Carly Corinthos glared at her husband. “Why did you do that?” she asked, stomping her foot and sounding like a five-year-old.
“Do what?” Sonny asked, setting the fork next to the spoon.
“You invited Jason!” Carly whined. She watched her husband set the table, making sure the forks and knives were just the right distance from the plates.
Sonny glanced up, frowning. “Why not?”
“Because I don’t want her to feel comfortable here,” Carly replied.
Sonny sighed and rested his hands on the back of one of the chairs. “Carly. Elizabeth has been a good friend to Jason–” when she snorted, he held up a hand to hold her off, “–and as much as you hate to acknowledge that, you know it’s true.”
“I know no such thing,” Carly said. “And I don’t want her thinking she can use this new…complication…to get back in good with Jason.”
“I don’t think–”
“And you always take her side.”
“Carly…I invited Jason because I consider him part of my family. Don’t you?”
“Yes,” Carly said, grudgingly.
“And is about as close to a family dinner as we’re ever going to have,” Sonny continued. “Which means my brother and your sister get to eat dinner here. It is not my fault if they’re attracted to one another.”
“He is not attracted to that pasty-faced–”
“Carly,” Sonny repeated forcefully. “What do you have against Elizabeth exactly?”
“She’s not good enough for Jason,” Carly said immediately. “She doesn’t understand what he needs.”
“And you won’t let Jason be the judge of that?” Sonny asked.
“Jason has extremely bad taste in women.” She frowned. “Excluding myself of course.”
“Of course.” Sonny shook his head. “I know you didn’t like Robin, and the two of you enjoyed taking each other apart–and you blame her for telling AJ about Michael. But Elizabeth has never done anything directly to you.”
“You always take her side!”
“Carly, just…for one night, can you do me a favor?” Sonny asked, adjusting the wine glasses.
“What?” Carly grumbled.
“Remember something: You have been given a chance in life–you have a sister and you have the opportunity not to screw it up, not like I did.”
Carly sighed. “Elizabeth and I will never be close.”
“Why?” Sonny challenged. “Because you’ve convinced yourself of this?”
“I know it,” Carly snapped.
“Fine. So, this is the favor–”
“I thought the favor was to remember that I have a sister,” Carly muttered.
“No. I want to look at Elizabeth objectively tonight and give her a chance.”
“What?” Carly yelped. “Are you nuts?”
“Because there’s no way she’ll be able to impress me.” Carly was firm on the subject–she wasn’t going to budge.
“Good. Then you’ll do it.”
“Wait…what?” Carly asked. “I didn’t agree to that!”
Sonny smiled at her. “If she won’t impress you, then you have no problem giving her a chance.”
“You tricked me,” Carly accused. “That’s what happened.”
Sonny just shook his head and grinned. “Okay, Carly. Whatever.” He headed back to the kitchen to check on dinner. “Oh…I asked Jason to pick Elizabeth up.”
He let the door swing shut, cutting off Carly’s shrieks.
Elizabeth finished brushing her hair and tossed the brush on a table. She wasn’t really looking forward to this dinner–but she liked Sonny and it was nice to be related to him a sense.
She was more excited about the project she and Courtney were going to be starting the next day after their morning shifts. They were going to look for information about the Alcazar family. Elizabeth was looking forward to tracking down her other sister, Marisa.
Courtney had volunteered to help after Carly left earlier that day and they’d made plans to hit the library and look at old issues of newspapers. She knew it was probably a dead end, but short of asking Sonny or Jason, it was their only option.
A knock on the door interrupted her musings and she flipped open the bolts. “Jason.”
“Hey,” he greeted. “Sonny asked me to pick you up on my way home from the warehouse.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth nodded and turned to retrieve her purse. “So, I guess you’ve heard about my…uh…ties to Carly.”
“Yeah. It’s…interesting to say the least,” Jason said following her into the hallway. She locked the door and they headed to the stairwell.
“I haven’t told my grandmother yet,” Elizabeth said as they walked down the steps. “Because technically, she’s Carly’s grandmother, too.”
Jason chuckled and Elizabeth glanced up at him. “What?”
“Just the thought of Sonny being related to your grandmother.”
Elizabeth laughed then. “I bet Gram will get a kick out of that.”
Sonny rolled her eyes and adjusted the forks again. “Carly, Elizabeth Webber is not evil.”
Carly crossed her arms and glared at him. “Okay, maybe evil’s a strong word.”
“She’s a good person.”
Before Carly could start arguing with him, Jason pushed the door open. “We’re here.”
Carly glared at the young woman who entered with her best friend. “Goody.”
“And it went downhill from there,” Elizabeth sighed. She flipped the sign from closed to open. She turned back to Courtney. “Every time I looked up, she was insulting me.”
Courtney set the sugar canister down at a table and looked at her. “So, no cozy relationship between the sisters, huh?”
Elizabeth snorted. “We’re going to be about as close as me and Sarah. Or you and Sonny.”
Courtney headed back behind the counter. “So, how are things with Jason?”
Elizabeth couldn’t hide the small smile that crossed her lips as she crossed the diner. “They’re better.”
