May 31, 2021

Update Link: Ricochet, Chapter 27

I hope everyone is having a relaxing long weekend. I’ve been looking forward to these three days for weeks, but then of course — Saturday, my stove breaks. Such a bummer! I was having a really good morning and writing at a good clip. I went down to make some lunch, and boom! The burner wouldn’t shut off. My dad had to come up, turn off the gas to my stove and oven and it’s still not fixed even this morning. He’s supposed to come to up to take care of it, but it’s been so annoying. It’s also been really crappy weather, LOL. Last weekend, it was hard to write because it was so hot in my office and this weekend, it was too cold. NEW JERSEY GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.

I did manage some major editing. Chapter 30 was brand new and is finally done. I’m going to finish cleaning up at least 3 or 4 chapters today, depending on my schedule. Dad is coming up today to put in the new valve, and then I’m supposed to head down their place for dinner. It’s my birthday, so we’re doing a little something. The good news is that I’ve done enough to guarantee we won’t have another break in posting.

Two weeks from summer vacation! Let’s do this!

This entry is part 27 of 38 in the series Fool Me Twice: Ricochet

So when will this end
It goes on and on
Over and over and over again
Keep spinning around i know that it won’t stop
Till I step down from this for good
I never thought I’d end up here
I never thought Id be standing where I am
I guess a kind of thought it would be easier than this I guess
I was wrong now one more time
Sick Cycle Carousel, Lifehouse

December 2015

General Hospital: Nurse’s Hub

Andre waited until the elevators had closed behind Anna Devane before turning back to walk to his office. He stopped still as he approached the hub, seeing several teenagers and kids in the waiting area.

He’d been in Port Charles just over a month and had settled in rather nicely. It was comforting to be back in the normal world, working as a psychiatrist again. Helena was dead, and Valentin had told him that he’d taken care of the replacement. There would be no Chimera. No biotoxin. That was over.

Valentin had also told him to hold off on implanting memories in Drew Cain’s brain. The man knew he was supposed to be Jason Morgan, and Valentin didn’t see the point in shaking things up. Not just yet. Andre could live with that.

He could almost pretend that none of it had even happened—even meeting Elizabeth Webber hadn’t shaken him. She’d never been more than a name on a page, so he could just enjoy working alongside a competent and excellent colleague.

But this was the first time he’d seen Jake since that day in the lab when Andre had removed his memories—when he’d put the trigger for Chimera in the boy’s brain.

“Dr. Maddox,” Elizabeth said with a warm smile. “I see you’ve met my kids—”

“Oh, I didn’t—” Andre took a deep breath. “I just saw them here and stopped to wonder who they were. Are they all yours?”

“Oh, no.” Elizabeth laughed, even if it was a bit sad. He knew she was struggling since the truth about Jake Doe had come out and it had been revealed she’d known for moths. He felt sorry for her—the target of Helena’s rage. She’d never done anything to deserve all that the crazy bitch had done to her.

“Mom!” The smallest of the boys ran towards Elizabeth and she swept him up, surprisingly strong. “Hi, Mom! We’re here!”

“I see that, baby. Aiden, this is a new doctor at GH. Andre, this is my youngest—Aiden.” She nodded to the taller blond boy. “That’s Cameron, my oldest. Fourteen—” She shook her head. “I can’t believe it.”

“Soon I’ll able to drive,” Cameron said with a grin.

“And my middle baby, Jake.” Elizabeth pointed at the last blond boy—the one Andre would have known anywhere. “He’s eight.”

“And the rest of them are friends. Joss Jacks and Emma Drake—” She sighed. “Oh, Emma—you’re here to say goodbye, aren’t you?”

“Yeah.” The brunette sniffled. “It’s Dad’s last day, and, like, I grew up here. They came with us.” She looked at Cameron with misery. “I don’t wanna leave.”

“It’s okay,” Cameron promised her. “You’ll come back for college.”

Elizabeth set Aiden down on his feet and he went over to hug Emma’s legs. “Cameron and Emma are dating,” she confided in Andre. “And she’s moving across country.”

“That’s a shame.” Andre shifted. “It’s a pleasure to meet you all—”

“Oh, you’ll see us all the time,” Cameron said confidently. “Mom works so much, it’s the only way we get to see her.”

Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “Funny guy.” She left Andre and went over to pull Emma aside. Andre watched the group for another minute, watching as Elizabeth hugged the other girl, then put an arm around the girl she’d introduced as Joss.

What about this woman had pushed Helena to the brink? It was interesting to see Elizabeth around her children—to see how Jake was already sort of at home, even if he felt a bit apart from them all.

Andre hadn’t been the one to take Jake away, and he’d played a small role in bringing him back. He wondered if Jake would ever get to know his real father—if Jason Morgan was even still alive in Russia.

But Andre couldn’t let all of that weigh on him. He’d done the job and he was free.

At least until Valentin Cassadine decided differently.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

PCPD: Squad Room

Anna waited until the last possible minute of the day before heading downtown to the police station to see how Andre was bucking up under the pressure. Frisco had agreed not to get any charges filed dismissed until Andre was officially being moved, and Jordan had convinced Margaux Dawson, the district attorney, to file charges that she knew would never go court.

“She’s not happy about the waste of time and resources,” Jordan told Anna as she walked the WSB agent over to Dante Falconieri’s desk. “And if you get nothing today, she’s dropping the charges. It’s already been a week—”

“I know,” Anna said as Dante stood up to greet her. “But I had to let him stew a bit. It was going to take time for him to believe that the WSB was actually abandoning him.” Her smile was a bit dark, troubled. “He knows if he goes to gen pop in a state prison, he won’t make it long. Not with the people he screwed with.”

“I’ll be happier when he’s out of our station,” Dante said. Jordan left them as the detective led Anna to the lock-up in the back of the department. “We still don’t know who he’s working for, and I got flashbacks to what happened a couple of years ago with Faison.”

“I know,” Anna murmured. Dante unlocked the entrance to the row of cells. “Thank you,” she told him.  She left Sonny’s son waiting and walked down the row until she came to Andre.

The formerly urbane and sophisticated doctor had unraveled over the last few weeks in jail. His orange jumpsuit, the lack of polish on his typically manicured nails, the desperate light in his eyes.

“Anna.” Andre got to his feet, his expression sour. “What do you want?”

“I think you have the idea now, Andre, that I have a lot of weight with Frisco,” Anna said briskly. “You’re not as valuable to the WSB as you think you are, and there was no way I was going to let you leave this town without paying for the damage you’ve done.”

Andre hissed under his breath, looked away. He gripped the bars of the jail, his fingers wrapping tightly around the metal. “You know what would happen to me in a New York prison—”

“Either Valentin Cassadine or Sonny Corinthos would eventually come to find you, and I know Sonny has a lot of friends in several federal prisons if you’re thinking of going to the Feds. Andre, with one call, I can have you moved tonight.” Anna lifted her brow. “Make it worth my while.”

Andre shoved away from the bars, started to stalk the small space. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” he growled.

“No, I know you wanted to bring back your wife. Or to stop such tragedy from happening to others. I always understood your reasons, Andre. But I abhor your methods. And with the time you’ve had to consider matters—” She tipped her head. “Do you have any regret for what you’ve done to Jason Morgan and Drew Cain? The damage you’ve done to Jake Webber?”

“I—” Andre exhaled slowly. “By the time I started working on Jake’s case, Jason and Drew—that was over. I made sure I didn’t know anything about them. Five and Six and a basic medical history. My—” He made a face. “My bosses kept trying to push me into being more involved—but I resisted—”

“Were you at the lab on Spoon Island when Helena brought Jake Webber there? When she faked his death?” Anna pushed.

Andre paused, dropped his gaze to the floor. “I didn’t know who he was at first. And he wasn’t my case. I won’t tell you who was his doctor,” he said, snapping his eyes up. “That’s not important. “But he wasn’t my case—”

“He was a child—”

“I didn’t know—” Andre exhaled slowly. “Not until that night when Ewen Keenan brought Elizabeth to the lab. Helena had hired Lisa Niles to shove Elizabeth overboard and to inject her with something to cause a high fever.”

Anna stared at him. “Helena engineered it—”

“It didn’t have to be the boat that night, but that Lisa should take the next opportunity to deliver Elizabeth to her anyway she saw fit. So Lisa did the job, called Helena, and Keenan went to get her. I was working with him—” He stopped. “Not on Robin. I didn’t know about Robin, Anna—”

“It hardly matters—”

“It does matter to me. Robin wasn’t my case. She didn’t need medical help and she wasn’t part of any of this. But Helena wanted another smart doctor, and Faison had his own reasons for taking her.” Andre rubbed his jaw. “When he brought Elizabeth to the lab—I wasn’t there. But I could hear her screaming for her son from my office—it gave me nightmares—”

“But it didn’t stop you from planting a trigger in that little boy’s brain so that he could kill himself, his mother, and everyone else at the Nurse’s Ball,” Anna said acidly. “Spare me.”

“By that point, I was in too deep. I’d gone too far, and I knew too much. But I put the failsafe in—I made it possible for Jake to be stopped—”

“You think you deserve credit for that? You could have told Elizabeth at any time what she might face—you knew all along that Chimera was in his head–”

“I had no choice! If I was going to stay alive—so yeah, I sacrificed Jake to keep my hand in the research. Do you think I’m proud of that, Anna? You know me!”

“I thought I did,” Anna said, staring at him with with derision, even as a wave of disappointment slid through her. “I thought you were a good man. But you lost sight of what you were supposed to be doing. You weren’t helping your patients anymore, Andre. You were only helping yourself.”

He swallowed hard and nodded. “Is that enough ?” he asked dully. “Do I get out of here now?”

“No,” Anna said. “You’ve only elaborated on what we already knew. I’m sure Elizabeth will be thrilled to learn that what happened to her was even more diabolical. I’m not just here about the past, Andre. I need to know what’s out there today. Someone was keeping Jason Morgan on ice for the last five years. Helena and Victor Cassadine might have started this, but they’ve been dead a long time. Who was pushing this forward? Who were you were working for?”

“I’m not saying the name,” Andre said slowly. “Because you already know. You’ve always known. What you want to know is if this is over, and the answer is no. He’s searching for something. I’m not sure what.”

Anna narrowed her eyes. “I don’t believe you—”

“You don’t need to. You just need to find my files. And Helena’s. Helena had smuggled out her own sets of files. I don’t know how,” Andre admitted. “But she told me before I left for Port Charles, before she died, they were safe—” He stopped. “He hasn’t found them yet, but he’s looking for them. He was still looking when Morgan hit town.”

“And where are your files? Your computers here were wiped clean—”

“Did you open your Christmas present?” Andre asked, his eyes locked on hers. “Because I gave you everything weeks ago. I knew this day would come, Anna. My files have the records of everything I did at the WSB under Victor’s control. Everything I did for the memory experimentation. And also some files that I stole from Helena for leverage. It’s not her complete files—but it should be enough to give you some leads.”

Anna exhaled slowly. “My present?” She grimaced. “All right.”

“Is that enough?” Andre demanded. “Is that enough to save my life?”

“Drew Cain’s memories. Are they also on that thumb drive?” Anna demanded.

“Yes. If you find it, if I can get to a lab—I can put them back in his head. All you have to do is get the ornament, Anna, and get me out of here.”

Penthouse: Living Room

Curtis frowned over the newspaper clippings, sifting through them as Drew poured over the investigation records for Susan Moore’s murder.

“You know, I know Robert was a hell of a commissioner,” Curtis said slowly, “but based on this and the other statements I read in the file—” He tapped a pencil against his legal pad. “I’m not seeing how he could be sure that Tolliver was the guy.”

“And he died before they could finish really investigating,” Drew said. He paused. “Susan was looking for money. She was threatening the Quartermaines, and I was dumped at the orphanage around this time. We know I ended up with Betsy Frank at some point, but we only have Betsy and Heather’s word for how it happened.”

“Yeah, Betsy was supposed to be the nurse on duty that Heather gave you to, but that doesn’t jive with Susan knowing about you long enough to give you a name—”

“Or with Heather leaving her own son with Betsy after all of that,” Drew reminded him. He dragged a hand through his hair. “What do we think? That Betsy found out Susan was coming for me? Or that she was going to take both me and Franco?”

“I mean, it makes sense. The bigamy threats were  a dead end—and if Susan found out she had a legit way to drain the Qs of some cash—” Curtis pulled open another folder. “I got the copy of her estate that was filed with probate. I thought it might be worth looking at the way she talked about custody of children since she updated it just before she died to cut Scott out.”

“Yeah, she was really pissed at him,” Drew said. “Any luck getting him to talk yet?”

“He’s been stonewalling me since that first time,” Curtis admitted. “It was a long time ago and he’s probably not really proud of what he did back then—but I’m still trying.”  He shoved the will over to Drew. “You’re faster with this lawyer crap.”

“Dated February 8, just a few days before she was murdered,” Drew said, jotting down the date. “It’s pretty clear cut. She didn’t have much of an estate separate from Jason—” And if he was surprised that it was getting easier to think of Jason as a separate person with a history that wasn’t his, Drew didn’t dwell on it. “She left everything to her—” He paused. “To her living descendants,” he said slowly.

Curtis raised his brow. “Will doesn’t name Jason specifically?”

“No. But it doesn’t name me either, which makes sense since no one came to find me. But Jason got everything, and custody of dependents was to go to the biological father, Alan Quartermaine.”

“Dependents is plural?”

“Looks like.”

“Well.” Curtis set down his pencil and met Drew’s eyes. “That is very interesting. She knows there’s another baby out there, but doesn’t name him. Why? Is she scared? And she doesn’t leave any way for Alan to find this kid?”

“No way that we know of,” Drew murmured. “But there’s still Heather to think about. She was accused of Susan’s murder because of the stuff with Scott. But you have to wonder if maybe Susan confronted her over stealing me and Heather killed her. Or if Tolliver was the guy — maybe Susan gave Heather the information to give to Alan, and Heather, because she’s crazy, didn’t do it. Held on to it instead for a rainy day.”

“How did Victor Cassadine know about twins anyway?” Curtis demanded. “No one other than Susan and Heather knew there were two babies. How the hell does Victor Cassadine figure this out decades later? Did he get it from Heather? That’s the link we want. If we can answer that, we might be able to unravel why Victor chose the two of you in the first place.”

Drew sat back. “We need to get Scott and Robert to talk to us about my mother’s case. And I wish like hell Alan—” He paused. “I wish my father was still alive,” he said, because here—the complicated feelings Jason had had for Alan Quartermaine and their rocky relationship—Drew was grateful for those memories. It would be the only way he’d ever know Alan.  “But Monica was around back then.”

“And, hell, we could always see if Heather is lucid enough to give us something we can work with.”

As Curtis was packing up his papers, the door opened and Sam walked in with Danny following.

“Hi, Dad!” Danny said cheerfully. He tossed his bookbag on the sofa. “I gotta get upstairs because there’s a new Ryan video—” And without another word or more of a greeting, the five-year-old raced up the stairs where his tablet was charging.

“Nice to see you, too!” Drew called after him with a shake of his head and a grin.

“Hey, Curtis,” Sam said, dropping her keys on the desk. She frowned at the folders he was shoving into his messenger bag, then looping over his shoulder. “What’s that? What are you working on?”

“Just making a list of more questions about Susan Moore,” Curtis said before Drew could stop him. When Sam just frowned at him, Curtis looked at Drew who winced before focusing on Sam again. “Did you, uh, not know we were looking into her murder?”

“No, no, I didn’t. But, you know, Christmas is coming. We’ve all been busy.” Sam folded her arms.

“Right,” Curtis drawled. “Well, I’ll get out of here. I’ll call Robert and Scott, and see we can follow up on any of that other stuff.”

“I’ll handle Monica,” Drew told him, walking him to the door. When his friend had left, he turned to find Sam staring at him. “What?”

“You never said anything about looking into your mother’s murder.”

“You didn’t want to know about what I was doing with Jason,” Drew said. He walked past her, towards the fireplace to push at the logs and stoke the fire.  “Susan is part of it.”

“How—”

“Curtis found my birth certificate,” Drew said. “Susan knew I existed which isn’t the story Heather told. But since she fought for a million dollar trust fund for Jason, there’s no way she gave me away and didn’t go back for more.” He lifted a brow. “I mean, you played these games. You know she wouldn’t have left that money on the floor.”

Sam flinched, then lifted her chin. “No, I guess not. Not with a double payday on the line. But I thought they got the guy—”

“Case is flimsy—the suspect died before they could nail it down,” Drew said. “We’re gonna check with Robert, but it also looks like maybe Susan found out I was still alive just before she died.” He shrugged. “It might be nothing, but if we can find out who knew there were twins back then—we might be able to figure out how Victor knew about us.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Sam said slowly. “It’s weird. I don’t think about Monica not being your mother. Jason was—he’s closer to her than he was to Alan.”

“I know, I used to be him, remember?”

“Drew—” Sam closed her eyes. “I’m trying here. No, I’m not entirely on board with you looking into what happened because I just don’t see the point in worrying about it. It’s over. You’re moving forward, and it’s not like you can just get your memories back—”

“Anna is working on that,” Drew told her. “And Andre told us himself—he came back here and reimplanted the memories so that I get them back. But he was able to retain my Jake Doe life. Which means he might be able to take Jason out of my head, but keep the last three years. It’s worth exploring, Sam—”

“You want to remember being in love with another woman?” Sam demanded.

“No, I want to remember my son. My first wife. My life, Sam. I was thirty-eight when all of this happened. I want those years back.” He scowled at her. “And I’m not the one married to someone else. That’s you—”

“I’m working on it,” Sam said, her teenth clenched. “God, you just never let it go—”

“The fact that you haven’t filed for divorce yet?” Drew demanded. “No, funny how that’s staying with me.”

“I’m going out,” Sam retorted. She grabbed her keys and went to the door. “I don’t know why you can’t let this go. Why you can’t just look forward—”

“How can I look forward when you’re still married to Jason?”

Sam pressed her lips together, then stalked out, slamming the door behind her.

Devane Manor: Living Room

Anna grimaced as she sorted through the box of decorations left half-filled next to her Christmas tree. She’d put the ornament Andre had given with her all the other gifted ornaments she couldn’t find the space for, and now it wasn’t there—

“Cryptic, rat-arsed lunatic,” she hissed as she got on her hands and knees to peer beneath a table, hoping she’d spy it there. “Any normal villain would just monologue and spill all their plans, but he has to hide his evil deeds in a bloody thumb drive—“

“Miss Devane?”

Anna sat back on her heels, frowning as her housekeeper and part-time cook entered the room, looking bewildered. “Oh, thank God, Patience.” She got to her feet. “I had an extra box of decorations here a few days ago—filled with ornaments mostly—“

“Oh, I took care of those,” Patience said, with a relieved smile. “Just like you asked. I dropped them off on my way home from work yesterday.”

“Dropped them—“ Anna made a face. “Oh, hell. The rummage sale?”

“Yes. I’m sorry. Did I misunderstand—“

“No—“ Anna planted her hands on her hips, and scowled at the space where the box had been. “No, I wanted to get rid of them. I just left something in the box that turned out to be more important than I realized. That gormless little weasel!”

“All right,” Patience said slowly. “Well, I’m going home now—“

“Yes, yes.” Anna sighed. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Don’t mind me.”

“I never do, Miss Devane. Good night!” With a wave, Patience went to the foyer, and Anna went for her phone.

“Maxie, thank Christ I caught you! That rummage sale—“ She closed her eyes as her honorary niece began to babble about something Anna didn’t care about in the slightest. “The rummage sale, Maxie. Has it begun yet?”

“Oh, no—why? Did you want to donate something else? We’re starting around noon tomorrow—“

“All right, I’ll be there as soon as I can tomorrow, but I need you to find the box of ornaments my housekeeper brought by and set it aside—“ When Maxie said nothing, Anna closed her eyes. “Maxie?”

“Well, we mixed the box with the other ornaments. Anna—“

“Then set all the blasted ornaments aside and I’ll buy the whole damn lot!” Anna snapped and hung up the phone. “Thumb drives,” she muttered. “I hate technology.”

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Drew slid the last contract over—the one that Jason had wanted to sign the least, but that Drew had insisted was necessary. While Drew was now a half owner of the company, legally, Jason still had to agree to appoint him as the shareholder who would deal with the running of the company. Jason didn’t give a crap about any of this—he was hoping Drew would make the company such a success that he could get out of this faster.

