience. “And is she telling Alcazar anything?”

Elizabeth blinked at him, shook her head a little. “What—why would—why would he care? And no, she’s not—” Her hands fell to her side, and resignation crept into her expression. “She didn’t think there was anyone else who would tell her the truth. And since I was a mother, I might be honest with her. She asked me about having a child with a man in this life since you and I used to date, and I guess she thought this was something we might have talked about.”

“Oh.” He was the flustered one now. “I—”

“I don’t think that’s something Alcazar would be interested in. Since she’s trying to decide if she’s having second thoughts. I told her that I wasn’t a good person to ask since—” With an exhausted sigh, Elizabeth continued, “since you and I never got that far.”

“Oh,” he repeated. He didn’t know what to say now. He wanted to ask her what her answer would have been if they—if they had gotten that far. But that was wildly irrelevant, and he couldn’t for the life of him think why it mattered—

Except Jason realized now that she’d all but told him she’d been in love with him that fall they’d briefly been together and, for years, she’d believed he’d been in love with someone else. And…he hated the idea that she didn’t know. That she’d never known how he’d felt then.

They stared at each for a long moment before Jason finally gave in to the desperate need to know. “What would your answer have been?” When she frowned, he continued, “If…we had talked about it.”

Elizabeth inhaled sharply, and he flinched. She wouldn’t answer, of course—it was none of his damn business—she was married. He was engaged.

But, for whatever reason, she answered the question.

“I told her that your way of life didn’t bother me. Not the way it probably should have. I told Skye that she needed to make sure that she wasn’t pretending Alcazar wasn’t who he was.” Her eyes shimmered. “Because if you walk into this life, you have to do it eyes wide open. What you do is not who you are, but it’s part of it. And if you ignore that, well…then it’s not real. You’re not real. And it won’t last.”

“That’s—” Jason rubbed his chest, his throat feeling tight. “I—”

“You never wanted to have this conversation back then, Jason. Because you were happier thinking I was stupid or reckless. So I guess it doesn’t matter what my answer would have been. You weren’t asking the question. You were never going to.”

She pushed past him and grabbed her coat and purse.

“I didn’t think you wanted me to.” He swallowed hard. “Elizabeth—”

“Well, we’ve had the conversation now. Great. You weren’t in love with Courtney back then. But you still—” Elizabeth stopped at the door and looked at him. “You still didn’t love me. So why are we doing this—”

“I didn’t know—” Jason bit back the words because they couldn’t possibly be useful now, but he just…he couldn’t stand that she didn’t know what she’d meant to him. “I didn’t know you needed the words.”

A tear slid down her cheek. “What does that mean?”

“It means I loved you. Then. I didn’t know you needed to hear it. I didn’t—I thought you’d know. But maybe I just wanted you to say it first.” He hesitated, but he couldn’t help himself. “You always mattered.”

Another tear fell down her cheek. “We never should have talked about this.” Her voice was barely above a whisper.

“But—” His voice sounded broken as he tried to force out the words. “It’s better to be honest, isn’t it?”

“No. Because now it’s worse. Because I didn’t know before. And now I do. Because I loved you, too. And we threw it away.”

She yanked open the door, and this time, he let her leave. He nodded to Cody, who followed Elizabeth out of the building.

Jason closed the door behind her, then turned to find her hat still sitting on his desk. He picked it up, then carefully put it into the drawer of his desk.

She was right. They shouldn’t have talked about it. Some things were better left in the dark.

May 20, 2020

This entry is part 8 of 33 in the series For the Broken Girl: Reflections of You

Second chances they don’t ever matter, people never change
Once a whore, you’re nothing more, I’m sorry that’ll never change
And about forgiveness, we’re both supposed to have exchanged
I’m sorry honey, I passed out, now look this way
Misery Business, Paramore


Monday, March 27, 2006

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“Carly, there’s nothing more I can do—” Jason pinched the bridge of his nose and looked across the room to Sam, who was still not talking to him—another problem he couldn’t solve.

She’d arrived home before him after that terrible scene at Sonny’s, gone upstairs to the guest room to sleep. That had been two days ago. She hadn’t looked at him, spoken to him, or returned to their bedroom.

And he honestly had no idea how to fix that.

Unfortunately for him, Carly had no problems with her communication. She was angry about the articles, about the insinuations, about the fact that Michael was getting snickers about his father at school and at basketball practice. This was very upsetting to Carly because Michael started a new school this year, and while Jason had no memories of elementary school, apparently sixth graders were vicious bullies.

