December 25, 2018

Hey! Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates! I had myself an incredibly lazy day, lounging, listening to podcasts, and cooking myself a really good dinner. In my family, we do a huge event on Christmas Eve so that my brother and sister can celebrate with in-laws on Christmas Day.

In case you missed it, I posted a Christmas epilogue for The Best Thing, and we’re kicking off a flash fiction marathon tonight. Every night until New Year’s Day, I’ll be doing a new flash fiction. I know some of you guys are hoping for continuations of various stories, but I gotta go where the muse wants to go 😛

This is a continuation of the Victorian story I started, Yesterday’s Past. I’ll set up a series section tomorrow. I hope you enjoy Part 2.

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Flash Fiction: Yesterday's Past

Written in 24 minutes. Continuation of Yesterday’s Past.


Her first conscious thought was the delicious, toasty warmth as she slowly forced her eyes open. She turned her head to the side, wincing—why did her head ache so?

And why couldn’t she move? Why did it feel as though her limbs were weighed down by rocks and stones?

Elizabeth Webber blinked blearily, her fingers sliding over the soft thick cotton linen spread across her. She didn’t own a blanket like this—and could not remember when she last slept on a mattress so soft—

“Oh, miss!” a lovely accented feminine voice came from the other side of the bed, and a slight blonde came into her view, coming round the end of a bed. She wore a plain dark wool dress, a cap covering her hair. “You’re finally awake! The master will be so relieved—”

“M-master—” Elizabeth managed but to no avail. The blonde had flitted out of the room without waiting for Elizabeth to respond, obviously to fetch the aforementioned master.

Where was she?

She closed her eyes—she remembered being in Wapping, at a local pub. She had counted out her last coins for a chunk of bread and ale, her first meal in two days. There had been a conversation—two men talking nearby—and a name—

Oh, God, had she gone to seek out the man who shared the name of her childhood sweetheart? It had seemed such a crazy idea at the time—of course her beloved Jason was not a shipping magnate in London. How could he have gathered those kinds of resources—

But then—a flash of a rain soaked street, startled blue eyes—

Oh, God.

The door opened, and a tall man stepped through. He wore naught but his shirtsleeves, his dark blonde hair mussed as if he had been sleeping. Was it day? Or night? She couldn’t quite tell—the curtains were drawn tight across the windows.

“Elizabeth.”

His voice was deeper, rougher than she remembered but it was him. He had always said her name differently from everyone else—had never called her Lizzie as her family had.

Tears slid down her cheeks at the sound of her name on his lips. After all she had been through in the last four months, it was like a balm to her soul.

Jason lowered himself into a chair next to her bed, his eyes on hers. “How are you feeling? I’ve sent for the doctor—”

“How—” Elizabeth coughed, closed her eyes. She swallowed hard, but her throat felt so raw and sore. She felt her upper body being lifted as Jason put another pillow behind her to prop her up slightly. Then he held a cup of tea against her lips.

She drank even as he apologized for it being lukewarm. He said something to the maid still in the room—to fetch her something to eat, some more tea, to get the damn doctor, but her mind was already struggling to stay in the moment.

“How long…” Elizabeth whispered. “Since—”

“A week,” Jason told her. He rubbed the back of his neck. “You had a fever—it broke last night.” He exhaled slowly. “Your child still lives according to the doctor.”

Her child.

Elizabeth pressed her hand to her abdomen, at the distended belly that had cost her both her position and lodgings a month earlier. Of course he knew if she’d been recovering from illness in his home. Oh, God. Was he married? What did he think about—

“I should go,” she murmured, even as her eyes struggled to stay open. “I only—I only wanted somewhere to sleep for the night. I should go.”

Jason hesitated, then leaned forward. He tucked her hair behind her ears. “If you want to go, I couldn’t stop you.” A ghost of a smile flitted across his face. “I could never say no to you.”

Her heart ached at the sweet truth in that statement. It had been her idea to elope, to run away from her parents—it had been her fault he’d been sent away. “I can’t take—don’t pity me.”

“I don’t. But I know you hate asking for help. I’m asking you to stay. Until you’re strong enough to leave without being carried out.” His fingers drifted down her face before he sat back. “Is—is there someone I should send word to? Your father—” He swallowed hard. “A husband—”

“No.” She squeezed her eyes closed. “No. I’m not married. There’s no one.” She opened her eyes again, focused on him. “Is there someone—are you—am I making trouble by being here?”

“No, there’s no one,” he repeated. “The only people who know you’re here are my servants, the doctor, and my business partner, Sonny.” Jason hesitated. “I haven’t wed.”

“I still shouldn’t be—”

“Stay,” he cut off gently. He rose from the chair. “At least until you’re strong enough to argue with me. The doctor will be here soon.”

“All right,” Elizabeth agreed, her eyes closing. “All right. I’ll stay. For now.”

December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! My Christmas flash fiction marathon didn’t start on Saturday like I had hoped — my family kept showing up and annoying me, haha. We’ll get started tomorrow on actual Christmas because all my family obligations are tonight. I’m actually hurrying to finish this post before I leave for my sister’s.

In the tradition of last year’s holiday epilogue for All I Want For Christmas, here is an epilogue for The Best Thing, taking place at Christmas in 2008, four years after the original story ended. I hope you guys like it! Have a great holiday! I’ll see you guys tomorrow!

Notes: Happy holidays! I’ve been toying with returning to the world I built in The Best Thing for ages – there’s a small piece of the story that I actually wrote a year ago. I don’t know if I would ever do a full-fledged sequel, but it was lovely to visit the world again. Last year I wrote another epilogue for All I Want For Christmas, so I figured it would be fun to visit another story.

The Best Thing didn’t have an epilogue initially because I didn’t really know what I wanted for their future. This was written two years after I finished the story (almost three actually.)

It’s set four years after the close of Chapter Thirty-Four. I hope you guys like this!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Morgan Home: Living Room

The room looked as if a several bags of glitter and tinsel had exploded in the alcove where the Morgan family kept their tree. The two eldest Morgan children had dived into their mother’s box of Christmas decorations and discovered a container of tinsel that she had forgotten to remove before they arrived home from preschool that day.