Jason did not want to be in the corporate world, and only kept his ELQ stock now to make Monica happy—though he’d been grateful to learn that Michael had immediately granted Jake his own shares when he’d come home. He liked the idea of Jake being solid and secure—of having options when he got older. A future that would be wide open to him.

A future that Jason had sold a long time ago without really knowing the price he’d pay.

“Thanks for making this easy,” Drew said finally as he put the paperwork away.

“Thanks for making sure I don’t have to do anything about the company. And I don’t want any profit,” Jason told him bluntly. “I didn’t really buy it. It’s not my thing. So whatever dividends are owed to me, put them back into the company or split them between the kids.”

Drew frowned at him. “Which ones? Jake and Danny?”

Jason started say yes, but then thought about that future he wanted for Jake, about the conversation he and Elizabeth had had if something happened to her—what would happen to her boys.  “All of them,” he said finally. “Jake, Cameron, and Aiden. And Danny,” he added. “If you want Scout to have a part, that’s fine. And Oscar.” As he said it out loud, he nodded. “Yeah, that works for me.”

“Me, too,” Drew admitted. “I like the idea of all the kids having at least a college fund. I, uh, I don’t remember,” he admitted, “but I’m guessing that’s maybe why I went into the military at eighteen. Kim might know,” he continued. “I haven’t asked.” He hesitated. “This…being in a room with you—looking at you—it’s getting easier.”

Jason considered that and nodded in return. “Yeah, I thought being around you would be the hardest part,” he said. “At first, when I found out about you, I thought you had to be part of this, but you’re not, and we both got screwed. But—” He tipped his head. “If I really couldn’t come back until now—if it really wasn’t possible—I’m glad you were here for Jake. Elizabeth said it was hard when he came home.”

“And last year, yeah.” Drew rubbed the side of his face. “Some scary minutes while he just looked at us, terrified. Not wanting to open the box, not wanting to kill everyone, and that goddamn bitch in his head somehow giving him the orders beyond the grave—” He pressed his lips together. “We just barely got out of Iit, and then we turned him over to fucking Maddox who’d put the trigger in his head in the first place.”

He paused. “I thought I’d feel more resentment towards you, too,” Drew told him. “Because I thought you’d come back and you’d take everything. How could I fight it? It all belonged to you. The penthouse, the money, Danny and Jake—” He stared down at the contract. “Sam.”

Jason didn’t say anything in return, so Drew sighed. “But you didn’t—you didn’t take any of it back. Not even Jake. I know Elizabeth went to you. I know you made Jake feel comfortable with keeping both of us in his life. I love that kid. It’s hard not to—” His voice tightened. “It’s hard to put aside thinking he’s mine. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it.”

“Then don’t,” Jason told him quietly. “You have my memories, Drew. I don’t know if that comes with the emotions, but I never put it aside for Michael. Most of the time, I know he’s not mine, but I don’t always feel it.”

“The emotions,” Drew said slowly. “That’s the part—I think that’s the part that I really don’t think ever worked for me. Maddox didn’t think that through.” He paused. “But then sometimes—sometimes, there’d be memories that would be so strong that I could just—” He shook his head. “I could feel them. A lot of memories with Jake. Being born, being scared he wouldn’t make it. The kidnappings—both of them. Losing him.”  Drew met Jason’s eyes. “Having those memories, but knowing I didn’t live through it—that you did—I’m glad you get to have him back.”

“It’s amazing, but it’s more important that Elizabeth has him,” Jason said, his tone still quiet. “I was never there enough. Losing him hurt like hell, it almost broke me—and I didn’t even get to be his parent. The only thing I ever did was bring him home to her and pay the grave marker.” Jason cleared his throat. “You said you had something you wanted to know about Susan Moore.”

“Yeah.” Drew scratched his temple. “I don’t know a lot about her—even with your memories—but Curtis and I have been looking into what happened to her, trying to understand at what point you and I were separated—did Susan ever know—because we need to find out how Victor knew we existed.”

Jason frowned. “Yeah, that bothers me. Heather told us years ago that Franco was supposed to be my twin brother. I still thought that was true until I came back. I’m obviously glad it’s you and not him,” he added, “but why bother to lie in the first place?”

“Yeah, Heather’s stories don’t really add up,” Drew admitted. “But you know that she never made much sense. And it turns out I got dumped at the group home just after Susan was murdered which made us wonder if there was something connecting it.”

“You know as much as I ever did about Susan Moore. I mean, I think I was really young when she died,” Jason said, frowning. “I only know she existed because Monica told me after the accident. I don’t think I would have had memories of her, and Alan told me once that he rarely ever talked about Susan with me once Monica decided to adopt me. It was a bad reminder. But if you think there’s a connection—”

“Elizabeth was pretty close to Scott because of—” Drew wiggled his fingers, and Jason nodded. “He’s still her lawyer, but ironically, he was also our stepfather. He drained half of the trust fund Susan won for you, and he was a suspect in her murder.”

“Scott—” Jason exhaled slowly. “He was married to Susan? I think I knew this. I did know about the trust fund. I think I used it to pay for college and medical school—” he squinted. “And then I found out about it after accident, and Sonny helped me get access to the rest of it. Scott’s not the best guy, but I don’t think he’d do anything—”

“No, but he might have some insight. He’s ducking me and Curtis,” Drew said, “and you being Jason Morgan probably means he won’t talk to you, but you know Elizabeth has a way of convincing people to talk. You think she might be interested in helping out?”

“I can ask,” Jason suggested. He glanced at his phone. “I’m supposed to meet her in a little while for a ride.”

Drew furrowed his brow. “You’re—you’re seeing a lot of her, I guess. With Jake.”

“Why?”

“Nothing, I guess I—” he hesitated. “You never came back to see Sam. It’s been—it’s been almost two months. You know that I’m divorcing Kim. That Sam and I are divorcing so we can clear the legal stuff. We did this deal for Aurora—” Drew gestured at the contract. “But, uh, have you heard anything from Sam about a divorce?”

“No,” Jason said finally. “I thought—” He looked away. “I was expecting it. But it hasn’t happened, and I stopped thinking about it, I guess. Distracted with other things.” He looked back at Drew. “Why?”

“Because this is something that bothered me when I thought I was you,” Drew told him. “You’re reactive. And it drove me crazy thinking about to all the things I’d let happen—what I  thought I’d let happen.”

“I—” Jason paused. “Why does it matter—”

“Because I’m frustrated that Sam decided to stay with me, but won’t do anything to make it permanent,” Drew admitted, frustrated. He dragged his hand through his hair. “And I guess—knowing what I know about your past with Sam and Elizabeth—” He kept going even as Jason’s mouth tightened, “I was thinking maybe it wasn’t a good idea for you to keep being married to Sam and spending time with Elizabeth.”

“What do you want me to do?” Jason asked with a frown. “Ask Sam for a divorce?”

“I don’t know, it’d be nice if you did something—” Drew hissed. “Never mind—”

“Look—” Jason began but then his phone lit up with a phone call. He frowned at it, then held a hand out as Drew got to his feet. “Wait—it’s Luke Spencer.” Drew sat back down as Jason answered the phone. “Luke?”

“What did he say?” Drew demanded as soon as Jason ended the connection. “He didn’t talk long—”

“Luke and Lucky are coming into town tomorow,” Jason said slowly, and the two men shared a knowing look—thanks to Jason’s memories, there were few people the two of them hated more. Except maybe Franco. “They’ve got some information on Faison.”

“Well,” Drew said. “Maybe something is finally going to shake loose.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Jason said. “And you’re right. Maybe it’s time we make it happen.”

Greystone Manor: Master Bedroom

Carly stepped out of her dressing room, her dark eyes lit with fury. “Any other instructions you want to give me, master?” she asked Sonny scornfully.

Sonny sighed and sat at the end of the bed, removing his shoes, then pulling off his trouser socks with his toes. “Carly, don’t act like I’m coming at you with this out of nowhere. We’re having a Christmas Eve party, and you have several people in your life right now that are irritated with you.”

“You think I don’t know? Jason’s not returning my calls, and Michael isn’t stopping by my office nearly as much—“ Carly folded her arms and stared at the fireplace in their room. “You know, it’s not like I meant to have a fight with her,” she muttered.

Sonny lifted his brows, twisted to look at her—but Carly’s back remained to him. It was the first time she’d seemed willing to talk about that terrible afternoon at Elizabeth’s. “Then what happened?”

“I went over there,” Carly said slowly, her shoulders tense, “to ask if maybe she could—I don’t know—suggest to Jason that I could come with them to look for a garage. Or maybe help me talk to him about decorating the house. I don’t know, just—just to see if maybe I could be involved.” She turned to him, her eyes watering. “Do you know how humiliating it was? To think that the only way my best friend would let me help him with this would be if Elizabeth made it seem like her idea?”

“I actually do get how that must have felt,” Sonny admitted, getting to his feet. “And I’m proud of you for even having that intention. What went wrong?”

“It was—it was okay at first. We were talking about Christmas, and the boys. We could always talk about the kids—“ Carly swiped a thumb under her eye. “And about believing in Santa—but then Jason texted her. And she told me all about it—how Jason always picks up Jake and now he was thinking about picking up Aiden—and I was just—“ Carly fisted her hands at her side. “She was rubbing it in my face, Sonny—“

“Rubbing what—“

“That Jason is part of her life, her routine. Not mine. He’s not ours anymore—“

“He was never ours,” Sonny said slowly, “but there were definitely times when we did not respect that fact. Carly—“

“And it just—it got worse from there, because she started to remind me that she’s not the reason Jason doesn’t want me—and I don’t care about any of that, Sonny. I don’t know why she keeps bringing it up—“

Sonny sighed. “Carly—“

“I just wanted her to stop talking, to stop saying these things—“ Things Carly probably knew was true, Sonny admitted to himself. “So I—I made her shut up. And Joss—“ Carly squeezed her eyes shut. “Joss saw me. Her boys saw me. And Jason—God, Jason heard me, and he was so angry because I’d hurt the boys, Elizabeth—and him. I know that now, because I think he heard me talk about his leaving Jake—I never meant that—“

“No, but when you’re angry and hurt, Carly, you get vicious.” Sonny stared at her. “And sometimes you don’t care who’s in the path of your rage. I know that about you, because I’m the same.”

“Yeah, well, Jason’s never going to forgive me for letting Jake overhear that—“

“Jake is young and resilient. He knows Jason loves him. And Jason will largely forgive you if you do what I’m suggesting.”

Carly wrinkled her nose. “She won’t come. Neither of them will—“

“Nelle will come for Michael,” Sonny said, “and it’s time for both us to let go of what happened last year. We both know that angry young women sometimes lash out in vicious ways, and that doesn’t have to make them bad forever—“

“But—“

“And Elizabeth will come for Jason. Because whether you like it or not, she loves him. And she values the friendship her boys have with Joss and Michael. They’re our family, Carly. Even if Jason didn’t pick them—they would still be ours because of Joss and Michael. We’ve buried too many to turn away the ones that matter.”

Carly exhaled slowly. “I can probably get away with never making nice with Nelle as long I as I try not to attack her in public, but I think that twenty years of trying really hard to shove Elizabeth out of Jason’s life with no luck probably means I should find a way to be okay with her.”

“That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.” Sonny embraced his wife, hoping that she meant it this time. But that was always the trouble with Carly—she’d swear to turn over a new leaf, and sometimes she’d manage it.

But there was always another disaster around the corner.

Elm Street Pier

“Hey.” Elizabeth smiled brightly as she jogged down the steps to meet Jason at the usual bench. “I’m sorry I’m late, I got held up at the hospital, and then Cameron called with an emergency—not an actual emergency—” she added when Jason frowned, “—but a dating one. Emma’s coming in for Christmas. He thinks she’s okay with him and Trina, but now he’s getting second thoughts. Emma and Trina were best friends in middle school.”

Jason squinted at her. “And that’s an emergency?”

“He and Emma dated for three months in the fifth grade,” Elizabeth reminded him. “And then again in eighth grade before she moved. Listen, you don’t remember being a teenager, so lucky you, but this could go very badly.” She made a face. “But it’s over now, so you said you wanted to ask me something before we took a ride?”

“Yeah—” Jason told her about his mother’s murder, the connection Drew was hoping to make, and Scott’s involvement. “Scott won’t talk to Drew and Curtis,” he said.

“And he really won’t talk to you,” Elizabeth said. “He might—” She nodded. “He’ll probably talk to me. I have to sign that new will anyway, so I’ve got a reason. Wow,” she said, as they walked to the other end of the pier that bordered the parking lot where he’d left the bike. “It would be wild if your mother’s murder was connected to all of us. Do you think she found out Drew was alive?”

“Maybe,” Jason admitted. He sat on the bike for a long moment. “I was wondering what it would have been like for us to grow up together,” he said. “I don’t remember before the accident—”

“But how would Drew have changed life after it?” Elizabeth prompted, and he nodded. “You never used to think about what ifs.”

“You mean when I only had three years of living memory?” Jason said blandly. “I realized the more I could remember, the more regrets I had. Even if the decisions I made—if I thought they were right when I made them—it doesn’t mean I don’t think about it later and wish I’d done something differently.”

“Well, speaking as someone who makes a lot of mistakes,” Elizabeth said, taking the helmet he handed her, “regrets aren’t so bad. It’s letting them stop you from moving forward that’s the problem. I couldn’t let go of a lot things for a long time. I’m trying to get better.”

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about making a few changes. Drew reminded me today,” Jason said, “that I didn’t used to sit back and wait for things to happen.” He climbed onto the bike, and started the engine. Elizabeth slid on the back, wrapped her arms around his waist. “By the way, Luke and Lucky are flying in tomorrow.”

“Oh, great,” Elizabeth muttered. “I like Port Charles better without them.”

“Me, too.” Then Jason kicked up the stand, and the bike peeled out of the parking lot, Elizabeth’s squeals echoing in the air behind them.

Wyndemere: Study

Valentin curled his hand around the edge of his desk with a growl, then surged to his feet. “What do you mean he was moved tonight?”

“Just what I said,” his contact said smoothly. “The transfer was held up for a few weeks, but the WSB took custody of Maddox.”

Valentin turned away from the desk to glare out the window, over the gardens on the back of Spoon Island. “Why? Why now?”

“Well, it might have something to do with Anna Devane visiting him in jail. I think the good doctor finally gave up something. I have to go—they’re watching everyone.”

Valentin hissed, pressing his cell phone to his lips as he contemplated this turn of events. Andre knew too much, and Valentin should have disposed of him long ago. But he had been convinced the doctor knew where Helena’s files were hidden—where the last obstacle to Valentin’s unquestioned power was hiding—

Had he told Anna what Valentin was looking for?

He looked down at his phone, and pulled up his contacts. It was time to make sure he kept a closer eye on Anna Devane.

May 27, 2021

Update Link: Ricochet, Chapter 26

I feel like I say this every time I update, but honestly, I love this chapter. This has some of my favorite Carly stuff in the entire story. I really wasn’t sure how to write Carly when I first began drafting, so I just let her develop and let the conversations move organically. I’m really looking forward to building what’s in Book 1 in Book 2. And of course, there’s some good Liason stuff.

I’ve written a bit this week, but it got really warm and uncomfortable VERY quick in NJ over the last week, and my office was super uncomfortable, LOL. Dad came up and fixed my central air and put in the office AC so we’re back to being comfortable. I’m planning to put some real words away over the next five days. Tomorrow is an in-service day, and then I have a three day weekend. The only day I have any plans is Monday since it’s my birthday.

I’m really hoping to have Book 1 done by June 1.  I want to turn the page and start with something else. I’ll see you guys on Monday!

This entry is part 26 of 38 in the series Fool Me Twice: Ricochet

I guess it’s gonna break me down
Like fallin’ when I’m try to fly
It’s sad but sometimes
Moving on with the rest of your life
Starts with goodbye
I guess I’m gonna have to cry
And let go of some things I’ve loved
To get to the other side
Starts with Goodbye, Carrie Underwood


October 2015

Cassadine Estate: Lab

Andre scrubbed his hands over his face, trying to focus on the research, on the work in front of him, but he simply couldn’t. He had been supposed to leave for Port Charles a few weeks earlier, but Helena had fallen ill and Nikolas had put a hold on everything.

Andre suspected that if Helena actually died this time, that Nikolas might cancel everything and send Andre on his way without bothering with Jason Morgan’s memories. Nikolas liked things the way the were. Not that it would change anything for Andre. Helena had plans for her death, and there was always Valentin Cassadine lurking in the background.

The Cassadine had left the island after his argument with Helena and no one had mentioned him again—but he and Andre knew the truth.

They knew that Jake Doe was really Drew Cain, and that Jason Morgan was still in a coma wherever Valentin had stashed him.

“My nephew really must work on security.”

Andre closed his eyes as he heard Valentin. He turned to find the man in question in the doorway of the room. “I was wondering when I’d hear from you.”

“Since my mother’s demise is imminent—or so she’d have us believe—I think it’s time we discuss how we’re going to bring this to a close.” Valentin leaned against the edge of the lab table. “What did my mother want you to do in Port Charles?”

“She’s arranged a staff position at General Hospital,” Andre said slowly. “She’s going to have the lab on Spoon Island ready. We’ll take custody of Jake Doe and implant Morgan’s memories. Helena assumes that will cure the amnesia.”

“Will it?” Valentin asked curiously.

“I won’t know until I’ve mapped the brain. It’s possible there just needs to be some tweaks. According to Helena, Jake Doe has grown close to Elizabeth Webber and her sons. That makes sense since the memories I put into Drew Cain were stronger for them. It’s what Victor and Helena wanted.” Andre grimaced. “I imagine she wanted to make sure Jason Morgan had reunited with Elizabeth so that she could destroy her at the peak of her happiness.”

“There’s a beauty to it,” Valentin admitted. “But I have no grudge towards this Elizabeth woman. In fact, I find myself oddly grateful to her since she’s tormented my mother for so long. What about Chimera?”

Andre sighed. “Helena is going to fake her death soon,” he told Valentin. “She knows that you’re on the war path and Nikolas is starting to disappoint her—”

“I warned her,” Valentin muttered, “but she refuses to believe he has a conscience. He’ll only go so far before he starts to pull back. I thought she was actually ill—”

“She is.” Andre shifted. “But she’s…prepared for the end.”

Valentin narrowed his eyes. “Prepared because she has you. You’ve mapped her memories?”

“Yes. She has someone selected to take on her memories. I’m to remove the woman’s original memories and replace them so that there’s no overlap.” Andre shifted. “She’ll go sleep as one woman and wake up as another. And no, I don’t know who. She’s keeping that close.”

“I’ll look into that.” Valentin furrowed his brow. “And this new Helena—she’ll trigger Chimera?”

“The Nurse’s Ball next spring,” Andre said. “Helena has set up something that will trigger Jake Webber to release the biotoxin. I imagine she has a plan to make sure the targets are together.”

“This all hinges on you following Mother’s plan to implant her memories into this new woman—”

“She’s not entirely convinced of me,” Andre admitted. “Not that I’ve done anything to be disloyal—”

“But she’s sensed you have same fatal flaw as her dear grandson. You have a conscience and it’s starting to weigh on you. Tell me, when you implanted the suggestion into Jake’s memories—when you wiped these last years clean—” Valentin tipped his head. “Will it work as Mother wanted?”

“Yes. But—”

“But what?”

“But there’s a failsafe built in. Jake talked about his mother so much. He didn’t have a clear memory of her—but he knew she loved him.  So I—I put the suggestion in there. But Elizabeth—she can stop it. He’ll want to please her. He’ll want to make her happy.”

“You gave Elizabeth Webber the power to stop my mother’s final revenge against her and the Spencers?” Valentin ginned, his eyes sparkling. “That is absolutely incredible.”

Andre looked away, towards the paperwork on his desk. “He’s a sweet kid who didn’t deserve any of this. You have a daughter Helena is using against you.” Valentin’s lips thinned.  “Would you want Charlotte in the position Jake Webber is in?”

“No.”

“You know your mother’s plans. Do you plan to change them?”

“You mean, do I intend to stop her from replicating herself?” Valentin sneered. “Of course. You said she’s not sure of you?”

