February 28, 2021

Uh, so I relaxed so well today I forgot about flash fiction. I played The Sims 4 all morning, then took a long bubble bath, read three books, watched the first three Avengers movies, and just like…vegged out on the sofa downstairs. Then I came upstairs to schedule my post for tomorrow’s workday, and realized, oh hey, I’m usually doing something on Sundays.

Very sorry about that, LOL, but hey, that’s a good thing that I figured out how to relax so well that I forgot about anything else I was supposed to plan. I’ll make an attempt to make it up on Wednesday. See you on Tuesday for the next chapter of Fool Me Twice!

February 26, 2021

Update Link: A King’s Command – Part 21

Hey! I’m going to pre-emptively cancel tomorrow’s Flash Fiction update and shift Not Knowing When to double updates in March, instead of doing Saturday updates for a few weeks. This is honestly because I’m still having the issue with my ear. When I’m not teaching, I can keep headphones and listen to music, podcasts, or white noise covers the sound but I have to leave them off so I can remote teach.

The combination of the sound, the uncomfortable chair, and the screens makes me really tired so I’m not editing on week nights right now. I want to keep Saturdays just for editing which would make me too tired for Flash Fiction. Sundays, I generally do errands and don’t spend a ton of time on the computer so evening Flash Fics are fine.

I go back to the doctor around March 23, and I have spring recess Apr2 – 7, so I’m looking forward to some downtime soon.  While remote teaching is exhausting from the screens, I have gotten my course content to a point where it’s on autopilot and I can mostly focus on the students and the day to day stuff. This probably wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the remote teaching. I’m so sick of computer screens, tbh.

This entry is part 21 of 27 in the series Flash Fiction: A King's Command

Written in 61 minutes.


The first messenger from Braegarie reached Jason near the Cameron stronghold as he and his men followed the victorious Cameron clan back to their keep. Jason had already been planning to take Francis and split off from the group to head home, not interested in the revelry ahead of them. The laird of the Camerons understood—he’d once had an infant son at home as well.

Jason had only just taken his leave of the Camerons when the rider from Braegarie galloped through the front gates—

“Jason—the duke—the regent, I mean—” The rider leaned over to catch his breath as Jason’s heart began to pound. At the doorway, the Cameron laird turned back, squinting.

“Did Albany come on the land?”

“Aye—two days ago, there was a royal procession on the borders,” the man told him. “I don’t know what happened—Johnny and your aunt sent me to fetch you. They’ll already be at the keep—”

“What’s this?” Lewis Cameron strode forward, narrowing his aways. “What trouble do you hve with the duke of Albany?”

“I need to go,” Jaosn said, with a shake of his head as he started towards his horse. “Francis, get the men—”

“Jason, if you’ve got problem with the regent, you’ll need more than just your own people,” Lewis barked, stopping Jason in his tracks. Jason turned back to face the older man. “We have little love for the court here in the Highlanders, especially since they spend more time kissing up to the French and English than they do on our people. Are we not allies, my boy?”

“We are.” Jason pressed his lips together, and told himself that Albany would already be at the keep by now. Five minutes to give the man an explanation and hope that Cameron would offer to support him were worth the time. “My wife and I married in Edinburgh at the regent’s command. On our way back to Braegarie, men hired by someone from at the court tried to kidnap Elizabeth and kill me. We think it was Albany for reasons I cannot divulge.”

Lewis considered him with a pinched expression. “And you think he’s come to your keep now with you gone fighting? To what, retrieve your wife?”

“Maybe. I don’t know. I need to return home—”

“And if he’s taken her?” the man asked. “If she’s in Stirling, or worse, back in the court, you think to lay seige to a royal capital to get her back?”

“Of course,” Jason bit out. “I have go to—”

“Aye. Send word if you need help,” Lewis told him. “I may be able to send you some men.”

Which was less than Jason hoped for, but Elizabeth wasn’t a Highland woman with a family connection he could use. All he had were his own, and if the Cameron laird wasn’t giving him his full support, then few other clans would come if he called.

He didn’t care. He’d promised Elizabeth that Albany wouldn’t come near her, and he’d failed.

He turned back to Francis. “Let’s go.”

By the time they reached the borders of the Morgan land, Jason knew that his worst fears had come true. There were men waiting for him, including Gannon, the guard that was supposed to be with Elizabeth with Johnny running the keep in Jason’s absence.

“Where’s my wife?” Jason demanded, as his horse drew alongside Gannon and the others. “Did Albany—”

“He came to the gates and forced his way in. I don’t know what what he said to my lady,” Gannon said, swallowing hard, “but she left with him. Willingly. She left the babe with your aunt.”

Jason exhaled on a sharp breath. “She left Cameron—”

“Of course she did, you eejit,” Francis muttered. “Albany probably threatened to lay seige to the entire keep,” he told Jason.

“I know.” But leaving Cameron behind—he’d half thought to find them both gone. She’d left her son behind.

She didn’t think she was coming back and feared for her safety.

“Let’s go,” Jason said. “I need to know what he said to her.”

His aunt was only too eager to tell him exactly why Elizabeth had chosen to leave, though she didn’t know the content of the conversation.

“Did you make that girl promise that her secret wouldn’t hurt the clan?” Tracy bit out as she shoved the wailing infant into his stunned father’s arms. “Two days. He only stops crying long enough to drink the milk from the wet nurse—”

Jason blinked, then looked down at his squalling son. Cameron hadn’t been separated from his mother more than a handful of hours since his birth. Two days and a new woman feeding him—he swallowed hard. “What’s this about her secret?”

“She knew that bastard would bring his men to the keep and kill anyone inside who stopped him. We might have held them off until you returned,” Tracy said, with a lift of her chin, “but she wasn’t willing to take that risk.”

“She knows you’ll come after her,” Francis assured Jason. “She made the right choice—”

“Did she?” Jason demanded. “She could be anywhere. We don’t even know if he’s taking her straight to Edinburgh or anywhere else—” He took a deep breath. “She’s been gone three days.”

“Stirling is at least nine days away—”

“Only if Albany stops to rest,” Jason reminded them both and Tracy closed her mouth. “He may not. He has to know that I’ll come after her. He’ll want to get her behind the walls of a royal castle—”

“Then Stirling is our best choice. I’ll get the men ready and send riders to call up our allies—” Johnny said.

“They may not come,” Jason said, stopping Johnny in his tracks. The Irishman turned around, confused by that pronouncement.

“Why? They’re our allies—”

“The Cameron suggested that maybe he’d send some men,” Jason muttered. He kissed his son’s head then gave him back to Tracy. “And if Lewis Cameron isn’t behind us, the Frasiers won’t be either.”

Johnny scowled. “You Highlanders are irritating as hell. I’ll make sure they come. They kidnapped your wife, Jason! And threatened to kill your people if she didn’t cooperate! If they can do it to you, why wouldn’t Lewis Cameron be next or James Frasier?”

“Send the riders.” Jason grimaced. “I won’t count on them, and I’m not waiting. I need to get to her before they reach Stirling.”

Elizabeth’s hands were tied to a pommel of a horse and Albany himself rode with her. She finally had a glimpse at how slowly Jason had taken their journey over a year earlier—what had taken them more than a week took Albany and his men only four days.

By the time they reached gates of the castle in Stirling, Elizabeth was exhausted and nearly fell off the horse, her wrists torn and bleeding from the ropes.

The man who dragged her off the horse scowled as she tumbled down to the courtyard. He dragged her up to her feet.

“Take her to the rose quarters,” she could dimly hear the regent bark. She wanted to protest, wanted to dig in her heels—in all the days since she’d left Braegarie, she’d thought of a thousand ways she could have dealt with Albany other than just abandoning her son and home—

But then she’d remember the people of her adopted home and how much they meant to her. Better to sacrifice herself than make them pay for her secrets, for her curse.

The room the soldiers took her to had a bed. SHe was shoved into the room and then the door was locked behind her. Elizabeth stood in the middle of the room, staring blindly at the door for a long moment. It was the first time she’d been alone since they’d taken her.

She sank to the floor, tears spilling down her cheeks. She wanted Jason to come bring her home, but if he tried to get behind the walls of the castle—they might hurt him. Even kill him.

No, better for him, for all of the people she loved, if he just gave up.

Her dreams of another year with him, of another son, of watching her baby grow into a smiling child—

Fantasies. Not visions.

She thought she might have dozed—she didn’t stand up, just rested her head against the foot of the bed and closed her eyes, too tired to even move. Then an arm grabbed her, jerking to her feet—

“What—”

She tried to focus, blinked her weary eyes until she focused on Albany who had one arm tight around her wrist—in agony from the ropes—and his arm clutching that of a small child. The little boy was wailing, calling for his mother.

“I want you to tell me his future,” Albany demanded, thrusting the boy at Elizabeth and releasing her arm. “Now!”

Elizabeth caught him, her breathing harsh as she saw a flash of an older boy being crowned—

This was James V, the boy king of Scotland, who was scarcely four years old and had been ripped away fro his mother.

“Maman!” the boy blubbered. He clutched as Elizabeth’s middle and she instinctively cuddled him closer. Flashes of him, running and playing with his mother mixed with ones of him older, holding his own daughter—then laying in bed—dying as a young man. Her heart weapt for him—what a tragically short life he’d lead—

“Tell me what you see!” Albany ordered. He dragged the king away from her grasp and Elizabeth scowled.

“No! I won’t!”

“You’ll tell me—” He hissed—then shoved the king at one of the soldiers. “Take him out and stop that screaming—”

When the king was gone, Albany turned back to her. “Tell me what you saw and I’ll let you go—”

“I don’t even need to touch you to know you’re lying,” she hissed. “And I will never tell you what I saw.”

He raised his hand, stopping just short of backhanding. “You’ll tell me—”

“Or what? What else can you take from me?” she demanded. “You’ve taken my home, my husband—” Her voice broke. “My son! There’s nothing left but my life. You may as well take that now. I will never help you.”

Albany’s hand curled into a fist and he shook it at her. “You’ll tell me what you saw—does his mother get him back? Does her brother help her and take my power—”

Elizabeth pressed her lips together, mutely. He growled. “Tell me, witch!”

“You may as well burn me at the stake now. You’ve wasted your time.”

And this time he did hit her. The force of his slap sent her flying across the room and she lay crumbled on the floor, waiting for more.

Instead, she heard the door slam behind her. Elizabeth closed her eyes and wished for it to be over.

Two days later, Jason and his men finally reached Stirling Castle. Johnny convinced him to leave the bulk of the men outside the gates—they were still waiting for more to join them, but Jason wasn’t sure that they’d get more than the small contigent of warriors that the Frasiers and Camerons had sent.

“You think I’ll just waltz in and take her back without needing a show of force?” Jason demanded skeptically.

“I’m saying that we don’t start with an attack, no matter how angry we all are.” Johnny put a hand on Jason’s shoulder. “And if you weren’t so angry, you’d see the sense in this.”

Jason glared at him, but then tugged on the reins of his horse, galloping the last few yards before the entrance to the castle.

“This isn’t going to end well,” Francis muttered. “All we can hope is that there are some men who are still loyal to the queen and hate that little rodent.”

Jason dismounted the horse. “Jason Morgan,” he told the guard at the entrnace. “My wife, Elizabeth, is a guest,” he bit out, “of the regent.” Johnny was right—if he just started pounding on the soldiers, he’d never get his wife back.

And he was desperate to see her, to know she was all right—it had been weeks—

“Aye.” The soldier squinted. “Lady Morgan isn’t to have any visitors. Order of the regent.”

Jason scowled. “I’m not a visitor. I’m her husband. We were married on the regent’s command—” He took a deep breath. “She’ll want news of our son.”

The soldier exchanged a glance with the other man on duty. “The, uh, lady, has been spending some time with the young king,” he said slowly. “He’s missing his mother.”

“My son misses his mother—”

“Let him pass,” the other man muttered. “Mayhap he’ll push Albany down the steps and we’ll be rid of him for good.”

“You’ll take the blame,” the first soldier returned, then stepped aside. “She’s in the rose room. Ask for Maggie inside. She’s loyal to the queen.”

