Moments after Elizabeth had returned to her cutting, Jason appeared in the doorway. Immediately, all eyes save Elizabeth’s were on him and he shifted under the intense scrutiny.
“Hey, there,” Emily said quickly. She dumped the last pie on the counter and hustled over to him, trying to push him out the door. “I wanted to talk to you about something.”
“That’ll have to wait,” Jason told her. “I have to talk to–”
“Oh, you’ve done enough talking for right now. Turn please,” Emily directed. When he just stared at her, she narrowed her eyes. “Now.”
Sighing, Jason moved away from the door and let Emily pull him down the hallway towards the conservatory.
When she was sure Jason was out of earshot, Elizabeth dropped the knife to the counter with a large clatter and sank to the floor, burying her face in her hands, sobs shaking her shoulders.
Alarmed, Alexis and Bobbie rushed across the kitchen and kneeled in front of her. “Honey,” Bobbie sighed, pulling her into a tight hug. “Oh…Elizabeth.”
“It’s not fair,” Elizabeth managed to choke out. “I just–I wanted him to say it for so long and it–it just wasn’t enough…”
Bobbie rocked the hysterical brunette back and forth like she might a small child. “Shh…it’s okay,” she said softly. “You’re right to be upset–and right to be angry.”
“I just don’t understand how he could make love to me and then marry someone else,” Elizabeth whispered, clinging to Bobbie.
“Because men are idiots?” Alexis offered weakly.
“Well…you married someone else too, honey,” Bobbie reminded her gently.
“But Ric was before,” Elizabeth said defensively. She pulled away and wiped her eyes. “Before that night. A-and before he told me it was a mistake.” She closed her eyes. “That it shouldn’t have happened–that it wouldn’t happen again.”
“Oh…” Bobbie sighed. “I have to go with Alexis on this one.”
“Yeah? The men equal stupidity theory?” Alexis remarked. She grabbed some paper towels and handed them to Elizabeth. “Maybe he really thought it was over and just–the night made him realize it wasn’t.”
“I’m sorry.” Elizabeth took a deep breath and pulled herself to her feet. “I’m really–I’m really okay, I promise. I’ve been…I’ve been holding that in for a while and it just–it just came out.”
Bobbie kissed Elizabeth’s cheek. “That’s all right, sweetheart. Everyone needs a good cry now and then. God knows you have more than enough to cry about.”
“Okay, that’s really not helping,” Alexis said. “Don’t be so judgmental, Bobbie. It’s not like Elizabeth has done anything wrong here.” She headed back to the counter she’d been sitting on and retrieved her glass of apple cider. “It takes two to tango and from what I hear, Jason started it.”
“And he finished it,” Elizabeth said quietly. “I’m not giving him that power over me again.”
“Do you love him?” Bobbie asked, touching her shoulder. Elizabeth glanced at her.
“Yeah,” she admitted.
“Then you’ve already given him that power,” Bobbie replied. “He’s a good man, albeit clearly a confused one, Elizabeth, and he deserves to be happy just as much as you do.”
Lorenzo wandered into his living room and sat down. He’d cleared today, hoping that Carly would have dinner at her house and he’d be extended an invitation but when she told him she was having dinner with Jason and her extended Spencer family, he knew it wouldn’t be a good idea to accompany her.
He wanted to be in Carly’s life–part of it. But he would go at her pace now. They’d made significant progress since she woke up from the coma but he wasn’t naïve. There were people who would have trouble accepting him and he knew Carly needed everyone to be okay with this. She wanted her family back and stronger than before.
He’d give her the time and space she needed. As long as time and space didn’t distance them from each other.
The phone on his desk began to ring and he went to pick it up. “Hello?”
“Hey, it’s me,” Carly said. “I just wanted to check in. I talked my mother into making you a plate that Sage can bring home if you want.”
“That’d be fine,” Lorenzo remarked, pleased she’d thought of him. “How is it going so far?”
“Well, so far it’s okay. Sage is outside with Lucas and Michael. Making snow angels,” Carly laughed. “She’s having a good time–but she hasn’t seen Alexis yet.”
Lorenzo sighed. “Oh…that’s not going to be a good thing.”
“Especially since neither knows the other is here.” Carly shook her head. “I’ll warn Alexis first since she was the intended victim. And I’ll tackle Sage before dinner.”