“She apparently has a backup plan if I fail to complete the procedure by a certain time. I don’t know more than that.”

“Of course not. I’ll take care of it. Once she’s gone, I’ll keep her from coming back, so Chimera won’t be triggered. Then I can finally get what I want—”

“Valentin—” Andre called as the man started for the door. “Helena has more than one back up plan. If she dies before we can find them all—this will never be over.”

Monday, December 11, 2017

Penthouse: Living Room

Drew stared at his cell phone, at the email he’d just opened, and took a deep breath. He looked up at Sam as she finished a cup of coffee and closed the door behind their nanny, who was taking Danny to school. “It’s, uh, a notification from the court.”

Sam frowned, looked at him with a furrowed brow. “From the court?”

“Kim signed divorce papers. We’re, uh, on the docket to finalize it after the holidays,” Drew said. “And there’s a second one—our divorce is going to be heard same day.”

“The judge is going to be a bit confused,” Sam said, with lifted brows. “Are you worried you’ll be arrested for bigamy?” She set the coffee mug on the coffee table and curled up on the sofa. “Because Mom is probably ready for it—”

“It’s just strange to see the names in print,” Drew admitted. He slid his phone into his pocket. “Uh, when do you think your divorce will be heard?”

“Um…” Sam pursed her lips, picked at the seam of the sofa. “Probably not for a little bit longer. I didn’t…I haven’t sent Jason the papers yet.”

“You didn’t—” Drew absorbed that news, refusing to let all the possibilities swirl around his head. She had to have a good reason. “Why not?”

“Well, Mom and I were arguing about some of the things I wanted, and then you went and signed another contract with Jason, so she has to redo the financial stuff.” Sam shrugged. “I didn’t know there was a hurry—”

You wanted me to divorce Kim ASAP,” Drew argued. “You brought your mother over to draw up the papers—”

“That’s different—”

“How?”

“You don’t remember Kim. It’s not a big deal to divorce her,” Sam reminded him. “It’s not like it bothers you. And she’s not Oscar’s mother, so you don’t even have to really deal with custody or finances. It’s more complicated with me.”

“Not if you just do the same thing I did which was to make custody to be dealt with later,” Drew retorted. “Did Alexis finish the changes? It’s been almost two weeks since I filed the contract. In fact, I bought the shares last week. Aurora is officially mine—”

Half yours.”

“I thought we agreed not to argue about this anymore,” Drew muttered as he went over to the dining table to start gathering his papers. “You’re never going to understand what it means to me to do this on my own—”

“And what does that mean?”

“It means—” Drew shoved the papers into his briefcase. “It means nothing.”

“No—say it.” Sam stepped in front of him, stopping him as he went towards the closet.  “We both know what you’re thinking. I don’t know what it means because the only reason I have anything is because of Jason.”

“I didn’t—”

“The money I lived on for five years, this penthouse—it’s all Jason’s, right? And before then, the only money I ever had was what I conned out of people.” Sam folded her arms, glared at him. “I’m nothing but a gold-digging tramp, right?”

“I didn’t say that, Sam.”

“You’re not saying anything else—”

“You were the one that wanted to clear the legal decks,” Drew cut in, yanking his coat out of the closet. “You wanted the divorce. I want to see your divorce papers, Sam—”

“What—I told you, it’s none of your business—”

“It is my business. Because right now, you’re married to another man, and you’re swearing you’re going to file for divorce. I bet you know exactly how stupid I would be to swallow that line again.”

Tears stung her eyes, and he could see that his jab  had landed exactly as he’d wanted it to. “Because I lured married men away from their wives. Is that it? You don’t trust me not to get a divorce?”

“It’s been six weeks since Jason came back,” Drew said quietly. “You decided that first night that you believed me, even if we both know you didn’t. You decided to stay with me. To fight for our family and the life we’d planned together. I bought into it, Sam. I listened. I asked Kim for a divorce five minutes after she found out I was alive so we could be together, free and clear.” He lifted his brows. “What have you been doing?”

Sam exhaled slowly. “I’ll call my mother. I’ll get it done.”

“I want to see what you file,” Drew said to her. “I don’t want you asking for anything related to Aurora.”

“You really don’t trust me, do you?”

Just a few months ago, he might have said he trusted Sam more than anyone else in his life—but as he looked at the woman standing across from him, her expression a mixture of resentment and bitterness. He might not be Jason Morgan, but he still had those memories—

And he knew exactly what Sam was capable of when she was angry—when she felt righteous and justified.

“I want to see the papers, Sam,” he repeated. “I have to go to work.”

Webber House: Living Room

Elizabeth had bargained to get this precious day off from work so that she could wrap all the gifts she’d been stashing at Laura’s for the last two months. At least one of her sons would be coming home in about twenty minutes, and Elizabeth thought it might be the one who still believed in Santa—

So it was really important he didn’t see any of his presents tagged from the man himself which was why Elizabeth was not in the best mood when she yanked open her front door at just before four that afternoon. “What?” She paused, seeing Carly on her doorstep. “Oh. Uh, hey.”

“Nice greeting,” Carly said caustically as she followed Elizabeth inside, then took in the wrapping paper and boxes. Elizabeth started cleaning up and went to the closet with a crawlspace that had a lock. “I guess this is a bad time.”

“I just need to hide these before Aiden comes home. Cam usually walks him from the bus stop.” Elizabeth wrinkled her nose as Carly handed her a pile. “Thanks. He’s the only one who believes, and I think this is probably the last year.”

“It’s amazing you got him to eight,” Carly admitted. “I think Michael was six—and he accidentally told Joss when she was five.” She looked away, down at the box with the reindeer wrapping paper. “Morgan was seven.”

“I know. Cam was also five—he and Joss were in on that one together,” Elizabeth reminded her as she stashed the last of the presents. “Jake—“ She hesitated. “He was four. Helena told him that first year she kidnapped him.”

“Oh. Well, that’s—“ Carly pressed her lips together. “It’s good that you’re trying to hold on to it for Aiden. They grow up too fast.”

“That’s for sure. Was there—“ Elizabeth scratched her temple. “Was there something you needed? Is everything okay with Joss?”

“Oh, yeah. Great. I mean, she and Cam haven’t been arrested for anything, so I guess things are good.” Carly crossed her arms. “Jason told us last night that he went looking for garages over the weekend. With you.”

“Yeah, we didn’t find anything that was right—at least nothing that was already open,” Elizabeth added, distracted by her phone lighting up with a text from Jason. “He couldn’t have told me this ten minutes ago?” she muttered to herself. “Jason,” she said to Carly, absently. “He picks Jake up from the middle school because the buses are always late. He knows I was wrapping today and offered to get Aiden so I’d have more time.”

“Jason…” Carly stared at her. “He picks up Jake every day?”

“Uh, mostly. He started doing it after Thanksgiving,” Elizabeth said, focusing on Carly, remember who she was talking to so casually. “I thought it was a good way for him and Jake to get more one-on-one time together.”

“I thought—I mean he’s always over here. Doesn’t he spend a lot of time with him already?”

Elizabeth forced her expression to remain neutral. “Yes,” she said slowly. “But it’s always with Cam and Aiden. That’s great because they’re important to Jake, but Jason’s missed so much time. Even before the accident. It’s a good thing, Carly, isn’t it? For Jason to be so involved with his son—“

“It is,” Carly said. “Which is why he needs to finish a room at the house for Jake so he can stop always coming here,” she added. “Maybe you can let Jake live him. To make up for all that lost time—“

“I—“ Elizabeth shook her head slightly. “I don’t know. I mean, Jason and I haven’t talked about that yet—“

“No, of course not. Because this suits you just fine,” Carly drawled. “Forcing Jason to come to you. You shoved Franco out the door and now you’ve got another man just waiting to take up the slack—“

“Okay, so it’s time for you to leave—“ Elizabeth started past Carly, but the blonde’s hand snaked out to grab her arm, whirling her back. “Carly—“

“You think I’m stupid? You think I don’t see exactly what you’re doing? What you’ve always done?” Carly demanded. “You’re using your kids to get to Jason. You know exactly how to play him, don’t you? Isn’t that how this all started? You knew he missed Michael. You used that—“

“And why did he miss Michael?” Elizabeth shot back. “Why did I find him bleeding and dying in the snow? You’re still fighting the same battles we did back then.” She stepped towards Carly. “You can’t stand that you can’t get rid of me. You’ve been trying for decades, Carly—“

“You’re the pathetic one,” Carly retorted. “Using Jason’s love for children, his weakness for damsels in distress—“

“Oh my God—I cannot believe I am standing here, almost twenty years later, and you are still screaming the same things!” Elizabeth threw up her hands. “Carly, you lost. You lost a long time ago, and I didn’t have a damn thing to do with it. Jason hasn’t wanted you since the second you crawled into Sonny’s bed—“

“I don’t want Jason—“

“No? You’re doing a strange impression then of someone who still carries a grudge. You couldn’t stand that Jason was letting me help him. Isn’t that why you’re here? You’re pissed because Jason is letting me help him, and not you?”

Carly seethed. “I just wanted to warn you that I’m not going to let you hurt him again—“

“Who is trying to hurt him?” Elizabeth demanded. “What is your damage, Carly? I mean, seriously—“

“Stop it with the sweet, innocent angel act,” Carly spat. “No one buys it—“

“I told you a long time ago — I am nobody’s angel. And you are not going to get rid of me.”

“I won’t have to,” Carly growled. “Because sooner or later, Jason will walk away from you. He always does, Elizabeth. You don’t make him happy. You never could. He walked away from you. From your kids, and even his own son! No one stays, Elizabeth! Why do you think you’re alone? You always end up alone!”

Elizabeth’s eyes burned as Carly’s venom washed over her. She wanted to open her mouth, to respond, but she couldn’t.  A tear slid down her cheek, and Carly’s eyes grew positively wild with glee.

“You’re not worthy of Jason. You never were. No one will ever love you—“

Mother!”

“Carly!”

The horrified, strangled cry came from the doorway. Both women spun around to find the door had opened at some point, with Cameron and Joss standing there. Joss’s cheeks where flushed with humiliation, her eyes were damp, while Cameron’s were bright with fury—

But not nearly as furious as the man standing behind them, Jake and Aiden at his side. It was Jason’s angry voice that had called Carly’s name.

Carly stared at the group, at her daughter, then at her best friend, swallowing hard. “Jason—“

“Outside,” Jason said flatly. “Now.”

Carly opened her mouth, but then closed it, hurrying past the children. Jason gestured for Jake and Aiden to go inside, then closed the door behind him.

Webber House: Street

Jason had never been so furious in his entire life—not even after the accident when he had lived, breathed, and slept angry. Nothing could match the rage boiling in his veins, the heat rising in his limbs, into chest, choking him—

He’d walked up to that house, into the door, surrounded by Elizabeth’s boys—standing with his son only to hear his self-proclaimed best friend proclaim that Jason walked away from Jake because Elizabeth had made him unhappy—

He stalked down the sidewalk until they were nearly at the street, trying to find the words to make her understand this could never, ever happen again. He heard Carly hurrying behind him, her heels clicking against the cement.

“I know I messed up, I just need you to listen—”

“Shut up,” Jason ground up, whirling around so suddenly, Carly stumbled to a stop. She blinked at him, tears streaming down her face. “I’m not listening to another word from your goddamn mouth.”

That mouth fell open as her eyes bulged. “Jason—”

“I asked Elizabeth to marry me the day Michael was shot in the head,” he bit out. “I was going to be with her. With my son. With Cameron. I told you years ago that was all I wanted. But after what happened to Michael—I never wanted to watch her cry over our boys—for her to break the way you did.”

Carly swallowed hard. “I—”

“I walked away from them so that they would be safe, Carly. Because I loved them too much!”

“Please, just let me—”

“There is nothing Elizabeth could ever do that would make me walk away from her or my son.”

“I know that—I didn’t even mean it—”

“You think that makes this better?” Jason retorted. “I know you didn’t mean it. You just wanted to hurt her. You wanted to hurt her bad enough so that she pushes me away. Because you can’t stand that I don’t need you.”

“Jason—”

“I don’t need you,” he repeated flatly. “I never needed you. You have done nothing but make my life harder.”

“That is—” Carly took a deep, ragged breath. “Okay. Okay. I know that’s true. But I just—”

“Get in your car, go back to the hotel, and don’t ever come near Elizabeth or her kids again. If you do, we are done.”

Carly stared at him for a beat, then closed her eyes. “I never meant to hurt Jake. Or the boys. I love them. You know—”

“You have to stop this, Carly. You have to stop. Michael is already close to cutting you off. Morgan is gone. And your daughter just watched you tear into Cameron’s mother. Is this what you want? Do you want to push us all out?”

“No!”

“Then why can’t you stop?”

“I don’t know!” she exploded. “I don’t know why I can’t just accept that Elizabeth is making you happy! Why I have to push and push and push until you shove me out the window—I don’t know! I can’t stop! Don’t you think I would if I could—”

“You need to figure it out, Carly. Because I can’t do this anymore. I can’t fix my life and keep fixing yours. I’m tired. Jake comes first. And because he does, so do his brothers. And their mother. They’re my family just as much as you and Sonny are. Why does that threaten you?”

“I don’t know,” Carly repeated, closing her eyes. She dug the heel of her hands into her eyes. “I don’t know.”

“Get in the car, Carly. And go back to the hotel.”

“Okay. I’ll—I’ll do that.” Carly started towards the street where her car was parked, then noticed Jason was heading for his car. “Are you—you’re leaving?”

“I’m going to follow you,” he retorted. “Because I don’t trust you.” He didn’t care that her lip trembled, that her eyes were puffy and red.

All he could see was Elizabeth’s face when he walked in, the pain in her eyes as Carly said all the words that he knew Elizabeth believed about herself.

Webber House: Living Room

“Mom—”

“Cameron, it’s fine,” Elizabeth said, taking a deep breath. “It’s Carly. I’m sorry, Joss,” she added as the blonde’s lips trembled. “Get your coats off. I think there’s snacks in the kitchen. Please—” she said softly to Cameron as he came towards her. “I just need a minute, okay, baby?”

“All right,” Cameron said, nodding slowly. He put a hand on his youngest brother’s shoulder. “Aiden, we got any cookies left? You were baking all weekend.”

“Sure.”

“Miss Webber,” Joss said, swiping her hand under nose. “I’m so sorry—”

“Don’t you dare apologize to me,” Elizabeth told Carly’s daughter. She glanced out the window to find Carly and Jason arguing. She got into her car, and then Jason got into his SUV. She exhaled slowly. “This has nothing to do with you. It never has. You’re Cam’s best friend. You’re always welcome here.”

“That doesn’t make it easier,” Joss muttered, but went into the kitchen as Elizabeth’s phone flashed on the table.

Grateful for the distraction, Elizabeth went over to the table to pick it up, sighing when she saw Jason’s text.

Following her back to the hotel to make sure she goes. Back later.

Then a second later,

I’m sorry.

“Story of my life,” Elizabeth said with a sigh, slipping the phone into her back pocket and going to join the kids in the kitchen.

Aurora Media: Drew’s Office

“Hey, man.” Curtis greeted Drew with a slap of the hand before dumping a folder out on the conference table. “How’s it going?”

“It’s going,” Drew said blandly as they sat down. “How’s Jordan?”

“Trying to decide if she wants to keep putting up with Aunt Stella,” Curtis said with a wince. “She, uh, made a scene at Thanksgiving, and she got into another fight with Jordan. I tried to talk to my aunt—” He shrugged. “What’re you gonna do?  But the good news is I finally the Moore murder book out of the PCPD archives.”

Drew’s interest engaged at the mention of his biological mother’s death. “Yeah? Anything interesting?”

“Well, a lot of suspects, for one. Robert—he was the commissioner at that point—had his hands full.” Curtis opened his notebook. “Alan, Monica, Edward, and Lila were all suspects—”

“Lila,” Drew repeated. “Really?”

“Hey, you don’t stay married to Edward Quartermaine for that long without getting a bit ruthless. Uh, it also looks like Heather and Scott were suspects, too. It ended up being Crane Tolliver—Lila’s first husband. Something about blackmail, but the file wasn’t too clear on that.”

“Heather was a suspect?” Drew asked. “Why?”

“Yeah, Heather was mostly suspected because of her relationship to Scott—and she was seen near the house,” Curtis added. He squinted at his handwriting. “It looks like Susan wanted to blackmail the Qs over Lila and Crane’s divorce papers—and Crane shot her.”

“To stop her from blackmailing the Quartermaines because Lila’s divorce wasn’t signed,” Drew said. He frowned. “He confessed?”

“No, but Robert caught him trying to kill Heather, and it seemed to be accepted that he killed Susan.” Curtis pulled out some more paperwork. “But we know more now than we did before. Susan was gearing up to blackmail the Quartermaines over the bigamy, but honestly—it seems like a desperate move. Why would she do that if she knew about you? You would get her another million dollar trust fund without a lot of work.”

“But she clearly knew about me long enough to name me. And—” Drew paused. “When did she die?” He frowned at the date, then took a deep breath. “Wait—”

“Yeah. I did the match. I got your records from the group home in Rochester.” Curtis pushed some other paperwork through. “You were dumped there about a month after Susan Moore was murdered which makes me wonder if someone did know you existed and wanted to make sure no one could find you.”

Greystone Manor: Kitchen

Sonny set a plate of food down in front of his daughter who looked down the collection of green vegetables, brown potatoes, and roasted chicken. She delicately pushed it away and flashed him a dimpled smile. “No thank you.”

“Avery—”

“That is green.” Avery narrowed her eyes. “I don’t eat green food.”

“Green food is good for you.”

“And that—that is brown. I don’t eat brown food—”

“Ha!” Sure that this time, he’d won a round with the kid, Sonny grinned. “You eat chocolate. That’s brown—”

Avery’s brows drew together as she contemplated this twist of fate, then brightened. “Chocolate isn’t food.”

“It’s not?”

“No. It’s candy. You always tell Mama Carly that.”

Sonny opened his mouth, then closed it. He had absolutely no defense for that. “Fair point.” He took out his wallet and was setting down a five dollar bill when Michael strolled into the kitchen.

“Already bribing her?” Michael said. “She’s four.”

“Yeah, well, I’m trying to get her to five with her teeth intact,” Sonny muttered and got to his feet as Avery dug happily into her dinner. “What brings you by?”

“Uh—” Michael craned his head and Sonny followed him over to the counter, slightly out of earshot of Avery. “I got a text from Joss. She went over to Cam’s after school, and apparently walked in on Mom screaming at Elizabeth.”

Sonny closed his eyes, leaned back against the kitchen island, gripping it with his hands. “Oh, man, what about?”

“Well, Mom and Elizabeth were so distracted by the screaming they didn’t know how long Cam and Joss were standing there, so Joss says it was something about Jason always leaving Elizabeth, abandoning his son because he can’t stand her, and Jason walked in with the other boys just as Mom told Elizabeth no one would ever love her and that she never deserved Jason.”

“Oh, good, so the greatest hits.” Sonny grimaced and turned around, frowning as Avery beamed at him but somehow, half the brussel sprouts were gone. “Did she move?”

“No.”

“We don’t have a dog.” Perturbed, Sonny turned back to Michael. “Well, Carly’s not here. She told me she was working late—”

“Because Jason ordered her outside, yelled at her some more, and they both left. Joss doesn’t know anything else, but I’m guess Mom went back to the hotel to lick her wounds.” Michael paused. “I came over because we need to do something. Mom is out of control.”

“I don’t know about that—”

“She went after Nelle in the Metro Court a few weeks ago—which, fine, happens all the time. But not normally in front of other customers,” Michael added. “She did it during the lunch rush. Not to mention the scene with Jason, Ava, and Monica last month. Then this crap with Elizabeth.”

“When you put it like that—” Sonny tipped his head. “Yeah, I guess she’s been worse than usual. But, you know, it’s been a tough couple of weeks. We hit the one year anniversary in October, and with all this Jason and Drew stuff, your mom isn’t bouncing back—”

“Exactly,” Michael said. “Look, I’ve been giving Mom space since everything that happened. But this isn’t okay.” He paused, searching for the right words. “She used to be able to hold it together better than this. This reminds me of when I was a kid. I mean, she’s always hated Elizabeth, but Joss was really upset—”

“I’m sorry Joss had to see it.”  Sonny rubbed his chin. “Look, your mom is just…she’s hurt. It’s already been a rough year, and it’s not helping that Jason isn’t really leaning on her much. He’s really been talking to Elizabeth more than either one of us.”