Elizabeth sat at the window, rubbing at the scabs on her wrist. They itched fiercely as they healed from her robe burns. In the last two days, the regent had forced her to spend most of her time with the king, watching her like a hawk, hoping for something to slip. He’d also refused to feed her, hoping that her hunger would weak her resolve.

The door behind her opened but she didn’t look away from the view of the gardens. “I’ll not tell you a thing,” she muttered. “So don’t bother asking.”

“Elizabeth.”

She blinked, her lips quivering as she closed her eyes, taking in the timbre of her beloved husband’s voice. Oh, had she already grown delusional from hunger?

“Lass, if we’re to make our escape, you’ll need to look at me—”

Elizabeth launched herself off the window seat and threw herself into Jason’s arms, not even taking a moment to look at him. “You came!”

“Of course I did.” He buried his face in her neck, and tears stung her eyes. Oh, how safe she always felt in his arms. How special and beloved—

“I’m so sorry,” he told her. Jason drew back, framed her face in his hands, his eyes darkening at the cut on her cheek and the bruise beneath it. “I’ll kill him.”

“No, you can’t—” Elizabeth wrapped her hands around his wrist. “Jason—”

“We need to go. A few servants are still loyal to Margaret, but—”

It was the hardest thing she’d ever had to do, but she shook her head and stepped back from him. She’d known he’d come for her.

But she’d always known what her answer should be.

“I’m sorry. I can’t go with you.”

February 25, 2021

This entry is part 2 of 38 in the series Fool Me Twice: Ricochet

Once more into the crowd
Temptation wears you out
Go home, your heart’s too loud
Always alone
It’s no surprise that all the things I like
Are making me a ghost
I should have never started killing time,
I can’t go slow
Seen Enough, Dryer


Late 2011

WSB Geneva HQ: Office

Andre fought back a swell of anxiety as he walked into the new research director’s office. He knew that some of the research he had proposed over the last year or so had made him a target for laughter and ridicule among his coworkers, but this was the WSB. Nothing should be too out of the norm for this organization.

But the new research directory’s request to meet with him personally had Andre wondering if his latest proposal hadn’t just been out of the norm, but more akin to jumping off a cliff.

“Mr. Cassadine,” Andre said as the older man stood from the desk and offered a hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Dr. Maddox, no, the pleasure is mine.” Victor Cassadine shook his hand warmly. “I was grateful you could take the time to meet with me. Have a seat.”

Andre sat, wondering if the man would be so polite to someone he was planning to fire. “Is there something I can do for you?”

“Yes, your latest research proposal came to my attention as I was looking over the research programs here.” Victor held it up. “I’ve been interested in the science of memory for a very long time, and I have to say, I was quite intrigued by your hypothesis.”

“You were intrigued,” Andre repeated, squinting. “Well—”

“I’ve always wondered what makes a man,” Victor continued. “If memories are the essence of our personality or if there’s something else more elemental that gives us life. The loss of memory, the creation—it’s all very fascinating.” He paused. “You suggest in this proposal that you think you might be able to map and implant memories.”

“Yes. I thought the technique would have a lot of medical benefits,” Andre said. “Particularly for dementia and Alzheimer’s—”

“Yes, yes, of course. But I was thinking of how useful it would be to the WSB. Ultimately what you’re discussing is memory extraction,” Victor continued, “and since memory can be such a fallible thing, it would be quite interesting if we were able to simply extract the memory we need. Think of how much more useful witness interrogations would be.”

“I—” Struck by that turn, Andre simply stared at him. “I hadn’t considered that.”

“Of course, if the technique proves possible,” Victor continued, “we have no problem with you licensing and allowing the medical field to use it, but the WSB has its own needs.” He arched a brow. “And if we’re to fund a practical application of your theory—”

“Practical,” Andre repeated, his heart beginning to pound. Practical. He could get everything he needed to finally bring Kita back to him. “What does the WSB need me to do?”

“I think the question, Dr. Maddox, is what are you willing to do?”

Friday, October 27, 2017

Port Charles Bus Station: Entrance

He missed the first transfer scheduled out of Syracuse, which meant it was just after one when the bus pulled into the terminal and the passengers disembarked.

He’d watched the downtown skyline draw closer as the bus had traveled towards Port Charles—the rise of ELQ and the hotels in the center of town, and the cluster of buildings surrounding the park—the familiar landscape of the city he’d called home his entire life.

Now that he was here—now that he was home—Jason had second thoughts about what to do next. Should he contact Sonny directly? Should he try to call Sam? Should he try to call someone who Klein might not expect and have them reach out to throw off the scent?

He found a pay phone in the alley next to the bus station and nearly lifted the receiver off the hook to call Elizabeth—but what if her number had changed? What if it was like Sam when he’d tried to call in Russia? What if Jason was wrong and Klein was watching Elizabeth? He didn’t want to put her boys in danger.

No. No. He snatched his hand back. Better to stick to the plan. Better to go home. The penthouse was his. It had always been there. The security at the Towers wouldn’t have changed, would it?  Sam was still there with Danny. She’d want safety.

He’d go home. Just like he planned.

And then everything would be okay.

Greystone Manor: Living Room

 At the same time, miles away, Jason thought he’d finally figured out what he’d been doing wrong all these years. As he watched Sonny pour the glasses of champagne and pass them to his wife Carly, to Sam—

Jason wondered why it had taken so many years to walk away from this life, from this partnership. Sure, when he’d been young and single, it hadn’t felt like a option. He didn’t know any other way of life. But after Michael, after getting a taste of what it was to be a father—why hadn’t Jason leaped at the opportunity sooner? He’d wasted so much time with Jake and Danny, with Sam — he wasn’t going to have those regrets with his daughter.

He smiled down at Sam as she lifted the champagne to her lips, her dark eyes sparkling with excitement. “Tonight,” she said in that low, husky voice that he fell in love with more every time he heard it. “It’s the start of the rest of our lives.”

“The best part,” Jason promised. He tipped his champagne against hers, then turned to Sonny and Carly, whose smiles were as false as their friendship. He knew they were both angry that he’d finally decided to put himself first, to put his family first. Sonny was better at pretending than Carly—he might actually come around and see this was for the best — but Carly was already giving Sam dirty looks.

He’d have to keep an eye on that, but Sam squeezed his elbow, and he offered her a half-smile before focusing again on Sonny and Carly. “I appreciate the well wishes and your understanding of why it has to be this way,” Jason told them. He held out his glass. “I want you to come to the relaunch party tonight to show there’s no hard feelings.”

The corners of Sonny’s mouth tightened, but he tipped his glass against Jason’s. “Of course. After everything you’ve been through, you deserve a fresh start. You’ve taken one too many bullets for me.”

“I’ll say,” Sam murmured.

“Funny since you were the reason he got shot this time,” Carly said sweetly as she glared at Sam over the rim of her glass.

“Carly—” Sonny and Jason said in unison, both of them wincing.

“What? She shoots you, then gets Jason shot, and we’re all fine with it because the cats made her do it?” Carly said to Sonny acidly. “Now we’re losing our best friend because she flicks her little doe eyes—”

Sam narrowed her eyes. “Considering you’re the woman that made sure Franco got all the charges dropped against him, then nearly married him, I’d think you’d understand how disease can screw with your brain—”

Carly tightened her grip on her champagne glass. “How dare you—”

“I see we’ve stopped even pretending to like Sam,” Jason muttered. He set the champagne glass down. “Sonny, you’re welcome to come, but—”

“It’s my hotel.” Carly lifted her chin. “And considering she’s never had a legitimate job last more than a week, how are you even planning to run a media company with her? Neither one of you has a clue—”

Jason felt the lick of embarrassment crawl up his spine even as a voice in his mind whispered that she was right, that he was making a fool of himself, that this was a terrible idea, that this wasn’t him, this wasn’t right, don’t you know it doesn’t feel right—

He shook his head, clearing his head, focusing on what he knew was real. “I’m smart, and what I don’t know, I can learn.”

“But—”

“It’s his choice, Carly.” Sonny rubbed his chin with his thumb, studied Jason for a long moment. “And maybe we’ve been holding you back, trapping you with who we think you should be. You were satisfied once with this life—”

“I was never satisfied,” Jason bit out. “I just didn’t think I had a choice. This was a bad idea,” he told Sam.

“I tried to tell you, but you wanted to make nice.” Sam shrugged. “Look, Carly’s just jealous you won’t be running to her beck and call.” She stepped in front of Jason, blocking his view of his friends, fastened her eyes on him. “Everyone said you couldn’t do things after the accident, right? And you didn’t listen then. Now everyone thinks we can’t do this.”

“Everyone?” Sonny said with an arch of his brow.

“Elizabeth expressed some doubts,” Jason said dryly. “But she also thinks Franco is a good guy, so you know what her opinion means to me these days.”

Carly narrowed her eyes. “Is that a dig at me?”

“Take it however you want.” Jason took Sam’s hand in his. “You can support me, Carly, or not. But this is going to happen.”

“I think it’s insane,” Carly repeated. “But—” She closed her eyes. “Sonny’s right. And I’m trying not to be selfish all the time. Trying,” she repeated through clenched teeth when Sam snorted. “You should give it a shot sometime, you little—”

Sonny grabbed her arm, gave her a shut up look, then looked at Jason. “We’ll be there, and I’ll talk to Carly. You’ve always had my back, Jase. I’m gonna do the same for you.”

“That’s all I want to hear.” Jason looked at Sam. “Let’s go. We have a lot to do before tonight.” He led her into the foyer. “I need to stop at the hospital before I come home to get dressed, so I’ll meet you there.”

“I’ll be there.” Sam pressed her lips to his. “We can do this,” she told him. “I can’t wait to start this next chapter, Jason.”

“I love you,” Jason said, kissing her again, ignoring that voice screaming, she doesn’t believe you either, she knows, she knows, she knows this is wrong, you know this is wrong, this isn’t right—

 He took a deep breath. “I’ll see you at home.”

General Hospital: Art Therapy Room

Elizabeth scanned the text to Cam asking about the party that night and Franco’s plans, then knocked on the open door of the art therapy room where Franco was cleaning brushes in the sink. “Hey, do you have a minute?”

Franco glanced over, grunting and nodding. “Yeah, but just a few. I have kids coming in about ten minutes.”

“That’s fine. My break’s almost over anyway.” Elizabeth folded her arms. “I just wanted to let you know that I’m still going to the party tonight—”

“I’m not,” he cut in, tossing another brush into the sink with a clunk. He reached for a towel to dry his hands. “So you can save your breath.”

“I wasn’t going to ask that,” Elizabeth said with a roll of her eyes. “You weren’t invited. Cameron is going to stay home with Jake and Aiden, but he wanted to invite some friends over—”

“So—?” Franco lifted his brows and gestured with a hand. “What’s that got to do with me?”

“The house is going to be filled with teenagers,” Elizabeth said as she narrowed her eyes. “If you’d stop interrupting me and let me finish, I’d tell you. He’s inviting Joss, Trina, and Oscar, so you might want to make yourself scarce—”

“If this is to force me into going—”

“Again, you weren’t invited, and I’m definitely not asking Jason for any favors where you’re concerned—” Elizabeth pulled her vibrating beeper from her waistband. “Cam asked me if he could have the house to himself tonight, and I said he could as long as he watched his brothers. So find something else to do—”

“You’re kicking me out of my own house—”

“I’m not—” Elizabeth closed her eyes, counted to ten, and prayed for the patience to deal with this. “You’re deliberately trying to pick an argument with me, and I’m tired. I told you I’d keep your damn secret about Betsy—”

“Hey—” Franco strode forward and tugged her away from the door, closing it behind her. “Don’t say that too loudly—”

“I’m not telling anyone Jason has a secret twin brother who died,” Elizabeth said, “‘And it’s not like Jason would even take your word for it. Or mine, for that matter. He’s only just started talking to me again—”

“Yeah, we know how important it is for you to be on Jason’s good side,” Franco muttered. “Gotta have him in reserve, right?”

