April 11, 2021

Update Link: Not Knowing When – Part 13

Happy Sunday! I’ve had a pretty productive week writing wise, and the main reason I didn’t update Flash Fiction twice is that I wanted to make sure I continued working on Fool Me Twice and Smoke & Mirrors. I edited eight chapters of Fool Me Twice and wrote two chapters of Smoke & Mirrors. I’m almost finished the beta draft for Chapters 21-38 for FMT (the first round of edits), and I’ll be moving into the second round of edits (polishing it) during week 2 of my posting hiatus.

As for Flash Fiction, this Sunday morning flash fiction time is working out pretty well. I’ve arranged my Sunday schedule to give me time to rest and relax and still do errands. I’m going to tackle Saturday next since starting this week, I’ll be five full days in the building and I’m back in the classroom full-time which is awesome. I can’t wait for windows. Up until now, my weekends have started kind of weirdly since I was remote teaching from home on Fridays so it was both work and not.

I hope to add back a second Flash Fiction update on Saturday mornings at some point, but it might not be for a few weeks. Thanks for bearing with me. For now, it’s just going to be these Sunday morning updates.

Since there’s no Fool Me Twice updates this week, I’ll see you next Sunday!

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

Written in 49 minutes. Did a spell check but not a reread.


Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“How the hell do you just lose a prisoner?” Brenda demanded as Jason tried to absorb what Mac had just told him.

Elizabeth was missing. She was gone.

“He’s bluffing!” Scott declared to Mac. “You know it—”

Mac narrowed his eyes at the district attorney. “If he was bluffing,” the man began, “then why the hell is he here and not with her?”

“We drag him into the PCPD, he won’t be able to join her—we let him on the loose—” Scott continued.

“No one answered my damn question! How the hell does someone waltz into lock up and take a prisoner away?” Brenda stepped in front of Jason. “Until you give us some answers, you should get out—”

“Which brunette did you marry or is this one of those sister-wives things?” Scott snarled. Brenda hissed and started for the district attorney, but Jason grabbed her arm and dragged her back.

“She’s right,” Jason said flatly. “You locked my wife up without any damn evidence and now she’s missing. Go find her. I’ve got nothing else to say to you. Get out.”

“Let’s go before he changes his mind and lets Brenda loose—” Mac sent Brenda a surly look. “And she bites—”

“Damn right—”

As soon as the elevator doors had closed on the law enforcement officers, Jason and Brenda were across the hall, Jason not even letting Max announce them.

Carly, Sonny, and Michael were sitting at the table, eating, but Sonny surged to his feet as Jason and Brenda came in. “What’s going on?” he demanded. He looked to Carly who hurried to grab Michael and hand him off to Leticia. The nanny went upstairs.

“Elizabeth disappeared from lock up last night,” Jason said and now the words were really sinking in. There was only one person who’d go after her this way. He knew he hadn’t arranged for it—even he didn’t have the connections to get her out under the PCPD’s nose. Neither did Sonny.

That left one option.

“Damn it—” Sonny growled. “Do they think you did it?”

“Scott does,” Brenda said, “but Mac didn’t seem convinced. Sonny—Jason—” She looked at the enforcer. “Luis could have done this—”

“There’s no could have—”

The landline across the room rang. The four of them looked at it for a minute before Jason stalked over to snatch up the receiver. “What?”

“Did you enjoy your visit from the DA and Commissioner?”

The cool, unaffected tone had Jason’s blood boiling but he knew how to handle this. He had to turn it off. He couldn’t do what he’d done this summer—when he’d lost his temper in a fit of rage and fear and killed the man who knew Elizabeth was in that crypt.

“Not really.”

“I didn’t think you would. Your wife is quite lovely, Mr. Morgan. And very smart. Did you know she didn’t even fight?”

His mouth was so dry he could barely force out the words. “Where is she?”

“Oh, she’s fine. Still alive anyway. I’m enjoying the sight. She looks like my Brenda, you know. All that lovely dark hair, big eyes—they’re the wrong color, but I could tolerate it. There’s not much to her, is there? Delicate. Fragile. Just my type.”

His knuckles ached as he tightened his fingers around the receiver. “I want proof of life.”

“You’re a cold one, aren’t you? That’s why I’m negotiating with you. Mr. Corinthos is more hot-headed—”

“Proof of life,” Jason cut in. “Or I hang up.” He waited, hearing the rustle, hearing something in the background, hushed tones.

Finally — “Jason?”

He closed his eyes. “Elizabeth. Are you all right?”

“Yes. He didn’t—he didn’t hurt me. They drugged me and I woke up wherever I am. Jason, he wants to trade—don’t do it—”

Her voice disappeared as Jason imagined someone yanking it away and Alcazar’s voice came over the line. “Brave girl, trying to ruin my surprise. But I’m sure you saw this coming. I thought about forcing Sonny to trade his wife, but I’m not so sure he wouldn’t leave the harpy with me for punishment and keep what’s mine. I want Brenda.”

“I don’t control her—”

“I didn’t say she had to be willing. You know how to get the job done. If you want your wife back, you’ll make the deal.” There was a pause. “You might need some time to think it over. I’ll call back in ten minutes.”

The line went dead and Jason slowly set it back down on the hook, trying to order his thoughts. He wanted to go to the yacht, kill everyone in sight until he found her and bring her home—but that clearly wasn’t an option.

“Jason?” Sonny asked. “You talked to her?”

“She’s alive. He wants a trade.”

“For me.” Brenda folded her arms tightly across her chest. Her cheeks were pale as she spoke, “He wants me.”

“Yes.” Jason met her eyes. “That’s not on the table, Brenda. Even if I wanted to, Elizabeth would never agree to it.”

Brenda took that in, then looked at Carly who had remained quiet, almost frozen. “It’d be an easy choice for you, huh?” she said, her tone light but laced with fear.

“No.” Carly’s eyes were direct. “No. It wouldn’t be.” She turned her attention to Jason. “What can I do?”

“Michael is probably scared,” Jason told her. “Go upstairs. Sit with him. If I think of something else—”

“Okay. Okay.” Carly dragged her hands through her hair, took another deep breath, and started for the stairs — but stopped at the knock on the door and the raised voices outside.

Max opened the door as Audrey Hardy pushed her way in.

“I just had a call from Mac Scorpio,” Elizabeth’s grandmother said, her voice hard and tight. “My granddaughter is missing. Either you sent her out of the country or one of your enemies kidnapped her. Which is it?”

“Mrs. Hardy,” Sonny began but Audrey silenced him with one hot glare.

“I was going to approve of this,” Audrey began, shaking a finger at Jason. “I had my reservations, but I didn’t want to fight with my granddaughter anymore. But I was right! You’ll be death of her—”

“Uh, weren’t you championing my idiot cousin like eight seconds ago?” Carly snapped, stepping in front of the older woman and her friend. “Didn’t you give Elizabeth a lot of grief for leaving him at the altar? Didn’t Lucky almost get her killed like eight times because of Helena Cassadine?”

Audrey narrowed her eyes. “That’s different—”

“Yeah, because Helena is certifiably insane. But Elizabeth knew that. She’s a big girl who puts her panties on one leg at a time. She knows who Jason is. What he does. So why the hell do you respect her choices when she takes on super villains but not a guy who’d literally walk through fire for her?”

Audrey stared at Carly for a long moment before swallowing hard and meeting Jason’s eyes. “Where is she?”

“I don’t know, Mrs. Hardy,” Jason said honestly. “But I’m going to get her back. I promise you that.”

Alcazar’s Yacht

Elizabeth was getting very tired of being kidnapped. The first time, she’d been dragged out of her studio kicking and screaming but this time she’d been drugged and hadn’t known what was going on. She couldn’t decide which was worse.

She really didn’t like the ropes and gag—but at least she was being held in a room with port-holes that received sunlight. It wasn’t dark.

“You have the strangest look on your face,” Luis Alcazar murmured as he sauntered across the room. He removed the gag from her mouth. “What’s going through that head of yours?”

“Honestly? Trying to decide which kidnapping I liked better.” Elizabeth rolled her shoulders. “The ropes are chafing my wrist,” she said, “but the last time, I was shoved in a crypt and held in the dark for days.”

“So I’m preferable?”

“I didn’t enjoy the drugging or waking up somewhere strange. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens when I get kidnapped a third time. I’ll need a tie breaker.”

“Fair enough.” The man lowered himself into a chair across from her. “You expect to be kidnapped again?”

“You never know in Port Charles.” Elizabeth waited a beat. “This isn’t going to work.”

“You’re going to tell me Morgan won’t sacrifice Brenda for you, and I know that.” Luis lifted an elegant shoulder in a dismissive shrug. “She’ll offer herself, and he’ll tell her now, and they’ll come up with another plan.”

“So why bother if it won’t work—” She stopped. “Because Jason won’t get near this boat without Brenda.”

“Once she’s on board, I have a chance. Right now, I don’t have many options.”

“But she doesn’t want you—you’re rich and you’re not hideous,” she admitted. “You could have almost anyone—”

“Could I have you?” Luis asked coolly. When she scowled at him. “I can have anyone I want. I want Brenda. She was perfectly happy for a long time—”

“Until she wasn’t. What are you going to do? Lock her up? Even if you win this time,” Elizabeth said, “she’ll just try to leave again. Are you going to spend the rest of your life chasing after her, kidnapping and killing to keep her?”

“If I have to.”

Elizabeth cleared her throat. “What if Jason refuses to bring Brenda to the boat?”

“Oh, he won’t. Excuse me, dear. I have a call to make.”

Luis slid the cell phone out of his jacket pocket. “Morgan? Hello. I just wanted to make the terms of my deal crystal clear. You either bring Brenda to the yacht tonight at eleven to make the trade or I’ll sail away with the beautiful Mrs. Morgan to keep me company on the dark, cold nights. You can ask Brenda how that might go.” His lips curled into a smile. “Yes, I thought you’d see it my way.”

He closed the phone and placed it back in his jacket as Elizabeth just stared at him. “Questions?”

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

“What are you going to do?”

Jason turned to Carly who hadn’t gone upstairs even after Audrey had gone. They’d only heard his side of the conversation, making the appointment.

“I don’t know yet, but if he doesn’t see you by eleven tonight—” he looked at Brenda whose dark eyes were somber, “he said he’d leave and keep Elizabeth to keep him company. The way you did.”

Brenda cleared her throat, stared down at the ground. “Okay. Okay. Well, we have to keep that from happening at all costs.”

“Brenda—” Sonny began, but Brenda jerked her head up to stare at her former lover.

“No. You don’t get to ask that question. No one gets to ask that question.”

“But—”

“She said no,” Carly said, surprising Sonny and Brenda. “Whatever she doesn’t want to talk about sounds like it’s bad enough we don’t want it for Elizabeth. Do you need the damned details, Sonny?”

“No. No, I’m sorry,” Sonny said, startled by his wife’s defense, but no more so than Brenda who stared at the blonde with wide eyes.

“Stop looking at me like that,” Carly muttered. “I’m a selfish, narcissistic bitch. There’s no rule that says I can’t occasionally be a good person when I feel like it.”

“Brenda—” Jason began.

“I’ll go with you,” Brenda said. “Because Luis doesn’t make idle threats. He’ll leave. And you’ll be chasing him for the rest of your life. It’s her or me.”

“No. It’s neither of you. You’ll go only because he won’t let me on the boat without you. But we’ll go in with a plan. You and Elizabeth, you’re both getting off that damn boat.”

It was only later that Brenda realized that Jason hadn’t said anything about making sure they all came home.

This entry is part 20 of 20 in the series Fool Me Twice: Ricochet

This is the last time
That I’m ever gonna give in tonight
Are there angels or devils crawling here?
I just want to know what blurs and what is clear to see
Well, I can see the pain in you
With I can see the love in you
And fighting all the demons will take time
It will take time
Angels or Devils, Dishwalla


November 2011

General Hospital: Hospital Room

Elizabeth’s nails dug into his upper arms as her eyes, wild and feverishly bright, bore into his. “He’s out there!” she told him, desperately, her voice ragged and hoarse. “We have to get him—”

Jason’s chest ached as he gently gripped her shoulders. “Okay,” he told her softly. “Okay, we’ll get him. I promise—”

“No, no! You don’t believe me!” With a keening cry, she tried to push herself out of her bed, but Jason’s hold was firm and kept her down. “I touched him—I held him!”

“I know—” Jason looked over his shoulder at the open door, looking desperately for his mother with the sedative. He turned back to Elizabeth. “I believe you did,” he said, and something in his tone must have gotten through to her. He honestly did  — he believed that whatever fever dream she’d experienced had felt so real that she was convinced their son—their bright, beautiful little boy dead these last six months—was alive somewhere.

She’d been seeing Jake off and on for months, he knew that, but this was the first time she’d decided one of those visions had been real. She’d always known the difference before.

