November 28, 2020

Hey — no surprises here I’m sure! Flash Fiction is officially on hiatus while I finish Fool Me Twice’s first draft. I made great progress last week, and then did my usual mid-draft reset where I took a look at what was left and reworked based on what I’ve rewritten and what I want to see happen. I ended up adding two extra chapters, LOL, so we’re at 34 and not 32. I’ve written eighteen chapters, so I still need to write 16. That puts me at roughly around December 11 to finish up, which isn’t terrible considering I got a new job, I was put on quarantine and just the general anxiety, LOL.

I’ll be back with Flash Fiction towards the end of 2020!

November 20, 2020

Your Update Link: A Shot in the Dark – Part 12

It has been a crazy week, honestly, and I don’t know that it’s going to get any better. Let’s catch up 🙂 So – one, I tested negative. Super good news there. I kind of thought I would, but I was still a  bit nervous. I’m still on quarantine to be safe, but that’ll be over on Tuesday.

You guys know it’s been getting crazy here in NJ — today, my school district opted to go to 100% remote through learning through January 8. This is, honestly, a huge relief for all of us. We had another positive case late Tuesday night, and last minute remote learning for two days for just my school was crazy for parents and students, as well as teachers. I’m glad that my district is just making a sweeping decision — we are out and not even going to reassess until the new year. It gives all of us some certainty in a crazy time. ALSO! Teachers, right now, have the option of working from home which means I can continue isolating like I did last year which really does improve my own stress levels.

The other thing is that I got handed a class to cover for a few weeks and there was, uh, no lesson plans set up. I had to scramble to put together some science lessons. With parent/teacher conferences, I couldn’t write last night. But I’ve got the new science stuff mostly under control, so hopefully I’ll be back on track. I did write another chapter of Fool Me Twice this week, and I’m going to try to write two more this weekend.

This weird writing Flash Fiction whenever I want is gonna continue probably until FMT’s first draft is done, and then I’ll pause them to reassess. It’s 2020, y’all, we’re just trying to get to January.

This entry is part 12 of 18 in the series Flash Fiction: Shot in the Dark

Written in 20 minutes. It might be terrible. Who knows.


“Shouldn’t we go back to the flat?” Patrick asked as Anna docked the boat, and Robert and Jason began lifting Elizabeth carefully to avoid jarring her. “We have to rethink—”

“No, Laura, Sonny, and Spinelli are already at the airport, and the flat may be compromised.” Anna turned to her son-in-law. “We have everything need on the plane and in our kits.”

“Even for an emergency transfusion?” Patrick demanded. “Damn it—and where hell is Luke and Lucky? I need someone to punch—”

“And mess with those hands?” Robin asked as he offered a hand for her to climb from the boat to the dock. “We’re gonna need them.”

Patrick looked at his wife—his miraculous wife who was standing in front of him as if the nightmare of the last year hadn’t happened—and swallowed hard. “She didn’t even get the chance to see Jake. Not really.”

“What happened to the man that did brain surgery by flash light?” Robin’s teasing tone fell short as she climbed into the van, looking away from Jason, cradling Elizabeth in the back seat. “Patrick—”

“I never should have let her come,” Patrick muttered. “We should have locked her up.” He took a deep breath. “But she’s like Cam and would have found a way to come anyway. Emma helped tie up your cousin, by the way.”

“Which knots did she use?” Robin asked.

The airport on Mykonos was still within sighting distance of Cassadine Island and Laura found herself watching the land, waiting for something.

“I thought you said the guards were coming to the marina,” she said to Spinelli as the tech scowled at his computer screens. “How much time do we have to get in the air?”

“I don’t know. I can’t track the boats, and I can’t—” Spinelli hissed as one of his screens went dark. “Damn it—” He turned as Sonny emerged from the bathroom, Jake still in his arms. Laura’s face softened.

“Jake. I didn’t get a chance to even look at you,” she murmured. “Thanks, Sonny.”

