Elizabeth entered the Port Charles Grille with Lex on her hip and pointedly ignored the stares and whispers she was getting from the patrons. She searched the tables for Lily’s dark hair and spied her across the room, with Michael sitting in a booster chair and a highchair set up. As Elizabeth crossed the room, she briefly wondered how Lily had convinced the posh restaurant to allow two small children in here, but she realized the Corinthos name probably had its perks.
“Thanks,” Elizabeth said grateful as she strapped her daughter in and took her seat. “Are you okay? You seemed a little distracted the other night.”
“Sorry about that,” Lily apologized as she handed Elizabeth a menu. “I had the strangest phone call earlier that day and I was still thinking about it.”
Elizabeth frowned. “Is everything okay?” Lex started gurgling and she pulled her pacifier out of the diaper bag. She handed it to the little girl who examined it for a moment before sticking it in her mouth.
Lily chuckled. “That was so cute. Michael used to stick it in his ear before he got the idea.”
Michael laughed along with his mother, not having a clue what she was laughing at.
“Well, do you remember I told you that Jason had just gotten out of a long relationship?” Lily asked.
Elizabeth nodded. “Yeah.”
Before Lily could continue, the waiter approached. They gave their orders and Lily returned to her story. “Well, his ex-girlfriend called me. She wanted to know how hewas. And then–” Lily stopped and bit her lip.
“What?” Elizabeth asked.
“Well…it’s just…it’s personal…you know Jason’s a private person and I really shouldn’t talk about Robin and why they broke up,” Lily said.
“Robin hated me,” Elizabeth murmured, sipping her water. “Lucky was so upset when she refused to come to the wedding.”
“Yeah, Robin’s a bitch,” Lily agreed. “So, have you seen Jason since that night at my place?”
“Actually, yeah.” Elizabeth shifted in her seat and thanked the waiter as he set their sodas down. “The other night, my car broke down and I ran into him. He walked me to your building.”
“He did?” Lily said. “He didn’t say anything to me.”
Elizabeth shrugged. “Not much to say. He walked me there and then arranged for me to get a ride home.”
“He did?” Lily repeated, her eyes wide. “Seriously?”
“Yeah, why’s that such a surprise?” Elizabeth said.
Lily leaned forward. “Elizabeth, Jason’s a private person. Extremely…to the point where he shuts down on some people.”
“Well, I also ran into him on Lucky’s birthday last night. I went to this old bridge Lucky used to take me to and he was there. We talked a lot.”
“What about?” Lily asked, now extremely interested.
“Nothing much. We talked about Nikolas, how the people in town see me, we even talked about Robin a little.”
“Holy shit,” Lily swore.
“Mama!” Michael admonished as he tried to sip his soda. Lily moved his glass closer to the edge of the table so he could grip it better.
“Sorry, baby.” She turned her gaze back to Elizabeth. “I thought you two would get along–but he actually talked about Robin?”
“He didn’t go into specifics,” Elizabeth said quickly. “Just that she didn’t like me and that she told him was a bad listener.”
“Oh.” Lily relaxed a little. Jason was still acting a little bit normal. “Well, if he ever gets into the specifics about her, you’ll know you’re in.”
“I’m not sure I want in,” Elizabeth replied. “I mean, he’s a nice guy, but honestly, Lily, I don’t know if I have time in my life for a guy. Between Lex, the Outback, Nikolas…you know, I just don’t know if I should…”
“I’m not asking you to date him,” Lily said. “It’s just…” She frowned, trying to think of how much to say. “I’ve never seen Jason open up so fast–to anyone. It took him a year with me and it’s been a matter of days.” She gave her friend a little smile. “You know, I think it freaks him out a little.”
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow, amused. “I can’t picture him freaking out.”
“Well, freaking out for Jason is shutting down. Not always a good thing, I know, but it gets him through the day.” Lily sighed. “He needs someone in his life who won’t try to change him. That’s all Robin did. And he tried to change for her, to make her happy. He couldn’t. And now he thinks he can’t be with anyone.”
“Well, just because Robin was an idiot, that doesn’t mean he’s not allowed to be happy,” Elizabeth insisted.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell him!” Lily said, grinning. “So, listen. I think he’s attracted to you. You attracted to him?”
“Lily!” Elizabeth said, her cheeks flushed.
“I’ll take that as a yes. So, just let it develop naturally. You don’t want to let something good slip by just because you don’t think you have the time,” Lily said.
“Mama?” Michael spoke up.
“Yeah, baby?” Lily said, turning to him.
“That’s the pretty lady, right?” he said, pointing towards Elizabeth.
“Yep,” Lily said, giving Elizabeth a small smile.
“Is she gonna be around Unca Jase?” he asked curiously. He turned his eyes towards Elizabeth. “Are you?”
Lily glanced at Elizabeth who took a deep breath and leaned forward. “If he lets me,” she said.
