This entry is part 14 of 18 in the series Flash Fiction: Signs of Life

Written in 63 minutes. No spellcheck or reread.


Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“I really think you should have your own lawyer look this over,” Alexis said with a grimace. She set the prenuptial agreement in front of Elizabeth, then looked at Jason. “I can have someone here in an hour—”

“You’ve spent the last day trying to convince me to take half of Jason’s assets,” Elizabeth muttered. She grabbed a pen and started scribbling her initials wherever Alexis had tagged the paperwork. “How is my own attorney going to do better?”

Alexis pursed her lips. “I suppose that’s true, but still—”

“If I didn’t trust you or Jason, then I wouldn’t be doing this at all.” Elizabeth finished with by signing her name on the last page, then handing the pen to Jason. “You got what you wanted. I’m stuck with half your income while we’re married.”

“Stuck with,” Alexis repeated, as if that phrase didn’t suggest Elizabeth would end up with a fat bank account at the end of it.

“Don’t forget, I get half your tips,” Jason said with a half smile. He initialed the paperwork and signed it. “Make sure you keep track.”

“Oh, don’t worry.”

Jason handed Alexis the contract. “Do we need to sign anything else?”

“Not before the ceremony, but there will be a few things after,” Alexis told them. “Name change, financials to put you on the accounts—Don’t make that face. We agreed,” she told Elizabeth. “But it can wait.” She paused. “There’s a chance the DA will subpoena the paperwork,” she admitted. “To prove that Elizabeth was paid for testimony.”

“Wait—”

“The fact that Elizabeth is taking very little,” Alexis continued, “and that there’s not a massive settlement for dissolution is going to work in our factor. I thought it over,” she added. “Elizabeth might have been refusing for good reasons, but no DA is ever going to think you’re being paid off.”

“Well, that’s good news, right?” Elizabeth asked Jason who was frowning at his lawyer.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Now.” Alexis arched a brow. “You had better go ahead and head over to Sonny’s. He wanted to go to the church and talk over security with Father Coates.” When Jason’s scowl deepened, she said, “I’ll get Elizabeth there in time. We have an hour.”

“I need to call Emily,” Elizabeth reminded him. “I made sure to wait until she was at orientation so it’ll be a message, but if you want to help explain this to her—”

“I’m going,” Jason said, with a shake of his head. “She’s just going to yell at us both for doing it without her.” He kissed Elizabeth’s cheek, then left the penthouse.

Her cheeks flaming, Elizabeth turned to Alexis. “Um, thanks. For putting a spin on this prenup thing that makes it look like it works for us. He’s still a little mad, I think.”

“It will help us in the long run,” Alexis assured her. “I was thinking like your attorney yesterday, but if the point of all of this is to make the marriage look real — well, we have some things on our side.” She filed the paperwork in her bag. “I have to run over to Sonny’s and grab a few things, so you leave your message and I’ll be right back.”

The lawyer left before Elizabeth could ask what Alexis needed to grab or why she was coming back. Telling herself that she’d learn the truth soon enough, she dismissed it and turned to the phone.

Time to tell her best friend she was about to be her sister-in-law for legal reasons. Hallmark should really make cards for this.

Quartermaine Mansion: Family Room

Carly sipped her tea and flipped through the Port Charles Sun, enjoying the tabloid and ignoring the Quartermaine family around her. She hated these morning breakfasts where everyone pretended they were one happy family.

Well, maybe they were but they certainly didn’t include Carly in that family. If it wasn’t for their money—

She barely registered Edward coming in, rubbing his hands together with a grin. He went over to the table pour himself a cup of coffee.

“Why are you smiling like that?” Alan asked suspiciously. “Did you take candy from a small baby or something?”

“Edward,” Lila began, her eyes squinting. “Have you done something?”

“I am hurt, my dear,” Edward said, his eyes continuing to twinkle. “I come bearing good news to this family and all I get is scorn.” He sniffed. “Maybe I’ll keep my secrets to myself.”

“This never bodes well,” AJ muttered, turning away from feeding Michael to focus on the rest of the family. “Grandfather—”

“What secrets?” Monica demanded. “Edward, so help me God—”

“All right, all right. You’ve pulled it out of me.” Edward set down his cup of coffee and his grin deepened. “I had a call from City Hall this morning. Some paperwork was filed yesterday that is going to make this family very happy, indeed.”

“Will you stop being cryptic?” Ned retorted. “What—”

“Jason is getting married. Today.”

The room exploded in noise, but Carly felt it pass over her like a wave. Everything inside her froze, her fingers tightening around the handle of her tea cup.

Jason was getting married.

Today.

God damn it.

“Did you know about this?” AJ hissed to her, jerking her out of her shock. “You didn’t go get a quickie divorce or anything—”

“No, of course not!” Carly’s eyes widened. “I had no idea.” And if she could get out of this marriage with a goddamn Dominican divorce, she would. Stupid prenuptial agreements and custody agreements.

“Who could Jason be marrying?” Ned said, furrowing his brow as the conversation filtered back in for Carly. “The only gossip I’ve heard is—” He blinked. “Wait.”

