Is this a natural feeling or is it just me bleeding
All my thoughts and dreams in hope that you will be with me or
Is this a moment to remember or just a cold day in December, I wonder
If maybe, maybe I could be all you ever dreamed cause you are
– Anywhere But Here, SafetySuit
Tuesday, February 3, 2004
Kelly’s: Dining Room
“So, you told us you had something to announce.” Nadine dumped sugar in her coffee. “I’ve waited long enough, and I’m not waiting any longer.”
“Yes…well…” Elizabeth shifted in her seat and smiled at her grandmother. “I’ve been talking about it with Jason, and he…has told me a few times that I don’t need to go back to work if I don’t want to, and part of me…” She paused. “Part of me just wants to sit at home and watch her change.”
“You’ll go nuts in five days,” Emily predicted. “So, you’d go back to Kelly’s?”
“No.” Elizabeth cast her eyes around the diner that had been a second home to her since she’d moved to town, had once actually been her home. “No, I think…I’m ready to move on. It’s something I’ve been thinking about almost since I got pregnant, before Jason and I worked things out. I thought about getting my certification to teach, but I also…” She met her grandmother’s eyes. “I thought about going into the family business. Webbers usually end up as doctors, but…I decided to enroll in the nurse’s program.”
“Yes!” Nadine’s fist shot in the eye. “I was hoping that one would win.”
Emily wrinkled her nose. “You used to hate blood.” And then she tilted her head. “But, now that I think of it, that’s not been true for a while.”
“Yeah, well, I guess it’s something I grew out of.” Hard to be nervous at the sight of blood when she’d had to change Jason’s bandage once a day and he’d opened his wound more than once trying to recover to fast. “I’ve…had some experience in helping someone who was sick. I think I’d be good at it.”
“Well, I am certainly pleased,” Audrey said. “As long as you’re sure it’s what you want.”
“Well, like I said, Jason and I talked about it. I’m going to enroll now, but I’m too late for this starting class—which is fine with me since I want to stay home with Cady for at least six months, but Bobbie said I could start this summer, maybe. Or even the fall. I don’t have to commit right away, but I wanted to get the paperwork started.”
“It’ll be great working together,” Emily said, with a bright smile. She flashed another at Nadine—the two were still not all that friendly, but Elizabeth had hopes they’d warm up to one another.
Courtney approached them then, with her usual annoyed expression. Elizabeth thought she might be more annoyed that now she and Emily were friends again, the blonde’s casual friendship with Emily had faded. Another thing Courtney would probably claim Elizabeth had stolen from her.
“Are you guys done yet? I’d like a table who might leave me a decent tip.”
Elizabeth lifted her eyebrows at this, and opened her mouth to respond, but Audrey caught her first. “You know, Courtney, the service I have received the last few times I have been here has been appalling. I will be speaking to Bobbie about this.”
Courtney narrowed her eyes, slapped their check on the table and stalked away.
“Honestly.” Nadine rolled her eyes. “It’s been like…a year hasn’t it? I mean, is he that good in bed?” She flushed. “Sorry, Mrs. Hardy.” The older woman just smiled.
“She was doing better for a while,” Emily said hesitantly. “Or I thought she was.”
Later, as Nadine and Audrey had moved on to their cars, Emily followed Elizabeth to the SUV where Cody and Dominic were holding the door open
“I…think you should be careful around Courtney.”
Elizabeth blinked at her. “Why? She can’t be like this forever, you know. And I barely even see her most of the time. Em, she’s just bitter. I have Jason and she doesn’t. She thinks I stole him, that I stole Carly and Sonny, and probably you, but—”
“I know you didn’t.” Emily hesitated. “I don’t know. I just…it’s been ten months since she found out. She and Jason were only together a few months, barely that long in public. It’s just…not right for her still to be this angry. She seemed like she was coming to terms with it for a while, and now it’s like it’s happening all over again. I don’t want her to make trouble for you.”
“I appreciate it, but I just…” Elizabeth lifted her shoulders. “I just don’t know what trouble she could cause, honestly. Jason and I are better than we’ve ever been. We went through a lot of rough patches getting it right, but we have. I know he loves me, he knows I love him. We have our daughter. Life is practically perfect. I can’t think of anything Courtney could do to make that go away.”