“Jason,” she whimpered. “Please. Please. If you ever loved me, you need to go find him. She has him—she has him—”

“I do love you,” Jason promised, his heart sliced in two at the doubt in her eyes. He’d returned to Sam, and Elizabeth had moved on with her life, but he’d always love her. Would always wish that things could have been different— “Elizabeth—”

“He’s alive—”

“Here we go,” Monica said with a murmur as she came into the room on the other side of Elizabeth’s bed. “You need to sleep—”

“Monica, I know you hate me for not telling you about Jake, but he’s alive, I promise—please, please—” Elizabeth shook her head, thrashing back and forth as she saw Monica with the syringe. “No! No, don’t make me sleep, don’t make—” But it was too late. Monica had plunged the needle into the IV line, and Elizabeth’s movements slowed; her voice started to slur. “No—no—I need—my baby—”

Her eyes closed, and her grip on Jason’s arms finally eased, then fell away as her arms grew limp. With hands shakier than he’d like, Jason pulled the hospital blanket up and arranged her hands at her sides.

In the hallway, in the bright light of the hospital, Jason focused on his mother as she closed the hospital door. “She sounded so convinced this time,” he murmured, staring at the door.

This time?” Monica echoed.

With a wince, Jason looked at her. “She’s—just a few times out of the corner of her eye, she’s thought she saw Jake. It’s not—you know how your mind can play tricks on you. But this time—”

“Fevers induce hallucinations,” Monica reminded him. “And if she’s already been experiencing those kinds of things before the pneumonia, then I’m not surprised it’s so vivid now. I’m sorry, Jason. I thought losing Emily would shatter me into little pieces.” She pressed two fingers to her lips. “At least I can rest knowing that she—that all the children I’ve lost lived long enough to grow up and experience some of life. For the two of you—Jake will always be three years old. It’s devastating.”

“I just want to make it better for her,” he said roughly. “But I can’t.”

“There’s nothing you can do for her now. Let her rest, and hope that one day, she can put it behind her. Go home,” Monica told him. “I’ll call you if anything changes.”

Jason nodded, then looked at the door one more time. Elizabeth had sounded so convinced that she’d actually seen their son—had held him—but he knew Monica was right.

It was nothing more than a hallucination.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Aurora Media: Drew’s Office

Drew very nearly didn’t let the man in when his secretary announced that his brother was there to see him, but that was childish. Immature. Petty.

He hadn’t seen Jason Morgan—the real Jason Morgan, his twin brother—since the night they’d been gathered in the PCPD — the last moment when Drew had been able to cling to his old life.

“Send him in,” he said finally, then released the intercom button. He got to his feet just as Jason appeared in the doorway.

The two of them stared at one another for a long moment, Jason standing there with his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. He exhaled slowly, then crossed the threshold, gently closing the door behind him.

“I’m sorry to just show up like this,” Jason said, turning back to face him. “And if you want me to leave, I will. But I needed to—we need to talk about what happened. What might still be happening.”

Drew nodded, then walked over to the seating area where the coffee cart was sitting. “You want some?” he said dully.

“No, I’m fine,” Jason said, but Drew poured himself a cup of black coffee, sat on the sofa, and sipped. “Andre Maddox.”

“Knows more than he’s saying,” Drew said with a short nod. “Curtis gave me a copy of the statement. He’s waiting on the WSB to give him a better deal.”

“Yeah,” Jason agreed. He sat in the armchair as far away from Drew as he could. “Spinelli’s here. He wanted to come to see you, but he wasn’t sure if you’d want—” He scratched his temple. “He’s working on the Russian clinic, and Luke and Lucky Spencer are tracking down Cesar Faison—”

“Because he’s the one that shot me—” Drew paused. “He shot you,” he repeated. “Which means he’s part of it. Is he behind the clinic?”

“I don’t know. Elizabeth went to see Andre on Saturday,” Jason told him. “We thought he might tell her something he wouldn’t tell me or even you.” He hesitated. “But he was cryptic. He told her that we should make sure we know where all the Cassadines are—because then we could sleep at night.”

Drew made a face. “That doesn’t tell us anything—”

“Not really, no, but there’s always Valentin Cassadine, and Nikolas’s body was never found, according to Elizabeth,” Jason added. “There’s something else.” Uncomfortable, he shifted. “You—you know that after Jake died, Elizabeth…had…”

“Hallucinations,” Drew agreed. “Yeah, I, uh, well, I remember.” He frowned. “Wait—”

“Those memories aren’t yours, but they’re in your head,” Jason told him. “You know what it was like to lose Jake. What Elizabeth went through. He’s part of this. Maddox and others experimented with Jake’s brain.”

Drew’s mouth tightened. “We trusted him after the Nurse’s Ball.” He set the mug down on the coffee table with a clatter and shoved himself to his feet. “Is Jake still in danger—”

“I don’t know,” Jason repeated. “What happened to us—it sucks. What happened to you—with your memories—but we both love Jake.”

Drew looked away. “Yeah,” he said quietly. “Yeah, we do.”

“Ewen Keenan didn’t just save Elizabeth from drowning that night on Spoon Island,” Jason told him. “He brought her to the lab where Helena let her see Jake. Elizabeth saw him, held him, and then Helena drugged her and dumped her back on the beach.”

“What?” Drew’s nostrils flared. “What are you—”

“When she was in the hospital, hallucinating from the fever, and told me that she’d seen him. I told her it was a dream. I convinced her to let it go. That Jake was gone. And she believed me.”

Drew closed his eyes. It wasn’t his memory, but it was in his brain and startlingly easy to recall. The wildness in Elizabeth’s eyes—how that look had slid into betrayal when Monica put her to sleep. “I never—even after Jake came back—he was on Spoon Island all that time? And Ewen knew it?”

“I don’t know when Helena moved him to Greece, but Jake was there in November. I need answers, Drew. I need to know who the hell did this to both of us—but I need to know Jake is safe.” Jason looked at him. “I know this isn’t ever going to be normal for you and me. At least not until you can get my memories out of your head. And I’m sorry for that. I am. But Jake comes first. And I need—I need to make this right. I convinced Elizabeth Jake was dead, and she’s blaming herself now for believing me.”

Drew swallowed hard. As difficult as all of this was for him, Jason was right. Jake still mattered. And he owed Elizabeth to make sure her son was safe. His nephew. “What do you need from me? What can I do?”

“I don’t know,” Jason admitted, a bit surprised at Drew’s easy agreement. He hesitated. “I told you that the Spencers are looking for Faison, and I’ve got Spinelli working on the clinic angle. I want to do what Maddox told us to do—track down all the Cassadines that are left. I can handle that. But that still leaves Maddox and the WSB.”

“I’ll deal with that,” Drew said with a firm nod. “I want my memories back—or at least I want to see if I can get yours out of mine. There has to be a way to get my old life back without losing the last three years. Maddox did it once—he merged my Jake Doe memories with yours.  I’ll talk to Anna.”

“All right.” Jason paused. “About Jake,” he said.

“He’s yours,” Drew said, even though the words felt wrong, like a betrayal. “And so is Danny—”

“That will be up to Sam,” Jason said quietly. “But I know that Jake loves you. I know Elizabeth wants you to be in his life. Jake wants that. And I—” He hesitated. “I don’t think Jake should have to lose anyone else in his life.”

“Thank you,” Drew said, a heavy shame settling on his shoulders. Would he have been so generous if the roles had been reversed? He wasn’t so sure, and he’d have to think about what kind of person that made him.

General Hospital: Hallway

“Man, she was a savage bitch,” Felix muttered as he handed Elizabeth a chart so she could initial it as his supervisor. “Letting you see your kid, then dumping you to think it was a fever dream—”

“Yeah,” Elizabeth said with a sigh. “I kind of fell apart when I got home,” she admitted as she and Felix went down to the next room. “I started to blame myself for Jake being gone all that time—if I had just insisted—if I had found the words to convince Jason or Lucky that Jake was alive—”

“They would have checked you into the loony bin faster than you did yourself,” Felix told her. “Girl, you told me you were already seeing him all over the place. And Patrick did the surgery. He handled everything. Of course you accepted Jake was gone.”

“I’ve never understood how it worked and neither Luke or Lucky bothered to get the answers,” Elizabeth murmured. “Patrick handed Jake off to the transplant team, and then Joss got her kidney. I mean, how the hell did Jax even know to get a black market organ?”

“Did you have a closed casket?” Felix asked, and Elizabeth nodded with a sigh. He grimaced. “I’m sorry, babe. I mean, I know it all worked out, and Jake’s with us, but it doesn’t really take away everything you went through.”

“I was a different person before I lost him,” Elizabeth admitted setting the next chart back on the patient’s door. “I don’t think I’ve gotten myself back. Not yet. And maybe I never will.”

“But maybe you’ll be something better. I never knew you before, but I think you’re just fine the way you are.”

Elizabeth managed a faint smile, then checked her watch. “I need to go check on the post-op floor. Felix—thanks.”

“What are friends for?” he asked, smiling as she walked away towards the elevator. He turned and started down another hallway, heading back for the hub—then paused as he noticed someone stepping back into a room, a door closing.

Felix narrowed his eyes and walked forward. He checked the door — a hospital room that hadn’t been assigned to anyone. Well, that wasn’t good. He pushed it open, then his scowl deepened as he found Franco inside.

“What are you doing here?” he demanded. “You don’t work on this floor—”

“None of your business,” Franco muttered. He started past Felix, but the nurse grabbed his elbow without thinking. “What the hell—”

“Lurking around Elizabeth makes it my business—”

Franco yanked his arm out of Felix’s grasp. “Who the hell do you think you’re talking to?”

“Nothing,” Felix said. Franco’s eyes narrowed. “That’s right. Nothing. You’re nothing, Franco. I’m just glad Elizabeth finally wised up—”

“You should watch what you say to me,” the older man said, dropping his voice into a soft, quiet voice that had the hair on the back of Felix’s neck standing up.

“You think I’m scared of you, Baldwin?” Felix sneered, even though his heart was racing. “I know your history. I’m not your type.”

“You think I can’t make an exception?”

“Is that a threat? Because maybe I should go talk to Mrs. Spencer and get you tossed—”

Franco growled at him, then stalked away. Felix stared after him, worry lingering in the pit of his stomach.

“This is not gonna end well.”

Pozzulo’s Restaurant: Back Office

Sonny waved Jason forward as he spoke into his cell phone. “No, no, Brick, I appreciate it — yeah, I’ll put you in touch with Spinelli. We need all hands on deck.” He tossed his phone on the desk, looked at Jason. “How did it go?”

“Weird,” Jason admitted. “But Drew agreed. He’ll run interference with Robert and Anna for the WSB and Maddox, and he pointed out it made sense since he wants his own memories back.” He rubbed his jaw. “There’s, uh, something I didn’t tell you on the phone yesterday.”

Sonny frowned, leaned forward. “What? Why?”

“Because it’s not—it doesn’t give us much of a lead,” Jason said. “We’re tracking down any living Cassadines, which is what Maddox said to Elizabeth, but that’s not all she went to ask him. I didn’t realize—I didn’t know it—but she—”

He paused. “A few weeks before she checked into Shadybrooke, she was shoved off the Haunted Star by Lisa Niles. Do you remember that?”

“Yeah, yeah—” Sonny scratched his temple. “Uh, that was a few months before Robin and the explosion. Um, that was how she met Ewen Keenan, but she didn’t know that then, did she?”

“No. She found out later.” Jason paused. “He took her to Spoon Island, Sonny, where Helena  kept Jake there for at least the first few months after kidnapping him.” Jason could barely force himself to keep talking. “At the hospital, Monica told me Elizabeth was hallucinating—her fever was so high that she kept insisting that Jake was alive, that she’d seen him, that someone had him—she hoped I could calm her down, so we didn’t have to sedate her.”

“Oh, God.” The horror had already washed over Sonny’s features. “She wasn’t hallucinating.”

“No,” Jason managed, running a hand over his face. “And I remember thinking then that she seemed to be so convinced—that I actually thought— just for a minute—maybe she was right. But Monica sedated her, and when she woke up, Lucky convinced her that it was a dream. And I backed him up. It’s—it’s part of the reason she checked into Shadybrooke. She’d been seeing him for months, and this seemed like an escalation.”

“Man. Man. And Keenan knew this?” Sonny demanded. “He dated Elizabeth knowing that Jake was alive and just across the harbor? Damn it! We could have gotten him out—”

“That’s why I went to Drew earlier today,” Jason told Sonny with a quiet shake of his head. “Because she blames herself. For letting him die again. She’s always blamed herself for the accident, for Helena, for everything—but I’m the one that didn’t believe her—”

“Jason—”

“I could have looked it into it,” Jason said. “I could have gone to Spoon Island myself or asked Spinelli to look into it. With ten minutes, Spinelli probably could have found the lab. Maybe Helena would have already moved Jake—but I could have taken it seriously. I didn’t.”

“C’mon—”

“I let Elizabeth deal with all of that by herself,” Jason admitted, “when I could have done more.”

“You never used to think about what-ifs,” Sonny told him. “They just weigh you down. Make you forget what matters. Jake is home. And Elizabeth is okay. You’re back. You get to be with your son for real this time. And Drew is gonna find his own memories. You didn’t kidnap Jake. And you sure as hell didn’t let Elizabeth think he was dead for months while dating her, watching her grieve. There’s a special place in hell where Ewen Keenan is being tortured.”

Jason grimaced. “I wish I could kill him again,” he muttered. He paused. “You said you’d heard from Luke,” he said, changing the subject.