Elizabeth stared at him. “We just had this argument yesterday. Are you really that angry that Jason no longer hates me for lying to him about who he was? I thought you were happy that people were finally starting to forgive me—”

“I am—”

“Because I made a mistake, and I paid for it,” Elizabeth continued. “My boys paid for it. And it’s been hard on them since Gram died in June—” She faltered, the loss still so sharp it nearly took her breath away. “It’s taken two years to get past that lie—”

“Don’t be so paranoid. I don’t care what you do with Jason. Just stop making me try to like him—”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Elizabeth said, exhausted by the whole conversation. “I just wanted to tell you Cam was having friends over.”

“And that he doesn’t want me there. Why doesn’t that bother you? Everyone in this town hates me, Elizabeth. Including your kid. I don’t see you taking my side in this,” Franco said her bluntly. “Why didn’t you just tell him no when he asked? You keep telling me you want people to see I’ve changed. How about you try telling Cam that once in a while?”

Elizabeth bristled. “Don’t tell me how to raise my son—”

“Well, it’s not like there’s anyone else lining up to do it,” he snapped. “Maybe everyone knows something I don’t.”

She stared at him, then rubbed her face. “Sometimes,” she murmured, “I think you liked it better when I was the town pariah.”

Franco winced. “Elizabeth—”

“My break’s over.” She pulled the door open and left, unsurprised when he didn’t follow.

She had a shift to finish, and then she was going to pick her boys up after school. All she needed were her boys and her job.

Everyone else could go to hell.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

The security at Harborview Towers had all but disappeared in the years he’d been gone. There’d been no security in the parking garage or the lobby.  Jason popped the lock on the penthouse, then slid the tools he’d purchased in New York City into his back pocket.

He walked into the penthouse, then stopped. The pool table by the windows was gone, and the walls had been repainted. The furniture had been replaced.

Jason swallowed hard, then took another step. There were photos on the mantel he didn’t recognize. The last time he’d been in this room, there had just been photos of Michael and Morgan. He had always kept one of Jake in his back pocket —

He reached for it now out of habit, but it was long gone. Just like his son.

There were nearly a dozen frames now scattered across the mantel, some jumbled together. Some were of Sam’s sisters and Alexis, but then he saw Sam was standing with a baby and with a small blond boy that must be Danny. He would have just turned five—

And there was a wedding photo. Jason picked it up, took in the sight of Sam with another man. She was smiling. Happy.

Jason exhaled slowly, then placed the frame back on the mantel. He looked back around the room.

He’d known it had been five years. Of course he had. But he’d lost track of what that really meant. He didn’t realize until he’d walked through the door that part of him had expected to find the penthouse looking exactly as it had the night he’d left Sam and Danny upstairs and gone down to the docks.

Jason walked back across the living room—looked blankly at the playpen he’d missed the first time he’d come into the room. He’d had a desk there, but it was gone now. Replaced by more evidence that Sam had moved on in the last five years.

He was nearly at the door when he heard a voice in the hall—Sam’s voice and a younger boy. He winced, then rushed over to the terrace, making his way onto the balcony and closing the door just before the front door opened. He left it slightly ajar to listen for an opportunity to leave.

“Guess what, guess what?” a little boy asked. Through the blinds, Jason caught sight of Sam smiling, an infant in her arms.

“What?”

“I got all the stars!” the little boy declared with a wide grin. Sam tousled his blonde hair, then disappeared slightly. When she came back into view, the baby was gone, so she had probably set her in the playpen.

All of the stars? Let me see your folder—” Sam held out a hand, and the boy shoved something into it. A bright green folder with DANNY scrawled across the back rose into Jason’s eye line. “Oh, wow! Danny, your teacher says you know your alphabet forwards and backwards! That is so awesome!”

“Can I please please go to your party tonight?” Danny asked, hopping up and down. “Please, please, with a cherry on top! I’ll be so good, and Scout won’t even be lonely because she’ll be asleep, and—”

“No, sweetie, no kids allowed—”

“Oh, come on, Mom—” Danny sighed. “Please?”

“No, but tomorrow your father and I will do something really special with you, I promise. Go into the kitchen,” Sam told him, “and get your snack. I’ll put away your things, and we’ll get started on your homework.”

“Okay, but I only got math, Mommy! And it’s so easy!”

Sam laughed, and Jason watched as Danny zipped out of view. She hung up his jacket in the closet, but then the door opened, and the man he recognized from the wedding photo came in.

“Hey—”

“Hey!” Sam kissed him lightly. “Danny’s in the kitchen. He got all the stars,” she told him seriously. “And he’s going to ask you if he can come tonight.”

“Well, maybe for a few—” The man grinned as Sam glared at him. “Oh, he’s gonna try to divide and conquer. He gets that from you.”

“I already told him no, so—” Sam sighed. “I better go with you. You never say no to him. You’re such a pushover.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing—”

Their voices faded as they went into the kitchen. Jason waited a minute but decided this was his best chance. He carefully opened the door and hurried across the living room, stopping only a moment to look at the little girl in the playpen. She was less than a year old with dark curls. She held up a stuffed giraffe, smiling at him.

Jason exhaled slowly, opened the door, then left. He’d come to the penthouse first instead of going to Sonny because he’d wanted to go home.

But this wasn’t home. Not anymore.

Metro Court Hotel: Lobby

“What time do you want me to come back and get you?”

The sound of her eldest son’s voice from around the corner drew Carly’s attention as she scribbled her name at the bottom of a contract and handed it back to her assistant. Michael’s only reason to be at the hotel at this time of day would be if he was here with that woman.

The woman who had slipped and slid into their family like an ally and a friend only to plunge the knife into Carly’s back and try to destroy everything

No, the last thing Carly wanted today was a run-in with her.

“I can just meet you here for the party,” came the soft reply. “You have to pick up your sister and drop her at Cameron’s, and I don’t want to run into your mother.”

Damn right, Carly thought to herself as she walked closer to the corner, carefully to keep out of sight.

“No, that’s a good point. Thanks for coming tonight. It’s weird,” Michael said, “and I don’t really understand what my uncle’s up to, but I guess if this is what he wants—”

“I mean, he did just get shot, Michael—”

“He’s been shot before, Nelle. This feels different.”

“He’s not as young as he used to be, and he’s got three kids now. Maybe having Scout last year woke him up.”

“Maybe. Do you want me to come up, or are you okay with Nina on your own?”

Nelle Benson’s sigh was deep and wistful. “I’m sure it’ll be fine. They found the necklace, didn’t they? They know I didn’t do it.”

Carly lifted her brows, intrigued.

“I’m glad they found it before we had to leave,” Michael continued, “but I can’t believe Nina would take the maid’s side over yours—”

“It’s fine, Michael. The maid was wrong; the necklace is back where it’s supposed to be, and I have a deadline to meet if I’m going to leave on time tonight. I’ll see you at the party.”

Carly stepped back from the corner just as Michael came around it. He squinted at her, then scowled. “How long have you been standing there?” he demanded.

“I was signing contracts with Jenny,” Carly said. She folded her arms. “Did the little bitch go upstairs, or is she lurking around corners, too?”

“She’s at work,” Michael muttered. “Don’t start, Mom—”

“I don’t need to start. Sounds like the world is starting to catch on to Nelle Benson without my help. What did she do this time?”

“There was a misunderstanding on the Morocco trip,” Michael said, clenching his teeth. “It’s fine now.”

“Uh huh.” Carly shrugged. “Well, keep her away from me tonight, and we won’t have any problems.”

Port Charles Park

 Jason pulled his hat down over his eyes and shoved his hands in his pockets, keeping his head bowed as he walked through the park. He would have boosted a car to get across town, but he hadn’t stolen a car in more than a decade and wasn’t sure if his skills would be rusty. The last thing he needed was to be caught.

He wanted to get to Greystone, to talk to Sonny. Sonny would know what to do. He could count on Sonny.

“It’s not my fault!” a voice exclaimed from around the corner. Jason stopped short, then ducked behind a bush. A little boy with brown, curly hair walked past him, clenching his hand around a baseball tucked into his palm. He turned and glared at whoever was behind him. “Charlotte’s so mean, Mommy!”

“I know,” a woman said with a sigh, and the hair on Jason’s arms rose up. He knew that voice. He focused on the little boy again. Could that be Aiden?

“Why do I gotta pretend she’s not?”

“Because if you’re not nice to her,” a boy said, “she’ll shove you over the parapet—”

Cameron!”

Jason just managed to get out of view before the group walked past. Elizabeth was glaring at the oldest boy with her—Cameron—who would be sixteen by now. His hair was dark blonde, and he was taller than his mother—not that it would be difficult to achieve that. Cameron turned back to face Elizabeth, his grin stretched across his face.

What did I say about parapet jokes?” Elizabeth asked. She set a pumpkin on a nearby picnic table and put her hands on her hips. She didn’t look much older than she had the last time he’d seen her—the day she’d told him the truth about Danny being Sam’s son, admitting that her grief over losing Jake had broken her in ways that neither of them had really understood until then.

Her hair was shorter, and she’d lightened it to nearly the shade it had been the summer they’d conceived their little boy. Jason’s stomach twisted as he brought back the image of his son, their baby, who had never made it to his fourth birthday.

“Not to make them around Grandma Laura,” a fourth voice piped in. A boy, older than Aiden but younger than Cameron, walked into Jason’s eye line and set another pumpkin, a smaller one, on the table. He had sandy blonde hair and light blue eyes with a smile that he’d inherited from his mother.

“Jake.” Elizabeth pressed a fist to her temple as the blood in Jason’s veins pounded. “You’re not helping.”

“I’m the middle child, Mom,” Jake told her. “It’s not my job to help. It’s my job to be funny. Cameron’s supposed to be in charge.”

“Then we’re all doomed,” Elizabeth retorted. She dismissed her older boys and looked at Aiden. “Look, you’re right. Charlotte is a pain in the ass, and I’m sorry about that. Your Aunt Sarah was a giant pain in my ass the entire time we were growing up. Do your best, get through these years, and if you’re really lucky, the day will come when you never ever have to see her again.”

“That — “Cameron slung an arm around Elizabeth’s shoulders. “That right there is what makes you the best mom. Because that is actually useful advice. Suck it up, Aiden. The world is full of idiots. You just gotta survive until one of you moves out of town.”

Or pushes you off a cliff—”

“Jake—” Elizabeth threw up her hands. “Why do you do this?”

“Because it’s funny,” Jake said, seriously. His eyes were wide. “I mean, Mom, didn’t you say I get my sarcasm from you?”

“Right now, I’m wishing you got your father’s ability to be quiet,” Elizabeth said with a roll of her eyes.

He’d listened to the entire exchange between the four of them, not understanding what he was hearing. How Jake could be standing in front of them — how Elizabeth could be there with all three of her boys —

But that was his son. Six years older than he should have been—ten years old—Jason swallowed hard, trying to take it in. Trying to process it.

“Oh, man!” Aiden said. “I dropped my baseball!”

“Why do you have a baseball?” Cameron wanted to know. “You hate sports—”

“Yeah, but I won it at school, and I beat Charlotte for it—”

“I see it!” Jake said at the same time Jason saw a baseball roll past him. He stood frozen to the spot as the little boy ran past him to grab it. He turned to face his mother, and Jason just stood there — less than six feet from his son.

His son.

Jake was alive.

As if sensing his presence, Jake turned, and their eyes locked. His face crumpled up in confusion. “Hey—”

“Jake?” Elizabeth said, her voice sharp. “What’s taking so long? Is something wrong—”

“Mom—”

Jason wanted to stay, wanted to see Elizabeth, wanted to ask her how this miracle had happened — but he couldn’t.

He couldn’t make sense of anything he’d seen in the last few hours, so he turned and left, disappearing around the corner just as Elizabeth and the other boys reached Jake’s side.

“Jake?” Elizabeth put a hand on her son’s shoulder. “Was someone there?”

“Yeah. It was the weirdest thing,” Jake said, looking up at her. “He looked like Dad.”

Elizabeth frowned. “Looked like—”

“But not Dad now,” Jake added. “Like before. Before his face got messed up.”

“Mom?” Cameron asked. She blinked, looked at him blankly. “Maybe you should take Jake to see Dr. Maddox.”

Jake scowled. “I’m not crazy!”

