January 23, 2022

Hey! I’m not doing Flash Fiction this week. This was a last minute decision based on how my Friday and Saturday went. I have a huge school event this week coming up and I spent most of my Saturday working on it. It derailed my entire schedule, and I have to play catch up today.  It’s more important to hit my Mad World editing goal than Flash Fiction, to be quite honest and I have two more chapters left for this week.

News & In Case You Missed It

  • I started editing Mad World and I’ve completed 4 chapters, including a brand new Chapter 79.
  • You can keep up with my progress by using the widget in the sidebar or my Pacemaker link.
  • Mad World is tentatively set for release on April 4 with a posting schedule of one chapter a day Monday – Friday.
  • Karma was completed at Liason Haven on January 8. I will be publishing it on all platforms on March 1.

Patreon Posts

  • Crimson Discovery #4 and Counting Stars – Alpha Draft post was added for Crimson Obsessed ($10) and Crimson Stalker ($15) tiers. The Alpha Draft post just includes the old Chapters 1-4 and Discovery material. Counting Stars is my April NaNoWriMo project.
  • Mad World  – Beta Draft – Chapters 76-79 posted for Crimson Stalker ($15)
  • Crimson Check #8 for all tiers.
  • Check and Discovery are weekly blogs.  Check does a surface level walk through of everything I worked on that week and Discovery is a deep dive into all the projects with spoilers and brainstorming.
  • For a full explanation, check out the 2022 Tiers & Perks.

January 16, 2022

Update Link: Signs of Life, Part 22 

News

  • Tentative Release Date: Mad World Book 4: Liberty
    • I am setting a date of Monday, April 4, to begin posting Mad World, Book 4.
    • I’m planning a Monday-Friday release schedule which leaves Saturdays as a catch up day for readers and Sunday as Flash Fiction.
    • Mad World should finish up around the end of May.
    • I am working on the second draft now, the beta draft. As long as I meet the February 28 deadline for this edit, this date should hold.
    • If I miss February 28, I will push it back a month and readjust.
  • Production Schedule updated with this date.
    • Ebook will be available the day the last chapter is posted.
    • Mad World Books 1-3 Ebook Re-Release is postponed until February, but still should be ready before April.
  • Recent Updates page up to date.
  • No project set yet for Camp NaNoWriMo in April.

Patreon Updates

  • Crimson Discovery #3 (Deep dive discovery blog for Obsession & Stalker Tiers)
  • Crimson Check #7 (All Tiers)
  • Next week, Stalker Tier will start its weekly Beta Draft updates.
  • Obsession & Adored tiers will get a monthly update on January 29, 2022.

This entry is part 22 of 22 in the series Flash Fiction: Signs of Life

Written in 62 minutes.


Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Elizabeth gave Francis a half-hearted wave as she opened the penthouse door, leaving the guard outside. She was getting used to having someone drive her around, but it was still a bit weird knowing he was standing outside all the time, only going home when she was sure to be home for the night.

But every time she felt a bit confined, she remembered that night in her studio, staring at the clock lodged under the table, ticking down to zero, the sweat sliding down her back, waiting for the explosion—

Had that only been five days ago? The Christmas party less than two weeks earlier? Her life looked so different now. How was that possible?

She heard the click of cue balls and looked towards the pool table finding Jason standing there, the long cue in his hands, staring at her. “Oh. I didn’t see you there.”

“Are you all right?” Jason set the cue back on the table. He shoved his hands in his pockets, but didn’t approach her. That was strange, she thought, but pushed it out of her head. “Were things okay at Kelly’s?”

“Oh, yeah.” She forced a smile, going to the closet to hang up her purse and jacket. “Tips were good today.” Better to be Jason Morgan’s wife than his girlfriend, she thought, but didn’t say anything. There was something weird in the air, just hanging there invisibly, but she couldn’t really put her finger on it. “Well, Carly came in—”

“What did she say?” Jason demanded.

“Nothing.” Elizabeth shook her head. “Just came and glared at me. I don’t know what’s going on with that, but I didn’t say anything to her either. I figure with Carly, it’s usually better not to engage.”

“Usually.” Jason leaned back, sitting on the arm of the sofa. “She’s probably angry that nothing happened after she went to the PCPD.” He paused. “I have to go out later. I mean, to work. I don’t know what time I’ll be back.”

“Oh, okay.” Elizabeth folded her arms, feeling flustered. “Is, um, everything okay? I mean—” The last time he’d acted like this—the last time there had been this strange wall between them was the day he’d told her he was leaving.

Was it going back to work? Was he afraid she’d ask questions?

“I was thinking of going over to the studio for a few hours anyway,” Elizabeth said, determined not to let his odd mood discomfort her. “Um, did you get lunch or whatever—

“I have to tell you something.”