“Nothing substantial. Just that Luke thinks he finally got on Faison’s trail. It’s pretty cold,” Sonny continued, “but Luke and Lucky will get in touch when they know more.”

Penthouse: Living Room

 

“Mom, that’s the beauty of being my lawyer and not my mother in this situation,” Sam said as she handed Danny a napkin and walked over to the sofa, leaving Danny to finish his dinner while she argued with Alexis again.

“Sam—”

“Look, I didn’t say you had to file it; I just said I wanted the papers drawn up. So that if I go forward, I’m ready. Why is that so hard?”

“It’s not—”

“Good. Then do it.” Sam hung up, then tossed the phone on the table, sighing. She turned when the door opened, and Drew came in. Danny abandoned his dinner while Scout cooed in her highchair.

“Daddy, Daddy!” Danny rushed across the room and hurled himself into Drew’s arms. Her husband lifted the little boy and held him tight against his chest.

“Hey, buddy,” Drew said. “Did you have fun in school today?”

“I drawed a turkey for Thanksgiving,” Danny reported, squirming to be put down. “Can I go get it? It’s upstairs.”

“Sure thing.” Drew waited until Danny had climbed the stairs, then looked at Sam. “Hey.”

“Hey.” She leaned over to kiss him lightly. “How was work? I meant to come in today, but—”

“It’s fine. I didn’t get a lot done anyway.” He paused, setting his briefcase on the coffee table. “Jason came by.”

Sam tensed. “He did? Why? He should be talking to me about Danny—”

“It had nothing to do with you.” Drew faced her. “Or Danny. But about what happened to us. To make sure no one else is in danger.”

“Oh.” Sam folded her arms. “Well, I mean, what did he say?”

“We decided to work together,” he said. “We’re both worried that Maddox is telling the truth—and that Jake might be at risk—”

Sam bristled at the reminder. “But Jake’s not your son—” She bit her lip when Drew flinched. “I’m sorry, but it’s the truth—”

“He’s still my nephew,” Drew said quietly. “And it doesn’t change the last two years. Not for me.” He paused. “Sam, I can’t move forward until I know what happened. Until I can find a way to get these memories out of my head.”

“I just—I don’t know why we have to think about any of this. You and Oscar can make new memories,” Sam insisted. “If you get your memories back, what about the last three years? What if you lose me or Scout? And Danny? What if you lose us? Is it worth it to get everything else?”

“He was able to do it once. I didn’t lose my Jake Doe memories when he put Jason’s in my head again,” Drew told her. “Either way, I can’t live like this, Sam, with Jason’s memories in my head. As long as I remember his life, I’m never going to feel anything I have is mine. I don’t even know who I am. It’s too tangled up in everything else—”

“I can’t believe you’d take the chance of losing everything—”

“I didn’t say I was going through it—” Drew stopped, frowning as Danny came back down the steps, his turkey painting in his hands. “We’ll talk about it later.”

“But—”

“Later,” Drew repeated, then picked Danny up and went to the sofa to look at the picture.

Webber Home: Living Room

“We need to get a life,” Trina said as she propped her chin on her palm and frowned at Cameron as he furrowed his brow, concentrating hard on his video game. “I have the night off from Kelly’s, we don’t have a single test to study for this week, and what are we doing? I’m watching you play Assassin’s Creed.”

“Well, when you said you’d be my girlfriend, you knew I had kids at home,” Cameron said, flashing her a wicked grin before scowling back at the screen. “Come on! What are you doing!” he complained into the earpiece attached to his head. “Em!”

“It’s not my fault!” Emma complained. “You need to pay attention to the mission!”

“Ugh—”

“She’s just mad because I’m whooping her ass—”

“Shut up, Spencer,” Emma retorted. “Or I’ll make my mom fly to your stupid British school so I can kick your ass in person—”

Trina rolled her eyes and shoved herself off the sofa to wander into the kitchen where Jake and Aiden were finishing their homework. “Hey, guys. Anything good tonight?”

“No,” Jake said, darkly. “Just fractions.” He eyed Aiden’s math homework. “Can we trade?”

“Nope.” Aiden smiled, a gap in the upper left corner of his mouth. He reached for his phone, which had lit up with a notification, smiling. “Hey, it’s my dad—he wants to FaceTime.” He started to play with the buttons.

“Hey, who wants pizza for dinner?” Cameron asked, coming into the kitchen. “Emma and Spencer decided to betray the team and kill each other, so I quit. Wanna go to Mi Familia’s—” He paused when he saw Aiden on his phone. “What’s up?”

“My dad wants to—Dad!” Aiden beamed. “Hi, Dad!”

“Hey! How are you? I miss you!”

Trina could hear Lucky Spencer’s voice faintly and looked over at Cameron, who tensed, a strange look on his face. “Cam—”

“I need to order dinner,” Cameron said. He cleared his throat. “Aiden, pepperoni okay?”

“Hold on, Dad, Cam wants to order dinner. Say hi!” Aiden turned the phone around so that Lucky’s face showed to Jake, Cameron, and Trina.

“Hey,” Jake said, looking back down at his homework. “How’s Ireland?”

“I’m in Bosnia,” Lucky said. “Hey Jake, Cam.”

“Hey,” Cameron said with a nod. “Aiden, pizza?”

“Pepperoni is cool. Thanks! I’m gonna go upstairs and talk to Dad.” Aiden bounced off the table and zoomed upstairs, his phone clutched in his hand.

“Cam—” Trina began, but Cameron walked back out to the living room to get his phone. She sighed and sat down next to Jake. “When was the last time he called you or Cam?” she asked Jake, even though she really shouldn’t be annoying a ten-year-old with these questions, but she knew Cameron would never tell her.

“Um…maybe when Gram died, I think. He flew in for the funeral and took Aiden to hang out with Grandma Laura.” Jake pressed down on his pencil. “But he didn’t call on Cam’s birthday. Or mine.” He looked at Trina. “I feel bad. I sorta got two dads now. Aiden’s got Lucky. But Cam’s only got Mom.”

Trina pressed her lips together, remembering the brief argument on Halloween when she’d accused him of protecting his mother too much. The more time she spent with the brothers, the more she worried about all the pressure Cameron was putting on himself.

Not that she’d ever bring it up to him. He’d only rip her head off.

“Your mom is pretty great,” Trina said.

“Yeah, but I kind of remember when Lucky was our dad, too” Jake admitted. “Why do dads stop liking you? Like—do they just decide not to be dads anymore? I don’t get it.”

“I don’t either,” Trina muttered, leaning back in her chair, eying Cameron as he stood stiffly in the living room, the phone pressed against his ear. He met her eyes, then looked away. “At least you know your mom is never, ever gonna wake up and not be your mom anymore, right?”

“No, Mom’s the best,” Jake agreed. “Still sucks for Cam.”

“Yeah, yeah, it does.”

General Hospital: Parking Garage

By the time her shift ended that night, Elizabeth was tired down to the marrow of her bones and didn’t have the energy to ask why Felix had insisted on walking her to the car.

“We should stick together,” he told her when she’d asked, and because she didn’t mind the company, she agreed.

As they stepped off the elevator, Felix touched her elbow. She stopped to face him. “What’s going on?”

“Listen. I know it’s been a week since you broke up with him, but you should know I’ve caught Franco lurking around you a few times this week. Today,” he added, “he ducked into a room so you didn’t see him. I told him to knock it off—”

“Felix—”

“But if he doesn’t, you need to go to Laura. No one needs a stalking Franco,” he said. “And if you don’t talk to Laura, I will.”

Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “I really don’t feel like dealing with this. I just want to forget it ever happened—”

“You might want to do that, and I’m sure Carly wishes that sometimes, too,” Felix reminded her, “but he made sure she didn’t get to walk away from him peacefully. And she didn’t even do the breaking up there.”

She bit her lip at the reminder. “Okay. I’ll—I’ll talk to Scott. See if he can sort Franco out and get him to back down. Franco’s angry with me, but I don’t think—” When Felix just raised his brows, she sighed. “I know. After what he did to Cameron, I shouldn’t try to guess what he might do next.”

He raised his brows as they turned a corner and saw Jason Morgan leaning against the side of Elizabeth’s car. “Well, well, I’m sure that pretty man is not here for me.”

“Hey,” Jason said, straightening. She looked past him, where his bike was parked next to her car. “Felix.”

“Jason.” Felix wiggled his brows at Elizabeth. “This is where I’ll leave you then. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See you tomorrow,” Elizabeth called as the nurse ambled away. She turned back to Jason. “I wasn’t expecting to see you today.”

“I told you I was gonna go talk to Drew.” Jason handed her a helmet. She hesitated, staring down at it. “I’ll bring you back to your car,” he said.

She wanted so badly to take the helmet, climb on the bike, and go wherever he wanted to take her. She wanted to turn back the clock twenty years so she could be that girl again—the girl who hadn’t yet made so many of the mistakes that would haunt her every step.

“What’s wrong?” Jason asked. “Is it too late? It’s too late,” he continued, answering his own question. “You probably have work tomorrow—”

“No, it’s just—the boys are home—and mostly, I’m tired,” she admitted. “I barely feel like driving home right now, much less coming back here and driving home in an hour.”

“Fair enough.” Jason set the helmet on the bike. “Drew agreed to help,” he told her. “He’s going to talk to Anna and follow up with the WSB and Maddox.”

“I thought he would,” Elizabeth said. She tipped her head. “I’m okay,” she told him. “I know I kind of lost it on Saturday, but I can handle this—”

“I know you can. It’s me—” He paused. “You let it go, but I’m the one that didn’t listen to you. I could have done more.”

“Done what?” she asked softly. “Take the crazy mother seriously? I’d been seeing him for months. I was delirious. You knew that. Monica knew that—”

“But it wouldn’t have cost me anything to give you the peace of mind,” Jason said. “I could have done that. I should have. I left you alone to raise Jake, and then I left you alone to grieve him.”

Tears stung her eyes, and she looked down at the concrete floor of the parking garage. “You checked in.”

“Not enough. I’ve never done enough.” He extended the helmet again, and she frowned at him, meeting his eyes. “I’ll drive you home,” he offered. “And bring you back tomorrow. You won’t have to do more than hold on.”

And this time, she took the helmet.

 


 Note: Ricochet is going on a two week posting hiatus while I finish editing chapters. It will return on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. 

April 8, 2021

Update Link: Ricochet, Chapter Nineteen

Good morning! It’s a good thing I checked this post before it went at 6:30 — it almost posted the link for Chapter 16 for some reason, LOL. I hope everyone is having a good week. My second day back after spring break and I already miss not setting my alarm. Tomorrow is my last Remote Friday — starting next week, I’m back in the building five days a week from 7 AM to 3 PM.

Having a good week writing and editing! I finished Chapter 22 on Tuesday, then yesterday, I edited two more chapters for Fool Me Twice. I’m on schedule to complete my beta draft next Thursday, and then the final round of edits by April 30.  After Saturday, I’m on a two week posting hiatus for FMT while I finish the edit. This is a great chance to catch up or reread. New chapters will return the week of April 27. If everything is on schedule at that point, I’ll be back to posting on Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday. If something comes up and I get delayed a bit, I’ll be dropping the Saturday updates.  I’ll keep you in the loop.

Still working on Smoke & Mirrors, but with editing FMT finally getting back on track, I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I wanted the last few days. But as long as I devote 25 minutes a day, I’m writing a scene a day and progress is being made.

See you tomorrow for Flash Fiction!

This entry is part 19 of 20 in the series Fool Me Twice: Ricochet

I don’t like your kingdom keys
They once belonged to me
You ask me for a place to sleep
Locked me out and threw a feast
The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama
But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma
And then the world moves on, but one thing’s for sure
Maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours
Look What You Made Me Do, Taylor Swift


October 2011

Spoon Island: Cassadine Lab

Dr. Ewen Keenan shoved open the door with his shoulder and struggled with the body in his arms. Elizabeth Webber might not weigh very much, but she was an unconscious dead weight soaked with water, and he’d used nearly all his reserves to reach the lab from the shore—

He laid the brunette out on the table in the lab, picked up a pale hand, and pressed two fingers to her wrist. Relief crashed through him as he felt the faint pulse. Elizabeth’s head lolled to the side, her eyes opening slightly. They were glazed, rimmed with red. “What’s…”  Her eyes closed again.

Ewen pressed his hand to her head, grimacing at the heat he felt there. She must have been ill before she’d gone into the water. Why had he been sent—

“Oh, good, you’ve arrived.” Helena smiled, sauntering into the lab. “It took far longer than I thought it would to fetch her.”

“She needs to be in a hospital,” Ewen snapped as he stalked around the table to find a thermometer. “I’m not equipped—”

“Then you’ll stabilize her, and she’ll be found on Spoon Island by someone else looking for her. She has a fever?”

“Yes—” He hissed at the level. “Nearly a hundred and four—” He frowned. “How did you know—”

“Why do you she think she went into the water?” Helena asked coolly. “Dr. Niles was happy to do me a favor. Now—” She nodded. “Is she awake?”