“There’s always something to do,” Carly snapped. “You’re supposed to be the most feared enforcer on the goddamn Eastern seaboard. Why can’t you kidnap your idiot sister—”

“I’m hanging up now,” Jason told her before pressing end on his phone and setting it on the desk. He sighed and looked at Sam, who had turned her head to him. “Carly thinks I should kidnap Emily.”

Sam raised her brows, then sighed. “I’d ask why Carly cares, but she’s predictable. She might not want Sonny, but no one else gets him either. It’s the same crap she pulled two years ago.”

Relieved Sam was talking to him, even if it was in a flat tone of voice, Jason took a seat at the other end of the sofa and continued. “She says it’s because of the boys. Because of how much they love Emily. And every time a woman comes into Sonny’s life, she ends up leaving and never coming back.”

Sam snorted. “She’s not wrong. And you agree with her.”

Dangerous territory. Jason took a deep breath. “I agree that we need to make this stop. I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” He paused. “I’m sorry. About that scene with Emily, and then with Sonny—”

“I’m not a mess you need to clean up,” Sam said. She glared at him. “And if that’s why we’re together—because you like a damsel in distress, then you should go. Or I should go.”

“I never said—”

“I’m no one’s fucking damsel.” She shoved herself to her feet and started to pace. “I can take care of myself, Jason. I can always take care of myself. You think I can’t because I moved in with you and pretended to be all weak and alone, but I’m not fucking helpless—”

Warily, Jason also stood. “I never said—”

“Because I played Sonny like a goddamn cheap violin, and if it hadn’t been for Carly—” Sam broke off, shook her head. “Anyway.”

Jason grimaced. “Sam, c’mon. I know what you said to Sonny yesterday, but I was there, and I know you—”

She scowled. “I played you, too. I knew exactly what to do, to say, to make sure I could stay right across the hall from Sonny. I thought I could—” She pursed her lips. “Emily was wrong. I didn’t—I don’t think I used my daughter. Not after she was gone. But before, I know I did.”

Jason just stared at her. What the hell did he say to that? “Sam—”

“You can’t make your sister or Sonny do what you want to do. You’re right. This will be a disaster. But you’re wrong, and Carly’s wrong. You need to just let this go. Let whatever is going to happen happen. Because I am not interested in being in the middle of any of this—”

He blinked at the change in conversation, then shook his head. “I don’t know if I can just sit back—there are things going on—”

“What choice do you have?” Sam demanded. “What choice do any of us have? Sonny is going to do whatever the hell he wants. You know that. And judging from your sister, I mean, she’s going to do the same. So, hey, maybe they are a match made in heaven.”

Jason had no idea how to handle this bitter and angry Sam, but he knew he had to say something—

He was interrupted by a knock on the door. Sam walked past him to open the door and scowled when she found Emily standing on the threshold. Jason shot to his feet. “What do you want?” Sam demanded.

“I came to see if my brother has calmed down enough to have a civil conversation.” Emily eyed Sam up and down, taking in her disheveled dark hair and gray sweats. Sam’s scowl deepened, and Jason strode forward, a bit worried they would have a repeat of before.

“Emily—”

“Look, it was pointed out to me that I have a habit of…” Emily pursed her lips. “Going for the jugular when I’m angry. I don’t like taking my problems out on my friends or…” She arched a brow. “Whatever you are.”

Sam snorted, folded her arms, and rolled her eyes but remained silent.

“I talked to Sonny last night—” Emily said, and Jason clenched his jaw. “He said you went over and threw a tantrum. You demanded he stop seeing me. And I’m sure he told you to go to hell. So I’m wondering if you’re going to stop being a jerk—”

“Is this you apologizing?” Sam demanded. “Because, wow, it sounds like more of the same—”

“I am not talking to you, Sam,” Emily snapped. “Nobody asked you.” She squeezed her eyes shut, took a deep breath. “I get that you don’t like what’s happening here. You’re not alone, okay? Mom and Dad are angry. Grandfather can barely look at me. Carly came all the way to the hospital yesterday to chew me out, and, of course, Elizabeth took your side like she always does.”

“I’m sorry you’re unhappy,” Jason said flatly. “But none of us are wrong.”

All of you are wrong. You know, I expected it from the Quartermaines. They’ll hate Sonny until the day they die. Whatever. But you—God, you and Elizabeth.” Emily’s eyes burned. “I really thought you would be there for me. That you’d be angry at first, but that you’d understand that what Sonny and I have is real—”

“I never said it wasn’t,” Jason interrupted. “But that doesn’t mean he’s not going to hurt you.”

