April 26, 2021

I messed up the first time and it didn’t push out the update to the blog — so I opened up my Scrivener files to write and my brain said nah, and I briefly considered quitting writing (I don’t know why) and instead, I looked over my brainstorming file and then this happened. Spent about an hour and ten minutes or so. Don’t know what it is. Let me know if you want more.

A Weird Thing But You Can Read It If You Want

I opened all my Scrivener files to write something related to Mirrors or Fool Me Twice today and my brain was like, nah. We’re not interested. So I stared at the computer for a while, then I wrote this. I don’t even know what it is but I had fun.


On the outskirts of Wymoor, a woman crept through the night, clutching the folds of her cloak tightly around her face.

It would not do for anyone to see her wandering on her own so long after dusk had fallen, but Brenda Barrett had no other choice.

She’d waited long enough for her revenge.

The tavern was tucked between two dilapidated warehouses on the docks. Wymoor had once been a bustling port city, but it had fallen into ruin and neglect since the tragedy that had struck the royal family over a decade earlier.

There were men milling about outside, coarse and foul-mouthed men who looked as though they hadn’t seen the inside of a tub in a long time. Brenda bobbed and weaved around them, hoping to escape their notice.

Alas, that proved impossible as a meaty hand reached out and snatched her by the elbow. “Wot’s this? A lass? When did the boy bring back the whores?”

Brenda hissed and reached with her free hand into her cloak. With a flash and a yelp, her elbow was released as her captor clutched his bleeding forearm, rage flashing in his eyes. “You feckin’ bitch—”

“Touch me again,” Brenda snarled as she twirled the dagger in her hand and, with a flick of her wrist, aimed it at the group, “and you’ll not know the pleasure of a woman again.”

“We’ll see about that—” The man lunged for her, but Brenda didn’t make idle threats and had been trained since birth to have a care for herself.

She darted back and spun, the dagger slicing into his meaty shoulder. With a grunt, she yanked it back and jabbed it into the air. “You want to see if your luck will hold a third time?”

“I think Pete has learned his lesson.”  A cool, amused voice came from her side, but Brenda did not take her eyes off her attacker, nor did she so much as lower the dagger an inch. “Pete, apologize to the lady.”

“Lady? A lady at Sonny’s? Not bloody likely—”

“An apology,” the man at Brenda’s side repeated, the amusement gone now. “Or I’ll let her finish the job.”

“I won’t accept it. Just tell him to be about his business. I have my own to see to.” She could only sense the man—he was taller than her and quiet. She’d not heard him come up behind her.

“I see you again, bitch, we’re gonna have a dance,” Pete threatened, but his words lacked a bit of punch as the blood seeped down his already stained shirt from the wound to his shoulder. He sauntered off, followed by several of his friends—all of them grumbling.

“I can’t imagine what business a member of the royal family might have here.”

At that, Brenda turned to finally face the man who had forced Pete to back off. He was taller than her—but then many were—and broad-shouldered with chiseled cheekbones, hair that might be fair with more light and blue eyes —

“I need to speak with Michael Corinthos.”

“You do not deny your background?”

“No.” Brenda lifted her chin. “Though I would ask how you came by this knowledge. We’ve not been introduced.”

“No, we haven’t.” The amusement came back to those eyes, but his face never changed. It might as well have been chiseled from stone. “Come in. Sonny might enjoy this.”

Jason Morgan hadn’t seen a woman wield a dagger like that since he’d left the Quartermaine estate nearly five years earlier, but only the royal daughters were given the training to make daggers dance in the air the way hers had.

He led the stranger through the public rooms of the tavern and up a cramped set of stairs that led to the room where Michael Corinthos, better known as Sonny, ruled the waterfront.

Not that there was much left to rule. Not since the young king had taken his business to another port and left Wymoor to crumble around itself.

His best friend and partner frowned when Jason led the woman inside, rising to his feet from the desk where he’d been balancing the ledger. “What’s this?”