“So, it’s going well? Everyone’s getting along?”
“Well, everyone except Jason and Elizabeth who are fighting about something he said. I told him to go be honest with her but not ten minutes later, she comes storming down the steps so I bet he messed that up.” She sighed, frustrated. “Why do you men make everything so difficult?”
“You women make it all so complicated,” Lorenzo teased. “See, for us, it’s as simple as how we feel. You guys attach motives and actions to every word we say. Stop doing that and concentrate on how we feel.”
“Well stop doing dumb things for dumb reasons,” Carly replied good-naturedly.
“I’ll work on that. How’s Michael?”
“He’s great, out doing snow angels and snowmen. He actually blurted out the news to Jason about the pregnancy–how did he find out about that?”
“Sage and I were discussing it,” Lorenzo admitted. “And he was there. I believe Sage tried to do some damage control.”
“Lorenzo, I’m sorry…I’m sorry you couldn’t be here today,” Carly sighed. “I wanted you to come but there’s just so much groundwork that needs to be laid first. Not only with my mother and Jason but with Michael and everyone else. I mean–I know it’s right for me but I do love my family.”
“I understand, Carly. Believe me,” Lorenzo assured her. “You’ll just have to come over and let me make you and the boys dinner one night.”
“I think we can arrange that. Listen, I should go and perform the Alexis/Sage intervention, okay?”
“Okay. Have fun.”
Carly entered the kitchen hesitantly. “Hey.”
“Hey,” Bobbie smiled. “I bet you’re not here to cook,” she teased.
“No…actually…I wanted to tell Alexis something.” She crossed the kitchen to the other woman. “Sage Alcazar came with me to dinner tonight.”
Alexis stared at her. “You’re kidding right?”
“No…she’s been staying with me until her uncle buys a house and…well I’m about to go and talk to her about this. I just really realized the potential problem, I promise.”
“I can’t believe that girl isn’t in jail yet,” Alexis muttered, downing her apple cider like whiskey.
“Hey, you killed that girl’s father,” Carly retorted. “You weren’t exactly happy when Helena killed your mother–try putting yourself in her shoes.”
“You know nothing about what Helena did to my mother,” Alexis said sharply. “That little demon–”
“And you know nothing about Sage,” Carly said softly, her eyes flashing with warning.
“Hey, hey, time out,” Elizabeth stepped between them. “Alexis, I’ve met Sage. She seems like a very sweet–albeit very troubled girl. If she apologized to you…would it be okay?”
Alexis pressed her lips together. “If she apologized.”
“Well, then let me go talk to her,” Carly suggested. “I don’t want to argue with you Alexis. Not today of all days, okay?”
“Okay.” Alexis nodded. “Let’s try a truce.”
“Don’t you know the meaning of space?” Emily demanded, closing the door behind them. “You just sprung the whole love thing on her and you can’t give her five minutes to process that–”
“Carly told me to be honest, I was honest–when does this stop being my fault?” Jason asked, frustrated.
“Okay, big brother, let me give you a clue since you can’t seem to come up with any on your own. One, a woman does not like being told by a married man that they love you. Two, a woman does not like being the other woman and then being told they’re the only woman.” Emily smacked him in the arm. “You sleep with Elizabeth, you marry Courtney, you find out Liz is pregnant and all of sudden, she’s the one you really love? What drugs are you on?”
“That’s not how it happened,” Jason argued. “First of all, I’m separated–”
“If Courtney hadn’t decided to file for divorce, would you still be working out your marriage?” Emily cut in. “Would you still want to be with her?”
“I–” Jason hesitated. “I made vows to her, Emily. I can’t just ignore them.”
“Oh, but you can ignore this love thing you’ve got for my best friend because you made vows to a woman you don’t love?” Emily asked. “Do I need to kick your ass?”
“It is not complicated, Jason. You either want to be with Elizabeth or you want to be with Courtney. If she walked through the door and said Jason, I want to be with you. I love you and I want our marriage to work, would you go back to her?” Emily pressed.
“Right now? No,” Jason answered. “Because I already told Elizabeth how I feel and I couldn’t go back to Courtney now that it’s in the open.”
“Well at least you have some common sense even if it’s a bit iffy,” Emily snorted. “Next we have to work on explaining to Elizabeth why you would have sex with her and go back to Courtney–”
“It wasn’t sex,” Jason cut in. “Let’s just make that clear right now.”