“I’m not sure—” Ewen glanced down at the brunette, tapped her cheek lightly. Nothing. “Why drag her here—”

“Dr. Obrecht?” Helena turned, and Liesl Obrecht, the other doctor in the lab, came in, clutching the hand of a small boy with a shock of bright blonde hair and blue eyes. Those eyes widened as he took in the woman laying on Ewen’s examining table.

“Mommy!”

Elizabeth’s eyes twitched, and her face jerked. She forced her eyes open. “J-Jake—”

“Mommy—” Jake let go of Liesl’s hand and surged forward. “Mommy, can I go home? Please let me go home—”

“Jake—” Elizabeth lifted her head, her voice slurring as she turned on her side. “Jake?”

“Mommy—”

Her eyes were wide though cloudy from the fever, but still, Elizabeth swung her legs over the table, trying to get to her son. She stumbled and fell to the floor. “Jake, my baby—you’re—”

“Mommy, I wanna go home—”

“Mrs. Cassadine?” Liesl asked hesitantly as the little boy threw himself into her arms. Elizabeth started to sob, clinging to him.

“Jake, my baby, baby—” Elizabeth rocked back and forth, one hand clutching the back of her son’s head. She kissed his cheek. “I love you, I missed you—”

“Now,” Helena murmured, lifting her chin as Liesl and another man came forward. The man grabbed Elizabeth’s arms as Liesl lifted Jake.

Jake!” Elizabeth cried, struggling against the new man’s hold. Ewen stared in shock and horror as Liesl hurried out of the room with Jake screaming and crying for his mother. Elizabeth turned around and, curling her hand into a fist, rammed it into the eye socket of the man holding her. She then brought her knee high into his groin—he released her with a groan—and Elizabeth started forward, stumbling again as the adrenaline fought with her fever and exhaustion from nearly drowning—

“Jake!” she screamed, but as she tried to pass Helena, the woman reached out with lightning speed and plunged a syringe into Elizabeth’s arm. Elizabeth turned, staring at the older woman with wide, shocked eyes.

“What—why—”

Then she dropped like a stone, her head hitting the ground with a sickening smack!

“Make sure she’s stable,” Helena said as Ewen kneeled down next to her. “Then leave her on the shore.”

“Why did—” Ewen looked up at the woman to whom he’d already sold his soul. “Why would you do that? Why would you drag her all the way here to let her see her son? She’ll tell someone—”

“She might. But she’s delirious with fever and mentally unstable. Everyone knows that.” Helena’s lips curved into a smile. “It’s an acceptable risk, my dear Dr. Keenan, and sometimes, I just want to have a little fun.”

Her eyes, cold as ice, locked on his. “Now, do I need to repeat my instructions, or did you hear them the first time?”

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Aurora Media: Office

“Mila, you should—” Drew stopped at the doorway of his office at the sight of his second surprise visitor of the day. His secretary pushed away from her desk.

“I was just going to let you know—” she began.

The teenaged boy in the reception area got to his feet, nervously shuffled his weight from one foot to the other, his hands shoved into the pockets of his jacket.

Drew had seen him once before. The dark-haired boy had come to Greystone over the summer, and they’d been introduced. But that boy had been a stranger to him—another kid running in the pack with Joss and Cameron. He hadn’t meant anything to him then.

But he’d thought he was Jason Morgan the last time he’d seen Oscar.

Today, looking at Oscar Nero, Drew knew that he was this boy’s father. That he’d been married to his mother, then to his stepmother. He’d raised him and left one day, never to return.

It was insane, but when Drew had learned about his identity—about the connection to Oscar—part of him thought the next time saw Drew saw him, it would trigger something. That some part of his brain would recognize the truth.

When there was nothing—no spark of memory—no connection felt—Drew felt a crushing disappointment that he wasn’t sure he knew how to handle.

“Oscar,” Drew said carefully. “Come in—”

Oscar didn’t move, his dark eyes staring at him. Then he swallowed. “You don’t know me.”

“I—” Drew looked at his secretary, and without a word, she got up and left the room. “I do know you—”

“No, you know Oscar Nero,” the boy said, his voice cracking. “But you don’t—” He broke the eye contact. Looked at the carpet. “You don’t know me.”

“No,” Drew managed, his throat tight. God, he wished it was any other answer. “No, I don’t. But—”

“No, that’s—” Oscar took a deep breath. “This was stupid. I knew you didn’t remember, but I thought—” He turned abruptly and shoved his way out of the office suite. Drew blinked, then hurried after him.

But he’d already missed the elevator as it closed on his son’s devastated expression. “Oscar—!”

Oscar leaned back against the elevator, squeezing his eyes shut, forcing himself to take deep breaths, but his lungs were heaving, and his breathing was starting to come out in shorter gasps.

Oh, God, his father hadn’t known him—his father hadn’t known—

Oscar rushed out of the building, hoping he could make it to the bus station without completely losing it.

Kelly’s: Courtyard

With a bit of trepidation, Jason sat across from Michael and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I should have called you back yesterday—”

I’m sorry,” Michael said with a shake of his head. “You’ve done so much for me. You sacrificed your own freedom to protect me in prison—” He leaned forward. “I am so sorry. I never once wanted you to be dead—I was never glad—”

“Michael.” Jason put up a hand, and his nephew’s ramblings stopped as the younger man hung his head. “Can you look at me?”

After a long moment, Michael raised his eyes to him. “Jason—”

“I always knew I’d have to explain myself to you one day,” Jason said, cutting off what would be another unnecessary apology. “I made a lot of choices when you were a baby that I would never make today. I can look back now and see how some of the things I did—the way I helped Carly keep custody of you—how it made AJ’s problems worse. I won’t blame myself entirely for how he ended up, but I know—I know I didn’t help.” He hesitated. “Elizabeth told me that you got close to him. That he was good to you.”

“He was,” Michael said, closing his eyes. “He really was, and I wanted you there. I wanted you to be alive, so you could see him. He was doing really good for a long time, Jason. It’s just—I don’t know. He never figured out how to fail without destroying himself in the process, I guess.”  He cleared his throat. “I think part of me always knew Sonny had something to do with what happened to him, but I couldn’t let myself accept it. Not until I didn’t have a choice.”

“I didn’t really understand what I was doing until Jake.” Michael frowned at him, and Jason sighed. “Before Elizabeth could tell me that the paternity tests had come back, your mother came to tell me that she knew the results and that Lucky was Jake’s father.”

Michael tipped his head to the sky. “How did I know Mom was in the middle of this?”

“She made a mistake,” Jason said, “and Elizabeth didn’t correct her. She wanted to tell me, but when she came to do that—I—I wanted her to be okay. I didn’t want her to think she’d let me down, so I told her it was okay that Lucky was Jake’s father. That it was better that way.”

Michael tipped his head. “So she didn’t tell you the truth.”

“She was going through a lot, and she knew Sam and I were getting back together. With Lucky’s recovery on the line—she just thought everyone was better off. And I hadn’t done a lot to reassure her that I wanted Jake to be mine.” But, oh, man, he’d wanted it more than anything, and it had sliced at him when she’d looked at him that day. If he’d just kept his mouth shut, let her talk—

“When did you know?”

“A few months later after the hostage crisis, but looking back, I can see that she started to tell me a thousand times.” Jason paused. “After she did tell me, she asked me to let Lucky raise Jake.”

“I—how could she—” Michael stared at him. “How could she do that—”

“When she asked me, I knew I had a choice. I wanted to tell her no. I wanted my son. I’ve always wanted Jake.” Jason looked down at the table, remembering that moment, that gut-wrenching devastation that she was asking this of him—and the anger he’d felt towards her for even considering it— “And I agreed. Because I had spent years telling AJ that Carly had a right to decide what she wanted for you. That her wishes meant more than what AJ wanted or deserved.”

“You gave up Jake because of that?”

“Because I believed it.” Jason paused. “Part of me still does. With the way I live my life—Elizabeth had a right to decide if she wanted that for her child. And I thought that AJ’s alcoholism—the people he’d hurt—it meant Carly had a right to decide for you.”

“Do you still think Mom did?” Michael asked.

“I don’t know,” Jason admitted. “But I’ve lived long enough now to realize that Carly’s choices about you had nothing to do with AJ’s alcoholism. And my decision to help her had everything to do with the anger I had towards him for my accident. And then later, it was selfish. I wanted you. I’d raised you as my son that first year, and I wanted to keep you.”  He exhaled slowly. “And for that, I am sorry.”

“I got a second chance with my father,” Michael said. “And you’ve got yours with Jake, so I’m glad.” He hesitated. “Would you have helped Sonny get away with what happened? Cover up AJ’s murder?”

“I’d like to tell you no, I wouldn’t. If I’d been here, seen you and Monica go through this—if I’d known Sonny and Carly were lying to you, holding back the truth, I want to tell you that I wouldn’t let it happen. I just—I can’t know that. I’ve spent a long time protecting them, Michael.”

Michael nodded. “I appreciate the honestly—I—” He made a face as he saw something behind Jason’s shoulder. “Oh, man, I’m really not in the mood—”

“Jason, Michael—” Carly stepped up to the both of them, her eyes wide with desperation. “I’m so glad to find you two together. Please—”

“I need to go,” her son said hastily, getting to his feet. Jason also stood, not sure if he was in the mood to see Carly right now.

“Oh, no—please—” Carly held up a hand to ward off Michael’s departure. “Please—just wait—”

“I need to meet Nelle,” Michael said to his mother, and Carly’s nostrils flared.

“Are you telling me that woman is more important than me?” she demanded. “I am your mother—”

“I’m not doing this, Mom,” Michael said wearily. He put his gloves back on. “Just stop—”

“I have every right to be concerned after what that tramp put me through—” Carly scowled as Michael shook his head and walked away. “Michael!”

When it was clear that Michael wasn’t going to return, Carly focused her attention on Jason. “Are you going to storm off, too?” she demanded, “or are you going to let me explain?”

“Explain what?” Jason said. “Your issue with Michael’s girlfriend is between the two of you. I have places to be—”

“Oh, that is absolutely not true!” Carly retorted, grabbing his arm as Jason started to walk past her. “You’ve done nothing but avoid me since you got back! I just want to be here for you, Jason, but you refuse to let me help!”

“You mean I’m not doing things the way you want me to,” Jason replied. Carly narrowed her eyes. “You’re angry that I didn’t ask you to come to the PCPD with me the other night, and you were upset that I didn’t immediately cut Ava Jerome out of my life.”

“After what she did to Morgan—and I had every right to be at the PCPD!” Carly snapped. “I’m your best friend—”

“And Elizabeth is Jake’s mother,” Jason said, patiently. “She needed to be there more than you did, and I knew you’d make a scene. So I left you out of it. And, fine, you were right about Ava. But that doesn’t change the fact that you want to control the way I’m handling what happened—”

“This is Elizabeth, isn’t it?” Carly said. “She’s the one who told you not to call me on Wednesday, isn’t she? I knew it! She’s always been jealous of my place in your life—”

“Elizabeth wasn’t part of the decision at all,” Jason said, trying to reach for the patience he’d once had when dealing with Carly and her antics. He knew she was struggling, had heard Michael’s words of caution about her difficult year. Carly grieved like a wild woman, he’d always known that.

He was just tired of being the target of all her attention. “I’m doing the best I can with all of this,” Jason continued as Carly’s eyes glinted with tears. “I have to do what works for me—”

“And Elizabeth works for you, does she? I don’t? I’m your best friend!”

“Then act like it,” Jason snapped. “I need to go.”

“Where—damn it, Jason—”

But he was done listening to her and walked out of the courtyard, hoping like hell she wouldn’t follow.

Kelly’s: Diner

“You know, you were crap at algebra last year,” Trina complained as she watched Cameron fly through his geometry homework. “And you’re always terrible at math. How come you can do it now?”

“Uh—” Cam made a face. “I don’t know. I guess it’s because there’s lot of words. It’s mostly definitions. I like reading. I’m not going to question it, I’m just going to enjoy it while it lasts—”

“You’re a freak—” Trina broke off as the bell over the door jangled. “Hey, Oscar—whoa—”

Cam twisted on the stool to find his friend and quasi-cousin walking towards them, his face pale, his eyes wide and his fingers wrapped around the strap of the book bag slung over his shoulder so tightly that his knuckles were white. “What happened?”

“I—” Oscar stopped in front of them, glanced around at the sparse early evening crowd. “I went to see my dad.”

“Oh, hell—” Cameron slid off the stool. “Can we use the kitchen?”

“I’m fine,” Oscar said, but neither Cameron nor Trina listened to him. Cam’s girlfriend nodded and he took Oscar by the elbow and gently led him out of the dining room and into the kitchen—but Cameron kept going straight through to empty and quiet alley.

“What happened?” Cameron asked as the metal door clanged shut and Oscar leaned against it, letting the bag drop to the ground.

Oscar closed his eyes. “He doesn’t have my dad’s face. And he doesn’t have the memories. He doesn’t know me.”

“Okay,” Cameron said slowly. “But what happened—”

“Nothing. I looked at him, he looked at me, and I left. It was stupid to think it would work—that magically he’d get his memories back this time when the only other time we saw each other, we felt nothing. It’s like—” His chest heaved and Oscar slid to the ground. “It’s like he’s really dead. He’s in front of me, the DNA test said so but there’s no point in—he’s not there. My dad is really gone.”