Elizabeth Morgan had merely turned her back to set her youngest son, Jake, in a playpen and give him his stuffed elephant—clearly forgetting the first rule of Christmas decorating with small children.  She could already hear maniacal giggles from the alcove, and when she turned back to assess the situation—

Four-year-old Evangeline already had strands of tinsel streaking through her coal-black curls while four-year-old Cameron was throwing the tinsel at their pine tree—the tree that had no other decorations yet. It had been waiting for their father’s return from an unexpected business trip.

“Evangeline Samantha Morgan.”

Evie blinked at her, her caramel colored eyes round with wide-eyed innocence. “Mommy, it’s not my fault.” She jabbed a chubby finger at her brother. “He went into the box.”

You opened the tinsy!” Cam shot back with a dark scowl.

“Cameron Hardy Morgan.”

Cam heaved a heavy sigh, then turned his own angelic expression in her direction. “I miss Daddy,” he declared, then his lower lip trembled just a little.

Elizabeth arched a brow. “I invented that look.”

The sadness vanished from Cam’s eyes and the scowl returned. “Evie made me do it.”

“Cam—”

She sighed when eighteen-month-old Jake began to wail behind her. He hated being in the playpen, and she could already hear him throwing toys. One—a plastic car—sailed from behind her and hit Evie in the cheek. She shrieked and went for her brother.

Elizabeth stopped her advance, sweeping the little girl up in her arms, ignoring the outrage shrieks and kicks as she dropped her daughter on the sofa.

“It’s not fair!” Evie screamed.

“Mommy!” Cam dived for cover as another one of Jake’s toys careened past him, hitting the tree.

“Daddy!” Jake wailed.

“Oh, man.” Elizabeth sat in her grandfather’s old arm chair and put her head in her hands. Why—why—had she offered Nora the month of December off?

The playpen shook with an ominous rattle as Jake’s chubby fists wrapped around the top edge and he frantically tried to climb out. He managed to lift himself part of the way over the metal rail, but he couldn’t quite get the leverage to haul himself completely over the top—

So, he slid back down, threw back his head, and wailed at the top of his lungs. Evie started crying, pressing her hands over her ears, and Cameron—because he clearly didn’t think his mother was paying attention to him anymore—started tossing some more tinsel at their bare tree.

She only put Jake in there to have five minutes when the kids got home from school—so she could distract them—and then Jake could run free—but of course, he was only a toddler who didn’t understand that mothers needed to breathe.

Elizabeth took a deep breath, then started to reach for her youngest child. One kid at a time—and the tinsel was the least of her worries.

The door was pushed open then, sweeping in the brittle December wind and a bit of the snowflakes that had been gently falling for several hours. Jason stepped over the threshold and was immediately tackled by her eldest children who could run—

Jake rolled, kicked, and wiggled until Elizabeth released him. Jason grabbed Jake and in his own way—managed to hug all three of them at the same time without giving one any extra attention. There were days when he made parenting look so easy, she wanted to murder him.

“Hey,” he said, as he crossed the room, dragging Evie and Cam who were both attached to a leg. He leaned over the top of Jake’s head and kissed her, his lips cold and his breath holding the scent of coffee. She’d missed him—

They hadn’t been separated for two weeks since—since never, Elizabeth realized. Since they had started dating at Nikolas and Emily’s wedding four years earlier—their longest time apart had been that terrible week after her grandmother’s death and Sonny’s psychotic break.

“I missed you,” she murmured against his lips. “How was the island?”

Jason hesitated, then sighed. “We’ll talk about it later,” he said. He kissed her again. “Why was everyone crying when I—” He blinked at the tree, the bottom half of which was only decorated with tinsel before looking down at his two children—Evie with tinsel in her hair and Cam with tinsel sticking out of the collar of his green sweater. “We got into Mommy’s Christmas box, huh?”

As Cam and Evie launched into elaborate defenses of themselves, Jason looked at his wife with a light in his eye that told her he was struggling not to laugh. For the moment, her own irritation and exhaustion lifted, and she started to laugh.

Later that evening, after they had cleaned up the tinsel, fed the children dinner, and decorated the tree properly, Jason took the boys to their room to sleep while Elizabeth tucked in Evie.

“Tell me my special story, Mommy.”

Elizabeth stroked her daughter’s dark, almost coal-black curls with a sad smile Evie couldn’t see. “Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess named Samantha who was about to become a mommy. She loved her little girl so much and would have done anything to keep her safe. But then she got really sick.”

“And she could only hold me for a minute,” Evie said, the words as familiar her own name. “So, she held me tight.”

“And she made so many wishes for you. To be safe, to be happy, to be smart. To have a good life.” Elizabeth’s throat tightened slightly. “She gave you to the best man she knew—”

“Daddy.”

“That’s right.” Elizabeth smiled, stroking Evie’s cheek. “He promised your birth parents that he would love you so much and keep all their promises for them.”

“And then Daddy fell in love with you,” Evie said, rolling on her back. “And you became my Mommy, and you gave me a brother.”

“An older brother,” Elizabeth corrected softly. “Because they’re annoying and irritating, but no one loves and protects like an older brother.”

“And now we gots Jake.”

“And now we have Jake,” she repeated. “And I know you and Cam will take care of him the way you take care of each other.”

Evie rolled over again and smiled at the two frames on her night table. One, a photo of her biological mother, Sam McCall, and the other, a picture of her adopted parents on their wedding day. “Night, Birth Mommy. And we live happy ever after.”

“Like all good fairy tales.” Elizabeth leaned over and kissed her cheek.

She met Jason in the hallway and raised an eyebrow. “Are they both asleep already?”

“Jake is, but I let Cameron watch Ghostbusters again. I’ll check on him in an hour.” He followed her downstairs and they settled themselves on the sofa in front of the fireplace and their twinkling Christmas tree.

“Evie asked for her story again tonight,” Elizabeth said. She leaned into Jason’s embrace, luxuriating in the warmth and comfort she found in him, even after all these years. She needed these quiet moments at the end of the evening when she and Jason regrouped, compared notes, and prepared for the next day.