Jason opened his mouth, but the imperious woman swept past him, removed her cloak, and tossed it at Jason as if he were a servant. His mouth pinched, but he kept the garment in his hands. For all her air of privilege and grace —

She was dressed as a peasant, her face thin and her eyes too large. The material of the cloak was a rough cloth. Even if this were a disguise, it did not change the fact that this woman had not seen a good meal in many days. If not longer.

“My name is Brenda Barrett, but I was once Lady Brenda of Nevoie. They tell me you understand revenge. I’m here to ask for your help in getting mine.”

Nevoie. Jason tipped his head, trying to place the name. He looked at Sonny, hoping to find some clue, but his friend’s expression had not changed.

“Nevoie,” Sonny repeated slowly. “Many have claimed to be the Lady of Nevoie. I imagine you have the missing princess tucked in those skirts.”

Brenda exhaled slowly, then shook her head. “No.” Her voice had lost some of that hauteur, and Jason saw the shadows cloud her eyes. “No. There can be no hope. After all this time, my cousin is gone.”

“Missing princess,” Jason repeated. “What’s going on?”

“Before your fall,” Sonny said, now looking at Jason, “the youngest daughter of the previous king died when she was three, but there were always rumors that the family had covered something up. Five years later, the queen and her sister were murdered at Nevoie. There was evidence that two children had lived there. Neither were ever found. Brenda is the heir to a very ancient title, and many suspected the queen was there to visit her daughter, hidden away for some dangerous defect.”

Jason drew his brows together, then looked at Brenda. “I don’t know this story.”

“It is not a story,” Brenda said tightly. “It is the truth. My cousin came to live with us when she was a child, and we were raised as sisters. I was fifteen when the men came. They slaughtered my mother, my aunt—” Her voice broke. “Mama told us to run into the forest, but we were separated. I heard screaming—I heard her screaming—” Her fingers curled into a fist. “I have waited twelve years for my revenge. I know who killed my mother. Who killed my family.”

“And the queen,” Sonny drawled sarcastically. “I suppose you think to take this story to King Steven, tell him you can find his missing sister—”

“Steven never knew she was alive. No one did. And if you continue to mock me—”

“What? What are you going to do—”

“Sonny, she carries a royal dagger,” Jason said quietly. “And she knows how to use it.”

At that, Sonny fell silent. He stared at Brenda, then stalked towards her, his hand outstretched. “Give it here.”

“We do not surrender our daggers.” Her hand clutched the belt at her waist. “Not with breath in our bodies. You either believe me, or you don’t—”

“Are you sure of this?” Sonny asked.

“My sister married into the Cassadine family,” Jason said and then found Brenda offering him a measured glance.

“Legitimate sister?” Brenda inquired. Jason glared at her. “If you have connections to the family that has trained the women of the royal line for generations, then you are not some errand boy for a crime lord.”

“I used to be Jason Quartermaine,” Jason said slowly. “Until a fall destroyed my memory. I don’t know them, and I don’t claim them. Except for my sister. I saw her husband training the king’s betrothed when I last visited.”

“Our new queen,” Brenda sneered, “foisted on my cousin by his guardian. He is weak. But yes, she was trained in the art of the dagger. I doubt she possesses the grace.” She paused, then looked back to Sonny. “Will you help me?”

“Why did the royal family hide their daughter away?” Sonny demanded. “Why fake her death?”

Brenda exhaled slowly. “I tell you only because I am convinced that she no longer lives, but even then, this must not leave this room. I was told you could be trusted.”

“You have my word. And Jason’s.”

“My cousin was born with the curse.” Brenda pressed a fist against her heart. “She set the stables on fire when she was two, angry at some slight. She was a witch.”

A witch. Jason’s chest tightened at that for nothing else, explained the royal family abandoning one of their own. Men with power worked for the council and had respect. Women with power were burned at the stake for simply being suspected of it. “Is that why the queen was murdered?”

“No. I only wish it were,” Brenda murmured. “But my aunt’s fate was cast the moment the king died in battle, and the guardian for Steven was set.”