Elizabeth blinked as Jason blurted out the words. He winced as if he hadn’t meant to say anything. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” he assured her but she wasn’t convinced. “It’s just—Sonny and I were talking after you went to work this morning. About the PCPD.” He dragged a hand through his hair, looking away.

“Okay. Did Alexis hear something we should be worried about?”

“No. It’s good news,” Jason told her. “You’re basically off the hook. They can’t bring you in for questioning or anything else. Alexis filed a harassment complaint about Capelli, and Mac’s taking it seriously.”

“Okay,” she said, drawing out the word. That did sound like good news, but—

“And Sonny, um, pointed out—” Jason got to his feet, shoved his hands into his pockets. “He pointed out that’s why—” He exhaled slowly. “It’s why we got married,” he finished finally. “Because of what Carly knew.”

Elizabeth stared at him for a long moment. She knew that. Of course she knew that. “I know. We thought they might try use drug charges or something against me, but okay, yeah, I guess they can’t now. That’s—” She twisted the ring on her finger, feeling the metal slide across her skin. “Alexis said we’d need at least year—”

“Yeah, that was when we thought it would take long for Carly to go to the cops.”

There was a crushing weight on her chest as she focused on him. “But I’m off limits,” she said softly. “Because of the search warrant.” And that had nothing to do with her marriage. So they didn’t need to be married at all, did they?

In fact, they hadn’t needed a wedding at all. Forty-eight hours. Had their paperwork even been filed? Was it real? What was he asking? Did he want an annulment or a divorce? How did this work? Why was he telling her this?

“W-What does Sonny say?” Elizabeth asked, forcing the words out though her throat was tight. “What do we—”

“Uh, six months maybe, instead of a year,” Jason said. He cleared his throat. “He said we could just leave it alone, too, until we want to deal with it.”

“Until we want to deal with it?” Elizabeth echoed. She frowned. “I don’t—” Oh. Sonny thought they should just stay married until they broke up. Because if they got divorced now, it would be strange to continue dating. Or whatever they were doing. They hadn’t even sorted that out before the bomb in her studio and Carly’s threats.

Leave it alone. What a terrible way to phrase it. They could just drift along the way things were until Jason wanted to leave her. She didn’t even know how to wrap her mind around any of it. They’d had a deal, and she’d put it out her mind over the last few days. They were married, and she knew they’d be married at least a year. That had felt like a lifetime only days ago—an infinite amount of time to figure out what was going on between them.

They’d barely even kissed a week ago, and then they’d poured gasoline on everything with this marriage.

Now Sonny had lit it on fire.

What did she even do with this information? Was she supposed to agree to it? To be married but not married with a sort of expiration date somewhere down the line but not the same one they’d agreed to?

Jason opened his mouth, but the phone in his pocket rang. He tugged it out. “Morgan. Yeah? Okay. Yeah, I’m on my way.”

He was leaving? Now? Right now after dropping this on her? Why the hell had he even told her—

“I’m sorry,” he said, breaking into her thoughts with regret in his eyes. “Things are—I mean, it wasn’t supposed to happen until later. But it’s now—”

“It’s fine.” Elizabeth smiled at him. “Really. I’ll just go over to the studio and get some work in. I’ll, um, see you when I see you, I guess.”

“Yeah. Don’t wait up,” he advised as he went to the closet and pulled on his jacket. “I don’t—”

“I know.”

Jason hesitated at the door, his hand wrapped around the knob, unsure. Then he left.

Elizabeth closed her eyes, took a deep breath. She waited until she knew the elevator was gone. Until Jason was probably out of the building, then opened the door again to Francis. “Hey. I’m going to my studio.”

“Sure thing, Mrs. Morgan,” the guard said, straightening. “I’ll call down for the car.”

Mrs. Morgan. That wasn’t even her name yet. Not legally. And maybe it wouldn’t be. What was the point if it was going to be changed in six months? Maybe less. What if they broke up in two months?

Stop, she told herself. Just stop. It didn’t matter why Jason had decided to tell her what Sonny had said. She just had to decide what she wanted to do about it, and then move on. No use irritating herself with the little things.

Quartermaine Mansion: Nursery

Carly curled up in the rocking chair, Michael tucked in her arms, his head nestled against her shoulder, listening to her read.

There were small pockets, moments in time, when everything else fell away and Carly let herself feel happy. When it was just her and her son, she was happy. She had food to eat, a roof over her head, and Michael had everything he could ever want. She’d lied, cheated, stolen, and committed all manners of crimes, legal or otherwise to get here.