“Better?” Courtney echoed. She grinned and leaned forward, folding her arms on the counter. “Better how?”
“Well…” Elizabeth drawled. “He picked me up for dinner last night and took me home afterwards.”
“Uh huh,” Courtney said, clearly digging for more.
“It’s not so much as what we did…” Elizabeth stopped, struggling a little to explain it. “It’s just…that awkward feeling is gone, y’know?”
“I’m glad,” Courtney said. “Because like I said, I think he really cares about you.”
“I care about him, too,” Elizabeth said, sincerely. “But I’ve screwed up so many times in the past–I have to be careful.”
“You can’t be careful when your heart’s on the line,” Courtney said. “Sometimes…you have to take a risk.”
“Maybe,” Elizabeth said, shrugging. “Anyway, as soon as we get off, we’re going to the library, right?”
Accepting the change in topic, Courtney nodded. “Definitely.” She grinned. “I think I may be more excited than you are.”
Elizabeth stared at the article in stunned silence. “What did you find?” Courtney asked, leaning over from her microfiche machine.
Elizabeth leaned back to let the blonde see. “Alleged Crime Boss Ramon Alcazar Killed In Shootout–” Courtney’s blue eyes flicked to Elizabeth. “No way.”
Elizabeth nodded numbly. “Apparently.”
“So, wait, he’s kinda like Sonny…” Courtney sighed. “Is everyone in the mob or something?”
“Welcome to Port Charles,” Elizabeth mumbled. She clicked the print button and turned to Courtney. “Did you find anything?”
“No, still looking,” Courtney replied. She went back to her machine and flipped through a few more issues. She frowned and read the headline out loud. “Alcazar Heir Vanishes.”
Elizabeth leaned over to look. “What sort of newspaper prints something like that?”
Courtney smirked. “The Sun. Anyway…” she squinted to read further. “Twenty-one-year-old Alejandro Alcazar has vanished just before his trial. The youngest brother of alleged crime lord, Luis Alcazar, was to be tried for first degree murder…” Courtney scrolled down to read more and gasped.
“What, what is it?” Elizabeth asked. “Did you see something about Marisa?”
“N-no,” Courtney stammered. “I found a picture of Alejandro Alcazar.” She pressed the print button and crossed to the printer. She sifted through the articles they’d already printed until she found the one she’d just printed. She handed to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth stared at the picture for a few moments before raising her gaze to Courtney. “This is impossible.”
“I know,” Courtney said, her voice clearly stating her doubt. “But…that picture…”
“It can’t be…” Elizabeth trailed off. She looked back down at the picture of Alejandro Alcazar.
And looked into the face of Zander Smith.
“This is just impossible,” Elizabeth said for the hundredth time. “None of these articles mention the other children or even Carmen. They’re all about Ramon, Luis and Alejandro.”
“Well, maybe Ramon and Carmen were divorced,” Courtney suggested. “She might have gotten custody of the other two.”
“That’s true.” She stared down at the picture of Alejandro. “This can’t be Zander. I mean…this is just crazy.”
Courtney sighed. “You know what you have to do, you know….if you need confirmation.”
Elizabeth glared at her. “If you’re suggesting I tell Jason, you’re nuts.”
“Honestly, Elizabeth, Jason will be able to find out if this guy and Zander are the same person. Not to mention…he might be able to find Marisa if Ramon Alcazar is involved in organized crime.”
“I just can’t go and ask Jason for help,” Elizabeth replied. “I have to stop going to him when I just need help. Too much of our friendship has been like that–I can’t do it anymore.”
“Fair enough,” Courtney agreed. “But how’s he gonna feel when he finds out you kept this from him?”
Elizabeth didn’t answer and busied herself organizing the various articles they’d found about the Alcazar crime family in New York City.
“You just don’t want to bring up Zander, do you?” Courtney asked.
“Look–I just…we just got past me sleeping with Zander…the last thing I want to do is bring him up again.”
“Elizabeth…you can’t keep this from him,” Courtney admonished. “You know he’s going to find out and he’s not gonna like that you didn’t tell him.”
“I know,” Elizabeth grumbled. “But how am I supposed to explain that this guy I slept with is possibly a member of a crime family–oh and his sister is related to me…yeah…that might not go over well.”
Courtney bit her lip and looked away. “I know–but aren’t you big on honesty?”
“You know…you’re not supposed to convince me to tell him. You’re supposed to be on my side,” Elizabeth muttered.
“Sorry,” Courtney shrugged.
“Look…I think I need to think about this for a while, y’know, before I make any decisions.”
Courtney stood and headed for the door. “I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ve got the day off, but you’re closing right?”
“Right. See ya. Thanks again for all your help,” Elizabeth said, honestly.
She knew Courtney was right. That was the biggest problem. She knew it wouldn’t do any good to keep this information from Jason, but part of her just wanted to keep their friendship tension free for awhile.
They’d barely managed to get past her sleeping with Zander without Elizabeth bringing up that she and he might have family in common or that he might be more than the former drug dealer they’d thought he was.