“I didn’t—” Cameron blanched. “I didn’t mean that, Jake, but—”

“No, it’s a good idea.” Elizabeth cleared her throat, looked around the corner where Jake had pointed. “Just-just give me a minute—”

She walked around the corner, but didn’t see anyone. She frowned, then looked back at Jake, who was glaring at his brother. “Cameron, can you do me a favor—”

“Yeah, just drop Aiden and me off at Kelly’s,” he said with a nod. “Jake, don’t give me that look. If you’re seeing your dad’s old face, then you should talk to Dr. Maddox. We ignored the signs last year.”

Jake subsided, his face falling. “Mom, I really did see him.”

“I know, baby,” Elizabeth said. She returned to his side, brushed his hair out of his eyes. He tilted his face up to look at her with his father’s beautiful eyes. “And we’ll talk to Andre about it to be safe, but it was probably someone who sort of looked like him.”

She glanced at Cameron, troubled. Neither of them had quite forgiven themselves for not seeing Jake’s slow descent the year before leading up to the scene at the Nurse’s Ball when he’d nearly unleashed a deadly toxin that could have killed them all. It had brought back too many memories of the Cassadines and Helena’s ill-fated Endgame nearly twenty years earlier.

Elizabeth was never going to let the Cassadines hurt her baby again. No matter what she had to do to protect him.

Wyndemere: Study

Valentin Cassadine wanted to reach through the phone line, drag this pissant doctor through it, then strangle him.

“Six has been awake since April, and you’re only telling me now because he escaped? How long has it been since he escaped? And why didn’t you tell me he was awake?”

“It’s been, uh, a few weeks. We were hoping to re-secure the property before—”

“You were covering your ass—” Valentin hissed, clenching his jaw. “He could be anywhere by now! He could—”

He could be in Port Charles. Damn it.

“Where are you?”

“New York City, sir. We traced him that far yesterday, but we thought he was probably heading home—”

“Oh, how fucking brilliant of you to realize a man gone for five years might try to come home—” Valentin’s scowl deepened as the office door opened, and his wife stepped in, her brows raised. “What?” he nearly snarled, but then he swallowed hard and pasted a smile on his face. “What is it, darling?”

“I was just wondering if you minded if I left early for the hotel,” Nina said, her eyes narrowing. “I have a few things to take care of after the Morocco trip, so—” She paused. “Is everything all right?”

Everything was on fire and falling apart, which was fucking infuriating since Valentin had been so close to finally getting everything he damn well deserved

“Yes,” Valentin said. “I’ll meet you at the hotel tonight.”

“All right.” Nina glanced at him again over her shoulder, then left the door. Valentin focused on the phone.

“You get your ass to Port Charles now, and you better hope that you find Jason Morgan before he blows this all to hell!”

Update Link: Ricochet, Chapter Two

RicochetThank you so much for the great response to the first chapter on all the platforms where I post. I’m so glad you guys liked it! I have to admit, I’m a little impatient for you guys to read the entire thing, LOL, which is probably why I’m hoping to get to three chapters a week as soon as possible.

The transition back into the building has been mostly smooth, but the chair I’m sitting in for remote teaching is SUPER awful so my back hurts and I can only fall sleep in a certain way to avoid the whooshing in my ear being a pain, so me and my neck are not having a good week. It’s super fun, lol. I’m working it out, but it just means I’m very sore and tired when I get home. I haven’t really been able to edit, but I kind of knew this first full week back would be rough.  I should catch up this weekend.

I’m going to try to update Not Knowing When twice this weekend because I feel bad about not doing it last week. I’ll know on Friday if I’ll be able to do it. See you guys tomorrow for Flash Fiction!

February 23, 2021

This entry is part 1 of 38 in the series Fool Me Twice: Ricochet

I know the breakdown
Everything is gonna shake now someday
I know the breakdown
Tell me again am I awake now
Maybe you can find the reason that
No one else is living this way

Breakdown, Tantric


August 2010 in Bern, Switzerland

Church of St. Peter and Paul

Victor Cassadine smiled as he walked towards the altar of the church, finding great amusement in the sight of the woman dressed from head to toe in unrelieved black with a lace veil covering her face.

“I’m always surprised that you can step foot in a place like this,” he drawled. The woman turned away from the altar where she had been lighting candles. “I thought it might be you asking for this meeting when I received the message.” He glanced around the empty chapel, then lifted a brow at her. “You always did have a flair for the dramatic.”

She lit the last candle, then stepped down to meet Victor. “And you came anyway?”

“It’s never boring,” Victor told her. He sat in the front pew, stretching his arm across the back of the wooden pew. “Why a Catholic church, darling? We’re Orthodox.”

“We’re practical,” she murmured as she sat next to him and lifted the veil on her hat. “You’ve heard the good news?”

“Of course. You’re a great-grandmother again. A little boy born to Nikolas.” Victor narrowed his eyes as the woman’s lips curved. “For someone who has been cast out of his life more than once, I don’t see why you’re so happy.”

“I had a thought, my dear Victor,” she said, “that Mikkos would be disappointed in the children he sired. None of them have taken up the reins the way they ought to.” She tilted her head. “What about Liesl’s brats? Wasn’t one of them yours?”

“Possibly,” Victor said with a light shrug. “They might also be Cesar’s. With Liesl, one never knows. You shouldn’t look for the Cassadine line to continue through me. No, Nikolas and his boys — they’re your best bet.”

“Perhaps,” she purred. “If only there were two of them.”

Victor felt the corner of his mouth tug up. “Darling, what are you up to?”

“Reviving the Cassadine line,” she replied. She straightened the cuffs of her long black sleeves. “It’s not always in the blood, but in the breeding. I have a plan, Victor, but I’m afraid I cannot do it alone.”

“And what can I do for you?”

“You have some old friends that I might want to speak with. And now that you’re at the WSB—” Her smile deepened. “You have so many resources. I thought we might find it amusing to revive some old experiments.”

“You’ll have to be more specific, dear.” Victor shifted. “What experiments?”

“Controlling the mind, manipulating memory—” she sighed dreamily. “I came close with my beloved Lucky. So close to finally cracking it all and getting my revenge on Luke and Laura but I was stopped.”

“And you can’t abide while a Spencer lives?”

“The Spencers remain on my list, but they are not the only ones who have wronged me. My grandson who lied to me—” Her lips trembled before she pressed them together as the fury in her eyes grew. “He deceived me, led me to believe he had finally come to my side—and he might have. But she always stopped him.”

“She?”

“Elizabeth Webber. The mother of Nikolas’s new son.” She laughed then, a dark chilling laugh. “So many fathers for her children, what’s one more lie for her to live?”

“My dear—” Victor squinted. He didn’t quite understand her delight.

“If Nikolas had killed Elizabeth Webber when he was supposed to, I would have the grandson I deserve. She made him weak, and she keeps him tied to the light. With the death of that insipid girl Emily, he should have been ripe to fall—” She calmed herself, her breathing rapid. “When I have broken Elizabeth, I will have my grandson back.”

“And the experiments,” Victor said slowly. “They’ll help you do that?”

“Oh, I couldn’t destroy her without them. This little lie about Aiden—” She examined her nails. “It’s just the first of the tortures I have planned. And when she is gone, when Nikolas has fallen—then it will be time to finish Luke and Laura—”

“Then how will you revive the Cassadines?” Victor asked, as the woman rose to her feet and reset her veil. “Without Nikolas, there’s just his sons—”

Helena lifted a brow. “I would not put much stock in the elder boy. His mother was weak and easily broken. As for the other—” She turned her gaze towards the altar, at the candles she had recently lit. “Well, that remains to be seen.” She waited. “I have made my request, Victor. What is your answer?”

Victor mused on this for a long moment, then nodded. “I have been thinking about getting into that line of inquiry,” he admitted. “And, interestingly enough, I have some research going on in the labs now that might be useful.” He stood as well. “But that does not answer my question, darling. Without Nikolas or his progeny, how do you plan to revive the Cassadines? And for whom?”

“It’s time to look to a new branch.” Helena Cassadine lifted her face into the light for a brief moment and her smile would have sent chills down a lesser man’s spine.

“Mine.”

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Brooklyn, New York: Red Hook Terminal

The freighter bound from St. Petersburg, Russia, set down anchor in Brooklyn just before five that morning. The sun would not rise for another two hours, and the skeleton crew remained asleep in their bunks or in the control room, navigating the thirteen-hundred-foot ship into the world’s deepest harbor.

Only two men stirred from the bowels of the ship, neither of them planning to exchange names or information. They’d passed a comfortable two weeks at sea by speaking very little to one another and planned to go their separate ways.

The elder of the two men stepped onto the docks, taking in the surroundings, his eyes already squinting and planning his next step.

It was all he had thought about since he’d opened his eyes in that clinic more than four thousand miles away in Russia. The comfortable walls of his penthouse. His family. His friends. His life.

He’d tried to contact his wife just once, but the number must have changed—he hadn’t recognized the other man on the line, and he’d decided it was better to wait. To see his family in person. What would they think? How would they react?

While crossing the Atlantic, he had learned that it had been five years and not six months since he had gone to take a meeting on the docks and been shot. What had they gone through at home? How long had they looked for him? Where they still looking?

Did they think he was dead? Did they think he’d left them?

“Happy travels, my friend,” his companion said, tossing him a two-finger salute. “May you make it home as safely as you reached these golden shores.” Then he simply vanished into the shifting shadows of the quiet dock.

But it would not remain quiet for much longer. Already, he could hear the clinks and clanks of cargo being shifted around, the dull roar of engines being started, the murmurs of workers— it might not yet be dawn, but the night was drawing to a close—and the docks never truly went to sleep.

He knew that better than most.

And Jason Morgan was going home.

General Hospital: Nurse’s Station

“I’m sorry,” Felix DuBois declared, planting a hand flat against his chest, and widening his eyes. “Where did you say your ex had gone?”

“To New York,” Elizabeth Webber explained patiently as she scribbled her name at the bottom of some paperwork. Since she’d been promoted the year before, it felt like she spent her entire life standing behind this desk with stacks of charts. She really missed her patients. “He’s signing the final contracts to buy Wells Publishing from Julian’s representatives.” She wrinkled her nose. “And don’t start. He’s already mad at me because I made the same face you did.”

“Well, I’ll admit, I didn’t know the man in his glory days,” Felix said, stepping out of the hub to start his rounds, “but even a few months ago, I didn’t peg him as a CEO of a media conglomerate.”

“Oh, God, when you say it like that, it sounds even worse, but—” Elizabeth shrugged. “It’s what he wants, and I don’t have a say in it. He’ll be safer now, which is good because Jake does not need anything else to go wrong this year. He was barely in therapy for the Chimera disaster before my grandmother died, and then his father nearly dies—” She pressed her lips together. “It would be great if the world could leave me and my kids alone for like…eight seconds.”

“I hear ya, babe. Still, Jason Morgan, CEO.” Felix shuddered. “It doesn’t even sound right, does it?”

“Felix—”

“I’m stopping—” Felix put up his hands. “I’m innocent, I promise.” He turned around to start down the hall, then made another face as the elevator doors opened and a man stepped out. “If you’re looking for a drama-free life, I’ve got some suggestions on what else to chuck.”

“Don’t start on that either,” Elizabeth muttered as Franco Baldwin, her boyfriend of almost a year, strolled towards them. They’d been rocky over the last few months since he’d moved in with her and the boys. Still, she was hoping with Jason’s recovered health and Franco’s successful art show behind them, it would get better.

It had to get better, didn’t it?

“Hey. How’s Betsy?” she asked as she reached for another chart, and Felix melted away from them. “Was she excited about the money you gave her?”

“She’s always happy when she doesn’t have to pay her own bills,” Franco said with a shrug, but there was something in the way he wouldn’t meet her eyes—

“What happened?” Elizabeth asked, furrowing her brow.

“Nothing.”

She clenched her jaw, then took a deep breath. “Look, you can tell me it’s not my business, fine. But don’t lie to me.”

Franco’s eyes flashed as they met hers. “Don’t tell me you’re the honesty police all of a sudden. I can’t have any thoughts to myself?”

“I told you—no lies.” Elizabeth shot back, even as her cheeks flushed from the reminder of why she’d even given him a second look after her wholly insane and apocalyptic lie about Jake Doe’s identity. She’d only barely begun to crawl out from beneath that and have people look at her again without seething hatred. “Tell me to butt out, but don’t lie to me.”