But could she hold on to it? Would AJ believe this baby was hers? Maybe. Due dates were just guesses based on the last date of the period. Babies grew at different stages—it didn’t have to be like last time.

“Mama, keep reading,” Michael murmured, his words jumbled and slurred from his half-sleep state.

“Sorry, Mr. Man,” Carly said, kissing the top of his head.

She’d seen that insipid little girl at the diner today, but she couldn’t say anything. What was left to say? What threats did Carly have left? She’d blown up the remnants of her last bridge with Jason by going after Elizabeth Webber—whatever chance she’d had at forgiveness for that night with Sonny—

She knew the best thing to do would be to listen to AJ. To put Jason and everything else about him out of her head. She didn’t need him, and he didn’t love her. He couldn’t and treat her this way. If he’d loved her even a little, why hadn’t he tried harder to be with her this last year?

But letting it go, letting Jason get away with abandoning her, letting that little girl think she’d won—

That wasn’t in Carly’s DNA. She burned for revenge, needed to get even—

She just didn’t know how. Not yet. She’d have to stew on it for a little while and let them both think they’d gotten away. That she’d given up.

They’d never see her coming.

Morgan Penthouse: Hallway

It was past midnight when Jason finally climbed the stairs, and part of him was relieved. It was late enough that he was sure Elizabeth would be asleep and he wouldn’t have to think about that disastrous conversation.

He knew he’d messed everything up—had seen the way her entire body had flinched when he’d told her about Sonny and his six month theory. The life had drained out of her eyes, the color fading her from her cheeks. He’d hurt her, and he didn’t know how to make it right.

When she’d smiled at him at the end, and it had been one of the smiles he’d seen her give everyone else last fall — hoping they’d believe it and think she was all right— it had slammed into him like a punch to gut. He couldn’t stand thinking he was someone she thought she had to pretend with.

But how did he fix it? Could it even be repaired? Had he ruined everything? She’d probably sat in the studio which had nearly been blown up because him and maybe she’d decided Sonny had done her a favor, pointing out they could end all of this sooner.

He knew from the guard on the door that she was here. The guard was on duty until he came home so she was never alone, but maybe she already given up and was in another bedroom—

Jason didn’t realize how much he’d expected that until he reached the master bedroom and saw light filtering out from beneath the door. She was still awake? That couldn’t be good. Could it?

He twisted the knob, then exhaled in relief. The light at the side of the bed was on, but Elizabeth was on her side, curled up, eyes closed. She’d fallen asleep, the magazine she’d been reading on the floor beside the bed, her fingertips dangling of the edge as if she’d turned over and let it fall.

She was here. And she was asleep. He had time to think.

Jason changed into a pair of sweats, then went over to switch off the light, picking up the magazine so she wouldn’t slip on it in the morning. Then he climbed into bed next to her, listening to her breathing, soft and even.

He’d grown used to it since she’d come to stay there, liked sharing a bed with her and it filled him with pride that she trusted him enough to sleep beside him every night. She’d been so nervous that first night, but now it was normal.

He liked Sonny’s idea of just leaving the idea of divorce off the table until they wanted to think about it. Eventually, she’d leave him. She accepted things for now, more than Robin had and differently from Carly, but one day, she’d want something else. He’d handle it when it came, but until then, he’d hold on to what they had now.

He wasn’t sure when he fell asleep, but he must have because the next thing he knew, sunlight was sliding through the cracks in the curtains at the windows. He was still laying on his back, but Elizabeth had turned over in the night and was now facing him, still sleeping, a hand tucked beneath her cheek, her hair loose around her shoulders, curls falling over her face.

Her eyelids fluttered and Jason tensed. He should get up before her, be out of the room before she woke, even if that felt cowardly. He wasn’t ready to face her yet, hadn’t figured out what to say to her to keep her from making that face again, from smiling with her mouth and not her eyes—

But it was too late. She rolled onto her back, stretching her arms over her head, then crossing them over her eyes. “We need darker curtains,” she mumbled. “Can we get them in black?”

He turned, propping himself on his elbow. “What about the blinds?”

“You have money. We’ll get them custom made—” Elizabeth’s voice was still slurred as she drifted between a state of sleep and alertness.

“I can do that.”

She let her hands fall to her side, her eyes open now, still a bit unfocused. Watching her wake up, climb through the layers until she was fully awake, was one of his new favorite ways to spend the morning.

“Hey,” she said softly. “Good morning.”

“Good morning.”

“I spent yesterday at the studio,” she said, “thinking about what you said.”

He braced himself. Would she want to annul things now? Had she already had enough?

“At first I thought you told me because you wanted me to be ready,” she continued. “Because maybe it wouldn’t even be six months. Maybe it’d be next month.”