There was also the factor of Marisa–the sister that Elizabeth wouldn’t mind finding. She had so little family–her mother, Marcia, who she hadn’t seen in five years. Steven, the doctor brother she never talked to. Sarah…the whore extraordinaire that Elizabeth refused to talk to. Audrey, the grandmother who couldn’t understand her choices and had stopped trying.
And then there was Carly. The new sister who she’d already disliked.
She could use a sister who she didn’t know and had no history with.
She also knew her chances of finding this sister were slim to none unless she swallowed her pride and asked for help. And she was in a position where she could go to her brother-in-law–and she knew Sonny would help her.
But if she went to Sonny, Jason would find out. And he’d be hurt that she hadn’t gone to him.
But she didn’t want Jason to think she was using him. She’d done that so much the last time he was in town–she wanted a chance to be with him, but she didn’t think that would be possible unless she tried to put their friendship on a more equal footing.
She finished wiping down the tables, lost in her thoughts and didn’t even notice when Zander entered the diner.
She stopped and looked at him, the irritation and exhaustion written in her face. “We’re closed, Zander.”
Zander drew closer to her. “I haven’t seen you around Jason all that much. Why is that?” he asked.
“I’ve been working,” Elizabeth muttered moving away from him. “Could you please go?”
“Your big bad mob enforcer didn’t want you did he?” Zander taunted. “I bet you wish you hadn’t been so quick to dump me.”
In about five seconds she was going to lose her temper and she didn’t think she’d be responsible for her actions. “My relationship with Jason is none of your business. Leave me alone.”
She grabbed her purse and headed for the door. “I have to lock up. Now go.”
Zander glared at her one last time before stalking out the door. Elizabeth sighed and followed him, stopping to lock the door.
She was about to walk in the opposite direction when Jason stepped out of the shadows. “Hey,” he said.
“Hi,” she said, surprised.
“I wanted to see if you needed a ride home,” Jason explained. “But I…I saw Zander and–”
“I am about this close to knocking his head off,” Elizabeth fumed, interrupting him. “He keeps coming in and insinuating that I made a mistake in dumping him. Dumping him would mean we actually dated and that’s just ridiculous.” She broke off and smiled, embarrassed.
Jason was unable to keep the small smile off his face. “So, you need a ride home after all?”
“Sure,” Elizabeth replied. She hesitated. “I actually have to talk to you anyway.”
“Oh?” Jason asked, leading Elizabeth to his bike. He handed her the helmet.
“Yeah…and it’s really important. Do you have time tonight?” she asked, anxiously.
Her expression worried him and he nodded. “Yeah, sure. Your studio?”
“Yeah,” Elizabeth agreed.
Elizabeth grabbed the folder off the table and leaned against it. Jason folded his arms and stood in the middle of the studio. Whatever she needed to say, she’d say in her own time.
“I debated about telling you this,” she said finally, “but we’ve always been honest with each other.” She looked down at the folder full of the newspaper articles. “You remember that letter I gave Carly and Sonny about my father?”
“Yeah,” Jason replied.
“Well, it was from a woman named Carmen Alcazar,” Elizabeth replied. “She and my father had a daughter together, named Marisa. Carmen was married to my father’s best friend, Ramon. They had four children, including Marisa. Apparently, Ramon was involved organized crime in New York City and was killed back in the eighties after I think he and Carmen divorced. His son Luis took over for him and his younger brother disappeared after being charged with first degree murder.”
Jason knew the name–but he didn’t let on to Elizabeth. He needed to run this by Sonny before letting Elizabeth know anything. “Elizabeth–”
“Courtney offered to help me find Marisa and we went searching anything we could find and we found all these articles.” She opened the folder–on top was the article about Alejandro fleeing the jurisdiction. “Courtney found a picture of the younger brother.” She handed it to him.
Jason took it and looked down at the article. He wasn’t really good at photographs, but he could tell the guy in the picture was familiar. He looked up at her.
She bit her lip–she knew he had trouble with pictures, but she’d been hoping he’d able to recognize him and she wouldn’t have to say his name. She hated bringing Zander up sometimes. “Courtney and I seem to think it looks a lot like Zander.”
He looked back down at it and this time he could see it. “Yeah…I can see it a little.”
She bit her lip. “I just thought…you know…you ought to know if he’s Alejandro, y’know…I figured you might appreciate it in case…” she stopped and looked at him. Honesty is the best policy, she chanted. “I didn’t want you finding out another way and thinking I kept it from you to protect him.”
Jason didn’t say anything for a few minutes but when he finally did, she breathed a sigh of relief. “Can I tell Sonny about this?” he asked. “Because you’re right–we do need to know.”
“Sure,” Elizabeth said. She shoved the folder at him. “This is all the information we found actually. Take it–it didn’t help me anyway.”
Jason set the article inside the manila folder and set it aside. “So, how are you going to find your sister?” he asked.
She grimaced. “I have no idea. We were hoping to find anything in the New York papers, but the most we came up with was her birth announcement. Courtney and I are at a dead end.”
“You weren’t going to ask me?” Jason asked.
She flushed and looked away. “I would, normally but…” she stopped and shrugged.
“But what?” Jason pressed.