He looked up at Cameron, tears streaking down his cheeks. “I wish he’d stayed gone. Stayed dead. This is worse. It’s worse. I don’t know why—”

Cameron gingerly sat next to him, wincing as the cold concrete bit through the seat of his jeans. “Because you wanted it to be different,” he said. “You have the memory of a dad who loves you, and you want that back. I get it, man, I do.” He thought about the memories of Lucky Spencer, of the way the man had laughed and called Cameron his son, and Cameron had called him Dad—

And how Cam waited when Lucky called these days to talk to Aiden, always wondering if this time he’d ask about Cam—but he never, ever did. Sometimes he’d mention Jake, or his mother would talk about all three of them —

But Lucky never asked about Cameron, never wanted to talk to him. “You had a dad once,” Cameron continued, “and now you don’t. He’s walking around in the same body, but he might as well be dead. Him being alive was supposed to be like getting something good, but it’s not. Because now you don’t even have the hope it’s gonna be different. It sucks to know for sure.”

“Yeah.” Oscar looked at him, his eyes wet. “Yeah, it really sucks.”

Davis House: Living Room

Alexis peered over the tips of her glasses, setting down the pencil she’d been using to make notes. “I’m sorry. What are you asking for?”

Sam made a face. Why did everyone make her repeat herself all the time? Did they think she didn’t hear herself? That she would change her mind if she listened to the words again?

“New York is a community property state,” she said patiently. “Jason and I never signed a prenup, which means I’m entitled to half of everything.”

“Uh—” Alexis removed her glasses, rubbed her eyes. “You know, this isn’t your first divorce from Jason. The last time you didn’t ask for anything—”

“The last time I didn’t have two children and a media company. And this is different—” Sam pursed her lips. “And I’m not asking for half of everything. I want enough money to cover the purchase price of Aurora, plus the first year’s operating costs, title to the penthouse, and—” She paused. “Termination of parental rights.”

“Termination of parental rights,” Alexis repeated. “I—” She paused. “You want to cut him off from Danny.”

“Yes. Drew will adopt Danny legally. We’ll change Scout and Danny’s birth certificates, and that will be the end of it.” Sam lifted a brow. “Don’t you think I’m entitled to raise my children however I see fit?”

“I—” Alexis blinked. “I think that Jason has been back seven days, and it’s only been four days since you had confirmation which twin was which. I don’t think Jason is going to storm into Aurora and take it from you—maybe you could work something out—”

“Mom, you wanted me to deal with reality,” Sam said. “This is me doing that. I’m not doing anyone any favors if I wait. I was happy with the way things were before. I want to go back to that—”

“But there’s no going back—” Alexis began, but the front door opened and Kristina and Molly came in, laughing and talking about something.

“Oh, hey, Sam,” Molly said as she took off her coat. “Guess what, Mom? TJ got accepted into the medical student program at GH. He’ll be doing his third year program there starting in January.”

“Yeah, Kiki got accepted, too,” Kristina volunteered. She handed her scarf to Molly. “That’s kind of cool that they’re working together. Oh, and Mrs. Spencer cornered me at lunch. She wants me to think about doing an internship at GH.”

“An internship?” Alexis frowned. “What kind of—you’re not in medical school—”

“No, but there’s a position open in the administration office, and I need an internship for next semester.” Kristina shrugged. “You want me to figure out my life, so here I am figuring out my life. Maybe I’ll like working for the hospital.”

“Maybe.” Molly slung an arm around her sister’s shoulder. “But maybe you’ll end up in a cult. Both things are equally possible.” Kristina rolled her eyes, and Molly laughed. She looked at Sam. “Hey, Sam, did you bring the kids?”

“No, they’re with the nanny,” Sam said stiffly. “Mom, I’ll come back another day—”

“Still mad at me?” Kristina asked as she sat at the table across from Sam. She looked at Molly. “I just told her that she was being a big bitch to Jason, trying to take Danny from him five minutes after the guy got out of a coma.”

Molly’s eyes widened. “You’re doing what?” she asked Sam.

“I’m going,” Sam repeated, getting to her feet. “And you didn’t call me a bitch,” she said to Kristina with a gritting of her teeth.

“No, I guess I didn’t.” Kristina shrugged. “I thought it. Is that why you’re here to talk to Mom?” She tried to peek at the note pad under Alexis’s hand.

“Jason just got home,” Molly said, shoving herself to her feet. “He hasn’t even met Danny yet, has he?”

“He met him,” Sam said, tensely. “But Danny doesn’t know him—”

“Neither did Jake,” Alexis pointed out. “And neither did Drew at one point. I think you’re being hasty, Sam—”

“And I think you all need to butt the hell out of my life! It’s not like Jason gives a damn about me or Danny! He hasn’t come by to see me or even asked about Danny—” Sam pressed her mouth together as something bubbled up her throat. “He’s seen Jake a thousand times in the last seven days, and he’s always with Elizabeth, but he hasn’t come to see me once!”

“Maybe,” Alexis said, gently, “because you went home that night with Drew and didn’t identify Jason that night. And that night at the PCPD, did you say anything to him?”

“No! It’s not my job to reach out to him!” Sam retorted. “I’m the one whose life has to change! He should be asking me about Danny! He should be trying to get me back!”

“Oh, I get it now,” Kristina said. “You’re pissed because he’s not chasing you.” She rolled her eyes. “Well, that is dumb as hell. He was in a coma five minutes ago, did you miss that part?”

“That’s not—”

“I think Jason had to spend four days proving who the hell he was, found out another man has been living his life—raising his family—and that he went from having no kids to two of them—in fact, one of those sons had been dead and buried. I mean, Christ, Sam, did you even tell him you were glad he wasn’t dead?”

Sam stare at her sister, mutely. Then stalked over to grab her coat off the hook. “You don’t get it,” she said, hotly. “And I’m not going to explain it to you.”

Then she slammed the door behind her so hard that a picture frame on a shelf next to it fell to the ground.

“So,” Molly said after a long moment, turning to her sister and mother, “here’s what I think is going on. Sam is super jealous of Jake and Elizabeth, and wants Jason to chase after her. And since he hasn’t done that yet—she’s gonna make his life completely miserable as punishment.”

“Well, duh,” Kristina said. “I just said that.”

“Yeah, I know, but I added the punishment part. That’s what makes me more right than you.”

“It doesn’t matter who’s right,” Alexis said as her two youngest daughters began to bicker. “Only how much damage Sam is going to do before she figures out this is the wrong thing to do.”

Kelly’s: Diner

Drew frowned when he came into the diner, approaching the counter where Trina and Joss were sitting. Once, he might have teased them about sitting near each other because he had the memories—and the experience of knowing they weren’t really friends—but he saw the hostility in Joss’s eyes, the worry in Trina’s.

“Uh, someone left me a text message that Oscar was here. I don’t know who,” Drew said hesitantly. “Where—”

“I’m right here,” Oscar said dully as he came out of the kitchen, a towel slung over his shoulder. Behind him, Cameron carried a green tub and set it on the counter. “Who texted you?” He asked.

“I did,” Cameron said, looking at Drew. “I guess you don’t have my number in your phone anymore.”

Drew felt the heat in his cheeks as he realized that was true— “I got a new phone. I guess all the contacts didn’t—”

“It’s fine,” Cameron said, looking away, but Drew had seen the flash of hurt in Cameron’s dark blue eyes—his mother’s eyes. This boy he’d wanted to adopt—had loved as his own for almost a year—

“Why’d you do that?” Oscar asked his friend, narrowing his eyes. “I thought—”

“Because maybe you don’t get to have all the time back from before,” Cameron said. “I mean, Jake was gone for years, but he might as well have been gone his whole life because he didn’t know me or Aiden when he came home. He didn’t even really know Mom. Didn’t really recognize us as his. But he does now. And it sucks we lost that time, I can’t get it back. But I still have my brother.”

“Can we talk?” Drew said to Oscar, who still looked a bit irritated at his friend. “Just for a minute. Joss can come if you’re not sure—”

“It’s fine—Cam’s right. We should at least…” Oscar jerked a shoulder, nodding towards the courtyard. “I need to go pack up the tables for winter. I told Trina I would do it for her—”

“I’ll help,” Drew offered. As Oscar walked past him, he looked back at Cameron. “Thank you.”

“I didn’t do it for you,” Cameron muttered and disappeared back into the kitchen. Drew sighed, then followed Oscar into the courtyard.

“I don’t remember being Andrew Cain,” Drew told him as Oscar silently began to stack the chairs. “But I got a background check on him—on me,” he corrected. “And I know—I’ve talked to Kim. She told me we were close.”

“I guess. We were alone for a while after Mom died,” Oscar said. He started to lift a table, and Drew took the other side. They carried it over, then stacked it on another table. “I know what happened to you sucked. Cameron and Joss told me about when you were in the accident. And—I mean, you got someone else’s memories. That’s really awful, I guess.”

“It’s hard,” Drew admitted as he stacked another set of chairs. “Take Cameron and Joss for an example. I’ve known them for three years. I know that’s true. And I’m sure you know by now that I lived with Cam’s mom for a while.”

“You almost married her and adopted him, yeah.”

“But I also have all these other memories of them,” Drew said. “Of watching Joss sick in the hospital, and Cameron growing up with his brother—meeting him here in Kelly’s when he was a baby—” He stared at the diner. “But they’re like movies that play in my head. I don’t have a connection to them. I can remember that I loved them both, but I can’t really separate the way I feel about them now from how they are in the memories.”

Oscar furrowed his brow. “That’s weird.”

“It is,” Drew said. “And I’m trying to find a way to be okay with having these memories. I don’t know if I can ever get rid of them. Or if I can get the old ones back. I don’t know.” He paused. “What do I know is that I’m not Jason Morgan. And these aren’t my memories. I can’t pretend to be someone I’m not, especially when that man is walking around trying to put his life back together. I’m Andrew Cain. And you’re my son.”

Oscar’s chin trembled, but he swallowed. “But you don’t feel like that’s true—”

“No, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to build something new. When you met Kim, she wasn’t your mother either. But she’s your family now. And you have a little sister, Scout. I want her to know you. I want to know you,” Drew said. He tipped his head towards the diner. “Cameron and his brothers. Scout and Michael. They’re part of my family. Which makes them yours.”

“I don’t know,” Oscar said after a long moment. “It hurts that you don’t know me. Or that you don’t look like my dad.” He looked at him. “I mean, sometimes, there’s something around your eyes. And you sound like him a little. But I just—” He shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“Think about it,” Drew said. He touched Oscar’s shoulder. “And we’ll see how you feel in a few days.”

Webber House: Living Room

“Hey, I got your message—” Jason frowned as Elizabeth quietly took his jacket and hung it up. “What’s wrong? What happened at the PCPD? Did Andre have anything useful?”

“He’s hoping for a better deal from the WSB,” she said dully. She pressed a hand to her head. “He’s not willing to say much until he’s in one of their facilities, I guess.”

Jason frowned. “Then—”

“And what he would tell me—” Elizabeth sighed, wandered over towards the fireplace. “He said to make sure we knew where every Cassadine was. Because then we could sleep at night.”

Jason scowled. “That’s all?”

“All he would say about if there was still any danger.” Her voice faltered at the end, and Jason walked towards her.

“Elizabeth—”

“That night when I nearly drowned in the harbor,” she said in a low voice. “When I was sick—and I told you I’d seen Jake—” Her eyes found his, tears clinging to her lashes. “When I said I’d held him—that I’d touched him—I heard his voice—”

Dread crept up his spine. “You weren’t hallucinating,” Jason said.

“No,” she managed. “No. Helena had my little boy. Ewen didn’t just save me from drowning. He took me to the lab on the estate. Jake was there. On that island for at least that long. And she let me see him. Let me hold him.”

Her shoulders started to shake, and she wrapped her arms around herself as he just stared at her in horror as the truth sank in. “He knew Jake was alive and that he was on Spoon Island.”

“And I knew he was alive. I knew it!” she said, opening her eyes, a fierce light in them. “And I let everyone convince me I was crazy! And I let it go. I believed all of you! But I was right! Jake was alive, and Helena had all that time to hurt him, to poison his mind!”

“Elizabeth—”

She pressed her hands to her face. “I knew I’d held him. I knew I’d felt his little arms around my neck, that I’d heard his voice—I knew it, and I let it go—I let him go—” Sobs began to wrack her body. “I let him die all over again.”

April 6, 2021

This entry is part 18 of 20 in the series Fool Me Twice: Ricochet

I walk this empty street
On the boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I’m the only one and I walk alone
My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
‘Til then I walk alone

Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Green Day


April 2011

 Spoon Island: Cassadine Lab

 “I’m not sure what you want me to do,” Liesl Obrecht said with a sniff. She trailed behind Victor from the laboratory’s large common area to a hallway with a series of closed doors. “This is very different than the work I carried out for you before—”

“Not so different,” Victor mused as he paused, squinting at the numbers. “My apologies, dear. Our newest patient hasn’t been with us very long, and I’ve forgotten which room is his.”

