This entry is part 27 of 31 in the series All of Me

I know I let you down
Again and again
I know I never really treated you right
I’ve paid the price
I’m still paying for it every day
I Don’t Know You Anymore, Savage Garden


Monday, September 22, 2003

 Warehouse: Jason’s Office

 Jason raised an eyebrow when the secretary he and Sonny shared announced that Lieutenant Taggert wanted to see him. With a sigh, he let the cop in. He wanted this case to be over so that Elizabeth would be safe—but also so he’d stop having to let Taggert through his damn door without a warrant. He wanted some things to go back to the way they used to be.

“Morgan.” Taggert hesitated when Jason simply remained seated behind his desk, paperwork in front of him. He took a seat. “Lucky Spencer told me he’d talked to Elizabeth about investigating her past. I figured she’s talked to you about it by now.”

“She has,” Jason said. “Why?”

“Because it occurs me that you knew her, too, back then. And I wasn’t sure if Spencer had talked to you. And there’s this other thing about Baker I wanted to run past you.” He took out his notepad. “The first time I was aware you knew Elizabeth outside of your sister was just before you left town. The fall of 1999.”

“We weren’t friends until that summer, in August,” Jason said, leaning back, considering. “I didn’t have a lot of interaction with her, but she came by with Lucky a lot. He washed cars for me, then worked for me at the garage, doing paperwork and running the website. I rented him the room.”

He frowned, trying to remember the first time he’d seen Elizabeth. “She was at Sonny and Brenda’s wedding. I guess as Lucky’s date. I remember seeing her as they left because she was someone I didn’t recognize. And then a few months later, when Nikolas got shot. She was there with her sister.”

“You’re good with faces. You don’t remember anyone hanging around her? Or your sister?” Taggert pressed, leaning forward.

“No. I really don’t. I went to Kelly’s, I’m sure she waited on me. But nothing sticks out.” Jason shook his head. “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well, it was a long shot. Spencer’s looking into the records at Kelly’s. Anyway.” Taggert huffed. “I tried to go see Baker once, in August, but he stuck to his original story from ‘98. No idea what Elizabeth is talking about. He never touched her, blah, blah. But when she mentioned that he knew the color of her dress, I thought maybe he does know something.”

“I got that feeling, too,” Jason admitted. “But I—” He shook his head. He hadn’t wanted to know anything else, hadn’t wanted another secret to keep from Elizabeth. “So?”

“So, I’m going back, and I’m thinking combined with my threat to his parole…” Taggert gestured at him. “Maybe you being in the room might remind him what awaits on the outside.”

Jason stared at him. “You want me to go to the prison to intimidate him?” he finally managed. “Is that even legal?”

“I can bring a third party to the interrogation,” Taggert said. “It’ll take a day or two to set it up.”

Jason stared at him for a long moment before leaning forward. “There was a week between Baker’s arrest and Edward’s call. Why didn’t Elizabeth’s case get investigated during that time? Why wasn’t sending that kit to the lab the first thing that happened the day after you arrested him?”

Taggert looked away, shook his head. “I didn’t think about that part of it when I realized what happened to her case. Because it’s just…it’s routine. We were waiting on the charges. How much time the DA was going to ask for the kidnapping and extortion. And yeah, it’s what Elizabeth said. He was facing more time for those crimes than we could have gotten him for on the rape. That case was supposed to be airtight.”

He grimaced. “Easy to see all the ways you could have done better. I just—I believed her. I believed he confessed. And you know, I wanted it to be over. I wanted her to have peace. She kept coming in, wanting updates, trying to find ways to help—” Taggert shook his head. “I wanted it to go away for her, so I let it go.” He sighed. “Will you go with me or not?”

“I’ll go with you.”

“I’ll call when it’s set up.”

Quartermaine Estate: Dillon’s Room

Dillon scowled at his laptop screen, trying to concentrate on the paper he was writing for his modern film class, but nothing was going right.

He glanced at his phone, managed a smile when he saw that Lulu had sent him a text reminding him he’d promised not to sulk all day and take her to the movies that night. He hadn’t been dating her that day they’d all gone out as a group, but he was now.

And it was nice to have something to look forward to. He’d watched his brother’s press conference earlier that day and then had spent hours trying to get it out of his head.

There was a light knock on his slightly ajar door. He twisted to see Georgie standing at the threshold, her cheeks tear stained. She’d called him a few times, but he hadn’t picked up. Hadn’t want to hear it again.

“If you’re here to defend your stepfather—”

“I’m not,” Georgie said, her voice cracking. She swallowed hard. “I—he sat us down to watch the press conference. We—we all watched it. And then he said it was true. And I just—” She clasped her hands in front of him. “I just wanted to see you. To apologize.”

“I get it. You want to believe he was a good guy.” Dillon shrugged. “Now you know—”

“He’s not a bad man,” Georgie said defensively. “No, don’t give me that look. You don’t know him. He did something awful, Dillon. He did it because my mom didn’t make a lot of money, and their restaurant was failing. If he’d lost his job then—”

“And this summer, Georgie? Let me guess — college tuition, right?” Dillon shook his head. “You know, I know you see the good in people. But sometimes it blinds you to the bad. He was selfish and he played with other people’s lives. I’m glad he feels bad, but all his guilt won’t bring back Brooke.”

We’re just as responsible,” she insisted, her voice climbing. “We ignored her, we didn’t treat her well, and she walked away from us. And then Maxie and I— we never said a word to any of you about what Mac told us. Once we thought she was in the park—” Her voice broke as tears slid down her cheek. “We should have said something. If we’d said something, you would have called the cops or maybe run or moved faster. But we didn’t. Because—”

“Because Mac just told you to be careful in the park or something dumb like that? Not — hey there’s a vicious rapist who beats women and rapes them until they’re broken and bloody and by the way, he likes brunettes—” Dillon cut off abruptly as Georgie cried harder.

“I don’t blame you,” he said after a long moment. “I don’t even blame Kyle or Lucas anymore. I don’t blame me. I blame the man who did it. I blame the people who knew that park wasn’t safe at night and did nothing to fix it. Where were the extra cops, Georgie? Why weren’t there officers patrolling those damn fountains?”

“I—” Georgie wrapped her arms around herself. “I don’t know.”

“Your stepfather played games with my family—with the lives of every single woman in this town—and I don’t care how good he is or how much pressure he was under. He had a choice, Georgie. Forgive me if I’m not in any damn hurry to forgive him. Because his choice cost Brooke her life!”

“I’m going to go,” she said carefully, sucking in a deep breath. “I—I’m just sorry.”

She ran out of the room, and he didn’t even bother to go after her. Instead, he called Lucas to check on his cousin and make sure she got home safely.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Nikolas eyed the guard stationed on Elizabeth’s door as he entered the penthouse. “That’s new. Didn’t you used to share a door guard with Sonny?”

“It’s only during the daytime when Jason isn’t here,” Elizabeth said as she gave him a light kiss on the cheek. “Just a few added precautions.”

“I can’t be mad at that.” Nikolas squeezed her hand as they took a seat on the sofa. “I just wanted to see you in person after yesterday. You looked okay but—”

“I’m good. My vitals are in the normal range, and I have a checkup with Monica next week. She wants to do monthly visits in addition to my OB appointments. They’re really not taking any chances.” She set a hand on her abdomen. “And I’m not either. I wasn’t expecting this baby, but I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure he or she is safe.”

“Well, let me know if there’s anything I can do, or Emily. You know we both just want the best for you.” He paused. “I made a donation to Ned’s campaign and put out an official statement from Cassadine Industries endorsing him.”

“Oh, that’s good. Most of the major businesses in town are affiliated with the Quartermaines, so I’m sure Ned appreciates an independent endorsement.” She tucked a leg underneath her body. “Is that all you came over to do? Check on me?”

“I—” Nikolas hesitated. “Have you heard from Ric since the protection hearing?”

“No.” Elizabeth blinked. “No, not even to annoy me about a deposition for the trial. And Scott hasn’t brought it up in a while. I guess we’re moving full steam ahead on that. It’s…weird, I guess how little I think about Ric. Apart from thinking about my health, he’s not in my head at all.” She smiled at that, looking at her hands, enjoying the way they looked without those awful engagement and wedding rings.

“I wanted you to know I put men on him,” Nikolas told her. “I’m sure Jason and Sonny have as well, but I just…” He pursed his lips. “After that day at your house—when I saw you dying in front of me—”

“Nikolas…” She touched his hand. “Hey—”

“It’s not even the first time you’ve died in front me,” he admitted, and she managed a hesitant laugh at that memory. “But I just remember looking at you, that monitor flatlining — and thinking — Oh, God, he’s killed her. I’m not sure I’ll be able to rest easy until he’s behind bars. And not even then, maybe,” he admitted.

“I appreciate that, but—”

“I just have someone watching him. I know he’s in Crimson Point. I know he hasn’t left the city since the protection hearing. I just—I didn’t know if Jason and Sonny give you reports—”

“Jason doesn’t talk about it much,” Elizabeth admitted. “But I assumed he’s got someone watching Ric. But thank you, it does make me feel better that Ric is miles away. I can only hope the trial will be short. I don’t think Scott plans to call lot of witnesses. Me, Carly. Monica, for sure. Probably you. I don’t know if he’ll call Jason or Sonny. Taggert. Cruz, the cop who was with us that day.” She sighed. “I don’t know why he’s bothering with the trial. Even if they can’t prove the charges about what happened to me, Carly’s are a slam dunk.”

“That’s what we thought about Baker,” Nikolas reminded her quietly. “And there’s no reason that mistrial should have ended up with him serving a quarter of the time he was supposed to.” He shook his head. “You know, I used to wonder if we’d have been better off going to the cops with the blackmail, but now I know they just would have screwed it up.”

“Let’s talk about something else. How’s your mom? And grandmother? Laura still doing well?”

Talking about Laura Spencer and her triumphant homecoming was Nikolas’s favorite subject, so he happily moved on from Ric, the PCPD, and all of the tragedies they’d suffered.

Warehouse: Sonny’s Office

For the first time in weeks, Sonny looked up to find Jason entering his office. They hadn’t spoken much since Jason had come by the penthouse earlier that week and almost not at all at work.

His friendship, his partnership with Jason was changing and Sonny didn’t know what it was going to look like going forward. If they could go back. Or even if they should.

“Hey.” Sonny cleared his throat. “How’s it—” He broke off the awkward question. “What’s up?”

“I, uh…” Jason took a seat. “I wasn’t sure if you saw. Or heard. Taggert was just here.”

Sonny furrowed his brow. “What’s going on? Did you call a lawyer—”

“No, no…” Jason shook his head. “No, it’s not about—it’s about the case.” He told Sonny that Taggert wanted him to go to the prison to see Baker as intimidation.

“Oh. I saw the press conference.” Had been humbled, awed by the woman he’d seen on the screen. “I was going to stop by—but how is she?”

“Yeah. She’s…handling it. Gail Baldwin has been good for her, I guess.” Jason shifted. “I just…didn’t want you to think there was…a reason Taggert was here that I wasn’t—”

“We’re not so far gone, you and I, that I would think that,” Sonny said quietly. He met Jason’s eyes. “Things are…rough right now, but for you to go to the police against me? It wouldn’t enter my mind.”

“Okay—”

When Jason made a move to stand, Sonny held out a hand for him to stop. “I don’t want this distance between us when…I just don’t.”

“I don’t either,” Jason admitted.

Sonny got to his feet and looked out his window, turning his back on his friend. “I blame me for not handling it all better.”

“Last summer, Elizabeth was kidnapped, too,” Jason said. “She’s not my wife. We don’t have kids. But I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t see straight. I almost didn’t find her.”

“I remember.”

“So, maybe I should have thought about that. Sonny, Carly was gone. And I wasn’t even sure I was right,” Jason admitted. “I had to be right, because I didn’t have any other leads. Any other ideas. She had to be with Ric. If I was wrong…she might never have come home.”

“I put a lot of pressure on you,” Sonny murmured. “I’ve always done that. Always made you responsible for me, my black moods. My family. I sent you to Courtney when you had other things to worry about. Anyone could have looked out for her. I sent you. And it wasn’t right.”

“I could have said no.”

“Yeah, well…” Sonny turned back to him. “I like Elizabeth. And I’m glad she’s doing better, I really am. I’m sorry about this…that someone is out there preying on women. And if you have to work with Taggert to make that lying son of a bitch Tom Baker give you something to make this finally over, then that’s what you have to do.”

Sonny rubbed his jaw. “You can’t say anything during the interview because it’s being recorded. Any hint of actual intimidation makes it useless.”

“That’s what Taggert said, yeah.”

“Doesn’t mean we can’t threaten him before you get there. We can pass on the message that if we find out Baker knows anything about Elizabeth he’s not telling you, he won’t even have to worry about after parole. He might not make it to sunrise one day.” He met Jason’s eyes. “I want him terrified when you show up with Taggert, so you don’t even have to work at it.”

