November 24, 2003
Sage slammed into the house and tossed her book bag to the ground. “I am never going back to that school again,” she declared.
Carly sighed and set Morgan into his bassinet before approaching the irate teen. “I take it the first day didn’t go well.”
“I am sick of being where I’m not wanted,” Sage seethed. “First it was with my own mother. She didn’t want me. Didn’t want my father either. She took off with some guy and I’ve never heard from her. And then my father just shipped me off to boarding school after boarding school until he died–which was a fact that my own uncle neglected to tell me for weeks!” Sage cried. “And I had to beg Uncle Lorenzo just to let me come to Port Charles, beg him again to let me stay and now he just shoves me off on you when he doesn’t want me around–”
“Whoa, whoa.” Carly held up her hands. “Lorenzo was all set to take you with him this week but I asked to look after you.”
Sage hesitated, her chest heaving from the exertion of her rage. “You did?”
“Yes. Lorenzo’s business trips are no place for a teenaged girl and…” Carly shrugged. “I wanted to get to know you better. Seemed like a good trade off.”
“Why do you give a damn about me?” Sage demanded.
“Because you mean the world to your uncle and he means a lot to me and mostly because I see part of myself in you,” Carly told her. “When I was your age, I was angry at the whole world. I thought my mother owed me better than what she gave me…both my biological mother and my adoptive mother. I hated that I lived in a house that was barely more than a trailer. That all of my friends had more than I did–I hated everything and everyone about my life.”
Sage crossed her arms tightly and blinked back tears. “No one wants me, Carly. No one has ever wanted me. I was an accident–I heard my mother shouting it at my father often enough. A-and when she was gone, he left me with nannies and in school. I was lucky to see him on the holidays. I never really saw my uncle until he came to tell me that my father was dead. I ran away from boarding school to come here, Carly. Did he tell you that?”
Troubled, Carly shook her head. “No. I didn’t…Honey, I’m sorry. But I know what you’re going through. I promise. I still don’t feel like I’m wanted a lot. I spent most of my life fighting to matter to people, fighting to destroy people, fighting to be happy…I don’t want to see it happen to you.”
She pulled Sage down to the couch and made her sit. “Being angry at the world takes too much energy, Sage. I’m so sorry that your childhood sucked and that you’ve been treated so horribly by the people who were supposed to love you but that’s going to change.”
“How can you be so sure?” Sage sniffled.
“Because you have a home here now. You will always be wanted and welcomed here with me,” Carly promised. She took Sage’s hands in hers. “Your uncle loves you but he’s a man and they don’t always understand what it’s like to be your age, much less a female.”
“I tried to apologize to Georgie and she just yelled at me and then her stupid cousin came over and told me that I should just go back to my private tutors because no one wanted me there anyway.”
“Teenaged boys are notorious for being stupid,” Carly sighed. “Sage…I know you’re lonely. I can see it in your eyes.” She touched Sage’s face. “I know what it’s like to be that way and it’s a very desperate feeling because you’ll do anything to get rid of it.
“So what should I do?” Sage asked quietly.
Carly glanced at her watch. “First of all, keep an eye on Morgan because I need to pick up Michael at school. I have a conference with his teacher about his absences.”
Sage nodded. “Okay. Yeah, I can do that. I’ve never really been around babies before but it shouldn’t be too hard right?”
“He should sleep right until I get back but if he starts to cry, just pick him up and rock him. He won’t be due to be fed until after I get back.”
Carly stood and shrugged into her jacket. “And while he’s sleeping, you can get started on your homework.”
Sage wrinkled her nose. “Careful. You’re starting to sound like a mom.”
“Well…after about seven years…I’d say it’s about time. I’ll be back.”
Jason leaned against the edge of his desk and watched as Courtney deposited the third suitcase at the foot of the stairs.
Divorce. It would be his second and it was almost depressing to think that his false marriage had lasted longer than his real one.
He deserved it though. He’d cheated on her, created a child with his ex-girlfriend and she had every right to leave him. He’d broken her trust in him.
But she hadn’t listed just that reason. Once again, his job had cost him the life he’d thought he’d have. His life with Robin, a life with Elizabeth, a marriage to Courtney.
But he couldn’t change who he was and he didn’t think he should have to. Courtney had known going into this who he was–or at least he’d tried to warn her. And after all, she’d known why Elizabeth left him. She had to know–had to have understood.
She dropped her last bag, a duffle bag at the bottom of the stairs. “Do you think someone could help me downstairs with my stuff?” she asked softly.
