Chapter Twenty-Five

December 1, 2004

Carly’s House

Lorenzo stalked towards her and took her face in his hands. Despite the anger on his face, his touch was gentle as he turned to get a better look at her bruised and swollen cheek. “Jesus, Carly…”

“I’m fine. I need you to know that and remember it when I tell you what happened, okay?” She took his hands from her face and squeezed them. “Please…I know you’re angry.”

“Okay.” Lorenzo nodded. “How much angrier will I be when you finish?”

“Oh…I don’t even want to estimate how angry you’ll be.” She pulled away from him and sat down, touching the tender skin with a wince.

He remained standing. “I came over when I heard that Sonny had changed his plea. I knew you’d be upset. But it’s been almost three hours. What’s happened, Carly?”

“Dara quit after Sonny changed his plea–she didn’t know that he was planning on that. Um…” Carly touched her forehead, trying to gather her thoughts. “Sonny, he was…he was…I don’t know how to describe it. He was close to the edge, I guess. Looking for a reason to fight. He was saying things to people he never would have normally. He berated Courtney for befriending Brian–who happens to be a sheriff where they’re at and then he called Elizabeth a home wrecking slut…I wanted to get him out of there before he could do anything else.”

“You knew he was close to snapping and you left with him?” Lorenzo asked incredulously, his ire growing as he realized that Sonny Corinthos had left that mark on her beautiful skin.

Carly’s voice broke. “I know. It was stupid.”

Lorenzo shook his head and kneeled in front of her. “No, no. Hey, how many times has he been like this and never laid a hand on you? How could you know?”

“I should have. I goaded him. I didn’t mean to do it but he was talking about how he needed to fix his family and how we all needed him and I couldn’t–” She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “I told him that even though I had brought him home and was going to help him find another lawyer, I wasn’t going to come home.”

“And what did he say to that?”

“He told me he wanted to bring my boys home–that he didn’t want them exposed to you and Sage only he called her a brat and you a criminal and I don’t care what you do for a living–he has no right to judge and no one’s going to talk about Sage like that in front of me so I told him that no judge in his right mind was going to give him custody.”

She took a deep breath. “It just went from bad to worse and I could see–I could see that he getting more and more agitated but I just–I told him I didn’t need him anymore and that just–I think that was the end of it. He threw the glass from the mini bar like he always does and then he overturned the whole thing. He told me to walk away but I–I didn’t and I should have. Why didn’t I walk away?”

“Because it never occurred to you that he would hurt you,” Lorenzo repeated. He pushed her hair out of her eyes and cupped her uninjured cheek. “And he hit you.”

Carly nodded miserably. “Yeah.” She tried to go on but her voice faltered and she had to pause for a minute. “Jason had to have been right outside because almost immediately, he came in and he was on the floor, checking on me. Sonny–he seemed kind of out of it. I don’t really think he knew what he was doing. I’m not trying to make excuses,” she explained in a hurry when she saw Lorenzo grimace.

“Okay.” Lorenzo would let her get this out; he’d sit with her and make sure she was okay.

And then he’d kill him.

“He must have been doing something with Elizabeth because she was there, too. It’s all kind of hazy. Elizabeth helped me to my feet and got me across to Jason’s place.”

“What happened to Sonny?” Lorenzo asked, trying to keep his voice soft and gentle.

“Jason took care of him–I didn’t ask for a lot of details. He got Sonny to agree to take the plea and he seemed pretty convinced Scott Baldwin would make a deal for time in Ferncliffe. I waited until I felt more calm, and then Jason walked me to my car.” Carly took his hands in hers. “I know that you’re mad.”

“I’m not going to lie to you. I think that if Sonny was in this room right now, I’d probably do him a lot of bodily harm,” Lorenzo admitted.

“I don’t want you to get involved in this, okay?” Carly asked. She searched his eyes. “I know what you want to do and believe me, I do not blame you and it makes…it makes me feel good that you want to protect me. But I am okay. This situation has been handled and I don’t–I don’t have to see Sonny again if I don’t want to. If this deal goes through, he just needs to have a sentencing hearing. That’s it, okay?”

“Carly, he hit you,” Lorenzo said sharply. “I’m just supposed to let that go unpunished?”

“It’s not your job to punish him,” Carly retorted. She took a deep breath and tried to calm her self. “I need you to listen to me. You are important to me, more important than just about anyone else in my life and I don’t want that to change. But you have got to understand that just because I am not with Sonny anymore…it does not mean I do not care about him. I know that there is nothing you can do to him that he wouldn’t gladly let you. When he gets back into a place where he is in control of himself…he will remember this day and that will be punishment enough for me. He will remember that because he had too much pride to do the right thing, he did the one thing he swore never to do–that he committed an act of violence against a woman.”

“And that’s enough for you.”

“That’s enough for me.”

Lorenzo rose to his feet. “Well, it’s not enough for me. Somebody hurt you–somebody laid a hand on you and left a bruise and that just…” he shook his head. “Carly, I know that you’re not ready for a relationship and that’s okay. I understand that and I’m giving you all the time and space you need. But that doesn’t change the fact that I love you and I don’t know how I’m supposed to sleep at night knowing that Sonny hit you and I did nothing about it.”