“I like Elizabeth Webber nearly as much as Robin Scorpio,” Edward declared. “A good girl from a well-established family. She’s very sweet.”

“And she and Emily are already like sisters,” Monica said, her eyes lighting up. “Oh, that’s wonderful.”

“Isn’t she awfully young?” Alan said, with some skepticism.

“Eighteen,” Edward offered with a shrug. “No younger than my Lila was when she first married.” No one in the room reminded Edward that his Lila had been eighteen when she’d married her first husband, Crane Tolliver, who had ended up not signing the divorce papers leading Lila to live in accidental bigamy for most of her life.

“True, but—” Alan sighed. “Well, I would have preferred Robin, but you’re right. Elizabeth is a lovely young woman. He could have done worse.”

Carly bristled when some eyes fell on her. Absolute jackasses. They could judge her all they wanted —

She was going to stop this stupid wedding from happening. No way Jason was going to try to call her bluff and make her look like a crazy woman.

He was going to pay for this.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“So, Emily, I wish you were here,” Elizabeth said, “but I promise you, when you come home for Spring Break, we’ll have a party or whatever you want. I love you. Please don’t be mad. Jason and I—” She closed her eyes. “We just couldn’t wait. And hey, like you said, at least it’s not Carly.”

She set the phone back on the receiver, then turned as Alexis bustled in, a few dark garment bags over one arm. “What’s that?” Elizabeth asked.

“Sonny wanted you to have a few choices,” Alexis said as she set the bags on the sofa. “It’s not like you planned to get married, so he just didn’t want you to have to settle for something nice in your closet.”

She had been planning just to grab one of the dresses she’d carted over when she’d packed up her studio, but — “Wait—”

“We couldn’t go shopping,” Alexis told her, “because then someone might have known and we’d lose the element of surprise—” She paused. “I’m sorry. I know this happening really fast, but—”

“But if we want this to look real—” Elizabeth touched one of the zippers. “The bride should look like a bride.”

“Are you all right?” Alexis asked, tipping her head to the side. “You can stop—”

“No, no—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “It’s just—you know, I wasn’t like all the little girls who grew up dreaming about their wedding day. I mean, I never even thought I’d get married.” Never thought anyone would stop looking at Sarah long enough to want Elizabeth.  “But then I had dreams last year. After Lucky died. Of what our life would have been.”

She took a deep breath. “I didn’t know that I had an idea of what my wedding day would look like until then, and it always started with the perfect dress. And getting ready with Emily and maybe my grandmother.”

Elizabeth met Alexis’s compassionate gaze. “It’s stupid. The only reason this all feels weird is that Jason and I aren’t just friends, you know? We’re…I guess we’re dating. And now we’re getting married. And we’ll still be dating, only there will be all this legal stuff in the background—it’s just—it’s a lot. Every time I think I have a handle on it what I’m doing, it feels like I get reminded all over again.”

“You don’t have to use a single one of these dresses,” Alexis told her. “If you want to save the idea of a wedding dress for the day when you mean the vows—”

“But that’s the problem, isn’t it?” Elizabeth slowly drew down on the zipper to pull out one of the dresses. “When Jason and I repeat those vows later, I think we’re both going to mean some of them. That’s what makes it harder, I think. Because a part of this is real—just not the most important part.”

“The forever part.”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth set the first dress aside to unzip the next garment bag. “What if it could have been real in a year or two but we’re ruining it because we’re doing this now?”

“I suppose you have to ask yourself if it what you’re doing is worth the risk,” Alexis said. “You can still say no.”

“It just leaves Carly with all the power,” Elizabeth murmured. “She’ll find a way to make Jason’s life a living hell, and the people around him. I can help him stop her.” She returned the dresses to the garment bags. “I should try them on first. Will you—” She bit her lip. “Will you help me?”

“Of course,” Alexis promised. “Whatever you need.”

St. Timothy’s Church: Anteroom

Jason felt like he was coming out of his skin, avoiding Sonny as he paced the small room outside of the chapel.

The security was just as it should be, and he and Sonny were dressed in suits. There was a church with a priest. Everything was going according to plan. In maybe a half hour, Jason would be married. To Elizabeth.

To protect them all from Carly.

Every time Jason thought he had a handle on what was going to happen — something threw him off. Alexis telling them that the prenuptial agreement would help them in the PCPD investigated the marriage, then Elizabeth reminding him that Emily still had to be told—would his sister be angry at them? Would she understand? Would Elizabeth want her to know the truth?

Then he’d gone to Sonny’s where his partner had shoved him into a new tuxedo that reminded him, uncomfortably, of the one he’d worn the last time he’d dressed for a wedding.

The day Sonny had jilted Brenda and left Jason to do the dirty work. That wedding had ended in disaster—

Jason rolled his shoulders. He was fine. This was all fine. Elizabeth was right. This protected them all without sacrificing either of their freedoms or life in Port Charles.