“You’re my grandma,” Jake said as Sonny set him on the ground. The little boy sniffed and swiped his nose with the back of his hand. “Uncle Nikolas showed me lots of pictures.”

“That’s how you knew your parents,” Sonny said. He exhaled slowly. “He went to Jason and Elizabeth,” he murmured to Spinelli. “If we’d known that, we could have kept Elizabeth home.”

“They’re on their way to the hangar now,” Spinelli said. He hesitated. “But Robert didn’t sound hopeful. It’s bad.” He turned back to Laura and Jake, found it in himself to smile. “But look at Little Stone Cold. He’s here. He’s alive. And he’s okay. That’s something. And they got Doctor Robin, didn’t they? Mission accomplished.”

There was a screech of wheels of the van pulled into the hangar. Laura stepped in front of Jake and Sonny hurried over to her. “We should get him on the plane before—”

“Mommy?” Jake said, his voice worried. “Why is Daddy carrying her? She’s—” He tugged on Laura’s pant leg. “She’s hurt.”

“We need to get her on the plane so we can help her. Sonny—” Laura looked at him. “Take him on the plane. But stay away from the back. That’s where Luke has Lucky locked up.”

“Should toss him out on the way back to New York,” Sonny muttered, but lifted Jake in his arms and strode towards the plane’s steps. Spinelli went after them, still cradling his laptop looking over the security cameras.

Laura blanched as she saw the spread of dried blood on Elizabeth’s midsection as Jason carefully set her in Robert’s arms so he could get out of the van. “Robin—” Laura touched the doctor’s shoulder. “I’m so glad to see you—”

“Me, too. Patrick and I are going to get washed up. We need to be in the air, but I want to get her stabilized so we can—” Robin shook her head and went after her father, Patrick, and Anna, leaving Laura with Jason for the moment.

“She made me promise,” Laura said. “I’m sorry, Jason, she made me promise I’d go as soon as Jake was safe.” She hesitated. “Did you—what happened to Nikolas?”

“I know. It’s—” Jason started to respond, but then the ground beneath them shook, and the sun all but disappeaerd as a cloud of dust, ash, and debris blotted out the early afternoon sky. “What the—”

“The island—” Laura stepped towards it, her eyes huge. “I—” The estate had once been dimly visible, the stone towering over the trees — but now it was covered in smoke and they could see the flames licking out behind the gray.

“We need to get in the air!” Anna called. “Let’s go—”

“But Nikolas—” Laura swallowed hard, nodded. “Let’s—let’s go.”

On board the plane, in the kitchen galley area, Robin paused while scrubbing her hands. She closed her eyes. “He didn’t know if he’d make it off in time.”

“Robin?”

She looked at her husband, her eyes pale and large. “That was the plan. It was always the plan. Nikolas was going to burn the estate to the ground with all of them inside But it wasn’t supposed to happen yet. He must—he must have triggered it. Oh, God. He didn’t make it off the island.”

Grimly, Patrick dried his hands. “Then he sacrificed himself to give us time to get out of here. Let’s go make sure it wasn’t for nothing.”

November 18, 2020

Your Update Link: A King’s Command – Part 11

Hey — not much to say in this update. I’m starting to get a routine back, but I have conferences tomorrow, so I’m not even thinking about it too much to be honest. This has been a weird month — my district just put out the “closing down is imminent so make a plan” and I’m just thinking about my cursed headphones.

Last year, in early March, before the world shut down, I ordered a new set of headphones for my classes for independent work. Delivery was delayed and my kids were very impatient. And then they finally arrived — on March 16, 2020. The day the district shut down. We never went back and headphones sat in my house, brand new and unopened.

This year, I didn’t bring them in right away. I waited — and brought them in on Thursday. Kids loved them, they worked great, and I went home on Thursday to work remotely on Friday, planning to return on Monday because that’s how this works.  Then on Sunday — I got the call that put my into quarantine.

So anyway, my headphones are cursed. See you guys on Friday for more flash fiction!