“If Jason knows what’s good for him,” Lily said, her eyes twinkling with amusement, “He will.” She tilted her head to the side. “If you want him to.”
“I think…” Elizabeth hesitated but finally smiled at the other brunette. “I think I do.”
“Good,” Lily decided. “Let’s order–I’m suddenly starving.”
Jason was cursing himself as he even sat down at the bar at the Outback. He didn’t know why he was here–
No, if he wanted to be honest with himself, he did know why he was here. He wanted to see Elizabeth Spencer.
But that was if he was honest with himself.
Which he wasn’t. So his reason for being there was Luke was having another private party.
And the Outback was closer than Jake’s.
He sat at the end of the bar and waited for the bartender to appear. He had convinced himself that she wouldn’t be tending the bar tonight–even though he knew she was working.
He’d stopped by Lily’s to drop off Michael and Elizabeth’s daughter had been there. The fact that Elizabeth had a daughter should be reason to enough to leave and pretend he didn’t know her. He’d be better off that way. They’d all be better off.
But instead, he was at the bar and then she came out of the backroom, dressed in tight blue jeans and a long-sleeved v-necked shirt. She swept her eyes over the restaurant and the bar before the settled on him.
And hell, he liked that she smiled when she saw him. He didn’t like that he liked it, but well, you could only argue with your brain so much.
“Hey,” she greeted. “The usual?”
The usual. As if he came in all the time. Which he was beginning to realize–he did.
“Yeah,” he said, leaning back a little. “The usual.”
She moved away for a second and pulled a beer out of a cooler. She twisted the cap off with her hands–something no other woman Jason had met could do–and handed it to him.
“Thanks,” he said. Let her walk away. Let her walk away. “Michael was talking about you today.”
Elizabeth bit her lip and he had this strange image of trying it himself. “He did? What did he say?”
Jason shrugged, feeling slightly uncomfortable with the direction of his thoughts. “Just that he liked you.”
“Really? He’s a great kid,” Elizabeth said. “Lily adores him.”
“Yeah. She’s a good mom,” Jason agreed. He sipped his beer. “So, Lily’s your permanent sitter now?”
“Yeah. How’d you know?” Elizabeth asked, her eyebrows raised.
“I saw…Lex…is it?” he paused and she nodded. “I saw her at Lily’s when I dropped off Michael.”
“Yeah. I didn’t think my mother-in-law should be around her as often,” Elizabeth said. She shrugged a little. “I think she’s leaning towards believing Nikolas and I really don’t think Lex should be around someone who thinks her mother killed her father.”
“I’m sorry,” Jason said. “I know Laura took Lucky’s death hard.”
“Yeah, well I think Laura sometimes forgets she’s not the only who lost Lucky,” Elizabeth murmured. “Excuse me a minute.” She moved away to go refill another customer’s drink.
Jason watched her go and suddenly wondered if Elizabeth still mourned for her husband. He knew that they’d only married because she’d been pregnant–as if Robin hadn’t complained about it enough–but he knew, from Elizabeth’s words at the bridge the night before, that she’d cared about him.
And why did he care anyway?
With that unsettling thought, Elizabeth came back. “And now just because Nikolas went digging in my hometown, he thinks he’s got more evidence. He came in the night I went to the bridge, trying to freak me out.” She shook her head. “He’s being ridiculous.”
It was then Jason realized he really didn’t know anything about the woman in front of him other than the fact she’d been married to someone he knew–that his best friend adored her–that she was his partner’s daughter-in-law.
“What’s to dig up?” Jason asked, trying not to act as though he really wanted to know.
Elizabeth looked away and he sensed he’d gone too far–as though it wasn’t something she wanted to tell him. Knowing the feeling, he said, “Forget I asked.”
“No, it’s just…” she let out a deep breath and he tried to ignore the way her chest heaved when she did that. “It’s complicated y’know? And it’s not something I want to get into at work.”
Knowing that it was a good idea to back off completely and just shut his mouth, Jason found himself asking, “When do you get off work?”
Her eyes widened, as if she hadn’t been expecting that, and she looked at her wristwatch. “About an hour. Why?”
“Do you want to go somewhere?” he asked.
She smiled a little. “Sure. I’ll call Lily and tell her to keep Lex a little longer.” She moved away towards the phone and Jason silently cursed. Now Lily was going to be on his back about Elizabeth and there’d be no way to avoid a conversation about her.
How in the world did he get himself into these situations?
Elizabeth’s stomach was twisted in knots as she turned away from Jason to call Lily. Lily said she thought he was opening up to her fast, but Elizabeth hadn’t really agreed. Until now.
“‘Ello?” Lily said, slightly out of breath. Before she could get a word out, Lily called to something in the back ground, “Put that down, Mikey. You know that you can’t run over a vase with a truck.”
Elizabeth giggled. “Lily? It’s me, Elizabeth.”