It hadn’t been easy finding the rhythm of having three small children with two active careers of their own, and the surprise of Jake had complicated things for a time, but their world had eventually balanced out. Cam and Evie had started school this year and it was a bit easier—

Until the call had come a few weeks earlier and Jason had had to leave in the middle of the night for the island.

“She’s been asking for it a lot the last few months,” Jason murmured.  He sighed. “Is she not getting along with Cam? She doesn’t feel like she’s part of—”

“No, I think she likes it. It makes her special, and she knows she’s adopted.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Cam’s teacher asked about that—about why they’re so close in age. I told her what we tell everyone—we each brought a child to our marriage, but I worry sometimes—”

“Evie’s ours,” Jason told her. The adoption had begun in earnest six months after Sonny had been sent to the island and completed almost two years earlier. “We don’t—”

“Evie’s always known she’s adopted. We made it special for her. And she has pictures of Sam on her nightstand.” Elizabeth sat up and twisted to look at him. “But Cameron—I don’t think he realizes it. And the reason the teacher asked about their ages—” She sighed. “He looks like you. He got my sister’s blond hair—and my blue eyes. He has no memory of anyone but you.”

“And making Evie’s adoption special—you think it’ll bother Cam when he gets older that he doesn’t have that story about Zander.” Jason wrinkled his nose. “Do—should we talk to him—”

“I don’t know if I can give Zander’s story a fairy tale twist. Sam died giving Evie life—with her last dying breath, she was thinking of her little girl. But Zander—” Elizabeth twisted her wedding ring on her finger. “I don’t want to erase Zander from his life. It’s not fair. I just—I never want Cam to feel like he didn’t deserve the kind of story Evie has.”

“If we wait until he’s old enough,” Jason said, after a moment, “we can tell Cam and Evie about Zander and Sonny at the same time. They both have biological fathers who were troubled—who won’t play—” He grimaced.

Elizabeth pressed her hand against his chest. “It didn’t go well did it?” she murmured. “Was it like last time?”

Since going to the island, Sonny’s recovery had been uneven. He went through doctors and medication like candy, and at least twice a year, Jason had gone to do damage control. Unlike a lot of people living with bipolar disorder, Sonny didn’t seem to be able to stay lucid and in control for very long.

It was a vicious cycle—he would be clear and sane for months before thinking he was cured. He’d stop taking his medications—then crash. He had had another psychotic break the year before, and he’d made it as far as the private airport to fly back to Port Charles.

The dream they’d once pictured of Sonny recovering enough to be part of their lives—to know his daughter, to rebuild a relationship with his sons—every year that passed, it seemed further away.

“This time the doctor argued with me about keeping him out of Port Charles,” Jason said. He leaned his head against the back of the sofa, his eyes looking toward the ceiling. “He seems to think the reason Sonny hasn’t been able to get a balance is that we’ve take him out of his natural environment.”

“Didn’t you tell him the last time Sonny had a break in Port Charles, he nearly killed you? That he sent men with guns after two babies?” Elizabeth demanded. “We’ve talked about this, Jason. Sonny can’t come back.”

“I know.” Jason closed his eyes, swallowed hard, before straightening and looking at her. In the dim firelight, she could see the anguish in his expression. “I’m doing the right thing for you and me. For the kids. For everyone who lives in Port Charles.”

“But not for Sonny.” And he wouldn’t be the man she loved if the decision didn’t weigh on him. In so many ways, their lives would have been easier if Sonny had died all those years ago—if Jason had let Sonny kill himself.

“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how make it better. If he came back—” Jason shook his head. “Would he always understand that he can’t be in control? Would he be satisfied with part of the life he had before? Is that even a risk I want to take?”

Elizabeth reached for his hand, tracing her fingers over the lines in his palm, over the gold ring on his fourth finger.  In sick and in health, for better or for worse—

She’d made those promises to him. Had promised to love and cherish him. And in her own mind, she had made different vows—silent ones.

She had promised that her face would never change, and that she would always do what was needed to be Jason Morgan’s wife.

“How did you leave it?” she asked. “What was Sonny like?”

“He didn’t have another break, and he’s back on his medicine.” Jason looked at her wary eyes. “Why?”

“If it weren’t for me and the kids, you would have brought him home years ago,” Elizabeth said. “I know that. It’s me that’s holding you back.”

“No—” Jason shook his head. “No. It’s not just that. That last break here—it wasn’t just what he did here in this house—” Sending armed guards to steal Evie by force, not even caring that Elizabeth had only just lost her grandmother—that her son was in this room—

“It’s what he did to Carly. She won’t let him have a relationship with the boys. Still. And I don’t blame her for that.” Jason swallowed hard. “We decided together that Sonny had to stay—”

“It’s me that’s holding you back.” Elizabeth repeated. “And there are times when I look at Evie, and I see Sonny. I see him the way I remember him. The way I loved him once. That last night—at my engagement party—that man—I want that man back. And maybe the doctor’s right.” She bit her lip. “Maybe he doesn’t feel like he needs to stay on the medicine because he’s alone down there.”

“Elizabeth—”

“I’m not saying he should come home full-time,” Elizabeth interrupted. “But—maybe it’s time we took the kids down to the island. Maybe it’s time Sonny met Evie and we reminded him that he’s not alone.”

Jason’s shoulders slumped, and he just stared at her for a long moment before shaking his head. “I can’t ask you to do that—”

“You’re not asking me. I’m offering. You weren’t the only one who lost Sonny. Evie lost her father. Courtney lost her brother. I lost a friend. I refuse—” She shook her head, resolute now. “I refuse to believe that the man we loved is lost forever. What happened—it was traumatizing, and we’ve had to dig out of it. But I can’t sit here, celebrating Christmas with the people I love most in the world and not feel guilty that the only reason Sonny is alone right now is because of an illness that he can’t control.”

Tears welled behind her eyes and she sucked in a deep, shuddering breath. “We’ve been punishing him, scared of what might happen if he came home. You saved his life four years ago, Jason, but we sentenced him to live in prison anyway. I can’t live with it anymore. I can’t ask you to keep doing it—to keep being the bad guy who has to go down there and tell Sonny he can’t come home.”