Jason frowned. “I—”

“And it hurt,” she admitted, her voice soft. “Because it was like you were already—because if we got divorced, we couldn’t—I mean, it would be weird and people would wonder. So it was like you were planning for the end—”

He was, but— “Not that way—”

“No, I know.” Now she smiled and this time it was real, he could see it in her eyes, in her cheeks, and feel it in the way her body was still relaxed from sleep. “You told me because it concerns me and you wanted me to have a choice.”

The tension slid from him and he nodded. “Because you needed to know, but—”

“I don’t know what I want to do,” she interrupted. “Because six months doesn’t feel like enough time, but I don’t think it’s right to just…drift into marriage either. It’s a promise. And I don’t think we should just ignore it like it doesn’t matter.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Does that make sense?”

“Yeah.” He nodded. “Yeah. It does.”

“Do you have to be anywhere?”

“Not for a few more hours.”

“Good.” Elizabeth slid closer. “Can we just lay here for a little while? I missed you last night.”

“I missed you, too.” He tugged her into his arms, and they lay together in the quiet, early morning. Just the two of them.

This entry is part 21 of 22 in the series Flash Fiction: Signs of Life

Written in 62 minutes. Took a few minutes to get going, but hey, we have a cliffhanger, so there’s that.


Vista Point

Jason wanted to get Elizabeth out of the penthouse while the place was cleaned up and the furniture replaced, and her face lit up when he suggested they take the bike out. It was the first time in days when he’d felt like himself, leaning into corners, the wind roaring past his ears, Elizabeth’s arms tightening when he took the turns just a little too fast.

He parked the bike at the observation deck parking lot, and Elizabeth stumbled off, pulling the helmet over her head. Her cheeks bright red, eyes sparkling, and hair tumbling around her face—

This was how he liked her best, smiling and laughing, even shivering a bit from the cold and the wind. Not silently crying or explaining with that air of somberness that she wasn’t scared of his life.

Unable to resist the temptation, Jason reached for her, sliding his fingers into the pockets of the leather jacket he’d given her for Christmas, then taking her mouth, swallowing that smile and laughter as if he could take it into himself, tasting the wind on her lips—they were chapped and cold but he didn’t care—

The helmet clattered to the ground, and Elizabeth’s hands were on his face, leaning into him, nearly crawling into his lap as he still sat on the bike.

She pulled back. “I like when you do that.”

“Do what?”

“Smile.” Her thumb brushed over his bottom lip, sweeping across it. “You don’t do it enough.” Elizabeth paused, her smile fading slightly. “But that’s good, you know. You don’t smile or laugh when you don’t feel like it. I always know it’s real.”

Not like the smiles she’d pasted on for months, he knew. The way they’d never reached her eyes and no one had noticed or cared. “You never have to pretend with me,” he reminded her. “And I’ll never lie to you.”

“I know.” She kissed him again, then rested her forehead against his. “I want to paint the wind again. It’ll be even better this time. You can help, you know.”

Jason squinted. “You’re not driving.”

“Oh, come on, you let me before.” Elizabeth pouted, planting her fists at her hips.

“Weak moment,” he argued. “You closed your eyes!”

“Because I knew you were right behind me—” Elizabeth wrapped her fingers around the edges of his jacket, her expression determined. “Please.”

Jason made a face, then sighed. “All right.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, but you have to promise to keep your eyes open,” he reminded her. He slid back on the seat, and Elizabeth beamed. She scooped the helmet off the ground, shoved it back on her head and climbed in front of him. He reminded her where the controls were, even though he knew he’d be steering the entire time. They wouldn’t be able to take the turns nearly as fast, but it was worth it to see her smile.

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

The next morning, Sonny was surprised to see Jason arriving just after eight. “Where’s Elizabeth?”

“She had to go back to work this morning,” Jason said. He disappeared into the kitchen to make himself a mug of coffee, then joined Sonny at the table. “She had the opening shift.”

Sonny grimaced, sipped his own coffee. “It’s a nightmare to secure that diner,” he muttered. “Are sure we can’t talk her into taking a break? Sorel’s been warned, but he’s a moron.”

Jason didn’t much like it either, but he’d promised Elizabeth. “She has to pay for tuition,” he muttered. And she’d left the envelope of financial stuff he’d given her on the desk, her face screwed up with irritation when he’d given it to that morning. He’d added her to the bank accounts and credit cards, so he’d had a checkbook and some cards for her to use.

“Well, if she were the type to take all the money you offered, then we probably wouldn’t be here.” Sonny shrugged it off. “We’ll make it work. The deal with Sorel will hold for a few weeks, maybe a month. He’ll wait until he think the others aren’t looking.”

“I know it.”