Franco hissed, then exhaled slowly. “You’re right,” he admitted with an irritated flush in his cheeks. “My mother—”He shook his head. “Come with me.”

This did not bode well, Elizabeth thought as she followed Franco down the hall and around the corner to his therapy room. “Franco—”

“I showed my mother the catalog that Ava put together for the show,” Franco said. “And she saw that picture I did of the two boys.”

Elizabeth fought down the urge to roll her eyes. That stupid portrait had haunted him for days while he’d tried to get it out on the canvas. He’d been insistent on getting it just right—and that she wouldn’t understand because it wasn’t like she’d done any art for years.

She hated when he did that. He was right, of course. She wasn’t a real artist, but she knew what it was like to have a vision in your head and need to see it in the world—they’d had a huge fight about it just before he’d left to go see his mother. And if she was honest with herself, she was still irritated with him because he’d never bothered to apologize for the crack about her not being a real artist.

“What, did she get mad when you told her Andre bought it?” Elizabeth asked, folding her arms.

“No,” Franco said. “She actually…” He hesitated. “The boys in that portrait—I thought they were maybe three or four. But she said—” He looked away. “She said that we weren’t that old.”

“Weren’t—”Her hands fell to her side. “What does that mean? Was it a boy you knew when you were young?”

“Not just any boy.” Franco fastened his eyes on her. “Heather wasn’t lying when she told Sam there was another brother. She was just lying about it being me.”

Elizabeth stared at him for a long moment, then shook her head. “Wait. What are you talking about? Are you saying that Jason has a twin brother out there? That Heather just…gave him to Betsy? How do we know she’s telling the truth? What did she even tell you—”

“Why are you so interested? You want to go find him?” Franco asked, his tone caustic. “See if maybe he wants his brother’s leftovers?”

The pain was sharp, and tears stung her eyes as she took the hit. “Why do you do that?” she asked. “Every time I mention Jason, you do this. It’s exhausting—all I was saying was that if he has a brother out there, that means Monica has another child. Jake has another uncle. It matters, Franco—”

“It doesn’t. He’s dead,” Franco snapped. “So just drop it. He died a long time ago when we were two. He fell down the steps, so there’s no magical Quartermaine out there. You wanna go tell them there was one? Just so Monica can mourn another kid?”

Elizabeth rubbed a fist against her chest. It was always going to be like this with Franco. He was still going to have that seething jealousy of her history with Jason and the conviction that she hadn’t really chosen Franco—that he’d just been the only one who wanted her after everything she’d done.

And she didn’t know how to reassure him because, of course, he wasn’t her first choice. He wouldn’t have made the top ten list but after her lie—

Franco had been the only one there who seemed to give a damn. It was just exhausting to always feel like she was fighting the same battles she’d been fighting since she was a teenager. She was always explaining to the man in her life that she and Jason were just friends.

“I guess,” Elizabeth said after a long moment, “that it makes sense not to tell Monica. At least not now. I mean, you don’t even know if Betsey is telling the truth. Maybe he’s not dead. Or maybe he is, and he wasn’t Jason’s brother. You know she tells stories, Franco. She told you that you were Jason’s twin for most of your life.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Sullenly, Franco crossed to the brushes drying next to the sink. “Sorry,” he added as an afterthought. “You know I didn’t mean it. It’s just—I hate him, and he hates me.”

“Yeah, well, it’d be great if you stopped taking it out on me. He’s Jake’s father. Even when he hated me, that didn’t change. He will always be part of my life, Franco. And if you really can’t handle that, then I don’t know what we’re doing here.”

He turned to look at her but said nothing. Finally, she sighed. “I have to get back to work. I’ll see you at home later.”

“I’ll probably put some time in at the studio tonight,” he said. “I’ll call.”

“Fine.”

New York City, Penn Station: Empire Service Track

It had seemed like a romantic decision at the time, Samantha Morgan reflected as she stepped off the elevator and followed her husband onto the Amtrak service train. They went moved through several cars until they could locate the private one he had organized.

A second honeymoon, he’d told her, even it was just overnight. Things had been so crazy since he’d come home from the hospital that he wanted her to himself for just a little while. An overnight train ride from New York City to Rochester, and then a limo for the journey’s final leg home to Port Charles.

They were in New York to sign the final papers to start their new life, and Sam couldn’t decide if she was terrified, excited, or just plain worried.

“I think this is us,” Jason Morgan said, as he stared down at the ticket, then squinted up at the train car. He looked at her, flashed that grin that she loved so much—the grin that didn’t quite seem like the man she’d fallen in love with a lifetime ago, but the man that had woken up from his coma two months earlier—he was different.

Jason seemed happier once he’d decided to walk away from Sonny Corinthos and the business he’d been in his entire adult life. Sam didn’t really understand how it was an option now when it never had been before, but she wasn’t going to argue. All she’d ever wanted was for Jason to put her first. To choose her over everything else. Over Sonny and Carly. And Michael. The business. Elizabeth and Jake.

Finally—finally—Sam and the life he’d promised her was the priority.  She had been wrong when Sam told Carly that Sam was happy being second or even a distant third on Jason’s list of priorities.

Jason wanted her, and he wanted their kids together. It was the dream she’d never thought possible all those years ago when she’d been pregnant with Danny. They’d had those terrible arguments about John McBain, Franco, and the baby she was bringing into this world. In the last year, since their most recent wedding and the birth of their precious daughter, Sam knew that he loved her. That he wanted her and their children. She could stop wondering if she was a second choice, a backup.

“You okay?” Sam asked as Jason stowed their baggage in the overhead compartment. “You’ve been quiet since we got to Penn Station.”

“Yeah, I guess I just—”He looked around. “I didn’t really look at the pictures. It’s…cramped.”

“It’s cozy.” Sam slid her arms around his waist and smiled up at him, her lashes fluttering as he lowered his head to kiss her. “Do we need a lot of space?”

“No, I guess we don’t.” Jason paused. “Is this what you want?” he asked. “Not the train,” he said quickly. “But the…company. I feel like I pushed you into this.”

“I was surprised at first, you know that,” Sam said. “But you’re going to be safe. And you want this. So, we’ll do it together. We’ll build something for Danny and Scout to have.”

“And Jake.”

“And Jake,” Sam said, her smile tightening. “Right. For all of the kids. A legacy better than the one either of us had before. You want this, Jason, so let’s make it happen.”

New York City Port Authority

Less than half a mile away, another man named Jason Morgan pulled a baseball cap tight over his eyes and set down money at the ticket desk. “Port Charles,” he said roughly, deepening his voice.

He’d once been good at blending into a crowd — he was fortunate to be of relatively average height and build with dark blonde hair that didn’t stand out. He could disguise his bright blue eyes with a hat and avoiding eye contact, and with a shift in the octave of his voice — he could disappear anywhere.

But he wasn’t used to people, not anymore, and every time someone bumped or shoved him in the crowd, he stopped, forced himself not to tense or brace for a hit or an attack. He was in New York; he’d made it into the city without anyone following him. The men from the clinic should have no way of knowing he’d made it this far—that he was actually in the United States. For all Jason knew, they were still chasing him around Russia.

He would get home, and he would figure out everything else then. Once he was back inside the safe and familiar walls of the penthouse where’d he lived most of his adult life—once he’d talked to his family, reassured them he was alive—everything would be okay.

He would be okay.

He just had to go home.

“Only bus going to Port Charles has two transfers,” the man behind the window said in a bored, listless tone. He wasn’t looking at Jason—he was probably one of those workers who never focused much on the customers, just on doing the job. Good. Jason preferred it that way. “Gotta switch in Syracuse and then in Rochester.”

“Fine,” Jason said flatly. “Book it.” The transfers were good. He could blend into the crowd or change the route if he thought he was being followed.

“It don’t leave until 1:15 in the morning.”

Jason grimaced, then glanced at the red digital clock behind the man. It was only six in the evening. He’d have to find something to do with the next seven hours. Maybe he’d check into a hotel and get some sleep. Just an hour or two. Maybe even three. How long had it been since he’d slept three full hours? Would he even be able to?

He had barely slept on the journey from Russia, not even after he’d been joined by the anonymous friend in the cargo hold. A few hours of rest —

“You want the ticket?”

“Yes.” Jason slid another twenty over when the man told him the price and then retrieved his ticket. He shoved the precious ticket into his pocket and walked away from the window. He didn’t duck his head too much, didn’t stare at the ground — that looked too suspicious. No one in the city wanted to look at him; he didn’t want to look at them.

He thought about calling Sonny again now that he was in the States. Sonny could have a jet here in an hour. He could be back in Port Charles by nine. He looked over at a solitary payphone in a corner by the entrance. Sonny would recognize his voice.

But what if men were watching Sonny? What if the only thing keeping Sonny and everyone else at home safe was that Jason hadn’t made contact yet? No. Better this way. He’d get back to Port Charles. Get home.

Just had to get home.

He left the Port Authority terminal and blended into the crowds heading towards Times Square. This part of New York didn’t have that many dingy motels that would rent by the hour. Still, there were a few chains across the street. It was worth it — worth the chance to check in, to shower, to just have a minute where he could lock the goddamn door and breathe— But he didn’t have any identification.

That stopped him just outside the Hilton. He had nothing but maybe another hundred dollars given to him by the guy in the church. No credit cards. No driver’s license. Nothing identifying him as Jason Morgan from Port Charles, New York, or anyone else.

He exhaled slowly, grimacing as someone bumped him from behind. Okay. So, he’d have to find something else to do for seven hours. Maybe he’d walk the city. Keep moving. Good. That was the right thing. He’d just stay on his feet.

He’d sleep when he was at home.

Greystone: Foyer

“Hey, Miss Webber,” Max Giambetti said cheerfully as he pulled open the door to Elizabeth, gesturing for her to come in. “Cam and Joss are in the living room—”

Elizabeth pursed her lips. “You know, how come my kid gets to go by his first name? I’ve known you longer, and I’ve asked you to call me Elizabeth a thousand times.”

“Uh—” Max hesitated, then blinked. “I don’t know. I never really thought about it. Sonny and Carly thought it would help Joss adjust to the guards when she moved in if they didn’t always call her Miss Jacks, but—” He furrowed his brow, thinking it over. “You know, honestly, it was just something Sonny and Jason always drilled in. Respect. You and Mrs. C.”

“I’ve heard you call Sam by her first name,” Elizabeth said, lifting her brows. “What, don’t you respect her?”

“I am not answering that,” Max said with a swift shake of his head. “Not even if she’s in New York City and can’t hear me.”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes but let the man off the hook. “Thanks.”  She left him in the hallway and headed for the open double doors of the Greystone living room where Cameron and Joss were sitting on the sofa, phones in their hands, their math textbooks and notebooks open on the coffee table — not being used.

This looks like studying to me,” she said dryly, folding her arms.  Cameron turned to her and grinned immediately.

“From what Gram used to say about you in high school,” he said, “that’s probably true.”

“Oh, good one—” His best friend and eternal partner in crime, Jocelyn Jacks, slapped him playfully. “I’m stealing it to use on Carly.”

“Hey, to you—” Carly Corinthos declared as she sauntered into the living room from the other direction, probably from the kitchen, “that’s Mom.” Ignoring her daughter’s eye roll, she lifted her chin. “Elizabeth.”

“Carly.” Elizabeth cleared her throat. “How’s the, uh, hotel?”

“Good. The hospital?”

“Fine.”

“You know, I think I liked it better when you guys weren’t trying to be civil,” Joss complained as she leaned forward to close her math book. “This is weird, isn’t it, Cam?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Cameron said. He got to his feet and started shoving things into his bag.

“Elizabeth and I have no issues with each other,” Carly said, making a face. She looked at Elizabeth. “At least not this month.”

“No, I’m sure we’ll find something later to yell at each other about, but right now we’re good.”

“See, weird!” Joss declared. “Anyway, Mom, I wanted to ask if I could hang out at Cam’s tomorrow night. With the relaunch party, he’s gonna hang out with his brothers, and Oscar and I wanted to do pizza and a movie or something.”