“I guess you’re right.” Emily bit her lip. “I just…I worry. Maybe I’m overcompensating for what a bitch I was all of last year.”
“You don’t have to do that,” Elizabeth said softly. “You and I are going to be fine. We’re family, Emily. We always were, but even more so now.” She embraced her friend in a tight hug. “But thanks for looking out for me.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Jason pulled open the door at the knock, and frowned when he saw Carly. “Hey. Elizabeth is out—”
“Hey, do not assume I’m here to see the Muffin.” Carly jabbed at his chest. “I am your best friend. I merely tolerate her, you know. I can come see you.”
“Okay.” Jason waited. “Are you?”
She scowled. “No.” Then she lifted her chin and sniffed. “I’m here to see my goddaughter and niece.” She pushed past him and grinned when she saw the play mat set up on the floor, and Cady waving her hands at the dangling toys hanging over her. “Hey. You’re with Cady.”
“You know, we haven’t had the christening yet. She’s only your niece until then.” Jason shut the door.
“Semantics.” Carly waved her hand and leaned against the desk, watching Cady. “She’s trying to roll over.”
“Yeah. She’s been doing that for about a week.” They both watched the infant struggle to do so, and her face wrinkling up when she just couldn’t make it happen. “Elizabeth swears she’ll do it every day we set her up on this, but I keep telling her it’s probably going to be another month.”
“All mothers think their babies are the smartest.” Carly raised her eyebrows. “Morgan rolled over at two months, three weeks and five days. So, you know. He wins so far.”
Jason just shook his head. Trust Carly to make it a competition. “So…you came to see Cady.”
“I did.” Carly fidgeted. “And maybe…I came to see the Muffin. But I can ask you the same question that Sonny forbid me to ask either of you.”
Well, that couldn’t be anything good. He sighed and folded his arms across his chest. “Carly—”
“I just…I haven’t nagged you since you went to Puerto Rico, I figure I didn’t need to.” She shrugged and wandered over towards the sofa, her fingers trailing over the back. “After seeing you in the hospital room…”
“Carly.” Jason sighed. He hated when she brought this stuff up. Even though things were good now—even great—it didn’t meant he wanted to talk about it. So he just offered his stock answer that had worked in the past. “We’re…you know, working on it.”
Her head snapped up at that, and she narrowed her eyes. “What the hell does that mean?” she demanded.
“Carly, don’t use that tone—Cady can hear you—”
And then Jason found himself actually ducking the pillow she threw at him. “Carly—”
“What is wrong with the two of you?” she continued, almost hissing the words. “What’s left to work out? You bastards are ridiculous for each other, you’ve got this gorgeous baby, and you’re working on it? It’s been months—”
“Carly, I hate when you push.” Jason moved to pick Cady up and hold her while Carly delivered her tantrum.
“I don’t get it.” She shoved her hair out of her face, trying to keep her voice level. “I see you with Cady, I see you with Elizabeth, and it just looks right, so how can you keep messing this up?”
He grimaced. “We’re—”
And then he realized she was crying. He stopped talking.
“I just want you to be happy!” she sobbed. “I broke you, and I just want to make it better. This is all my fault, you know. I did this. I ruined you.”
“I…” He blinked and shook his head. “Carly—”
“If I hadn’t given you Michael, if I hadn’t made you take him while I ran off to find myself or ended up in the nuthouse, you wouldn’t have told Robin the truth, and she wouldn’t have been able to hurt you. And then she took him away, and I took him away all over again.” Her chest was heaving. “I gave you this little boy to love and then I made sure you could never keep him when I gave him the Quartermaines—”
“Carly,” Jason began, bracing his hand on Cady’s back. “It wasn’t—”
“You have been the best friend I’ve ever had and I’ve done nothing but take and take and take!” She jabbed a finger at him. “I cause you nothing but pain. I slept with your best friend. I called you a kidnapper. I gave your son to AJ, to Sonny. And now this is all my fault, because you can’t trust Elizabeth to stay, and it’s because I broke you.”
“You didn’t break me,” Jason said, feeling uncomfortable, because he could have avoided this scene if he’d just…told her the truth about his relationship with Elizabeth. He was beginning to see a pattern here—he would refuse to open up, and therefore the women in his life would draw their own conclusions.