“But we bought ourselves some breathing room, and hey, we got a break—turns out Carly’s threat wasn’t that serious.” Sonny shrugged. “She’s neutralized—”

Jason hesitated, then shook his head. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to just write her off that way. Maybe she can’t put me in jail right now, but—”

“But the threat to Elizabeth and Bobbie isn’t there anymore, either. Legally, Carly can’t do anything. She might still try to torment you or go after Elizabeth, but what damage can she really do?”

That was a stupid question to ask, Jason knew, but Sonny hadn’t really paid attention to Carly before the last few months. And it was strange how the feelings of betrayal had faded when only a few weeks earlier, it had sent Jason spiraling, led him to collapse in the snow with nothing to live for.

Instead, he had Elizabeth. He hated what Sonny had done and still had no desire to revisit that night, but in the long run—

Maybe it had been a favor.

“We’ll keep an eye on her,” Sonny was saying, “but I think you and Elizabeth should be fine to do the paperwork in maybe six months—”

“Paperwork—” Jason frowned at him. “What paperwork?”

“Divorce,” Sonny said, tipping his head to the side. “I know we were thinking this would be long-term, but Alexis said that Moreno’s case is dead in the water. The cops harassed Elizabeth one too many times. Without her corroborating or denying an alibi, it’s Carly’s word against yours. And they have zero evidence against you to back her up.” He picked up his coffee. “Capelli screwed them.”

“I don’t—” Jason couldn’t wrap his mind around any of this. The ring on his finger still heavy and strange, still new off to feel out of place, and Sonny was already talking about ending it— “I know it kills Carly as evidence—”

“They didn’t have much to go on before,” Sonny reminded Jason. “Elizabeth was it. They know she was with you that night, but she never confirmed or elaborated on the times. Now, after that search warrant bullshit, they can’t even pull her in for questioning. Our guy at the PCPD said the plan was to do the warrants at the penthouse and studio, use Nikolas Cassadine as a backup for you being at the studio. He corroborates Carly on that, at least. Maybe Audrey or Bobbie get dragged in for that—”

“But—”

“Alexis said we might still be in danger of a physical search warrant for you,” Sonny continued. “To look you over for bullet wounds—”

Jason reflexively reached for the scar on his abdomen, the skin still shiny and stretched out, pink from healing. “Then—”

“But they can’t tie it to that night. All the PCPD has is that you ducked out of the sight around the time Moreno did. You and Elizabeth are married now which backs up the crap Nikolas spewed at the hospital party,” Sonny said. “The DA won’t touch this case. Not with Carly as the only witness that says you were injured during this time period. I told you — Caplli disrupted everything by going too hard at Elizabeth. They might have been able to drag an alibi out of her with a subpoena, but not anymore.”

It should relieve him that Elizabeth was out of danger from the PCPD — and it did.  He’d called Carly’s bluff, and she’d gone nuclear. She didn’t have anything left to hurt him with—

“Alexis said it would be a year or more,” Jason said slowly. “And there’s Sorel—”

“Sorel isn’t going to last.” Sonny sneered. “Tagliatti and Vega are already eying his territory, and he’s pissed them off one too many times. A few months, he’s out of it. And they don’t care if you get divorced—” He paused, then focused on Jason. “I didn’t say you had to file tomorrow, Jason. Only that it wasn’t going to take as long as we thought. That’s good news.”

Was it? A few days ago, Jason had almost been dragged into this plan by Elizabeth’s determination and his desire to stay in Port Charles with her. They’d only been married two days. Nearly three.

“You don’t have to do anything with that information,” Sonny continued. “And it is good that Elizabeth isn’t in danger. That’s the biggest reason we did this, remember? To keep her safe from Sorel and the cops. You’ve done that now.”

“Yeah, yeah. It’s just—”

“I didn’t expect Carly to go this hard this fast, to be honest. Or that the PCPD would screw it all up, but maybe we should have. We’re not dealing with Einstein here. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. You still wanna wait at least six months, or, hey, leave the paperwork where it is until you guys break up. It’ll be easier that way, and Elizabeth will probably be glad we forced her into the prenup.” He got to his feet and went into the kitchen to make another cup of coffee, Jason staring after him with confusion and worry.

Kelly’s: Dining Room

The biggest change from being Jason Morgan’s secret mistress to his wife was that people left her alone and left better tips, Elizabeth decided halfway through her shift as she counted the cash left from the breakfast rush. Warehouse workers who wanted to make good with the office and others who didn’t want to piss her off, thinking she’d take it to Jason. She’d made twice as much as usual.

“People are really dumb,” she said, joining Tammy behind the counter. “Do they really think I’m gonna complain to Jason because they screwed me on my tip?”