“Guardian,” Sonny repeated. “Cesar Faison. You’re saying Faison had your family killed.”

“Yes. I have the proof.” Brenda flipped back the leather pouch at her waist and drew out a piece of paper, folded several times and worn from age and handling. “One of the men dropped this. It’s signed by Faison and gives the location of our home.”

“This would not convince anyone who matters—”

“Does it convince you?” Brenda cut in swiftly as Sonny perused the document.

“I need no convincing that Faison would murder a child in cold blood,” he said. “But I don’t matter—”

“I have no interest in justice. Justice is not possible. I only need vengeance for the lives of my aunt and my mother. For my cousin. I came to you because I want him dead.”

Instead of responding to that claim, Sonny set the document on his desk and leaned back against it. “You’re very sure that your cousin is dead, are you?”

Brenda’s eyes flickered. “Of course. If she weren’t, she would have found me—why—”

“Or she may be in hiding as you are. You were both believed to be dead,” Sonny said. “Why would she think you had survived?”

“She was much younger—” But her voice faltered. “Why would you give me this hope?”

“Sonny—” Jason frowned, shaking his head slightly. “What’s going on?”

“Cesar Faison once came to me to perform a task,” Sonny said. “He explained the parameters—vaguely—and I declined. That was six years ago.”

“My cousin died twelve years ago—”

“Your cousin had something he wanted,” Sonny said softly. “And when she refused to give it to him, he wanted her dead. Faison asked me if I could rid him of an unwanted house guest. She had worn out her welcome, but there was nowhere for her to go.”

“She was alive six years ago? And you left her—”

“What do you take me for?” Sonny said, his lips curving in amusement. He flicked his eyes to Jason. “Before I decide whether or not to help the Lady of Nevoie, perhaps you should fetch my sister.”

“Your sister,” Jason repeated. The sister he had never met and that Sonny rarely mentioned. “Have you been hiding a royal princess—”

“You have my cousin?” Brenda demanded. “I wish to see her immediately—”

“Your cousin does not remember you,” Sonny told her. “She spent many years held hostage by Faison’s men. She does not know she is the princess. In fact, until tonight, I did not know she was either. I thought she was someone Faison wanted dead, and one day, I might be able to use her as leverage.”

“You—” Brenda’s eyes flared with rage. “You rescued her only to lock her up again—”

“She’s not my hostage,” he said easily. “You can ask her yourself when Jason brings her back.” He looked at his partner. “I’ll send a letter with you; otherwise, she won’t trust you.”

“Why don’t you go yourself?” Jason demanded, but Sonny shook his head.

“Faison has had me watched for a very long time—since he came to me for the job, and she vanished out from under his nose. He suspects I know where she is, but he’d never believe I’d tell you or anyone else. Bring her here the way we smuggle the brandy.”

“I want to go—”

“No,” Jason said before Sonny could answer. “It’s not safe. It will barely be safe for her—” He paused. “Sonny, you’ve never told me anything about her. I don’t even know her name—how am I going to get close enough to even give her the letter?”

“You’ll know her name. It’s not the one she was given at  birth— I never knew that, and she didn’t remember it—”

“Oh, God, what did he do to her?” Brenda cried. “How could she forget even her name—”

“Only she and I know the name she’s chosen for herself,” Sonny said, ignoring her. “Elizabeth will know I sent you when you use it.”

April 25, 2021

Hey guys! I don’t have a Flash Fiction for you today, and Fool Me Twice isn’t returning on Tuesday. The last two weeks have been a real struggle because I’m going to physical therapy twice a week right after work and it’s exhausting. I’m really sore and my neck really hurts sitting at my computer. I haven’t really been able to write or edit all that much.

I don’t have a Flash Fiction today because I spent all day with my family yesterday putting together a surprise party for my father’s 60th birthday and I am just so exhausted today. I do, however, think I should be able to have one next Sunday because I’m not doing anything on Saturday.

Fool Me Twice will be the weekend week of May, around May 11. I’m finishing physical therapy this week, so I’ll have the week after to get caught and get some work done. I’ll see you guys next week!