“The party,” Carly repeated. “I forgot about that.” She sighed. “Yeah, I mean, if Elizabeth doesn’t mind you annoying her—”

“No, it’s fine. I, um—” Elizabeth shrugged. “I think I’m still invited, anyway. Jason and I—well, let’s just say that I didn’t take this whole new career direction all that well.”

“You?” Carly frowned. “You’re usually jumping at the chance to lick Jason’s—”

“See, you had to say something,” Cameron muttered to Joss as Elizabeth’s eyes narrowed. Joss shrugged unapologetically. Sometimes a girl had to push the drama.

“Believe it or not,” Elizabeth said coolly, “when Jason Morgan announced he was leaving the warehouse and Sonny to become a CEO of a media company, I thought I was having a hallucination. He was annoyed when I asked him to repeat himself.” She paused. “And when I asked what he knew about running a media company—”

Carly winced. “Okay, yeah, I might have asked the same question when he told us, so depending on what order—” She huffed. “This is weird, right? It’s weird.”

“It’s…” Elizabeth glanced at Cameron and Joss, unabashedly listening. “It’s something.” And she wasn’t really sure she wanted to reflect all that long on the whole thing since it just reminded her of the fight she’d had with Franco. The same fight they’d had since the day they’d started seeing each other.

She was exhausted by the presence of Jason in every piece of her life, even when he shouldn’t be there. Was she going to be punished forever?

“You know what?” Joss said. “Cam wanted to take home some of Uncle Sonny’s cookies to Aiden. We’ll go into the kitchen and get them and give you—” She checked her phone. “Like five whole minutes to complain to each other and use words and phrases you don’t want us to hear.”

“What if they start fighting?” Cameron asked, following Joss out of the room.

“Then we’ll come watch—”

Carly rolled her eyes, then crossed the room to stand closer to Elizabeth and pitch her voice lower — waiting until she knew Cam and Joss were out of earshot. “This is insane. It’s completely insane, and I don’t know what the hell he’s thinking.”

“Carly…” Elizabeth pressed her lips together but then remembered the incredibly devastating year Carly had suffered—from the loss of Morgan and the near-collapse of her marriage to Sonny— “I don’t know either. I didn’t realize—” She paused. “I didn’t realize leaving the warehouse was an option. He never made it seem like it was before.”

“Because it wasn’t—”

“Or maybe he just wants this life with Sam that much,” Elizabeth said, even as her chest tightened. And he hadn’t wanted it enough with her.

Carly paused, then exhaled slowly. “I guess. After losing two years to the Cassadines and another to amnesia and you—”

“Carly—”

“I’m not starting; I’m just stating facts,” Carly said blandly. “And maybe he’s tired of dealing with Sonny and me.” She looked away then, her expression shifting for a moment. “Hard to blame him there.”

“All we can do is support him,” Elizabeth said. “That’s what I’m going to do.”

“Yeah. Well, I’ll try,” Carly muttered. “But I can’t make any promises.”

“Always good to know your limits.” Elizabeth ignored Carly’s scowl and raised her voice. “Cam, let’s head out!”

The teenagers came back in the living room faster than they should have if they were in the kitchen, but Joss looked annoyed enough that Elizabeth thought maybe they hadn’t heard anything.

As Elizabeth turned the car back down around the circular driveway and headed back to the gate, Cameron cleared his throat. “About tomorrow night and the party.”

“Yeah? Trina can come over, too. If you were going to ask that,” she added, waving at the guards who let her through the gate.

“No, I mean, yeah, but I was—Franco’s probably not invited tomorrow.”

“I don’t think he was left off the invitation by accident, no. Which—” Elizabeth glanced at Cameron. “I mean, if you guys want to go out, I can ask if Franco will stay with your brothers—”

“No,” Cameron said sharply. “No. I said I’d hang with them. And it’s fine, Mom. My friends get it. No, I wanted to know if Franco was gonna be at the house.”

“I—” Elizabeth tapped her fingers on the steering wheel. “No, I don’t know. He’s been putting in a lot of time at the studio. Why?”

“Nothing. I guess I just—it’d be more fun if it was just us at home. Like it used to be,” Cameron said after a long moment. “Before he moved in.”

There was something there, something in the tone of his voice—Elizabeth hesitated. “I’ll ask him to stay in the studio tomorrow,” she said.

“Thanks. I mean it, Mom. I appreciate it. I get—” He was quiet for a moment as she steered her car onto the road that took them to downtown Port Charles and their house. “He makes you happy. And I want that. So, thanks.”

“Cameron—is—” She hissed as someone pulled out of a parking spot in front of her, cutting her off. “Damn it! Don’t people look where they’re going—”

“No, I guess not. Hey, question. Did you have McGinty for bio when you were at PCH?”

Recognizing that Cameron wanted to change the subject, Elizabeth didn’t press him — but she put it away in her head.

Because something wasn’t right.

New York City Port Authority

Jason slunk past the chain link fence that wrapped around one of the alleys behind the bus terminal. It was dark, but the streetlights flickered enough to keep him going. Just another hour until he could board the bus.

Just one more hour—he’d be home tomorrow. He’d be home, and he’d find out what the hell was going on—

But he just had to keep his eyes open, and be on alert for another hour—

He heard the scritch and squeak of something skidding—a sound that likely saved his life because Jason turned to look and saw the foot flying at him—it would have landed in his back, sending him sprawling to the concrete.

Jason’s hand flew up and shoved the foot away from him—then he spun around, and his hand lashed out at the neck of a second man coming for him. Jason choked him briefly, digging his fingers into the vocal cords before throwing him across the alley—the man slammed into the brick wall and slumped to the ground.

A third man came right at him, but Jason ducked and flipped him over his back before reaching for a metal trash can. He swung it out, knocking the first man back as he had picked himself up for a second attack.

Three of them. Jason took them in, his eyes squinting in the dark. No, definitely just three of them—

He snatched the metal trash can lid from the ground and used it like a shield as his eyes scanned the alley for something—anything he could use. Finally, he caught sight of something long and slim on the ground—a pipe.

The second man—the one he’d thrown in the wall—came at him again, and Jason swung out with the pipe—feeling the familiar satisfaction when the metal connected with a jaw—blood spurted, and the man slumped to the ground.

“Damn it! He didn’t say he was a fucking maniac!” the third guy grunted. “Some fucking mental patient—”

“Just get him!”

“Fuck you, you get him!”

Jason gripped the pipe in one hand, the trash lid in his other hand, and faced the two still standing. “Go back to Klein! This is your last chance!”

Not taking him seriously — the first guy made another frontal attempt, and Jason caught him under the chin with the pipe. He went flying to the ground and didn’t get up.

“Shee-yit, there’s not enough money in this,” the third guy decided as he took in his two companions on the ground. “I’m going! I’m going!”

He took off down the alley and disappeared. Breathing hard, Jason glanced around the alley, but no one was coming. No police. No curious bystanders. He edged towards the two unconscious men, then kicked one of the legs. Nothing. They didn’t move.

Jason tossed aside the pipe and lid, then searched them. He took the three hundred dollars he found in one of the wallets and the fifty from the other. He found a gun tucked into a holster on one of them, likely unused to avoid the sound of bullets echoing and drawing attention.

Jason straightened, checked the safety, then tucked the gun into the waistband of his jeans.

And for the first time since he’d woken up in St. Petersburg all those months ago—he almost felt like himself again.

He was going home. And no one was going to stop him.

Update Link: Ricochet, Chapter 1

RicochetUnbelievably excited to bring this first chapter to you guys. I’ve been hard at work on this book for the last six months, and it’s probably had the most issues due to the pandemic than any others because I was juggling the whole world falling apart at the same time I started a stressful new  job full-time.  It’s slowed down the post-production process to a crawl, which is why we’re returning to my old release model — a few chapters a week. I’m hoping to speed up to three chapters a week, but I won’t feel comforting doing that until I’ve cleared 20 chapters in the editing process.

Ricochet is the first book in a trilogy, and it’s probably one of the most ambitious stories I’ve ever attempted because it has a lot of moving pieces, and it’s more of an ensemble than even Mad World. This is also set in modern GH, beginning in October 2017, and I know a lot of my readers are not current GH viewers. Plus, it features a lot of characters that you might not be familiar with or fond of, including Oscar, Kim, Franco, Sam, Sonny, or Carly. I hope you guys will all give it a chance! Let me know what you think and I’ll see you on Thursday!

If you’re not a current GH viewer, you might find the following links useful:

Inspiration & Dedication — Why I’m writing it and what inspired me

Characters

Timeline (deep detail into 2012-17)

February 21, 2021

Update Link: A King’s Command – Part 20

Happy Sunday! Sorry about not doing flash fiction last night. I grossly underestimated how long it would take to get my shot last night. I waited in a decently long line (it was moving, but it was a mega site and lots of people in line, around 300 were there when I was). It was really well-organized — the Army did an amazing job. I’ve waited in worse lines. Unfortunately, due to my amoxicillin allergy, they made me wait another 30 minutes after my shot so I didn’t even leave until nearly 7. I still had to eat dinner — anyway. My next shot is scheduled for two Saturdays from now, but I’m more prepared for the whole thing and it’ll be earlier, too. Around 3, so I’ll be home by 7.

I’m glad you guys enjoyed the two snippets I gave you this weekend of what I’m playing with. I will say that as much as I love returning to worlds I’ve created like Mad World and Broken Girl, there is something fun about playing with something new, particularly Burn in Heaven. That’s a sequel to something already completed, but it’s a completely new narrative set several years later so I get to play in the same world with a whole new set of expectations.  I’m going to keep playing with some ideas this week — I think I want to play with Malice tomorrow on my break from work.

Very excited for you guys to finally start reading Fool Me Twice this week. The chapters are scheduled through Chapter 10, so we’re good to go for a full month, and I’m starting to feel slightly better. I mean, we’re still having better days than others, but getting back into the building and getting the vaccine shot — that helped. I’m still having that terrible ear issue but the sinus issue is cleared up and that was making it worse. I mostly block it with an earbud playing white noise so I can concentrate.

I hope to make up that part of Not Knowing When this week — maybe on Wednesday depending on how the week goes, so that I’m still finishing both on the same day. We’ll see 🙂

I might post a snippet of Malice for you tomorrow, but I might not, so I’ll see you when I see you 🙂

This entry is part 20 of 27 in the series Flash Fiction: A King's Command

Written in 60 minutes. No time for spell check or reread.


Less than three weeks after Jason returned from fighting alongside the Fraziers, the Camerons called for the help of the clan Morgan, and Jason had to, once again, leave his family behind in the keep under the protection of Johnny and several of his best men.

“You were spoiled the first year,” Tracy said on the third day of Jason’s absence when she sat down by the heart in the great hall. She reached for her pile of mending. “The Camerons and Frasiers were quiet.”

“I know. Jason said Highlanders like to fight,” Elizabeth grumbled as she bent over the tapestry she’d worked on most nights since Jason had left. They’d found a sweet maid to watch over Cameron for a few hours each night, and Jason had made her promise she’d spend more time sleeping and on her needlework.

She’d rather be in her room, watching her son breathe, making sure that he was safe, but the maid, Emma, was a loyal Morgan who wouldn’t let anything happen to the laird’s son.

“He’s fine.”

Elizabeth flushed. “You must think me silly. Jason had to force me to leave the room.”

“I think you are a new mother who listened to me too closely.” Tracy shifted, uncomfortable. “I should not have told you about his mother’s losses. You’ve taken it too closely to heart.”

Elizabeth forced herself not ot smile. “Aunt, are you admitting to a mistake?”

“No,” Tracy said flatly. “I am never wrong.” She sniffed. “Just merely remarking that perhaps that particular story was not well-suited to your dramatic nature.”

“Ah, that sounds right.” Elizabeth frowned when she saw some activity near the entrance to the great hall. Johnny glanced up from the table where he was sitting with some of the men and strode across the hall.

Tracy shifted in her seat, narrowing her eyes. “What on earth—it’s after the supper hour—”

Her heart began to pound. She’d taken Jason’s return for granted, so sure that he would best anyone in battle. What if he was hurt—or worse—No, no, she’d touched him as he’d left, assured herself of his safety—but her visions couldn’t always be depended on—

“What’s going on?” Tracy demanded. “Johnny O’Brien—”

Johnny flashed the older woman an irritated glare and waved her off before returning his attention to the men at the door. He nodded, said something that neither of them could hear.