“Hey, you might as well enjoy the fruits of their stupidity,” the blonde pointed out. She scooped grounds into the machine. “So, how long do I get to keep you?”

“Hmm?” Elizabeth frowned, pausing in her count. “I opened at five, so I’m here until one—”

“No, I mean, are you giving me your two weeks or—”

“I’m not quitting.” Elizabeth scowled. “This is my job, and I still have tuition. I’m on the installment plan for this semester—” Tammy peered at her curiously. “I’m not giving Jason my bills to pay. I can support myself—”

“I didn’t say—” Tammy paused. “Okay, let me rephrase this.” She folded her arms. “You’re a good waitress. Not the best, but solid and reliable.” Elizabeth wrinkled her nose, but it was a fair description. “But this isn’t where your heart is. You’re an artist. I’ve seen your work,” she added when Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “And between this job, your classes, and your personal life, you don’t get much time to paint.”

“That’s true,” Elizabeth acknowledged. “But—”

“You’re married to someone who can afford to help you out on this,” Tammy continued. “Now I didn’t say drop out of school. That’s insane. Get an education. I wish like hell I’d done better by myself in that area. But why waste your time here when you could be in your studio, painting until you drop and maybe getting some pieces together to sell? You could be making that your job, not this.”

She hadn’t thought about it that way. She worked full-time at the diner and had since she’d graduated high school. She liked the extra money and paying her own way, but she’d cut back painting to almost nothing. And classes had taken even that time—

Elizabeth bit her lip. “You make a good point,” she admitted. “I just—Jason just said I didn’t need to work, and I guess my brain sort of exploded.”

“He’s a nice kid, and probably meant well.” Tammy handed Elizabeth a carafe of coffee. “He wants to take care of you. That’s marriage. He supports your art, yeah?”

“Yeah, he does.” Even if he didn’t always understand it.

“Not everyone gets a chance to pursue their dream job, Elizabeth. Independence is important, and don’t lose that. But don’t let it cloud everything. Don’t be so stubborn. I’ll miss the hell out of you, but you should think about giving it a go.” Tammy frowned, and turned to look at the door as it jingled. “At least then you’d never have to see people you hate.”

Elizabeth followed Tammy’s eyes, then clenched her jaw as Carly sauntered into the diner and slid onto a stool at the counter.

Update Link: Karma – Part 4

Previous Parts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

I messed up the link yesterday, so sorry about that. I’m in contact with the admin at LH over issues with joining the forums, and I hope to have some updates for you guys on that situation tomorrow when I update Flash Fiction.

January 7, 2022

Your Update Link: Karma – Part 3

Story Link: Karma

Please get in touch me with through DM on Twitter or replying here on the site if you have trouble accessing the story at Liason Haven. Make sure to include your email and your username so I can give those details to the admin.

Part 4 goes up tomorrow!

January 2, 2022

Today’s Update: Signs of Life – Part 20

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This entry is part 20 of 22 in the series Flash Fiction: Signs of Life

Written in 65 minutes. Went a bit over, sorry. Ending is a bit awkward, lol, but didn’t want to take another 20 minutes.


Quartermaine Estate: AJ & Carly’s Room

AJ flipped his cell phone closed as he entered the room, finding his wife standing at the window. “The PCPD served a search warrant at the penthouse and the studio.”

Carly turned, her eyes narrowed. “And?”

“And nothing. No arrests.” That didn’t matter to AJ. He’d encouraged her to call, had sat next to her while she’d made her report. He’d grimaced, listening to her depict visiting Jason at the studio and seeing the bullet wound. She’d even thrown her own mother and Elizabeth under the bus, claiming them as witnesses.

While AJ regretted to the risk to Elizabeth and Bobbie, he had more respect for Jason’s way of life. No arrests had been made, and AJ’s source suggested something had gone wrong in the search at the penthouse that had scuttled the case but no one was sure quite what. Either way, Jason and the new wife didn’t look like they were in danger, and Bobbie wasn’t even on the table.

Not that it would matter. Carly had betrayed Jason once again, and this time, AJ hoped like hell his brother would get the picture. Carly didn’t give a damn about anyone but herself and wasn’t worth caring about.

Carly’s lips thinned. “I don’t understand—”

“You threw a grenade at Jason, thinking he’d jump to protect himself, Elizabeth, and Bobbie.” AJ smirked “He did—just not the way you hoped.”

“Shut up—”

“Did you really think the PCPD would be able to do anything with your statement?” AJ leaned against the closed door, amused. “Your word with no evidence?”

“Jason would have a scar—”

“Sure. If they could get a physical examination,” AJ replied. “Sounds like they didn’t. Your word means nothing, Carly. Without evidence to back it up, no district attorney is going to put you on the stand as a credible witness.”