This entry is part 14 of 16 in the series Flash Fiction: Not Knowing When

Written in 57   minutes.


Elm Street Pier

Jason grabbed Brenda’s elbow, holding her back from stepping out onto Pier 52 and the launch that would take them out to Alcazar’s yacht, anchored just off shore. “Repeat the plan to me.”

“Do you think that I wasn’t listening the first eight times you made me do this?” Brenda demanded. “Do you think I’ll be stupid and—” She took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I know it’s not about that. It’s how you’re keeping your cool. Okay. We get on the boat. You demand that Elizabeth be allowed to send back to shore first and Luis will refuse. Then you’ll start negotiating which will distract him because he’ll be annoyed, and while he’s annoyed, Sonny’s men will be getting into position.”

“The second they take the shot,” Jason told her, “I’m going to grab Elizabeth. You go for the boat. Don’t think of anything. Just go.”

“I can do that. But I need you to make me a promise—no, don’t shake your head at me, Jason Morgan. Luis Alcazar is my problem. He came here because I wanted to go home and he wanted to make sure I didn’t have a home to come back to.”

“You are not responsible for his obsessions—”

“No. But he’s not your problem to fix. I came to you because I was desperate and because I knew I could count on you,” she confessed. “I only tried to blackmail you with Sonny and Carly because I was scared. But over the last couple of days, I remembered what I’d always tried to forget.”

Jason’s brows drew together in confusion. “What?”

“You looked miserable the day Sonny sent you to stop the wedding. And I forced you to tell me the truth in front of everyone. You tried to be kind. And I made it your fault. I blamed you because I couldn’t bring myself to admit the truth. Sonny didn’t love me enough to find a way out of it.”

“Brenda, that was a long time ago—”

“I know it, but it’s always been there between us. I resented you because it hurt too much to put the blame where it belonged. And because of that, I need you to know that if anyone isn’t coming home today, it’s me—”

“Brenda—”

“You and Elizabeth have a whole lifetime in front of you. I need you to promise me that you will get her out of this. I can survive Luis. He can’t break me, and I can live to fight another day. Elizabeth—he doesn’t care about her. So if it actually does come down to saving her or me, I want you to know that I expect you to get her home alive.”

“Brenda—”

“You don’t make promises you don’t try to keep. It’s something I’ve always respected about you. I’m not stepping foot on that yacht until you promise me.”

Alcazar’s Yacht: Upper Deck

“Ah, right on time.”

Elizabeth glowered at Alcazar as he watched the boat moving towards him with some satisfaction. She couldn’t do more than that since he’d gagged her and tied her hands together—he’d also lightly tied her legs together. She could shuffle along, but there’d be no running.

“Let’s see if your husband has some good sense,” Alcazar said. He grabbed her arm and dragged her forward.

Jason stepped on board first, sweeping a brief look over Elizabeth before turning back to reach out a hand to Brenda.

“Search him,” Luis said to one of the men standing nearby. “Confiscate any weapons.”

Jason’s glare could cut ice as he spread out his arms and allowed himself to be subjected to the pat down by the guards. “You think I’d take a chance with Elizabeth’s life on the line?”

“A man can’t be too sure.” Alcazar’s greedy eyes took in Brenda, his eyes lighting up with something dark and twisted that sent shivers down Elizabeth’s spine. “I know you think you have a way out of this, but I’m ready for anything you have planned.”

He looked at Elizabeth, lifting his dark brows. “You’ve been a lovely, charming companion. Even amusing. Did you know, Mr. Morgan—” He returned his gaze to Jason. “She thought perhaps this kidnapping was better than her last. She’s waiting on a third to decide for sure.”

Alcazar took Elizabeth by the arm and gently maneuvered her in front of him. Elizabeth wasn’t entirely sure what she expected—maybe he was attempting to start the trade with a sign of good faith?

Was he really going to trade her? Did Jason have a plan—

But then Alcazar released her arm and she realized only in the second before it happened what he’d planned.