“Yeah, I’ll call my guy at Pentonville. That’s a good idea.” Jason hesitated. “You look better,” he said finally.

“I’m feeling better. I saw Elizabeth on that screen—and I remember that night. She was standing there, drugged out of her damn mind, and demanding that we let her stay. That we let her help. Taking it all on her own shoulders.” He shook his head. “She risked her life for Carly. Because she blamed herself. The least—and I mean the very least—I can do is help her get justice.”

Kelsey’s Apartment: Living Room

Lucky scowled down at his notes as Kelsey switched the channel from the news to a movie he didn’t recognize.  “There’s something I’m not remembering.”

She shifted on the sofa, turning to face him and folding her legs underneath her body. “What do you mean?”

“My Aunt Ruby’s records from before she died. Elizabeth mentioned there might be records of people who kept tabs, and Aunt Bobbie said Ruby never threw anything out.” He grimaced. “I should stop by there tomorrow. See if it jogs my memories—”

“You live there,” Kelsey reminded him. “And you were just there a few nights ago—”

“I know.” He threw the pencil and notepad on the coffee table and leaned back against the sofa. “But there’s something at the edge of my memories. I remember something—”

“You have to stop pressuring yourself.” She touched his knee, leaned in. “Go to Kelly’s tomorrow. Get the records from your aunt. You’ll probably remember it when you see the list of tenants. But right now, Lucky, you’re just driving yourself insane.”

“Yeah, yeah, I guess.” He curled an arm around her shoulder and drew her closer. “But Taggert and Jason are going to see Baker on Wednesday. If they get a name—”

“We’ll need more than a name to build a case. So, if we get a name, it might also jump start whatever you’re trying to remember.” Kelsey sighed, closed her eyes. “Think about it. By the end of this week—this monster might finally have a name. We might be able to get everyone some justice.”

“Listening to Elizabeth today, thinking about what all of these women have been through—” Lucky sighed. “I’m not sure justice is even possible. But we could make it over. And that’s not nothing.”

Morgan Penthouse: Bedroom

Elizabeth was sitting up in bed, a book of baby names in her hands, when he came home from work that night. A shipment had arrived three hours later than they’d expected, so it was nearly eleven by the time Jason could leave the warehouse.

She smiled up at him when he came in, setting the book aside. “Hey. You’re not as late as you thought you’d be. It’s not even midnight yet.”

“Yeah, we got a break.” Jason stripped down to his briefs, climbed into bed next to her and kissed her. “What are you reading?” He reached for the book. “Already?”

“Well, we have to be prepared,” Elizabeth said, her cheeks flushed slightly. “Emily came by after Nikolas and dropped it off as a baby gift. The first of many—which I’m taking as a threat. Your sister always goes over the top.”

He took the book from her and flipped through it. “So, what do you like?”

“I don’t know. I know Emily said you picked Michael because of Sonny. And didn’t Carly say they were naming this baby after you?” Elizabeth smirked as Jason’s cheeks reddened slightly. “I thought it was a sweet name. Morgan Stone. Did you want…to name the baby for someone? Emily?”

Jason shrugged. “We can if you want.” When she rolled her eyes, he continued, “It’s a name, Elizabeth. I woke up in the hospital, they told me I was Jason Quartermaine. I didn’t like it, so I changed it. No big deal.”

“Yeah, I’m sure it was a bigger deal than that. If names don’t matter, why did you change it?” she challenged.

He hesitated, trying to remember those days after the accident. He’d been angry all the time—at these strangers who kept telling him who he was supposed to be and always looking so damn disappointed when that version of him didn’t show up. “I thought if I didn’t have their name—if I didn’t use the name they kept telling me was mine—they’d stop wanting me to be him.” Jason shook his head. “It seems stupid now. And I don’t know—I couldn’t see it as them grieving. Their son died. He ran after AJ, promising them he’d take care of it. And he never came home.” He looked at her. “And to make it worse, I was wearing his face.”

“It’s better now, isn’t it?” Elizabeth asked softly.

“It was always easier with Grandmother and Emily. And Ned—until I found out about AJ driving—he and I got along fine. But it took longer with Monica. And I’m not sure I’ll ever get there with Edward and Alan.” Jason was quiet for a long moment. “It’s not as bad as it used to be.” He cleared his throat. “But I get what you mean. The name mattered. I picked Morgan because it was my middle name, and when I told Grandmother I was using it, she just looked so happy. I liked making her happy.”

“There’s no one like Lila.” Elizabeth picked up Jason’s arm so she could tuck herself underneath it. “I think I want our baby to have their own first name. Something that belongs completely to them, you know?”

“I like that idea.” He leaned down, kissed her forehead. “I had a strange visitor at work today.” When she frowned at him, he went on. “Taggert. He wants to go visit Baker at Pentonville and thinks I might be good for intimidation.”

“Why does he want to see Baker?” Elizabeth scowled. “I thought he was cleared—”

“He is—of the actual attack. But I got the feeling that day I saw him—and Taggert said he got the same one—Baker knows more than he’s saying. He knew the color of your dress, and you said he had no trouble going along with what you’d said. Like he already knew you and what happened.”

“I guess.” She sighed. “And…you’re going?”

“It’s not my first choice to spend an hour driving to Pentonville with Taggert, but—” He paused. “I asked him why your kit wasn’t sent that first week. If you were right, and they were just going to let your case go anyway, before the call.”

“What’d he say?”

“That he thought it would be easier for you if Baker went away for the twenty-five. It was more time than he’d get than your charges. And maybe he didn’t want to put you through testifying after the kidnapping.” Jason shook his head. “But if Lucky was right, if Ned told the story right—Mac lied to Taggert, too.”

“Yeah, I guess I can understand that. And Taggert’s the one that reopened my case in the first place. I don’t think he would have been on board for lying to me.” She grimaced. “Are you going to go?”

“Yeah. Because he came to me and asked for my help. And he’s always been good to you. Whatever I can do to make this over faster. If Baker knows who did this—”

“Then it could be over by the end of the week,” she murmured. She sighed and leaned against his shoulder. “Good. I want to get on with the rest of my life. The rest of our life.”

October 28, 2019

Your Update Link – Mad World, Chapter 45

I’ve been waiting the better part of a year to post this chapter. The first scene in this chapter was written in March, back when I’d only written about seven chapters of Book 2. I’d watched this video on Facebook that made me think this is what I wanted Elizabeth to be like when we got to this point. I’d seen the video earlier, but something about it rerunning this time inspired me to write a chapter that was still twenty chapters away.  So check out the video, read the chapter, and let me know what you think.

This entry is part 26 of 31 in the series All of Me

You never asked for trouble
But you’ve got fire that burns so bright
You turn and face the struggle
When all the others turn and hide
You hold your head above the waves
Above the war they try to wage
You are stronger than their hate
In Your Shoes, Sarah McLachlan


Friday, September 19, 2003

Port Charles Hotel: Office

Elizabeth peered through the crack in the door that led from the back offices into the conference room set up to deliver a press conference. A podium had been set up at the front of the room with rows of chairs arranged facing it. Those chairs were filled with members of the Port Charles media, print and screen and even, she’d been told, an Internet blog.

Her friends and family were already sitting out there in the back row—Jason, Bobbie, Monica, Emily, Nikolas and Lucky filled one of the rows by themselves. She caught Jason’s eye, offered a him a smile meant to reassure him.

He hadn’t tried to stop her or talk her out of doing this, but Elizabeth knew putting herself out there like this made her a target in all sorts of ways. The announcement that she’d be giving a statement had hit the media the day before, and she and Jason had had to unplug their main line to stop it from ringing.

“We can stop this any time,” Ned said as Elizabeth closed the door and took a deep breath. “I can go out there, make excuses.” His eyes met hers, a concerned warm brown. “You don’t need to do this.”

She bit her lip, looked at Edward who was also planning to give a statement as to his involvement, then back to Ned. “No, maybe I don’t need to do this. But I want to. For Brooke. She can’t fight for herself anymore. It’s up to us.”

Ned touched her shoulder. “Okay.” He looked over at Olivia, talking last minute arrangements with Jax and Alexis. “All right, we’re ready.”

“Okay. I’ll go with you to check the sound one more time,” Alexis told Olivia as the two women opened the door and went into the conference room. When Alexis knocked to let them know everything was set up correctly, Ned opened the door for Elizabeth.

She went to one side of the podium and stood next to Edward, who put a hand on her shoulder. Ned stepped up to the microphone.

“Thank you for coming,” he began, as he set his prepared remarks on the podium. “I launched my campaign for mayor last month after the death of my daughter because I wanted women like her to be better protected by our police department and our justice system.”

He paused, his breath catching slightly as he looked down at his notes. After a moment, he looked back up at the crowd.

“I am a grieving father, angry at the world. When I learned just how devastating the failures of this city had been, I wanted to burn it to the ground. But I am just a grieving father. A bystander to all the women that Garrett Floyd ignored in his selfish pursuit of power.”

He paused again, looked at Elizabeth, who nodded. He looked back at the press. “So today, I think you should hear from one of those women.”

He stepped back as Elizabeth started forward, but Ned put his hand over the mike and whispered to her, “We can still stop this.”

“I can do this,” she reassured him. Ned removed his hand and went to stand next to his grandfather. Elizabeth stepped up to the microphone, Olivia moving in to adjust it slightly for her shorter stature.

“Good morning,” she said, flinching at the echoing sound of her own voice. She found Jason in the audience, focused on him.

“My name is Elizabeth Webber, but you already know that thanks to the tabloids and the newspapers that covered the kidnapping of Carly Corinthos and the physical assault I suffered at the hands of Ric Lansing due to the police department’s reckless disregard for my health and safety.” She paused. “I am not here to talk about that case today.”

The room started to buzz with whispers. Elizabeth knew they’d expected her to rail at the PCPD over her assault.

“On February 14, 1998, at the age of sixteen, I took a walk in the Port Charles park after dark.”

And now the room was eerily silent as she continued. “I was a silly girl who had told a lie about having a date to a dance, then was too embarrassed to admit the truth. So, I walked in the park, sat on a bench, and waited for time to pass.”

She found Lucky’s eyes, still full of deep regret as they both thought of the night that had changed their lives. “A man grabbed me from behind, threw me behind the bushes, and raped me.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes, took a deep breath. “I didn’t go to the police. I couldn’t even tell my grandmother. But a friend found me in the park and took me home. His family gave me strength and support to get through the night. I didn’t want anyone to know. I couldn’t bear for anyone to look at me and know.

“I stayed in my room for days. Every man became the man who raped me. Even men I had felt safe to be around before that night—they terrified me.”

She paused to look around the room. It seemed less scary now, easier to keep talking. She looked down at her notes and kept going. “I went to the hospital a few days later and did a rape kit. They took pictures of my bruises and I gave them the dress I had been wearing. I eventually went to the police and for a long time, I felt grateful to Detectives Taggert and Garcia who handled my case. They were kind, but not hopeful. At the time I didn’t remember a lot of the details of my attack, couldn’t give a description, and I was told my rape kit could not be processed without a suspect.”

She gripped the edges of the podium as she continued to speak. “But that fall, we had a suspect. Tom Baker, who blackmailed Emily Quartermaine and held the both of us hostage in his photography studio. He said something that my attacker had, and I accused him of raping me. I was terrified, frozen, and he went along with my charge. He was arrested, and I thought—finally—finally, they’ll be able to investigate.”

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath as her breath caught. “But a month later, I was told that he couldn’t be prosecuted for my attack. That there wasn’t enough evidence. I was told that my rape kit had come back negative for any DNA and he was denying his confession.” She smiled bitterly. “I never doubted Detective Taggert’s word. He said my kit had been run, and now my case would be ruled inactive. Put into cold storage.”

She saw that Scott Baldwin had slid into an empty seat next to Bobbie and he gently nodded when they made eye contact. So, he had been Ned’s source. She’d wondered. “I thought the man responsible was in jail for what had happened to Emily Quartermaine and would be there for a long time. Not as long as we’d hoped, but he was gone. I put my life back together, I moved on. I put it behind me. And then this summer, the Herald told us a serial rapist was stalking the park.”

Her hands fisted at the podium.

“I didn’t…I didn’t let myself believe it was the same man. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t call, I didn’t ask. Even when I was asked by the family of the last young woman to speak to her about my own experience, I never once let myself believe we had been victimized by the same man. Because I assumed that the PCPD had taken care of me. Even after they had planted a story that put my life in danger, I still thought I could trust them.”