“I did!” Carly nodded, swiping at her eyes. “Look what you’ve done for me, Jase! I have my beautiful boys, my beautiful home, I have Sonny. And you’re losing your chance at being a family because of me!”
“I…” He drew in a deep breath. “Carly, Elizabeth and I are going to be fine. I didn’t…want to get into this, but it’s going to be fine.”
Her breath shaky, Carly shook her head. “I thought that was true, but how can you still be working on it—”
“When I say that,’” Jason said slowly, hoping to keep her calm because so far Cady was holding her own, but he didn’t want her upset. “I mean that we’ve talked about a lot of things. She knows why I was pulling away, and I know why she wasn’t pushing.”
“O-Okay.” Carly hesitated. “But—”
“I’m not saying we’re not both still…” Jason looked away, discomforted. “Apprehensive about if we can really make it work on an everyday basis, but we’re both in this now. I told her I loved her, she said it back. We’ve talked about Cady, and how we want to raise her together. Carly, I’m sorry. I should have—I should have been clearer.”
Her mouth was pressed in a thin line, and she fisted a hand on her hip. “Why do you do this, Jase? Why can’t…” She huffed. “We’re supposed to be friends. But you never…tell me anything. You keep it all locked in, as if no one can help you. And then I go insane, because I just want to be there for you, and I apparently have to lose my damn mind for you to let me.”
“You’re right.” Jason nodded, accepting that as a truth. “And to make it up to you, I’ll tell you…just this once…that you were right. If I had listened to you months ago, if I had talked to you or to Sonny about what was going wrong, I could have made it easier for Elizabeth to talk to me. And we would have been in this place months ago.”
Carly blinked and held up a finger. “Um. You need to tell me that again. That part about me being right. And I’m going to need you to make a recording of that. Because Sonny isn’t going to believe me.”
“And I want it on a T-shirt.”
“You’re pushing it now.”
Morgan Penthouse: Bedroom
Around two in the morning, Elizabeth rolled her and her hand found empty space. She pried her eyes open and found that Jason’s side of the bed was still warm, but empty nonetheless. He’d come in from the warehouse after she’d already fallen asleep for the night.
She sighed, but then heard rustling on the baby monitor. Cady was doing all right with sleeping through the night—Elizabeth fed her about midnight and then at five in the morning, but occasionally, she woke up anyway. Elizabeth slid out of bed and padded down the hall to the nursery where Jason was standing over Cady’s crib.
“Hey…is she awake?” Elizabeth rested her head against the doorframe.
“She was,” he replied softly. “But I just put her back in bed.” He stepped back from the crib and looked at her. “How was lunch?”
“Fine.” Elizabeth shrugged. “Emily and Nadine are still pretty frosty with one another, but I guess it’s too much to hope for that they would both get along right away. Nadine was around for too much of what happened.” She smiled. “Gram is over the moon about me and the nursing program.” She eyed him. “I told them I have some brief experience in caring for someone.”
“This is true.” She watched him adjust Cady’s blanket once more before joining her at the door. He gently pulled the nursery door closed, leaving them shrouded in the darkness of the hall. “And I managed to survive it, so I guess you’ll be fine.”
She laughed and punched him in the shoulder. “Cady was already with Carly when I got home. Was she good for you today? Did she roll over?”
“She was fine,” Jason said. “And no.” She could sense his hesitation. “Carly…had a weird meltdown today.”
“A meltdown?” Elizabeth blinked. She started for their bedroom and he followed her. “Is she okay?” She slid back under the comforter and waited for him to join her so she could curl up into his side. “What happened?”
“I don’t…I mean, yeah, I know what started it, but I guess I didn’t think…” She felt his chest rise rapidly as he drew in a deep breath. “She came over to nag you about…us, but decided I would do instead.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth rested her chin on his chest so she could peer into his eyes. “And you gave her some noncommittal answer that did nothing to tell her of any progress we’ve made since Cady was born, so therefore, she finally hit her limit.”
“Yeah.” His fingers trailed up down her back, sending tingles through the thin camisole she wore. “She…I didn’t know she thought…” He was quiet for a moment. “She thought she broke me.”
“Broke…you?” Elizabeth repeated. She sat up, confused. “Why? How?”