“He told me this last time that I should have let him put the bullet in his head,” Jason said after a long moment of silence, the crackling fire the only sound in the room. “That he’s just a ghost I wouldn’t let go.”

“We promised each other at the start,” Elizabeth said as he pulled her across his lap, “that Sonny was something we would deal with together. You—the kids—this is everything I ever wanted in my life. There are days that I am so happy that I actually cry because I never thought I would deserve this.” She framed his beloved face with her hands. “We have a good life, Jason, but I don’t think I can live with myself knowing it came at Sonny’s expense. We sacrificed him to have it. And I don’t want to do it anymore.”

Jason leaned forward, brushing his lips against hers. “The way you love—the courage—” He shook his head. “I don’t have the words.”

“Every time Evie asks me her special story, I tell her about her mother that gave her away to best man she knew. I want Evie to know that her father loved just as much. We need to do this. For each other. For her. And for Sonny.”

“I’ll call tomorrow and make the arrangements.” He tucked her hair behind her eyes, his eyes on hers. “I remember the day I saw you again—when you came home. I was sitting on the docks, feeling more tired than I could ever remember.”

She tilted her head and smiled. “And I nagged you into telling me the truth—”

“That’s not how I remember it.” He shook his head, his own smile spreading. “You came down the steps, and you smiled at me. And by the time you left, I couldn’t remember why I was so tired. I just wanted to keep looking at you.”

“When we sat together, and I poked at you about Evie—I did it partly because I was hoping—” She bit her lip, sliding her fingers through his soft blond hair. “I was hoping you wouldn’t lie to me. And when you didn’t—I felt all those old butterflies. I just wanted to sit on that bench and talk to you for the rest of my life.”

“Thank you for coming home,” Jason murmured. “For not staying in San Francisco. For giving us another chance.”

“I couldn’t stay away,” Elizabeth replied. “I’d miss the smell of snow too much.”

He laughed. “Snow doesn’t smell,” he teased.

“Yes, it does,” she murmured, leaning down to kiss him again.

December 22, 2018

Apologies for going quiet after finishing up Mad World earlier this month. The end of my semester didn’t go as well as I wanted it to – my final paper was basically a disaster I was just happy to see in the rearview window.

I’ve been working on Damaged off and on but I haven’t made as much progress as I’d like. Super frustrating — but I’m hoping to get some serious work done this week once Christmas is over.

I am going to post new content during the last week of December. I’m going to do two things — a holiday story on Christmas Eve (not sure exactly what yet but something) and then starting tonight, I’m going to do another flash fiction marathon. Whether I continue old stuff or do or new stuff, you’ll be getting at least daily updates for the rest of 2018!

Stay tuned to my Twitter feed to see when I start the clock!

I can’t believe we’re actually here! Thank you so much for taking this journey with me. My goal with splitting Mad World into three parts was to redo this panic room storyline and have it make more impact than it did on the actual show. Each book is designed to be a self-contained story, so I hope you feel like when I leave you here after Chapter 19, that there’s satisfactory closure.

I don’t yet have a date for Book 2, and a lot of that depends on how the next two months of my life goes. I’m finally writing Damaged, Season 3 (which is about two years overdue), and if I finish that by the beginning of February, I’ll be writing Book 2 in Febuary and March. I already have seven of the thirty planned chapters written, so believe me, I’m working on it.

Let me know what you think of this story as a whole — what are you looking forward to in the next book? What did you like about this book? Make sure to read my author’s note at the end for some clues 😉

Thanks for following me on this journey. This book is probably one of my favorite writing experiences. I had written Chapters 1-4 about a year ago, but then, in the space of three weeks, I wrote more than 70,000 words. I can’t really remember another time a story came together quite like this.

Chapter Nineteen

I can’t believe we’re actually here! Thank you so much for taking this journey with me. My goal with splitting Mad World into three parts was to redo this panic room storyline and have it make more impact than it did on the actual show. Each book is designed to be a self-contained story, so I hope you feel like when I leave you here after Chapter 19, that there’s satisfactory closure.

I don’t yet have a date for Book 2, and a lot of that depends on how the next two months of my life goes. I’m finally writing Damaged, Season 3 (which is about two years overdue), and if I finish that by the beginning of February, I’ll be writing Book 2 in Febuary and March. I already have seven of the thirty planned chapters written, so believe me, I’m working on it.

Let me know what you think of this story as a whole — what are you looking forward to in the next book? What did you like about this book? Make sure to read my author’s note at the end for some clues 😉

Thanks for following me on this journey. This book is probably one of my favorite writing experiences. I had written Chapters 1-4 about a year ago, but then, in the space of three weeks, I wrote more than 70,000 words. I can’t really remember another time a story came together quite like this.

Chapter Nineteen

This entry is part 19 of 19 in the series Break Me Down

Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion
Fight Song, Rachel Platten


Thursday, July 3, 2003

General Hospital: Kevin Collins’ Office

Carly twisted her fingers in her lap and looked longingly at the door to Kevin Collins’ office through which her son and his nanny had just exited.

She wanted to be with them and done with her therapy. Done with the horrors of the panic room and her kidnapping. She wanted to start the next step of her life—to put this away for good and never think about it again.

But there was no denying that the flurry of sessions she’d scheduled with Kevin had helped—she’d learned how to deal with the panic attacks that seemed to strike without warning, how to recognize potential triggers for anxiety and nightmares, and even how to deal with her young son’s terror over watching her kidnapping.

The first time she’d seen Michael after her rescue, she’d gone into a daze. Just the sight of his face, his tears, had sent her careening back to that horrible night—she’d been struggling to escape Ric, trying to fight off the drug he used to knock her out—seeing Michael’s sobbing face—his screams as the world had gone dark—

“I think that went well,” Kevin said as Carly stared down at her hands, turning the gold wedding band she wore. Around and around. Around and around. “How was your first night home?”

“Good,” Carly murmured. When Kevin just raised his brows, she sighed and lifted her chin. “Hard,” she admitted. “Sonny’s hovering. He can’t help it. When we found out about the baby—” She pressed her hands to the mound of her belly. “He went into nutrition Nazi mode, you know? He threw out all my junk food—and it’s just in his nature. But he wouldn’t leave me alone.”