“Good, you’re catching on quick.”
“I tried to pretend that’s all it was–that it was just a mistake but that’s not true.”
“Did you say that to her?”
“Today, yeah but…” Jason hesitated. “The morning after…”
“Uh oh,” Emily mumbled. “What did you do the morning after?”
Elizabeth shifted in her sleep, reaching out for him even with her eyes still closed. When her hand found empty space, her eyes shot open to find Jason standing near the window.
She clutched her afghan to her chest, feeling exposed though all of her was covered. “Jason?”
He cleared his throat but didn’t look at her. Couldn’t look at her. The sunlight streaming through the small window bathed her pale skin in an intoxicating shade of pearl and found the highlights in her hair.
If he looked at her–he couldn’t leave.
“I have to go,” he said shortly. He shoved his hands in his pockets to keep from reaching out for her. “This–this shouldn’t have happened.”
Elizabeth’s hands started to tremble but she clutched the blanket more tightly to cover it up. “Okay.”
“It was a mistake,” Jason said as if she hadn’t gotten the idea the first time. “I mean–it can’t happen again.”
“Right,” Elizabeth agreed. She closed her eyes. “If you’re going to leave…then go.”
“I’m sorry Elizabeth.”
“Yeah, so am I.”
Emily whacked him upside the head. “You inconsiderate moron! If you weren’t my brother, I’d have Nikolas kick your ass! You’re supposed to be in love with her? You ass!”
“Emily, look, I’m well aware I didn’t handle the situation well–”
“Didn’t handle it well?” Emily repeated. “You’re joking right?”
“How do I fix it?” Jason demanded.
“I’m not even sure you deserve to,” Emily muttered. She stalked across the room and shook her head. “The first thing you need to do is convince her that you were wrong. That if given the chance you would not take Courtney back.”
“How do I do that?”
“Don’t wait for Courtney to file,” Emily suggested. “Do it first. Stop putting other people in front of her on your list of priorities. Sonny, Carly, Courtney, even Michael and Morgan, me–everyone’s gotta come second to her.”
“I wouldn’t feel right filing for divorce. I mean–Courtney’s the one that asked for it–”
“This is what I’m talking about. If you love Elizabeth and you want to be with her, you have to go make some changes in your life, Jason. You used to pride yourself in always being honest, always doing the right thing by you, letting people make their own decisions–that’s the Jason I know, that’s the Jason Elizabeth loves.”
“That’s not who I am anymore,” Jason told her intently. “I haven’t been that person for a long time.”
“That’s bull,” Emily challenged. “You just learned how to be a doormat. You want to be that Jason again? Tell Sonny to go to hell. Tell Carly to depend on herself. Tell Elizabeth that you love her. Tell Courtney that you want a divorce. Be honest with yourself first Jason, because once you do that, everything else will fall into place.”
She found the three of them around the corner building a snowman. Sage was currently trying to charm Lucas into giving up his scarf so the snowman could have it.
“Sage, could I talk to you for a minute?” Carly asked, crooking her fingers towards her.
“Sure. I’ll be right back,” Sage told them before following Carly back to the fountain. “Oh my God, you so won’t believe what happened!” she squealed.
“What?” Carly asked.
“Lucas kissed me,” Sage whispered, her eyes sparkling.
Carly blinked. “Wow, I didn’t think–I didn’t see the connection between the two of you. That’s…that’s really great.”
“I really like him, Carly. He’s been so nice this week. I think he might ask me to the Christmas Dance next month,” Sage told her.
“Well, I’m really glad for you and we’ll go get a dress if that happens–but Sage–that’s not why I’m out here.”
Sage frowned. “Why are you then?”
“Alexis Davis is here,” Carly revealed.
Sage’s eyes went flat. “Why?” she spat.
“Because she’s Nikolas’s aunt and we are guests here–Sage, listen to me, I know that you’re angry with her and I understand, but–”
“I want to go home,” Sage said. She jumped to her feet. “Take me home!” she cried.
“Sage, honey–you weren’t here last year–your father left Alexis bleeding and in labor in the snow,” Carly tried to explain.
“She killed my father!” Sage cried, tears gathering in her dark eyes. “Maybe he didn’t love me and maybe he didn’t want me but she still killed him–she took him from me before I could make him love me!”