“You think you can be in love with someone and not hurt each other?” Emily demanded. “You think you’re so damned perfect? What about what you did to Robin, huh? Or lying to Courtney about sleeping with this—” She bit off whatever word she was about to say. “Or cheating on Elizabeth with Courtney? You think you’ve never hurt anyone—”

Jason blinked and shook his head. “I never—what are you talking about? I never cheated on Elizabeth.” Stunned, he swallowed hard. “Did she tell you that?”

That’s the part you’re focusing on?” Sam demanded. “How about the part where she called me a whore again?”

“I—” Jason looked at his irate fiancée. “I didn’t—”

“Elizabeth didn’t have to tell me,” Emily snarled. She jabbed a finger at him. “How dumb do you think I am? She moved out in October. And then you were with Courtney five seconds later. Why do you think she left?”

“Elizabeth lived with you? What—” Sam held up her hands. “Wait a second.”

“It wasn’t—” Jason bit off the protest. “It wasn’t like that.”

“Sure. Because you are so perfect. You cheated on Robin with Carly. On Elizabeth with Courtney. Hey, maybe you were actually sleeping with this skank before you left Courtney. Where do you get off acting like some sort of saint who’s never hurt anyone?” Emily’s eyes burned into his. “You don’t get to walk around telling other people what to do. I came here to see if you’d calmed down. Obviously—”

“It’s time for you to go,” Sam declared. She grabbed Emily’s arm and shoved her across the threshold. “If he’s not going to do it, I will. And don’t bother stopping by anymore. You won’t be allowed past the lobby without permission again.” She slammed the door shut, then whirled on Jason.

“I—” Jason couldn’t quite take in what had just happened. How it had all turned on him. He knew—He knew that Emily and Sonny was a bad idea. He knew he had to stop it. But—

“Why the hell did you let her stay after she went after me again?” Sam demanded. “And why didn’t you tell me you lived with Elizabeth? And what the hell does that mean about Robin and Carly—” She narrowed her eyes. “Did you let her stay so you could find out exactly what Elizabeth told her?”

“She’s…” Jason exhaled slowly, trying to wrap his head around the scene that had just played out. “She’s my sister, Sam. I just—I just—I don’t know. Maybe.” He hadn’t thought about those last few weeks with Elizabeth in…years—not until a few weeks ago when Elizabeth had brought up the lie about Sonny—the lie he’d told her.

Did she really think—

“Hey.” Sam snapped her fingers, bringing his attention back. “Focus, Jason. Because whatever Emily said about before, it doesn’t change the fact that every time she goes after you, I end up in the crosshairs. I just told you—I do not want to be part of any of this bullshit. And you just let her continue to attack me so you could…what…pump for her information?”

“No, that’s not—” Except that’s exactly what he’d done, and he felt low. He scrubbed his hands over his face, took another deep breath. “You’re right. I’m sorry. She’s my sister, and she knows exactly what to say to me.”

“Yeah, Emily wasn’t wrong about always going for the jugular. It sounds like she went after her best friend, along with me. And now you.” Sam rubbed the heel of her hand against her chest. “And now she’s probably off to another victim. I mean it, Jason. I don’t want her just showing up here. Not until you figure out how to deal with it.”

“Yeah, I’ll tell Wally downstairs. Listen, about—about what she said—it’s true about Robin and Carly. Not in the way Emily means. But I hurt Robin a lot.” Jason shook his head. “But I would never do that again. Not to anyone. I didn’t cheat on Elizabeth. Or Courtney.”

“No, but you do have a way of avoiding being alone.” Sam tipped her head. “I didn’t realize things were so serious with Elizabeth. You said it didn’t go anywhere.”

“It didn’t,” Jason said flatly.

“But she lived with you! And thinks you cheated on her—” She threw up her hands. “Why is this the first time I’m hearing about any of this?”

“Because it’s over.” Jason shook his head. “And I can’t change any of it, so why bother talking about it?”

Sam narrowed her eyes, but he didn’t volunteer anymore. He wondered if she was thinking about the conversation he’d had on the docks with Elizabeth and their argument about it. “I’m gonna go take a shower. You go to work. And keep your sister away from me while she’s foaming at the mouth. Let her go attack someone else for a change.”

General Hospital: Locker Room

Elizabeth’s shift was scheduled to start at the same time as Emily’s, so she found herself hurrying to get ready and out of the locker room before her best friend arrived.

But the world was not on her side as Emily stalked into the room just as Elizabeth was tying her sneakers. Resigned to another round of drama, Elizabeth sat on the bench and waited.