She turned her head to look out the window where Kevin’s office overlooked Port Charles Park. “You’ve lived in Port Charles a long time, so you know about his first wife—about Lily.”

“I do. I was there that night at Luke’s,” Kevin said. “They had been celebrating her pregnancy.”

“Yeah, well, he couldn’t protect her. And our first little boy—um, Sonny had to choose me. I mean, there was no saving our son anyway. If I died, the doctors—our son wasn’t old enough.” Her chest was tight as she continued. “We both…we both feel a huge responsibility to take care of this baby. I’m not surprised he hasn’t left me alone. I don’t blame him.”

“But it’s not easy for you,” Kevin said.

“No. I…I was alone all week, but it didn’t feel like it. Not really. I knew Ric could come in at any point, and there were cameras—I worried maybe Ric was watching me somehow from where he was—” The hairs on her arms stood up at the memory and she shivered. “But…I slept okay last night. I did what you said. I set the alarm every two hours a—and it seemed to work. I’m still a little tired but I didn’t have nightmares.”

“Good.” He nodded, scribbled something. “This is going to be an adjustment, Carly, and there’s no right way or correct length of time. Acute stress disorder usually fades after about a month—especially when you’ve faced it head on. But you might still have some panic attacks, some anxiety—”

“I want it to be over, but it’s not—he’s in jail. There will be a trial—I’ll have to testify, and—” Carly swallowed. “Baldwin said something about maybe testifying when Elizabeth’s temporary restraining order expires in a few weeks—”

“What do you think about that?”

“About testifying? In the trial, I mean, I have to. I was there. And—and I’m sure Ric would try to blame it on Elizabeth, but I was there, and I know what he said to me. Um…I guess that means I have to testify for her, too. I saw it—I know what he did to her.” Carly shifted. “I just want it to go away. The more I want that, the more it seems to stay in my head. I want to go back to work, I want to get ready for my baby, think about my husband and son.” Her voice trembled. “I want it to be over, but it’s never going to be over.”

“No?”

“Even when he goes to jail,” Carly said slowly, “that’s not going to stop that…I can just close my eyes and I’m back there. I’m locked away, convinced that no matter how hard he tries, Jason is never going to find me. I just know I’m going to die behind those walls, and just because I didn’t—I can’t seem to stop…I don’t know how to convince myself it’s over.”

“You may not be able to do that in the first week,” Kevin told her bluntly. “Or the second. I know this is not the answer you want to hear, Carly, but the only thing that’s going to make this better is time.”

“Yeah…” She exhaled slowly. “Yeah. I know that. Here—” She touched her index finger to her temple. “Up here, I get it. That every day is a step forward. And that testifying against Ric and being part of the process is going to help make it stop. But it’s hard—” She bit her lip to hold in the sob that bubbled in her throat. “It’s hard here—” Carly pressed her hand against her chest, “Here, I can’t seem to hold on to that. When the sight of my little boy reminds me of terror, when the thought of my husband constantly at my side makes me want to scream—it’s hard to remember that.”

Kevin merely nodded. “There’s no answer for that, Carly. No magical thing I can do for you or tell you. I wish there was.”

She sighed. “Well, I guess that would have been too easy.”

District Attorney Wing, Municipal Building: Kelsey Joyce’s Office

 Kelsey frowned down at her open case report—and then looked back at the reports that had been emailed to her that morning.

“Lazy bastards,” she muttered as she brought up her email screen and started an email to Vincent Esposito. “Catch a case and then don’t put it on the report? No wonder your closure rate is in the toilet—”

“You gotta minute, Kelsey?”

She glanced up to find her boss at her doorstep, folders in his hand. Kelsey winced— “That’s not more cases for me, is it?” She already had twenty open cases from the PCPD along with thirty-five on their way to the court in the next few weeks.

The ink on her law license was barely dry, and already Kelsey was going to drown in work. She’d thought being given her own division would be a boon to her career—a great first step to one day becoming District Attorney.

But now she understood why this division couldn’t hold an attorney for long. Lazy cops, too many cases, too few hours—Two weeks in, and Kelsey was ready to throw in the towel.

“No, no…” Scott eyed the boxes littering every surface of the small office. “I wanted to talk to you about giving you some ADAs…two or three.”

She squinted at him as he carefully lifted a pile of folders from her lone chair and set them precariously on the floor. “Who do I have to kill?”

“It’s part of an overall—” He coughed. “Restructuring of our priorities. I told you when you started that Port Charles had issues—and I’m sure you saw the Sunday edition of the Herald—the DA’s office didn’t come out of this whole thing with a shining reputation.”

“No, but we fared better than the PCPD. A nice anonymous source who made sure the paper knew that the DA had, in fact, forbid the leaking of anything about the case.” Kelsey lifted her brows. “And your arrest for contempt wasn’t bad either.”

“We do what we can here.” Scott shifted. “The only catch is that—they’re not much younger than you. In fact…they’re about your age. We’re not attracting the best and brightest in Port Charles…not for long.” He grimaced. “We have a talent drain to Buffalo and Rochester.”

“I’ve heard.” Kelsey twirled her pen between her fingers. “Three ADAs would bring this office to four total attorneys. We have thirty-five cases ready for court, and twenty more that the PCPD is…investigating. It’s still a heavy case load, Scott. But yeah, thirteen cases is better than fifty four. And then when that ADA comes back from maternity leave—” She sighed when she saw Scott’s expression. “She’s not coming back, is she?”

He cleared his throat. “We’re going to do better, Kelsey—”

“You can do everything you want, Scott, but how are you going to solve the problem at the PCPD?” Kelsey gestured at her screen. “I got cops who can’t follow simple instructions. There was a sexual assault last night that Vinnie Esposito picked up and it’s not on the open case report.”

“Last night?” Scott checked his watch. “It’s noon. Those case reports are updated every morning.” He scowled, circled the desk. “Tell me about it.”