“I didn’t want you to think I was using you,” she admitted. She clasped her hands in front of her and looked at the floor. “I did a lot of that last year and I’m trying really hard not to do it anymore.”
“Elizabeth–” He stopped, knowing it would do no good to argue with her when she’d made up her mind to blame herself. “What if I offer to help?”
“I don’t know,” she said, hesitating. “Would you?”
“I’ll help you find your sister,” Jason told her.
She grinned and her eyes lit up. “Thank you!” Elizabeth was so excited that she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him for the first time since the whole Zander debacle. He was startled but wrapped his arms around her waist.
The hug lasted a few seconds too long and she pulled away abruptly. She turned and headed for the lone clipping she’d kept out of the folder. She kept her back to him long enough to take a deep breath and get her breathing under control. When she turned back around she held out the article. “This is Marisa’s birth announcement in The New York Journal.”
Jason took it from her and looked at it.
Marisa Alda Alcazar was born at 7:56 a.m. on September 21, 1982. She weighed 6 lbs. and 8 oz. She is the youngest and only daughter of Wall Street whiz Ramon Alcazar and his wife Carmen, nee Galvez.
“And this was the only mention of her?” Jason asked.
“Yep.” She nervously wrung her hands. “We looked in all the major newspapers in the area, but there was nothing else. After Marisa was born, the only Alcazars mentioned are Ramon, Luis and Alejandro. They don’t mention Carmen, Marisa or the other twin, Enrique.”
“Well, you said they were divorced, so it’s possible Carmen got custody of the other two children and moved,” Jason replied. “I’ll do some checking.”
“Thank you so much,” Elizabeth said gratefully. “It really means a lot to me.”
“It’s no problem,” Jason told her. He smiled at her and she couldn’t help but return the smile. She missed how easy it used to be between them before she screwed it up.
At the thought of Zander, Elizabeth frowned and looked away. She bit her lip. “I just wish there was something I could do for you–you’ve done so much for me, Jason.”
“You don’t owe me anything.”
She walked towards. “Yeah, yeah, I do. I know you don’t think so, but I feel like I do.” She sucked in a deep breath. “I can never erase my mistakes. I can’t take them back as much as I want to. I just hope that in time you forgive me.”
“Elizabeth, there’s nothing–there’s nothing to forgive.” He looked at her carefully. Choosing his next words carefully, “You and I…we weren’t together. We didn’t have any sort of understanding. You could gone back to Lucky and I wouldn’t have the right to be mad.”
“This isn’t about having the right to be mad.” She pushed her hands through her hair and looked at the ceiling. “This about me doing something stupid. Something I wished I could take back. I know you have to be mad.”
“Elizabeth…it’s not that I’m mad. I just don’t understand it. I don’t understand the things you do sometimes. You’re always trying to make everyone else happy and take care of everyone else. When…when was the last time you did something to make you happy?”
She didn’t answer for long time. She bit her lip and turned back around to face the table. He stuck his hands in his jeans and waited. When she finally spoke, her answer stunned him.
“That night when I found Sarah and Lucky.” Her voice was barely above a whisper and yet, he had no trouble hearing it. “When I brought you back to my studio and I kissed you.” She turned around to look at him. His face was unreadable–his eyes dark. “I kissed you because I wanted to. Because I had been dreaming about it since the day I walked away from you in the park. Since that day in your room. That was the first decision I made that was for me and me alone.”
He looked at her, the surprise etched in his features. “Then…why–why did you…” he stopped, not sure how to ask the question, and not completely sure he wanted to hear the answer.
“Because I was angry that night. I wanted our first time to be completely about us, and not about my anger. I explained that to you then, but I guess I need to clarify it.” She looked down. “I slept with Zander because I was reaching out for something. I don’t know what, but he was there. It was nothing more than sex. It didn’t mean anything to me. He was my friend at one time, but I regretted it the moment it was over.” She tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “And the second I opened the door to you the next morning, all I could think about was making sure you didn’t know.”
“If Zander didn’t mean anything to you, then why did you fight so hard for him?”
“Because I thought…I thought you didn’t want me anymore.” She swallowed hard and focused on his eyes. “I decided that I didn’t want to be alone. It was a mistake and I never should have put any trust in him.” She swiped at her eyes. “I was stupid and I was trying to make it right, and I failed. I made it worse.” She hugged herself. “I lost you.”
“Elizabeth, you didn’t lose me. I’m right here. I’d never turn you away.” He stepped towards her and she closed the distance. She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned into him. He pushed away slightly and let his hands cup her face. He used his thumbs to wipe away her tears. They locked eyes. He started tilting his head down.
This wasn’t like the other times–this wasn’t out of anger and she wasn’t going stop him. She was going to kiss him and it was going to be for the right reasons. Their breaths mingled and his lips brushed hers.
And then his cell phone rang.
She hesitated but Jason didn’t–his mouth settled over hers and she returned the pressure. If he wasn’t going to let the cell phone interrupt them–well, neither was she.
The incessant ringing didn’t stop and he eventually had to break contact and answer it. “Sorry,” he apologized, digging into his coat pocket for the cell.