Jason nodded. “Yeah. Just…Marco’s outside. He’ll take care of it.” He crossed to the penthouse door where Marco was standing. It felt odd for him to have a guard outside his penthouse but he was in charge now and he’d better start getting used to it. “Marco, take Courtney’s bags down to the parking garage and put them in her car.”
Marco nodded and crossed into the penthouse. He grabbed two of her suitcases and went to the elevator. Courtney pulled the duffle bag over her shoulder and lifted the third suitcase. “Jason…I’m sorry it had to be this way.”
“Me too.” He took a deep breath. “Dara’s got her hands full with Sonny’s case right now. Maybe we could hold off filing until that’s done…?” he asked.
Courtney bit her lip. “I’d rather…I’d rather just get it over with. I don’t want anything, Jason. I just…I want to get it over with,” she repeated. “I’ll ask Dara if she can recommend someone.”
“Okay.” She hesitated. “I wanted…could you ask Elizabeth to give me a call? I know that sounds weird but I realized that…” she took a deep breath. “I never really apologized for the accident in September. I just want to clear the air with her.”
Jason nodded. “I’ll tell her the next time I see her.”
“I don’t plan on playing the jealous wife card,” Courtney assured him. “I-I don’t want to be that person. I just want to make amends.” She shifted the suitcase to her other hand. “I’ve got the rent on the Haye’s Landing house paid through the end of the year so I’ll be there until I can figure out what to do next.”
She turned towards the door and left. She couldn’t close the door with her hands full so she left it open. He crossed to stand there and watched until she got on the elevator.
He shut the door and crossed to the telephone. “This is Jason Morgan. I won’t be able to pick those listings up until tomorrow,” he said in a mechanical voice. “Thanks.”
He hung it up and went upstairs.
Suddenly, he felt very tired.
“I know why she’s angry me,” Elizabeth sighed, accepting the cup of hot chocolate Emily handed her. “I’ve been back and forth so many times in my life and now…boy, now I’ve really screwed it up.”
“Your grandmother comes from a generation where things like this didn’t happen,” Nikolas said. “Married men and women didn’t sleep together, create a child and try to keep their respective lives separated.”
Emily smacked him in the shoulder. “Don’t make it sound like that. They didn’t do anything wrong.”
“But we did. He was engaged. I knew he was engaged. I knew it was wrong. It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. My grandmother is right. I can’t afford this baby.”
“Yes you can,” Emily said forcefully. “Jason–”
“I can’t accept help from Jason. You heard what she said. His mistress,” Elizabeth spat out. “A kept woman. That’s all I’m ever gonna be in this town if I let him pay for a place to live.”
“Elizabeth, he’s the father of your child,” Nikolas argued. He stood and crossed to the mini bar, leaning against it. “Look, I understand where you’re coming from, I promise. And I even agree with you. The people in this town are vicious and cruel. They will say things behind your back and to your face. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you do everything in your power to take care of your child.”
“I can get a job,” Elizabeth argued. “There’s gotta be somewhere I can work that’ll work with my schedule and I’ll save money–”
“Okay, maybe you can do that someday but you are pregnant now. You’re not planning your future because one day it’ll happen. It’s happening now,” Emily interrupted. “Like it or not, Elizabeth, you’re pregnant with my brother’s baby and he will do whatever he has to do to be in the kid’s life.”
“I would never deny him that opportunity and I already said he can pay for the medical bills,” Elizabeth protested.
Nikolas sighed. “Elizabeth…you know we love you, right? We’ve been friends forever. But I’m about to do some tough love here and you’re just going to sit there and listen.”
Elizabeth bristled. “Wait a minute–”
“Elizabeth, in about seven months you’re going to bring a baby into this world,” Nikolas told her. “You’ll be lucky if you can afford a one-room apartment on what Kelly’s pays you not to mention we all know you’re behind in your credit card bills, your hospital bills and your phone bills so you can’t even get a new phone installed until you pay those off.”
“So?” she retorted.
“What if you wake up one night and your baby’s sick?” Nikolas demanded. “You can’t call anyone because you have no phone. You can’t leave to get help because you can’t leave your baby alone. You can’t take the baby anywhere because you have no car. What’re you going to do, Elizabeth?”
“I…” tears welled up in her eyes. “I’ll get a neighbor–”
“What neighbor?” Nikolas challenged. “You don’t know them because you spend all your time working or taking care of the baby. You don’t have time to meet your new neighbors because you’ve taken two jobs just to pay the bills and get the baby’s formula and keep the air conditioner on in the summer.”