“Port Charles Park,” she said, tugging the police report towards her. “Twenty-three-year-old Wendy Morris, on her way home from the movie theater. Grabbed near the Martin Memorial, beaten, raped, and left unconscious. She was found around eleven p.m.” Kelsey hesitated. “It’s…the third rape in the park this year.”

“Third—” Scott hissed. “Tell me the rest.”

“February 14 at the fountain in the north part of the park, Dana Watson, aged twenty-one, and May 30, sixteen-year-old Renee Norton at the Angel Fountain.” Kelsey chewed her bottom lips, twisting it between her teeth. “These are all Vinnie’s cases. And none of them have made any progress. I asked him about it but—”

“Wait, wait—the new case is Vinnie’s?” Scott interrupted. He waved his hand in the air. “He’s not supposed to be handling any more sex crimes.” He huffed. “I’ll talk to Mac. You’re right. I can’t keep people here if the cops aren’t going to turn over the paperwork when we need it.”

“Scott—” She stopped him as he started for the door. “I know that in other offices, I’d be starting at the bottom, and that you only took the interview with me because of my dad.  I’m grateful…but I feel like I’m swimming upstream—”

“I know.” Scott sighed. “I’ll try to get the new ADAs reassigned here by Monday. And I’ll talk to Mac. Three rapes in the park in six months—that’s not something we should letting slip through the cracks. We’re going to do better, Kelsey.”

“Okay.” She watched him go, then returned to her work. He might want to do better, but he wasn’t a miracle worker.

General Hospital: Elizabeth’s Room

Elizabeth smiled as Nikolas wheeled her back into her room. “It was nice to get out of the room a little bit—thanks for taking me outside.”

“I thought you might want some fresh air after being cooped up in ICU.” Nikolas set the brakes on the chair and then braced Elizabeth by holding her elbow as she stood and gingerly inched towards the sofa. “Careful there. Are you sure you’ll be ready to leave the hospital next week?”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth grimaced as she adjusted herself. “It’s easier to move around, and Monica wants me to start doing laps around the ward.” She reached for his wrist and looked at the watch. “An orderly or a nurse is coming to get me in a half hour for my first round.”

“Okay. Well, I brought the lease for you to sign,” Nikolas told her. “Are you sure you didn’t want more pictures?”

She waved her hand. “No, no. It’s fine. I don’t need a lot. Just somewhere to catch my breath. Did you have any trouble at the bank with the release I gave you?”

Nikolas lifted his brows. “I never have trouble with banks. Everyone wants the Cassadine money.”

Elizabeth laughed. “Well, that’s a relief, I guess. I really appreciate what you’ve done for me. And Emily said she was grabbing a few things—I told her I just needed a bed, maybe a sofa and some chairs, but…I’m not going to argue with her.”

“Well, Emily feels guilty she went back to California. I’m sure it was the right thing to do at the time, but it doesn’t change the fact she feels like she abandoned you.” Nikolas lifted a shoulder. “And she’ll be flying back there tomorrow—”

“It’s important to me that she finishes this program,” Elizabeth told him, firmly. “And Jason agrees with me. Emily wants to be a doctor. Her internship at GH is contingent—”

I have the controlling interest in this hospital,” Nikolas said patiently, “and her parents—”

“She doesn’t want special favors. She’ll do this on her own. I’ll call her.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “And I’ll do better about that. I won’t ignore her calls. I’ll make my own. I promise.”

“Good, then when you’re finished calling her, you can pick up the phone and call me.” Nikolas squeezed her hand. “That’s one of the reasons I came by today.”

“You’re going back to London,” she murmured. “I wondered when…”

“I came back to find Carly and help you. We’ve done that. Lulu is going to come with me, but we’ll both be back in August sometime. I talked to Lesley, and she says Mom is starting to chafe at being away from everyone.”

“Oh, do you think she can get the rest of her treatment here?” Elizabeth asked. “It would be so nice to see her around again.”

“I’m looking into the possibility, but her recovery comes first. That’s one of the reasons I have to go back. Lesley and Luke aren’t always firm with her.” Nikolas paused. “But I’m just across the ocean, and I’m always here if you need me. I need you to know that. Everything that happened before—it’s done now. I think I’m a better person, and I just—I miss you.”

“I miss you, too.” She leaned forward and hugged him lightly. “You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”

“Damn straight.”

Corinthos & Morgan Warehouse: Office

Sonny scrawled his signature on another contract and handed it back to Bernie. “Is that the last of it?”

“Should be.” Bernie put the paperwork away. “We’re back on schedule to open the coffee house at the end of the month, but—the architect said that Mrs. Corinthos was going to be in charge of interior design. Did you—want to hold off?”

“Um, I guess, I’ll talk to her about it at home. She might want a project to distract herself.” Sonny hoped she did. He looked at Jason as his partner sat on the sofa in the office, skimming contracts of his own. “Thanks, Bernie. For everything.”

“I’ll check in when they’re filed.”

Their new business manager left the office, and Sonny stroked his chin thoughtfully. “I guess we’re going to have to talk to Justus. He said he’d only be available to us for a little while, but that he wasn’t interested in leaving his practice in Philadelphia.”

“He’s married with a kid down there,” Jason murmured. “Emily mentioned it last year.” He paused. “He might relocate if you made it worth his while.”

“I’ll try it out, but we’ll have to look for other representation if he’s not interested. I doubt Alexis is going to want to come back now that she has her license back.” Sonny leaned back his chair. “Bobbie thinks I’m crazy.”

Jason looked at him, his attention focused now. “She said that?”

“Not in so many words, but she thinks that I should talk to someone.” Sonny grimaced. “Talk to someone. She’s watching too much fucking television.”

When his best friend hesitated, Sonny frowned at him. “What, do you agree?”

“I don’t know what to tell you, Sonny. We had a plan to deal with Carly—” Jason got to his feet. “You were supposed to keep the PCPD out of my hair and the business running, and I’d find Carly. Except that within two days, I was doing everything. I’m not angry about it, but the fact was…”

“I was useless.” Sonny sighed, turned his attention to his office window—unlike Jason who had preferred to look out over the lake, Sonny preferred the docks. “I’ve always had these dark moods, Jason. Since…I don’t know. Not when I was kid. But maybe the last twenty years. Maybe since…” He hesitated. “I had a girl once. A sweet girl. Elizabeth reminds me of her sometimes. Connie Falconieri.”