“Why does it matter?” Michael asked. “As long as he’s talking to someone—”

“It matters,” Sonny said with a bit of bite to his tone, “because that’s pretty much why Carly hates Elizabeth. Look, it’s complicated and it goes back a long time—”

“My entire life, Mom has hated Elizabeth. Except for the few years when we thought Jake’s kidney had saved Joss’s life. I really thought—I thought she’d gotten over it. But this is messing with Joss. And it’s screwing up things for Jason—”

“I’ll talk to Joss—”

“I can take care of her, but it has to stop. Cameron is her best friend, and Elizabeth is Jake’s mother. They’re part of my family, too.  Mom can’t be doing this anymore. Whatever she has against Elizabeth, she just has to get over it. Because I can swallow the crap she throws at Nelle—it’s mostly deserved—but Jason and Elizabeth—the boys—it’s not okay.”

“What do you want me to do, Michael? If I could get your mother to behave herself—”

“I don’t—it’s not about behaving herself. It’s about finding out what’s wrong with her and fixing it. Plenty of people have grudges and resentments. They don’t all scream it out like maniacs in public.” Michael sighed. “I just thought I’d clue you in because I don’t know if Mom or Jason would tell you, and someone has to get her to listen to common sense.”

Devane Manor: Living Room

“This is unacceptable,” Anna snapped.

Robert shrugged as he sauntered towards her mini bar and poured himself a shot of whiskey. “Well, darling, you had to know it was a long shot, and that Andre might call our bluff.”

She whirled around, her eyes flashing. “Is this a joke to you?”

“No.” Robert’s eyes lost some of the humor as he set the shot glass down. “No. It’s bloody serious, Anna. Not only has all of this seriously damaged the reputation of the WSB and the morale of agents like you and me, but it’s looking increasingly like our own damned agency was behind what to our daughter.”

Anna sighed, pressing her lips together. “Well, at the very least, behind the funding of it.” She folded her arms and walked over to the large picture window that looked over her front yard. “Andre doesn’t believe Frisco’s changed his mind about moving him to the lab.”

“Which, fair point, Frisco hasn’t. He wants Andre back under our control. He only agreed to lend him out to the PCPD—“

“Jordan suggested getting the DA to file charges against Andre here, but Frisco would just make some calls. They’d be dropped before Andre could even be arraigned.” She exhaled slowly. “I can’t stand the thought he might to get away with this, Robert. Once he’s in that bloody lab, he won’t have any reason to worry about any of this, and you know Frisco is more concerned with the internal problems Andre could help him with.”

“We’ll have to go this alone—“

“I promised Drew and Jason that we’d help them get to the bottom of this. I know you don’t care for Jason Morgan—“

“Not liking the man’s employment history is far cry from wanting his life to be stolen from him,” Robert cut in. “But Anna, there’s nothing we can do about this. Frisco has made it clear. We have until December 20 to make Andre talk to us. After that, he’s disappearing into the bowels of the WSB and we’ll never get access again.”

“The nerve—after everything we did for Frisco,” Anna muttered. “We brought him into the bloody agency. We wrote him recommendations!” She pursed her lips. “December 20. All right. If Frisco is giving us that long, then we can still find a way to convince Andre we’re serious about pulling his deal.”

“Oh?” Robert lifted one brow. “What do you have in mind, my dear?”

“I know Frisco could make any changes the DA files disappear,” Anna said slowly, “but perhaps we can ask him to hold off on that as well. If he can just give us time—if Andre believes he may go to jail here, in the States, then he might get nervous enough to prove his worth.”

“Well, you know me, I’ll try anything once.”

Webber House: Living Room

Jason purposely waited to come back to Elizabeth’s house after he knew the boys would be upstairs for the night. He really didn’t want to have this conversation with them listening in—it was bad enough they’d had to see the end of that terrible scene with Carly.

“Hey.” Elizabeth closed the door behind him. “You missed Jake—”

“I know. I meant to.” He waited until she turned to face him. “I’m sorry—”

“You don’t have to apologize for Carly—”

“I do,” Jason said with a nod. “Because I know she’s been doing this for a long time—” Elizabeth looked away. “And it’s my fault it’s happening now.”

“I can handle Carly,” Elizabeth assured him, but she didn’t look at him as she walked past him, over towards the sofa to move some magazines around.

“I know you can. But that doesn’t mean I like it or that you should have to,” he told her. He set his jacket over the railing by the door and sat next to her on the sofa. “She’s just—she’s angry. I’m trying to make something of my life now. Something that works for me and for Jake.” He paused, wanting to say more but unsure how. “And Carly wants me to do it her way.”

“Nothing new there. She’s never liked it when I’m the one helping you.” Elizabeth bit her lip and finally met his eyes. “Look, it’s not like I believe her or anything. I don’t even know how long you were standing there—”

“Long enough to hear her accuse me of walking out on Jake because I didn’t want to be with you,” Jason said tightly and Elizabeth closed her eyes. “That’s not what happened—”

“I—I know that.” But her voice only sounded partially convinced, and that worried him.

“Elizabeth—”

“Look. That was a long time ago. A lifetime ago. Okay? We—we made choices based on the situation that existed at the time. The Russians—” Elizabeth blew out an exasperated breath. “It was a scary time. The coffee house blowing up, Jake getting kidnapped again—we were both scared, and instead of leaning on each other, you decided it was too much and I didn’t want to keep fighting the same battle.” She lifted a shoulder. “It is what it is.”

“I—”

“I could have pushed,” Elizabeth told him, flicking her eyes up to meet his. “I don’t blame you for letting go. I could have held on. You know, I used to replay that moment a thousand times, and sometimes I found different words—new ones that convinced you to stay—but it doesn’t matter.”

“It does—”

“It really doesn’t. I didn’t find the words, and you left. And yeah, you left Jake. But I know you love him. I might have doubted it sometimes,” she admitted, and his stomach twisted, “but it was mostly my own guilt. I started the lie, and you let it keep going. Maybe we were both too scared. That was then. This is now. I know you love Jake, Jason, and he’s really starting to love you. I always knew he would.”

Accepting her change of conversation, and the fact that she really didn’t want to rehash what had happened nine years ago, Jason nodded. “About Carly—”

“What else is there to say about Carly—” Elizabeth pushed herself to her feet.

“She’s never forgiven you for what happened when I got shot that December,” Jason told her, also standing. “And I know that sounds insane because you didn’t do anything to her. But Carly doesn’t blame herself. She always finds someone else to make the bad guy.”

“Well, this I know—”

“It wasn’t even really about you. It still isn’t. It’s about me. I didn’t let her help me. I stayed with you at the studio.” Jason told her. He hesitated. “You gave me a reason to keep living that night. And the days that came after.”

Elizabeth frowned at him, shook her head. “What—”

“I went to the boxcar with a gunshot wound I was bleeding out from,” Jason told her. “I knew what I was doing.”

“You were delirious with fever—”

“I’d found my best friend in bed with the woman I thought I was in love with. And I didn’t think there was really any point to getting help. I had nothing.” When she just stared at him, her eyes wide. “And then you showed up, you forced me to get up and save my own life. Carly will never understand what you did for me then. What you’ve always done for me.” He paused. “And that’s why she’s acting this way now. I told her what I should have told you.”

“What?” Elizabeth asked, nearly breathing the question rather than speaking it.

“The first time I knew I was home—that I was me again and that I could handle all of this—was the day I bought the new bike. And riding the cliff roads, fast, the wind in my face, and you screaming in my ear—I knew I was home, Elizabeth.”

May 24, 2021

Update Link: Ricochet, Chapter 25

Happy Monday! I’m super excited for this week — I have a three day weekend coming up, and on Friday, it’s a short in-service day. Plus, I just got my hair chopped and I’m so happy to have all that length off. I’ve been keeping it long through the pandemic because it was just easier to get it trimmed. I chopped six inches, so yay for summer hair!

I’m also excited because somehow I managed to avoid rewriting my entire program for the last cycle. I thought I was going to be able to do it, but I was worried I’d crack over the weekend, LOL. I didn’t. This is awesome — this means all my prep is done. All my teaching materials are set. I can really relax and go with the flow for the last fifteen days of school. I’m even bringing my personal laptop to school to write on my lunch break.

In other news, I set a date for Flash Fiction to return as well as a tentative schedule. I plotted out the end of Signs of Life. That will be returning on Wednesday, June 16, my first day of summer. That will be posted twice a week – Wednesdays & Sundays at 11 AM (I’ll start my timer at 10 AM).

The second story is Scars, the final story in the Collect Your Regrets universe. It’s the story that Tania asked me to write a year ago. She wanted me to rewrite Tom Baker’s return, but for me to set it in 2016, I had to decide if I was going to ignore the Jason stuff or how I was going to handle it. I settled for reunited Liason in Part 1, then bringing Jake back in Part 2. Now we’re going to do the Baker rewrite to finish off the series.  That will be posted on Tuesdays & Fridays, also at 11 AM. The morning Flash Fiction really fit my writing energy the last few months, so we’re going to see how that works this summer. I wrote in the morning last summer as well, so I’m optimistic.

Other minor housekeeping: I updated the Alternate History page because I hadn’t updated Mad World listing or added the link for Fool Me Twice. I also updated the side bar for June’s projects and schedule and the Recent Updates page.

This entry is part 25 of 38 in the series Fool Me Twice: Ricochet

You called me strong, you called me weak
But still your secrets I will keep
You took for granted all the times I never let you down
You stumbled in and bumped your head
If not for me then you’d be dead
I picked you up and put you back on solid ground
Kryptonite, 3 Doors Down


August 2015

Cassadine Estate: Study

Valentin examined his perfectly polished and manicured nails as he listened to his mother gloating to Andre Maddox about how well her plan was proceeding. It was quite amusing to listen to her waxing poetic about a plan that had already failed.

“In a few months,” Helena told Maddox, “I’ll need you to go to Port Charles.” At that, the doctor straightened his shoulders.

“What? Why?”

“Chimera, my dear, only fulfills its objectives if Jason Morgan knows who he is,” Helena purred. She sank into the chair behind the desk. “It’s been amusing to watch him wander around Port Charles, discarding people like Sonny Corinthos and Samantha McCall while building new relationships with others.”

“Others,” Valentin said. He lifted a brow. “Like Elizabeth Webber?”

That has been particularly amusing. And I didn’t even arrange for Ric Lansing to throw Hayden Barnes into the mix. That was an added bonus.” Helena’s eyes were sparkling with mischief and malice. “I thought Nikolas had sunk us when he told her the truth, but she kept it to herself! And she continues to lie even though little Jake has returned. Truly, I could not have predicted how well this has gone.”

Valentin eyed the good doctor who looked slightly sick to his stomach. Poor bastard had gotten in this to do valuable medical research and he’d been shoved into the middle of Cassadine machinations instead. Well, when you discarded your medical ethics, you got what you deserved.

“It’s lovely to see you so happy, Mother,” Valentin said, and something in his arch tone had Helena narrowing her eyes. “Have you decided how to implement Chimera to ensure Nikolas is in the room?”

“I’ve been thinking about that,” Helena said slowly, and Valentin straightened, some of his own good humor fading. “He’s kept the secret to himself, even after the return of little Jake There may be hope for his Cassadine blood yet.”

Valentin scowled. “You promised me—”

“I see no point in eliminating Cassadine blood when it might still run true.” Helena lifted her brows. “I told you that you would get what you deserve, my dear Valentin.”

Valentin rose to his feet and carefully buttoned his suit jacket, gathering his thoughts and his emotions. It wouldn’t do to lose control, to lash out. No — it was time to plan his revenge. “And have you changed your mind about what I deserve?” he asked coolly.

“Nikolas may still prove disloyal. I just no longer think he should be swept up in Chimera. Be patient—”

“I have been patient for my entire life,” Valentin cut in. “I think, Mother, you are taking me for granted. You’ve forgotten who I am. What I’m capable of.”

Helena also stood, her shoulders drawn back and her chin lifted. “And from whom did you inherit that cruelty? You might have honed it to a sharp edge, but I gave you life. Cross me at your peril, Valentin.”

“I begin to think, Mother, that you’ve become unhinged in this foolish desire to have your revenge on a silly little girl who saved her boyfriend’s life. You’ve spent five years planning and plotting the end of Elizabeth Webber and her family—and why? Because of Endgame? Because she took your precious Lucky Spencer from you?”

“That girl thought she could defeat me. That she could take from me and walk away without damage.” Helena’s hand curled into a fist. “She may not be Laura’s daughter, but she’s no different. Simpering little twits who—”

“Who have bested you time and time again,” Valentin taunted. “Five years and the best you could manage was taking away the love of her life and child? So what? You’ve returned them—”

“I gave them back to her so that she could feel the pain of losing them—I wanted her to break—I wanted her to burn—” Helena seethed. “Just as Laura did—”

“And Laura got her son back,” Valentin drawled. “Yeah, you’re big and bad, Mother. You’re so scary.”

“How dare you—”

He nearly told her then—nearly tipped his hand to tell her that the plan had already failed. That Jason Morgan was currently on ice in St. Petersburg, far away from Port Charles. But he held it back.

“I told you when all of this started—when you promised me everything if I helped you,” Valentin said, “that it was your last chance. I will not be your back up plan, Mother. I will have what I deserve—”

“You deserve nothing,” Helena spat. “Only what I give you.” Her lips curled. “If you think to betray me now, you should remember that I know what you hold dearest in the world.”

A chill slithered down Valentin’s back. “What—”

“How is my dear granddaughter? My darling Charlotte?”

His blood ran cold. “Who? What are you talking about?”

“My granddaughter whom I’ve never met.” Helena arched a brow. “I know where she is, Valentin. You’ve been hiding her from me.”

“If you go near her—”

Helena walked out from behind the desk. “You’re capable of more love than I ever would have imagined. You’ve walked away from her to keep her safe from me.”

Valentin nearly trembled from rage and fear, swallowing it hard. “You’re wrong. I don’t know where Charlotte is. Where Claudette took her. I’ve been looking for her as long as you have—”

“I know you’ve allowed dear Claudette to think she’s getting away with keeping her from you, but we both know the truth.” Helena smiled. “Now what were were discussing? Oh, yes, I believe you were threatening me.”

Valentin curled his hands into fists, then stalked out of the office, slamming the door behind him.

Helena looked at Andre Maddox who had remained silent throughout the confrontation, looking as though he wished he could disappear into the chair. “Now, my dear Dr. Maddox, let us discuss your imminent departure for Port Charles.”

Monday, November 27, 2017

Pozzulo’s Restaurant: Office

Sonny leaned back in his chair. “A garage, huh?”

“I can’t sit around forever doing nothing,” Jason told Sonny. “And…” he paused. “I’ve been paying attention the last few weeks. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for me in the business. Not like there used to be.”

Sonny winced, then nodded. “Yeah, mostly things come up and get bad for a few weeks but, to be honest, Jase, I’ve been doing without you for five years. Even with, uh, Drew here, it wasn’t really the same. I mean, you can come back to the warehouse, run the business side of it—”

“I like working on cars and bikes,” Jason said. “And the warehouse doesn’t really take a lot of time. I can do both.” He waited. “It’s not that I want out, but I also—I think this is the best chance I’ll ever have to do that.”

“No, I agree. And you need to take every chance you can with Jake. You know, before you know it, he’ll be off to college—” Sonny squinted. “Uh, Elizabeth doesn’t have any problems with a garage? Seeing as how you went out of business the last time you had one?”

“I talked to her at Thanksgiving,” Jason said. “She reminded me that the Cassadines burned down that garage.”

“Yeah, they’ve been screwing with all of us too long,” Sonny said. He glanced up at the sharp knock at the door. “Come in.”

“Good morning, Stone Cold, Mr. Sir,” Spinelli said cheerfully as he closed the door behind him and sat down in the other chair across from Sonny’s desk. He set his messenger bag with his laptop on the ground. “Sorry I’m late, I needed to drop Georgie off with Maximista.”

“You said you had an update about the clinic?” Jason asked.

“Nothing super exciting,” Spinelli said, as he booted his computer, resting it on the edge of Sonny’s desk. “But I finally broke through some of the walls and got financial disclosures. I also got Robert Scorpio to make some calls for me to a contact in Moscow—”

“You…called Robert Scorpio?” Sonny asked, frowning. “I didn’t realize—”

“I do some freelance work for him when he’s on WSB missions,” Spinelli said absently. “I don’t really trust the WSB, but Robert’s good. Anyway, I wanted to get some intel on the clinic — how long has it been in operation, has it changed hands—it’s hard to get any information out of Russia—that didn’t change when the wall fell.”

“You were barely alive when the wall fell,” Sonny muttered.

“I watch the news,” the younger man said defensively. He looked at Jason. “This clinic has been around since the Soviet Days, back when St. Petersburg was still Leningrad. It opened in the late sixties as a front for the KGB operations until the 80s when another organization took it over.”

Jason furrowed his brow. “Was it DVX? Robin used to talk about them—her mother was a double agent.”

“DVX?” Sonny asked.  “What was that?”

“Eastern Soviet spy agency—the international arm. The KGB was mostly within the borders of Russia. DVX operated in Europe and for a time, here in Port Charles,” Spinelli explained. “Anna was a double agent for the WSB and DVX but another WSB agent went rogue and started working for the DVX—Valentin Cassadine. At the time, he was still known as Ivan Theodore.”

“That can’t be a coincidence,” Jason said. “He told Ava that it was the clinic that treated him for scoliosis — that would been around this time.”

“The clinic hasn’t done any legitimate medical work in decades, if it ever did,” Spinelli continued. “I can’t see where the funding comes from now, but Robert’s contact seemed to think that government has mostly forgotten it. The head doctor is Richard Klein—”

“That was the doctor who met with me and treated Ava,” Jason cut in. “That doesn’t sound Russian—”

“His mother was Russian, and Dr. Klein appears to be a legitimate doctor. He was one of the spies that got scooped up back in 2010,” Spinelli said. “Do you remember that? They found a bunch of sleeper agents, mostly in the Northeast. Klein was one of them. He went back to St. Petersburg and took over the clinic a year later.”

“So we maybe have a connection to Valentin? We know it’s him. What are we looking for here?” Sonny complained. “Let’s just go confront him—”

Jason shook his head. “I thought about that,” he admitted. “But the Cassadines—death doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t end it. Because they usually have something in the works. A backup plan. Helena died in 2015, and she was still able to manipulate Jake last year. If we just get rid of Valentin now without knowing everything, there’s no telling what we could trigger.”

Sonny scowled, leaned back. “I hate this. I really do.”

“I told you it wasn’t that exciting,” Spinelli said apologetically. “But you wanted all info on the clinic. It’s good to know that it’s not usually a functioning clinic because that gives us something to think about. Leads to follow. People work there. Work gets done there. But it’s not legitimate.”

“Valentin sent Ava there,” Jason said slowly. “She was supposed to testify in the wrongful death civil suit, Michael said. But she backed out.”

“If Klein was the only one who could treat her,” Sonny continued, “then why not send her to another clinic and have him meet her there? He ran the risk of putting her in the same place with you. Why would Valentin do that if he’s the bad guy behind all of this?”

General Hospital: Nurse’s Hub

“I don’t know why I bother going home,” Felix muttered as he slapped the chart down. “Every year, they find a way to make me regret it.”

Elizabeth shot him a glance. “What happened this year?”

“Oh, Taylor came home from Charlotte and brought the new baby. He’s cute,” Felix admitted, grudgingly, “but the dink she married is running around on her again, and she’s talking about coming home. Then Mama starts telling me we could use a strong hand around, and Taylor’s son needs a strong male role model, so I should think about getting married and coming home.”

Elizabeth let that hang between them. “When she says married—“

“Oh, it’s time to let go of this phase I’m in, and find a good Christian girl to settle down with.” He sighed. “They’re not as bad as some parents, but that doesn’t mean they get it.”

“I’m sorry, Felix. Nothing makes you crazier than family.” She grimaced when she saw Laura and Monica approaching the hub. “For example, guess what happened at our Thanksgiving?”