“Maybe you should go inside,” Sonny suggested. He checked her watch. “Alexis and Elizabeth will be here any minute, and you don’t want to see her before the ceremony—”

“I do,” Jason insisted. He wanted just one more chance to make sure she was okay with this—that she wasn’t just doing this to protect him. It didn’t matter that she’d pushed him for this option — he wanted her to be doing this because she was comfortable with it.

“Jason—”

“Don’t—”

The door to anteroom opened then, and some snowflakes swirled in along with the winter breeze. Alexis grimaced as she pushed open the door more firmly, ushering Elizabeth inside.

Elizabeth was wearing a long white coat, her hair tucked up underneath a white knit hat, some snow flakes clinging to the curls that escaped it. Their eyes met and he couldn’t look away for a long moment.

“Sorry if we’re a little late,” Alexis said, unbuttoning her coat. “Thanks,” she said, as Sonny helped her out of it. “Traffic was getting a little dicey. It’s snowing harder than we thought it would.”

“It’s fine,” Sonny said. He hung up Alexis’s coat. He jabbed Jason in the ribs. “We should go inside so Elizabeth can take off her coat.”

“It’s no big deal.” Elizabeth reached for the top button.

“It is,” Sonny insisted. “We’re doing everything by the book. In fact—” He looked at Jason. “Why don’t you give her the flowers, and we’ll go tell Father Coates we’re just about ready?”

“Flowers?” Elizabeth said with a blink of her eyes. “Oh, but—”

Jason went over to the bouquet that he and Sonny had picked up on the way over. “I hope it’s okay,” he said as he held it out to her. “I wasn’t sure what to get, but—”

He’d remembered her talking about the white roses Lucky had given her the year before, and how sad roses made her feel, so he’d told the florist anything but roses. He wasn’t entirely sure what kind of flowers were included—but he knew they weren’t roses.

“I like tulips,” Elizabeth assured him, breathing in the scent of the pink, yellow, and red tulips. “Thanks.” She bit her lip, looking down at the bouquet for a long moment, before glancing at Alexis.

“All right, that’s settled. We’ll get you out of the coat and hat, and we’ll get this done.” Alexis eyed Sonny who nodded.

Sonny clapped a hand on Jason’s shoulder. “Let’s go.”

“Yeah, I—” Jason looked at Elizabeth one more time, but she was smiling now, handing the bouquet to Alexis for safekeeping. She drew the hat from her head, carefully letting the rest of her hair cascade down her neck. “Yeah, let’s go,” he told Sonny.

If either of them had any second thoughts, the chance had passed to say anything.

St. Timothy’s: Courtyard

Carly cursed as she hurried up to the front doors of the church. She hadn’t been able to do much more than learn that the church was closed between eleven and twelve that day for a private ceremony, and then it had been impossible to get out of the house—

If she missed her chance to stop all of this—

“Excuse me,” a guard stopped her just as she approached front door. “You can’t go in there.”

Carly started to growl at him, but then recognized the guard as someone she’d known during the short time she’d lived with Jason. “Dougie. It’s nice to see a familiar face.”

“Mrs. Quartermaine—”

“I’m not here to make trouble,” Carly said. She spread her hands out. “You can frisk me and everything. I’m just here to give my good wishes to the groom.”

Dougie glanced at his partner who shrugged, then he looked back at Carly. “You’re just going to attend the wedding?” he asked skeptically.

“Of course. I’m a married woman, Dougie. What trouble can I cause now?”

He still looked skeptical, but he stepped back. He was there to guard against threats, not tiny blonde women.

Men, she snorted as she continued up the walk. Always underestimating women.

She shoved inside the anteroom, then strode to the chapel doors—throwing them open just as Father Coates completed the ceremony—

Giving Carly a front row seat to Jason and Elizabeth’s first kiss as husband and wife.

August 24, 2021

Mad World
http://madworld.crimsonglass.org

Break Me Down

Book One: Break Me Down (2018)
Set in June 2003. Elizabeth Webber and Jason Morgan walked away from each other in the fall of 2002 and have built new lives for themselves. Elizabeth is recently married to Sonny Corinthos’ half-brother, Ric Lansing, while Jason is on the brink of marrying Sonny’s sister, Courtney Matthews. To everyone around them, it looks as though their brief romance is a relic of the past.

Then Carly Corinthos goes missing on the eve of Jason’s wedding, and everyone knows that Ric Lansing is behind her kidnapping. How did he do it and where is he hiding Carly? Jason reluctantly allows Elizabeth to help him in his search as Sonny fends off the PCPD who don’t seem that concerned with Carly. Can they find Carly before Ric can carry out his revenge? Or before it costs one of them their life?

All of Me

Book Two: All of Me (2019)
Set July 2003. Jason and Elizabeth are trying to put the last year behind them and look towards the future. As Elizabeth slowly recovers physically and emotionally from her marriage to Ric, she and Jason begin to build a life together.

A serial rapist is stalking Port Charles, leaving his young victims near park fountains in a violent echo of Elizabeth’s own rape years earlier. Elizabeth believes her attacker is safely locked away, but Jason is keeping a secret that could destroy her hard-won security.