She sucked back a sob that tried to bubble up in her throat. “But I was wrong. The PCPD never ran my rape kit. If they had, if they had processed even one of the kits in cold storage, they would have known that the man stalking the park this year was not just my attacker, but that I was the first of at least seven women, beginning in February 1998 and continuing until this past July. All seven of us, including Brooke Lynn Ashton—we were all raped by the same man. A man that the police department continued to let wreak havoc because of budget woes and blind ambition.”

She looked at Lucky, who nodded, reminding her it was okay to tell them everything the PCPD had done. “For a week after Tom Baker was arrested on charges of kidnapping, stalking, and extortion, nothing happened in my rape case. He was never questioned, and my dress sat in evidence, untouched. Because Baker was charged with crimes that would put him away for twenty-five years to life, my case was deemed to be a waste of time and money for the department. A week after his arrest, Garrett Floyd and Mac Scorpio got the political cover they needed to ignore my case.”

Elizabeth glanced back at Edward and Ned who were both ashen, knowing what would come next. “Concerned for their family member, Ned Ashton and Edward Quartermaine called Mayor Floyd to make sure that they had everything they needed to put Baker away. And Floyd took that as an invitation to ignore anything that might derail or delay the trial. Including my case. When I disrupted the trial, accusing Baker of rape, Edward called Floyd again. And this time, Floyd and Scorpio made it official. They generated a false lab report stating my rape kit had returned negative results. Then my case was marked as solved, so it would no longer show up as an open case.”

The room exploded as that news sunk in — that the PCPD had unwittingly delayed the capture of a serial rapist, falsified official evidence, and had engaged in political corruption. She waited for the din to quiet down.

“If my case had been handled properly according to procedure, we would have known five years ago that Tom Baker did not rape me. I would not have had justice, but the women who came after me — the attacks in 1999 and 2000, the four in 2003 — they might have been avoided. If the rape kits for all rape cases were processed at the time of report, then we would have known four years ago that one man was raping women in the park. The DNA would have been on file in state and federal databases. But that did not happen. Because Mac Scorpio, Garrett Floyd, and the PCPD threw me away. I didn’t matter. Their bottom lines, their jobs, their needs mattered more than me and the public they’d sworn to protect.”

She looked at the back of the room where Taggert was standing, his eyes cast down. She didn’t know how long he’d been there, but she wasn’t in the mood to see him.

“They knew a serial rapist was haunting the park by the end of June, but they refused to tell the public. The commissioner warned his own daughters not to walk in the park, but no one warned Brooke Lynn Ashton. If we had known we were being hunted, do you think anyone would have walked there? Brooke Lynn would be alive today if the mayor and the commissioner hadn’t decided that women like us were expendable.”

Rage was now coursing through her veins, her chest rising more rapidly. “I was sixteen when I was raped, little more than a child. I was terrified to tell anyone, sure that the world would blame me. Because my family wasn’t wealthy and couldn’t deliver an election, Garrett Floyd threw me away. He could do that because that’s what this world does. It decides that women are less, that we can be forgotten, put away, disposed of because a man’s reputation, a man’s election somehow matters more than my right to walk in the park without fear, to have justice for the terror I was put through.”

She paused, the room silent. “Garrett Floyd wanted to be your mayor more than he wanted to serve the people. Mac Scorpio wanted to keep his job more than he wanted to protect the public. They don’t care about the people they’ve taken an oath to look after. I nearly died for their greed and ambition. Seven of us were ignored. One of us gone forever. I will fight for Brooke Lynn and for all the others that came after me because I will not let Garrett Floyd throw away one more woman. He got away with it once because I was nothing more than a little girl who didn’t know how to stand up and shout.”

She looked straight ahead at the WKPC television cameras she knew was carrying the conference live. “Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow up and return to destroy your world. I am not going to be thrown away, and I will not stay silent. I am going to vote for Ned Ashton in a few weeks, and I hope that everyone listening will as well. This city deserves a change. I’m sorry I can’t take any questions.”

She stepped back from the podium as Ned put an arm around her shoulder, steadying her. “Are you okay? Do you need Bobbie or your doctor?” he asked as Edward stepped up to deliver his short and furious condemnation of Floyd’s actions.

“No.” She took a deep breath, was relieved when it came easily. She pressed her own fingers to her pulse and found it only a bit more rapid than usual. “I just want to go home. Do I have to stay—”

“Olivia—” Ned started to ask but Olivia was already taking Elizabeth by the elbow and steering her into the back room.

PCPD: Squad Room

Taggert had arrived at the hotel just after the press conference had begun, hoping to slip in and out without being noticed. But once Elizabeth’s incendiary statement had been delivered, he found himself all but chased down the street back to the PCPD, reporters and cameras at his heels.

In the squad room, he found a group of sullen officers gathered around the television set. “She dates a fucking criminal and we’re the bad guys,” Capelli muttered. Taggert shot him a dirty look.

“You’re wanted in the conference room,” Beaudry said with a grunt. “Floyd came in five minutes ago, grabbed Esposito by the scruff of his neck and hauled him in already. With your rookies.”

“Fantastic,” Taggert said with a roll of his eyes. He went down the hall to find the mayor in a fury as he berated the officers in front him.

“I want to know who the hell is leaking the confidential investigations in this office!” Floyd demanded, jabbing his fingers at the trio standing sullenly in a line. “You!” He barked at Dante who stared back at him with open hostility. “You grew up with the last one, didn’t you? Angry at the PCPD?”

“I don’t know,” Dante drawled, “probably not nearly as angry as you were when you leaked her name to the press, asshole.” His dark eyes were lit with fury. “The ‘last one’?  You piece of shit—”

Floyd’s face was almost florid in his rage. “You—you’re fired—”

“Can’t fire him,” Taggert said calmly as he shut down the door. “And if you got a problem with the officers under my command, you take it up with me.  Vinnie isn’t even on this case. I knew months ago something was wrong with the Webber case. I didn’t leak it, but I wish like hell I had.”

“You son of a bitch,” Floyd hissed. “You have screwed up this case from the beginning—you and this Brooklyn asshole—”

Vinnie snorted. “Oh, that he remembers about me,” the detective snarled, his accent thick. “But you don’t remember that I wasn’t even on the damn cases back then!”

“You were a patrol officer in this division!” Floyd gestured wildly. “Why didn’t you make the link?”

“Because even when we did make the link,” Taggert said, stepping in front of his officers. “You refused to let us do anything about it—”

“I said you couldn’t announce it!” Floyd retorted. “Not that you couldn’t investigate it—”

“No public warning, no extra patrols for the park—” Cruz rolled his eyes. “Sounds like not being able to investigate to me,” he told Dante.

Taggert’s mouth twitched—he so badly wanted to smile at the level of disrespect the rookies were showing the line of command. He shouldn’t—but maybe it meant they couldn’t be corrupted or bribed. “We’re working the cases as hard we as we can. You got more damage control to worry about anyway.”

“That’s why I’m here—” Floyd stabbed a finger at Vinnie. “I’ve recommended to the ethics board that Esposito be suspended for thirty days, pending termination for his negligence and public disregard for safety.”

“Fuck that shit!” Vinnie roared. “You’ll hear from my union rep!” He stormed out of the room.

Floyd smirked at Taggert and the rookies. “Careful, officers, or you’ll be next.”

He sauntered out of the room.

“He doesn’t get it, does he?” Dante asked, shaking his head. “He’s a dead man walking. Elizabeth Webber flayed him alive and all that’s left is his rotting corpse.”

“That just makes him more dangerous,” Taggert muttered.

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Bobbie went behind the counter, murmured something to Penny who had been managing in her absence, then looked at Lucky who took a seat in front of her. “Well.”

“Yeah, I’m not looking forward to work tomorrow.” Lucky rubbed the side of his face, exhausted already. “I got a voicemail from Cruz that Floyd went to the PCPD after the conference, accused Dante of being the leak, tried to fire him—and did manage to engineer Vinnie’s suspension. Which is bullshit because Vinnie’s a crappy cop, but this was a system clusterfuck, not just one person.”

“Yeah, well.” Bobbie sighed. “You said you had some questions about the case? I don’t know what I could offer you.”

Lucky explained that their theory about Elizabeth as the trigger victim and how they were trying to think of anyone who fit the profile and was part of her past. “It’s a huge pool of suspects, but Elizabeth thought maybe the regulars she had back then might be a place to start. She didn’t really remember any names or faces. Not after so much time, but we were wondering if Ruby would have kept something.”

“Well, we have the tax records for the rooms we rented going back to about, oh, ‘94, I think. I can check that.” Bobbie pursed her lips. “I have a few boxes of paperwork your aunt left behind that I really don’t know anything about. Ruby kept track of unpaid tabs — she might not have thrown them out once it was paid off. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to Kelly’s when she was here.” Bobbie’s smile was sad. “Didn’t really need to, you know?”

“Yeah, Ruby always made it look easy.”

“I might even have some of her journals. I could pull out what I have when I get home.” Bobbie shook her head as she poured herself a cup of coffee. “It just seems wrong that Elizabeth could have known the guy. Wouldn’t they have done this—” She stopped, shook her head. “We can’t assume anything. Not knowing what we know now.”

“To be honest, Aunt Bobbie, having looked at Elizabeth’s file — Garcia didn’t do anything with Elizabeth’s case. They didn’t look at the crime scene. Didn’t interview anyone in Elizabeth’s life. They seemed to assume it was a stranger rape and moved on. By the time Taggert got assigned it, it was pretty cold.” Lucky shook his head. “But that seems to the way the PCPD operated. Doing the bare minimum.”

“Well, I hope Ned winning in a few weeks will start changing things. I’ll go through Ruby’s things and see if I can’t give you something to help.”

“Thanks—” Lucky stopped, took out his buzzing cell phone. “Hey.”

“Hey. I saw the press conference,” Kelsey said. “The phones are ringing off the hook at the office—do you think Scott is the one that told Liz?”

“Maybe,” Lucky allowed. “I knew she had a lot of the details from someone in a position to know. If the Quartermaines admitted making the call, then someone had to have tipped off Ned Ashton.”

“Yeah.” Kelsey sighed. “Yeah, she was already asking questions, so I’m glad she knows. You okay?”

“As okay as I can be. Will the DA’s office get out of this without a lot of heat?”

“We might be okay. Different DA, former ADA not working here anymore—” She paused. “Will you come by after I’m done work?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll see you tonight.”

Lucky hung up the phone to find his aunt smiling at him. “What?”

“Nothing. Your voice—” Bobbie sighed, her eyes a bit brighter. “It changes when you talk to her. Did you know that?”

“No, but—” He shrugged. “I gotta get going. I have a shift at the club. Call me if you find anything in Aunt Ruby’s records.” He kissed her cheek, then left.

Scorpio House: Living Room

 

When Edward Quartermaine’s face faded from the screen, Felicia picked up the remote and silently switched off the television. On the other sofa, Georgie was crying, Maxie was sitting silently, staring straight ahead. Next to her, Mac was pale, his eyes looking down.

“Is this what you were talking about when I came home in July?” she asked softly. “When you told me Floyd had pushed you on this case?”

“I—”

“Why?” Georgie said, with a sob. “Why would she say those things? Tell them that Floyd made you do it, Dad!”

“How could he make him do anything?” Maxie looked at her stepfather. “He tells you to do something, you tell him to go to hell. It’s not hard. I say it to you all the time.”

“Girls—”

“Don’t start acting like we’re kids and can’t handle this,” Maxie said. She got to her feet and flipped her hair over her shoulder. “I’m an adult. I was there the night Brooke got attacked. I’ve watched Dillon tear himself apart. Kyle and Lucas drowned themselves in guilt. Georgie broke up with Dillon because she was defending you—”

“Because you didn’t have a choice,” Georgie said to him, but even her own conviction was fading. Her voice trembled. “He made you do it.”

“You always have a choice,” Mac said after a long moment. “I didn’t have a good choice. Elizabeth is right. We didn’t immediately investigate after he was arrested. I should have. But I was concentrating on the Quartermaine part of the case, and I didn’t—I wasn’t aware of the rape charges until Floyd called me. But I should have known it.”

“Why wouldn’t Taggert have gone after him—” Felicia pressed her lips together. “Is she right? Did you weigh the odds? Twenty-five to life? Why waste time on a dubious rape charge when you could just sit back, do nothing, and get the same result?”

“I thought he was guilty,” Mac said, numbly. “At first it didn’t seem like a big deal. Until I realized we were lying to Elizabeth. Until Edward called and—I had a choice, Georgie,” he told his youngest step-daughter painfully. “You always have a choice,” he repeated.

“Then why?” Maxie demanded, her voice ending on a wail. “Why did you do this? Why did you let him keep hurting women and why is Brooke dead because of it? Why?”

“Because I didn’t want to lose my job,” Mac said. And damned if that felt like a shitty excuse. “We had the Outback and it was already failing at that point—if I’d lost that income—”

“And it wasn’t like I was making a lot from my work as a private investigator,” Felicia said, with a slow exhale. “And you had the guy’s confession. So, you buried her case to keep your job and support us.”