She could only blink in response as he answered it.
“Yeah?” he said. “Okay, I’ll be right there.” He hung it up and looked at her. “Elizabeth–”
“I know you–you have to go,” she said, finally finding her voice.
“We need to talk,” he told her. He kissed her on the forehead before leaving. She stared at the closed door for a few seconds.
“Oh yeah,” she murmured. “We definitely need to talk.”
“I told you,” Courtney said triumphantly the next morning during the breakfast shift.
Elizabeth just shook her head and poured a cup of coffee. She set it in front of a customer who set down a dollar and left for a table. “Courtney, don’t make me regret I told you.”
Courtney laughed. “Come on, Elizabeth, you know you’re psyched.”
Elizabeth couldn’t help it–she grinned and looked at her. “Okay, maybe little.”
“A little?” Courtney teased.
“All right, all right,” Elizabeth said, “A lot.” She took a deep breath. “Anyway, he offered to help find her, so this is good news.”
“With Jason’s help, we’ll definitely find Marisa,” Courtney agreed. She turned, her back to the counter. “So, do you think he’ll tell you if he finds out Zander is Alejandro?”
Elizabeth’s face paled and Courtney frowned. “What’s the matter?”
Courtney froze and slowly turned. “G-good morning, Zander,” she stammered. She held up the coffee pot. “Something to drink?”
Zander glared at Elizabeth. “No. In fact, I don’t want anything. I’ll be leaving.” A second later he turned and stalked out of Kelly’s.
“Shit, I am so sorry,” Courtney said. “I really didn’t think–”
“It’s all right,” Elizabeth said quickly. “It’s a mistake I probably would have made. Don’t worry.”
“Really, I am sorry–I should have known better.”
“Courtney, I’m okay and I’m not mad. It was a mistake–I know you didn’t do it on purpose.”
Elizabeth pushed past her to go wait on a customer. Maybe Zander hadn’t heard the entire conversation. Maybe she and Courtney were safe.
But just to be sure–she’d tell Jason what had happened as soon as her shift was over.
And maybe they could have that talk.
Elizabeth pulled her purse strap higher on her shoulder as she headed down the steps. She was on her way to the penthouse, intent on finding Jason. If he wasn’t there–well, she’d have to go see Sonny. She couldn’t wait much longer to let someone know what had happened earlier that morning.
She was rushing so fast that she didn’t even see Zander until she crashed into him.
“You should watch where you’re going,” Zander said, shoving her away from him.
“Z-zander–” Elizabeth stuttered. “I’m sorry…I wasn’t looking.”
“You should.” Zander folded his arms and glared at her. “You should also learn to mind your own business.”
Oh, no. He had heard. She swallowed. “Zander, about what Courtney said–”
Zander grabbed her arm. “Who else knows?” he bit out.
“N-no one,” Elizabeth stammered. “Let me go.”
“If you tell anyone else,” Zander threatened, “I will make you regret it.”
“She said to let her go.”
Zander turned his head and cursed.
Carly Corinthos stood at the foot of the stairs, with her guard just a step away. She smiled at Zander and crossed her arms.
Carly had debated on whether or not to step in at first–but she knew that Will, her guard, would certainly say something to Sonny about the scene and he’d wonder why she hadn’t done anything.
It had nothing to do with Elizabeth being her sister.
Carly took a step forward. “Let her go, Zander…or I’ll have Will deal with you.”
Zander glared at Carly for a few minutes before abruptly letting go of Elizabeth’s arm. “Remember what I said,” he growled before stalking away.
Carly raised her eyebrows. “You certainly have a way with men.”
Elizabeth rubbed her sore arm. “Bite me, Carly,” she muttered.
“Mrs. Corinthos?” the man who’d been standing with Carly said. “Mr. Morgan is on his way.”
Carly spun around. “What?” she snapped. “Will, who asked you to call Jason?”
Will shuffled his feet. “Well, Mr. Corinthos made it clear that if Ms. Webber needed help, to call Mr. Morgan immediately.”
Carly glared at her half-sister before taking a deep breath and smiling sweetly at guard. “Will, be a sweetie and call Jason to tell him he’s not needed.”
“Actually, Will, I do need to speak with Jason,” Elizabeth spoke up, “so don’t worry about it.”
“Uh…” Will’s eyes darted between the two women. His loyalties were definitely torn–his orders were to take care of Carly Corinthos and abide by her wishes, should they be within reason of course. But it had been stressed by some of the top men in the organization that Elizabeth Webber was a top priority in Jason Morgan’s life and if she needed him, she got him.
Luckily, Will was saved from making a choice by the appearance of Jason at the top of the stairs.
“What’s going on?” he asked immediately, his eyes flicking to Carly, suspiciously.
“Hey, knock it off, I didn’t even do anything,” Carly said, a little hurt.
“No, no,” Elizabeth said. “Carly actually helped.”
“She did?” Jason asked.
“I did?” Carly asked.
She gave the blonde a small smile. “I don’t really want to think about what would have happened if you and Will hadn’t showed up.”
Jason’s eyes narrowed. “Elizabeth, what happened?”