This entry is part 11 of 27 in the series Flash Fiction: A King's Command

Written in 20 minutes.


It took Elizabeth a beat before she realized that the man who had cried “Witch!” was not precisely pointing at her — but at the woman three feet away from Elizabeth. With a growl, Jason shoved Elizabeth behind him as others in the marketplace fled.

“We’re not going to leave her, are we?” Elizabeth asked, her voice high, nearly shrill. She flinched as two men with the witchfinder seized the older woman who cried out in pain. “Jason—”

Jason hesitated, then met her eyes. “Don’t get separated,” he warned her. “The crowd could turn—”

“But—”

“What’s the charge?” Jason demanded, striding forward, keeping his grasp on Elizabeth’s elbow right.

“Who are you to ask?” the man retorted, his cheeks flushing. He yanked on the woman’s arm. “I am the Witchfinder in this district—”

“There’s no such thing,” Jason said with some disgust. He flicked his eyes to one of the men standing with the so-called Witchfinder. “You. Malcolm Scorpio. I know you.”

“Aye, Laird,” the man grunted. He flicked his eyes to the angry young man. “Peter August, ‘tis Laird Jason Morgan of Braegarie.”

Peter August’s lips thinned as he narrowed his eyes. “Laird Morgan,” he repeated. “You live up in the hills. I don’t expect you to know our customs—”

“My people keep Perth clothed in wool and swimming in whiskey,” Jason retorted. “I know well the customs, and taking up women as witches with no evidence is not one of them. I will ask you one more time. What is the charge?”

“Ava Jerome,” the third man with them said, “has been accused of giving the evil eye to to Eleanor Benson—”

“I never!” the woman screeched. “That filthy—”

“The evil eye,” Jason said. He lifted one brow. “And how will you be proving that?”

“I—” Peter August lifted his chin. “I don’t need to prove it—the claim has been made—”

Jason looked at the other men. “Malcolm, I know you and your brother to be honest and honorable men. You want to see this woman burned at the stake when your so-called witch finder has nothing to say?”

“How exactly did she give Eleanor the evil eye?” Robert asked, narrowing his eyes. “Mac, I thought he had the evidence—”

“He said—” Mac released the woman—Ava—with a dark look. “You said you had proof—”

“My word is enough proof—” Peter sensed the crowd was not turning to Ava — but to him. He swallowed hard. “I am a man. She is an unmarried woman who takes in boarders—she—” He ducked as someone threw a a tomato at him. More fruits and vegetables followed as the young man took off down an alley.

Ava Jerome straightened her her sleeves. “I thank you for your intervention, my laird. How I can I repay you?” she asked Jason with a fluttering of her eyelashes. Elizabeth, who had taken in the scene with wide and worried eyes, narrowed them now as she stepped out from behind her husband.

“Thank my wife,” Jason said, stepping back, gripping Elizabeth’s elbow again.

“Mistress,” Ava murmured.

“Can we go now?” Elizabeth asked, her heart still pounding, one eye on the alley where the witch finder had disappeared.

“Aye, let’s return to the inn.” He turned and steered her back towards the center of town. “I’m sorry,” he said with a sigh. “I had hoped the townspeople were past this, but it can take a few years for the crazy to settle down.”

“It only comes back,” Elizabeth murmured. “Do you—” SHe bit her lip. “Do you believe in witches?”

“No,” Jason said with a shake of his head as they stepped back into the common room of the inn. “And even if I did, the punishment—” He grimaced. “Far outstrips the crime.” Jason frowned, tilting his head. “I know what you saw as a child upset you, but you know I wouldn’t let anything happen to you.”

“I—” Elizabeth glanced out the tavern windows, looking over the high street. “I think I can believe that,” she said slowly, “but—” She stopped, then met his eyes again. “It’s difficult to explain.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Jason said, with an encouraging nod. Could she tell him? Would he think differently of her if he knew? He’d stepped in for a woman he didn’t know. Would he accept her strange ability? Might he even find a value in it?