Then, the rapist strikes close to home — a daughter of one of the leading families in Port Charles. Is Elizabeth’s rapist still out there? Can the PCPD find him before he strikes again?

This Is Me

Book Three: This Is Me (2020)
Set in November 2003. The park rapist has been arrested, but he thinks he has a get out of jail free card — pointing to the recent corruption scandals at the PCPD to argue he’s been framed.

To make sure he goes away and his victims get justice, Scott Baldwin and Marcus Taggert have one more favor to ask of Elizabeth Webber — testify in a federal hearing to keep the department out of trouble — and to prevent her boyfriend, Jason Morgan, from testifying about a somewhat shady trip made to coerce the truth out of Tom Baker.

She won’t be alone — Dante Falconieri has a tape of his cousin confessing — but the contents of that tape compounds the misery for Elizabeth as well as for grieving parents Ned Ashton and Lois Cerullo. Taking the stand against his family will lead Dante lead down a path from which there is no return and might cost him everything.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Ric Lansing has disappeared without a trace, bringing back memories of last summer for Elizabeth and Carly Corinthos. Carly reluctantly returns home to husband, Sonny, but her nightmare is only just beginning.

Liberty

Book Four: Liberty (Coming 2021)
Set in February 2004. The city of Port Charles weathered many scandals and tragedies in 2003 — from the nearly tragic kidnapping of Carly Corinthos and attempted murder of Elizabeth Webber to the serial rapist that stalked the city for months, leaving victims broken and shattered in his wake. The PCPD, having sworn to protect the city, faltered when they learned one of their own was the villain all along.

A few months later, the city tries to recover but they should be careful what they wish for. Ric Lansing still haunts the dreams and memories of the people he damaged — has he really left Port Charles behind for good?

Dante Falconieri breaks under the weight of family secrets and his own weaknesses. Kelsey Joyce wants to find out who murdered her father—no matter what the cost. Carly Corinthos just wants to move on with her life and keep her family safe. And Elizabeth Morgan wants to forget that Ric Lansing ever existed as she awaits the birth of her son.

It’s time close the book on this mad, mad, mad world.

For the Broken Girl
http://brokengirl.crimsonglass.org

Image

Book 1: Reflections of You (2020)

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Book 2: Out of the Dark (2022)

Fool Me Twice
http://fmt.crimsonglass.org

Image

Book 1: Ricochet (2021)

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Book 2: Ashes to Ashes (2022)

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Book 3: Strike to Kill (2023)

Please note: This is a very short survey. Four questions. The first three are about flashbacks, and the last one is a general question about what you want from the rest of the trilogy. Thanks in advance to anyone to answers!

This entry is part 13 of 18 in the series Flash Fiction: Signs of Life

Written in 63 minutes. Sorry, went a bit over.


Harborview Towers: Hallway

The moment the elevator had arrived at the top floor, Elizabeth told Jason she wanted to talk to Alexis alone about the prenuptial agreement. He opened his mouth to argue, but Elizabeth just lifted her chin.

“I’m the one that has to sign it,” she said, repeating what she’d said at the registrar’s office, “so wouldn’t it be better if we started with what I wanted it to say?”

“I think Jason’s just worried you won’t even take gas money,” Sonny said dryly as Jason bristled.

“Well, I won’t. I don’t have a car. I take the bus.” She folded her arms. “So if you want to negotiate bus fare—”

“Elizabeth—”

“I’ll see what we can come up with before tomorrow,” Alexis told Sonny and Jason. “My job is to protect your interests, so I’ll do that.”

“I don’t care—” Jason began again but Elizabeth turned and disappeared into the penthouse, ending the conversation. “Alexis—”

“This is not the worst problem in the world,” his lawyer told him. “I’ll talk her into something you can live with. Trust me. You and Sonny should make sure you have everything for tomorrow and I’ll let you know when we’re done.”

Jason grimaced as Alexis followed Elizabeth, leaving him alone with Sonny. This was all happening too fast, and he was starting to think it was a massive mistake.

“Jason—”

“Let’s just get whatever we have to do done,” Jason muttered, brushing past him and Max to go into Sonny’s place.  Sonny sighed and followed.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“You know he’s not going to make you take millions of dollars,” Alexis said.

Elizabeth turned to find the other woman stripping off her coat and setting it over the back of the chair. “That’s not—”

“Considering this was accidentally my idea,” Alexis cut in, “let me first apologize for putting this in Jason’s head. If you’re not comfortable with this, I can find you a criminal attorney—”

“I talked Jason into it,” Elizabeth said, shaking her head. “He was ready to leave town forever, and I just—all his ways of solving this doesn’t stop Carly from destroying everything. She’s threatening me and Bobbie, too. If he left—”

“She’d know he did it to protect you. I get it. All right, so you’re on board with the reasons.” Alexis tipped her head. “If you and Jason were planning this for other, happier reasons, can I tell you what I would probably start negotiations at?”