He had pushed her so that her back was against the railing, then reached into his suit jacket.

There was a scream, a shout, and then just the glint of the yacht’s light on the metal of the gun before the night exploded with the sound of fireworks and a hot slice of pain arrowed through her shoulder.

The force of the shot sent her reeling and then Alcazar shoved her over—

Elizabeth tried to scream as her body twisted and rolled before she hit the freezing dark waters of Lake Ontario, but her cries were muffled by the gag in her mouth. She tried to swim, tried to move her arms, but quickly the current of the lake dragged her under.

___

Brenda choked back a sob as Luis shoved Elizabeth, bound and gagged over the railing of the yacht. With little more than an apologetic glance at Brenda, Jason launched himself overboard after her.

Brenda rushed to the railing, a crazy thought of trying to go after them, trying to help—but that wouldn’t solve anything.

“I’m sure Morgan had a plan,” Luis murmured. “I knew you’d make it clear to them that allowing the sweet Elizabeth to disappear with me into the night would be a terrible future for her. At first,” he added. “I could have charmed her. Make her fall in love with me.”

“The way I did,” Brenda said softly. She could see nothing at all. No figures. No thrashing in the water. Elizabeth had probably already sank down, unable to keep herself afloat, and Jason would never come back without her.

“I do have a way about me,” Luis said. He turned away to one of the guards. “It’s time to go. Let’s leave while Corinthos and his men are distracted—”

“I thought I did love you,” Brenda said. “I thought I didn’t have anything else to live for, and you were kind. I didn’t want to have sex with you, but you made me feel like I owed it to you.” She turned to look at him. “And I guess you’re not a man who minds when the woman lays still beneath him like a corpse.”

His mouth twisted and he flicked his eyes to the guards. “Leave us,” he snarled. In less than a minute, they were alone on the deck.  “That’s not how it was—”

“You thought you had this all it planned out,” Brenda said, “but I know you, Luis. And I knew you’d find a way to separate me from Jason. I also knew that you never thought I was very smart. Or bright. Your mistake was assuming that everyone saw me that way.”

“Brenda—”

“I knew you wouldn’t have me searched.” Brenda reached beneath the bulky sweater she wore, drew out the gun Jason had given her, and leveled the barrel at him. Luis’s eyes bulged  and he put his hands up.

“Brenda—”

The bullet struck him between the eyes, his head exploding around him as his body hit the deck, already dead.

There were footsteps rushing towards her as the guards came towards her, but Brenda just pointed the gun at them. “He’s dead,” she snarled. “And now you’ll do exactly what I say or you’re next.”

___

Jason hit the water less than two minutes after Elizabeth, but he knew it might already be too late. He knew the odds, knew that she’d been tied up, unable to swim—

But he was never going to leave her behind. Either they both went home or neither of them did.

On his third dive beneath the frigid waters, his muscles aching and his lungs screaming, he found her. She was twisting and desperately trying to break free to the surface, using her tied hands like a shovel, digging at the water—

Jason used what energy he had left to drag Elizabeth to the surface and tug the gag from her mouth. He could have wept when he heard her drag in a long, desperate breath.

“You found me,” she managed. He looped her hands over his neck, using his legs to keep them both afloat. “You found me.”

He pushed her sodden hair away from her face, smoothing his thumb over her lips. “I will always find you,” he promised. He kissed her, just for a minute, just to feel her mouth against his.

Jason twisted them, trying to see how far they’d drifted from the yacht. He had to get her to shore before they both froze. The lights of the yacht looked distant, but he knew his eyes could be playing tricks on him. He didn’t know if Brenda had been able to pull the gun on Alcazar, but by now Sonny’s men would be in the water.

He had to believe that.

“Untie my hands. I c-can s-swim,” Elizabeth managed, her teeth chattered. He lifted her arms from around his neck to try to undo the ropes, but his fingers were fumbling and his legs were tiring from keeping them both afloat. If he couldn’t get these ropes undone, the ones around her ankles would be impossible.