“Zander Smith,” Carly replied. “He had her by the arm and wouldn’t let go. All I did was threaten him with Will.”
“And he let go,” Elizabeth said. “So, thank you.”
“Yeah…you’re welcome.” Carly shifted. “Well, as much fun as this is, I’ve got a dentist appointment I’d rather go to. So…” she motioned to Will. The two headed up the stairs and out of sight. Jason turned to Elizabeth.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“Yeah.” Elizabeth shrugged. “I got my answer.”
“Answer to what?” Jason asked, grasping her arm and examining it.
“I’m fine,” she murmured. “It’s just sore.” She looked up at him. “He’s Alejandro Alcazar.”
“How can you be sure?” Jason asked, not letting go of her arm.
She bit her lip and looked away. “I wasn’t sure–but I thought Zander might have overheard a conversation. I was on my way to find you and tell you when I ran into him on the docks. He told me I needed to mind my own business and not to tell anyone else.”
Jason finally let go of her arm. “A conversation with who?” he asked.
“Courtney.” Elizabeth’s eyes widened. “Oh, no. What if he goes to Kelly’s?” She turned, intent on heading to the diner, but Jason grabbed her hand.
“She’s got a guard,” Jason told her. “Max won’t let him near her if I tell him not to.” He fished his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed a number. He did this all with his left hand, his right never letting go of Elizabeth. “Max, it’s Jason. How’s everything at Kelly’s? Okay…don’t let Smith within fifteen feet of Courtney. I’ll explain later. Thanks.” He hung up. “She’ll be fine.”
“Thank you,” Elizabeth said, breathing a sigh of relief. She watched him put the cell phone back into the back pocket of his jeans. “I’d hate for something to happen to her just because she was helping me.”
“Speaking of that, I think I got a lead on your sister,” Jason replied.
Her eyes lit up. “Really? What?”
“Are you busy right now?” Jason asked.
“No,” Elizabeth replied. “I just got off work.”
“Let’s go for a ride,” he said. “And we can talk.”
And she suddenly got the feeling he was talking about more than just a lead on Marisa.
Elizabeth leaned against the railing of the observation deck. “It’s beautiful here–I don’t think I ever realized this place was here.”
“It’s supposed to be the highest point in the city,” Jason replied.
“I’d love to sketch it,” she replied. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “So, you said you found out something?”
“Yeah. It’s not much,” Jason told her, “but it’s a start. Carmen and Ramon divorced in 1983. She took her maiden name of Galvez and got custody of Marisa and Enrique. The two kids both took the name Galvez, as well.” He put his hands in his pockets and met her eyes. “But it’s obvious that Carmen didn’t want to be found–we haven’t found any trace of them yet.”
She sighed and looked away. “I guess it was too much to hope for that Marisa would only be a plane ride away.”
“I’ll find her, Elizabeth, I promise.”
She offered a smile. “I’m grateful for any help you can give me, but if you can’t find her it’s all right. I understand.”
He took her hands in his. “I wanted to talk about last night.”
She bit her lip and looked down at their hands. “What about last night?” she asked, trying to stall. The last thing she wanted was to be let down with a I-Just-Wanna-Be-Friends speech.
“I’m not going to apologize.”
Her head jerked up. “What?” she asked.
“I’m not sorry I kissed you,” Jason said.
“Yeah…well neither am I, honestly,” Elizabeth admitted. Her cheeks flushed as she continued. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to kiss you last night.”
“What about right now?” he asked, taking a step closer to her.
“I’d like that,” she confessed, her voice low and breathy.
He leaned down and their lips touched. Almost instantly, her hands were in his hair, dragging him closer. Her mouth opened underneath his and deepened the kiss.
His ever present cell phone interrupted them again and he didn’t even bother to muffle the curse as he broke away to dig it out of his pocket. “Yeah?”
Elizabeth moved away, giving him some privacy for the phone call. She leaned over the railing and peered out at the town, running the last few minutes through her brain. Could it be so simple? Could she and Jason get past the hurt she’d caused and the mistakes she’d made in only a few days?
“We have to go back,” Jason said, coming up behind her. She straightened and turned. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine,” she said. “Besides, I’m suddenly inspired to do some sketching.” She headed towards the parking lot, but he grabbed her arm.
“I still want to finish this,” he said.
She tilted her head to the side. “We can do it in ten words or less,” she said, suddenly feeling brave. “I want to be with you, Jason.”
“I want to be with you, too,” Jason told her.
“That wasn’t too painful, was it?” she teased.
“Not as bad as I thought,” he replied, a half-smile on his face as he tugged her towards him for a brief kiss. Pulling away, he said, “Come on. I really do have to go.”
Carly heard the door downstairs close and she was down the steps in a flash. “Is it safe to come down now?” she asked.
Sonny turned and frowned. “Why didn’t you tell me what happened on the docks today?” he asked.
Carly shrugged. “It didn’t seem important. I mean, Jason came. The situation was resolved.”
“Carly.” Sonny sat and just shook his head. “Zander Smith obviously sees Elizabeth as a threat for some reason and you broke in on that. I don’t want to give him a reason to go after you, too.”