“Brothers are ridiculous,” Emily muttered. “They always have terrible taste in women, and they take the skank’s side. Can you believe Jason just sat there while Sam shoved me out the door?”

“Oh, man, you went back to the penthouse?” Elizabeth grimaced. “Why? Did you think Jason was going to change his mind? Em—”

“He’s just so—ugh—you know AJ used to call him Saint Jason? Walking around like he could do no wrong—”

If Emily was invoking her dead brother who had been smothered to death after kidnapping kids, faking deaths, and shooting his own father, she was really on a rampage. She could only imagine what Emily had said to get Sam to throw her out this morning.

“Emily, maybe you just need to stay away from Jason until he’s…” Elizabeth got to her feet. “I don’t know until this is over.”

“Over? You mean until Sonny dumps me? Is that you mean?”

Yes, but Elizabeth valued her life enough not to say so. She pursed her lips. “Or until Jason accepts it—”

“Why the hell should I go around on tiptoes because my family doesn’t approve of my boyfriend? Is that what you did when you were sleeping with Jason in your studio?” Emily demanded. “No. You gave everyone the finger and did what you wanted.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath. “Okay, well, first of all, I wasn’t sleeping with Jason back then. He told you that. I told you that.” And she was really sick of telling people that.

“Please, no one ever believed it,” Emily muttered. She stripped off her top and yanked her scrubs from her locker. “Don’t tell me you think we bought that just friends crap?”

“I—”

“I mean, honestly, if you weren’t married, I’d tell you to take another turn at him. You’d be better than his current whore—”

“Emily, just stop—” Elizabeth held up her hands. “What the hell has gotten into you? You’re attacking me just for standing here. And if this is the attitude you had at Jason’s, no wonder you’ve been thrown out twice—”

Emily huffed, then sat on the bench. “I’m sorry. I’m just—” She shook her head. “You all think I’m an idiot. Like I don’t know who Sonny is. What he’s done. I’ve known him half my life, Elizabeth. Do you think I don’t know what I’m getting into? Don’t I deserve someone who makes me happy?” Her voice thickened. “After last year, after struggling so hard to put Connor Bishop behind me—Nikolas was supposed to love me. To stand by me. And he didn’t.”

“I know.” Elizabeth sat down next to her. “I know. And I am still so angry at him for not giving you more time. For not being the man I thought he was. Em—” She bit her lip. “Look, you said you expected this from the Quartermaines. Because even though AJ and Jason ultimately made their own choices, you know they blame Sonny for what happened.”

“I expected more from you. From Jason.” Emily’s lips trembled. “I told him that. You think I’m making a mistake. And you’re taking his side—”

“I am not taking his side, Em. I don’t even know his side. But I know that going over to his home, attacking him and Sam isn’t going to make this better.”

“I know that. I thought about what you said, but then I talked to Sonny, and I got mad all over again at Jason—but I wasn’t gonna say anything to Sam. I promise. But then she opened the door and, God, she just had this look on her face, like nothing I would say would matter—” Emily scrubbed at her face. “I just wanted to hurt her.”

“Why? Why did you want to hurt Sam? She’s not even part of this. It’s Jason you’re mad at.”

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I know she agrees with everyone else. She thinks she has the right to judge me. With everything that happened—with what she’s pulled on my brother—”

“Em—”

“But I really—I don’t know. I know you’re right. I know you’re right about me going for the throat when I get like this. Because I went for Sam, and you yesterday. And God, I went after Jason today. He was so—” Emily hiccuped as her tears slid down her cheeks. “He was so upset—”

Elizabeth put a hand on her shoulder. “What did you say to him?” she asked softly, knowing Emily would feel better if she admitted it. If she said it out loud. And—as much as she didn’t want to be—she was worried about Jason. She knew he was having problems with Sonny, and she didn’t think the maternity results had gone over great with Sam. The last thing either of them needed was another full frontal attack from Emily.

“I—I hit him where I know it hurts. I didn’t use Michael. At least I can say that. But I—I know he’s sensitive sometimes about the months after the accident. When, like, he didn’t know a lot, and he was figuring stuff out. He hurt Robin so much. I know that still bothers him. I know it because it was tied up in what happened with Michael, but also because of what happened with Carly.”

“Okay—”

“He wasn’t Michael’s father, you know. But he did sleep with Carly when he was dating Robin. And I know she forgave him, but it still bothers him. Because of her issues with HIV and sex—” Emily took a deep breath. “I know it bothers him,” she repeated.

“Well, if you just apologize—”

“So, I accused him of doing it again.”