Georgie sniffled and looked away from them. “I have to go call Dillon. I have to—I have to apologize.” She rushed away, her feet pounding on the stairs.

Maxie stayed for another minute. “You always have a choice,” she repeated. “And yeah, I guess that was a terrible choice. What about this summer, Dad? When you chose to warn me and Georgie, but didn’t make it sound so bad that we told anyone else? How do you think it makes me feel that your choice helped put Brooke in that park?”

“I will never be able to forgive myself—”

“Good. You shouldn’t.”

Without another word, Maxie stalked out the front door, slamming it shut behind her. Mac shook his head, looked to Felicia. “I—”

“You put the needs of your family above those of the people you were supposed to protect.” Felicia offered him a wistful smile. “You think you’re the only person in the world who has ever been selfish? Who’s ever sacrificed one person to save himself?”

“The girls—they’re in college. The Outback is long gone. We didn’t—I couldn’t—”

“The girls are my responsibility,” Felicia told him. “And I’m grateful for the help you’ve given us. The stability you’ve given them. But please, don’t ever use them as a reason not to do the right thing.” She shook her head. “I told myself that whatever was bothering you—I could deal with it. I wasn’t a good wife to you. I depended on you too much. I made my girls your problem to fix. And that’s my fault. But I’m not sure—”

She met his eyes, sighed. “I don’t know, Mac. I just don’t understand how you could have done this. We knew Elizabeth Webber. Steve and Audrey were so good to me. She was at our wedding—she caught my bouquet. And six months later, you put her on a shelf like she was nothing. I get it—you thought the guy was guilty. And if you’d actually investigated the case, maybe you’d have been right. Maybe there wouldn’t have been evidence.”

“I—”

“And it’s hard to blame you for that choice now—because how could you have known that animal would go on to rape six more women? But that’s why you do the job right the first time. So, you can look back and tell yourself—I did everything I should have.” Felicia rubbed the back of her neck. “You haven’t resigned.”

“I offered a few times, but Floyd refused to take it. Now, I think he’ll either have to fire me or—if Ned wins, I want him to fire me. It won’t bring back his daughter, but if it gives him a moment of peace—” Mac sighed, looked away. “I owe him that. At the very least. I’m sorry, Felicia.”

“You’re a good man, Mac, who made a mistake.” She reached up to kiss his cheek. “We’ll get through this.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

 Elizabeth was exhausted by the time they got home that afternoon. She dropped her purse on the desk, kicked her shoes off, and sat on the sofa with a huff. She closed her eyes and extended her arm, expecting Jason to check her pulse.

He didn’t put his fingers on her wrist but took her hand and pressed it to his chest as he sat next to her. She opened her eyes, looked at him suspiciously. “You’re not checking my vitals?”

“I will. But I just wanted to tell you that I love you.”

She smiled, sat up. “I love you, too.”

“You terrify me,” he admitted. “With your fearlessness, your courage—you declared war on the PCPD, the mayor, and the man who did this to all of you. And you did it by reminding everyone who matters here. Not the election. Not the men who screwed up the case. But you. And Brooke Lynn. And the other women.”

“Someone had to,” Elizabeth murmured. “He’s still out there, Jason. And if Lucky is right, he’s still attacking women who look like me. Every time he rapes someone, he’s raping me again in his mind.” Her voice trembled slightly. “Part of me is a little…a lot…scared that standing up there—reminding him I exist—showing him that he didn’t destroy me—”

“He’ll want to come after you.” Jason nodded, his fingers sliding over her smooth skin of her inner arm. “Yeah, I thought about that, too.”

“But I couldn’t hide. I can’t hide. I won’t live my life in fear. Not ever again. I wouldn’t let him break me five years ago.” Elizabeth turned her hand so that she was the one clutching his hand, squeezing it. “I wouldn’t let Ric Lansing break me. I won’t let him be the thing I think about for eight months, worrying about what he did to me or if it’ll cost me my life or my child’s. And I won’t let my rapist drive me to fear either. I run my life. Not them.”

He leaned forward, brushed his lips over hers. “I love you,” he murmured again.

“I love you, too.” She managed a smile for him as he drew back. “Now. Let’s check my vitals and talk about the security I’m sure you want to add.”

October 24, 2019

Your Update Link – Mad World, Chapter 44.

I can’t believe we only have a handful of chapters left! Only three weeks until the last chapter is posted. I’ve received such wonderful feedback on this story — I know that it’s a bit sadder and likely harder to read than others I’ve written, so I appreciate you guys sticking through it.

Sorry for not blogging the last few updates. They’ve been made on schedule, I just forgot to create a second post.

Your Update Link – Mad World, Chapter 44.

I can’t believe we only have a handful of chapters left! Only three weeks until the last chapter is posted. I’ve received such wonderful feedback on this story — I know that it’s a bit sadder and likely harder to read than others I’ve written, so I appreciate you guys sticking through it.

It’s looking more likely that I’ll be switching For the Broken Girl and Fool Me Twice in the Production Schedule. I’ve been working on piecing together the new draft of FMT and there are just so many moving pieces. I’ll be taking a different approach to writing this second draft — I’ll talk more about it as I get into it. I hope to start working on it today or tomorrow, depending on my schedule. Broken Girl is ready for NaNoWriMo. I’ll be blogging about it again at Dear Isobel, my books and writing blog.

See you guys Monday!

This entry is part 25 of 31 in the series All of Me

And I am feeling so small
It was over my head
I know nothing at all
And I will stumble and fall
I’m still learning to love
Just starting to crawl
Say Something, A Great Big World


Tuesday, September 16, 2003 

PCPD: Conference Room

Lucky set down his paperwork and took a seat, waiting for Kelsey and Taggert to finish setting up a white board in the corner of the room. They were both arguing over something, but he wasn’t really paying attention.

He felt better after clearing the air with Elizabeth the day before—he hadn’t realized just how much guilt and frustration he’d been carrying around about not telling her that her case was opened again, that Baker wasn’t guilty.

He and the others had spent all day on the phone and on the street trying to track down the security companies as well their company lists, but it had been slow, and Lucky didn’t have a lot to show for that part of the investigation.  He’d been nominated to represent them as neither Dante nor Cruz wanted talk about how little they’d found.

“Fine,” Kelsey said to Taggert as she threw up her hands and walked over the table. “We’re done arguing about this. Let’s just start.”

“Did you get anything on the guards?” Tagger added as they both took a seat.

“We managed to get the companies, but a lot of them are being cranky about their employee lists,” Lucky admitted. “We didn’t tell them why—we figured you wouldn’t want anyone to know where we were looking.”

“Yeah. Stay on it. It’s one of the few leads we have,” Taggert said. He looked at Kelsey, who cleared her throat.

“Lucky, the thing Taggert and I were arguing about was asking you to dig into Elizabeth’s past.” Lucky frowned at her and Kelsey averted her eyes as she continued. “Because we have another theory of the case—another lead. What we were talking about—all the ways her case was different—” Kelsey looked at Taggert before looking back at Lucky. “It made me think we were really on to something.”

“We think Elizabeth isn’t just the first known victim or the first victim, but she might be our trigger victim.” Taggert tapped a pencil against a notepad. “We think the guy might have known her.”

“That maybe she was a target.” Lucky exhaled slowly. “Are you—How—” He looked at Kelsey. “Why didn’t you say anything? Yesterday. Last night. Any time since Luke’s.’

“I didn’t—” Kelsey bit her lip. “I wanted to talk it over with Taggert. To make sure I wasn’t just…seeing things.” She widened her eyes a bit at him as if to suggest they’d talk about it later.

“Okay. Fine. Why do you think she’s the trigger?”

“Well, the handcuffs were a clue,” Kelsey admitted. “But also the hair. He told our other victims their hair wasn’t right. But that’s not something that happened to Elizabeth. Now maybe it’s simply something she doesn’t remember—”

“But the victims remember the beating beginning after the hair. Elizabeth didn’t have the same injuries—that could be because you showed up,” Taggert continued, “or—”

“Elizabeth was someone he knew,” Lucky finished. “That he’d been following her, waiting for an opportunity.” Jesus Christ. He unclenched his fists, stretched out his fingers. “And that the other women are just…”

“He’s trying to recreate that first experience. Sometimes the first attack gives you a high you simply cannot replicate,” Kelsey said. “Or there’s something about Elizabeth herself. So, I thought—we thought you might be able to help us see if there’s something about Elizabeth that might have triggered the other attacks.”

“If maybe there’s a reason for the other dates,” Lucky said. He looked at Taggert. “I don’t know—” Then he stopped. “Theresa Lopez. April 26, 1999. That’s a week after the fire at the garage.”

Taggert got up, went to the white board and scribbled garage fire under the second victim’s picture. “Okay. What about Veronica Logan? January 2, 2000—” He frowned, tapped the marker against the board. “You weren’t home yet, but that was about a week after the Christmas party at General Hospital. Nikolas went after Jason Morgan. He came in to file assault charges, and I remember seeing it in the gossip papers, all over the Sun.”

He wrote Christmas party under Veronica Logan’s name. “And I bet there was some mention of Elizabeth in the papers after that fire,” he told Lucky.

“February 14 of this year?” Kelsey pressed. “Could it be simply the anniversary?”

“Maybe,” Taggert admitted, writing anniversary under Dana Watson’s name. “Audrey’s obituary would have been in the papers, and I think there was a large write up about her in the Herald about her hospital service.”

“Yeah, they wrote about Steve and Audrey and their family. I could pull it, but I’m sure they would have mentioned Elizabeth,” Lucky pointed out. “What about May 30?”

“Her marriage to Ric was in the paper the week before, and there was a story about her miscarriage, about her fall in the Sun. Sonny Corinthos was suspected, but we never found out who actually pushed her.” Taggert made another note under Renee Norton’s name. “July 2 is easy. Elizabeth was in the hospital, all over the papers. And that continued throughout most of July.”

“What, are we saying this guy stalks Elizabeth through the papers and rapes someone every time she’s in there?” Lucky asked skeptically. “Because that doesn’t track. What about the Face of Deception modeling? She was in the papers for that. We were supposed to get married, and her car accident. Then last year, she was kidnapped.”

“All of that happened during the period our guy was dormant. He might have gone to jail for something unrelated. We could check intake and out take release records,” Taggert pointed out. “His DNA wouldn’t be on file unless it was a felony or required for the case.”

“I can run a search,” Kelsey offered. “I mean, the dates match, Lucky. Something happened in Elizabeth’s life near enough to the dates of the attacks that I don’t think we can rule it out.”

“No, I guess not. I just—I don’t like the idea—it was bad enough when it was just a serial rapist that was never caught…but if you’re right, if this guy knew Elizabeth, and he’s been stalking her—” Lucky shook his head. “It’s almost too horrible to imagine.”

“You and Liz were close around the time she was attacked, right?” Taggert asked. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you. I thought you could think back to that time, think about the people who were around her. I’m not saying Liz knew the guy—”

“But he might have seen her at Kelly’s or something,” Lucky said, grimacing. “Yeah. I guess—I can talk to Emily and Sarah. Maybe Nikolas. I’m actually seeing Emily, Nikolas, and Elizabeth for dinner tonight. Can I—can I run this by her?”

“I don’t want to upset her any more than I have to,” Taggert said after a long moment. “But I also don’t want to hide anything from her either. Yeah.”

“I’ve been thinking about what Elizabeth said at the end of her statement,” Kelsey said. “About Baker knowing the color of her dress. How easily he went along with her story.”

“I thought the DNA cleared him,” Lucky said, frowning. “How—”

“Maybe he knew something,” Taggert said. “It bothered me, too. I looked at his history. I called a friend at the Herald to pull some background on him. She said that she called some sources at the NYPD. He left New York around 1995, but there were a few open cases of extortion where he was a person of interest. A few lower level clients of Baker’s studio claiming he was asking for more money to keep bad photos from circulating. It didn’t go anywhere, but he left the city.”

“That jives with him blackmailing Emily, even though in hindsight he must have been nuts to go after a Quartermaine with connections to the Cassadines and Jason Morgan.” Kelsey pursed her lips. “Did she have anything useful for us, though?”

“No, but I heard back from Brenda Barrett today. She remembered Baker hiring security at his photo shoots. Sometimes it was a company, and sometimes it was an off-duty cop, moonlighting for extra money.”

“Maybe our guy knew Baker, too. Bragged to him.” Kelsey shrugged. “Do you want to talk to Baker again?”

“Yeah, I’ll have to arrange a visit. Make sure he tells me the truth.” He looked at Lucky. “Keep Dante and Cruz on the security companies. Kelsey is going to look into the backgrounds of anyone in the PCPD working here then. I want you to look into Elizabeth. It’s a long shot, but maybe you or a friend, or even family might remember something. We’re going to find this guy, Spencer. If it’s the last thing I ever do.”