Carly fisted her hands at her side. “So what was this? A test?” she demanded. “Making me choose between my son and Michael?”

“No, this was me showing Jason one last time who you are.”

“And you’re married to me,” she spat. “What does that say about you?”

“You’re what I deserve,” he said simply. “I killed my brother and destroyed my family. Even if I never take another drink again, there’s no redemption for that, Carly.”

“I am nobody’s punishment! I deserve more than that!”

“No, you don’t.” AJ pushed away from the door and approached her, her eyes, damp and furious, focused on him. “Neither of us deserve more than we’ve got, Carlybabes, so maybe you suck it up. I married you, I gave you all the money you wanted, and we’ve got a beautiful son. I’ve got my job at ELQ. What do you really have to complain about? That you don’t have the man you really love?”

Carly hissed, then looked away. “You don’t love me, either.”

“No, I don’t.” He tipped his head. “So what’s it gonna be? Are you going to keep fighting this and planning your escape? Or are you ready to be realistic?”

She narrowed her eyes. “What does that mean?”

“I mean—” AJ tipped her chin up and nodded to the bed behind them. “New start, Carly. And last chance.”

She pursed her lips, glancing at the bed, her eyes calculating when she looked back at him. Then she pushed him hard so that he sprawled across the bed. She crawled across him and ripped his shirt open.

“Could be worse,” she said with a shrug. “You could be ugly.”

AJ smirked, hooked a hand around her neck and dragged her down to him for a kiss. And when in a few weeks she announced she was pregnant, he’d let her believed she’d beaten him.

It might even be fun.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason grimaced as he inspected the leather sofa, sliding his fingers down the split in the cushion, revealing the padding underneath. “Alexis took pictures of this, too?” he asked Sonny as his partner came back in, scowling at the broken items scattered around the downstairs. Jason didn’t have a lot of possession, but what he had—

Glasses and mugs had been thrown around the kitchen, plates were shattered on the floor. The leather sofa hadn’t been the only furniture casualty—the coffee table had one its legs broken—the shelf of travel books had been scattered and some of the cover torn from being stepped on.

“Yeah, yeah. She took everything.” Sonny looked around. “I’m sorry about this, man—”

“I can buy a new sofa,” Jason muttered. And a table. Travel books. Plates and mugs. All of these things were replaceable.

“Not about any of this,” Sonny said, drawing Jason’s attention. “It sucks, but Alexis is right. This looks vindicative and destructive. If they’d left it at this downstairs—”

Most of the destruction had happened on their way out of the apartment—the officers forced to vacate before the search had finished. Capelli hadn’t been the only asshole on the force.

“But they didn’t,” Jason finished. He rubbed the back of his neck. “Listen, can you get some guys to clear this? I don’t want her to deal with—”

“Already on that. And they never got to the studio,” Sonny told Jason who exhaled in relief. “Taggert wanted to search both personally, but he called it off. It’s all tainted.” He glanced up to the second floor. “She okay?”

Jason opened his mouth because Elizabeth had said she was fine and she’d looked fine, but he wasn’t sure if that was true. She didn’t always say what she meant, and he knew she didn’t want to worry him. “I don’t know.”

“Yeah, the painting put it over the top,” Sonny muttered. “Could have fixed the dress maybe, but I know she takes her art seriously.” He rubbed his hands together. “I’ll go check on the clean up crew. We’ll get the furniture replaced—”

“Yeah, yeah. That’s fine. I just—” Jason started for the stairs. “I’ll get her out of here for a few hours or something.”

“Good, good. Let me make my calls and I’ll check in with Alexis. If we’re right—if this puts Carly’s story dead in the water—” Sonny nodded. “That would be good. Then we can just focus on getting rid of Sorel.”

He left, and Jason went upstairs, returning to the bedroom where he’d left Elizabeth earlier to deal with the dressers and closets that the PCPD had emptied.

“Hey.” Elizabeth dumped a pile of clothing in the laundry hamper next to the bathroom. “I’m almost done.” She made a face. “How does it look downstairs?”

“Not great,” Jason admitted. “They broke a lot of things and ripped the sofa.” He frowned when he saw the dress still laid out on the bed, the ripped strap and torn bodice evident—and now he saw the dark footprint across the skirt. “I didn’t—”

Her mouth pinched as she crossed to the bed, picking it up. “I think that’s what made me the most angry,” she murmured, sliding her fingers over the dirt and mud specks. Capelli had worn heavy boots and walked through the snow and dirt mixed out out front. “It wasn’t enough to tear it off the hanger—he threw it on the floor—” Elizabeth shook her head. “I’m sorry. I know I wasn’t supposed to do anything. I really just wanted to supervise, and it’s not like—I mean—” Her voice faltered and she sank onto the bed. “It’s not like it really matters,” she said softly.