Still unsure, she opened her mouth to respond, but then the door opened again and Johnny and Francis entered, breaking the moment. Elizabeth pressed her lips together, smiled at Jason, then turned her attention to the warriors —

Missing Jason’s look of concern and worry as she looked away from him.

November 17, 2020

Your Update Link: A Shot in the Dark – Part 11

Thanks for your replies yesterday.  I’m relatively hopeful that I’ll end up testing negative, but it’s been a strange experience. We had a staff meeting by Zoom where our principal was pretty blunt — – it’s looking like a matter of when. We found out exactly what standard the superintendent is working with, and as soon as our region tips into High Risk of community transmission, we’re shutting down. There’s some evidence that’ll be this week so I might not even return from quarantine. I don’t know yet, so we’re just taking it day by day.

I wasn’t able to work on Fool Me Twice just yet — obviously with things up in the air, it’s just hard to get back into a routine on that one. I’m hoping just to win NaNoWriMo and manage 50K this month. Trying to finish the last 19 chapters in the next fourteen days is just not happening. I’m going to revise the production schedule once we get a sense of what’s going on in the district. That’s not me justifying or apologizing for the delay because I think we can all agree that putting out anything is a miracle right now, LOL. That’s just me keeping y’all in the loop.

See you tomorrow with A King’s Command!

This entry is part 11 of 18 in the series Flash Fiction: Shot in the Dark

Written in 20 minutes. No time for spellcheck.


“Get them on the bloody line!” Robert shouted at Anna as he snagged Patrick’s arm to keep the doctor from hurtling off into the trees. “You don’t even know where you’re going!” he barked at his son-in-law.

“Mom, Mom—” Robin focused on Anna’s dark eyes as she pressed her fingers to ear concentrating.

“Spinelli, can you get anything? Where are they?” Anna winced. “Elizabeth’s wound reopened on the way there. She was bleeding too much — Jason had to stop to rewrap and sent Sonny ahead with Jake.”

“All right, all right. Get Robin and Patrick back to the meeting point,” Robert told his ex-wife. “I’ll go after them—”

“Not alone you won’t—” Anna retorted, but then there was a crackling in her ear. “What? Tell me again—”

——

Jason barely had a minute to register the fury and hatred in Stavros Cassadine’s eyes before his head exploded in front of him. The older man dropped to the ground, a gory hole appearing in the side of his head.

“What—”

He felt for his gun—but it was gone—then he turned to Elizabeth who had pushed herself to a sitting position and now held his gun limply in her hands.

“He—” She closed her eyes, her breathing labored as Jason took the gun from her and returned to wrapping the wound. “He wasn’t—looking at—me—”

“That’s a good shot,” Jason managed as he tied the strip of shirt around her waist, knotting it tightly. “When did you learn how to do that?”

“You taught me. Didn’t mean to—” Elizabeth forced her eyes opened, looked at the remains of the Cassadine scion in front of her. “Wasn’t aiming for his head, but maybe…maybe this time he’ll stay dead.”

Jason’s laugh was shaky as he lifted her into his arms, shifting slightly as a crackling came through on his ear piece.

“Jason! What was that? Are you okay?”

“We’re—” Jason’s breath caught as Elizabeth slumped in his arms, her breathing shallow. “We’re heading back to the boat. Elizabeth got Stavros in the head.”

“Elizabeth?” Spinelli repeated.

Jason ignored him, all but running back to the inlet, hoping like hell Sonny and Laura hadn’t listened to him. If the boat was gone—if everyone had stuck to the plan and gotten Jake to safety at the meeting point—

Elizabeth would die on the island and there’d be nothing he could do to stop it.

He burst into the clearing at the edge of the island, searching the area—but the dinghy and boat were gone.

“Spinelli—”

“Hold on, hold on—Robert and Anna are on their way now—Laura—Laura promised Elizabeth.”

Jason gritted his teeth. “Promised her what?”