Port Charles Hotel: Conference Room

Ned frowned when he saw Olivia Falconieri sitting at the long table with paperwork in front of her. “I’m sorry—the clerk in the lobby must have given me the wrong—”

“No, you’re in the right place.” Olivia got to her feet. “I told you I was sticking around Port Charles. As long as Dante is, anyway.” She rounded the table and held out her hand. Ned shook it. “Edward didn’t mention hiring me as facilities manager?”

“No, but I’ve been busy.” Ned glanced around the room, furrowing his brow. “You got the memo? We’re holding a press conference on Friday.”

“Yes.” Olivia picked up a clipboard from the table, perused it. “Alexis sent over the list of media you want to invite, and she said there would be a few statements made.” She looked up at him, tipped her head. “We’ll be ready, so we just need to sign the papers. I could have faxed these to your campaign office—”

“I didn’t have anything else to do today and it’s important—I need to make sure you got the note about having a room ready. The next room, I think, it’s an unused office?”

“Alexis said one of the people giving a statement might have some difficulties.” Olivia frowned. “Is this…is this about your daughter’s case? Was there a lead? Lois didn’t say anything, and Dante’s been pretty close-lipped—”

“She doesn’t know yet. No one does. It hasn’t hit the papers yet. They’re keeping this one close to the chest.” Ned leaned against the table. “Elizabeth Webber is going to give a statement. I’m not sure about the content, but the gist is going to be that she was raped by the same man in 1998. The PCPD didn’t bother to run the basic lab work that would have exonerated a suspect in custody for other crimes. Her case and two others were basically ignored for three years until he came back, raped four more women, and drove my daughter to suicide.”

Olivia stared at him for a long moment before slowly exhaling. “You’re not…you’re not serious, are you?”

“I wish I were kidding. I wish this was just a nightmare I could wake up from.” Ned rubbed his eyes. “Someone leaked this to me, so I took it to Elizabeth. Someone has to stand up for her. Mac, Floyd—everyone at the PCPD refused to five years ago and my little girl paid the price. I didn’t do enough for Brooke. But I can do this.”

“Yeah, it seems like the kind of thing the public should know, but…” Olivia pursed her lips. “What will you do after the election? When Floyd is gone, when you’ve fired the commissioner?”

“I—” Ned shook his head. “I’ll be the mayor. I’ll work—”

“I mean, when this case is over, when Elizabeth Webber doesn’t need you to fight her battles…” Olivia handed him the paperwork to sign. “What happens then?”

“You mean when there’s nothing left to do for Brooke?” Ned scribbled his name at the bottom. “I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out when that happens.”

Kelly’s: Lucky’s Room

Lucky tugged a pair of jeans from his dresser with one hand as he towel-dried his hair with the other. He looked over at the sound of his door opening and frowned as he saw Kelsey close the door behind her. “Hey. I thought—”

“I waited for you after work.” She leaned against the door, her eyes a bit sad. “You’re mad at me.”

“I’m not mad.” He tossed the towel over the back of a chair and sat on the bed to pull his jeans over the briefs he wore. “I told you I was having dinner with my brother, Emily, and Elizabeth tonight.”

“I thought we’d talk after work.” Kelsey bit her lip, folding her arms. “I know you’re mad that I just…that Taggert and I talked about all of that without running it past you first—”

“He’s the lead investigator, you’re the ADA. I’m just a patrol—”

“Stop—”

Kelsey put a hand on his chest as he started past her to grab a shirt from where he’d left a pile of laundry. “Stop talking past me.”

He stilled, then looked down at her. “What do you want me to say? We’ve been working on this case together for months. We talked on Saturday about Elizabeth’s case being different. And instead of telling me what you thought that meant, you went to Taggert.” He shrugged. “You made it very clear what you think of my contributions—”

“I was wrong, okay?” She balled her hands into fists at her side. “I wanted to protect you—”

“Protect—” Lucky exhaled slowly. “Because of my memories. Because there are still some spots that aren’t so great.”

“You’re—” Kelsey swallowed hard, her voice just a little raspy as she continued. “You think I don’t know how much this all hurts you? I know we talked on Saturday. I know you know you shouldn’t blame yourself. But I know you, Lucky Spencer. And you do blame yourself for what happened to Elizabeth. For not taking her to that stupid dance. For not being quicker. For not realizing the guy was still in the area—”

Lucky sank on the bed. “It’s not my fault,” he said, but even he heard the lie in his voice. “Kelsey—”

“I thought—God, I thought if I told you that I thought Elizabeth was the key to this—that somewhere in her past—somewhere in your past—she came across this guy—how much worse would it be if you couldn’t remember it?”

He rubbed his chest. “I didn’t think about that.”

“I just—I thought Taggert would ask to talk to Elizabeth. That he’d interview people himself. It was his idea for you to do it.”

“It makes sense,” he murmured. “I already have relationships with the people Elizabeth knew. I was there. He doesn’t know.” He looked at her, standing miserably in front of him. “You don’t have to protect me.”

“No, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to. I mean…” She sighed, sat next to him. “I’m sorry,” she repeated. “I should have told you before Taggert got involved. It won’t happen again.”

“It might,” Lucky pointed out. “I am just a patrol officer. You are the ADA assigned to my division. The next case won’t be as personal—I hope not anyway. But there are always going to be things you and my commanding officer know that I don’t.” He managed a smile. “I just have to get over myself and remember how—” His smile deepened into a smirk. “How lucky I am to have such an impressive woman in my life.”

Kelsey rolled her eyes and slugged him lightly in the shoulder. “Yeah, okay.” She leaned in to brush her lips against his. “We’re okay?”

“We’re okay.” He deepened the kiss, losing himself in her for another moment before wincing. “But I have to finish getting dressed and start dinner. My aunt agreed to close the diner for me. Emily is coming by to help, and then Elizabeth is coming early with brownies for dessert.”

“Sounds like a good night—”

He grabbed her arm before she could leave. “Hey. Next time, we’ll all get together. This is just—”

“I know. I’ll look forward to it.” She kissed him again. “Have a good time with your friends.” Kelsey danced her fingertips down his bare chest. “But come by my place after you’re done.”

“Promise.”

Harborview Towers: Hallway

Jason braced himself as he stepped out of his penthouse and walked towards Sonny’s place. Max’s stance at the head of the elevators indicated his partner was home, which meant it was time to stop putting this off and confront Sonny about the threats he’d leveled at the district attorney.

The fact that Sonny’s anger had reached levels where he was threatening public officials was bad and Jason really didn’t know how to deal with that. It was an unspoken rule, but it was a strong one in nearly every organization in their syndicate: going after officials didn’t do shit. It brought more attention, it never stopped the cases, and it was nothing more than suicide.

And Jason couldn’t bank on hoping that none of their guys wouldn’t eventually decide to do what the boss said. Not every guy was loyal to Jason, and there was always one asshole who wanted to move up the ladder.

With Elizabeth’s case reopened and her pregnancy, with Carly nearing the end of her own pregnancy—there was no way Jason was going to let Sonny get away with creating more trouble for them.

Sonny was sitting on the sofa in front of the dark fireplace, a tumbler of bourbon in his hand. He didn’t look over at Jason’s entrance, merely took another sip. “What?”

“We need to talk.”

“You mean you want to tell me how wrong I am again,” Sonny muttered. He sat up, set the tumbler on the coffee table with a clunk. “You talk to Carly?”

Jason exhaled slowly, sat in the armchair next to the sofa. “Do you think for one minute that I don’t want to be the one that puts a bullet between Ric’s eyes?” he asked.

Sonny frowned. “Look—”

“He went after Elizabeth when she was at her lowest. She’d lost her grandmother, most of her friends were out of town, and I—I wasn’t around. But that wasn’t enough for him. He drugged her repeatedly for six months. He drugged her with sedatives so she’d be more compliant, so she’d sleep with him. He drugged her with birth control so she would want the baby he was stealing for her. He nearly killed her. He kidnapped my best friend, locked her in a small room, and threatened to kill her and take her baby on a daily basis for a week.”

Sonny closed his eyes. Said nothing.

“If I had lost that court case, Sonny—if he’d been in charge of her care one second longer—I would have taken him out then. I don’t care if I would have gotten caught. If it would have put us in danger—Ric was never getting the chance to go after the people I cared about again.”

“Then how the hell can you fight me on this?” Sonny demanded, lunging to his feet. He gestured wildly with one arm. “I want him dead. I want him gone.”

“Because it didn’t happen to me,” Jason said. Sonny scowled, but Jason pressed on. “It didn’t happen to you. We didn’t get kidnapped. We didn’t overdose from drugs fed to us in our water and food. Sonny, the day Elizabeth learned the drugging had been going on for months, she also learned there was a chance the drugs had damaged the baby she’d lost. She has nightmares. Still. She has to sleep with an oxygen tank next to her. There is never a single minute of her life when she doesn’t have to deal with what he did to her.”

Sonny looked away, his face pale. “I know that, Jason—”

“I couldn’t stop it. We didn’t stop Ric before he had the chance to damage Carly more than he did that night in February. We never knew what he was doing to Elizabeth until the kidnapping. We failed to protect them. And they’re not blaming us. All they want is the chance to put him away. To testify against him.”

Jason shook his head. “I know it was bad for you. I know you fell apart, and I’m sorry I didn’t see it earlier, but Sonny—I couldn’t do it all. I couldn’t keep the business going, look for Carly, and protect Elizabeth at the same time. I know it scared you to see Lily.”

“Do you think I like knowing how useless I was to everyone?” Sonny muttered. He crossed over to the minibar, poured himself another glass of bourbon, ignoring the one left on the table. “Nikolas fucking Cassadine did more than I did.”

“He did more than I did. Sure, we used those cameras, but at the end of the day — the real estate agent was all we needed. And I didn’t think of it. No one else thought of it. Do you think that makes me feel great, Sonny? Elizabeth went back to him day after day, pretending to be his wife—he attacked her, Sonny, because I wasn’t smart enough to think about the damn house.”

“It’s not that I need to be the hero,” Sonny said slowly after a long moment. “But it was my fault. My fault my mother died. She took a beating meant for me, and she never would have been there if it hadn’t been for me. I used to blame Mike for not staying—for my mother needing to stay with Deke. But it was my fault—” He shook his head. “It’s all my fault. He came to town because of me. I need to be the one to end it.”

“Sonny—I’m asking you as a friend—as a brother—don’t make this one more thing I have to worry about,” Jason said. “Elizabeth is pregnant, and it’s high-risk because of Ric. Carly is pregnant and upset. And there’s more—the rape case—the Baker letter? It was real. It’s the same guy, Sonny. And it wasn’t just Elizabeth and Brooke Lynn Ashton. There are seven women.”

Sonny stared at him, shook his head. “What? What you are talking about?”

Jason told him about the visit from Ned and Taggert, about Elizabeth getting involved with the new case and the cover-up. “This guy is still out there, Sonny. And she’s going to give a press statement that goes after the police, the mayor, and—” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I can give her all the guards and security I want, but that doesn’t mean I can keep her safe.”

“The same man,” Sonny repeated softly. He frowned. “I—I meant to keep up on the case. My source at the PCPD.”

He set the still full tumbler back on the bar. “I forgot. I forgot to ask.” He frowned, shaking his head. “I’m sorry.”

“Sonny—”

“I’ve—” Sonny looked around the penthouse, as if noticing it for the first time. “I’ve been so angry. When Carly left, when she took Michael, I just—I let it happen. I thought—good. One less person to tell me I’m wrong all the time—but—” He focused on Jason. “I forgot about that letter from Baker. I forgot how bad you said Elizabeth handled you going to see him. But she knows what he said now. Is she okay?”

“I think so,” Jason admitted. “She—it was bad when Taggert came over, but I guess I didn’t give her enough credit. She said she’d had this fear in the back of her mind ever since Brooke was attacked.”

“Brooke—” Sonny pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes, digging in. “Christ, I never even talked to Lois. I never checked in with her.”

“Sonny—”

“Her daughter—and you said the PCPD screwed up Elizabeth’s original investigation? Does Lois know that?”

“I don’t know if Ned warned her yet. Maybe. She will after Friday. I imagine the national press might pick it up because of the Quartermaines.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “Sonny—”

“I’m sorry,” he said again. “I just—” Sonny let out a harsh chuckle. “Maybe Bobbie is right. Maybe I do need to see a shrink.” He looked at Jason.  “About Ric—”

“The trial date is set for November,” Jason told him. “Let’s just—let it happen. We can talk about all of it again after that. Maybe Elizabeth and Carly will change their minds. Maybe you’ll feel better about their decision.”