“Because…of Michael,” Jason said, his hand at her hip. “Because she gave him to me, which created the situation with Robin, then she went to the Quartermaines and she ended up with Sonny. I…I didn’t know she had that much guilt in her.”
“But still…” Elizabeth shook her head. “I mean, I get it, but you weren’t broken. You just…I hurt you so much, you know. And we didn’t trust each other. It had very little to do with Carly.”
“Well, not all of it,” Jason admitted. He cast his eyes away, and she knew how he hated to open up like this. “But maybe there’s an element of truth. It was harder for me to think you’d stay. Robin…said she could accept my job, but…”
“I remember you told me once that you never grew up in Robin’s eyes, but that you had in Sonny’s.” Elizabeth lowered herself back down next to him. “Well, I hope I’ve convinced you that all the reasons I didn’t stay before aren’t a factor now. I accept your job, I’m not trying to make things work with Lucky…and most important, I love you.” She sighed. “So what did you tell Carly?”
“I told her the truth. That you and I had talked. A lot. That we’re going to raise Cady, that we love each other. I thought…she deserved that after I made her cry.”
“Oh, good grief. Carly cried? I can’t even imagine that.”
“So I told her she was right—that if I had talked to you months ago, things would have been better. That cheered her up.”
Elizabeth giggled, appreciating the image of a dumbfounded Carly being told by Jason that she was right about a piece of advice. “I’m surprised she didn’t want that recorded.”
“I didn’t know she was holding that kind of guilt about…everything,” Jason confessed. “I wouldn’t…have let her think that if I knew. I…wish she and Sonny could have found each other any other way than trying to prove a point I didn’t need to know about the both of them, but…” he hesitated.
“But what?” Elizabeth pressed. She raised her head once more to find his eyes in the darkness.
“It hurt at first. I mean, it was painful and I didn’t want to see either of them. But I don’t know…by the time I left town, I had mostly let go of it.” His fingers slid through her hair. “I didn’t see it then, but I was already in love with you, and the rest of it didn’t matter anymore.”
Elizabeth grinned and stretched up to kiss him. “By the way,” she murmured. “Do you know what today is?”
“February 4,” he mumbled against her lips. Then he stopped and pulled away from her a bit. “Two months.”
“To the day.” She grinned. “And you know what Kelly said when I saw her two weeks ago.” She slid her hand down his chest and beneath the waist of his sweat pants. “So what do you say we finally celebrate everything good in our lives?”
Wednesday, February 4, 2004
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Elizabeth wrinkled her nose as she stepped off the bottom stair with Cady in her hands. “They’re going to give her more needles today, Jason. I can’t stand it—”
“They’re for her own good,” Jason said simply. He lifted the baby carrier onto the desk. “And you know she won’t remember it. If you don’t believe me, you can ask Michael when he comes home from school.”
She huffed and bounced Cady a little in her arms. “Tell Daddy to stop mocking me.”
“She can’t roll over yet, so I doubt she’s telling me anything.”
Elizabeth sniffed. “Fine then.” She handed their daughter to him and then watched as he effortlessly slid her into the straps and then attached them. “How do you always do that without her crying? It’s because you’re taller and I’m a midget, isn’t? Somehow that’s how this works out.”
Jason just grinned and shook his head. “Where’s the diaper bag?”
“By the sofa.” Elizabeth reached inside her tote bag to make sure her first year baby journal was inside and the page on the two month doctor’s checkup was bookmarked. She didn’t want to miss a thing. “You cleared the entire day, didn’t you?”
“Unless there’s an emergency.” She glanced over to find him returning, Cady’s cotton candy pink diaper bag over his shoulder. Somehow, he made that work. “Why? Are we doing something later?”
“Yep. I’m going to let Carly spoil Cady for a few hours tonight.” Elizabeth put her journal away and set her purse down. “And then, you, Jason Morgan, are going to take me out.”
He hesitated, but couldn’t find the flaw in her argument—she was allowed to leave the penthouse with just him if they didn’t have Cady. With the baby, the guards went as well. “Okay. Did…” He shifted uncomfortably. “What, like the Grille?”
She burst into laughter, and shook her head. “God, no. You’d gnaw off your own foot in about five minutes. I’ll let Sonny and Carly guilt you into those dinners.” She poked him in the chest. “We’re having Eli’s here at the penthouse—without a baby to watch. And then, you’re taking me for a ride on the cliff road.”