“Nikolas,” Emily said softly. She stood and shook her head. “I think that’s enough.”
“Where do you do, Elizabeth?” Nikolas ignored Emily. “Do you take a chance and call a cab you can’t afford? Do you walk your baby the sixteen blocks or so to the hospital? Do you take a chance and beg a stranger to use their phone?”
Elizabeth wrapped her arms tightly around her body. “So you think I should let Jason take over my whole life.”
“No. I think you should let Jason take responsibility for his actions,” he corrected. “If you were married, would you think twice about quitting Kelly’s to concentrate on your child?”
“No…I quit while I was married to Ric,” Elizabeth hedged. “But–”
“And he paid all the hospital bills for the times you were in there until you filed for divorce leaving you stuck with the bills from the pulmonary embolism. He paid the utilities and paid for the house, right?”
“But we were married,” Elizabeth argued. “It’s different–”
“It’s not different at all. The only thing that makes it different is that Jason’s not your husband and he doesn’t live with you. He’s offering to do all the things Ric did, only he’s not going to try to kill you,” Emily tried to joke a little but it fell flat.
“I just…look, you’re right. You’re both right. But how do I explain to my grandmother that a married man is going to pay my bills and take care of me for the immediate future?” Elizabeth demanded.
“Audrey’s mad right now,” Nikolas said. “Once she calms down and realizes you don’t exactly have much of an alternate solution…she’ll understand.” He sighed and rubbed his neck. “You’re welcome to stay here as long as you want, you know that right?”
“Yeah, but I can no more accept your charity than I can Jason’s–”
“It’s not charity,” Emily interrupted. She took Elizabeth’s hands in hers with a warm smile. “We’re family, Elizabeth. We’ve always been family except now you’re going to have my niece or nephew and it’s going to be official. Family looks after each other and that’s what we’re doing now.”
Port Charles Elementary School
“Well, it’s not that we don’t think Michael can’t catch up but he was absent for nearly a month,” Mrs. Jacobs, Michael’s third-grade teacher sighed. “That’s an awful lot of time to miss.”
“I know but it couldn’t be avoided,” Carly replied. “I was in the hospital and my husband was–is–in jail. My sister-in-law just wanted to shield the boys from the media and the entire chaos of it all.”
“The circumstances are extraordinary,” Mrs. Jacobs agreed. “I just need some sort of assurance that Michael won’t be missing this much time the rest of the year. His attendance record is spotty at best already. He can’t afford to miss any more time.”
“He won’t,” Carly told her. “He’s back, it’s all under control. And there should be no reason for him to miss any time for the rest of the year–barring of course illness.”
“Of course. Well, Mrs. Corinthos, Michael is a bright boy and we can certainly understand trying to protect him. I understand that you and your husband are now separated and he no longer has contact with his father.”
“That’s correct. I’ve filed all the necessary address change forms in the office,” Carly replied.
“Okay, then I think that’s all of my concerns. We’ll arrange a schedule of make-up work for Michael and get him back on track.”
Carly stood and shook Mrs. Jacob’s hand. “Thanks.” She exited the classroom and saw Michael sitting on the bench outside of it, swinging his feet. “Okay, Mr. Man, let’s head out.”
They were almost to the car when her cell phone rang. She pulled it out of her purse and answered it as she directed the guard to take them home. “Hello?”
“Carly, it’s me.”
She smiled. “Lorenzo. I was going to call when I got home.”
“Where are you?” Lorenzo asked.
“On my way home from a conference with Michael’s teacher,” she answered. “Sage had her first day of school today.”
“Oh? How did it go?”
“Not as well as I would have liked. When you come home, I think the three of us should sit down and talk. Sage is a very lonely girl and she needs to express some things to you that I think she’s been afraid to up until now.”
Lorenzo sighed. “I know nothing about teenaged girls, Carly. I think I’ve done such a half-ass job of raising her since her father died.”
“There’s still hope for her,” Carly teased. “She just needs someone to take a more active role in her life, make her feel safe and wanted. She needs a home, Lorenzo. One that she can be absolutely sure of.”
“You’re right,” he agreed. “I talked to her about it before I left. I’m looking into buying a house. A nice big one that she can go wild in and decorate and make her own.”
“I should go,” Carly told him. “We’re almost home and I want to talk to Michael about school.”
“You know…I liked what you said earlier. About when I come home…” she could almost hear the smile in his voice. “Sounded nice didn’t it?”
“Yeah,” she sighed. “Yeah, it did.”
“I’ll call you later okay?”