“Oh, no,” Laura sighed. “I still feel like the world’s worst grandmother. I can’t control her. I really can’t.” She looked at Monica. “I really am sorry—“

“We’re Quartermaines,” Monica said, dismissing it. “We never eat turkey.”

“How did it get ruined this year?” Felix wanted to know. “Was there a food fight?”

“I wish. At least that would mean the food got out of the kitchen.” Laura looked at Elizabeth. “How’s Aiden?”

“He’s dealing. Laura’s family got shut out of their London flight,” Elizabeth explained to Felix. “So I asked Monica to invite them to dinner with us..”

“Lulu.” Felix winced. “Oh, man. That means—“

“Her Royal Highness, Queen Charlotte,” Laura muttered. She pressed a hand to her head. “Oh, no. Now I’m doing it.”

“She made fun of Jake for watching the parade, told Cameron that he smelled like horses, and repeatedly reminded Aiden that only girls and gay boys baked.”

Felix’s eyebrows shot up. “Uh, what?”

“Except she did not,” Laura said heavily, “say the word gay. She said something else that was…very offensive. And Aiden was very angry that she was ruining his holiday with his grandmothers and decided that Charlotte needed to go home. So…”

“So he snuck into the kitchen, turned up the oven on the turkey so it would burn. No dinner, no Charlotte.”

Felix pursed his lips. “That’s, uh, one way to handle it.”

“The fire alarms went off, and in our house, that triggers the sprinkler system so all the side dishes were ruined as well. I think Cook is going to quit,” Monica said.

“I really am so sorry that Lulu isn’t doing more,” Laura told her. “She’s been irritated with me since I…well, I pulled a gun on Valentin and kind of ended any leverage Lulu had in the custody battle.”

“You pulled—“ Felix did a double take at the hospital administrator. “I’m sorry. What?”

“When did this happen?” Elizabeth demanded.

“You know, I pulled a gun on Sonny once,” Monica reminisced. “I often regret not pulling the trigger. How close did you come?” she wanted to know.

“Not close enough,” Laura muttered. “But I have too many grandchildren who need me out of jail, and I was just trying to scare him.” She sighed. “I just—it hurts so much to watch Valentin walking around, ruining Charlotte with his superior attitude and that trashy wife—Rocco’s not like this. Lulu isn’t the world’s worst mother.”

“No, Charlotte always reminds me that she’d rather be with Nina and Papa,” Elizabeth said dryly. “And Lulu can’t do much, but it’d be nice if she’d do something.

“Well, I told Lulu I’m not going anywhere with Charlotte anymore. I love my granddaughter, but not at the expense of my grandsons,” Laura said. “And I don’t know why she’s picking on your children, Elizabeth—“

“It is strange,” Monica said. “I saw her at the birthday party in July, and she didn’t say much to Spencer.”

“And she doesn’t give Joss or Trina the same attitude she gives Cam,” Elizabeth said “But that might be because she knows Joss and Trina will eat her alive.”

“I wonder,” Laura murmured, frowning at Elizabeth. “She doesn’t even attack Jake and Cam the way she goes after Aiden. She’s vicious with him. What did their teacher say at the conferences?”

“Oh, Miss Tate said she’s tried to mediate, tried to get parents involved, but it’s not working. But she’s the only third grade teacher.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I love the school—I do. Jake and Cam both did great there, but I’m thinking of taking Aiden out and putting him into the private school. I suggested it to Aiden, but he was really upset. He said he loves his teacher.” She looked at Monica. “He really is sorry about dinner. He wants to apologize—“

“I understand desperation. You tell him it’s not a problem, but maybe next year, we’ll try somewhere other than the Quartermaine mansion. It might be cursed.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Sam tossed her keys on the coffee table and frowned at Drew. “I thought you would have gone to Aurora by the time I got back from dropping off Danny.”

“I was waiting on some paperwork to get delivered.” Drew, at the dining room table, looked back at the contract in front of him. “I wanted to get it signed and filed as soon as possible.”

“What contract? Did you find a new CFO? I know you were interviewing.” Sam went into the kitchen and returned a few minutes later with a cup of coffee. “Drew?” she prompted, when he didn’t answer. She sat at the table, curling her leg underneath her. “The contract?”

“Oh.” Drew sighed, set the the paper down. “It’s a contract with Jason,” he said finally. “I told you I was looking for ways to get Aurora back into my possession legally. On Thanksgiving, Michael signed over some ELQ dividends—an advance,” he admitted, “but that’s okay. I’m buying into Aurora. I can’t afford to buy Jason out—”

“Why would you—” Sam blinked. “I told you, I’m getting it in the divorce—”

“But then Aurora is yours. Not mine.”

Sam stared at him, setting the coffee on the table. When she spoke again, her voice was quiet. Even. “It was supposed to be ours. It was our dream. A fresh start. You don’t want that anymore?”

“You haven’t been to the office since all this happened,” Drew said. “I’ve been taking it on. And I figured—” He lifted a shoulder. “I thought maybe it was something you were agreeing to do about because you wanted me out of the business. Well, I’m not Jason. That’s not a problem, anymore. You don’t want to run the company, Sam.”

“You didn’t—You don’t know that.” Stung, she stared down into the dark liquid. “I can do it—”

“You can go back to being a private investigator. Jason and I talked about it last week—”

Her head snapped back up. “Since when do you talk to Jason?” This was not good. This was the opposite of good. If Jason and Drew actually started talking, then Jason would never be out of her life.

“We don’t, not much,” Drew said slowly. “But after he came to me about Jake, I thought he might be open to talking about Aurora. It was bought in his name with his money. That was always going need to resolving. Jason offered to sign it over—”

“Good—that’s the fair thing to do—”

“But I want to earn it. I’m using the dividends to buy a fifty perfect share, and the plan is to buy Jason out in a year—maybe two—and then pay back the dividend. Maybe put it into a trust—” he added.

“This is ridiculous,” Sam said flatly. “It will take forever before we get Jason out of our lives—”

“Jason doesn’t need to be out of our lives, Sam—” Drew got to his feet, gathered the contract. “You just need to divorce him. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m still related to him—”

“So?”

“I spent over a year wanting to find my family. Wanting to find my identity. I let it go,” Drew said, slowly, “because I thought I had made a new life. I was okay with being Jake Doe, but now I have the answers I wanted back then. I know who I was. Where I came from. And I could sit here and be pissed about all the ways I’ve been hurt. All the things that won’t be the same—the crap with my memories, the loss of a career I obviously loved, a family with Kim and Oscar—”

“Drew—”

“But where does that get me?” Drew demanded. “How does that make my life any easier to keep thinking about the things I can’t change? No. It’s time to face facts. I’m not Jason Morgan, but I get to keep his family. I get to have Monica and Michael. Jake and Danny—I might not be their father, but I get to watch them grow up—”

“You are Danny’s father—”

“And I have Oscar, a great kid who’s been waiting five years for his dad to come back home. And I have you, don’t I? So why hell do I want to make things harder for Jason? He’s my brother, Sam. And he hasn’t done a damn thing to me—”

“He came back!” she shot back. Her chest heaving, tears sliding down her cheeks, Sam glared at Drew. “How can you say he hasn’t done anything to you? He came back! He ruined everything!”

“It’s only ruined if you let it be,” Drew said after a long moment, his voice subdued. “He ruined things for you. Not for me.”

“How can you—”

“Why did you stay?” Drew demanded. “After the truth came out, when you couldn’t deny it—why did you stay? I’m not Jason Morgan. So far that’s the only thing that’s changed for us. You didn’t like Jake anyway, Sam, and you keep telling me that Danny is staying mine. So what exactly has Jason ruined?”

“I—” She pressed her lips together. “I can’t explain it. He just has. Everything is different now, and you’re too blind to see that.”

“Or maybe I’m seeing clearly for the first time. You found out I was supposed to be Jason Morgan two years ago, and you came to me. Wanting our life back. And I didn’t agree. Not right away.” His eyes burned into hers. “Is that what you’re doing now? Trying to pretend that you don’t want to do the same exact thing right now?”

“No! Of course not! If I wanted Jason, I could have him! I could call him right now and—” Her words tumbled to a stop as she put her head in her hands. “Why are you doing this—”

“Doing what? I’m acting like an adult, Sam. I just kept moving forward. You’re the one that wants to stay stuck in the past. You keep trying to drag us back to this moment in time where everything was perfect—that never existed, Sam.”

“It did! It was perfect before she came along,” Sam retorted. “She’s always trying to steal you from me—and she’s doing it again—” Abruptly, she stopped talking and they stared at each other.

Drew walked over to the closet to remove his winter jacket. He slid it over his shoulders, then buttoned it, and put the contract into his briefcase. “She,” he repeated. “You mean Elizabeth.”

“She’s the one that lied about who you were—”

“Who she thought I was. I wasn’t Jason Morgan—”

“She didn’t know that! She doesn’t get to be let off the hook because she was wrong!”

“Fine. How exactly is she stealing me from you now?” Drew said, his tone deceptively light, a note of curiosity that that was more scorn than genuine interest. “Or is it Jason she’s stealing?”

“I didn’t mean it that way,” Sam said. “Don’t put words in my mouth—”

“I didn’t. You said what you said, Sam. Maybe you should think about that.”

Metro Court Hotel: Carly’s Office

Carly paced her office, with her cell phone practically glued to her ear. “Jenny, you need to find a new wholesaler—I am not having my New Year’s Eve party—” She turned in the middle of her rant to find Jason standing in her doorway, his hand poised to knock. “Jenny, I’ll call you back.”

“I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Jason began but Carly hurried forward, waving away his concerns.

“No, no. Of course not. I’m just—” She beamed at him. He’d come to her. And she hadn’t done or said anything terrible lately that he needed to yell at her about which meant that Jason wanted to see her. “Come in, come in. What brings you by?”

“Well, I wanted to thank you for sending the dessert to Aiden on Thanksgiving,” Jason told her as she pulled him over the sofa in her office. “I know Michael and Sonny sent food, too, but Elizabeth was really touched by what you said about Sonny and baking. It meant a lot to her.”

“Oh.” Carly pursed her lips. She didn’t really know what to do with this gratitude from Jason—and Elizabeth. This was uncharted territory, but it was nice. She could do this. She could be a good friend. “Well, I figured Elizabeth was probably just trying set a good example, but I glad she changed her mind. Charlotte’s been terrible to Aiden. Even I know that, and I never notice anything.” Her heart was racing, and Carly wondered if she’d talked too fast. She should slow down. Think about what she was saying.

Don’t insult Elizabeth. Don’t push. If she could just stop from doing that—

“I also wanted to let you know that I’m going to be going to see some garages next week,” he told Carly. “Or the week after. I asked Diane to get me a real estate agent. I’m not—I’m not really going to back to Sonny and the warehouse. I mean, if he needs me, I’m there. But I just want to take it slowly. And try not to do anything stupid that will take me away from Jake again.”

Carly’s smile stayed fixed on her face even as everything inside flashed with fury. Nothing was changing. Jason was still leaving her. Different face, different man, same— “I—I guess it was a lot to hope that some things might go back to the way they were—”

“Hey—” Jason waited for her meet his eyes. “Sonny said you weren’t happy that Drew—when he was still me—was buying into a media company. This isn’t the same. I’m not leaving the warehouse. There’s just not enough to keep me occupied. I need to do something with my time. I like working on bikes and cars. But if I can avoid being shot for a while, that wouldn’t be the worst thing.”

“No, of course not.” She exhaled slowly. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. You’re right. And I want you to be safe. Of course I do. I just—and this is so damned selfish—I always knew Sonny was coming home to me when you had his back. But that’s not your job. Or it doesn’t have to be.”

“I will always have Sonny’s back, Carly. And yours. But I should have done more ten years ago to make sure Jake knew he came first. That’s all this is. I want a place where he can watch me work and be proud of it. The house is a good place to start over. I’m glad I kept it. It’s somewhere to live where maybe he can spend the night.”

“Oh, that would be so great for you to have time like that with Jake.” Carly’s lips trembled. “I want that for you. You know that. A-And I think I can even admit Elizabeth would let that happen. I mean, you know how I feel about her, but it does seem like she’s serious about you being in Jake’s life. That’s great. I want that for you. A-and for her. I guess.”

“That looked like it hurt.” Jason tipped his head. “You okay?”

“Yes. Yes. You came to see me, to tell me what was going on. And maybe sort of ask my opinion—or at least you knew I’d offer it, and you didn’t even flinch when I gave it.” She paused. “I know I’ve been the worst. I don’t want to be that way. I don’t want to be someone my children avoid—but I can do better. I am better. And you’re going to let me show you. I’ll help you find the best garage this city has ever seen, and I’ll help you redecorate the house for Jake—and we’ll make sure it’s the—” She stopped talking as Jason dipped his eyes. “Oh. Oh. You’re not asking me for my help.”

“Not to find a place—”  Jason shifted. “I asked Elizabeth. Because of—”

“Don’t.” She shook her head even pain sliced through her. “Don’t say that. You asked Elizabeth because you wanted to. You’ve never lied to me, Jason. Don’t spare my feelings. I’m capable of finding a place for you.” She forced herself to speak past the lump in her throat. “When you decided to find somewhere to work and to really make a new home for yourself, you didn’t think of me. You thought of Elizabeth.”

Jason nodded. “Yes.”

Carly closed her eyes, absorbed that. “Can I ask—” She stopped, her voice wobbling slightly. “Can I ask why?”

“I don’t—”

“Jason.” Jason sighed as he met her eyes. “I just want to know why you didn’t think of me, your best friend. You thought of Elizabeth, Jake’s mother.”

“She’s always been my friend, Carly—you just never wanted to admit that. You haven’t liked the idea of Elizabeth in my life for nearly twenty years.” He got to his feet. “Aren’t you tired of having the same conversation—”

“You don’t even know what conversation—” Carly scowled. “I just want to know what she can give you that I can’t—I mean, I know Sam is being stubborn, and maybe you’re better off. I never liked her anyway—”

With an uncharacteristic roll of his eyes, Jason turned away and started for the door. “I’ll see you later—”

“Jason—”

“What, Carly? What do you want me to say? You’re my friend. You’ve always been my friend. I just don’t need you to run my life or try to make me do things your way. Sam made her choice—that’s fine. I’m making mine—”

“And that choice is Elizabeth—”

“Why can’t I have another woman in my life that isn’t you?”

“You can. Just not her—”

“Every time. Every time I think you’ve changed. That you’ve stopped this—” His jaw clenched. “Elizabeth matters to me. She always has. She’s Jake’s mother, yeah. But you’re right. I didn’t ask her because of Jake. I asked her because—”

“Because why?” Carly pushed when Jason stopped.

“The first time I felt like myself again,” Jason said quietly. He raised his eyes from the floor. “The first time I was comfortable in my own skin again was with her. She’s not worried about making sure she comes first, Carly, or that I do things her way.”

“Not like me. What a terrible friend I am—”

“Sometimes,” Jason said, with a bit of regret in his eyes and his voice, “yeah. I wish what I wanted mattered to you as much as what you want for me.”

“Jason—”

He pulled open her office door and walked out, leaving Carly standing alone in the middle of her office, tears staining her cheeks.

Webber House: Living Room

“In about eight seconds,” Elizabeth told Jake as she passed by him to answer the knock at the door, “you’re turning off that game and starting your homework.”

“Oh, come on, Mom—”

“I don’t want to hear any arguments—” She pulled open the door, then blinked. “D-Drew. I wasn’t—”

“I, uh—” Drew looked past her at Jake on the sofa. Jake paused his game and slowly got to his feet, his eyes wide. “I needed to drop something off for Jason, and he said he was on his way here.”

“Uh, yeah. Um—” Elizabeth stepped back, letting Drew in. “Yeah. He comes over on Mondays for dinner. Or at least that’s a thing we’re trying. I’m off, so I try to cook.”

“What box is tonight’s meal from?” Drew asked as he removed his coat. Elizabeth narrowed her eyes at him, and he grinned.

“It’s spaghetti,” she said, lifting her chin. “So it’s mostly a jar.”

“Fair enough.” He turned to Jake who was still standing  by the sofa, staring at him. “Hey. I haven’t seen you in a few weeks.”

“No, I guess not. I—” Jake paused. “I was gonna call you, but I didn’t know—” He looked at his mother. “I didn’t know if you’d wanna hear from me.”

“I always want to hear from you,” Drew told him. He approached Jake as Elizabeth drifted into the kitchen to work on dinner. “How are you doing with all of this?”

“Um, okay, I guess.” Jake sat on the sofa and Drew sat next to him. “I mean, it’s pretty crappy that Dr. Maddox turned out to be a bad guy, but maybe he felt sorry about what he did to me. He helped me a lot last summer. Or at least it felt like help.” He hesitated. “Are you okay?”

“I’m getting there,” Drew told him. “You know—I might not be your biological father,” he said slowly. “But that doesn’t change how much I love you.”

“My, um, other dad,” Jake said, sneaking a look at Drew to make sure he was okay with that, “said that he was okay if you, um, were still around. Since you’re his brother, and that makes you my uncle. I dunno if I can call you Uncle Drew yet. That feels weird.”

“It does,” Drew admitted. “But I think it would have been worse to find out we didn’t belong to each other at all.”

“Yeah, that’s true, and I told my dad that you were a really good guy.  That you’d make a good brother.” Jake nodded sagely. “I know what makes good brothers. I also know what makes crappy brothers. Cam and Aiden are good brothers.”

“They’re the best brothers.”

“Yeah, so I think you and, um, Dad should be okay with being brothers. The best part about me coming home, even though I didn’t know anyone anymore,” Jake told Drew solemnly, “was getting Aiden and Cam. I mean, Aiden was still little, so maybe not him. But Cam is the best. And he made everything better. So maybe…”

“Go ahead,” Drew nodded, and Jake shyly smiled.

“Maybe you and my dad can make things better for each other. And we get to keep Oscar. He’s really fun. I’m glad to have a cousin that isn’t, um, you know, the worst.”

“I heard about Thanksgiving.” Drew looked around. “Where is the prisoner? Still grounded?”

“No, I didn’t have the heart to ground him. He knew what he did wrong,” Elizabeth confessed as she emerged from the kitchen. “And let him eat all the food Sonny, Carly, and Michael sent home. He had a piano lesson after school, so Cam is walking him home.” She paused. “Oscar’s coming for dinner.”

“Oh, yeah?” Drew got to his feet. “I guess I should be surprised, but I know how the Webber boys like to take in people.” He looked at Elizabeth, the last of his bitterness fading away, remembering the deep fondness he’d had for her once. “They get it from their mother.”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes, then looked at the door as it opened. Cam and Oscar came in, followed by Aiden and Jason. “Hey. There’s my guys. I just put the garlic bread in.”

“Don’t let Aiden near the oven,” Oscar said with a grin, hanging up his scarf. “He’s declared war on—” He stopped, his eyes wide as he took in Drew. “Oh. Hi.”

“Hey, Oscar. I came by to drop off that contract,” Drew said to Jason. “And Jake and I were just talking about brothers.”

“Yeah. I told, um, Uncle Drew,” Jake said slowly, testing the foreign words out, “that my brothers aren’t terrible. Even if Cam cheats at Call of Duty.”

“Don’t be jealous of my skills,” Cam said easily as he hung up his own coat and helped Aiden off with his. “Hey, Drew. You should stay for dinner.”

“I—” Drew glanced at Jason, then at Oscar. “Yeah. Let me make a call.”

“Oh, shoot—” Elizabeth turned around as a strange smell wafted in from the kitchen. “I think I left the bread on too high—” She darted into the kitchen.

“Never fails,” Cameron sighed. He pulled out the plastic bag Drew hadn’t noticed before and tossed it at Jason. “I stopped on the way home.”

May 20, 2021

Update Link: Ricochet, Chapter 24

I hope everyone is having a great week! These upcoming chapters are some of my favorite — honestly, I really adore the back half of this story. I spent a lot of time in the first part maneuvering pieces around to really start telling the story I wanted to tell and we’re finally getting into the meat of the story. I haven’t had a lot of writing time, but I’ve written three of the ten flashbacks I need and I’ll have time this weekend to really dig into things. I managed to stop myself from rewriting my course materials again, so everything is set up for the next cycle that starts on Monday. I haven’t done a lot of work at home which is great so this week was really about just relaxing. Starting this weekend, I’m going to the hit ground running and really put away some chapters. I want to be done with this book so I can move on.