“It’s amazing how often you manage to bring the bike back into it.”
There was a knock on the door, and Francis pushed it open. “Hey. I just wanted to bring up the mail. It’s been swept and everything.” He held out a small stack of envelopes. Elizabeth took it and started to go through with it. Credit card offers, mostly—a utility bill. She wrinkled her nose at her own credit card bill. She couldn’t wait to go back to work and have money of her own.
“Huh.” She picked out the manila envelope at the bottom of the table. “This…it’s from Lucky.”
Jason frowned. “He writes you a lot?”
“No…” She set the other envelopes on the desk, and turned it over in her hands. “We just had a web chat yesterday so he, Nikolas and Lulu could see Cady. He didn’t say anything…” Elizabeth peered at the handwriting. “It’s not his writing.”
Jason took the envelope from her, and examined it for himself. In her car seat, Cady fussed a little. “Do…you want to open it?”
“I mean…we might as well.” She watched him pull out two pieces of paper. “What is it?” she asked softly, when she saw the way he tensed. “Jason, what is it?”
He looked at the second sheet of paper, and his face darkened. Without a word, he handed her both papers. With shaking hands, she read the first one.
Nice try, Morgan, but blood is always thicker. Tell my daughter Daddy’s coming for her soon.
Her mind blanked, and she swayed. Jason reached out, and steadied her. “Elizabeth…”
She shook her head and tossed the note on the table, revealing the second part of the threat. It was Cady’s birth certificate which declared that at 7:05 PM on December 3, 2003, Cadence Audrey Caroline Morgan had been born to Elizabeth Webber and Jason Morgan. Cady and Jason’s names had lines drawn through them, and next to those spaces, someone had scrawled in replacements. Adela Grace Lansing and Richard Lansing.
“Jason….” She raised her eyes to him. “What…what does this mean? Is it…just a taunt? A direct threat? I don’t understand. It’s not as though he can show up to file for custody.” Her blood froze. “Jason…”
Jason exhaled slowly. “It’s not…out of the realm of possibility,” he admitted. “Ric…was never convicted of a crime. And right now, no one in law enforcement is looking for him. If he were to…file, it would be too high profile to do anything to him. Suspicion would be immediate.”
“No, no.” The birth certificate slipped from her numb fingers. “Jason…”
“Hey…” Jason reached out and placed his hands on her shoulders. “First of all, I don’t…think that’s his plan. It’s too straightforward. Second, blood tests can be faked. Even court-ordered ones. And if that didn’t work, Elizabeth, I would put you and Cady on a plane to the nearest country without extradition laws.”
“Without you?” she demanded. “We won’t go without you.”
He hesitated. “We’ll deal with it if we have to, but I really don’t think we have to worry—”
“No.” Elizabeth shook her head. “Promise me you won’t send us away when we wouldn’t be able to come back without you.” She watched him dip his head and take a deep breath. “Jason. We promised each other we’d stay. Remember? So that means you can’t—” She was abruptly cut off when he drew to him and kissed her. Her lips were trembling, and she was sure he could taste the fear running through her at that moment, but when he pulled back, she felt a little better. “Jason.”
“I don’t know how I would make it work with Sonny,” he said after a moment, “but you’re right. You and Cady are my family. Where you go, I go. But I still don’t think he’ll go for that. It’s more likely he just wants us to know that he never believed any differently. That he’s always known I’m not the biological father.” He rested his forehead against her. “Sonny and I thought that might be the case, but now we know it’s true. So it means he has an endgame.”
“Then what is it?” she whispered. She looked at their daughter, still fussing in her car seat. “What is he planning?”
She could see the bewilderment in his eyes. “We…just…we don’t know.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Cady’s going to be late for her appointment, and she needs her shots. So do you want me to go with the guards while—”
“No,” Jason said firmly. “We’ll go to her appointment. I’ll give these to Francis, and he’ll deliver them. Sonny and I can take care of it when we get back. I don’t want you taking the baby out without me.”
She nodded. “Okay. You’ve kept us safe so far, Jason, so I can’t doubt you.” She looked again at Cady who chose that moment to open her tiny mouth and wail at the injustice of being in the seat and not being able to do anything else. “It’s just…we have so much to lose…and I’m terrified.”