“I don’t want—”

“Happier reasons might include a future family, and Jason’s estate is complicated. There are layers,” she continued. “So, yeah, I get it. You’re not doing this for the money. But you are doing this to protect him.”

Elizabeth sighed and perched on the arm of the sofa. “Yes. I want to protect Bobbie, too. And myself. But I don’t want him to get hurt by Carly again.”

“A marriage damages Carly’s credibility and it complicates any attempt to leverage you against Jason or vice versa,” Alexis said, “but it’s not foolproof. If the DA or the PCPD can prove you’re doing this to circumvent the law—” She paused. “This needs to look as real as it can.”

Elizabeth pursed her lips. “What does real mean?”

“Sonny and I discussed this. He doesn’t want Jason to leave any more than you do, so he’s pulling strings with Father Coates at St. Timothy’s.”

“Wait—” Her eyes widened. “Sonny’s making it so we can get married?”

“At the church Jason attends and where Michael was baptized. There will be witnesses. Pictures. But that’s the ceremony. It’s afterwards that we need to worry about. You getting married will make everyone suspicious. There might be search warrants for the studio, for here at the penthouse. They will assume you have something to hide.”

“We do, but there’s no physical evidence.” Elizabeth chewed on her bottom lip as the gravity of what Alexis was saying sank in. It would be important that everyone outside these walls saw them as being in a real and committed, if hasty marriage. People already thought she was a gold digger—that wasn’t going to change after tomorrow. It would only be worse. And if Jason’s enemies, the men who may or may not have put a bomb in her studio only a few days ago—if they thought this was a legal fiction—

“Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth bit her lip. “Okay. If this was happening for other reasons, how would you write this prenup?”

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Jason felt like he was crawling out of skin as he paced the room, waiting for Alexis to tell him she’d finished talking to Elizabeth.

“Alexis will get it sorted, Jase. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, and she’ll talk some sense—”

Jason whipped his head around to glare at Sonny who stopped talking. “Elizabeth isn’t an idiot. Don’t talk about her that way.”

“No, I know.” Sonny put up his hands in surrender. “I’m sorry. It was a poor choice of words. She’s just very proud, and she doesn’t want you to think she’s using you. If this were happening for other reasons, you’d probably still be fighting with her to take a nickel.”

“Money doesn’t matter to me,” Jason said, rolling his shoulders. “I’ve lived without it, so I don’t need it. But it’s there and it’s just—” Collecting dust in his accounts. He barely touched it most of the time, and the last time he’d talked to Benny about his share of the warehouses, the accountant had looked appalled by the lack of investments.

“When I say Alexis will convince her, I mean that she’ll remind Elizabeth that prenuptial agreements might start as private documents, but leaks happen. And she’ll need to accept more than bus fare.”

Jason scrubbed his hands over his face. “This is a mistake,” he muttered. “There should be another way out of this.”

“If there was, we’d be taking it, Jason. Elizabeth was right to remind us that Carly doesn’t go away because you do. She absolutely would still throw Elizabeth under the bus to punish her, and she’d drag Bobbie with her. If you sent Elizabeth away, Carly would still be a factor for you. Still using Michael against—”

“I don’t want to talk—”

“We’re going to talk about it because it’s business,” Sonny said flatly. “You don’t want to talk about December, I get it. I haven’t said a damn word about it—”

“You had no right—”

“Maybe not, but it’s done. You don’t trust me anymore, I can live with that. But what I did—what Carly and I did—it’s the reason you were dying out in the middle of nowhere. Elizabeth and Bobbie wouldn’t be at risk if I’d been a better man.”

Jason exhaled slowly, looked away from Sonny. “There’s no point in talking about this—”

“There is. Because in less than twenty-four hours, you’re supposed to be marrying that girl across the hall, and you need it get it out of your head that you’re making a mistake. She’ll see it, and she’ll think the worst.”

Jason blinked at Sonny, unsure where the other man was going with this. “The worst?”

“It would be one thing if you and Elizabeth were doing this before things had changed between you. You’re not strangers getting married. I get it—you hate that it’s happening. You wish there was another way. But this is the only way we can clear everyone, stop Carly, and protect Elizabeth from Sorel. Do you see anything that does all three things and keeps you in town?”

Jason grimaced. “No.”

“That—that right there—” Sonny stabbed a finger at him. “You make that face one more time, I’m gonna deck you. Elizabeth Webber is making a massive sacrifice to get you out of trouble and to keep you in town. To keep you with her. You know that’s why she’s doing it, don’t you?”

“I—” Jason paused. “But—”

“And it’s why you’re doing it. This is not a mistake. It’s awkward, it’s frustrating, but none of this is a mistake, Jason. Elizabeth is an adult capable of making her own choices and mistakes. You keep making that damn face, she’s gonna think you want to be anywhere else but with her.”

Jason fell silent. There were so many things that he didn’t always see right away when it came to personal relationships, he realized. He could read people in business all day long, but when it came to the women in his life that he’d cared for, they were often a baffling mystery. But Elizabeth had been upset when he’d told her was leaving—she’d insisted on finding another way out. He’d thought it was because Carly would still be a threat—but had she been as upset as he’d been at the thought of never seeing each other again?