I’ll see you guys on Monday!

This entry is part 24 of 38 in the series Fool Me Twice: Ricochet

I don’t even care
So there’s nothing to defend
It’s so long-winded
Like a story without an end
This elaborate yarn
You left behind, like a breadcrumb trail
It’s too hard to find the way out
Of your fairytale
Lie to Me, The Pretenders


March 2017

San Diego, California: Cain Home

“Hey, you got a minute?”

Oscar, in the middle of setting up a three-point shot in the driveway, paused and lowered the basketball. “What’s up?”

His stepmother stepped onto the cement, tapping her fingers against the cell phone in her hand. “I didn’t want to say anything until I knew it was a done deal, but ever since we won the lawsuit against the Navy—” She pressed her lips together and looked back at the house. “It’s been hard,” she said finally.

Oscar’s fingers dug into the rubber of the ball. “I thought he’d come back,” he said dully. “But then he didn’t. Dad wouldn’t leave me. Or you,” he added as an afterthought and Kim flashed a hesitant smile. “Thanks. For making sure they did right by him.”

“Your dad loved the Navy. And he was dedicated to his team. He never would have walked away. I wasn’t going to let the Navy get away with slapping AWOL charges on him.” Kim shook his head. “I just wish we knew—” She stopped. “Anyway. I thought we might need a fresh start. Somewhere new, but maybe somewhere that’s still connected to your dad. And your mom.”

Oscar frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Your parents grew up in a group home in Rochester,” Kim explained. “Neither of them ever knew much about their family. I think Drew said he had some suspicions about where he came from, but he never got into it. Maybe…maybe there’s more family out there.”

Pressure began to build in Oscar’s chest as he stared at the only person left in the world that cared about him. “Are you looking for someone to dump me on?”

Kim’s eyes widened. “No! God, no, Oscar. You’ve been mine for half your life. I love you. You’re mine,” she repeated. “I just—I don’t want you to just have me. I thought — if we moved closer to where your parents were from, maybe we could find some cousins. Or something. I wasn’t able to get a position in Rochester, but it’s nearby.”

“Oh.” Oscar set up the shot and took it, watching as the basketball bounced off the rim. “I guess it might be interesting to see if Mom and Dad had any other family. Or find out how they ended up in the group home. And yeah, it’s weird being here knowing he’s never coming home. Even though the Navy just updated him to missing in action — ” he hesitated. “Dad’s not coming back.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I know.” The ball rolled back towards him and he picked it up. “Where are we going?”

“Port Charles,” Kim said, putting an arm around him as they walked back towards the house. “I’m going to work at General Hospital. It’s going to be a good thing. For both of us.”

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Kelly’s: Diner

“On a scale of one to ten, how worried are you about dinner?” Trina asked as she counted tips from the breakfast rush that morning. “Like — this is not good, right?”

“I tried to tell my mom,” Cameron said, shrugging. “As soon as Laura found out her trip was canceled, we should have noped out of the whole thing. Aiden and Charlotte in the same house, even a mansion, is a recipe for disaster.”

“Why did they even get invited? I didn’t know Monica and Laura were all that close.” Trina frowned. “Someone definitely didn’t tip me this morning. I had twelve tables, I should have like a hundred bucks—”

“It was Michael’s idea which just proves he’s as crazy as his mother. Mom wouldn’t even think about canceling,” he told her as the bell over the door jingled behind him. “She’s not sure about going out to Sonny’s place with Jason and Jake later, so she definitely wanted to make sure to do dinner with him—”

“Oh, hey, Sam,” Trina said brightly, as the brunette stepped up. “I’ve got your pies in the back.”

“Thanks.” As Trina disappeared into the kitchen, Sam flicked a glance at Cam. “Cameron. Happy Thanksgiving.”

“Uh, Happy Thanksgiving.” Cameron shifted, reached for his milkshake. “Uh, how are things? Um, Danny excited for Christmas?”

“He is,” Sam said. “He’s more excited for Scout. She doesn’t remember last year,” she continued. “But he’s been really making sure she’s involved in the traditions. Going to see Santa—helping her make a list.”

“That’s cool. I remember doing the same for Jake—well—just once,” Cameron said. He hated when he ran into her. It was always awkward and weird because he knew too damn much about her. But his mom had raised him to be better than being a rude jerk.

Or at least she’d raised him to be more subtle about being a brat.  “He, um, wasn’t around for a lot of the Christmases, and by the time he came back, he didn’t believe in Santa anymore.”

Sam frowned. “I didn’t realize—”

“No, it was kind of a bummer,” Cam admitted. “He said that Helena told him the first Christmas he was there.”

“He was barely four years old—” Sam glanced over at Trina as the waitress returned with the boxes of pies. “I didn’t—I didn’t know that.”

“Well, no, why would you?” Cameron challenged. He eyed her. “It’s not like you were ever really part of Jake’s life, Sam. Even when Drew was supposed to be his actual dad.”

Sam pressed her lips together. “Cameron—”

“It’s fine. We all got what we wanted, right? You got Jake Doe and you don’t have to worry about my brother bringing his parents back together since Jake Doe isn’t Jason Morgan after all.” He finished his milkshake, then reached for his own order of pies. “Thanks, Trina. I’ll call you later when the shit hits the fan.”

He left the diner as Sam stared after him, then pulled her wallet out of her purse, turned her attention back to Trina. “He never did like me much, did he?” she found herself asking the teenager.

“No,” Trina said bluntly. “But then again, none of us do. Not after what happened to Jake and Cam’s house because of you.” She held out her hand. “That’ll be sixty-five dollars and twenty-six cents.”

Quartermaine Mansion: Study

Drew signed his name at the bottom of the paperwork, then set down the pen to stare at the signature. Andrew Cain.

For more than three weeks, this had been his legal name. The answer to the question he’d searched for as Jake Doe all those years ago. He was hoping if he just lived life as Drew, if he woke up every morning and reminded himself that this was who he was now, it would one day feel like his identity.

But he also woke up every morning with someone else’s memories. He woke up in the penthouse, remembering all the years he’d lived there. He walked into the Quartermaine mansion, remembering the grueling and difficult days after the accident—the grudging respect and affection he’d developed over the years—

None of those things had happened to Andrew Cain, but Drew didn’t know how to separate any of that. How to divorce himself from the man he’d grown into or the one he’d remembered.

“Thank you,” he told Michael, shaking his head and sliding it back to him. “I’m not wild about needing the ELQ shares or the dividend right now—”

“But it’s better than what you have right now,” Michael finished. “Yeah, I know. I felt the same way after I, uh, cut ties with Sonny and my mom. I had my salary from ELQ, but I knew I hadn’t really earned it.” He grimaced, looked around the office. “A lot of the times, I know the only reason I’m CEO today is because of who my father was—and my grandfather. But ELQ also gave me something to rebuild with when I knew I couldn’t be a Corinthos anymore.”

He put Drew’s contract back into a folder. “Have you thought about how you’re going to handle Aurora?” Michael asked. “I was talking to Ned about it, and I know that legally—”

“Legally, it belongs to Jason Morgan. I didn’t even put it into Sam’s name,” Drew said with a wince. “So he owns it. I was thinking—” He exhaled slowly. “I was hoping Jason would let me buy into the company. That’s what the dividend is for,” he explained. “Then I could stay on and buy him out.”

“Sam could also get Jason to sign it over in the divorce—”

“Then it won’t be mine. It wasn’t really her plan,” Drew said. He got to her feet. “She was going to do it with me because she wanted me out of the business. She’s barely been there since any of this started. Aurora—it’s my fresh start. Like ELQ was for you.”

“Fair enough,” Michael said with a nod. “For the record, Jason would have given it to you, but I think he’ll understand that you want to do it yourself. Um, I’m sure things are awkward—have you really talked to him?”

“Just once. Since it all came out.” Drew couldn’t really explain the complicated feelings he had for the man who wore his old face, who had the name Drew had believed to be his own. “I don’t want to resent him. None of this was his fault. Three years ago, I wanted to know who I was. Where I came from. And I shouldn’t regret that this happened because I have my daughter, and there’s Sam—but all of this would have been easier if that facial reconstruction had been done a year earlier and I could have just gone home to Kim and Oscar.”

“But you didn’t.” Michael looked at him. “You were still in the hospital when I found out about Sonny and AJ. What my parents had done to him. And you sat and you listened to me, even though you didn’t know me. I know there were some residual memories from the experiment even then, but that didn’t change the fact that I felt comfortable with you right away. You’re not Jason, Drew. And I didn’t think you were then. You were a good guy that deserved a break. That hasn’t changed.”

Drew said nothing, and Michael continued, “You’re not Jason, but you are his brother. You’re still my uncle. You’re still part of my family. Aurora doesn’t have to be the only new start. This—Grandma and Ned and all the rest—we can be part of it.”

“Thank you,” Drew said finally. “That means a lot to me. I should, ah, get out of here before your dinner guests arrive.” Before his brother arrived with Elizabeth and her boys—another family that had almost been his.

Davis House: Kitchen

Sam stopped in the doorway when she saw Kristina leaning over one of the pots. Her sister turned at the sound of her entry and frowned. “You’re here early.”

“I’m only dropping off the pies,” Sam muttered. She set the bag from Kelly’s on the table and started to pull the boxes out. “Molly isn’t as angry as you are.”

“No, she said that I should let it go.” Kristina sniffed and jerked a shoulder. “I’m sorry about the other day,” she added. “That stuff with the Metro Court. That—that wasn’t fair.”

“Maybe not, but you weren’t lying.” Sam folded her arms. “Look, you can be angry at me. That’s fine. But I don’t want anyone else in this. Don’t pull that crap with Molly again. And tonight? Don’t do this in front of my kids.”

“I wouldn’t put Danny or Scout in the middle—”

“But you’d put Drew there,” Sam cut in. “Because you made sure Mom and Molly were. You can be angry at me,” she repeated, “but at the end of the day, Mom forgave me. You don’t have understand or like it, but that’s it. For ten years, Krissy, I’ve had your back. I might not always be a great person, but I have always been a good sister.”

Kristina sat the table and made a face. “I know. I know all of that. But I guess I just—” She bit her lip. “I was upset. And angry. And really hurt. I wanted to hurt you the way I was hurting.”

“Making sure that my baby sister knows exactly what I did to her family—bullseye.” Sam sighed and sat across from Kristina. “I get it. Hurting people to make myself feel better? It’s—” Her chest felt tight as she forced the words out. “It’s how I survived. Always on the offensive. Always ready to cut someone’s feet out from under them. They didn’t even have to do anything to me—if I just felt threatened, you know, I just made sure they couldn’t strike first.”  She paused. “I’m not a good person, Kristina,” she repeated. “I want better for you. I want better for my kids.”

“Then why are you doing this to Jason?” Kristina asked. “You and Mom have been arguing about the divorce—I know what you’re doing with Danny. Why aren’t you even giving him a chance? You gave Drew a chance when you thought he was Jason—”

“I wish I could—” Sam paused. “I can’t explain it. I just—this is how it has to be. My son needs to come first. He loves Drew, and he doesn’t know Jason.”

“Are you still punishing him for what he did when you were pregnant?” Kristina asked. “Because he acted like he didn’t want Danny—”

“He didn’t want Danny,” Sam said flatly. “He can pretend he did, he can say he meant something else. But he didn’t want Danny. And he hasn’t asked about him either. I spent my whole life knowing I didn’t really matter to my parents. I’m going to make sure my kids know they matter.” She scowled. “Why do you look like that? I’m not lying.”

“I didn’t say you were, Sam. I guess I’m just wondering if you’re thinking Jason will make Danny feel like he loves Jake more. Maybe you’re trying to hurt Jason because you think he’ll hurt Danny.”

“I—”

“I know Jason was terrible back then. I know that, Sam. I just don’t understand because you forgave him. You forgave him when you thought Drew was Jason—”

“I forgave Drew because he did the work. Jason hasn’t.” Sam pushed away from the table. “I’m sorry that Drew was living Jason’s life, but for two years, he was Jason to all of us. And Jason doesn’t get to show up here and think none of that matters.”

“I don’t think he’s doing that—”

“The rest of you are. You all think I should just hand Danny over to him like Drew didn’t do the work of being his father. Danny doesn’t know Jason. He knows Drew. And that’s the end of it.”

Berkeley, California

Drake House: Living Room

Robert leaned over to grab an appetizer from the tray, but Robin smacked his hand. “Not yet,” she told her father, then looked at her mother. “I don’t understand how this all fits together. How could Ewen Keenan have been involved with the poisoned water and also what happened to me and Jason?”

“I fear we have more questions than answers at this point,” Anna said with a sigh. She held out her wine glass and her son-in-law, Patrick Drake, refilled it. “It’s hard to see where all of this started. I would have imagined with Jason and Drew’s abductions, but this information about Jake—”

“I remember thinking now,” Patrick said as he sat at the table next to his wife, sipping a tumbler of bourbon, “that it made no sense for Helena to just…give Jake back. And I never got a solid answer for what happened to his kidney or the transfer team.”

“That’s right,” Robin remembered. “How would Jax have known another kidney would be needed? And—” She took a deep breath. “We were there. We signed the paperwork.”

“It seems to me that Jake’s accident is where this begins,” Robert said. “You signed it, but neither of you were on the transplant teams.”

Patrick and Robin traded a glance before Patrick shook his head. “I wasn’t needed,” he said finally. “And I didn’t—I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even bring myself to tell Elizabeth.”

“But Jason was there. He saw the procedure,” Robin said, “He told Elizabeth when the transplant team had finished harvesting the organs—the kidneys, the liver, and Jake’s lungs were supposed to be donated.”

“I asked him about it, and he said that he didn’t really know what he was looking at,” Anna said. “That he was watching the monitors. It might be worth looking into the transplant team and its records,” she told Robert. “Somewhere along the line, Helena took Jake from the hospital, and someone had to be part of it.”

“We should also pencil in a meeting with Jax,” Robert said, nodding. “But I’m still thinking about what Patrick said. Why would Helena return Jake? I know we’ve thought it was part of the Chimera—”

“But Helena was alive for months after Jake came home. If she’d wanted to trigger it, why not then?” Anna finished. “No, she must have had a different plan.”

“With hindsight,” Patrick said slowly, “and knowing Helena was involved in the memory experiments—it makes me think the two are related. According to Nikolas, Helena told him that Jake Doe was Jason Morgan. She must have known he wasn’t.”

“And Nikolas told Elizabeth the night of the Nurse’s Ball, but she didn’t say anything,” Robin continued. “Helena must have known that, too. And almost everyone knew that Jake was Jason’s son.”

“Spinelli told me something before we flew out,” Robert continued. “Elizabeth learned from Maddox that Helena let her see Jake about six months after she’d kidnapped him. On Spoon Island in the lab. Elizabeth had fevers, so everyone brushed it off as hallucinations—”

“I remember that,” Patrick said with a grimace. “It was bad. She’d already been seeing him off and on—just little tricks of the mind, but it took a lot to calm her down, and even after the fever went away—”

“If Helena ran that risk, she did it to hurt Elizabeth,” Robin said softly. “If she always planned to use Jake to kill the Spencers, is it so hard to believe that Helena wanted to use Jake to hurt Elizabeth again?”

“Elizabeth was keeping the secret about Jake Doe. Helena might have enjoyed toying with her by sending Jason’s son home to her.” Anna nodded. “Especially with the added layer of knowing Jake Doe wasn’t Jason—she would have enjoyed that.”

“But that all seems directed at Elizabeth,” Robert said. “That’s not normal, is it? I mean, Helena hates Spencers, but Elizabeth hasn’t been a Spencer for years—”

“But thinking that this is about Elizabeth in some way,” Patrick cut in, “might explain why Victor’s experiments focused on Jason. Jason’s not connected to the Cassadines either—except through Emily and Elizabeth.” He squinted at Robin. “Didn’t Helena always take digs at Elizabeth?”

“They’ve got a history,” Robin agreed, “but I’m not sure of the details. Elizabeth was part of that Stavros stuff back in 2001, but I wasn’t in town back then.” She sat back. “Either way, this all comes back to Helena. Victor wanted me to revive her first. Stavros was lower on the priority list. Victor insisted Helena had to come first. I wasn’t even able to look at Jason—who I know now was Drew—until Helena was recovering.”

“If Helena started this all, she and Victor are dead,” Anna said. “And I don’t understand how Valentin would fit into it. He was never known to work with Helena or the WSB. Not after he went rogue.” She wrinkled her nose, sipped her nose. “I feel as though we’re constantly talking in circles and nothing is getting done.”

“But Valentin has to be the guy behind the clinic—there’s no way Maddox was bank rolling that. So maybe we need to rethink everything we know about him.”

“And on that note,” Robin said, getting to her feet. “It’s time for me to feed Noah and for you to finish the turkey,” she told Patrick. “We’re not going to solve this today.”

“No, but it reminds me that we do have one untapped resource,” Anna said. “I think perhaps we should talk to Frisco about the terms of Andre’s deal.”

Quartermaine Mansion: Family Room

Elizabeth looked uneasily at the door that led out to the foyer, worried about her boys in the same room as Charlotte Cassadine—even though Lulu was watching over them.

She wasn’t entirely sure Lulu was qualified to look after a piece of spinach, but she wasn’t going to say that in front of Laura. At least Jason and Michael were nearby, though they were doing comparing Spinelli’s most recent report in the study and not actually in the media room.

“It’s so wonderful to see Jason with Jake,” Monica said, drawing Elizabeth’s attention. “I’m so glad you brought the boys.”

“It’s good that they’re spending a lot of time together,” Laura added. “The more they’re around one another, the less awkward it’ll be.”

“That’s what I thought. I remember—” Elizabeth paused. “I remember when Nikolas and Lucky got closer. When we were helping Emily with the—” She twisted her fingers. “They put aside how much they hated each other for Emily, and they saw each other as people, I think, for the first time. Outside of everything else.”

“I was so grateful that they were able to have each other,” Laura said. She focused on Monica. “I can’t imagine what you’ve been going through since all this started. Not knowing there were two of them out there—”

“It’s been…” Monica’s smile was tight. “It’s been interesting. I haven’t known how to approach Drew. I wanted to,” she added quickly. “But I’m afraid he’ll feel terribly betrayed that I haven’t talked to him already. And the longer I wait—” She shook her head. “If Alan had known…”

“I know it’s different because, of course, I knew Nikolas was out there,” Laura said, “and I knew that I had the conscious choice to leave him behind when I escaped—” She bit her lip. “But when he came here all those years later—oh, it was so hard to deal with it. The guilt, you know? I was swimming in it.”

Monica opened her mouth, but then they heard a strange beeping.

“What is—”  Elizabeth twisted in the chair again. “What’s that?”

“Just once,” Monica muttered. She got to her feet and crossed to the landline on the desk. “Just once in this family, it’d be nice to have an actual Thanksgiving dinner.”

“Monica?” Laura asked.

“It’s the smoke alarm,” the doctor replied with a wrinkled nose. “Hello? Yes—yes, the usual. Thanks.”  She hung up the phone. “I have Mama Mangia’s on speed dial,” she said dryly. “Let’s go see what happened to the turkey this year.”

Davis House: Kitchen

Sam took the pies in the fridge, then turned to her mother as Alexis frowned at the turkey in the wall oven. “I think maybe we should send the divorce papers.”

Alexis frowned, turned to her. “Wait, what? Why? What’s going on—” She sighed. “This isn’t about what happened last week? Molly told you she’s not mad—”

“It has nothing to do with any of that,” Sam insisted, flinching as her mother referenced the uncomfortable conversation she’d had with Molly about her testimony at the murder trial and the brief affair with Ric.

Molly had looked suitably disgusted, but she’d always been more empathetic and kinder than Kristina, so she’d simply said it was in the past and they would move on.

“Then what—”

“I watched that video Krissy talked about.” Sam sat down at the table, twisting her wedding ring—Lila’s ring—on her finger. “It’s not just—it’s not just what happened with Ric. It’s my entire testimony.”

“Ah,” Alexis said. She leaned back against the counter. “Including the part where Diane made you look like a desperate, scorned gold digger out for revenge?”