“Oh, hey chickie. What’s up?” Lily asked.
She lowered her voice a little. “Well, I need to know if you can keep Lex a little later tonight.”
“Well–you’re never going to believe this–but I’m going somewhere with Jason.”
Elizabeth held the phone out a little as Lily’s squeal nearly shattered her eardrum. When she thought the woman had calmed down, she brought it back. “I guess that’s a good reaction.”
“I told you–didn’t I tell you?” Lily said, happily. Almost immediately her tone sobered. “Don’t hurt him.”
Elizabeth had to smile at the protective tone in the other woman’s voice. “I won’t, I promise.”
“Good. Well, take your time. I’ll see you when you get back.”
Elizabeth hung up the phone and was shaking her head as she went back to Jason. “She’s nuts, do you know that?”
Jason frowned. “Why?” he asked, warily.
“She’s just the funniest person to talk to on the phone,” Elizabeth replied, easily. “Though she could shatter someone’s hearing.”
“Yeah, Lily’s a loud person,” Jason agreed. He wondered where he was going to take her. And would she even like the motorcycle?
He got both his answers an hour and fifteen minutes later as he took another turn fast. He felt her screaming and grinned. Elizabeth was definitely different than any other woman he’d had on the bike. Lily just smacked him when he went too fast, his younger sister Emily clung tightly and forgot to breathe while Robin flat out refused to get on the bike.
But Elizabeth? She seemed born to ride on the back of his bike.
With that unsettling thought lurking in his mind, he brought bike to a halt in the parking lot of Vista Point. She climbed off and immediately started to grin like a maniac.
“That was incredible!” she gushed. “The wind was amazing–it was just…wow!”
“Yeah, it’s fun,” Jason agreed, putting the helmet she’d used in the storage box. “Have you been here yet?”
She shook her head. “No. Where are we?”
“Vista Point,” Jason said. He took her hand and led her to the observation deck. “It’s the highest point in town. You can see most of the town from here.”
Once they were on the upper level, she let go of his hand went to the railing. “Wow. The view is incredible.”
“It’s nice,” Jason shrugged.
“You can see everything from here,” she continued. “You can even see the harbor and spooky Spoon Island.” She shuddered. “I’ve only been there once, and it was enough.” She turned to look at him. “Lucky and I had our wedding reception there. He hated that place as much as most of the Spencers, but he was thrilled that Nikolas wanted to do it.”
“Did you and Cassadine ever get along?” Jason asked, leaning his back against the railing.
She shrugged. “Not really. He didn’t really notice my presence when I first started dating Lucky, but the second I got pregnant, he decided he hated me.” A twisted smile crossed her face. “Which is why he’s got people digging up my past.”
“What’s there to find?” Jason asked.
She didn’t answer for a few minutes, but he could tell she was thinking about how to say whatever she needed to say. Finally she said, “I’m an only child. My parents had a lot of expectations and I didn’t live up to any of them. We argued a lot–but you know, they were still my parents.”
She turned back around and faced the view again. The stars seemed closer than over and she lifted her face to stare at them. “When I was fourteen, I had this dance recital. I totally blew it–and I did it on purpose. I hated dancing and I didn’t want to do it anymore.” She sucked in a deep breath. “My mom and I fought really bad outside the dance hall and my dad even threw in a few–what an insult I was to the Webber name and what a disappointment I was, etc. My grandmother came up and told my parents off and said she was taking me to her house that night and that I wouldn’t go home until my parents started treating me right.” Elizabeth’s voice grew softer as she continued her story. “My parents were in an accident–a bad one. It was one of the freak occurrences–a telephone pole came crashing down and my father swerved to miss it. He went head-on into another car and my parents’ car flipped. They both died and I never went home again.”
“I’m sorry,” Jason said. “That sounds…really…” he frowned. “But how would that help Nikolas?”
“I lived with my grandparents until I was nineteen,” Elizabeth continued as if she hadn’t heard his question. “I came home from class one day to find that the house had burned down. There was a lot of suspicion–because the firemen thought it was arson at first. Since I was my grandparents’ only beneficiary, I was the sole suspect until they determined the cause of the fire was my grandfather’s cigar.”
“So you were cleared,” Jason said. “Nikolas can’t use that.”
“He can and he will,” Elizabeth replied quietly. “But I have faith–Alexis will keep it out of court, I know that.” She turned back to him and gave him a small smile. “My, our conversations are depressing.”
He couldn’t help himself–he smiled back. “Well, we haven’t even talked about my past yet, so don’t you think you’ve got the market cornered on depressing stories.”
She laughed then. “Well, I can’t argue with that.”
He titled his head towards the parking lot. “Come on. I’d better get you back before Lily loses her mind.”
“As long as you promise not to hold back,” she said, passing by him. She turned around and started walking backwards, an impish smile on her face. “Because I know you can go faster on that bike.”
He chuckled and followed her to his bike.