“Falconieri—” Jason squinted. “There’s a cop by that name at the PCPD.”

“Might be related. I don’t know. She broke up with me because she was going to college, and I was going to stay in the neighborhood. Trying like hell to make my bones for Joe Scully.” He looked back at Jason. “It was the only way I was gonna get revenge for my mother after Deke killed her.”

“Sonny—”

“After Connie got on the train for Princeton, I had my first—I guess…my first whatever. I locked myself in a room for three days, didn’t want to come out. Got drunk. Got stupid. And my mother was there.” Sonny exhaled slowly. “Lily’s not the first hallucination I’ve ever had. My mother was.”

“I don’t know if talking to someone helps, but…” Jason joined him at the window. “I do know that Elizabeth mentioned something Gail Baldwin told her. She’s…been talking to her.” He cast his eyes away, uncomfortable. “And Elizabeth said that Gail could only report future crimes. So…”

“I could probably be honest to a point,” Sonny murmured. He stared out over the bustling docks—for the last decade, he had busted his ass to make sure he owned those docks. No one could take the power from him.

“It kills me that when my wife needed me to be strong, I couldn’t do it,” he continued. “That she wasn’t expecting me to save her—you hear her talking about it. She knew you’d come, Jase. She knew you’d save her.”

“She saw me on the cameras, Sonny—”

Sonny shook his head quickly. “It’s more than that. She still thinks of you as the man who’s going to fix everything, and that—it kills me that she was right. I could break down, Jason, because I knew you would be there. That you would find her.”

“But you found her, Sonny. You saw the footage, you called me—”

“I saw footage on cameras you installed,” Sonny corrected. “And Elizabeth pushed that button. I was barely involved. I don’t know, Jason. I just…I want more. I want to be the guy who can fix things. It shouldn’t fall on you.” He looked at Jason. “So…maybe I’m thinking about it.”

General Hospital: Elizabeth’s Room

 Restless, Elizabeth tossed aside another boring celebrity gossip magazine and amused herself with some of the Sun issues from that week—between Carly’s kidnapping and the court battle over Elizabeth’s medical care, the newspaper had outdone itself with sensational versions of the story.

“I like the one where my baby is actually Jason’s, and Ric was stealing it for you because you’re obsessed with Jason.”

Elizabeth glanced up to find Carly standing at the threshold of her open hospital door, a half smile on her face.

She hadn’t seen Carly since…before the kidnapping, Elizabeth realized now. She may have pressed the button that freed Carly, but she hadn’t actually seen her—she’d only heard her voice.

“Carly…” Elizabeth struggled to sit up straight, wincing as her lungs protested. “I thought you were released.”

“I was.” Carly made her way gingerly across the room, dressed in a shapeless blue paisley sheath dress, a pair of light blue sandals wrapped around her feet. She lowered herself onto the sofa where Elizabeth found herself. “I had a session with Kevin Collins today. Mama suggested…I do something.”

Elizabeth smiled wryly. “Yeah, she must be on staff with the Psych department—she pretty much guilt-tripped me into seeing Gail Baldwin.”

“Well, that’s my mother for you.” Carly bit her lip. “I…realized today that we hadn’t…had a chance to…I don’t even know…talk. I mean, it’s insane, but I know I owe you my life—”

“No, no—I just pressed the button. I was there. Sonny and Jason were on their way—they had the same information—”

“Elizabeth…” Carly leaned forward. “You forget that there were cameras in that panic room. I saw you let Jason in every day to look for me. I saw you help him. And the only reason you knew where the buttons were because of the cameras you let Jason put into the house.”

“He probably would have done all of that without me. I just…”

“Made it so he could do it legally and not face charges. I’m not nice that often, Elizabeth, so don’t argue with me.” She bit her lip. “Do…do you know why Ric did what he did?”

“I don’t know for sure, but based on…I don’t know…everything, I imagine he intended for us to raise your child through a private adoption he’d arrange.” Elizabeth waited a moment. “I want to say I’m sorry, and part of me feels like I should tell you I never hinted that was something I wanted but…” She lifted a shoulder. “It’s not…it’s not my fault. Losing the baby—” Her voice faltered. “I didn’t do it. And I couldn’t change what he did. I just wanted it to stop.”

“Kevin has diagnosed me with acute stress disorder,” Carly told her. “It’s um, kind of like PTSD, only it’s usually shorter in—”

“I know what it is,” Elizabeth said softly. “I…had it last year.” When Carly widened her eyes. “After I was trapped in the crypt, I, um, had a lot of trouble with the dark, and I got scared so easily. I kept thinking they were going to take me again. I kept…ignoring it and trying to forget.”

“Jason never—”

“I’ve never told him. He already blamed himself for what was going on, and by the time I knew what it was…” Elizabeth shrugged. “I went to the hospital after the warehouse exploded last year. I’d been grazed by a bullet. When I went back for a follow up, I—I don’t even remember what it was, but something triggered a panic attack. My grandmother—” She closed her eyes. “She knew the signs. And she talked to some friends. I didn’t want therapy. I just wanted it to go away, so she got me some…tips and tricks. I skipped the therapy.”

“And that worked?” Carly asked skeptically.

“Mostly, I guess. I don’t know. I didn’t end up with PTSD which is always the risk. And, um, it was kind of relief to understand what was going on. I had…done and said a few things during some of the panic attacks that…were hard for me to understand. I didn’t…I tried to—” Elizabeth shrugged. “Anyway. They say, for the most part, time takes care of things.”

“So that part is true. It really does go away.”

Elizabeth hesitated. “I still don’t like the dark,” she offered. “But I haven’t…had a panic attack in about—” She dipped her head. “Maybe nine months.”

Carly tilted her head. “You had panic attacks when you were in the penthouse?”