“As soon as Jake was safe, Laura would get him back to the mainland,” Spinelli’s voice was quiet. “Robert is two minutes out—”

“Damn it—”

Jason laid Elizabeth down on the ground, keeping one eye on the edge of the forest as he pressed his hand into her wound, sweat dribbling down his neck. “Elizabeth—” He tapped her cheek lightly. “Just open your eyes. Stay with me a little longer.”

Her lashes fluttered. “Signed…” She licked her lips. “Told Laura…boys…” Her eyes were a sliver of blue, slightly gazed. Jason pressed a hand to her forehead, hissing at the heat. She was going to end up with an infection. He never should have agreed to let her come—

“Boys…yours,” she slurred. “Promise…”

“Hey—” Jason shook his head. “No. We’re not doing that. Look at me—” He grasped her chin, turned her face towards him. “Just a little longer. We’ll be back on the mainland. Robert and Anna have a first aid kit. They have Patrick—and Robin.”

She smiled, but her eyes drifted closed again. “Should’ve said yes…” she murmured. “Sorry. Scared.”

“Not nearly as scared as I am right now.” Jason grimaced at the blood seeping through the retied shirt. He didn’t have anything else—

Then he heard a boat engine—Jason looked up—saw a dingy being dropped to the water as Patrick and Anna dropped into it. It look almost two more minutes before it was on the shore.

“We can’t stay,” Anna told Jason as Patrick helped Jason lift Elizabeth carefully into the dingy. “Not even to stabilize her. Spinelli said the guards are heading for the marina—”

“Let’s go,” Jason said. His mouth was tight, his lips nearly white as he pressed them together watching as Robert steered the dingy back to the boat and Patrick surveyed Elizabeth’s wound.

“She’s lost a lot of blood,” Patrick muttered, removing Jason’s makeshift bandages. Elizabeth winced. “Hey, Webber. This is not cool. You can’t leave me alone to raise those kids. They almost hijacked a plane.”

“Not alone…Robin…”

“Yeah, we got her—” Patrick didn’t spare a glance for his wife, carefully rewrapping Elizabeth’s wound with a clean bandage. “But those kids outnumber us. You need six kids just to keep Spencer under control. And there’s no telling what Joss adds to the mix.” Elizabeth smiled, but then her head slumped to the side and her eyes closed again.

“Give her here,” Robert said. In less than two more minutes, the boat was speeding back to the mainland, but Elizabeth remained unconsciousness.

“Patrick,” Robin said grimly as she took her husband aside. “How bad is it?”

“It’s—” Patrick took a deep breath. “It’s not good. I hope your surgical skills are still sharp and that your parents know where the hell to get some blood. She needs a transfusion. Fast.”

November 16, 2020

Hey guys! Quick check in to give you an update on my situation. I wrote Flash Fic on Saturday and then a chapter of Fool Me Twice on Sunday, feeling good about things. Just around the time I was going to start prepping for the evening Flash Fic I was hoping to do — my principal called. One of my students tested positive for Covid, and because of the classroom we were in, I was exposed.  I’m on quarantine until next Tuesday.

I’m mostly okay — I mean, no symptoms which is good. My mental health is taking a strange turn because even though my brain is like — we were masked, so odds are in my favor and I’m fine — I also can’t quite turn off the rest of my brain that’s thinking of all the people I came into contact with (which is really just my dad and the guys at the car repair shop and people at school — so not like I was living wild). It’s just a different world than last year when we were all sent home early on and I was able to organize my life to literally stay inside until the worst of that first wave.

On the bright side, I don’t have students to worry about not being in the room with. My principal is supposed to be arranging work for me to do on my quarantine since I’m not available to do the building coverage I was supposed to be doing these next few weeks, but he’s probably a bit distracted by the world. I’m just taking it one day at a time. Tomorrow, I think my brain will be in a better place and I’ll be able to try and use this time more positively. For now, no flash fiction tonight but I will be writing tomorrow.