“That insolent—” Tracy turned to Elizabeth. “Can’t you see what the problem is?”

“I require touch,” Elizabeth said softly. “And Jason should be coming home to us. I never would have let him leave—”

“I’m sorry,” Johnny said as he joined them by the fire. “That was a scout from the border. There’s…there’s a royal procession camping just outside our lands.” He looked at Elizabeth who clenched her hands her lap, beneath the cloth of her tapestry. “The scout said it was Albany’s colors.”

“Why would the regent be this far north? He should be taking the princes to Edinburgh.” Tracy scowled and resumed her seat. “Is this about the business you told me about? The attack near Carnwell Pass?”

“Aye. Jason thinks the regent was behind it, but we can’t imagine why. He sent for Jason to marry me. Why would he do that—”

“Well,” Johnny said, pitching his voice a bit lower so that none of the men could overhear them. “You came there under your father’s protection. You couldn’t have stayed at court without his permission. After the wedding, he wanted you brought to the court. Mayhap he thought Jason would leave you at court.”

“He was irritated at being forced into marriage without being told—” Elizabeth’s lips pressed together. “His Grace was quite insistent I not tell Jason. I was so scared that he’d proclaim me as a witch or he’d leave me behind if I did.”

“And Albany thought Jason would be angry enough at your refusal to leave you behind. Under his protection. And control.” Johnny shrugged. “Not so many seers left, lass. ‘Tis passed through inheritance, and most never admit to the powers.”

“But that still doesn’t—he can’t think I’ll leave with him willingly,” Elizabeth said, twisting her hands. “And I’m Jason’s wife—”

“Jason isn’t here. Albany will know of the Cameron and Frasier’s recent battles. He’s been in Sterling for weeks. Word would have traveled.” Johnny shook his head. “Don’t worry, lass. I’ve sent a rider for Jason. He’ll return—”

“But the battle isn’t done. He can’t turn his back on an ally—”

“The Cameron will understand,” Tracy cut in. “Highlanders have little love for the court or any puffed up arse who thinks to walk onto their land and take what’s theirs.”

“You’ll stay in the keep,” Johnny told Elizabeth. “Stick close to Cameron, and I’ll take care of the rest. Albany can’t force his way in.”

“I keep being told what he can’t do, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped him yet.” Elizabeth got to her feet. “Good night, Aunt. Johnny.”

Tracy watched her niece by marriage climb the steps before turning to Johnny with a scowl. “Jason is two days away, even by the fastest messenger. It’ll be nearly a week before he can be here. By then, that damned duke will have stormed the keep and forced her to go—”

“Jason left me to protect his family,” Johnny said darkly. “I’ll not let her go without a fight.”

“See that you don’t.”

By mid-morning the next day, all of the keep knew something was wrong. The scouts reported at the royal procession was drawing closer, and Elizabeth knew what Tracy and Johnny weren’t telling her — Jason wouldn’t be able to return home in time.

“Couldn’t you smuggle me out through one of the passages?” she asked Johnny when the first-in-command came to report the regent and his men were maybe two hours away. “You could tell him I went to visit my father—”

“And left your newborn son behind?” Johnny said. He shook his head. “He would just go to our allies—”

“Is that not what they’re for?” Tracy snapped. Johnny glared at her. “They can hide her at the Camerons, and then move her to the Frasiers. Eventually Jason will return—”

“Jason can call on the Camerons and Frasiers to hide his wife. I’m the bloody Irishman that barely knows Gaelic,” Johnny retorted. “You’d have me bring the royal court to their doorway without Jason’s knowledge?”

“Johnny—”

They turned to Gannon at the doorway. The younger warrior swallowed hard. “The regent and a small contingent—they’re traveling ahead of the procession. They’ll be here in less than an hour.”

Johnny’s scowl deepened, and he turned back to Elizabeth. “You stay in this room with the babe. Both of you,” he told Tracy who narrowed her eyes.

“Boy—”

Johnny didn’t stay to hear what Tracy would say next.

Elizabeth turned to look at her son. Her beloved, precious miracle. She traced a finger down his face. “There’s a woman in the village,” she said to Tracy. “She’ll be able to take over for me with the feeding. I made sure someone was able.”

“What fool thing—”

“He waited until he knew Jason wasn’t here. Until he knew the majority of Jason’s men were days away.” Elizabeth picked Cameron up and took him over to the hearth so she could sit with her son one more time and feed him. “He’ll lay seige to the keep.”

“Let him—”

“I made a promise to Jason that my secret would never bring harm to the clan.” Elizabeth stared down at Cameron. “I could never repay his kindness in making me a wife and mother by bringing destruction to the place he loves.” She looked at Tracy. “We’ll be under attack in hours. Albany has come ahead of the others to see if you’ll turn me over. I can save you all.”

“But—”

Maybe her vision had been just a nightmare. Maybe this babe would be all she had. There wouldn’t be another son, another year of this life—

“Would you sacrifice the clan to save yourself?” Elizabeth asked softly. She met Tracy’s eyes. “No. You would do the same, Aunt.”

“Jason will come after you,” Tracy told her, firmly.

“Aye, likely he will. And we’ll see what happens. But we don’t know what Albany wants of me or where he’ll bring me.” Her voice faltered. “Maybe I’ll be back and this will be just a story we tell the children one day.”

“Elizabeth—”

“You’ll look after my son, won’t you? And Jason. I know I don’t have to ask because you’re a Morgan and that’s what you do, but—” She cleared her throat. “I still need to ask. You had the raising of Jason, didn’t you?”

“That was his father, and he was a boy of ten by the time his mother passed—” Uncomfortable, Tracy began to pace the room. “But aye, I finished the job.”

“So I know you’ll look after my family. I love them. I should have—I should have told Jason that I loved him,” she admitted. “I was afraid. He never asked for any of this, and I didn’t want him to feel guilty for not feeling the same.”

“If you think my nephew isn’t stupid over you,” Tracy declared, “then I don’t see how you can call yourself a seer.”

Elizabeth laughed, but it was more of a choked sob. “I could never see for myself. I wish I could know that was true.”

“Then I’ll make sure he tells you when he comes to fetch you.”

Johnny hadn’t been able to keep the regent from coming into the keep. There had been a small scufffle at the front gates, but the Duke of Albany had easily gained entrance and within the hour, he was standing in the doorway of Elizabeth’s bedroom.

“Well, Lady Morgan, we meet again.” He flicked his eyes to Tracy. “Leave us.”

“No—”

“Tracy.” Elizabeth kissed her son then slowly set him in his aunt’s arms. “Take Cameron somewhere safe and remember what I said.”

Tracy grimaced, then looked at Albany. “When my nephew hears of this, I hope he puts your head on a pike.” She stalked out the door.

Albany watched her leave. “Amazing to think she never married,” he muttered, then turned his attention back to Elizabeth. “You know why I’m here.”

“To make me leave. I just don’t understand why.” Elizabeth laced her fingers together to keep them shaking. “You were the one who brought Jason to me. You arranged our marriage. Why do you not leave us to live our lives?”

“He was supposed to be so angry at my command and at your refusal to tell him the truth that he’d leave you in a pique of anger.” Albany wrinkled his nose. “These Highlanders never do anything the way I want them to. I left you alone for as long as I could, didn’t I? I even let you have time to have a son—”

“You gave me a whole hear,” Elizabeth said. “How kind of you,” she retorted.

“You could bring the brat with you if you like—”

“Morgans belong here.” Elizabeth lifted her chin. “What if I refuse to leave? Will you destroy the keep?”

“If you refuse to leave with me now,” Albany said, his voice low and hard, “not only will I raze this holding to the ground, but I will make sure that all who live here know you to be a witch.”

Elizabeth’s heart began to beat a bit faster. “They practice the Old Ways,” she said softly.

“Do they? Every single one of them?” Albany raised a brow. “You are willing to take that risk? To destroy the land your husband holds so dear? I can do more than destroy this ragged keep, my lady. Do you want to ask the queen what I’m capable of?”

“No.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “No. I just wanted to know how evil you truly were. How did you know what I was capable of? Because you knew before I came to court.”

“I sent for you, my dear.” Albany reached for her arm and started to drag her towards the door. “Your mother was a dear, distant cousin, and I knew of her curse. I knew it traveled in the blood, and once I learned your father had hidden his youngest daughter away—well, it wasn’t that difficult. Satisfied?”

“My husband will come for me.”

“I hope, for your sake, that’s not true. Because it would be a shame for you to be the reason his clan was disbanded and he was executed for treason,” Albany hissed in her ear as he tugged her down the stairs. “Be grateful for the year I’ve let you have. You belong to me now. And he’ll replace you before the first snow falls.”

I told you guys I wanted to play a bit with some of the projects on my drawing board to see if I felt drawn to any of them, particularly the ones that I haven’t touched at all or in years. These Small Hours was actually a project I started back in 2008. It was originally a Johnny/Nadine story with some Liason flavor, but in the last 13 years, the Nohnny fanbase (which was tiny to begin with) has, uh, drifted and I might be the sole survivor. So it has to be refashioned into a Liason story with Nohnny flavor. You can read the original version in the Fiction Graveyard.

This is kind of the opening for Burn in Heaven, the sequel to A Few Words Too Many, a story I wrote in 2014. I think one of the reasons I never got around to the sequel in 7 years was that because I was writing about Liz’s first pregnancy, it meant that Cameron didn’t exist. Cam is legit my favorite Webber boy, so it felt weird. I decided to fit him in anyway, lol. This is set in 2007, four years after A Few Words ended.  I also want to play a bit with Kismet, Mad World, Broken Girl, and Malice as well as some of the AU stories before I make a final decision, and maybe do another poll once you guys have more to work with. I wrote this just this morning, so I haven’t reread or anything. It’s like extended flash fic over two hours, lol.

I hope you enjoy! I’ll be back tonight with Flash Fiction.


August 2007

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

When Jason Morgan had been dragged into work that morning, he’d left chaos behind in his wake. He hadn’t wanted to go to work—it was a Sunday and it was supposed to be his day off. He’d told his best friend and business partner that Sundays were off limits except for emergencies, and Sonny Corinthos mostly listened to that.

So when Sonny had claimed an emergency that morning, Jason had looked at his exhausted wife and reluctantly left her and their three small children behind to head down to the warehouse. An emergency in his business meant life or death, and that had to come first. Elizabeth had smiled wanly at him, assured him she understood, and sent him on her way. She could handle the kids.

Jason had been livid when he arrived at Sonny’s office to learn that the emergency was just some contracts that needed to be filed the next day, and Sonny needed Jason to witness his signature right now because he was heading to Rome that afternoon with Kate Howard, the new woman in Sonny’s life.

“This isn’t an emergency,” Jason had told him tightly, but Sonny just shrugged. It was an hour out of Jason’s life, what was the big deal? Elizabeth could deal with the kids for an hour.

By the time Jason got home, it was closer to three hours since he’d left Elizabeth alone. The contracts had taken longer than Sonny thought they would, and there had been a crisis on the floor that Jason needed to deal with—

He didn’t know what he expected when he came home later that morning, but it wasn’t the sight of potato chips crumbled all over the sofa and a glass of juice tipped over the coffee table so that the red liquid pooled over glass top and trickled to the carpet.

Jason frowned, then went into the kitchen where Cadence, who would turn four that December, was carefully putting a handful of Fruity Pebbles in her younger brother’s palm. “It has fruit,” she told two-year-old Cameron seriously. “That means it’s good for you. It’s on the box.”

“I don’t think that’s how it works,” Jason said, leaning against the doorway, charmed despite himself.

Cady gasped, her dark brown eyes widening with joy. “Daddy! Daddy! You’re home!” She dropped the box and ran at him. He lifted her into his arms, hugging her tightly as if they’d been separated for days rather than hours. “I took care of Cam.”

“I can see that—” Jason glanced down, feeling Cameron attach himself to his jeans. He took in the kitchen—it didn’t look much better than the living room and hadn’t been cleaned up from breakfast. His heart began to pound just a bit faster, and his fingers tightened around Cady. “Where’s Mom? And Jake?”