Sam’s lips thinned as she looked away. It was a harsh description, but — “She didn’t just make me look that way, Mom. That’s who I was. And I looked at the video, and I remembered who Jason had made me—what I had let him make me. He hated me back then, do you remember? By that point—and I deserved it.”

She’d wanted to destroy Elizabeth. She’d let Maureen Harper kidnap Jake—she’d hired those men in the park to go after Elizabeth and her boys—she’d deliberately seduced Lucky to end his marriage—

“I ran into Cameron at Kelly’s, and he reminded me that that Jason never wanted me have to anything to do with Jake. Even when we thought Drew was Jason—that was true. Jake didn’t really come to our house, and Elizabeth left guardianship to Audrey.” Sam wrinkled her nose. “And I was relieved not to have Jake there.”

“Sam—”

“Because I see Jake and I know why he exists. He exists because of what I did to you and myself that summer. I did that because of Jason. Because of how much I let Jason matter. And I don’t know what that makes me. I think I hate Jake, Mom.”

Alexis sat across from her. “I think that’s a bit harsh—”

“No?” Sam arched a brow. “When Maureen Harper kidnapped him, Amelia came forward to tell the truth and Jason brought him home. Not me. I knew where he was the entire time. And I decided it was better for him to be gone. Sometimes I think—I think maybe I never would have said anything. Maybe I would have just let Maureen have Jake forever.”

Alexis said nothing as the words settled between them, the silence growing more and more uncomfortable. Tenser. Sam cleared her throat. “Say something, Mom.”

“I don’t know what you want me to say, Sam.” She tipped her head. “I didn’t know you’d witnessed the kidnapping.”

“I did. And I hired men with guns to scare Elizabeth and her boys so she’d stay away from Jason—” Sam’s eyes burned. “Jason was so angry—he threatened to kill me—”

“Sam!”

“And I looked at Cameron today, and I looked at this kid who knows what kind of person I am. He’s old enough to remember that I broke up Lucky’s marriage to his mother, and that before I came around, their life wasn’t perfect but he had two parents. And he sure as hell remembers what happened a few years ago. I hired a man who held a gun on that little boy, Mom. And I did it so I could have Jason to myself.”

“That was…” Alexis took a deep breath. “A long time ago. And even what happened a few years ago—you never meant for Jake to get hurt—”

“No? I’m not so sure sometimes.” Her voice trembled. “I know I’m not a really good person. I can fake it most of the time, but eventually everyone sees me for who I am. Sometimes they can let it go. You did. And Jason did for a while. But he also never, ever tried to be Jake’s father again while I was around. Was he scared of what I’d do? And Kristina—” Sam swiped a hand under her nose. “Kristina hates me because I did the same thing to her as I did to Cameron and Jake. I broke up her happy home—”

“Well, Ric didn’t help,” Alexis muttered.

“Mom, I—” Sam met her mother’s eyes, then swallowed a shaky sob. “I did it. I set out to trap him. Just like Lucky. It wasn’t…it wasn’t just that night. I mean, that was the only night we—but I worked at it for weeks. I knew you were arguing all the time, I could see it, and I—”

“I don’t want to hear this, Sam—”

“I deliberately destroyed your marriage because I blamed you for what happened with Jason. And Krissy sees that now. Molly will, too. She doesn’t understand it yet, but it’ll sink in. I wanted to hurt you, so I did.”

“You—” Alexis closed her eyes. “I always knew that, Sam. I knew who you were. I chose to forgive you. Jason—for whatever reason—he chose to forgive you, too.”

“Did he? Because I didn’t forgive him for Elizabeth. I always knew he loved her more than me. I knew he needed me, that I could make him feel guilty enough to stay with me—and I did that all the time. But he came back to me, Mom, because I couldn’t have kids.”

“That’s not true—”

“It is true. He left Elizabeth because of her kids. And he came back to me because I couldn’t have them—”

“He supported you getting the surgery—”

“Because I told him I was getting it done. And he’d lost Jake. I knew he was vulnerable. But he didn’t want my son, Mom. He didn’t want Danny. And I don’t think it was about Franco. I think it was me. He didn’t want kids with me.”

“You’re getting yourself all worked up for nothing—”

“I can see it now so clearly!” Sam retorted, shoving to her feet. “I watched myself being humiliated on that video—remembering how it felt to sit there while Jason looked at me and didn’t stop it. He knew what Diane would ask—and he let her do it. He never once stood up for me. He didn’t really want me. He just couldn’t have her, and I was second best.”

“And is that why you want to file this kind of divorce?” Alexis asked. “Because you want him to pay for that? It was ten years ago, Sam—”

“No, I just want it to be over. I want to stop feeling like this! I need to protect the family I have now. I need Drew to stay with me, to stay with Danny and Scout. So I need to make sure he knows that I don’t want Jason—”

“I think this is a mistake,” Alexis said, standing. “I really do, Sam. And I’m not filing those papers right now. Not while you’re upset. I think you should think about it more.”

“I’m not going to change my mind—”

“Then God help you, Sam, because no one else will.” With that, her mother left the kitchen, and Sam closed her eyes, took a deep breath.

She was making the right decision. And if her mother didn’t see that, she’d get a lawyer who would.

Greystone Manor: Living Room

Carly had promised herself—and Sonny repeatedly—that she would be on her best behavior if Michael decided to bring the little bitch with him. Jumping down Nelle’s throat every time Carly saw her was only making things worse with Michael.

Carly didn’t want to go back to those terrible months when Michael hadn’t been speaking to either Sonny or Carly. She’d do anything to stop that from happening again.

“And remember,” Sonny said as he hung up with the guardhouse who had reported that Michael and Jason had arrived in the same car. “You’re not going to say anything to Jason about Elizabeth either.”

Carly hissed. “I’m not five,” she muttered. “And I remember.” She went over to stop Avery from dipping into the meringue pie set out on the buffet table. If Jason and Michael were coming for dessert, well it would be the best dessert anyone had ever seen.

“Joss!” Sonny called up the stairs. “Cameron and his brothers are driving up—”

“Oh, Aiden and his mom won’t be here,” Joss said, jogging down the stairs, drawing Carly’s attention just as the front door opened. Michael came in, laughing with Cam with Jason and Jake following behind them.

“Hey.” Carly smiled brightly, kissed Jason on the cheek, then hugged her son. “Cam, Jake! I’m so glad you guys could come. Sonny was baking all day—”

“Oh, awesome! I am starving.” Jake went over to the buffet table with Sonny who started to cut up the pies. Carly raised her brows at her son and Jason.

“Didn’t you eat at the Qs?”

“Well, we tried,” Michael said with a sigh, “but the curse continues.”

“That’s why Aiden isn’t here,” Cam told Carly. “He, uh, got into a fight with his cousin Charlotte, and thought the best way to make her go home was to…” He winced. “Burn the turkey.”

“So he turned the oven up all the way, and it sort of set off the smoke alarm—” Michael continued.

“And the sprinkler system,” Jason finished.

Carly blinked. “Little Aiden nearly burned down the mansion?” She turned wide eyes to her daughter. “He hates Charlotte that much?”

“Oh, it’s earned,” Joss told her mother. “I told you. She’s the worst. And Aiden’s put up with enough.”

“I guess Elizabeth decided to skip dessert?” Carly asked Jason, hoping her question sounded casual.

“She didn’t think Aiden had earned Sonny’s cooking after he destroyed dinner,” Jason said. “So I told her I’d bring Cam and Jake home later.”

“Oh, come on,” Joss complained. “Charlotte is such a pain! Can’t we smuggle him something? Uncle Sonny—”

“I’m not going to interfere,” Sonny said, shaking his head.

“Charlotte was pretty annoying,” Michael said, taking the pie his sister handed him. “I caught her making fun of Aiden for baking. She told him only gay boys and girls baked—”

Carly scowled. “What?”

“I know, and I thought Elizabeth was gonna hit the roof, but Charlotte’s not her kid, and Lulu refuses to do anything about it. She’s afraid Charlotte will hate her more than she already does. Charlotte complained all day about being stuck in town when she could be on the island.”

“She sure is a Cassadine,” Joss muttered. “I don’t think Aiden gets enough credit for not throwing her off the parapet.”

Carly went over to the dessert table, picked up a slice of pie and went into the kitchen, taking a plate of cookies with her. A few minutes later, she came back and went over to Cameron.

“I know what your mom said,” she told him, dropping her voice as the teen widened his eyes at her, “and I’m sure she’s probably right. But I feel bad for him. So there’s a bag with some pie and cookies in the kitchen. Get Joss to smuggle it to you before you leave.”

“Uh—” Cameron blinked at her. “Thanks?”

“Any kid desperate enough to burn down a house to get away from a bully is being punished enough,” Carly told him. “And maybe Aiden should get to see that all boys get to bake. Even men like Sonny.”

Webber Home: Kitchen

Aiden put his elbows on the table and propped his head on his hands. “I’m sorry, Mom.”

“I know you are, baby.” Elizabeth set a glass of water in front of him, then sat across the table. “But you could have hurt someone. Fire isn’t something we play with. You know better.”

“I do. She just—” Aiden dragged a hand under his nose. “She makes me so mad,” he burst out. “How come no one ever yells at her? You know? She never gets in trouble, and it just keeps happening. Every day. We’re not in school. I’m supposed to be free.”

Elizabeth’s heart felt heavy as she sighed. “I’m sorry, Aiden. It was my idea to invite Grandma Laura to the mansion today, but I won’t do it again when I know Charlotte is going to be there. And I’m going to tell Lulu the same.”

“I like Grandma Laura,” Aiden said sullenly. “Can’t we just trade Aunt Lu and her dumb daughter in? Rocco and Uncle Dante are good.”

“Unfortunately, family doesn’t work that way.” Elizabeth paused. “I’ve tried to get you switched into a different class, but I think—” She paused. “I know you love your school. I like it, too, but maybe we should think about changing schools after the holidays. I can swing tuition at St. Andrews if I have to. For part of the year.”

“Charlotte wins again,” Aiden muttered. “It’s not fair, Mom. I like Miss Tate. I don’t wanna leave my school.”

Elizabeth opened her mouth, but then the door opened and Cameron and Jake entered, followed by Jason. “Oh, hey. I thought you’d be later.”

“We would have been, but—” Jason came into the kitchen and set a bag on the table. “Left overs from Sonny’s,” he told Elizabeth. “He wasn’t happy you both had to eat pizza.” He opened the bag and then set a piece of cake down with a half smile. “And he thought maybe you might relent on letting Aiden have some dessert.”

Aiden’s eyes stared at the slice of red velvet cake with the cream cheese frosting, even as Elizabeth’s stomach rumbled.

Jake snickered as he set his own bag on the table. “Michael gave me some cookies and brownies,” he told them. “Because he says Charlotte is the worst.”

Elizabeth pressed two fingers to her lips, trying to stifle a laugh.

Then Cameron came from the living, setting down yet another bag. “And Mrs. C wanted to make sure Aiden got some of Sonny’s baking,” he said to his mother before focusing on his little brother. “She said to make sure you know that real men bake.”

Aiden straightened. “That’s right. Mr. C is a great cook. He made all of this?”

“All of it—with Joss’s help,” Cam added, “so maybe we skip the oatmeal raisin cookies.”

“Mom?” Aiden looked at his mother, his lower lip trembling.

“Well…” Elizabeth stared all the desserts the Corinthos family had smuggled out to her son — who had nearly lit an entire mansion on fire to get away from someone who was making his life miserable. “Aiden, what do you think I should do?”

Aiden sighed.  “Um, I guess I shouldn’t have any dessert because I almost caused a big fire at Grandma Monica’s.” He then looked at the slice of key lime pie from Cameron’s bag and she could practically see the drool at the corner of his mouth.

“I think,” Cameron said, sliding the pie towards his brother, “that being related to Charlotte Cassadine might be punishment enough. What do you think, Mom?”

“I think you are absolutely correct.” She got to her feet to kiss Cameron’s cheek. “Dig in, Aiden. And share with your brothers.”

“Yes!” Aiden pumped two fists in the air. “Best mom ever!”

Elizabeth went over to get some plates from the cabinet, glancing over as Cameron and Jake unpacked all of the bags, her table covered in food.

“You need any help?” Jason asked, joining her.

“No, I’ve got it.” She wrinkled her nose. “This is why you’re friends with Carly, isn’t it?”

Jason squinted. “Why?”

“Cameron told her what Charlotte said, and Carly sent him home with that message. He needed that tonight.” She met Jason’s eyes. “Sometimes, she’s not the worst.”

“No, she’s not.” Jason took the plates from her. “It’d just be nice if she’d let that side of her out more. Let’s go get some food before they eat it all.”

May 17, 2021

Update Link: Ricochet, Chapter 23

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a good weekend! I got the official contract renewal for next year so I definitely have a job next September. That’s really great news for me personally, so I’m looking forward to a summer without interviews, lol.

I’m also really looking forward to the next few weeks. After this upcoming week, I’ll be in my final cycle and I finally have the materials I want so that I won’t be working on rewriting things. I’ll be (hopefully) more relaxed and ready to get back into writing at night. I really missing writing in the evenings, so I’ll be happy to get back into it.

Enjoy this chapter, and I’ll see you on Thursday!

This entry is part 23 of 38 in the series Fool Me Twice: Ricochet

You called me strong, you called me weak
But still your secrets I will keep
You took for granted all the times I never let you down
You stumbled in and bumped your head
If not for me then you’d be dead
I picked you up and put you back on solid ground
Kryptonite, 3 Doors Down


September 2012

San Diego, California: Cain Home

Oscar carefully closed the front door and tip toed towards the stairs. If he was very quiet, maybe Kim wouldn’t notice that he was home, and then—

“You’re not as quiet as you think you are.”

He grimaced, then turned to find his stepmother leaning against the doorway between the foyer and the kitchen — a letter in home. Rats.

“I can explain,” Oscar said brightly. He dropped his backpack on the ground. “See, the thing is that Mrs. Perno is, like, really old, and maybe she thinks she heard me say that word, but, again, really old. She might have been on the Titanic —”

“Oscar Elliott Cain,” Kim began, narrowing her eyes but the universe saved him from what punishment she would have doled out. “Wait right there,” she said, stabbing a long finger his direction. She went over to the door and peered through the window that looked out over the porch.

Her entire body froze and she just stopped. She didn’t open the door, didn’t move. Oscar frowned. “Kim?”

“Oscar, go upstairs,” she said softly.

“What? Why—”

“Go,” Kim ordered, more loudly now. She turned to him, her eyes dark with something Oscar didn’t recognize. Scowling, he stomped up the stairs. He was nine years old! He wasn’t some little baby

Oscar went around the corner of the hallway, pretended to close his bedroom door, then crawled back to the top step, staying out of sight.

“Can I help you?” he heard Kim say. He peeked out, frowning. Why was there a Marine guy there? His dad was a frickin’ Navy Seal, not a Jarhead—

“Dr. Kimberly Nero?”

“Yes. What’s going on?”

“Ma’am—” A man in another type of uniform stepped forward. “We regret to inform you that your husband, Chief Andrew Cain, has gone AWOL from his base in the Kandahar province—”

“What?” Kim snapped, her voice sharp. “What does that mean? When did this happen?”

“Three days ago, Chief Cain disappeared from his post. Extensive search of the area suggests that he deserted—”

“That is bullshit! Drew would never—someone’s taken him—”

“We investigated that possibility, ma’am, but there’s no evidence. He’s AWOL. Have you heard from him?”

“My dad wouldn’t walk off the job!” Oscar blurted out. Kim turned, her face pale.

“Oscar—”

“He’s a Navy SEAL! He’s a hero! He wouldn’t leave!”

“Ma’am, if you hear from him—”

“You’d better go,” Kim said, snatching the card from the man and shoving the door closed. She charged up the stairs, stopping Oscar as he started down. “Hey. Hey—wait—”

“My dad wouldn’t run away! He’s not a coward!”

“I know—” Kim wrapped her arms around him, rocking him back and forth as Oscar’s voice broke.

“He’s a hero—”

“I know, baby. We’ll find him. He’ll come home, and this will be just a bad dream.”

Friday, November 17, 2017

Safe House: Living Room

Spinelli dragged a hand through his hair and reached for the bottle of orange soda next on the table next to the sofa, frowning when he found it empty. “The problem,” he began, “is that it’s nearly impossible to track money in Russia.”

“I remember,” Jason said. He tossed Spinelli another soda. He’d gotten used to keeping his fridge stocked with orange soda for Spinelli’s visits, and when he’d grabbed a few things at the grocery store a week ago, it had been second nature to grab a six pack of his hacker’s favorite drink.

“And believe it or not, it’s gotten harder,” Spinelli told him. “Since the whole Russia rigged the election thing last year—” When Jason frowned, Spinelli shook his head. “You’re probably better off not digging into that yet. I’m gonna work on it, but we might want to consider whether or not the clinic and its records are the best use of my time.”

Jason walked over to the window that overlooked the block, rubbing his fist against his chest. “The clinic didn’t treat many normal patients that I could tell. It couldn’t have been self-sufficient. Whoever is bankrolling it is connected to all of this—”

“For sure. And I’ll keep on it, don’t worry, but—” Spinelli paused. “Are you even sure that anything else is happening? Didn’t Mr. Sir say something about maybe Andre being behind this?”

“If Maddox is behind this all, then fine. But you did the background on him, and you saw the WSB’s file. Where is he getting the funding? It’s about the money, Spinelli.”

“Fair point.” Spinelli shrugged. “I’ll keep on the clinic. I might need to visit or see if the WSB can get me some more information.” When Jason frowned at him, Spinelli explained, “I do some work for them every once in a while. Once I, ah, had a child with Maximista, her father thought it might be a good idea to make use of me.”

“Fine. Whatever you have to do. I need to know to make sure that this is over—that my family and I are safe.”

“Um, not that it matters to me because as Stone Cold goes, so goes my nation.” When Jason squinted, Spinelli shrugged. “I’m with you, I mean, but is it possible that all evidence points to this being over and you’re just…looking for, um, something to do?”

“What does that mean?” Jason demanded.

“Uh, nothing, nothing—” Spinelli made a face. “I know you’ve been in a crappy mood this week, and you’re not working for Mr. Sir again.” He got to his feet. “Maybe focusing on this is giving you something to do, but, uh, if there’s nothing to be found—”

“There’s something,” Jason insisted, even as Spinelli’s words stung. “And I’m doing things,” he said, almost defensively. “I—” He paused. He woke up, went to check on Spinelli, called Sonny for an update from the Spencers, and sometimes, if Elizabeth wasn’t working the nights, he went to the house for dinner with Jake. Other times, he went to Sonny and Carly’s. Or he found the dive bar Elizabeth had recommended where he sat in a corner and nursed a beer. Most of the time he did that alone, but it had been better when she’d joined him earlier that week.

“Are you, perchance, hoping that the Fair Samantha might change her mind?” Spinelli asked hesitantly. “That returning to the old domicile is still on the table?”

Jason stared at him, irritated. Why did everyone keep asking him about her? No, he wasn’t waiting around for Sam to change her mind. She’d chosen her side the night he’d returned, and in the two weeks since his identity had been established, she’d never come to talk to him—not even about Danny. And Jason didn’t know if he was supposed to go talk to her. Was he supposed to beg the woman who had been his wife for her attention?

And did he even want to at this point? Sam had refused to see who he was, and she didn’t look like she was going to let Jason anywhere near Danny. Why should he wait for her to change her mind? If she came to him now, it would feel forced. He didn’t want to be her obligation. He’d seen what that had done to Elizabeth all those years ago. He’d never put someone else through what Lucky Spencer had done to her.

“No,” Jason said. “And I’m working on the next step, Spinelli. It’s only been three weeks.”

“All right, all right. I—” Spinelli shrugged. “Want to make sure you’re good. So you…you are good, then?”

“Yes. I’m good,” Jason said to him, even if that didn’t entirely feel like an honest answer. He didn’t know what he was, and he probably wasn’t going to figure it out by waiting around.

It was probably time to make something happen.

General Hospital: Administrator’s Office

“Thanks for taking a minute to see me,” Elizabeth said, sitting down in the chair in front of Laura’s desk. “I wanted to update you on what’s going on with…everything.”

“I know that Lucky and Luke have been pulled into it,” Laura said. “Lucky mentioned it the last time he called me.” She sighed. “I’m not wild about the Spencers being dragged into another Cassadine war—I really wanted that to be over after Helena died, but maybe it will never be over.”