Elizabeth furrowed her brows, tipped her head to the side. “What? Like—when he lied to Courtney about when Sam’s daughter was conceived—”

“Well, yeah, that too.” Emily bit her lip and met Elizabeth’s eyes. “And you.”

“And me,” Elizabeth repeated. “Wait. What? I—” She slid away from Emily as her pulse began to race. No. “What did you say to Jason?”

“Um. God. Oh, God—” Emily’s breath started to hitch. “Oh, man. I’m sorry. I didn’t even think about—I just wanted to hurt him. And maybe I wanted to hurt Sam—”

“Emily, you didn’t—” Elizabeth’s hands trembled as her cheeks heated. “You didn’t tell him—I told you I don’t think anything was—” She turned away from her best friend, pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. “Oh, man. How could you—”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t think about it being something you told me in confidence—”

“I told you that—” Elizabeth got to her feet. “What’s wrong with you? You told Jason that I thought he was with Courtney while I was still at the penthouse? How could—”

“I lied to him. I mean—” Emily sighed. “When I said it, he got this look in his eyes and, man, I thought, direct hit. You know, bullseye. And then he just—he looked so upset, Elizabeth. And he wanted to know if that’s what you told me.”

“We never—” Her stomach lurched. Why. Why was this happening to her? “You had no right—”

“I lied to him. I said I came up with it on my own, okay? I just—I said I assumed he had because you moved out and—” Emily wrung her hands. “I’m sorry. I just—I didn’t think—”

“No, you didn’t.” Elizabeth closed her locker, pressed her forehead against it. “You never do. And you took something that had nothing to do with you—nothing to do with this—and you made me part of it. You had no right—”

“I didn’t tell him any of the other stuff, okay? Like how he was always leaving you for Carly, for Courtney, and how part of you was glad when Courtney thought he was cheating on her because she deserved it—”

“I’m going to work,” Elizabeth said. “I’m going to stop thinking about any of this. This—God, it was years ago. And it’s mortifying, okay? Because he never knew how hard I took any of that, okay? Em? He never knew. He never knew I was in love with him. It never got that far. We never made it that far because he obviously didn’t feel the same way. And I finally got to a point where I wasn’t thinking about that with him, okay? We could—I could be in the same room with him. I could be happy he’d moved on. And you’ve just—you’ve taken a wrecking ball to that.”

“I’m sorry—”

“You keep saying that. But you don’t even know what that means. You know what? Maybe you’re right. Maybe you and Sonny deserve each other.” She started to storm out, then whirled around. “You said no one bought that just friends crap. About Jason and me when Lucky was gone.”

“Uh—”

“What does that mean no one bought it?” Elizabeth demanded. “Who exactly didn’t buy it?”

“Um. Listen. It was years ago—”

“Lucky got mad because Jason walked me to the damned elevator,” Elizabeth snapped. “He was angry because I smiled at him, which is insane because I haven’t spoken to Jason more than a few times in almost two years. So what the hell do you mean no one bought it? Are you telling me—”

She pursed her lips. God, was this why Lucky was still so angry when Jason’s name came up? Because he thought she’d been lying to him back then? God, did that mean— “Does Lucky believe Jason and I were together then?”

“I don’t know if he still does,” Emily said, finally. “We haven’t talked about it for a long time. But yeah, when Jason came back that August, Lucky asked me and Nikolas. And we told him—we told him you and Jason were really close. And you both said it wasn’t like that, but that we didn’t believe you.”

Her eyes burned, and Elizabeth tipped her head to the ceiling, trying to control it so she could go get her job done. “Okay. Great. Well, thanks for that. Thanks for making me a liar. For your information, I never slept with Jason. Not once. I might as well have since everyone thinks I’m a liar and a whore.”

“Elizabeth, wait—”

But Elizabeth had to go earn a paycheck and figure out exactly what she was supposed to do now that she knew there was no one she could really trust.

PCPD: Commissioner’s Office

Mac sighed. “Lucky, I’m glad therapy is going better—but I told you. If you’re out past April 1, I need to reassign Jesse to a new partner. Officially. Right now he’s just working solo—”

“I’m finally able to get through the routine every day. I just know that Drake is gonna let me come back in a few weeks. Just a little more time—”

“It’s been five months already, Lucky.” Mac leaned forward. “Look, your job is always here. We just can’t hold your spot on Major Crimes open indefinitely. But we always need guys in Robbery—”

“No, I worked hard for that promotion. This isn’t fair, Mac. I deserve that spot! It’s not my fault I got hurt in November—and I got injured in the line of duty—” Lucky swallowed his protests as Mac’s face didn’t change. Damn it. Not when he was this close to finally having everything back. No! It wasn’t fair to do this to him now.