“I guess.” Sonny looked away, towards the window. “I’ve always been selfish, Jason. But I used to take the time to at least think about other people. Lois was one of my oldest friends. I’ve known Elizabeth for years. And Carly—Christ, what she’s been through because of Ric—I threw them all away because of what I wanted. What I thought was best.”

He grimaced, picked up his bourbon. “Doesn’t make me much better than Floyd. And doesn’t that make me feel like shit?”

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Like they had on that fateful April night more than four years ago, Lucky arranged to close Kelly’s early so that he and Emily could cook dinner. Elizabeth stopped by about twenty minutes before they were going to start, a tray of brownies ready for the oven.

The four of them sat at the same table in the center of the restaurant and got caught up. Not on the big things—everyone knew about the case, the trial—Elizabeth wanted to talk about something happy. So, they talked about Laura Spencer—their memories of her, the joy in her homecoming. Lucky and Nikolas reminisced about how much they’d hated one another when Nikolas had moved to Port Charles.

“I mean, I hated him so much,” Lucky said, with a roll of his eyes, “that I questioned what was wrong with me that night at the club when you got shot and I was happy you were still alive.”

“The Cassadine hatred gets bred in early,” Nikolas said with a serious nod. “We had the Spencers on dart boards back in Greece.”

“You see, he says that like it’s a joke,” Emily said, pointing a French fry in his direction, “but I kind of think he might be serious.”

Nikolas smirked but didn’t say one way or another. “It became clear that if I wanted to be friends with Emily and Elizabeth, I was gonna have to suck it up and stop treating you like the plague,” he told Lucky.

“Well, once I realized my dad wasn’t infallible, I started to question why the hell we were treating you like trash anyway,” his brother offered with a shrug. “And I got tired of making my mother cry.”

“So, any luck on the job front?” Emily asked Elizabeth as the brothers started to clear away their dinner. Lucky set Elizabeth’s finished stack of brownies on the table. “Or have you decided to take a break from all of that until the baby gets here?”

“Well, Jason and I haven’t really talked about it,” Elizabeth admitted. “Obviously, if I decided not to work, it’s not like he’d be all that irritated. I’m also not qualified to do a whole lot. I can’t waitress—way too much stress on my body which I’m not allowed right now.”

She put a brownie on her plate and started to split it into smaller pieces. “But Gail suggested volunteering to lead a survivor’s group, and after Taggert came over last week, I agreed. Today was my first meeting.”

“You okay with it?” Nikolas asked, touching her hand.

“I wasn’t sure if it was something I really wanted to do—you know, steep myself in what happened—but you know, as hard as it was listening to the women who came today—” Elizabeth shrugged. “I don’t know. I felt like I was doing something that was useful. Helpful, even. I used to volunteer taking phone calls at the rape hotline downtown, so this was similar.”

She popped a piece of brownie in her mouth, then swallowed. “Now is as good as any to tell you that on Friday, I’m going to be at Ned’s press conference. I’ll be going public about what happened with my case and the others.” She looked at Lucky. “I hope it won’t cause any issues at work. I mean, for you.”

“I think the people I work with the most will be glad,” Lucky admitted. “It’s all Cruz and I could do to keep Dante from quitting, Kelsey was disgusted when we started to figure things out, and Taggert—” He saw Elizabeth scowl. “What? I thought Taggert was okay—”

“There was something I didn’t think of until Edward came over yesterday,” she told him. “They didn’t call Floyd or Mac until a week after Baker was arrested. So why wasn’t my case already at the lab?”

Lucky sat back in his chair, blinked. “I—I don’t know.”

“They never started the investigation,” Emily murmured. “Which made it easier when Floyd pressured them to drop it.”

“Why investigate and spend the time when Baker was already on the hook for twenty-five to life?” Nikolas pointed out. “Seems like something the PCPD would tell themselves.”

Lucky grimaced. “I—I really didn’t think about it. I was so angry when I found the case had been marked solved—when I saw the kit hadn’t been processed—” He sighed. “But yeah. I guess that makes sense. I hate my job.” He shoved his plate away. “You should know the investigation has opened up a new track, a theory of how he picks his—” His mouth twisted in disgust. “How and when he picks the women.”

Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “And it’s something you think I need to know?”

“They put me in charge of it,” Lucky admitted. “And it’s not something I could hide from you even if I wanted to. The thing is, Elizabeth, your statement has a lot in common with the others, but the parts where it deviates—we think it can tell us something about our perp.”

“Okay.” Emily took Elizabeth’s hand in hers, tightened it. “Okay. Like what?” she asked her friend. “What happened to Liz that didn’t to the others?”

“The hair thing,” Lucky said. “You said he smelled your hair—how did he react afterwards?”

“Lucky,” Nikolas muttered. “Really?”

“He wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important,” Elizabeth said, her eyes on her ex-fiancé, her face pale. Without even thinking about it, Emily flipped Elizabeth’s hand in hers, pressed two fingers to her pulse. “He didn’t smell my hair so much as—he buried his face in it. That’s when he whispered to me. He was next to my ear. He stroked it, I think. And I was crying. I think—” She closed her eyes. Forced herself back to that moment.

Because whatever it took, they had to find this guy.

“I was crying, asking him to stop. He hadn’t—not yet. But he kept his face—” Her stomach rolled as bile rose in her throat. Oh, God. How had she forgotten any of this? It seemed so goddamn clear to her now. “He kept his face in my hair the whole time. I was crying, but I could hear him breathing in my ear.”

“What happened to the others?” Emily asked softly. “Are you allowed to tell her, Lucky?”

“He smelled their hair, said it wasn’t right, brutally raped them until they were torn inside, then beat them unconscious,” Lucky said flatly. Emily gasped, releasing Elizabeth’s hand and putting her fist at her mouth.

“Lucky—” Nikolas started, then stopped. “Wait, he…beat them all?”

“All of them?” Elizabeth asked faintly. “Not just Brooke—”

“The reason we have so many victims who reported is that he beat them all unconscious. They were all found in the park.” Lucky shifted. “That’s part of the reason we think that there was something about your attack that was different. Not that what happened to you wasn’t violent—”

“But I walked away. And I—I don’t think he was going to hit me. Not like that.” Elizabeth clenched her fists. “So, I was different.”

“You’re the earliest known victim, Elizabeth. But we think it’s more than that. We think it’s—we think he was looking for you that night. Not just any woman. But you. Or maybe he’d been following you—”

“Waiting for an opportunity.” Elizabeth looked at Nikolas and Emily, both as horrified as she was. “You think he knew me. That I knew him—”

“You were working at Kelly’s,” Nikolas reminded her. “Maybe you didn’t know him. Maybe he was a customer.”

“And the others were picked because, what, they were at the fountains and they looked like me?” Elizabeth asked. “Please tell me—”

“You said you had a theory about when the attacks happened,” Emily said slowly.

“It’s not a great one, but the thing is—all of the known attacks happened around the time you would have been in the newspapers. The garage fire, the Christmas party where you got into a fight with Jason,” he said to Nikolas. “Your miscarriage and what happened with Ric—this year, on February 14, another woman was attacked in the park. That might have been because of the anniversary or Audrey’s death—”

“Or both,” Elizabeth murmured. She looked at Lucky, her throat thick. “Taggert said there was a gap between the groups of women. Three, then four. And the first new one was February 14.”

“Yeah. I’m sorry—”

“Don’t be sorry. I don’t—I don’t need to be protected. If he was someone I saw—I need to know that. I need to be able to help.”

“But wouldn’t you have gone through all of this back then?” Emily asked Elizabeth. “Didn’t Garcia or Taggert ask these questions back then?”

“They did. And honestly, Lucky, I don’t know. I mean…after my attack, you know better than anyone I suspected everyone. And I had regulars at Kelly’s.” She bit her lips. “Ruby’s gone now, but maybe Bobbie knows if she kept track of that stuff. Maybe there’s somewhere she wrote that stuff down. That’d be the best bet. I mean, outside of you guys, your families, and school, I spent most of my time here before the attack.”

“I’ll ask my aunt. That’s a good idea—I don’t know if we kept records, but Kelly’s has the rooms. Tax records would tell us who rented them out. It’s something to start with. Do you remember any security guards or—” he hesitated. “Cops?”

“Cops?” Emily repeated.

“More likely to be a security guard,” Lucky said quickly. “It’s—because of the handcuffs, I mean. Remember all the security guards patrolling the movie theaters and the street around it?”

“I guess.” Elizabeth bit her lip, tried to remember that. “No one sticks out. I mean, everyone came into Kelly’s, Lucky. Taggert, Garcia, Mac. Capelli. And a bunch whose name I never knew. We’re on the waterfront, and Sonny sometimes had private security guards outside of the regular guards. For the warehouses. Maybe I can ask Jason if there’s a list of companies.”

“That’d be helpful.” Lucky shook his head. “I’m sorry, guys. I didn’t mean to do this tonight—”

“Hey.” Elizabeth reached across the table, took his hand in hers. “Don’t ever apologize to me for trying to get me justice. You always listened when no one else could. Or would. I’m glad you’re on this, Lucky. I want you to fight for Brooke, for the others, the way you always fought for me. They deserve someone like you on their side.”

“Nikolas and I will try to remember if we came across anyone,” Emily told Lucky. “ELQ hired security companies and I’m sure Stefan did back then, right?”

“Right. We’ve all had waterfront interests,” Nikolas said. “I think Uncle often outsourced security. I’ll get you those records.”

“Thanks. About Friday—” Lucky looked at Elizabeth. “I’d like to be there. Because I want to show support, but—”

“I’ll be putting myself in the papers,” Elizabeth said softly. “And you’ll want to see who shows up. Ned is going to announce my name to the media he invited tomorrow. If you’re right, and it’s about the papers—”

“Shit, maybe he works for the tabloids or something.” Lucky dragged a hand through his hair. “It’s something else to think about.”

“Next time we get together,” Emily said as they started to clean up their desserts, “we’re only talking about unicorns and kittens.”

October 21, 2019

Your Update Link: Mad World, Chapter 43

This was one tough weekend. I installed an update early Sunday morning without doing a system restore point (NEVER AGAIN) and my computer crashed so hard I needed to do a factory reset. It then took the rest of the day to get my Dropbox files to sync to the new installation. I didn’t lose any writing — I generally don’t save any files on local machines because I used to use two laptops — one at home and one at work — so no worries there.  It looks like the only thing I lost was all my Sims 4 game saves which annoys me to no end.

In other news, I may need to be making some updates in my Production Schedule soon. I’ve been working hard on Fool Me Twice, but despite writing more than 6000 words last week, something just didn’t feel right. I realized I had left out important characters (Ava) and that I hadn’t paced the book quite right. I also didn’t have the right starting point. I can still use the majority of the 50k I’ve already written, but I need to reset and write a new first half.

NaNoWriMo 2019 is starting on November 1, and I’d already decided to start For the Broken Girl for this project. I’m not changing my mind on that. I’ve been struggling with FMT for the better part of three months and once I get the new outline in place, it’ll be good for me to take a break, dig into a less complicated project for a while, then get back to FMT.

What is probably going to happen is you’re still going to get a book in February — it just might be Broken Girl and not FMT. I figure you guys won’t complain too much. As long as I publish something on schedule, you probably don’t care which one you get. I hope so anyway.  See you guys on Thursday!

This entry is part 24 of 31 in the series All of Me

Underdog, just look at the mess you’ve made
It’s such a shame, a shame
We had to find out this way
Revenge loves company, three makes it a crowd
So wash your mouth, sit this one out
Underdog, You Me At Six


Monday, September 15, 2003

PCPD: Squad Room

Lucky stepped quickly to one side as Vinnie Esposito stormed out of the squad room, letting the heavy doors slam against the wall in his haste. Lucky pressed his lips together, shook his head, then continued towards Taggert’s desk where the lieutenant was hunched over a pile of paperwork, irritation etched into his features.

“What’s wrong with Vinnie?” Lucky asked, taking a seat next to the desk.

“Floyd has filed an official complaint against him,” Taggert muttered. “Dereliction of duty in not making the link between our seven cases.” He scowled, slammed a folder shut. “He’s making Vinnie the scapegoat. He wasn’t even the investigating officer on the first three cases.”

“Then—”

“He was a patrol officer assigned to the Major Crimes unit back then. Floyd’s argument is that if Vinnie was any good at his job, he should have seen the connection.” He looked at Lucky. “He’s not wrong. I know what you’re thinking.”