“Victor—”

“Darling,” he drawled, removing his glasses. “You experimented on Alex and Anna when you knew even less about the human brain or memory. Why should you be so squeamish now?”

“Because of who my patient is,” Liesl began, but then a door opened down the hall, and Helena Cassadine stepped out, one brow arched.

“Are you going to wander all night?” she asked. “I have places to be.”

“Ah, there you are. I’d quite lost track of the room. Come along, Liesl.” Victor strode down the hallway, leading Liesl into a room that had been organized like a hospital room with a stretcher and IV lines. A small little boy was lying among the linens, his face pale and eyes closed.

“How is the little prince today?” Victor asked as he picked up the chart. “Recovering nicely?”

“He’ll be making a full recovery, thanks to your doctors.” Helena lightly smoothed the blonde hair out of the child’s face. “I suppose we should be grateful that General Hospital did not have the same caliber of medicine—”

“Well, they are hamstrung by that pesky FDA and medical ethics,” Victor reminded her. He turned to Liesl. “Now, you read over the prospectus—”

“Yes, but—I’ve never worked on anyone this young,” Liesl murmured. He reminded her of Nathan when she’d last seen him. Small and defenseless. “Who is he?”

“Does it matter?” Helena demanded.

“If I am to do the work you’ve asked of me,” Liesl said slowly, “then I will need his trust. I will not be able to call him Patient Three. He will fight me. Victor—”

“I trust Liesl. Without question,” Victor continued. “Liesl, this is Jacob Webber, the son of Elizabeth Webber and Jason Morgan. The swelling around his brain suggested that he would not recover. His parents took him off life support—” He paused, looked at Helena. “I’m still not entirely sure what we’re planning to do with him.”

Helena eyed Victor coldly. “I’ve told you the Spencers are not my only target. This is only the beginning of the torment I plan for his mother.” She focused on Liesl. “Can you do what we’ve asked?”

“I will do what I can,” Liesl said, shifting uncomfortably. “There’s still so much we don’t know—this will be the first time we’ve put this theory into practice.”

“I know you’re up to the challenge,” Victor said kindly. “I could always count on you.”

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Penthouse: Living Room

Drew ran a hand over his face as he sat next to Sam, settling Scout in his lap. “I didn’t tell you what happened when I went to Kelly’s to pick up dinner,” he said.

Sam frowned, looking up from the paperwork in her lap. She set it on the coffee table. “No,” Sam drawled. “You didn’t. What happened?”

“Kim Nero was in the parking lot.” Sam’s mouth tightened as Drew continued, “From the background that Curtis put together, I know that I met her in 2009, and we got married in 2010. She’s lived in San Diego her whole life, and we met on the base.” He paused. “We talked about Oscar.”

“Right. Joss’s boyfriend is your son.” Sam sat back. “And he’s her stepson. So, what, does she want to pawn him off on you? That’s pretty cold—”

“What—no—” Drew shook his head. “No,” he repeated. “But I think it’s important that I not forget about the life I had before. If I had been single, we could just—we could just keep going on the way we were, I guess. With new names. Or—” He scratched his temple. “I don’t know. We’ve been using my money—but it’s not my money—”

“It’s my money,” Sam insisted. “I’ve been on the accounts—”

“But that’s as Jason’s wife. Not mine,” Drew reminded her quietly, and Sam looked away. “We bought Aurora with his assets. Is it even ours? And, yeah, Kim does have custody of Oscar. But is it legal? Are we even really married? And what about Danny—”

“Does all of this have to be solved today?” Sam demanded. “I mean, we just found out a few days ago—”

“What does waiting do?” Drew asked. “I’m not Jason Morgan. It doesn’t matter that I have these memories—” He handed Scout to her and got to his feet. “They’re not mine. But if I get rid of them, does everything go—including the last three years—” He tipped his head back. “I can’t sit back and wait for things to happen, Sam.”

“No. I guess that’s something you don’t have in common with your brother,” Sam muttered. When Drew sent her an irritated look, she sighed. “Fine. My mother’s been offering to help us with that stuff, and, honestly, yeah, she said the marriage thing was gonna be a problem. She said we should clear the deck legally. You and I should file for divorce from Kim and Jason—and from each other.” She paused. “But that means I’m owed a divorce settlement from Jason, and since this is a community property estate—”

“I don’t want Aurora as part of your divorce,” Drew muttered.

“What if I do?” Sam insisted. She stood and crossed the room to set Scout in the playpen. “It’s my company, too. Carly used her divorce money to buy the hotel. Why can’t I use mine for Aurora?”

“Because then I did nothing—” Drew bit out. “I don’t know what to do about Aurora. But what about Danny?”

“What about him? I already asked my mom to draw up name change papers for Scout and Danny—”

He put up a hand. “You can’t change Danny’s name,” Drew said, slightly scandalized. “He’s Jason’s—” He took a deep breath. “He’s Jason’s son.”

“So? What does blood matter? Jason didn’t raise him. You did—”

“For the last year and a half, yes.” Drew shook his head. “But Danny knows Jason is his father—”

“He knows you are—your face. Jake is older, so fine—let that go. But Danny—Danny loves you, Drew.” Sam lifted her chin. “So we’ll get the divorce, we’ll figure out Aurora, but the only thing I want to change our about family, Drew, is our name. Everything else stays the same.”

Drew stared at her for a long moment before slowly shaking his head. “It can’t, Sam.”

“It can if you just want it—”

“It can’t stay the same. I am not Jason Morgan!” He walked away from her to the closet to take out his coat. “I have a meeting at the office—”

“On a Saturday?”

“I’ll call you—”

“Drew, just wait—”

But he couldn’t. He left the penthouse, left his wife and daughter behind, and went to the elevator. Nothing in his life was really his. His name, his wife, his sons, his business, not even the penthouse —

All he had was Scout. And Oscar.

The sooner Sam understood that everything had to change, the better they all would be.

General Hospital: Hub

“Are you always working?”

Elizabeth didn’t even have to look up from her paperwork to register the identity of the irritated woman in front of her. “Some of us didn’t get huge divorce settlements, Carly.”

“Oh, so now I’m a gold digger?”

Elizabeth sighed and looked up at the unhappy blonde. “No, I’m sorry. I’m tired. What can I do for you?”

“I want you to leave Jason the hell alone.” Carly folded her arms. “You’re distracting him when he needs to be thinking about his family.”

Elizabeth furrowed her brow, shook her head. “I don’t—I’m sorry. I don’t understand what’s happening here. How am I distracting—” She pressed her lips together. “If you have a problem with Jason’s priorities, you need to take it up with him. I don’t run his life.” She picked up the file and started down the hallway towards a patient’s room.

Unfortunately, Carly followed. “You think I don’t know what you’re doing? You shoved Franco out the door the same night Jason came home, and you’ve been using Jake to get close to him. Now you’re going to use this crap with Michael and AJ—”

“I didn’t tell Jason about AJ,” Elizabeth reminded her. “In fact, Jason came to me about Ava, and I went out of my way to avoid mentioning AJ because I knew it was going to be a problem for Michael.”

“Oh, aren’t you a goddamn saint?” Carly snarled. “You’re always playing the martyr—”

Elizabeth very nearly snapped back but took a moment to take a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Carly. I know you hate when the stuff about AJ gets dragged back up. Everyone, including Michael and Monica, is much better when that’s left in the past. I’m sure there was never going to be a good way for Jason to find out, but I know you wouldn’t want it the way it happened.”

Carly stared at her, then looked away. “I just didn’t want him to think Ava was a good person,” she muttered. “But no one ever listens to me. I told Michael Nelle was a disaster, that she’d hurt him, and he’s not listening to me either. Morgan refused to listen to me about Ava—” She squeezed her eyes shut. “I just got Jason back. I can’t lose him again.”

“I don’t know how Jason feels about any of this, and even if I did, that’s for him to figure out and tell you,” Elizabeth said, not feeling unsympathetic. What had happened with AJ’s death was one of the worst and darkest moments in Carly’s life, in Sonny’s life—and now it was being dragged back into the light because Carly couldn’t control herself. It had to be hell knowing you were your own worst enemy.

The problem with Carly is that she didn’t actually know that. She didn’t see that she caused ninety percent of her own issues. She just lashed out and blamed the person nearest to her.

“I know I don’t really have a right to talk about this,” Elizabeth continued, “but you hate me anyway, so I might as well. I know I got a miracle with Jake, but that doesn’t change the four years I grieved him. And that first year, Carly, I was a mess. You know that. I thought I saw him everywhere. I had to commit myself to get through it. And there were times I wasn’t sure I had.”

Carly bit her lip. “He should still be here,” she managed in a voice that sounded like a sob. “And he’s not. And it’s Ava’s fault. And I see you with Jake—and I hate you for it. I know that’s terrible, but I can’t stand it. I hate you for getting a miracle.”

“It’s not terrible,” Elizabeth said. “When Robin came home, as happy as I was for Patrick and Emma—and I was—I was so angry. So unbelievably furious with the world. Because Jake was gone. And so was Jason. And I wanted them both back.” She made a face. “I know that’s not better because it happened, but I understand that hatred, Carly. I’ve felt it, too.”

Carly hesitated, her eyes darting around as if she didn’t know what to say. “If you weren’t around, Jason could focus on what matters,” she said, returning to her original argument, and Elizabeth rolled her eyes.

“He is focusing on what matters, Carly. His family. His life. And whether you like it or not, Jake is his son. And Jason gets to be with him. If you can’t deal with that, well—” Elizabeth shrugged. “You’re going to live with that, not me.”

Pozzulo’s Restaurant: Front Room

Jason glanced around the room with its dark colors and furniture with a bit of trepidation, taking in the unfamiliar building and surroundings. He turned towards the back office where he knew Sonny would be.

His partner and best friend looked at him with a squint and frown before rising to his feet. “Jase—I, uh, wasn’t expecting you.”

“No, I guess you wouldn’t,” Jason said, closing the door behind him. He exhaled slowly. “I’m not going to ask what happened with AJ,” he said finally. “I don’t think I really need the details.”

“I—” Sonny’s hands were limp at his side as he stared at Jason. “I thought it was over,” he said after a long moment. “I thought Michael had moved on. But I was wrong. And he made sure Carly and I both knew that last night. Did—have you spoken to him?”

“Not since you saw him, no. I will,” Jason added, “but I just needed time to think. I wasn’t here, Sonny. I’m not holding anything against you or Carly. I wasn’t here,” he repeated. “I need to talk to my mother. Talk through some things with Michael. But this isn’t about you or me, Sonny. And it’s not why I am here.”

“It’s not?”

“No.” Jason took a seat, and slowly, Sonny did as well. “I’ve been back a week,” he said. “And I’m trying to wrap my head around the things that have changed. The people who are gone. The ones that are here now. It’s been…” He looked away. “It’s been harder than I thought it would be,” he admitted.

“Jason—”

“But Elizabeth took me to a dealership last night, and I got a bike. We took a ride, and I—” He met Sonny’s eyes again. “I’m gonna be okay. It’s going to take time, but I’m going to be fine. You don’t need to worry about information overload or what happened while I was gone.” He hesitated. “We got distracted, I think, waiting for Spinelli, and while you and Carly were worried about Ava Jerome. I did, too, getting to spend time with Jake.”

“Distracted,” Sonny repeated. “You’ve been back a week, Jase. You deserve to be distracted by your kid. I’m so goddamn glad that’s working out. And grateful that Elizabeth thought of the bike. I should have—”

“I’m glad it was her,” Jason said, with a shake of his head. “It’s something—it was better it was her. Anyway, Spinelli is here now. And he’s putting together a profile of the finances from the clinic. And you said you were tracking down Luke about Faison.”

“Right, and we were going to see what we could do about the WSB part of it—” Sonny exhaled. “Why is this back in your head?”

“Because I don’t think this is over,” Jason said. “Klein hunted me every step of the way from St. Petersburg to Port Charles, and then he gave up as soon as I revealed myself. That doesn’t make sense. I always knew he was working for someone else.”

“Someone had to tell him to stand down,” Sonny said with a nod of agreement. “So what do you think?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “I think we need to know more about Victor Cassadine. About why Cesar Faison would go after me. And I want to know more about Andre Maddox. Could he have pulled this off on his own?”

“You don’t think Maddox told you everything at the PCPD?”

“No, and I think most of what he told us were lies. Elizabeth is going to the lockup to see him on her own,” Jason told Sonny. “She knows him better than either of us, and she arranged it with Jordan. That detective—Nathan West—is going to be there to make sure she’s okay.”

“We’ll get to the bottom of this, Jase. And you and Drew—and your families—we’ll make sure everyone is safe.”

Aurora Media: Drew’s Office

Drew’s footsteps slowed when he reached his office’s reception area and saw the woman sitting in one of the chairs. “When they said downstairs someone was waiting for me—” he shook his head. “I wasn’t expecting you.”

Elizabeth rose to her feet, a cardigan sweater over her pink scrubs. “I thought you might be more willing to talk today than you were a few days ago—”

“I’m sorry,” Drew said. “For—” He sighed, then went over to his office. He pushed it open and gestured for her to enter. “I was angry, and I was desperate, and I took it out on you. I shouldn’t do that.”

