Chapter 1

Kelly’s: Ric’s Room

Carly Corinthos shifted in her sleep and rolled away from the warm presence. She clutched at her pillow a little tighter, intent on drifting back into sleep. Carly was not a morning person.

She felt a warm hand rubbing her back, light fingers trailing up and down her spine. The touch might have sent tingles down her back…if she didn’t know any better. She was not talking to Sonny right now and he’d know better than to touch her while she was in a mood like this.

Her eyes drifted open to a room that she did not recognize. Fear swamped over her so quickly that she nearly choked. She took in the apparent small size of the room and the lumpy bed she was lying on. She braced herself and rolled over.

“Good morning. I didn’t think you ever going to wake up.”

Carly stared at the man in horror. She couldn’t get her mouth to work–she was actually unable to form words. This wasn’t happening. This just was not in any world possibly happening.

“Carly?” He frowned and reached out for her–as though to touch her shoulder in some form of comfort. Carly shrank back, clutching the sheet to her chest and nearly fell off the bed.

“What–what happened?” she asked, squeezing her eyes shut. She was not sitting here, obviously naked. She was not sitting here…naked…next to Ric Lansing, who appeared to be naked as well.

This was just not happening. She felt nauseous, like whatever she might have eaten in the last decade or so was about to make a reappearance.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Ric asked, carefully.

She shook her head, clutching the green sheet more tightly to her chest. “Pretend–pretend that it isn’t, okay? Why am I in your room? Why did I come up here?”

Ric frowned. “You weren’t feeling well, remember? You were dazed…like you’d been drinking?”

“I don’t…I don’t remember having anything more than a glass of wine,” Carly told him. “I don’t understand.”

“You thought someone might have slipped something into your drink,” Ric provided. “When Faith Roscoe distracted you by hitting on Jason.”

“Right. So I was drugged,” Carly said quietly. She dragged a hand through her tangled blonde hair. “What…what happened to Sonny and Jason? Why did they let you take me upstairs?”

“They had to leave,” Ric told her. “Before it became apparent something was wrong. I took you upstairs to keep you safe.”

“And you slept with me?” she demanded, her voice loud and shrill. She couldn’t believe this was happening. She couldn’t believe that Ric…who was supposed to be her friend…she couldn’t believe that he’d…she clutched at the sheet again, tugging it higher.

“You just…you wanted to,” Ric tried to explain.

“I was obviously in no position to refuse!” Carly cried. “I trusted you! How could you do this to me?”

Ric reached out again and this time she slapped his arm away. “Don’t touch me,” she said coldly. “If I’d been thinking clearly, trust me, you would have been my last choice. I love my husband–” Oh. Oh, God. Sonny. He was never going to understand this–never going to believe her. This was bad. This was so beyond bad. She felt sick…she felt icky and dirty. She just wanted to leave–she wanted to get out of this place and never come back again.

“Carly, you weren’t taking no for an answer,” Ric continued. “A man can only–”

“You’re not a man!” Carly spat. She tugged more of the sheet away from the bed to wrap it around her. “Don’t you ever come near me again, do you understand? You are…you are disgusting a-and vile…” she closed her eyes against the fresh onslaught of tears. She stood and managed to find her clothing strewn all over the floor. She grabbed the pants and shirt and slammed the door shut behind her.

Once inside the bathroom, Carly sat on the toilet seat, still clutching the bed sheet. This was surreal. This was just not happening. That’s it. She was just going to pinch herself and she’d wake up in her own bed at home at the penthouse. Sonny would not have kissed Brenda and she would not be sitting in Ric Lansing’s cramped bathroom. That’s just the way it was going to happen.

She pinched her arm, really hoping it was going to work. When it didn’t, she wanted to cry.

Her head snapped up when she heard a soft knock. She was about to tell Ric to go to hell when she realized the knock was coming from outside the room, not the bathroom. She heard Ric’s footsteps as he crossed to the doorway. The door opened and Carly heard a soft female voice.

She stood and shuffled towards the door, trying to hear what was going on in the next room.

“Hey. I have to cancel tonight.”

She frowned. She knew that voice. Why did she know that voice? She was still musing it when she heard Ric’s reply. He was nervous, she understood that immediately. She could just picture the little slime ball standing in the next room, worried that Carly was going to burst out of the bathroom and let whoever his girlfriend was know exactly what a jerk he was.

“Is anything wrong?” Ric replied.

“No, no. See, Courtney just quit. She’s moving out of town–”

Carly frowned. She hadn’t known that.

“–and Bobbie really needs the rest of us to pitch in and take her shifts. I had to take tonight. I’m really sorry.”

Suddenly, the soft voice clicked in Carly’s head. Ric’s mystery girlfriend was Elizabeth Webber.

Elizabeth, Jason’s sort of ex-girlfriend. The girl who had jerked him around and hurt him. Who had walked out on him after discovering the truth.

The young woman who had comforted her after Sonny’s death, baking her brownies and making sure she was eating. Who had volunteered to clean the penthouse just so Carly wouldn’t have to worry about it.

She closed her eyes and squeezed back the tears. Elizabeth Webber had her faults–there’d been times when all she’d wanted to do was rip the little brunette’s hair out. But even she deserved better than Ric Lansing.

Did Jason know Elizabeth was seeing Ric? Carly shook her head. No, he probably didn’t. And so what? It didn’t matter if he did. Jason was in love with Courtney. Right?

What was the gossip Carly had heard about Elizabeth? About her being a rape victim when she was younger? Was that true? She pressed her palm against the cheap wood of the bathroom door. A rape survivor dating…Carly shook the accusation out of her mind almost as soon as it popped in there. Ric wasn’t a rapist. She’d come upstairs with him. She must have wanted it. She could fight people off. She wasn’t weak. She was strong–she’d just been too drugged to know better.

But still…it didn’t sit right in Carly’s mind to know that Elizabeth was dating Ric. She tuned back into the conversation, heard Elizabeth apologize again for breaking their date and then leave the room.

When she heard the door click shut, Carly stepped away from the door and pulled her clothes on in jerky movements. She needed to get out of here. If she spent another moment in this room…mere feet away from Ric…she knew she’d be sick.

She opened the door, leaving the green sheet pooled in a puddle by the toilet. She glanced away from Ric and swallowed hard. “You’re fired,” she said quietly. She saw his back stiffen out of the corner of her eye. “Don’t come near me again. Don’t talk to me. Pretend you don’t even know me. If you come within five feet of me, I’ll not only tell Sonny what happened here, I’ll tell Elizabeth Webber.”

And with that parting shot, Carly strode from the room, trying to keep her head high. But she snuck out of the back door; not wanting any of the customers at Kelly’s to see her coming down from the upstairs.

She wanted to forget the last fourteen or so hours of her life. She only wished it were that easy.

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