“I know. But the union will back me on this. I need my best squad at its best, and we’ve been down a guy for months. We’ve been rotating in and out, but—”

“Just one extra week. April 7. Just give me two weeks from today. I can do this, Mac. I’m sure of it.”

“April 7,” Mac repeated. “And if you’re not back by then, you won’t get angry that I fill that spot?” He raised his brow. “Did Patrick actually tell you you’d be good to go in two weeks, or is that what you’re hoping?”

“That what I’m sure of,” Lucky said, flatly. “I promise, Mac.”

“Okay.” Mac set down the pencil he’d been twirling in his hand, leaned back in his chair. “Okay. Look, I know you’ve had it rough since the train accident, and that you’ve had one setback after another. I know you hate desk duty, and I wish I could do more, but I’ve got a department to run.”

“I know. But you won’t regret giving me this chance. I promise.”

“Yeah, okay. Good luck, Spencer. I hope we’ll see you back on April 7.”

“You will,” Lucky repeated. He hurried out of Mac’s office, then stopped in the men’s room to take out his pills before heading to another physical therapy appointment. He scowled—how—how could he be out of the entire bottle—

Damn it. He’d meant for these to last until he got back to work—

But he’d been granted a reprieve—one more precious week to pass the physical. And whatever he had to do to make it happen—

Well, it was worth it.

He took out his phone and found Santiago in his contacts. He pressed send, then put the phone to his ear. “Yeah. I need to see you. Yeah. The same, but, um, double it.” He grimaced at the price the dealer gave him, then glanced down at the gold band on his hand. “Fine. I need some time. An hour? Okay.”

He hung up the phone, put it into his pocket, then drew off his wedding ring. Lucky’s stomach rolled as he turned it over in his hand. He remembered Elizabeth’s wide smile as she’d shown him the ring the day she’d returned from the jeweler’s and her sheepish expression, apologizing that she couldn’t spend more. She’d been so proud to put this on his finger.

But she wasn’t proud of him right now. He was an angry, bitter shell of a husband who couldn’t stand to be in his own skin, to be around the people he cared about —

He hated to do this. Hated to let her down. But he was doing this for them. For their future and the family he’d promised her.

Lucky shoved the ring into his pocket and promised he’d get it back from the pawnshop with his first full paycheck. He could tell her it was lost or make up a story about it being repaired. She was working a lot lately — maybe she wouldn’t even notice.

Elm Street Pier

Even though Elizabeth knew she shouldn’t—Cameron was with Bobbie, and she really should pick him up—she took ten minutes to sit on the bench by the water.

She wasn’t going to let Lucky’s impatience with her being a bit late coming home from work interfere with something she did after every single shift. Something that gave her a minute to breathe and clear her head.

When she sat on these docks, she could remember all the better days she’d had here. Living under the docks when she and Lucky had run away, sharing a hot chocolate on this bench with Emily, or…

All the times she and Jason had sat here that fall and talked.

Oh, man. How was she ever going to look at him in the eye? How was she going to go home and face Lucky, knowing they had to have a conversation about what Emily had told him? If Lucky had always believed she’d slept with Jason that winter, had he spent all these years thinking Elizabeth had lied to him about her first time being with him?

And why had Lucky believed Emily and Nikolas? Why was he still so angry about Jason when she hadn’t even really talked to Emily’s brother in a year, outside of a few interactions a the hospital?

And how the hell had Sonny and Emily’s affair screwed up her life? If she’d known that Emily was going to use Elizabeth’s drunken and miserable confessions against Jason a weapon, Elizabeth never would have…she just wouldn’t have engaged in Jason’s life again. She would have stayed far away from the whole maternity test business, not told him about Skye—

And she certainly wouldn’t have referred to fake death lie or her irritation over Jason always taking Sonny’s side—

She scowled. Maybe it wasn’t entirely Emily’s fault they were going through this right now, but it made her feel better to blame someone else.

But Elizabeth didn’t want to think about any of that right now. She just wanted to sit here, wrap her cardigan more tightly around her, close her eyes, and let her brain drift. For just a few minutes.

But then, because the universe absolutely despised her, she heard a familiar set of footsteps and someone clearing their throat as they stepped up from the pier.

Elizabeth opened her eyes to find Jason standing a few feet away from her, obviously on his way from the warehouse. “Sure. Why not.” She looked up the universe. “You are a bitch.”