Take care, stay safe, and wear your masks 🙂

November 14, 2020

Your Update Link: Not Knowing When – Part 9

Hello 🙂 Sorry for disappearing this last week. It was another tough one, to be honest. Some things happening at work — usual job stresses, end of the marking period, final projects — with the rising case numbers and more and more students on quarantine in my district — in my own classes. My county is spiking harder now than it did in April with the first wave. My nieces were almost clear of their quarantine, but my sister’s best friend tested positive and my sister was at her house for a while last weekend.  As I was typing this paragraph, I literally just got a text message from her — she’s negative. I’m so relieved, but it was weighing heavy on me.

I was lucky during the last two waves in NJ — I had already mostly finished Broken Girl by the time we closed down so I just had to edit. That was stressful with everything going on, but it got done eventually. With Mad World, that whole process was a mess, but because I wasn’t at work — I wasn’t feeling the same anxiety. I knew I was safe, I knew my family was safe. But we’re all back to work (at least my nieces and nephew are able to be back at home) and forced to be back in the world full of people who don’t wear their mask and socially distance. It’s just been harder to treat writing like an escape. I can’t really turn my brain off.

Fool Me TwiceI don’t know if Fool Me Twice is going to be done by the end of the month. If I had to venture a guess — I’m likely going to miss that deadline and will need to revise my schedule. That’s okay. Every first draft is different, and it helps to know that the story itself is not the problem. It’s going well — when I can write, I do. And the story works. But I’m trying to work in the middle of a pandemic that’s affecting me. I didn’t have to work in a school in a mask the first time and actively face all the people who just aren’t doing the work of protecting themselves or others.

But — now that I know my sister is negative, it means my nieces will also soon be in the clear, and that’s everything to me. I finished up my cycle with my students and grades are done. It’s just clean up now with last minute work being turned in. For the next few weeks, I don’t have students and will be doing coverage for other teachers who are out. So my life should be less stressful. I mean — the stuff I can control and that is normal.

Anyway — I’m trying to get back on track. I’m updating Flash Fiction now, and I really would like to come back tonight with another short sprint for Signs of Life before updating the other two tomorrow with sprints.  Thanks for your understanding and patience. Stay safe, wear your mask, and take care of yourself and your families.

This entry is part 9 of 13 in the series Flash Fiction: Not Knowing When

Written in 24 minutes. No time for typos of spell check.


Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

“Well, Morgan?” Taggert asked, folding his arms and raising his brows when Jason just stared at Courtney. “She’s waiting for an answer.”

Jason exhaled slowly and ignored the detective because there was no point in giving him any attention. Taggert reminded him of Michael as a toddler — if you looked at him when he was throwing a tantrum, it just encouraged him to keep going.

Instead, he focused on Sonny’s sister and one of the reasons he’d decided to get on a plane and marry Brenda Barrett. “You,” he said, deliberately, “kissed me.”

Courtney narrowed her eyes. “That is—”

“What happened,” Jason finished, bluntly. “I’m sorry if you thought there was something more. There wasn’t. There isn’t.”

“Is this because I’m married?” Courtney demanded. “Because—”

“You know, this is really fun and everything,” Sonny said, throwing Jason a dirty look, “but maybe we get should see what Taggert wants—” He offered his sister another look of his own, and Courtney closed her mout.

“Well, I came to get proof Morgan’s alibi,” Taggert said, with a shrug. “I thought you might want to take care of this without lawyers. You give me the flight records that prove you took off before the gunshots were heard—”

“If you want paperwork, then you tell Baldwin to get a subpoena,” Sonny said, darkly. He stalked over to the desk and grabbed a business card off the desk. He shoved it at Taggert who took it, holding it between his thumb and index finger. “Our new lawyer. Diane Miller. Call her from now on. Don’t come back without a warrant—”

“You sure I can’t stay and watch?” Taggert asked with a smirk as Sonny slammed the door in his face, then turned to his sister and Jason.