Lucky shifted uncomfortably. It was one thing to condemn Vinnie in the back room at Luke’s with his friends and girlfriend, but Taggert was their commanding officer. “I mean, the cases weren’t on the computer and as a patrol officer, no, we don’t really get to see a lot of the cases the investigating officers do. If they don’t bring us in—” He hesitated. “He wasn’t assigned to Elizabeth’s case. I—I don’t remember him being there when we came in—”

“Not the Webber case, no. Garcia handled that personally, then I took it over. There wasn’t a lot of leg work to do on the case.” Taggert grimaced. “But Vinnie was the first officer on scene for both Lopez and Logan. But then he moved, and both cases were cold for almost three years. I don’t know. Another cop might have seen it—”

“I’m not defending him,” Lucky said. “But even if he had linked the cases, what good would it have done? You saw what Floyd did when you did link them.” He shook his head. “He treated the victims like crap, and that sucks. Because it meant they weren’t eager to cooperate. But at the end of the day, if their statements had been better, if he had linked the cases—it still would have landed on Floyd and Mac.”

“Yeah.” He eyed Lucky. “Kelsey left me a message. Said you had something you wanted to run by me.” When Lucky scowled, Taggert grinned slightly. “She said she thought you might not be comfortable bringing it up yourself and wanted to make sure you did.”

Lucky would have to talk to her about that, but he didn’t have a lot of choice now.  “Yeah, we—Dante, Cruz, me, and Kelsey—we were going over the victim statements.” He swallowed hard. “And I was thinking about Elizabeth’s.”

“Listen—I know that must have been hard for you read,” Taggert began but Lucky shook his head.

“It’s not—I can’t change anything. I can’t make myself get to the park faster or not—I can’t change it,” he repeated. “But the thing about the handcuffs…Elizabeth never remembered that while we were investigating ourselves. She remembered the soap, remembered the words, but not the handcuffs or the hair. So, I never knew any of that.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “The other victims — they’re all pretty clear on how it happened. They got grabbed, they got thrown to the ground, punched in the face, then flipped and handcuffed. It was a routine for him by the time—” Lucky’s stomach rolled. “By the time he got to Wendy Morris and Brooke Ashton.”

“But not with Elizabeth.” Taggert pulled out her case file, pulled out her statement. “He threw her to the ground, slapped her, took off her coat. Elizabeth was probably fighting him, he took her hands—but yeah, I see it now. Handcuffing wasn’t his first move. So that’s something he realized would work after that attack.”

“Which, one, makes it more likely she’s the first victim,” Lucky told him, “and two—”

“Why did he have handcuffs?” Taggert finished. He exhaled slowly. “You don’t think—”

“I’m not saying it was a cop,” Lucky said with a shake of his head. “I’m just…I’m remembering that the businesses around the park were dealing with a bunch of thefts and burglaries. A bunch of places hired private security—”

“Who might have had handcuffs.” Taggert sat back in his chair. “I remember that. A bunch of teenagers breaking into places, vandalizing. We never caught them, but they hired a bunch of their own guys. We could only spare officers for Central Avenue—” He nodded. “It’s a hunch, but I think you might be right. I think the handcuffs were a spur of the moment thing. But why don’t you think it was a cop?”

“’I—” Lucky pressed his lips together. “I guess there’s no reason it can’t be. I just don’t want it to be.”

“Fair enough. But we can’t rule it out. So why don’t you, Dante, and Cruz tackle the security firms. Get a list of the companies used. Run down their employees. I’ll look at the other angle.”

“I could—”

“I can do it more quietly than you can,” Taggert said as they both stood up. “I doubt that’s what we’re looking at, but I’m not ruling it out either.”

Lucky managed a tight smile as he left Taggert’s desk and went to the desk he, Dante, and Cruz shared. He dialed into his voice messages and was surprised when he picked up one from Elizabeth, asking him to lunch that day at Kelly’s.

He thought about ducking, not sure he was ready to face her after reading the details of her statement, but instead, he picked up the phone to accept.

Quartermaine Estate: Family Room

It took two more days before Ned had the energy to take on his family and tell Edward Quartermaine exactly what their pressure on Garrett Floyd five years earlier had ultimately cost this family.

He found his grandfather lingering over his coffee at the breakfast table with Monica as she read the newspaper. Edward looked up at his entrance, furrowing his brow. “Ned. This is a surprise. I thought you’d be locked up with Jax and Alexis preparing for the debate next week.”

“I’m not worried about the debate,” Ned said as he joined them at the table. “Good morning, Monica.”

“Ned.” She tilted her head. “What’s wrong?”

“I had a source leak some information he thought might be useful against Floyd.” Ned picked up a silver spoon, twirled it in his fingers. “You remember Tom Baker?”

“The lunatic that went after Emily and her friends?” Edward set his coffee down. “I know he’s up for parole in December. I already made calls to scuttle that. He’ll serve the full fifteen years if I have anything to say about it. It’s the least I can do for poor Elizabeth Webber—” He frowned. “How does Baker help you with the election?”

“You had me call Floyd back then,” Ned reminded him. He looked at Monica. “The case was airtight, and we wanted him to go away for good. Twenty-five years before parole was even an option. There was a chance he might try to squiggle around the kidnapping charges, and we didn’t want that.”

“I remember,” Monica murmured. “Emily was adamant that he go to trial. She wanted to face him the way Elizabeth had. But…”

“I told Floyd to get it done. Whatever he had to do.” Ned took a deep breath. “We never knew about the charges of rape. Emily didn’t tell us. At least not me or Grandfather.”

“No, she told me,” Monica said as her hand fisted next to her plate. “She told me, and I think she might have told Jason. What does—”

“What did he do?” Edward demanded.

“About a month after the kidnapping, Taggert told Elizabeth that the case was being ruled inactive. That the rape kit had come back negative. There wasn’t enough evidence against Baker, so they were going after him on the kidnapping. She was upset at the trial—”

“And we called back.” His grandfather suddenly looked very old. “But Mac told us there wasn’t enough evidence. Ned, what did Floyd do?”

“They never ran the rape kit, did they?” Monica murmured. “I remember Emily talking about it when the story hit the newspapers—about not running the kits until there was a suspect. She said that’s what happened to Elizabeth. But I know that lab work can take up to six weeks, if not longer. If Taggert knew a month after the kidnapping—that’s barely enough time—”

“The PCPD never investigated Elizabeth’s accusation against Baker at all?” Edward roared as he got to his feet. “I demanded they get her justice—I—” He looked at Monica, almost helplessly. “I never—Steve and Audrey’s granddaughter—”

“We leaned on him to make sure Emily’s case stayed on his radar. I never thought he’d throw away another case to get it done. And when the Baker case had the mistrial, he probably forced Dara Jensen to make a deal. To make it go away.”

“I can see how this might damage Floyd’s credibility,” Monica said slowly, “but—” And then Ned saw the news hit her. Sink in. She closed her eyes. “Oh my God.”

“What?” Edward demanded. “What—” He looked to Ned. “He never ran the rape kit. He closed her case—but Baker confessed—” He sank back into his chair. “Didn’t he?”

“The running theory is that Elizabeth gave him an opening and he lied to her to control her. To scare her. But no. Her kit was run this summer as part of the investigation. And she is now the earliest known victim of the same man who killed my daughter.”

Monica stifled a sob, her hands over her mouth as tears slid down her cheeks. “No, no. No. Not the same man. Not the same. All this time—”

“How many women?” Edward asked, more quietly now. “How many women in total?”

“That we know about? Seven, including Elizabeth and Brooke. They’re the first and last known victims. But there’s a two-year gap. He could have moved around. He could have killed the other victims. We might never know how many there are.” Ned absently rubbed his chest. “The pressure we put on Floyd five years ago…we can directly link it to this summer and my daughter’s death.”

“We couldn’t have—” Edward gestured helplessly. “We couldn’t have known. I tried to get her—” He looked at Monica. “I tried to get her justice, Monica. For her and for Emily. I tried.  I only wanted that man to pay.”

“And the best I can say about everyone involved is we all thought Baker was guilty. He’d confessed, hadn’t he? Mac and Taggert believed him.” Ned shook his head. “But we were wrong. And we would have known that if Mac had run the kit.”

“This—this isn’t like him. Floyd must have something on him—threatened his job. Mac has a family—he was putting Robin through college. He had Felicia’s girls—” Monica took a deep breath. “But he should have said something.”

“Does Elizabeth know what happened?” Edward asked, looked at his grandson. “Does Jason? Or Emily?”

“I don’t know about Emily, but I went to Jason and Elizabeth on Saturday. After everything the media put my daughter through a few months ago, I would have—I never would have said a word without her blessing.”

“I have to talk to her. To see them.” Edward looked at Monica. “I have to make sure she knows I never meant—”

“She knows, Grandfather,” Ned said, reaching over to touch his forearm. “I promise that. But I’m sure she wouldn’t mind hearing it from you directly.”

“Did she give permission to go public?” Monica asked, leaning forward.

“She’s thinking it over,” Ned admitted. “She wants it out there, she’s just not sure how involved she wants to be. There—” He looked at Monica who briefly nodded. “She’s still recovering from her embolism this summer. So, she’s considering her options. There’s more, Grandfather. But it’s separate from Elizabeth’s case. My source—he suspects that there were two leaks after Brooke’s attack.”

“I thought the same,” his grandfather admitted. “The first round was just the attacks—the ones from this year, but then a few hours later, Brooke’s name was in the tabloids.”

“Sc—my source thinks the first leak was from inside the department—someone angry at the inaction, at the lack of public warning. And he thinks that as soon as the first wave of calls came in, Floyd leaked Brooke’s name to turn some of the spotlight off him.”

“That son of a bitch,” Edward breathed. “He won’t live until the election. Mark my words. I will—” He scowled. “Can we prove it? Because I will—”

“Not yet,” Ned told him. “But I will. Because once we go public with this, he’ll need a miracle to win this election.”

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Elizabeth set her bag on the table and took a seat across from Lucky. “Thanks for meeting with me.”

“Of course.” He shifted in his chair. “I’m sorry. I meant to call you a few times over the last few months, but I just—after Brooke and everything else.” He looked away.

Lucas Jones came over to take their order, but she only asked for a water while Lucky asked for his usual lunch special. “I guess you heard I gave a statement.”

“I’m on the case, so I read it.” Lucky stared down at the table. “I—I guess a lot of it came back after all.” He looked up at her. “I know it’s not my fault, but I just—”

“When I think of what I know now the other women went through—most of them ended up in the hospital.” Elizabeth sighed, folded her arms on the table. “I think maybe he would have raped me again or beaten me. Either way, you’re the reason the attack ended. So, thank you for looking for me that night. If you hadn’t found me, if I hadn’t had you, your father, or Bobbie, I don’t know if I could have kept myself together.”

“Elizabeth—”

“Taggert wouldn’t tell me how long my case had been open again—and he certainly refused to tell me anything about why my negative rape kit suddenly cleared Baker.” Elizabeth stared at him. “So, what I want to know, Lucky, is how long did you know that the mayor and Mac covered my case up and made me disappear?”

Before he could answer, Lucas returned with their drink orders, then disappeared, giving Lucky a minute to gather his thoughts.

“How long have I known for sure?” Lucky asked. “I still don’t. The official department stance is there was a clerical error. But I suspected it when we first got sent down to cold storage. Just after Brooke died. We found the later two cases—but not yours. I knew something was wrong, so we went over to the closed storage. I thought—honestly, I wanted to believe it was a mistake. Your case wasn’t technically solved, but we all thought the guy responsible was away.”

“So, it’s been two months of the PCPD trying to cover their asses. Again.” Elizabeth pursed her lips. Nodded. “I get that we’re never going to be close again, Lucky, but I would have thought after everything we’ve been through, I merited a little more loyalty than some job you just started—”

“I wanted to tell you,” Lucky hissed. He grimaced. “I wanted to. But what could I say? Your case got royally fucked up either through outright corruption or just plain negligence? You were barely out of the hospital, and I knew you were recovering. I didn’t even know if we’d be able to open your case officially. If we’d get enough evidence. I watched you put yourself back together, Elizabeth. There was no way in hell I was going to rip your life apart over a maybe.”

“I guess you’re right,” Elizabeth said finally. “What good would it have done for me to know my case was reopened if my kit did actually come back negative this time.” She rubbed her head. “And it’s not like the PCPD knew that Baker had sent me that letter. Jason and I didn’t come forward about that, either. He left a message on the hotline, he told me later, but we all could have been more up front.”

“I’m sorry, Elizabeth.” Lucky shook his head. “How did you find out about Floyd and Mac? Kelsey and I thought—we theorized, but you’re saying it like it’s a fact.”

“Someone in the position to know told Ned Ashton who has reasons for knowing it’s true,” Elizabeth told him. “But that stays between us, do you understand? Because I haven’t decided what I’m going to do about it, and Ned deserves the chance to make Floyd’s life a living hell.”

“I agree.” Lucky leaned forward, lowering his voice slightly. “But Ned knows. Good. I hope whoever told him got all the details right so he can win in November. What does he want to do with it?”