“She took Jake upstairs to clean up,” Cady said. She pressed a finger to her lips. “But shhhh. I think she’s sleeping. She’s laying on the bed and her eyes are closed.”

“Okay.” He forced himself to stay calm—he didn’t want the kids to be upset. They’d been through enough three months earlier when Elizabeth had given birth to Jake and nearly died. Jason had been at the hospital for days with her, and Cady and Cameron had been bounced around relatives.

“I’m going to go upstairs and check on her, okay? Can you finish feeding your brother?”

“I can,” Cady told him proudly. “I’m all grown up. I’m gonna be four. That’s this many.” She held up four fingers. “Aunt Emmie said I can run the world.”

“I know you can.” He kissed her cheek, then set her back on the ground. “I’ll be right back.”

“‘Kay, Daddy. Cam, come eat your cereal—”

Jason walked as quickly as he could back through the living room, and took the steps two at a time. She’d probably laid down for just a minute—she was fine, she was okay—

Their bedroom was dark and quiet, the blackout curtains pulled so that Jake could nap when he needed to throughout the day.

Elizabeth was curled up on her side and Jake was laying next to her. She’d arranged pillows around the three-month-old infant so that he couldn’t roll too far away from her and his eyes were closed but his chest was rising—he was just sleeping.

And Cady was right. Her mother was sound asleep, one hand tucked under her cheek, the other stretched out to cover Jake’s stomach. The muscles in his chest relaxed and he exhaled slowly, scrubbing his hands over his face. For Elizabeth to fall asleep like this while Cady and Cameron were both downstairs, alone—

She was so tired and worn out. He never should have left.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured. He leaned down to kiss her forehead, then left the room.

He returned to the kitchen and found actual food for the kids to have for lunch, careful to keep the monitor close. If Jake stirred, Jason didn’t want him to wake Elizabeth until she was ready to be awake.

While Cady and Cam were eating, he cleaned up the kitchen and the living room, then returned to sit next to them at the table. “Hey, do you guys want to go over Aunt Carly’s tonight?”

Cady squinted her eyes. “Mommy didn’t have another baby, did she? I always go to Aunt Carly’s when there’s a new baby.” She glared at Cameron who frowned at her, a spoonful of Spaghettios in his hand. “No more babies.”

“No more babies. Just for fun.”

“Not a baby,” Cameron informed his sister, offended. He help up two fingers. “I’m this many now. Mommy said that made me a big boy. Not baby. Jake is a baby.”

Cady rolled her eyes, looking like such a perfect miniature version of her mother that it made Jason smile. She looked at her father. “Okay. Aunt Carly. But if I come home and there’s a new baby—”

“No new babies,” Jason repeated. “Finish eating and I’ll pack for you.”

Jake stirred while Jason was putting together their overnight bags, and Jason was able to grab his son before Elizabeth could hear him crying—and that worried him, too. She’d always been the first to get up with Cady and Cameron. She’d had a sixth sense with them, but since she’d come home from the hospital—

“She’s tired,” Carly told Jason when she got to the penthouse to pick up the kids. She folded her arms. “Three kids in four years is insane. I told you both that when the stick turned blue with this one.” She nodded at Jake in Jason’s arms. “What are you, rabbits?”

Jason scowled. “It’s not just my fault—”

“No, she’s definitely a moron, too.” Carly arched a brow. “Get a nanny and get a snip.” She frowned. “Wait. You said Sonny called you in today. It’s Sunday.”

“Carly—”

“Sundays are supposed to be for emergencies—” She stabbed a finger at him. “You see, this is why I divorced him—”

“He divorced you because you lied about Kristina being his daughter,” Jason reminded her.

“Look, Alexis and I thought we were going to die!” Carly threw up her hands. “It was a deathbed confession!”

“I didn’t say I didn’t understand—look, Carly—don’t start. Can you just take Cady and Cam? Jake’s too young—”

“Hire a nanny. Don’t let her talk you out of this again. She’s basically a single mother when you go off to work—”

“She is not—” Jason closed his mouth. “Things are quiet—”

“Which is why the schedule Sonny has you working is insane. You’re supposed to be partners,” Carly said flatly. “He’s a father, too. Not that he remembers. Where did he need to go this time?”

Jason paused. “Rome.”

“Rome,” Carly repeated. She nodded. “He has time to follow Kate to Rome, and he had lots of time to take Amelia and Jordan to the island, and he took that whore Sam on a freakin’ cruise with that yacht she wanted—”

“Carly—”

“When was the last time you got to take a damn vacation? When has Elizabeth left the country?”

He scrubbed a hand over his face. “I know, Carly—”

“Your first anniversary. More than two years ago. I’m surprised you found the time to make an extra kid—” She wrinkled her nose. “I don’t want to think about that.”

“Then don’t—”

“I love you, Jason. You know that.” Carly sighed. “I just—you’re letting him take you for granted. He’s taking Elizabeth for granted. It’s what he did to me. After everything we went through to be together—I thought he respected me. I thought he loved me. But I was never my own person with him. He might have moved out, but you know I’m the one that filed the papers.”

“I know that—”

“And I’m still not wild you forced her into my life, but now she’s here. I got stuck with her in the divorce—”

Jason squinted. “That’s not even remotely true—”

“And I’m telling you that she’s at the end of her rope. If she’s falling asleep for this long with the kids down stairs making a mess and on their own—”

“I know things have to change—”

“Then make a change. Do it today.” She paused. “You know I’m happy to take the kids. I love them like they were my own, and I’m glad to be able to finally be here for you the way you’ve always been there for me. But four years ago, you refused to listen to me and she nearly walked away.”

His chest tightened. “I know that.”

“Don’t think because she loves you and you keep breeding like bunnies that she’s going to stick around. She’s got options. Places to go.”

“Wait—” Jason stared at her, his arms tightening reflexively around his son. “She’s not—”

“No,” Carly said. “She’s an idiot and loves you. But there are people in her life who are telling her she should.” She pressed her lips together. “You didn’t hear that from me and I’m not saying another word.” Her eyes softened. “I love you. And for some reason, I don’t hate her. Don’t let Sonny screw up your family the way he screwed up ours.”

“I won’t. I promise.”

“Okay.” Satisfied, Carly held out her hands. “Now give me that baby so I can get my cuddles in. I need to imprint on him just like the others so I’ll always be the favorite aunt.”

Jason rolled his eyes, then went to get Cady and Cameron from the kitchen. Carly might have grown up in a lot of ways, but in others, she would always be the same.

“Remember, Daddy,” Cady told him seriously as she slung her sparkly unicorn backpack over her shoulder. “I better not come home to no more babies. I’m tired. They cry.”

Carly snorted and handed Jake back to his father. “Even your kid knows. Snip, snip, Jase.”

Jason scowled, kissed the kids goodbye, and closed the door behind his best friend. “Let’s go upstairs and check on Mommy,” he told Jake who just shoved his fist into his mouth. “Right.”

Elizabeth slept for maybe another half hour, then rolled over onto her back to find Jason sitting next to her, his back against the head back, his legs stretched out with Jake dozing on his chest. “Hey.” She smiled lazily. “How long—”

She jackknifed into a sitting position, looking around wildly. “What time is it? I fell sleep—where are Cam and Cady—”

“At Carly’s for the night.”

“What—” Elizabeth pressed her hands to her face. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry—”

“Hey—” Jason slid off the bed and settled Jake into his bassinet before coming back to the bed and gathering her in his arms just as she started to cry. “Why are you sorry? I’m the one that left—”

“But you had an emergency—I told you I could handle it—”

“And you have,” Jason said, more sharply than he meant to, but he couldn’t stand that she thought she’d disappointed him. No one could have handled his life better than she did. Than she had for the last four years. He dropped his face in her neck, tightening his hold on you. “I’m the one that let you down—”

“But I fell asleep and anything could have happened—”

“Look at me.” He drew back, smoothing her hair out of her face, waited for her to meet his eyes, then pressed his forehead against hers. “You’re only human. And Kelly only cleared you medically three weeks ago. That doesn’t mean you’re one hundred percent yet.”

“But—”

“Sonny’s out of town for the week,” Jason told her. “He’s in Rome—which means he can’t call or bother me. I told Bernie and Tommy to take care of anything that comes up. I’m here. For the week. And when Sonny comes back, things are going to change.” He paused. “I promise.”

“Okay, but—” Elizabeth chewed on her bottom lip. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep. I just—Jake was taking a while to go down, and I just—I thought he’d sleep if I closed my eyes—”

“And he did. He was still sleeping when I got home. Cady came up, saw you were asleep, and went downstairs to take care of Cameron. She was feeding him when I got him.”

“Feeding him.” Elizabeth managed a smile. “I can only imagine.”

“Fruity Pebbles. But only after she’d tried juice and potato chips which he decorated the living room. My point is—” He sighed, then moved back to sit against the headboard, tucking her under his arm. “Cady made me promise if she went to Aunt Carly’s, there wouldn’t be new babies when she came home.”

“Oh, God. She didn’t. She’s too young to remember Cam—”

“Apparently not. Or people talk when she’s around.” Neither of their boys had been planned in the slightest, and Cameron had been a genuine surprise, conceived on their honeymoon in Venice. He wouldn’t trade either of them for the world, but— “She’s right. I love all three of them, but we need to be more careful.”

“I know.” Elizabeth sighed. “Kelly told me when I got pregnant last year with Jake she was worried I wasn’t taking enough time between them, but in our defense—” She tilted her back to look at him. “He’s only here because of the Quartermaines, and Emily had Cady and Cam that night.”

Jason scowled at the reminder of the failure of the Enduro condoms that ELQ manufactured, then sighed. “Yeah, well, the blackout didn’t help.”

“No, you looked really sexy in the candlelight.” She grinned and he laughed, relieved to see her happier. “I love you, Jason. And I know you love the kids. I—” She hesitated. “We don’t talk about it much, but I want you know how much it means to me that you love Cady the way you do.”

Jason didn’t ask what she meant. Their oldest daughter was not his biological child, a fact that had become clear to most people as she’d gotten older. Her facial features were all Elizabeth, but she shared her biological father’s coloring, from the dark eyes to the dark hair. Jason’s mother had carefully broached the topic a few years ago, worried that maybe Jason didn’t know.

“She’s been mine since the day I found out you were pregnant,” Jason told her. “I don’t even think about it.”

“I know. And that’s what I mean. I just—there are enough people in this town who do remember…him. And one day, we’re going to have to tell her because she deserves to know the truth about who she is. And where she comes from.” Elizabeth paused. “When did you know? About Monica, I mean? And Susan? Or I mean, do you know when you found out before the accident?”

“I—I don’t know. I don’t really remember. I think Monica told me because she was trying to explain how blood didn’t matter. I don’t think I cared before the accident. We should ask her at some point. I know we have to tell Cady when she’s older because if we don’t, someone else will. And I’d rather it came from us.”

“That’s one thing you can depend on in Port Charles,” Elizabeth said. She snuggled into Jason’s embrace. “If you don’t tell the truth, someone will tell it for you.”

“But we don’t have to worry about that for a long time. Everyone who knows the truth loves Cady. They’re not going to do anything to hurt her. Or us.”

“No. She’s safe. We made sure of it.”

Crimson Pointe, New York

Zacchara Estate: Study

Anthony Zacchara leaned back in his chair and lifted the cigar to his mouth, studying the woman in front of him. “Your proposal intrigues me,” he admitted. “And I do enjoy the idea of torturing Corinthos and Morgan until they bleed, but, uh, what do I get from this?”

Faith Roscoe’s lips curved into a smile as she examined her nails, flicking at a chip in the blood red polish. “Haven’t you ever pulled wings from a fly just to see what would happen?”  She shrugged one shoulder elegantly. “I’ll get my revenge, and you’ll get to take over Port Charles. Send one of those kids of yours to run the place if you want.”

“You don’t want the power?” Anthony lifted his brow. “I find that hard to believe.”

“Breaking Sonny Corinthos and Jason Morgan is all the power I need.” Faith lifted a perfectly arched brow. “Are you in or out?”