“It was kind of weird,” Carly admitted, sitting next to her husband on the couch. “I mean, I thought she and Zander were friends.”
“Yeah, the last time I checked they were,” Sonny replied. “I wonder what’s changed.”
“Well, maybe Jason can tell you,” Carly said. “Elizabeth said she was looking for Jason, I assume she told him.”
“So, you stepped in to help your sister,” Sonny said, patting Carly’s knee, unable to keep the smile off his face.
Carly grimaced. “Well, if I hadn’t and something had happened to the princess, then you just know Jason would never let me get away with it.”
“So it had nothing to do with you being related to her?” Sonny asked.
Carly glared at him. “Stop staying that. It’s just wrong.”
“What’s so wrong about it?” Sonny asked. “Elizabeth is a good person–I think if you gave her half a chance you might find out that the two of you could get along.”
“Get along?” Carly snorted. “Co-exist maybe, but we’ll never get along, and you’d ought to get used to that.”
“It’s just…neither of us have a lot of family,” Sonny reminded her. “I’ve got you, Courtney, Jason and Michael. You’ve got me, Jason, Michael and now Elizabeth. You never know–you might learn to like her.”
“Don’t make me hurt you.”
Elizabeth and Courtney were both working the evening shift the next day and they kept looking up every time the door swung open, both hoping desperately that Zander Smith wouldn’t come through them.
“I hate this,” Courtney muttered, coming to stand next to Elizabeth behind the counter. “It’s absolutely dead in here now and all I can think about is Zander.”
“Jason said we were safe as long as we stay here,” Elizabeth replied. “Max is taking you home and Jason’s picking me up. Everything should be fine.”
“AJ absolutely hates that Max takes me home, but I keep telling him–at least it saves us bus fare, right?” Courtney sighed. “I love him, but he’s always so sure Jason’s out to beat him.”
“At least he’s consistent,” Elizabeth replied.
“Yeah.” Courtney gave her a weak smile and then looked towards the doors. “One of us is going to have to clean up outside.”
Neither of them made a move.
“If you think if I ask Max to you know…stand outside with me, he won’t think I’m a complete baby?” Courtney asked.
Elizabeth shrugged. “Well, his job is to protect you.”
“True. But I hate being a burden. I brought him coffee on the house and he kept trying to pay for it.”
Elizabeth smiled. “I know–the guards can be so polite. Francis used to guard me and we used to argue all the time. He refused to accept free coffee and I refused to be called Miss Webber all the time. We compromised after about a week–he paid for half the coffee and ended up calling me Webber.” Elizabeth laughed. “I’ll never forget the first time Sonny heard him do that. The look on his face.”
Courtney giggled. “I just don’t understand why they have to be so formal.”
“Well, a lot of them are used to Carly,” Elizabeth confided. “And she’s not the easiest person to be around.”
“I can imagine.”
The door swung open and both women tensed. When it was only Carly, Courtney sighed, visibly relieved.
Carly stalked forwards, hands on her hips. “All right, Princess, I want answers.”
“Answers?” Elizabeth echoed. “What are you talking about?”
Carly’s eyes narrowed. “It’s been bugging the hell out of me since yesterday. What crawled up Zander’s ass and died?”
Courtney and Elizabeth exchanged glances. Jason told her the information was only on a need-to-know basis, and somehow Elizabeth didn’t think Carly’s insatiable curiosity counted.
“Look, I’m just gonna find out on my own, so save me the trouble,” Carly said. She slid onto a stool. “Besides, he probably hates me now since I stopped him from throwing Elizabeth in the water.”
“I think you’re exaggerating,” Elizabeth remarked dryly.
“Whatever. So since I’m probably in just as much danger as the two of you, you might as well tell me.”
Courtney looked at Elizabeth. “She’s got a point.”
“Look, Carly…Zander’s not who he says he is,” Elizabeth told her. “He’s someone else, a person with a different name and past. He found out Courtney and I knew, so we’re a little jumpy.”
“So who is he, really?” Carly asked, eager to gossip.
Elizabeth shook her head. “Don’t worry about it.” She hesitated. “Did Jason tell you he’s helping me find Marisa?”
Carly frowned. “Marisa?”
“Yeah Our other sister,” Elizabeth replied. “Jeff and his best friend’s wife had an affair and she had a daughter.”
“He certainly got around, didn’t he?” Carly asked, wrinkling her nose.
“Remind you of anyone you know?” Courtney asked sweetly.
“Bite me, blondie,” Carly muttered.
The doors swung open and Zander stalked in. “Just who I wanted to see.”
“H-hi,” Courtney stammered. She held up a coffee pot. “Coffee?”
Elizabeth jabbed her in the side. “Stop offering him coffee,” she hissed.
Zander stuck his hands in his pockets. “Did you tell Morgan what you know?” he asked bluntly.
“Does it matter?” Elizabeth asked.
Zander frowned. “If you stay out of my way, you’ll be fine,” he told her. “Just don’t get any more mixed up with Morgan.”
“Why in the world are you telling me this?” Elizabeth asked, mystified. “In front of Sonny’s wife, no less.”