“We both know it’s not true,” Sonny continued, his tone more gentle now. “But she’s been through a lot, and she’s taking on the big leagues now. She needs your support, not your doubts. Trust Alexis to convince her to let us both protect her, and do whatever you can to make this work. There’s no going back after tomorrow.”

There was a knock at the door, cutting off whatever Jason would have said next. Max opened the door, and Alexis came in.

“Well?” Sonny asked. He poured himself a bourbon. “How did negotiations go?”

“Not as well as you’d like,” Alexis told Jason, “but I’m happy. She’s agreed to letting you buy her a car, knowing you might assign her a driver at any point. She also agreed to a bank account with whatever you want to put in there, except she said she won’t use it unless she doesn’t have any money of her own.” She pursed her lips. “She offered a payment plan for the car and the account after dissolution, but I talked her out of it.”

“Christ,” Sonny muttered, rubbing his temple. “She probably wanted a used car.”

“I talked her out of that, too. I reminded her you’d need to upgrade it for security.” Alexis paused. “But she wouldn’t budget on dissolution, Jason. You both walk out with what you came with.”

“What about property acquired during the marriage?” Sonny asked. “You can buy her a house and then make her keep it,” he suggested to Jason. “Property during—” He saw Alexis shake her head. “Oh, man.”

“She was ready for it. All property purchased with Jason’s assets stays with him.” Alexis sighed. She raised a brow at Jason. “Do you want to counter?”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Elizabeth was perusing a takeout menu, considering the twenty dollars in her account and wondering if she was being too stubborn when Jason came back from Sonny’s. She offered him a weak smile. “Hey.”

“Hey.” He reached for Elizabeth’s jacket, stripped off his own, then hung them both up in the closet. Then he sat next to her on the sofa, took the menu from her, and set it on the coffee table.”

“You’re mad,” Elizabeth said, her stomach twisting. “About Alexis—”

“No, not—” Jason paused. “Thank you.”

She frowned, then narrowed her eyes, looking for the catch. “For what?”

“Money doesn’t matter to me. I like having it,” he admitted. “After I left the Quartermaines, I didn’t have any. It wasn’t fun, but I didn’t need much. I just need a place to live and food to eat. I live here because it’s better for business, but I was happy in the boxcar, too.”

Elizabeth shifted on the sofa to face him, tucking a leg underneath her body. “I can take care of myself. I make good tips—”

“I know, but—” He paused. “Thank you,” he repeated, “for doing this. I know it might seem like I was okay with leaving, but I didn’t want to. I told you that before, but I wanted to make sure you knew that I meant it. I didn’t—” He paused. “Yeah, Alexis suggested this, but I still thought it was asking too much of you, but I should have given you all the options before I made a decision on my own. I’m sorry.”

“Oh.” A weight slid from her shoulders, and she smiled. “I can do this. It’s a lot, but—”

“It is, but it won’t be that bad if we talk to each other. That’s what we do best, right?” he asked her softly. “We listen to each other.”

“Yeah.” Feeling a bit brave, she slid closer to him and was rewarded when he tucked her against him. It was so warm and soft and lovely to be cuddled up together on the sofa. “I guess you’re about to do some talking and I have to do some listening.”

“Yeah.” He touched the edge of a curl, pulling it down and letting it pop back up. “I know the paperwork is a lot, and I wasn’t expecting Alexis to bring it up, so I’m sorry for that, too.”

“It’s okay. She explained it—”

“Still. Thank you for agreeing to let me buy you a car,” he continued. “You can pick it out, it’ll be in your name, but it would make me feel better if you had a safe way to get to school and work.”

“I can do still do both of those?” Elizabeth asked hesitantly. “I was worried—”

“Yeah. I already took care of Kelly’s,” Jason told her, “or Sonny did when you started taking care of me and going back and forth. We added extra security after I left the studio. You have a guard — I’ll get Francis registered to audit your classes, and I’ll make sure he leaves the suit at home,” he added when she wrinkled her nose.

“Okay. That’s good.” She bit her lip. “Is that it?” she asked hopefully. She smiled. “I mean—”

“I know you want the studio for painting,” he told her. “But it needs to be secured. Will you let me do what needs to be done there?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Does that mean buying the place?”

“It might.” He paused. “Alexis is drawing up the paperwork the way you asked her to, but there’s something I asked her to change.”

“What?”

“I don’t know how long this is going to last,” Jason said after a moment. “And I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next year. It’s important to me that you’re protected. Not just because of this, but because I care about you.” He reached for her hand, his fingers surprisingly soft against her own.

Somehow Jason had made it seem like whatever he wanted in this stupid agreement would be a favor to him. Sneaky bastard. “What’s the change?”

“Anything income either of us makes while we’re married,” Jason began, “gets split equally at dissolution.”