Carly stood up and put her hands on his shirt. “I know. Believe me, I know how you feel. But I want you to promise me that…at least right now…you won’t do something crazy and go after him. Right now, Sonny is no position to defend himself and you are not the kind of man to attack someone like that.”

Lorenzo exhaled slowly and covered her hands with his. “I won’t–I won’t do anything. I’d rather keep a promise to you than seek revenge on Sonny.”

“And that is why I love you,” Carly said softly.

Lorenzo blinked. “Could you–could you repeat that?”

“I love you,” Carly said again with a smile. “That doesn’t change the fact that it’s too soon for me to start anything but I thought–you deserve to know how I feel.”

“Well…” Lorenzo smiled then. “I think it’s safe to say I’m not angry anymore.”

“Good…” Carly leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. “Because I need to go experiment with my makeup to cover this. I don’t want Michael to know until I can think of a way to explain it to him. Could you call my mother and ask her to keep Morgan a few more hours?”

“Sure,” Lorenzo agreed easily, watching her pull away from him and move towards the stairs.

Waiting for her to be ready suddenly didn’t feel as difficult.

Harborview Towers

Courtney stepped off the elevator and turned to Brian. “Maybe you should wait out here. I don’t–I don’t know what kind mood he’s in.”

Brian nodded. “I can do that.”

She left him at the elevator and frowned when she saw the lack of a guard in front of the door. “That’s weird,” she murmured.

She turned the knob and pushed it open, her face paling as it took in the trashed downstairs of her brother’s home. “Jesus Christ.”

She stepped inside and swept her eyes across the living room. The mini bar was overturned and broken glass was  everywhere. “Sonny?” she called raising her voice. “Sonny?”

When she received no answer she ran towards the stairs, glass crackling under her feet. She dashed up the flight and pushed open her brother’s door. He was sitting on his bed, his head in his hands. “Sonny,” she said softly.

He raised his eyes to hers and blinked. “I–I hit her.”

Dread settled in her stomach like a pound of lead and Courtney crossed to him and kneeled in front of him. “Oh…Sonny…”

“You shouldn’t be here right now,” Sonny said in a hoarse voice. His eyes were red and swollen. “I don’t–I don’t think I’m angry enough to do anything but…I don’t really know what I’m capable of anymore.”

Courtney pushed some of his dark hair out of his face. “Hey, I’m not going anywhere. I know you must hate yourself pretty bad right now but it’s going to be okay.”

“No, it’s never going to be okay again.” Sonny dragged his hands through his hair and bowed his head. “I hit her, Courtney. I swore to myself I would never lay a hand on a woman and I hit her. Somehow that feels worse than shooting her in the god damn head.”

“You need help,” Courtney whispered thickly. “Carly and I thought we could do it before and Carly and Jason have always been enough but it’s not anymore, Sonny. You need to talk to someone. Please. It hurts so much to watch you in pain.”

“I know.” Sonny cleared his throat. “I already told Jason I would do anything he wanted me to do. I called Dara and I’m changing the plea back. I just…I thought if I could just fix what’s been going wrong around here…it would help. It always has before.”

“But there’s nothing you can fix, Sonny,” Courtney told him gently. She moved to sit next to him on the bed. “What’s going wrong right now–it’s been happening for months. Except no one wanted to say so. And if you don’t say it, it’s not real.” She bit her lip and looked away. “You were right last year. Jason and I–we weren’t a good idea. A-and I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to you. I was too hurt by AJ and too addicted to how safe Jason made me feel and I just–I was too proud to say that you knew better.”

“It fit though,” Sonny told her. “You and Jason, me and Carly. It all fit.” He chuckled bitterly and forced himself to stand and cross to the window. “But it really didn’t. I–I made a lot of mistakes. I keep myself in check by controlling everything around me and that used to work. But–but it doesn’t anymore. You guys–you moved on. You made changes–big ones–and I’m playing catch up.”

“Carly loves you,” Courtney said softly. “That hasn’t changed. But she’s moved on, too. It feels like it happened while you were in jail but it’s been happening for a while. Jason–I love him, Sonny. But we do not work as couple. Mainly because I like the little quiet life I’m building in Haye’s Landing…and because I’m not Elizabeth.”

Sonny nodded. “I knew that you were just trying to prove it to yourself that you could do this. I could see it in your eyes every time you had to leave the room or sacrifice something else because of this life. You were fighting yourself, Courtney a-and I’m glad you’ve stopped.”

“I feel…I feel better now that I’ve admitted it out loud,” Courtney confessed. “I can’t handle it. I’m sorry that I’ve made myself miserable in the process and I’m sorry that I had to hurt Jason to realize it but we’re better off, Sonny. I need you to please understand that it wasn’t his fault and it wasn’t mine.”

“He still cheated on you.”

“Yeah, but…but it helps that he didn’t just pick some random girl on the street. He did it during a time when we were fighting a lot and when things were rocky…and he slept with a woman I knew he’d never get over.” She sighed and twisted her hands. “I don’t like that he did it, came back to me and still married me but it’s easier for me to understand what he did because it was with her.”