“It’s okay,” Elizabeth said, putting her purse down, turning to look at him. “I understand—”

“It’s not okay,” he pushed. “And you need to stop excusing people treating you like dirt. I may not be Jason,” he continued with a half smile, “but I still have the memories. And I know how much you’ve forgiven from people who’ve done worse.”

“I didn’t do right by you two years ago,” Elizabeth said softly. “I should have. And that makes it harder for you to trust me—”

“We all got screwed on that one, and, hey, in hindsight—” Drew dumped his coat on a hook and went over to the window that looked over the park. “You gave me six more months of Jake Doe. Six months where I didn’t live with a lie. And if you’d told me earlier, maybe Andre just would have come to Port Charles sooner.” He peered at her over his shoulder. “Curtis got me the rest of his statement. I know what he did. That he came here and reimplanted the memories.”

“Drew—about Jake—” Elizabeth paused. “He loves you. And he wants to be part of your life. He knows the truth, but it doesn’t change how hard you’ve fought for him. Jake knows who was there for him last year when he went through all of that. Who held him while he cried. He may not be your biological son—but he is your nephew.”

Drew rubbed his chest, turning back to face her fully. “But Jason’s his father. And he should have a chance. The chance I know he never did before.”

“And he’ll have that chance. And there’s so much about this that sucks, Drew. So much,” she repeated, “but I think we should also focus on the good. Monica has buried three children. But now she gets to have you and Jason. You are still her son. Have you talked to her yet?”

“I’ll call her,” Drew said. “I’m trying, Elizabeth—”

“But there’s no manual for something like this. I just—I wanted you to know that this doesn’t have to be a tragedy. You and Jason—you were brothers,” she said softly. “Twins. Separated for all these years. And when someone found out the truth, they didn’t bring you together. They didn’t give you a family, Drew; they stole from you.”

“What are you asking me to do?” Drew said with a frown.

“Jason isn’t sure this is over—that whoever was holding him doesn’t have more damage to do,” Elizabeth said. “I’m going to see Andre now to find out if there’s anything else he can tell us.” She hesitated. “You know what he did to Jake. What he did to you and to Jason. I hope you can see that Jason isn’t the bad guy here. You’re both victims. And he wants to make sure that it’s over. I hope you can think about helping us.”

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Kristina swirled her straw in her milkshake, staring down at her phone.

“Hey.”

She glanced up to find Valerie Spencer frowning at her. “Oh. Hey. Sorry. I didn’t see you come in.”

“It’s okay.” Valerie removed her coat and tossed it on the other chair. “What’s up? You sounded weird on the phone.”

“Ever since Jason Morgan came back—since all of this started,” Kristina began slowly, “the news has been obsessed with him. And his past. And my sister. And, just like, everything. The last time he was on trial, it was for this murder. He got acquitted, and I don’t really remember it. I was a kid, and Mom really tried to keep me and Molly out of all of that because my step dad was prosecuting him.”

“Your step dad? Molly’s dad, right? I remember him. The one that pulled that crap with Nina?” Valerie asked. She took a fry from Kristina’s plate. “When did he and your mom get divorced?”

“I couldn’t tell you when it was final, but Mom kicked him out a few months earlier. It was weird, and I didn’t understand it. Ric was—he was great. I barely knew my dad—his brother—but Ric was great. He never treated me different from Molly. He was more of a dad to me.” Kristina paused. “I never knew why.”

“And I’m guessing you know now,” Valerie said. “What happened, Krissy?”

Kristina shoved her phone across the table. “Someone sent that link to me. Through an anonymous Twitter account. It’s a YouTube clip of my sister testifying at Jason’s trial.”

Valerie lifted her brows, then picked up the phone and pressed play. She listened to Sam stumble over her testimony, then to Diane’s vicious cross-examination that painted her sister as scorned, gold digging ex-fiancée who had—

Valerie’s eyes bulged and she jerked her head back up to look at Kristina. “Oh my God.”

“She slept with my stepfather. That’s why my family broke up.” Kristina’s eyes blurred and she sucked in a shuddering breath. “I kept asking Sam which one was real—the cold woman who was, like, keeping Jason out of his kid’s life, or the amazing sister Molly and I have grown up with.”

“Krissy—”

“I always knew Sam had a dark past. Like, I knew she was a con artist. She must have tricked my step dad—”

“Krissy,” Valerie said gently. “Your stepfather tried to trick Elizabeth Webber into marrying him and then did the exact same thing to Nina, trying to get her money. It’s not like he’s a shining moral example. You don’t know the whole story—”

“I know. I know it’s stupid to get mad over this. It was years ago. And I know it’s not just her fault. It’s just—” Kristina swiped at her eyes. “Jason kept me out of trouble my whole life. At least until the pier. I know he wasn’t always super good to my sister, but, like, I didn’t think she was being fair to me. And now I listen to this testimony—and I just—do I even know who my sister is?”

“You should talk to her.” Valerie returned her phone. “Maybe she can explain herself.”

“How do you explain sleeping with your stepfather?” Kristina demanded. “Ruining your mother’s marriage and your sisters’ lives?”

“And maybe she can’t,” Valerie admitted. “But the point is—you won’t know unless you ask.”

PCPD: Lockup

Nathan unlocked the door that led to the holding cells but didn’t open it right away. He looked back at Elizabeth. “Are you sure? You know you can’t trust anything he tells you.”

“I know.” Elizabeth sighed, looked past him to the cell where her son’s psychiatrist was being held, at the man sitting on a bench, his head in his hands. “But I have to try.”

“Fair enough. Jordan said you could have five minutes.” He pushed open the door. “I’ll be right here to let you out.”

“Thanks.” Elizabeth stepped into the hallway, the sound of her work sneakers quiet as she walked towards Andre. The man in question slowly sat up as she approached the cell. Gone was the smooth and urbane man who had so seamlessly won their trust and even their affection. He wore an orange jumpsuit, his eyes tired, his face lined with exhaustion and what she hoped was regret.

She was counting on that, hoping for a glimmer of the man she’d known. The quiet desperation he must have felt to do something so reprehensible. She knew the story of his wife, understood his motives, but she could never bring herself to forgive him.

She’d brought her damaged child to him in hopes Andre could give Jake peace and security. To give Jake back his mind and his sense of self after the damage Helena had wrought. And Andre had used Jake, had been part of the scheme that stole his father away from them.

“I wasn’t expecting to see you again.” Andre rose to his feet. “I want to apologize—”

“You destroyed the lives of two men,” Elizabeth cut in. She folded her arms across her chest. “You may not have arranged their kidnappings, but you knew that the man who came home to us three years ago was not Jason Morgan. You stood by and let Drew build a life here. You used my son to hide your secret—” She shook her head. “But I’m not here to rage at you. Or to listen to your excuses.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Because you did more than lie to Jake this last year. You put the trigger in his brain that nearly killed us all.” She paused, made sure his eyes were on hers. “And that makes me wonder how much more you know about Jake’s history. Jason was taken to Spoon Island that first night. You were there. Was Jake?”

“Elizabeth—” Andre pressed his lips together and looked at Elizabeth. “Yes. Jake was there for a time.”

Elizabeth let her arms drop to her side. “I had terrible hallucinations after I nearly drowned a few years ago. They found me on Spoon Island, and I’m told in the hospital, I was convinced my son was alive.”

Andre shook his head. “I—” He frowned. “When was that?”

“October 2011.” Her eyes burned. “They told me I was wrong. That it was the fever. But I knew my son was alive. I felt it, I knew I’d seen him. I’d held him.”

“I—” Andre looked away. “I can’t get into it, Elizabeth.”

Oh, God. She’d seen Jake. She’d seen him, and he’d been alive, and she’d let everyone talk her out of it. She’d thought she was crazy. She’d checked herself into Shadybrooke—Helena had taunted her—She swallowed it. This wasn’t about her—wasn’t about that terrible hallucination—she shouldn’t have even asked—but, oh, God, that dim memory of Jake screaming for her, of Elizabeth fighting to get to him—

It had been real.

“Who else?” Elizabeth asked. “Who else was at the lab?” She wrapped her fingers around the bars, leaning in. “Damn it, Andre—”

“Ewen Keenan,” Andre said with a sigh. “He found you on Spoon Island and brought you to the lab where you saw Jake. Then left you on the shore where Spinelli found you. I don’t know—”

She absorbed the knowledge that Ewen had betrayed her in this as well—that he’d known her little boy was alive, and he’d let her twist in the wind for all those months. She was glad now that Jason had shot him.

She’d wished she’d done it herself.

“Helena kidnapped Jake to get back at Luke. That’s what we’ve always believed,” Elizabeth said, watching as Andre’s eyes darted away. “But I don’t understand why Jason was taken. Or why Jake came home. Why?”

“I don’t know.”

“You’re lying—” she insisted. “Who else is involved, Andre? Is it over? Who was Klein working for? Damn it, are my children safe? Is Jake safe?”

“As safe as they can be,” Andre said after a moment. “I can’t say more—”

“You won’t say more,” she realized. She stepped back, tears burning her eyes. “You’re hoping to make a deal with the WSB or something. You’re holding back because what you know is valuable to them.”

Andre exhaled slowly, looked down. “You’d do the same—” He bit off the words. “Damn it, Elizabeth, it’s the Cassadines. I have to make sure I’m safe and secure. When I can tell you everything, I promise you I will—”

“Then tell me something,” she begged. “Tell me something I can use to make this over. To give Jason, Drew, and the kids some peace. Please.”

Andre closed his eyes. “Elizabeth—”

“Who were the other patients? Where are Drew’s memories?”

“I told you the patients I knew. Jake, Jason, and Drew—”

“I don’t believe you don’t know who Patient Four was,” Elizabeth insisted. “Do you just not want to tell me? Damn it, Andre—”

“I can tell you this.” Andre waited until Elizabeth was looking at him. “You’re right. This isn’t over. You make sure you know where every Cassadine on this Earth is. When you can answer that question, you’ll be safe.”

“This isn’t some fucking riddle!” she exploded. “You’re playing with my son’s life! Andre—”

But he turned away from her and returned to his cot, taking a seat.

Frustrated, Elizabeth stormed away, returning to the main hallway where Nathan was waiting, his expression worried.

“Did you get what you needed?” he asked as he led her back to the squad room and opened the door for her.

“You were right,” she said, her head spinning. “He can’t be trusted.”

Update Link: Ricochet, Chapter Eighteen

This week’s chapters are some of my favorites in this portion of the story, so I’m super glad we’re getting to this part of the story. Because I’m setting up  a whole trilogy, I definitely felt like everything up to the twin reveal was a slow burn build, but now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can hit the ground running with the story itself.

I did a ton of writing this weekend! I’ve finished the first three chapters of Smoke & Mirrors, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. Writing it has reminded me that I like writing, LOL, and today I wrote three scenes for Fool Me Twice — I’m working on Chapter 22 which is a brand new chapter. I have three more scenes to write tomorrow, and then my plan is to edit through Chapter 29 this week. Chapter 30 is also brand new, so I’ll work on this weekend, and then *fingers crossed* finish editing the last eight chapters next week.

I’ll check in on Thursday and Saturday to let you know how that plan’s going. See you then!

April 4, 2021

Update Link: Not Knowing When – Part 12

Happy Sunday! I’m happy to be bringing back Not Knowing When, which actually only has five parts left. I didn’t know that back in January, LOL, or I probably would have been updating this instead of A King’s Command. I’m not sure whether I’ll be doing Flash Fiction twice a week or once a week right now. I wanted to write yesterday, but I didn’t get around to it. I’m hoping to get it in on Saturday & Sunday mornings, but my schedule is kind of all over the place so a second update will be optional and will probably float around based on the day.

Smoke & Mirrors is going really well. I’ve been trying to listen to my own process and writing as much as I want when I want, and stopping. I’m setting my timer for 25 minutes to set a minimum amount of writing time, and then if I want to go for another round or write for another ten minutes, I do. Yesterday, I ended up writing an entire chapter which is great. I’m happy with how it’s going, but I don’t know much yet about how long it will be or when you can expect a release date.

Just a reminder: I’ll be posting Ricochet on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday this week and then taking a hiatus until April 26. When Ricochet returns, we’re dropping to two chapters a week on Tuesdays & Thursdays. The Saturday one was great, but I’m not sure I can edit as fast as I need to maintain that pace without driving myself crazy. If I get a lot edited over the next few weeks, I might change my mind on that.

Happy Easter!

This entry is part 12 of 13 in the series Flash Fiction: Not Knowing When

Written in 61 minutes.


Port Charles Courthouse: Court Room

Jason’s mood turn another dark turn when he slid into a chair next to Sonny and Carly and saw Baldwin behind the prosecution’s table. Brenda, sitting behind them, leaned forward to touch his shoulder.

“Were you able to see her?” Sonny asked, twisting in his chair slightly. Carly, mercifully, stayed silent.

“No,” Jason muttered. “No visitors before they drove her over here.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. He hadn’t slept in two nights—not since Taggert had dragged Elizabeth out of their bedroom and put her in handcuffs.

“Sonny said Diane Miller is the best defense lawyer in the state,” Carly said. Jason frowned at her. “I mean, he’d only hire the best. This will be okay, Jase.”