She scowled. “Oh, okay, so you’ll get half of my tips and I get half of the million you’ll make this year? That’s not going to happen—”

“Elizabeth—”

“I don’t want—”

“I know that. And I’m not doing it because I think you want it. Or need it,” he added. “It’s because you deserve it.”

Somehow that sounded wrong, and she was trying to pinpoint why. “How do you figure? I’m not exactly some great bet— ” She could be a terrible investment after all. What if she really did hate sex? She certainly wouldn’t deserve money then.

“I’m alive because of you,” he told her. “Every day I’m here, it’s because you dragged me out of the snow and forced me to live. I can make all this money I don’t even want or need because of you. I want to share what I have with you. Will you let me?”

“I knew you’d find a way to make this feel like a favor.” She sighed and slumped back against the sofa. “Fine.”

“Thanks.”

He was quiet for a moment, and she opened her eyes to find him smiling at her, his expression amused. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Because I can.”  He leaned down to kiss her. She touched his jaw, spreading his fingers over his skin, marveling at the fact that in twenty-four hours, he’d be her husband. And in moments like this, the reasons why they were doing this seemed a million miles away.

This entry is part 12 of 18 in the series Flash Fiction: Signs of Life

Written in 55 minutes. Ran a spell check but did not reread.


Kelly’s: Dining Room

Elizabeth tied the apron around her waist and smiled weakly at Tammy. “Thanks for letting me take the next few days off. Um—”

“No worries.” Tammy Hansen waved her hand, dismissing whatever Elizabeth was going to say next. “You always pull doubles and cover when I need you.” She leaned against the counter. “Anything interesting happening?”

“You could say that.” Elizabeth fished in the pockets for her pen and order pad, hoping for a customer to distract her from Tammy’s curious eyes. She was tired of being under such close scrutiny—from her family, the few friends she had, her co-workers, her customers—

Unfortunately, she knew that the second news of her marriage spread, the stares would only increase. Would she even be able to continue working at Kelly’s? Why hadn’t she talked to Jason about that? She needed her job to pay for classes now that Gram had pulled all financial support. She barely wanted to go to college, but she’d already committed—

If she couldn’t work, what about college? Maybe she couldn’t do that either—

She cleared her throat and smiled at her manager. “I better get to work. Thanks again, Tammy.”

“Sure thing, babe—”

Elizabeth darted out from behind the counter and started for the table of dock workers who had just sat down in her section. Then the door opened, the bell jangling above it, and Audrey stepped inside. Elizabeth stopped for a moment, locked eyes with her grandmother, then looked away and continued to the table.

When she’d taken their breakfast order and delivered their drink orders, Elizabeth returned to the counter to find her grandmother sitting there. Warily, Elizabeth reached for the pot of hot water. “Tea?” she asked.

“Yes. Earl Grey.”

Elizabeth flipped over the cup. “Are you here for a reason, Gram?” she asked, filling the ceramic, then looking for the box of teas. “I know you prefer making your own tea.”

“I do, but Tammy said you were working this morning.” Audrey paused. “Bobbie told me that you’ve been staying with Jason for the last few days.”

“Gram—”

“Is there anything I could do to talk you out of of any of this?” Audrey interrupted. “Anything I could say?”

Bracing herself for another round of disapproval, Elizabeth squared her shoulders. “No. There’s not. I know what I’m doing and it’s my choice.” She hoped her grandmother would remember that in a few days when she learned Elizabeth had done more than just stay with Jason.

Audrey’s lips thinned. She stirred some sugar into her tea. “All right.”

“All right?”

“If there is nothing I can say to change your mind, then I suppose I have two choices.” Audrey met her eyes. “I could wait for you to come to your senses and continue withholding my support, financially and emotionally.”

“Which is what you’ve been doing for the last three weeks,” Elizabeth reminded her coolly. “Did you think I’d come back and beg? That I couldn’t do this on my own?”

“Frankly, I thought you’d cave,” Audrey admitted. “You’ve been different these last few months. You’ve smiled more and you’ve seemed more at ease.” She tipped her head. “You’ve been more like your old self. The girl you were when you moved to Port Charles.”

Elizabeth tensed at the comparison. “What does that mean?”

“It means that I have worried about you. Worried that what you’ve been through would have changed you too much. You were staying at home. Growing up too fast.” Audrey paused. “I never wanted anything to happen to Lucky. I hope you can understand that, but I was worried that you were settling down too quickly.  Promising too much to the first boy you’d trusted.”

“Gram—” Her throat tightened.

“I wanted more for you. More choices. More life experience. I’d hoped you’d open up in college. That you wouldn’t run away to New York.”

“I didn’t realize you didn’t approve of what Lucky and I were planning,” Elizabeth managed. “You seemed—”

“I decided you could be doing far worse things than following your dreams with the boy you loved.” Audrey paused. “So if there is nothing I could say to you to change your mind about Jason Morgan, then I will attempt to accept this.”

Attempt. Well. Elizabeth sighed. “I guess that’s the best I could hope for, Gram. Thank you.”