“A few times. Um, it’s not a big deal, and it’s over. I just—I just didn’t need you to explain it to me—”

“Why didn’t you tell Jason?” Carly demanded. Elizabeth stared at her, and Carly pursed her lips. “You were dating him back then. You had no trouble telling me you thought he was with another woman. Why wouldn’t you admit you were…”

“Because it made me feel weak, Carly.” Elizabeth squared her shoulders, lifted her chin. “And actually, the last panic attack I had was the night I found out Sonny was alive and that everyone had lied to me. It never seemed like a good time.”

Carly squinted, studying her. “There were cameras,” she reminded her. “I know you and Jason—I know something is going on.”

“Is that why you came here?” Elizabeth huffed. And here she was, trapped on the sofa. She couldn’t even easily get away. “If you want any explanations, you can ask Jason.”

“He’d just stare at me,” Carly muttered. “And then not answer the question. No, what I—Courtney asked me if I had seen anything. And I just wanted you to know that I didn’t tell her anything. I don’t plan on telling her, either.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth pressed her lips together. “Thanks…I guess—”

“It was a private moment that I was never meant to see,” Carly told her. “Which means it’s none of Courtney’s business. She told me Jason broke up with her before then, and—” She huffed. “I was planning to stop the wedding anyway.”

Elizabeth lifted her brows. “I thought you were their biggest fan.”

“Yeah, well…” Carly threw up her hands. “Even I’ve been known to be wrong from time to time. Look, if you’re…seeing Jason or dating him or whatever we’ll call it, it’s fine with me. I know—I know he killed himself trying to find me. I know you were with him every step of the way. And he was so scared for you, I didn’t even see him until the day after I was rescued.”

Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “Okay. I appreciate that.”

“I came here to thank you for saving my life. For…believing Sonny and Jason and helping them.” Carly rubbed her belly. “It’s just…this isn’t over yet, you know? The…panic room…the kidnapping—yeah, that’s over. We’re both…I guess…in recovery. But there’s so much crap in front of us.”

“The trial,” Elizabeth murmured, dragging her fingers through her hair. “Yeah. And I have the divorce, the restraining order…”

“Ric isn’t out of our lives yet, so I guess I just wanted you to know that if you…if you need my help during the divorce or the protection hearing…” Carly took a deep breath. “I’m ready. I’ll testify.”

“Thank you, Carly. That means a lot to me.”

“And…” Carly hauled herself to her feet. “You should tell Jason about last year. Every time I keep secrets from Sonny and Jason, it just seems to piss them off.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“Take care, Elizabeth. I’ll see you around.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2003

General Hospital: Elizabeth’s Hospital Room

It felt really good to be on her feet, dressed in her own clothes, showered, and packing her things to leave this room. While Elizabeth was grateful to everyone who had worked on her case, she was eager to leave this all behind her.

As much as she could anyway. Her pulmonary embolism would follow her the rest of her life, according to Monica. She would always have an increased risk of blood clots, and most types of hormonal birth control were out of the question from now on.

But she wasn’t going to let that bother her. She had slowly regained her stamina even if she got tired more quickly than it had been. Monica and the other doctors assured her that as the weeks passed, her natural health would reassert itself. She had been healthy until the last year, and her immune system had been strong.

She turned at the knock at her door and managed a smile. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Jason slid his thumbs into the pockets of his jeans. His gaze swept over her and she could tell he was fighting the urge to ask her to sit down, to let him finish putting her things into the tote bag. He said nothing, and she was grateful for it.

She wasn’t weak, and it mattered that he knew it.

“Nikolas left the keys with me before he left for the airport last night.” Elizabeth took the set of gold keys from her pocket. “He said you dealt with security.”

“Ric’s not out on bail, but he’s got his hearing soon,” Jason said after a long moment. “I just want to make sure he can’t get to you there.”

She lifted her tote bag from the bed, and Jason held out his hand for it. Without arguing, she handed it to him. He slung it over his shoulder, then reached for her hand, lacing their fingers together.

It was the first time she’d left the room with Jason, and as they walked down the hall towards the elevators together, Elizabeth knew people were watching her, maybe even whispering. The Sun had continued to print gossip about her and Jason, about the entire scandal.

There would always be people who believed the worst about her. Elizabeth just didn’t have to accept it as truth. Not anymore.

“Hey,” she said as Jason pressed the button for the elevator.

He glanced down at her with worry. “Are you okay? Are you having trouble breathing—”

“No.” She rolled her eyes but smiled as she did it. “I’m fine. I just—with everything that’s happened, and I know how much we still have to worry about—I’m just happy. Right now, in this moment—I’m happy to be with you.”

The elevator door opened, and he pulled her inside. When the doors closed, Jason tugged her closer to him, sliding his hand up to frame her cheek. “I love you,” he told her. “For all the times I wish I had said it before—”

“I love you, too. And as long as you’re standing next to me, I know I can deal with whatever comes next.” She pressed her lips to his, lingering, savoring every minute.

 

 

Author’s Note

So that’s the end of Book 1. As you can see, I’ve laid some bread crumbs for the next part. The PCPD and DA’s office are falling apart, the teens are on the fringes and will play a large role in the next book.

Book 2 is going to be a bigger ensemble piece, but it’s going to have Jason and Liz at the center of it. A few years ago, one of my friends almost died from a pulmonary embolism so when I started to plan this draft, I wanted to take her PE seriously in a way the show never did.

I did a lot of research into the recovery and learned a lot that can fuel some really good conflict and I think what’s going to happen in Book 2 is going to be even better than Book 1.

I don’t have a release date for Book 2 just yet, but I’m already about 20% finished it. I’m hoping to have it posted by April at the latest, but stay tuned to my website and my Twitter feed.

Thanks for reading this! I hope you enjoyed it!

December 3, 2018

Here we are at the last week of Mad World, Book 1, which is incredible to me. This was such a labor of love for me — this book went through so many revisions and drafts that I almost can’t believe we’re posting it.

In this particular chapter, I’m using some terminology and ideas I read in an amazing book called Rising Strong by Brené Brown. I’m not usually one for self-help books, but I read that one as part of a podcast called Big Strong Yes. It really helped me kind of reset my own world view so when it came time to write Elizabeth’s therapy session with Gail, it seemed like a natural fit.

Here is Chapter Eighteen. I hope you like it!