Zander smirked. “Sonny trusts Carly about as far as he can throw her, so I’m not worried.”
“Hey!” Carly exclaimed.
“Look, Liz, I’m not going to go out of my way to hurt you,” Zander said. “You’ve been a good friend and Emily would never forgive me.”
“But going after her brother is okay?” Carly asked sarcastically.
Zander shrugged. “All’s fair in war, babe. Emily would understand it’s just business.”
Elizabeth narrowed her eyes. “You don’t really know Emily very well, do you?”
“Well, if you open your mouth to her, I’ll just tell her that you slept with me,” Zander said.
Carly gasped and whipped her head around. “You did what?” she screeched.
“I made a mistake,” Elizabeth said, her teeth gritted.
“I’m just saying–bad things are gonna happen,” Zander said. “And you don’t want to be anywhere near Morgan when it all goes down.”
“What are you going to do?” Elizabeth asked.
“It doesn’t matter.” Zander walked out, letting the door swing shut behind me.
“Okay, that’s creepy,” Carly said, jerking her thumb towards the door. “He basically told us he’s gonna make a move against at least, Jason. He has to know Sonny will believe me if I tell him this. I’ve got witnesses and for some reason, my husband trusts you.”
“It’s like he wanted us to know,” Courtney murmured. “You think that’s part of the plan? To make sure you’re prepared and then find a way to blindside you anyway?”
“It’s possible,” Elizabeth said. “But Zander doesn’t have the resources to pull off anything big and Roy’s not like that. He’s not going to go after Jason for no reason.”
“Well, he did burn down his pier,” Courtney reminded her.
“Well, Roy tampered with the coffee,” Carly interjected. “But I agree with Courtney, he wanted us to know he’s up to something.”
“Which means he thinks he can’t be caught,” Elizabeth said.
“He’s got to be working for someone other than Roy,” Carly replied.
“But who?” Elizabeth asked.
“And why?” Courtney said. “I mean, if he wanted Sonny’s territory, he’d go after Sonny.”
“He’s made it personal,” Elizabeth said. “He sees Jason as a threat, someone he has to beat.” She glanced at her co-worker. “It’s almost like AJ. Except Zander’s a little more impulsive.”
“And AJ doesn’t have any real balls to pull anything off,” Carly said. “Sorry, but it’s true.”
Courtney shrugged. “I don’t want to argue about AJ. But you’re right, I think Zander definitely sees Jason as someone he’s got to beat, especially now that you’re dating Jason.”
Carly glared at the brunette. “You’re what?” she asked.
Elizabeth folded her arms. “And to think we were getting along.”
With a start, Carly realized the other woman was right. The three of them had been so busy dissecting Zander’s behavior, she’d forgotten all about making fun of the other two.
And the really worrisome thing?
Carly had been enjoying it. She loved scheming and it was always fun to try and decipher what someone else was up to. It’d been fun brainstorming with the two women.
With her teeth gritted, she said, “If you hurt him, I’ll kill you.”
Elizabeth raised her eyebrows in surprise but nodded. “Fair enough.”
“So, Zander basically thinks you chose Jason over him,” Carly said, bringing the discussion back to the original topic.
“I’d say so,” Elizabeth agreed. “Because, I guess, in all fairness I did.”
“He’s jealous,” Courtney said. “And he’s already hot-headed and impulsive. Adding jealousy and anger into the mix is a volatile combination.”
“I’m going to tell Sonny about what happened tonight,” Carly said. “But I think we ought to keep our suspicions to ourselves.”
“Carly,” Elizabeth said. “We–”
“No, you see, Sonny doesn’t value my opinion in matters like these. You might get through to Jason–he doesn’t think women are useless like my husband,” Carly said, smirking. “But the second Jason would tell Sonny one of us came up with it, he’d laugh it off. He’s infuriating like that.”
“So we need proof,” Courtney said. “But how do we get it?”
Carly smirked. “Simple. We use our best resource.” She locked eyes with Elizabeth. “He’s already got a weird loyalty to you through Emily. Use it.”
“I don’t know,” Elizabeth said, hesitantly. “I don’t want to hurt Jason.”
“I get that, but you don’t have to lead him on,” Courtney said. “Carly’s right–Zander almost trusts you. He’s also emotionally involved with you, at least he thinks he is. You could get him angry enough to let something slip.”
“All right, but if I get caught, I’m blaming you,” Elizabeth told Carly.
“Fair enough,” Carly said. She eyed the two women. “So, we’re putting aside our differences?”
“Temporarily,” Courtney said. “I love to fight with you, it’s the highlight of my day.”
Carly laughed. “Yeah, I do make arguing fun.”
“Yep. You’ll argue until you turn blue in the face,” Elizabeth said, grinning. “It doesn’t matter how invalid or trivial your points are. Until you win, you won’t shut up.” Her eyes sparkled. “And I’m the same way.”
Carly grimaced. “I guess we have that in common,” she said grudgingly.
“Well, what do you know?” Courtney asked, grinning. “Sisterly bonding.”
“Bite me,” Carly snarled.