Corinthos & Morgan Warehouse: Offices

Jason grimaced when he heard Carly’s voice down the hall from his office. He scrubbed his hands over his face and briefly contemplated going out the window. The offices overlooked the lake, but avoiding another confrontation with Carly might be worth the swim—even in January.

She shoved open the door with a scowl. “Why does this bitch say you won’t see me?” she demanded as the woman behind Carly looked at Jason apologetically.

“It’s okay, Nancy,” he told the secretary. “I’ll deal with her.” To Carly, he said, “Because I don’t want to see you.”

“Do you think that’s a smart choice?” Carly demanded. “When you know I can destroy everything?”

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Jason retorted. “I’m getting used to it.”

Her brown eyes widened, then a tear formed in the corner. Right on cue. “Do you think I want it this way? I made a mistake, Jason, and you refuse to forgive me—”

“And you’re going to punish me for that,” he finished. “I don’t have to forgive you, Carly. How many chances did you think I was going to give you? After the crap you pulled with Robin, I forgave you. After you had me arrested for kidnapping, I forgave you. After you married AJ, I forgave you.” He paused. “I should have cut you out months ago, Carly.”

“So you’re not going to help me get out of town?” Carly retorted, ignoring everything he’d said to her which didn’t surprise him.

“I told you I would. Is that what you want?” Jason asked. “Because I can do that—”

“Not without you. I have worked too long and hard for this. We should have done this last year—” Carly rounded his desk and he winced, backing up against the wall. She slid her hands up his chest. “We should have disappeared—”

“No.” He took her by the wrists and gently shoved her back. “I’m not going with you. I told you. That’s over. It’s never going to happen. So either you go with Michael alone or you don’t go at all.”

“And what are you going to say to my mother when she finds out you could have stopped what’s about to happen?” Carly demanded. “How are you going to explain to poor little Elizabeth that you’re the reason she’s under arrest for being an accomplice to murder?”

“It’s your word against everyone else’s,” Jason told her. “Everyone knows you, Carly. It’s not even the first time you’ve tried to have me arrested for something I didn’t do. And it won’t change your situation. You’ll still be with AJ. Still trapped in that marriage. Don’t be stupid. Take the deal and I’ll get you out of town tonight.”

“No! You’ve forgiven me before. You’ll do it again. You have forty-eight hours,” Carly told him. “Or I’m going to the cops.”

She stalked out of the office, and he exhaled slowly. He should have known it wouldn’t be that easy. Carly wasn’t a logical person. She wanted what she wanted and damn the consequences. If she didn’t get what she thought she’d deserve, she was perfectly willing to burn the world down around her.

But he had forty-eight hours which was just enough time to make sure that no one would believe her. Bobbie and Elizabeth were not going to pay for helping him. He’d turn himself in first.

Port Charles City Hall: Fourth Floor

Elizabeth didn’t really know what she expected when she stepped off the elevator later that afternoon, but it wasn’t Sonny and Alexis standing next to Jason. “Um, is everything okay?” she asked, shifting her purse higher on her shoulder. “What’s going on?”

“We need witnesses,” Jason said to her. “For the, uh, ceremony.” He put his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. “Emily went back to school this morning—”

“Right. And the witnesses need to be here when we apply. I forgot.” Or hadn’t really thought about who those witnesses would be. This wasn’t a real wedding. There wouldn’t be a dress or a ring. A church.

It was paperwork.

She looked over at Sonny and Alexis. “Is there anything I need to do before—”

“Well,” Alexis said, uneasily, “as Jason’s attorney, I really should ask about a prenuptial—” Jason glared at her and she closed her mouth.

A prenuptial agreement. Because Jason was a literal millionaire and she was a waitress from the docks with twenty dollars to her name after she finished paying for classes and rent. She bit her lip. “I can do that—”

“I told her I didn’t care—”

“But it looks—”

“It can wait,” Sonny said at the same time both Jason and Elizabeth spoke. “Elizabeth has a point. Anything we can do to make this look legit. Alexis can draw something up tonight, and I’ll make a call to get someone to look it over for you,” he promised Elizabeth.

“I—this—” Elizabeth folded her arms, her cheeks flaming. “I don’t need that. Just say I get nothing and we can move on—”

“That’s not—”

“I don’t want anything anyway. That’s—” She shook her head. “Ever. I mean, even if this were—” She wiggled her shoulders. “Anyway. That’s what I want it to say and it should be up to me since I’m the one signing something away.” She met Jason’s gaze. “Okay?”  She was never going to give anyone the chance to say she was using Jason like Carly had. She didn’t give a damn about his money.

“Elizabeth—” He grimaced. “We can talk about it later. Let’s apply for the license.” He held out a hand, and she took it.

She’d meant what she told her grandmother—she was going through with this plan no matter what but it seemed so different now. She listened as Jason told the clerk what they needed, then he completed his part of the form.

He handed her the pen and slid the form towards her. Without looking at him, she scratched out her name — Elizabeth Imogene Webber — and the rest of her information. Then Sonny and Alexis completed their sections.

The clerk stamped the form and smiled at them. “Congratulations,” she said brightly. “And good luck!”

They would need it.