Jason squinted at her. “Are you…trying to be nice?”

She wrinkled her nose. “Yes, and it hurts, so don’t start with me.”

The lawyer in question strode into the room and went to the front of the room, setting her briefcase on the table before turning to the small group behind her.

Jason lurched to his feet. “Did you see her? Is she okay?” he demanded, pitching his low so that Baldwin, despite his straining, could not hear them.

“She’s managing,” the redhead said after a long pause. “When this is over, you take that girl on a nice vacation where she can get some sleep.”

Jason started to reply, but a door opened by the judge’s bench and a bailiff led Elizabeth into the courtroom and he swore under his breath when she looked over at them, focused on him. She’d changed into prison blues, the shirt practically swimming on her. Her hair hung limply down to her neck, and her skin—always pale—was nearly translucent with thick, dark purple circles digging grooves beneath her eyes.

“Jason,” she said softly as the bailiff unlocked the shackles at her ankles.

“Why the hell is she shackled head to toe?” Diane demanded off the bailiff. “She’s not a violent criminal—uncuff my client! Now!”

“Sorry, ma’am—” the bailiff slid his eyes to Baldwin who just lifted a brow. “I got my orders. Said this one is a flight risk—”

“Flight risk—” Sonny lunged to his feet. “How the hell—”

“It’s okay,” Elizabeth said faintly. She swallowed. “It’s just for a little while, isn’t it?” Her eyes found Jason’s. “Diane said they’ll set bail, and I’ll go home—” Her voice faltered. “So I can manage.”

Jason fisted his hands at his side, but he didn’t think getting himself arrested for pummeling a district attorney would help Elizabeth’s case. He glared at the bailiff, before looking back at Diane. “Whatever you have to do—get her out of here today.”

“I’ll do my best—” Diane turned as the bailiff hooked Elizabeth’s cuffs to the table, her lips thinning with distaste.

“Girl probably weighs a hundred pounds soaking weight,” Sonny muttered as he took his seat. “And they think she’ll overpower the damn cops—”

“They’re doing it rattle Jason,” Brenda said quietly. Jason turned to the brunette. “You know it. Baldwin just wants you to feel guilty.” She looked at Scott who was deliberately not looking at them. “Don’t let him see you get upset. It’s what he wants.”

“Brenda’s right,” Carly said, “and it’s a measure of my love for you,” she told Jason who just blinked at her, “that I’m admitting that.”

The bailiff called the hearing to order and the judge stepped up to the bench to begin the hearing. Jason’s blood boiled as Scott laid out the evidence against Elizabeth — she’d been on the pier when Zander had been killed, she had motive —

“And Your Honor, Elizabeth Webber fled the jurisdiction immediately after the crime,” Scott began.

“Objection,” Diane said coolly, not even bothering to stand. She sounded nearly bored. “My client traveled to Las Vegas and returned to Port Charles within twenty-four hours. She was already in the jursidiction when the PCPD questioned her. I find your characterization of her actions outrage and spurious—”

“She went to Las Vegas in the middle of the night on a private flight that wasn’t scheduled,” Scott shot back. “And she only came back when she’d married the witness in her case—”

“I’m sorry, since when is Jason Morgan a witness to a murder he wasn’t in town for?” Diane said pleasantly. “You have the receipts. His plane took off almost twenty minutes before Zander Smith was murdered—”

Scott opened his mouth, but the judge cut him off. “Neither one of you is earning any points here,” he said dryly, drawing both their attention. “You’ve made your case, D.A. Baldwin.” He looked at Diane. “How does your client plead?”

Diane nodded to Elizabeth. “Not guilty,” Elizabeth said quietly.

“All right. The court will reflect that and we’ll bound this over for trial.” The judge picked up a pen. “What’s the position on bail?”

“Since the defendant has married a man of considerable means with property in several countries without an extradition treaty,” Scott said, “we request that bail be denied.”

“Mmmm.” The judge looked at Diane. “I imagine you oppose that?”

“We do. My client has no criminal record and has ties to the community. She’s lived here since she was a teenager—”

“Which was practically last year,” Scott muttered.

“And her grandmother still lives here. In addition, her husband has ties to Port Charles. His parents are doctors at General Hospital, and the Quartermaines are prominent citizens. My client is the opposite of a flight risk.”

The judge studied Diane for a long moment, then focused on Jason in the audience with a furrowed brow. “I find your argument, Miss Miller, to be without basis. Your client’s husband has refused all ties to the Quartermaines in the past, and Miss Webber might not have been convicted of any crimes, but I do see several arrests on her record. I am denying bail at this time—”

“What?”

“That’s crap!” Carly announced at the same time Sonny sputtered out his protest, but Jason couldn’t find the words. Elizabeth didn’t look at him, but her head bowed slightly.

“Your Honor, this is without merit—”

“Your client is accused of murdering an ex-lover. She fled the jurisdiction, married a man who can get her out of the country before I finish my lunch,” the judge said dryly. “She gets no brownie points because she came back. You should have chosen your associates better, Miss Webber.” His voice hardened. “Or should I call you Mrs. Morgan?”

The judge banged the gavel as Diane was still sputtering in outrage. “Court is adjoined. Please return the defendant to lockup—”

“Wait—” Diane hissed. “Can my client have a minute with her husband—”

“So they can make plans for escape?” Scott said with a roll of his eyes.

“Oh, I am going to call my mother,” Carly told Scott. “You’re never getting her back after this—”

Scott made a face, but the judge nodded at Diane. “She can have a minute. One minute,” he added. He paused. “And bailiff, I think we can leave off the shackes. While she might be a flight risk, she’s unlikely to overpower you.”

The bailiff reluctantly uncufed Elizabeth from the table, and she stood turning to Jason. “I’ll be okay,” she told him.

“I am going to appeal,” Diane said immediately. “This is clearly retribution—”

“I’ll come as soon as they let me,” Jason promised her. “As often as they—” He took her hands in his, wincing at the way they trembled slightly. “I’m going to make this go away.”

“I know you’ll try.” Elizabeth licked her lips and looked up at him. “I guess it’s a good thing you didn’t get me a ring after all.” Her voice was nearly unaudible as she continued. “It’s not like they wouldn’t have let me keep it in here.”

He leaned down to brush his lips against hers but the bailiff jerked her back. “None of that,” he snapped. “Time to go—”

“I’ll be okay,” Elizabeth promised him. “I can handle this.”

And then she was gone, dragged through the door and back to lock up.

“How long before the appeal?’ Jason demanded of Diane. “If you file it now—”

“It might take a few days.” Diane paused. “Maybe even a week. Mr. Morgan—”

“Get it done,” Jason snapped and stormed out of the court room.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason stripped off his suit jacket and tossed it on the sofa before turning back to glare at the trio that had followed him in. “Sonny, who do we know at the PCPD that will get us into lock up?”

“Jason,” Carly began, “she’ll be okay for a few days—”

“Carly, go home and call your mother,” Sonny told his wife and she frowned at him. “Make her yell at Baldwin. If Baldwin agrees to bail, the appeal won’t take as long.”

“But—”

“It’s something you can do for me,” Jason told her, and that seemed to convince the blonde who still looked unhappy as she left. To Sonny, he said, “Get me a way into lock up. If that appeal doesn’t go through—”

“This is my fault,” Brenda said, drawing both of their attention.

“Brenda—” Jason began.

“No, if I hadn’t had that insane plan to blackmail you into marrying me, you wouldn’t have been on the plane when Elizabeth needed you,” she insisted. “You would have been here—”

“It shouldn’t have mattered,” Jason said. “And it’s not your fault.” He focused on Sonny who seemed to know what was coming. “It’s yours.”

Sonny wrinkled his nose. “Look, it’s not like I knew Zander was dead—”

“She came to you because she’d been shot at, and you didn’t handle it. You didn’t make sure the pier was clear. You lied to her, dragged her across the country — and now the PCPD is using that to keep her locked up—”

“If I hadn’t dragged her across the country, you wouldn’t be married to her right now!” Sonny retorted. “How about a little gratitude?”

Before Jason could lunge for his friend’s throat, Brenda slid in front of her ex-fiance and spread her arms wide. “You’ll only feel better for a hot minute if you pound his face in right now,” she told Jason. “You can yell at him later.”

“You dragged her across the country and you took away her guard,” Jason retorted. “Marco should have been with her. She never would have been on that pier if you’d thought about anyone other than yourself!”

“Hey, she wasn’t my girlfriend to take care of!” Sonny shot back. “You didn’t notice she didn’t have a guard for two weeks—how is that my fault?”

“Okay, so you’re going to go,” Brenda told Sonny. She opened the door and started to shove him through it. “Go get the guy at the PCPD while I keep Jason from murdering you on the spot—”

“I am sick and tired of being treated like I did something wrong,” Sonny said, shoving Brenda’s hands away from him. “You two were the insane ones, flying to Vegas to get married! I stopped it! And if I hadn’t brought Elizabeth—”

“You mean if you hadn’t lied to her about me being hurt? You used her — and why the hell do you care what Brenda and I do?” Jason demanded. “How is it any of your business? If you’d stayed here and protected Elizabeth, none of this would be happening! I’ve spent most of my life protecting your family and cleaning up your messes—”

“What the hell does that mean—”

“You refused to let me tell Elizabeth you were alive—you made me lie to her—”

“No, you were the one that lied to her. I told you to send her to the island so you—”

“You know,” Brenda said, almost conversationally as if the two men weren’t shouting at each other, “this might be the first time I’m glad you left me at the altar and you sent Jason to do it.”

That shut them both up as they stared at her. “What the hell—”

“You sent Jason to dump me, and I blamed him for a long time. But you’re just a coward, Sonny, when it really matters.” She turned to Jason. “He’s never going to admit he was wrong, so just drop it. Focus on what matters and that’s getting Elizabeth out of jail.”

She then looked back Sonny. “Get out and don’t bother coming back if you can’t be productive.”

Then Brenda shoved Sonny over the threshold and slammed the door. She exhaled in a huff. “He’ll never admit that the reason he came to Vegas to stop us was because he was jealous. He doesn’t want me, but he doesn’t want anyone else to have me.” She cleared her throat. “And he’ll never admit that he didn’t see Elizabeth as a person in that moment. He saw her as a tool to be used to get what he wanted. He knew you’d never go through with it if she was there to watch.”

Jason took a deep breath. “I already knew it was a mistake. At the altar. Before they showed up. I’m sorry, Brenda, but I was already going to stop it.”

“Good. It would have been wrong. Funny,” she added, “but wrong. And don’t let Sonny take credit. You and Elizabeth might have gotten married because you were in Vegas, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t make the decision. Maybe it was insane, but something good came out of it.”

“Good? Because of it, she’s trapped in jail—”

“No, she’s in jail because the PCPD refuse to believe you didn’t do this. You know that Scott probably thinks you’re lying about who was on which flight. He thinks you sent her ahead as an alibi for you, and then you came later. I don’t know this Zander guy, but I feel bad for anyone who cared about him. They don’t care who did this, not really.” Brenda took a deep breath. “Now, how do we get Elizabeth out of this?”

PCPD: Jail

Elizabeth had hoped that anoher woman would be sent to lock-up so that she wouldn’t be alone on the cell block. There were no windows, no way to see the outside world. Just the cinder block and bars and artificial, fluorescent lighting that made her eyes hurt—

Elizabeth lay on the cot, staring at the ceiling, hoping that something would change—that Diane would perform miracles—she didn’t want Jason to think she couldn’t handle this—but she wasn’t sure if she could really get through another night without sleeping—

The lights flickered, then went turned off, plunging the area in inky darkness so thick Elizabeth couldn’t even see her own fingers.

“Hello?” she called. “The lights—”

Then she heard footsteps and the clanking of metal as her cell opened. “Please—what’s wrong with the lights—”

A hand clamped over Elizabeth’s mouth and then something pricked her arm. “What—” Her head felt whoozy—everything started to spin—

Then she remembered nothing else.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“Did Diane say anything about when she expects the appeal to be heard?” Brenda asked as Jason shrugged into his leather jacket the next morning. “Will the PCPD let you see her today?”

“They better,” he muttered. He needed to look at her for longer than five minutes, to hold her hand, to touch her—to be sure she was okay. The phone on his desk rang. “Yeah? What—”

“I’m sorry, Jason, the DA and the Comissioner wouldn’t wait—they said they had a warrant—”

“Damn it,” Jason muttered. He slammed the phone down and picked it up to call Diane. “The cops are on their way up,” he told Brenda. “Probably to arrest me—”

“But—”

There was a harsh knock, almost a pounding. Jason held out his phone. “Finish calling Diane,” he told Brenda, then went over to the door.

He barely had it open before Scott shoved his way in, followed by a more subdued Mac.

“Where the hell is she?” the district attorney spat out. “Where did you take her? I swear to God, Morgan, I will haunt you until the day you die—”

“What hell are you talking about?” Jason demanded as his blood began to pound in his ears. “Elizabeth’s at the PCPD—” he looked at Mac.

“When we did the count this morning,” the commissioner said, feeling slightly sick, “she was missing. Elizabeth is gone. And judging by the look on your face—” he sighed, “I’m guess she’s not on her way to Dubai.”