Sonny exhaled slowly. “Yeah…well, that’s between the two of you and it was–it was wrong of me to get in the middle.” He closed his eyes. “I’ve been close to the edge for a while now–maybe since Alcazar sprung that Lily look-a-like on me or maybe since last spring with that stuff with Jason originally. I don’t really know.” He sighed. “But it’s never been as bad as it has these last few days. I said things that I shouldn’t have. To you, to Carly, to Elizabeth, to Jason…”

“That’s why you’re going to get help,” Courtney said firmly. “So that you can apologize and say that you’re sorry and that you’re getting help.”

Sonny nodded. “But that doesn’t take it back. It doesn’t make it okay.”

“Not to you but it will to them. At least–I think it will.”

Sonny sighed. “So, this Brian guy…” he managed a weak smile. “Do I need to grill him on his intentions?”

Courtney laughed a little and stood up to kiss his cheek. “Yeah, but between you and me, he’d wipe the floor with you.”

Morgan Penthouse

Elizabeth stirred and opened her eyes. When she realized her surroundings, she sat up abruptly. “Oh, hell, I did it again.”

Jason glanced at her from his desk with an amused smile. “You’ve been out for almost two hours.”

“Christ.” She dragged a hand through hair and shook her head, trying to clear the haze. “I’ve never been so tired in my life. Over the weekend, I was sitting with Emily out in the gardens at Wyndemere. We were on this bench and she went inside to ask Nikolas something. She came back out and I had curled up on the bench and fallen asleep.”

“Carly was like that too a lot for the first few months. I found her curled up in the booths at The Cellar more than once.”

“Oh, well, at least it’s not just me. I just close my eyes for a minute and I zone out. No warning. It’s insane.” She stood. “Sorry but you could have just woken me up.”

Jason shrugged and pushed away from the desk. “I didn’t really mind. I did move you so you’d be more comfortable.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Are you hungry or something? I don’t have anything here but I can get something from Kelly’s.”

“No, I’m okay. I’m sure you’ve got more important things to do so if you could just walk me to the docks for the launch…?”

“Elizabeth, there is nothing more important in my life right now,” Jason corrected. “I wanted to thank you…for being here today. For helping with Carly.”

“I’m just sorry any of you are going through this,” Elizabeth remarked. “I’m glad you let me help.” She sighed. “Jason…I don’t want to be an obligation.”

“You’re not.”

“But it feels like it,” Elizabeth admitted. She stared at her hands. “It feels like you’re just…doing what you think you’re supposed to be doing. Giving me money, getting me this apartment, getting a divorce…you don’t need to take care of me, Jason and I don’t want you to.”

Jason opened his mouth to deny it but closed as he thought over his words. He stood and crossed to his pool table. “I tried to tell you that last night…that things weren’t going to be the same between us.”

Elizabeth blinked and twisted on the couch to look at him oddly. “What night?”

“That night before we faked Sonny’s death. When you asked me if I would call and take you out…and I told you that I didn’t know what was going to happen or how we’d deal with it.” He ran his fingers over the soft green felt. “I knew you were going to be upset when you found out. It just…it never crossed my mind that you leave and cut me out of your life.”

Elizabeth stood and rounded the couch, leaning against it. “I–my original intention wasn’t cut you out permanently.” She stared at the floor. “I was so angry and I knew I’d keep saying things I didn’t mean just so I could hurt you as much as you hurt me. I didn’t want to be that person, Jason, so I just–I stayed away. I thought…I’d calm down and then I’d go to you…”

“Why didn’t you?” Jason asked. “Why did you dismiss me that night at Luke’s?”

“Because you weren’t you anymore,” Elizabeth said, with a little shrug. “I came home from helping Luke and Lucky and the first thing out of Courtney’s mouth was that you got married.”

“That wasn’t real,” Jason protested. “You had to know that.”

“No, I didn’t know that,” Elizabeth replied shortly. “Because you didn’t tell me. What was I supposed to think? You’d lied to me and then told me it had nothing to do with me.”

“I’m sorry. I–I’ve apologized for that and I’ve told you that I should have told you.”

“I know and I accept that but you wanted to me to explain why I cut you out of my life and that’s part of it. You married another woman and then you came to me like…like I was just supposed to forget it all. Yes, you’ve apologized…but you didn’t then.” She sighed. “You just…you weren’t the same. You were different and I wasn’t really fond of who you were. Then the whole Courtney thing happened and I just…things got out of control.”

“You’re not an obligation,” Jason said quietly, “but you’re right. I–I’ve been just doing the things I think I’m supposed to do. And it’s because I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where I stand with you and how much to push you for more and I don’t know if I deserve to considering that I got married less than two months ago and it’s just…I feel like I don’t know what’s going on inside my head anymore.” He dragged his hand through his hair. “But I know that I like having you around. That sitting here with you today…with you sleeping on the couch and me sitting there doing paperwork…it’s the best I’ve felt in a long time. And part of me just wants to ask you to move in here with me so I can feel like that all the time.”

Elizabeth blinked. “So why don’t you?” she asked softly.

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