“Oh…sweetie…” Carly stood and reached for her. “Alexis–she didn’t know–”
“I want to go home!”
Drawn by Sage’s raised voice and the upset tone, Lucas and Michael rounded the corner of the house and Michael ran towards her, throwing his arms around her waist. “What’s wrong?” he demanded.
“Nothing,” Sage said flatly. “Go back around the corner.”
“You’re angry. And you’re crying,” Michael said. He shook his head. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“Sage, is everything okay?” Lucas asked hesitantly. Sage glared at him.
“The woman who killed my father is a guest at this dinner and no one thought it was important enough to tell me. She stabbed him and she pushed him off a balcony,” Sage hissed, “and she got away with it. And what I’m expected to just have dinner with the woman who killed my father?”
“Sage, your father wasn’t exactly a saint,” Lucas argued. “He kidnapped my cousins, he caused Alexis’s sister’s death and nearly caused Alexis to lose her baby–”
“He was still my father!” Sage shrieked. “She killed him! I want to go home. Either you take me,” she told Carly, “or I’ll swim back to the mainland. I’m not staying here.” She stalked past them and headed for the house.
“Oh…I knew this day was a bad idea,” Carly muttered. “Michael, stay with Lucas,” she ordered as she rushed after the irate teen.
Haye’s Landing: Courtney’s House
Courtney removed the plastic try from the microwave and peeled the covering from it. “I can’t believe I’m eating a TV dinner for Thanksgiving,” she muttered, plopping it on the table. She sat down and sighed, pushing at the slightly overcooked food with a plastic fork.
There was a knock on the back door. “Come in!” she called.
Brian entered and flipped on the lights. “Why you eating in the dark?” he asked.
“I thought it would look more edible that way,” she sighed, pushing it away.
“Well, you’re in luck.” Brian set a wrapped plate in front of her. “Home cooked. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce–”
Courtney sat up and smiled at him. “Wow…thanks…this looks so good. I didn’t even realize there wasn’t any food in here until I went to eat something.” She stood and retrieved some real utensils from the drawer. “So I guess that means you ate already.”
“Yeah, I eat with Karen’s family,” Brian told her. “When Karen’s mother heard you were eating alone, she insisted I bring this over and if you’re still here on Christmas Eve, I’ve been instructed to bring you over for dinner.” He grinned and leaned back in his chair. “In fact, she chewed me out for not bringing you with me today.”
“She sounds great,” Courtney remarked as she cut up the turkey.
“She is. Karen’s parents and Bill are really the only family I’ve got left, you know? So it’s good that we all get along.”
“I called Sonny again but he’s still not answering,” Courtney sighed. “I’m going to drive in Sunday night and stay through the trial.”
“Yeah…I’m sure he’ll appreciate your support,” Brian replied. “Have you talked to him since it happened?”
“No,” Courtney told him. “I couldn’t at first because I was here and just talking about his father upset Michael and then…it just got sticky since he found out about Jason, the divorce and Elizabeth. He actually lunged for Jason when he found out.”
“A guy takes his relationship with his sister pretty seriously,” he said. “Bill beat me up the first time I made Karen cry.”
“But Jason and Sonny were like family long before I ever came along and it just…it makes me sad that Sonny would end it over me. I–I really wish I could do this last year over again, you know? I feel like I could have handled it all so much better.”
“The only thing that matters is that you’re doing the right thing now. The right thing for yourself,” Brian told her. “You shouldn’t worry about other people so much.”
“I know…but it’s hard. They’re the only family I’ve got and I hate when they’re in pain,” Courtney replied. “And Sonny and Carly are at the end of their marriage–I know Jason feels like he’s under a lot of pressure with the business, Carly’s recovery, our divorce and Elizabeth’s pregnancy. And I just wish there was something else I could do.”
“The only thing you can really do is be there for them. They’ve got to figure the rest it out on their own.”
“Yeah…yeah, you’re right. I just have a hard time letting go, I guess.” Courtney smiled at him. “Thanks for dinner, Brian. Really. And for coming by. I didn’t realize how lonely I was until you did.”
“I’m only a phone call away, Courtney,” Brian told her. “And when you’re ready–I’ll never leave you alone again.” He covered her hand with his and she flushed.
“When I’m ready,” she repeated.