“What the hell is going on?” Sonny demanded. “Is this why Elizabeth said the thing about the box cutter?”

“She told you?” Courtney said, her eyes widening. “And you didn’t do anything? Sonny, she threatened me?”

“To cut off your hair with a box cutter. Yeah, I got that. You’d live,” Sonny said, dryly, dismissing her as Courtney sqawked in protest. “Jason—”

“Nothing is going on,” Jason said, gritting his teeth. Hadn’t he just said that? “And you had no right to tell Elizabeth it was—” he said, turning his irritation on the blonde. “What is wrong with you? I didn’t kiss you back. I didn’t call you, and I immediately put another guard on you. How did you not get the point?”

“I thought—” Courtney pursed her lips. “So everything that happened between us meant nothing to you.”

“What else happened?” Sonny demanded.

“Nothing,” Jason repeated. He didn’t often lose his temper, especially with women, but there was something about this whole thing that was really pissing him off. If Courtney hadn’t told Elizabeth anything, she wouldn’t have been upset enough to wander down to the pier. She wouldn’t be in danger or even involved with the PCPD’s case.

“That’s—”

“I’m leaving,” Jason decided. “I have more important things to deal with. I told you, Sonny, I’m done guarding your sister. You deal with this.” Then he left the penthouse, slamming the door behind him.

Sonny looked at his sister, shocked and open-mouthed at Jason’s hasty exit. “Well,” he said, slightly uncomfortable, “I guess you got your answer.”

“But I don’t understand. How did I get it so wrong?” Courtney asked, tears stinging her eyes. “I really thought—”

“This definitely sounds like a conversation I want nothing to do with, so maybe you go home and think about why you’re so angry about Jason not returning your feelings, and leave me out of it,” Sonny suggested. He opened the door. “Here you go.”

“You’re a real bastard,” Courtney snarled as she stormed out.

“I can live with that,” Sonny called after her. Then he closed the door and leaned his head against the door. From now on, he was staying out of everything.

Kelly’s: Kitchen

“I can’t believe Courtney just ditched her shift like this,” Mike muttered as he dumped plates into the sink. “You know, bad enough you did it—”

Elizabeth winced. “Still really sorry—”

“But you’ve worked here forever,” Mike continued. “You’ve built a little credit, you know? She’s been here eight minutes. And she just left? No word on where she was going or why? I can’t just let this go because she’s my daughter—”

“I mean, she didn’t say,” Elizabeth replied, “but I have a pretty good idea she was heading over to see Sonny.”

“I thought she hated Michael,” Mike said, baffled. “Why would she—” He shook his head. “She and I are going to have to talk about this.”

“Well, you have a good time with that,” Elizabeth said, waltzing out of the kitchen and straight into her grandmother.

Audrey Hardy arched a brow. “Mrs. Morgan, I presume,” she said stiffly.

Elizabeth grimaced. “Well, I hadn’t really decided on that,” she muttered, then looked down at the ground. “Gram, I know you’re mad—”

“Mad is hardly the word I would use,” Audrey said slowly. “While I may not approve of the groom, I am very disappointed that you didn’t include me in any of this. I thought we’d come further than this, Elizabeth.”

“Wait, what—” Elizabeth snapped her head up, stared at her grandmother. “You’re…not mad?”

“As long as you assure me that it’s not what Scott told me,” Audrey said, drawing her brows together with worry. “You didn’t marry Jason to protect yourself or him from the PCPD.”

Elizabeth paused, then saw Jason come into Kelly’s behind her grandmother. She waved him over. Hesitantly, Jason approached the two of them.

“Mrs. Hardy,” Jason said with a nod. Elizabeth slid her hand in one of his. “Hello.”

“Jason,” Audrey said, before looking back at her granddaughter. “Elizabeth?”

“I married Jason because I love him,” Elizabeth said. She glanced up at Jason. “And he asked because he loves me.” His lips curved into a hesitant smile before she focused on her grandmother again. “I hope that’s something you can be okay with.”