“Are—” Jason hesitated. “Do you want me to go?”

“No. No.” Elizabeth sighed, then straightened, taking a deep breath. “Do you have a minute?”

“Yeah.” He sat next to her, keeping almost two feet between them. Thank God for that.  She didn’t look at him and kept staring straight ahead.

If she looked at him, she would flee like the hounds of hell were chasing her, then have to leave town and change her name. No, better to get over this now. Put it behind them.

“Look, just let me say this once, and then we can forget this ever happened, okay? I’ll say what I have to say, and then you’ll go. And it will be over.”

“Okay,” Jason said slowly. “Elizabeth—”

“I am sorry that you and Emily are fighting. I know it’s been bad. She comes to work right after and—well, obviously you know it’s been bad. I’m sorry she’s put me and Sam in the middle of it. I am…”

Elizabeth looked up at the stars in the sky. “I am mortified beyond belief that she would use something so personal as a way to hurt you. And even though she does not deserve any goddamn favors from me right now, she lied to you when she said—she was trying to backpedal, realizing she had crossed a line—” Elizabeth shook her head. You are an adult, Elizabeth Imogene. Get your shit together.

“I told her what she said to you. I told her that’s what I thought. And I do not want you to address it. I do not want to discuss it, okay? I just—you don’t need to think Emily thinks those things about you on her own, okay? Things are bad enough without that.”

“Elizabeth, I need to explain—”

“No.” Elizabeth shook her head sharply. “No. I—this is bad enough. Bad enough she dragged up something I told her in fucking confidence years ago and launched it at you like a nuclear weapon. I am not having this conversation with you. It does not matter.”

“It does if you’re upset about it now—”

“I am not—” Damn it. Elizabeth closed her eyes. Looked at him, saw the distress in his expression. “I am not upset about it now. Not like I was, okay? It’s not about any of that, okay? It’s about the fact that Emily is on the warpath, and none of us is safe. I haven’t thought about that in years.  It’s not important—”

“But—”

“Jason.” She pointed at him. “No. The problem is that Emily is, apparently, not above throwing me or Sam under the bus in order to hurt you. What’s going on has nothing to do with me or Sam, and we don’t deserve to be in the middle.”

“No. I know that.” Jason took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I never seem to handle this the right way. Sam’s angry at me—” His chuckle was harsh and bitter. “Well, she’s angry for a lot of reasons with me, but right now it’s because I can’t stop Emily from calling her names, and to bring up her daughter—”

“When Emily told me she’d said it—” she exhaled slowly. “I am so sorry she did that. To both of you. But that’s what she does.”

“She takes the thing you hate about yourself and uses it against you.” Jason shoved his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. “Sam told me to just leave all of this alone, and I know—I know she’s right.”

“But Emily showed up on your doorstep twice demanding your approval, Jason. That’s on her. You tossed her out, and she came back.”

“Because I went to Sonny yesterday and told him to stop seeing her,” Jason admitted, looking a bit ashamed of himself. “And maybe I shouldn’t have done that.”

“Maybe?”

“I shouldn’t have,” Jason corrected. “Sam’s right. I know you’re right, too. But I can’t—he’s going to hurt her, Elizabeth. And—” He hesitated. “I can’t say this to her. Because she’d refuse to believe me. But she’s going to hurt him.”

And Elizabeth knew what he wasn’t going to say—she’d known Sonny long enough to know that his relationships often ended in chaos and disaster for everyone around him, especially Jason.

“That’s true,” Elizabeth said slowly. “But that’s how it works, doesn’t it? Even when both people are in love, you still hurt each other. Sometimes you can make it right. And sometimes the hurt can’t be fixed.” She turned towards him slightly, feeling terrible for him. “You know that’s true.”

“Yeah, but—” Jason looked at her. “I should be able to stop it. I should be able to protect my own sister.”

“Look, the thing is—” Elizabeth chewed on her bottom lip. What the hell, she was already mortified beyond the speaking of it. Go for broke. “Emily and I have something in common—we’re both stubborn.”

Jason’s lips curved into a faint smile. “Really?”

She rolled her eyes but also smiled. “Yeah—and the more someone tells us we can’t have something, that we can’t do something—the more we go after it.”

She clenched her hands in her lap. “And—” She sighed. “I know what it’s like to…care for someone the entire world sees as a threat. As someone will hurt you, who isn’t good enough for you.” She met his eyes, saw that he understood what she meant. “Listening to Emily, the way she cried over how the Quartermaines are dealing with this, how you—and I—aren’t there for her. It was like hearing my own life played back for this morning.”