“He’s not sure either. He doesn’t want to inflict any more stress on me after what Brooke went through when her name got leaked.” Elizabeth pursed her lips and looked away, through the window of Kelly’s. “I could let Ned issue a statement. Refuse comment. I could do the least. I deserve to put this behind me. This doesn’t have to be my fight. And I’ve spent a lot of time fighting other people’s wars. I’ve put my life on the line too many times.”

Knowing what she went through because of the Cassadines, because of Ric Lansing, Lucky nodded. “Yeah. I know.”

“But I also remember that night—you didn’t have to make me your fight either.” Elizabeth focused on him. “You could have taken me to the hospital. Called the cops. But you didn’t. You listened to me, you got me help I could live with. And Bobbie was a godsend. But you didn’t have to keep worrying about me.”

“How could I have looked away—”

“Because that’s not who your mother raised you to be,” Elizabeth gently. “And that’s maybe why you’ll make a good cop. I never would have picked this for you, but I hope it makes you happy. Because the girl who crawled out the snow? She never would have picked herself up if you hadn’t been there to hold out a hand.”

“Maybe,” Lucky allowed. “But I know you, Elizabeth. Lizzie,” he teased as she laughed. “The girl I knew before that night—little annoying Lizzie Webber? She got scared. But she wouldn’t have stayed scared for long. I was there to hold out a hand, but the girl I fell in love with? She would have clawed her way back to the surface eventually.”

Elizabeth smiled, nodding. “Yeah. Maybe she would have. You know, I blamed Lizzie a lot for that night. I always tell myself not to listen to the Lizzie voice. It always got me in trouble. She made my life a living hell a lot of the time. But I am Lizzie. That’s just the voice reminding me that it’s okay to step out and take a chance. This whole thing—this investigation? It doesn’t have to be my fight. But I’m going to make it mine. Because Brooke isn’t here anymore. And there are so many other women—even men—so many people who get sexually assaulted, raped, beaten—they get thrown away. And honestly? There aren’t enough people picking the fight.”

Baldwin Home: Living Room

Bobbie gingerly set her purse down on Scott’s coffee table and eyed him as he took a seat across from her. “Are you sure this is okay? Serena won’t be coming home? This might take a while—”

“She’s on a trip with Lucy and Kevin looking at colleges.” Scott rolled his shoulders. “I wanted to go, but I think I need to be in town this week. I think some shit is going to hit the fan in the park rapist case, and well, Serena isn’t going to listen to me about anything anyway.”

“Teenagers rarely do.” Bobbie folded her hands in her lap. “You said you were able to avoid turning over any evidence of Sonny’s breakdown.”

“Yeah, I got a lucky break. A judge quashed the subpoena.” Scott leaned back, stretching his arm across the back of the sofa. “Is that what you were worried about?”

“Yes. No.” Bobbie hesitated. “You probably know Carly is staying with me right now.”

“I did. She called me in case I needed to get in touch about the case.” Scott shook his head. “I’m sorry she’s having trouble with Sonny, but I’m not sorry she’s thinking about walking away.”

“The thing is—” she bit her lip. “She’ll be angry that I’m here, and I’m prepared for that. Because I think—I think I need to force his hand. She left because he’s—he’s not well. I mean, that’s not why she left. But it’s part of everything.”

Scott frowned at her. “Bobbie, I told you, Sonny’s mental health isn’t going to be part of the case—”

“But maybe it should be,” she argued. “I don’t know—I don’t know. Maybe what’s wrong with him is genetic. Maybe it explains Ric. But I just—he fell apart after Carly got kidnapped. Courtney called the PCPD, they were searching the penthouse, and Sonny—I’m not sure exactly when it started but by that Friday—the day before we found Carly, he’d lost it.”

“Lost it,” Scott repeated. “Bobbie—”

“Jason and I were going over what we knew at his place. We were both desperate, at the end of our rope, you know? And Courtney rushed in because Sonny was having hallucinations. He thought he saw Lily. He thought Lily was in the room with him, blaming him for her death, for what happened to Carly—”

“He hallucinated his dead wife.” Scott exhaled slowly. “You said you didn’t know when it started?”

“Jason said the last time he’d talked to Sonny was Tuesday—that by then, Sonny was already not taking visitors. Not dealing with business. He was drinking heavily. He was already fraying at the edges. And Jason—he was under a lot of pressure with looking for Carly and worrying about Elizabeth. When Sonny had his hallucinations—I saw them, Scott. I saw him talking to Lily. Telling me what Lily was saying.  We had to sedate him.”

She pressed her lips together. “I don’t know if you can even do anything, but I can’t sit idly by, knowing my daughter, my grandchildren—that they’re in a home with a mentally ill man who knows he has these breakdowns and refuses to get help.”

Scott rubbed his hands over his face. “Bobbie. C’mon. You know what Sonny would think if he knew you were telling me this—what your daughter would think—”

“They’ll be angry with me. Sonny might never forgive me,” Bobbie admitted. “But I can live with that. Because I can’t lose another daughter, Scott. You know what I’m talking about. If not for Jason, I don’t know what would have happened to Carly this summer. Elizabeth would probably be dead. Sonny was useless.”

“And it’s not like the PCPD was making any headway,” Scott muttered. “Yeah, okay. I don’t—there’s no way this is relevant to the Lansing case. At least not now. And I’m under no obligation to tell him anything now that the judge said go to hell. But I get it, Bobbie. You see your daughter in trouble and you’re desperate to help her.”

Grief lined his face as he sat back. “You know, Karen got her life together. She moved on. She lived, she loved, and then she died. In a senseless car accident.” He shook his head. “But I’ve never forgiven Sonny Corinthos for what he did to her.”

“I know.”

“I don’t know if I can help you with this, Bobbie. Not legally. But if you need me—” he leaned forward again, his voice intent. “I will be here for you. Whatever you need. In fact, because you deserve to know—there’s something you ought to know. Elizabeth might have already told you, but—”

He told her about Floyd and Mac covering up Elizabeth’s rape case and making it go away, and the pressure they’d been under from the Quartermaines. Bobbie exhaled slowly after he’d finished.

“Lucky has suspected for a while,” she admitted. “He told me a few days ago what he thought happened.”

“Yeah, well, that’s what I meant about the rape case coming to a head because I—I told Ned Ashton. And he’s getting together with Elizabeth to figure out exactly how to go public with it all.”

Bobbie lifted a brow. “Really? I—I wouldn’t have thought—”

“After everything he’s been through because of this town—I’m a father, too. I couldn’t let it happen again. I couldn’t let it keep happening. And I feel like hell about what happened to Elizabeth.”  He shook his head. “Elizabeth didn’t deserve what happened to her.  All of those women deserved better from us. The least I could do was make sure Garrett Floyd is never in a position to hurt anyone else.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason placed the phone back on the receiver as he shook his head and looked over at Elizabeth sitting on the sofa, studying a cookbook like there was going to be a test. “Monica’s here. With Edward.”

Elizabeth blinked up at him, her brow furrowing. “I guess the trend of unexpected visitors continues.” She closed the book and set it on the coffee table. “But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Ned said he’d talk to him this week.”

“Yeah.” He shook his head, still not wild that all of this was happening at a time when Elizabeth needed to be concentrating on herself, putting her health first. But she’d allowed him to take her pulse every time he’d asked, and her blood pressure had remained stable.

She was stronger than she looked, and he guessed he’d eventually be able to let go of the gnawing fear that if he took his eyes off her for a single second—He’d left her alone in that house, and he’d returned to find her nearly dead. It was probably going to take a while to forget it.

It was probably the first time Edward Quartermaine had been inside this penthouse since Jason had moved in, and part of Jason wasn’t entirely comfortable letting him in at all. If Monica wasn’t with him—

“Thank you for seeing us,” Monica said as Jason closed the door behind them. She looked at him sadly before looking at Elizabeth who had gotten to her feet. “I’m sorry it’s late, but Edward waited for me to be done at the hospital.”

“I—” Edward just looked at Elizabeth and shook his head. “Ned told us today—and I just—” He shook his head again. “I have nothing to say. I thought—this is my fault.”

“No,” Elizabeth said quickly. She touched Edward’s elbow. “Of course it’s not. I told Ned that as well. I knew how upset your family was after what happened in the studio.  I’m not at all surprised you made phone calls to make sure no one got away with what happened.”

“I just—I didn’t know.” Edward allowed Elizabeth to lead him to the sofa. “After—when I did know, I tried to make them investigate—”

“Ned told us,” Jason said, roughly, visibly affected by the old man’s anguish. “Mac gave you the same lie he gave to Elizabeth. They buried her case because they thought Baker was guilty.”

“But if they’d run the kit,” Monica said tightly, shaking her head. “If they’d run all of those poor women’s kits, Brooke—”

“I’ll never be able to forgive myself,” Edward murmured. “All my life I’ve used my name to push what I wanted, what I thought my family needed—”

“They were never going to investigate Baker,” Elizabeth told Edward gently. She took his hand in hers. “Because they still could have run my kit. The day he was arrested, they knew he was a suspect. When did you call? When did Ned contact Floyd?”

“Almost a week later—” Edward nodded. “I see what you mean.”

“They knew Baker was going down for the kidnapping. They thought the case was airtight. Why go to the trouble of investigating my case, spending time and money when they didn’t need the charges? They put my case with the solved ones, not to bury it, Edward, but because that’s what they thought. My case wasn’t legally over, but it never would have come off that shelf.”

And this gave her some sense of peace. Nothing she’d done could have changed what happened. If she’d reported right away, if she’d had a rape kit done that night instead a few days later—none of that would have changed the fact the PCPD was always going to take the easy way out.

“You deserved better than that. Brooke deserved better.” Edward got to his feet, looked at Jason. “This is what drove you away. The way I used the Quartermaine name to control the family.”

Jason shifted his eyes away, didn’t know how to answer that. “Part of the reason,” he finally said. “But I agree with Elizabeth. Based on the timing, I don’t think they were ever going to look into Baker. Your call just gave them the excuse they needed. Mac had already made the decision even if he didn’t know it yet.”

“Ned said you were thinking about how involved you wanted to be in all of this,” Monica said, looking at Elizabeth.

“I wasn’t sure,” Elizabeth admitted. She looked at Edward and bit her lip. “It turns out I’m pregnant and I’ve been ordered to avoid stress.”

Edward’s eyes lit up with pure joy, and she was relieved the news had been enough to shake him out of his doldrums a bit. “Really?”

“Thanks to Enduro condoms,” Monica said, sweetly. Edward shot her a glare, then returned his attention to Elizabeth.

“That’s wonderful news, my dear. And if I could share it with Lila—” When Elizabeth grinned, Edward wagged a finger at her. “Oh, I see. She already knows. Am I the last?”

“Very nearly,” Jason muttered.

But Edward ignored him. “This is very good news,” he repeated. “And you shouldn’t do anything that puts this sweet baby at risk.”

“I won’t. I’m following the doctor’s orders to the letter. Jason takes my blood pressure in the morning and at night. And I let him check my pulse every time he asks.”

Monica smirked. “Every hour on the hour?” she asked her son.

“No,” Jason said. He looked away. “Every other hour.”  She patted his arm.

“And my health—my baby—that is my first priority. But I can’t ignore—I can’t ignore that for years, no one has taken these cases seriously. And Brooke’s last—I was her last call. I was the last person to hear her voice.” Her voice broke suddenly, and she squeezed her eyes shut, took a deep breath. “She’s not here, so someone needs to stand up for her. This happened to me. I’m the one they threw away. I’m the one they sacrificed. So—”

She looked at Jason, then back at Edward. “Call Ned. We’ll do this right. I want to hold a hold a press conference where I tell everyone exactly what the PCPD did to me and what ended up happening to all the women who came after. I’m not that weak little girl anymore, and it’s time to make people pay for throwing us all away.”

October 17, 2019

Your Update link: Mad World – Chapter 42

I put a content warning on this one because Elizabeth gives her statement to the PCPD and goes into some detail. You could probably skip the middle parts and be okay.

I keep saying it, but I’m looking forward to having the last of these chapters get posted. This was some of the best stuff in the story, for me, if you’re here for Elizabeth’s journey. (I imagine most of you are, lol). Particularly Chapter 45. I wrote and plotted some of this stuff before #MeToo hit mainstream, but revised and pushed some of the themes harder because of what’s happening around the world. The rape case definitely drew some inspiration from real world.

In other news, I made a lot of progress this week in Fool Me Twice. I’m nearly done Chapter 10 and I’ve been hitting my daily goals so I’m still on track to finish October 31. I’m going to attempt For the Broken Girl for NaNoWriMo this year. Usually my efforts in November are crappy at best — but in past years I’ve been juggling grad school and a second job. None of those things are true this year. I’m having my wisdom teeth out Nov 8, but I’m hoping to get off to a decent start in case I have to take those days off. (Let’s face it, I probably will.)

Hope you enjoy the chapter! See you guys Monday!