“J-Jason—”

He put her arms back around his neck. “Can’t waste time. You need to get to shore. She’d been shot and nearly drowned. A bullet in the shoulder, the waters of the lake—she’d die from blood loss and infection if he didn’t get her to shore—

“But—”

He ignored her protests and started swimming towards the yacht. He had to believe Brenda had been able to defend herself or that Sonny had been able to get on board—

Had to believe it—

His arms were screaming and his body felt numb, but Jason kept swimming, the feeling of Elizabeth’s arms around his neck reminding him that he needed to keep going. Needed to get her to shore.

“Jason! Jason!”

His brain was foggy—he couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t hear the screams of his names—was that in his head?

A bright light blinded him, but then he realized it was the small boat that had ferried them between the pier and the yacht. He saw Sonny’s face dimly and Brenda’s just behind him. The boat was still maybe twenty feet away, but he’d know them anywhere. “Jason!” Brenda called again.

“Elizabeth—” Jason pulled her arms off his neck as Sonny threw a life ring out towards them. “Elizabeth, you need to hold onto this.”

“J-Jason—” Her voice slurred as her eyes drifted closed. “Y-You, too—”

“You first.” He fitted the ring over her. “I love you.”

“I love you, too—”

Then Sonny was pulling on the rope, dragging Elizabeth away from Jason, towards the boat. Towards safety.

Jason continued to tread water, but everything hurt and he was so tired. So cold.

____

“Get—Get Jason,” Elizabeth’s words were barely audible as Sonny and two of their men dragged her onto the boat. Brenda was sobbing as she frantically pressed gauze to Elizabeth’s shoulder and Max swiftly cut through her bindings.

Sonny threw the ring out back into the direction of where he’d last seen Jason, but there was no tug on the line to indicate it had been grabbed.

And by the time they reached the spot where Jason and Elizabeth had been sighted, there was no one.

Sonny sucked in a breath or horror he frantically pushed the light around the surrounding water.

“Jason—where’s Jason—” Brenda demanded, scrambling away from Elizabeth. “Jason!” she screamed. “Jason!”

“We—” Sonny sucked in a harsh breath. He traded a look with Max. “How is she?”

“Pulse is thready. Her body core temp is low,” Max told him. “And we can’t stop the bleeding.”

“Jason!” Brenda’s scream disappeared in the rough waters of the lake. “Jason!”

 

“Brenda, we need to get Elizabeth to shore—she needs medical attention—”

“No, no! We can’t—” Brenda’s breathing was labored and choppy, sobs breaking her speech. “No, I can’t leave him in the dark, in the water! Please—please—” She turned back to the water, and for a wild moment, Sonny thought she meant to throw herself overboard.

“Brenda—”

“I’ll go in, Boss—” one of the men offered. “Get the boat to the yacht and send it back out. We’ll keep looking for him. He must have drifted. I’ll find him.” The guard, Richie, Sonny strugged to remember, started to shove off his shirt and pants, revealing a wetsuit underneath. “Jason thought we might need to be ready for anything.”

“Okay, okay. Go in, Richie. We’ll come back for you,” Sonny promised, and the guard slipped beneath the waves. Sonny gave the order for the other guard to turn the boat back to the yacht while Sonny turned to the still sobbing Brenda.

“If Elizabeth dies while we’re searching for Jason, he’d never forgive me,” Sonny said. “He made it clear to me. She comes home.”

“I can’t stand leaving him in the water. I remember—I remember accident. I remember hitting the water—” Brenda pressed her hands to her eyes. “I made it out of the car, and I swam for hours. Hours. It was so cold, so dark—I just wanted to close my eyes and sleep. I finally did. I can’t leave him here.”

“We’re not—”

“We are!” Brenda looked back to the spot where Jason had disappeared, where they could just see Richie diving beneath the water. “Promise you won’t stop looking until you find him. However you find him.”

“I won’t,” Sonny said, hoping like hell he wouldn’t be bringing Elizabeth’s husband home in a body bag.

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 16 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 38 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!