“So you think Sam’s right. That I’m wrong for telling her—and Sonny—it has to stop.”

Elizabeth hesitated. “The thing is, Jason, is it doesn’t matter if you’re right. I don’t think giving her ultimatums is going to work, you know.” She attempted a half-smile. “My grandmother tried that, you know. A few times. I ran away with Lucky the first time. I actually slept under these docks when that happened. And then, you know, I moved out of her house.”

“Yeah.” There was a hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth. “Yeah, I remember.”

“Giving her an ultimatum, Jason, is only going to backfire,” Elizabeth told him. “When I resisted and pushed back, it meant cutting people out and disappointing them. And when I tried to give in, I made myself miserable.”

She looked away from him, back out over the water. “Living your life to make someone else happy—I’ve done that.” She sighed. “I walked away from something that I really wanted because I wanted to do right by someone else. And I regretted it.”

He exhaled slowly. “Yeah. I know you’re right.”

“And you might think you’re saving them both by demanding it stop now. But all you’ll do is make them both regret it. Emily will always think of this as the chance she didn’t take. I—” She sighed.

“What?” he asked when she didn’t continue. “Elizabeth—”

“Even though I hate how it ended—and we’re still not talking about it by the way—I know the decision to end it wasn’t anyone else’s. It was mine. I might wish…things had been different. But I made my choices. And that matters.”

“So, I should let Emily and Sonny make theirs.”

“Yeah. I guess that’s what I’m saying. I’m sorry. I wish I could tell you differently.”

“No, you’re not saying anything Sam didn’t. I guess—I don’t know.” He looked at her. “Was it your choice?”

Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Jason—”

“Because I know I made it difficult. I—” He looked back out over the lake. “I wanted to apologize.”

“We’re really not talking about it this—”

“I was wrong. Not about the danger.” Jason hesitated, looked at her again, and waited for her to meet his eyes. “It was real. But you were right. It was your risk to take.”

She sighed, bit her lip. Too little, too late. “Well, it doesn’t matter now—”

“I know you don’t want to talk about it—”

“Jason—”

“That’s fine. We won’t. But it’s not true.”

She exhaled harshly. “Okay. Fine.”

“Elizabeth—”

They were both saved by the ringing of her cell phone. Elizabeth knew who it was and decided not to answer it. Jason frowned when she just let the phone ring. “Elizabeth,” he said again.

“I have to get home.” She got to her feet. “Look, I can appreciate that you feel bad. And you don’t want me to feel bad about what happened. I don’t. I’m mad at Emily. I’m embarrassed because I would have rather gone to my grave than to talk about it again—”

“But we haven’t talked about it, and I just—”

“Look, fine—” She closed her eyes, shook her head. Should have just gone home. This never would have happened if she’d just gone home. “Fine. Here’s the thing. You’re going to tell me that you never slept with Courtney while I was living at the penthouse. Except I know that. I know that’s true.”

Jason blinked at her. “But—”

“But you were clearly—” She huffed, irritated with the world, and with Emily for forcing herself to remember that terrible time in her life. “You were clearly interested in her, okay? Because five minutes after you talked to me in Luke’s, you were with her. You were basically living with her by January. I never told Emily I thought you cheated on me—not like that. We weren’t even really dating. And it was obvious that you didn’t care about me the same way—”

She pressed her lips together as he just stared at her. “You quit your job for her. You proposed to her. And I couldn’t even get you to tell me Sonny wasn’t dead. I’m not stupid, Jason. You were falling in love with her, and you didn’t know how to tell me. I’ve been there. I did the same with Lucky and—” She bit off the unspoken you, but they both knew what she’d been about to say.

She stopped and then just went for broke because what the hell. “Jason, you didn’t want to take the risk with me. But you took it with Courtney only a few weeks later. You met with her in secret. What am I supposed to think?”

He swallowed hard. “Okay, but—”

“I wish you would have just told me instead of making me feel like an idiot, but—” Elizabeth sighed. “What I said on the roof? About you following orders unless you think it matters—”

He winced. “Elizabeth—”

“I know I was talking about Manny and Skye, but what I meant was I didn’t matter. I didn’t matter enough back then to go against Sonny—I don’t matter now. At least this time…” She looked down at her wedding ring. “At least this time, I wasn’t pretending I did.”

“That’s not—” He stopped, then stared at her for a long moment before trying again. “Elizabeth—”

“Just—” She held up a hand. “I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I don’t know why the hell people can’t just believe me when I say things. I need to go home. Have a good night, Jason.”