“Well, I wish it was better news,” Elizabeth said, “but Andre didn’t just experiment on Jason and Drew.” She paused. “He put the trigger in Jake’s head that led to the Chimera stuff at the Nurse’s Ball last year.”

“Andre—Andre put—” Laura blinked, shook her head. “I’m sorry—can you—can you say that again?”

“He was pulled into the project about a year before Jason and Drew were kidnapped — late 2011,” Elizabeth explained. “Shortly after I nearly drowned in the harbor.” She pressed her lips together. “I ended up with pneumonia and a high fever. So high that I thought I was having hallucinations.”

“Hallucinations,” Laura repeated. Her face grew still. “What did you think you were seeing?”

“The same thing I’d been seeing for months,” Elizabeth said softly. “Jake. But this time it was worse. I held him, I heard him call my name, someone took him away, and I couldn’t get to him. It was driving me crazy—” She closed her eyes. “I think it literally did drive me crazy.”

“Someone took him away?” her former mother-in-law’s mouth tightened. “Oh, God—”

“I was rescued by Ewen Keenan who ended up as a psychiatrist at Shadybrooke. We became friends and later we dated,” Elizabeth continued. “Then I learned that he was helping Jerry Jacks poison the town. He kidnapped me, and Jason killed him saving my life. Ewen also was helping Jerry keep Robin hostage, but Jerry wasn’t working alone.”

“No, he was working with Faison and Helena which means this Ewen was, too. Oh, Elizabeth—”

“The hallucination was real,” Elizabeth said. “He took me to Spoon Island to the lab where Jason eventually ended up, and I saw Jake. Helena made sure of it. Then he dumped me on the beach where Spinelli found me.” She dragged in a shuddering breath. “When I woke up in the hospital, I could still hear his voice, still feel his arms around my neck, and I tried to convince Monica and the doctors—Jason—anyone around me that Jake was alive and we needed to go get him.”

“Oh, baby—” Laura got out of her chair and walked around the desk to sit in the other chair next to Elizabeth. She reached for Elizabeth’s hands. “And they didn’t believe you.”

“No. And I tried to let it go. I couldn’t. I kept seeing Jake, and I checked myself into Shadybrooke, but I couldn’t ever get rid of this idea that I had let my son down. That I had let him die. And now—to know that I saw him—to know that it was true—” Her shoulders trembled but Elizabeth swallowed another gasping breath. “It’s so stupid to get to upset now. Jake is okay. He’s in school, and he’s alive. He’s perfect—”

“Grief is a funny thing,” Laura murmured. “I once lost a son and I thought I would drown in the pain. I nearly let it consume me. I don’t know how I would have made it longer than a year, Elizabeth, much less four. Getting Lucky back didn’t change things. Getting Jake back will never erase the time you lost.”

“I know. I just—I told Carly the same thing a few weeks ago. I lived it, and I always carried the guilt of knowing I could have done more to save my baby—but it feels different now,” Elizabeth said, trying to explain. “Sharper. And I also—” She hesitated. “I also find myself doubting things I thought I knew. People.”

“People,” Laura repeated. She sat back, sighed. “You wonder know if Nikolas knew.”

“I always wondered,” Elizabeth admitted. “But I couldn’t bring myself to ask him. Couldn’t admit that I had so little faith in him, but after what happened with Jake Doe—telling me something that he then nearly killed Hayden to keep secret? Did he know Jake Doe was really Drew? And if he kept Stavros from us for so long, could he have kept Jake a secret? How could Helena have had the run of Spoon Island without Nikolas knowing she was doing something?”

“Helena always had her ways, Elizabeth, but why would Nikolas keep the truth from you?” Laura asked. “Why would he lie about Jake Doe?”

“The timing,” Elizabeth said softly. “It never made sense to me why Helena would simply return Jake after all that time. Because she was dying? She wanted to make amends? I don’t believe it. She sent Jake home for a reason. Maybe she wasn’t expecting to die just then or—”

“Maybe the Chimera was her revenge,” Laura said. “And Nikolas wouldn’t have been a part of that—he couldn’t. He was already—” She took a deep breath. “He was already gone.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Laura. I shouldn’t—”

“I won’t ignore that Nikolas made mistakes at the end,” Laura cut in. “That he wasn’t always innocent and he could be cruel. I’m not even saying you’re wrong to doubt him. I just don’t see how it all folds together.” She made a face, sitting back, “But maybe that’s been the problem all along. We keep looking for this to make some sort of sense and we’re forgetting the number one rule when you deal with the Cassadines.”

“Anything is possible,” Elizabeth said, and Laura nodded.

“And expect it to get worse. Because it always does.”

Metro Court: Restaurant

Michael shifted in his seat and perused the lunch special menu again with a grimace. “Does anything look good?”

“I don’t know,” Nelle said with a shrug, laying her own menu on the table. “It all looks good to me. Maybe I’ll do the shrimp.” She tilted her head. “You seem distracted. We could have canceled lunch—”

“No, I canceled yesterday,” Michael muttered. He tossed the menu on top of Nelle’s and reached for the glass of water. “I’m sorry. I need to tell my parents at some point we’re having dinner with my grandmother next week, and I keep procrastinating.”

“You know Carly is gonna hit the roof no matter when you tell her, so what’s the point of waiting?” Nelle sipped her wine. “What’s her damage anyway? We’re going to dessert anyway, and plenty of people switch back and forth with families. I mean, why is she like this?”

Michael frowned at her. “You know why she’s like this. It’s the same reason she’s always gotten angry when I spend time with the Quartermaines. She’s been like this my whole life. They made threats when I was kid to take me away from her—and don’t start, that doesn’t mean I would have been better off.”

“Uh, I didn’t even say anything,” Nelle said with a roll of her eyes. “You’re over eighteen now. Why the hell is this still a thing?”

“Because it’s always a thing with my mother. She likes everyone where she can see them, and gets very cranky when we do our own thing. Normally, I can just figure a way around her, but lately—” Michael shook his head. “It’s been harder. Since things blew up about my dad last week—I’m trying to give her a break because of Morgan, but—”

“So Carly gets a get out of jail free card forever because of Morgan?” Nelle asked skeptically. “Like, I get why she doesn’t like me. I dug my own grave with your parents. But it feels like she’s been picking a lot of fights lately.”

They paused their conversation while a waiter came to take their orders, then Nelle broke apart a piece of bread. “I’m just trying to understand your mom,” Nelle told him. “So that I can, like, figure out how to make her…well, it’s probably out of the question for her to like me, but it might be nice for you if we could co-exist, you know?”

“Yeah, it wouldn’t suck if that happened,” Michael said dryly.

“So, I guess I’m trying to understand why anyone would put up with someone like your mother as a friend. This Jason guy just came back a hot minute ago, right? And, man, talk about drama! His wife is married to the long-lost brother who assumed his identity and was raising his kids while his other baby mama was shacking up with the serial killer who, like, stalked him.” Nelle’s eyes were wide. “And your mom has issues with him having dinner with his kid and Thanksgiving with his mom?”

Michael sighed. He couldn’t explain his mother. No one could. “Look—”

“I know I don’t have a leg to stand on for the way I acted last year,” Nelle said, “but you know I’m not crazy about this. Your mom is selfish. Like criminally self-absorbed in a way that makes the Kardashians look good.”

Michael stared at his water, wishing it was wine. “That’s not news to me,” he said. “How does that help you get along with my mom?”

“Well, it suggests that maybe I’m insane for thinking I ever could.” She cleared her throat. “But she just stepped off the elevator, so we should stop talking about her because she has ears like a fricking bat.”

“Good point.” He cleared his throat. “So, uh, how’s work? How’s Nina?”

“Annoying. She said Valentin is being a pain these days. Always short with her, never coming home or calling—” Nelle shrugged. “Maybe marriages of convenience really are a bad idea. I asked her for a raise because my building is going co-op, and she looked like at me like I was insane.”

Michael frowned. “Your building is going co-op? You didn’t say anything. When is that happening?”

“January, I think, but I have until February to decide whether I want to buy in or not. My savings aren’t great since I haven’t been at Crimson long.” Nelle shrugged. “I’ll probably start looking somewhere else—”

“What’s this, I hear?” Carly said brightly as she approached their table. “Moving? That’s a shame. How far away?”

Nelle pressed her lips together, looked at Michael, then looked down at her plate. “I’m not moving yet,” she said. “My building is going co-op, and I was telling Michael I need to start looking since I can’t afford a down payment and mortgage right now—”

“Really?” Carly snorted. “More like you were playing the ‘woes me’ card and hoping that Michael would jump in with a loan—” She turned to glare at Michael. “Well? Wasn’t she?”

Michael closed his eyes. “No. She wasn’t. Mom, we’re trying to have lunch here—”

“Well, the only reason she’s not going to do it now,” Carly bit out, “is because I caught her—”

“You know, maybe I’ll just skip lunch and go back to work,” Nelle said, starting to stand up. Michael held out a hand.

“No, don’t. Just wait—'” Michael got to his feet and met his mother’s defiant expression. “You have reasons for the way you feel about Nelle. And we both get it. Nelle doesn’t expect you to like her. Or even respect her.”

“Good, because it will never happen,” Carly retorted.

“But I am a paying customer in this restaurant,” Michael said, patiently, “and I have a right to eat here without being harassed. And that’s what you’re doing, Mom. You came up and started attacking us—”

“I wasn’t attacking you—” Carly narrowed her eyes. “You always take her side—”

“There’s not—” Michael sighed. “There’s no point in pretending there’s ever going to be a good time,” he told Nelle before looking at at his mother. “I’m having Thanksgiving dinner at the Quartermaines this year. Jason and I are both coming to Greystone for dessert. With Nelle, Elizabeth, and her boys.”

Carly hissed. “Over my dead body—”

“I can go home after dinner,” Nelle volunteered. She bit her lip. “I mean, I’ll just skip dessert—”

“Well, Mom?” Michael said, lifting a brow. “How’s that for a compromise?”

“Jason didn’t tell me he was inviting Elizabeth—”

“Because he’s tired of listening to your crap about her. Just like I am. I’m willing to swallow Nelle not being invited,” Michael told his mother, “because she’s earned that, but I am done watching you treat Jason and his family like this—”

Carly’s nostrils flared. “She is not his—”

“We’re leaving,” he said to Nelle, his tone clipped. “Let’s go. We’ll get something at Kelly’s or the taco truck outside. Anywhere but here.”

“Michael, wait—”

But Michael and Nelle were already heading to the elevators, leaving Carly standing by the table.  Alone.

Aurora Media: Drew’s Office

“Hey, man.” Curtis dumped a folder on the table and went to pour himself a cup of coffee. “How’s corporate life?”

“Interesting,” Drew admitted. “More than I thought it would be, but I guess maybe part of me does kind of remember my life before. Or—” He hesitated. “You know it’s easier now that I don’t have to pretend I liked numbers and coffee.”

“I hear that.” Curtis sipped the coffee. “But you doing okay, otherwise? It’s been a few weeks now.”

Drew looked down into his own coffee, thinking over the question. “I’m doing the best I can,” he said finally. “The memories—it’s messing me up,” he admitted. “I wake up, I tell myself I’m Drew Cain, but I don’t always feel that way. I don’t feel like Jason Morgan either.” He leaned against his desk. “Mostly, I’m just putting one foot in front the other.”

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Curtis went over to the folder, flipped it open. “I’ve been looking into how you ended up in the group home, but the state is being a bitch about the records. I got a couple of things working behind the scenes, but I also haven’t had a lot of luck with the people who were around back then.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah, I didn’t call Monica because I figure she’s not gonna wanna rehash all of that, and her story is pretty much on the record, right? When this twin stuff came out back when you thought it was Franco, she said they never knew about a twin.”

“Yeah, that’s kind of how it shook out. At least, that’s the memory of it. What about Betsy Frank or Heather?”

“Can’t find Betsy,” Curtis replied. “Franco moved her a couple of weeks ago after his art show. I thought tracking her down might rile him up, and I know some things went down when all this blew up. I don’t know why Elizabeth broke up with him, but I’m guessing it means Franco isn’t gonna tell us anything without a fight.”

“No, probably not.” Drew hesitated. “Leave Betsy out of it for now. She wouldn’t tell us the truth anyway.”

“Neither would Heather Webber—even if I could get in to see her,” Curtis added. “But it’s buttoned up tight. Family only. We could try to get Elizabeth’s brother up here—”

“Oh, man, I’m not asking Steven to deal with this—he doesn’t know even know me. And I know he hates his mother.” Drew winced. “Who’s left?”

“I talked to Scott Baldwin, and he shut me down which tells me there’s something there. But it also might be shame or guilt. Case report says Susan was blackmailing the Quartermaines over Lila’s first marriage, and the first husband killed her to protect Lila. Susan only does that because Scott embezzled from Jason’s trust fund.”

“What did he say when you told him about the birth certifiate? That Susan must have known about me?”

“Never got that far. But I’m still saying there’s no way Susan has her hand on a second million dollar trust fund and waits to play the card.” Curtis sighed. “I’m sorry, man. But unless one of these people gives a little, I’m not sure we’re gonna know how much Susan knew and when she knew it.”

“Yeah, well, it’s an old case, and most of the people are dead or crazy.” Drew paused. “I just wish I knew how Victor knew there were two of us. He’s the only one who seemed to know, but there’s no way he just stumbled on this information. Why was he looking?”

“I’ll keep digging, but I can’t make any promises.”

Kelly’s: Diner

“Yeah, but are you even going to like hospital admin?” Molly asked Kristina. “Maybe you should have gone to law school or something. This sounds boring.”

“I could use boring.” Kristina shrugged, looked at Sam. “What do you think? You agree that Laura Spencer was insane for offering me this internship in January?”

“I worked in hospital administration for a very long three weeks,” Sam said. “It was literally the most boring job I ever had.” She furrowed her brow. “Almost as boring as the two weeks I spent as a clerk at the PCPD.”

“Oh, I remember that,” Kristina said. “That was right before you went to the Metro Court and started the hostage crisis.”

Sam scowled. “I didn’t—”

“That’s not fair,” Molly said. “How was Sam supposed to know that by pressing the silent alarm a bunch of people would die?” She nodded at Sam, encouragingly. “I got you.”

“That’s not much of a defense,” Sam muttered, wiggling in her chair. “And most people think I helped save everybody,” she told her sister. “Remember? I got that television show—”

“I thought Amelia gave you the show because she wanted revenge on you?” Kristinsa said, fluttering her lashes.

“And I thought we weren’t going to fight today,” Sam retorted. In fact, Kristina had promised they wouldn’t fight—it was the only way Sam had agreed to come to lunch with them. Kristina was probably mad because Sam hadn’t found the time to tell Molly yet about the affair—

Well, how exactly did a person start that conversation anyway?

“Uh, how are we fighting? I’m just stating facts.” Kristina reached for her milkshake. “There’s a reason Everyday Heroes didn’t get a second season. And besides, everyone knows if you hadn’t pulled the silent alarm, the robbers would have just left. When I worked at the bank—”

“You didn’t even finish the training,” Molly cut in, but Kristina ignored her.

“They specifically told us not to mess with a robbery. Like — things are not worth your life. So take the crap and go.”

“And why exactly is this coming up right now?” Sam asked. “Have you been holding this whole grudge against me for the hostage crisis the whole time? You were barely old enough to remember it—”

“Uh, not true. It was only ten years ago, and I remember things that happen when I was twelve. Actually, the hotel blew up and Mr. Craig got away, plus like three people died, so like, did anyone really save the day?”

“What exactly crawled up your ass and died today?” Molly asked Kristina. “Because now this does sounds like fighting.”

“I’m just wondering if maybe we let our sister get away with too much crap, and it’s our job to call her out,” Kristina said. “I mean, it’s not like you’ll fix things yourself. You never do. Even when you promise.”

Molly blinked, look back and forth between her sisters. “What is she talking about?” she asked Sam.

“Nothing.” Sam took a deep breath. “Nothing. Krissy—” She shook her head. “Never mind. Can we please change the subject?”

Kristina opened her mouth, but was distracted when the door to Kelly’s opened and Cameron walked past. “Hey, Cam.”

“Hey.” Cam stopped by their table, a bit awkwardly, avoiding Sam’s eyes. “What’s up?”

“Nothing, just having dinner with my sisters.” Kristina paused. “I heard you and your brothers are coming over to my dad’s for dessert next week. I’m doing dinner with my mom, but I’ll be at Dad’s later.”

“Yeah, we’re at the Qs this year,” Cameron said. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his jacket. “I dunno if we’re all going to Greystone. Jason might just take Jake—”

“No, Sonny’s usually cool about that stuff,” Molly said with a shake of her head. “He invited me and TJ to come with Krissy, but we have to make an appearance at the commissioner’s this year.”

“Yeah, you know you’re always welcome.” Kristina looked at Sam. “Are you and Drew coming to our place or the Qs?”

Sam stared at her sister. “No,” she said, through clenched teeth. “No, we’re going to your house. For dessert, too. You know that.”

“Oh, well—”

“Hey—” Trina came out of the kitchen with a large bag. “I got your order,” she said, handing it to Cameron. “Uh, which other insane person at your house is getting pastrami on rye? Because that is nasty. I saw there are two orders of it—”

“It’s for—” Cameron paused, then without thinking, looked briefly at Sam before focusing on Trina again.  “It’s for Jason,” he said, finally. “He eats it, too. I, uh, gotta go. Mom’s in the car and she’s trying to keep Aiden from murdering Jake—”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Cameron left the diner and Trina went back into the kitchen while Sam stared down at her plate.

“It’s nice,” Kristina said, “that Jason has Elizabeth and her boys to support him, you know? It keeps Franco out of their lives, and I remember Dad saying it was nice how much time Jason was getting to spend with Jake.”

“You,” Molly said, “are as subtle as a trainwreck.” She looked away from Kristina to Sam, rolling her eyes. “Sam, you know it doesn’t mean anything. He’s just having dinner—”

“I am married to Drew,” Sam said, even as her stomach rolled. Why had it stung to learn that Jason would be at the Webber house for dinner or that Jason was bringing Elizabeth and the boys over for dessert — like they were a family?

She had her family. She’d made her choice.

“Yeah, but—”

“I told you,” Kristina said, smugly. “If you pick Drew now, you better be sure. Because, uh, it definitely looks like Jason isn’t waiting around.”

“Krissy—” Molly began.

“And if you were wondering,” Kristina continued as Sam narrowed her eyes, “how long I was going to wait to tell her—”

Kristina—”

Molly frowned. “Tell me what?”

“Should you tell her or should she find out the way I did? On YouTube?”

“YouTube?” Molly scowled. “What is going on?”

Kristina got to her feet, swung her coat on. “Molly, whatever you do, don’t search Sam’s name and look for her testimony from the Alcazar murder trial.”

Molly squinted as Kristina sauntered out of the diner, then looked at Sam. “Sam?”

Sam closed her eyes, took a deep breath. “I can explain.”

Aurora Media: Reception

Drew stepped out of his office and closed the door, planning to head home finally when he turned to see Spinelli stepping into the empty office. The two of them stared at one another for a long moment before Spinelli spoke.

“Uh, hey. I was hoping you might have a minute, but—”

“No, you’re—” Drew took a second to gather his thoughts. “It’s fine. I…heard you were back in town. I’m not surprised.”

“I would have come to see you sooner,” Spinelli said, wrinkling his nose, “but I didn’t know what to say. I still don’t. Because I like you. And this sucks. But I also—”

“Never really felt the connection we were supposed to have,” Drew finished. “Yeah, I guess now that we all know the truth, we can admit that—”

“Actually, I was gonna say that I feel weird because I did feel connected to you. But maybe it’s because you’re a good guy. Like your brother. Most people don’t get that about Jason, y’know?” He shrugged. “But I always did. So I felt guilty for not seeing it, for being so shocked—then I came back and saw him—” Spinelli hesitated. “You’re a good guy, Drew. I want to help you both make sure that who ever did this to you pays.”

“I know you’re helping Jason with the clinic—”

“But I have connections with the WSB,” Spinelli interrupted. “Anna and Robert are okay, but they don’t run the show. I know enough to say I don’t trust the WSB. And neither should you.”