Unsure, Jason sat down on the other side of the dress. “Why doesn’t it matter? It’s your dress—”

She bit her lip, her eyes trained on the white fabric “It’s my wedding dress,” she said, her voice barely audible. “Alexis brought me a few of them, and I got to pick it. Like I was really—like it was real.”

“It was—” Jason reached for her hand, laying it flat over the dress. He could feel the ring he’d placed on her finger only the day before cool against his skin. “It was real,” he finished. “Wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, but—” She met his eyes. “I mean, it’s not like we—” Elizabeth’s cheeks flushed.

“We got married,” Jason reminded her. He raised her hand, his fingers twisted her wedding ring. “This is real, Elizabeth.”

She managed a smile and reached for his other hand where she’d given him a ring, too. “I know. But it’s still just a dress at the end of the day, I guess. It’s not worth getting arrested over. Not really. But I just—I—” Her eyes met his again and her tongue darted out to lick the corner of her mouth. His body tightened. “It’s not just I wore it in the church yesterday. It’s—I wore it last night.”

Last night. When she’d stood in front of the mirror and he’d stood behind her, unfastening each button—

“And Capelli was—he wasn’t just searching. Or being rough or rude.” Elizabeth released his hands and looked over at the painting, once again propped up against the wall. “Alexis was right, and I knew what he was doing. He dumped out my underwear drawer so I’d feel violated.”

Jason clenched his jaw. “I—”

“And when I tried to stop him from ruining the dress, he stomped on it, ground his foot in—I didn’t say that earlier,” Elizabeth admitted. “I was afraid if I did—”

Jason would have rearranged his face and been arrested. “I’m sorry—”

Elizabeth sighed, shaking her head. “You have nothing to apologize for.” She rose to her feet and went to pick up the painting, her fingers tracing the rip in the canvas. “Capelli was angry from the moment I was involved in the case. The first time he questioned me, he was the one asking the inappropriate questions. I don’t feel like it was personal, either,” she admitted. “It wasn’t that it was me. Not like Taggert. He’s disappointed in me, but Capelli—I’m just an obstacle.”

“Elizabeth—” Jason got to his feet.

“Capelli wanted me to feel like I’d done something wrong. Like I’d committed a crime—and I did, I know that, but—” Elizabeth sighed. “For all they talk about the violence you and Sonny are capable of—” she jerked a shoulder and turned away, setting the painting against the wall again.

Jason waited a moment. “I am violent,” he said in a low voice, unsure why he was saying it only that he needed her to hear it. To know it. “I’ve done worse things than what happened here today.”

Elizabeth faced him, her face unreadable. Then she tipped her head to the side. “To women like me?”

“What?”

“You’ve intentionally humiliated and violated a woman for not doing what you wanted? For not acting the way you expected”

“No, of course not, but—” Jason stumbled to a stop, squinting. “But—”

“But you have a gun and you’ve used it,” she said plainly. “And you have hands. You’ve used those. There are people who aren’t breathing because you still are. You’re capable of violence, Jason. Did you think I didn’t know that?”

“No, but—”

“Your world is violent,” Elizabeth continued, and he just stared at her. “It is. And people like to act like there’s something unique about what you and Sonny do. If you were out of business tomorrow, would things really change? Would there be less violence?”

He had no idea how to answer that. How to react. “Elizabeth—”

“Would I be safe in the park?”

“I—”

“This world isn’t safe for women, Jason. Look at what happened to me here today.” She held out her wrist and for the time he realized it was darkening into a bruise. “A cop did this to me in my own home because I didn’t want him to destroy my wedding dress out of spite and vindictiveness. Capelli will say it’s because I’m with you, and I deserve it because of who you are. But what happened today has nothing to do with any of that. It’s who he is. And it would have happened to any woman he didn’t respect.”

“I guess, but—”

“If you’re waiting for my face to change,” Elizabeth said, turning away and shoving another pile of clothes into the laundry basket. “You’re going to be disappointed. The night we met, you nearly tore the arm off the guy bothering me and never broke a sweat.”

He cleared his throat. “I don’t know what to say to any of that,” Jason finally admitted.

“The world you live in,” Elizabeth replied, meeting his eyes in the mirror over the dresser. “It does scare me. I know it’s dangerous. I know that the bullet you got in December wasn’t the first and probably won’t be the last. I don’t want to lose you that way, but I’m working on accepting it as a possibility.”

“And that’s okay with you?” Jason wanted to know. He stepped up behind her, his fingers lightly brushing her shoulder.

“I’m safe with you,” Elizabeth said softly. “And that’s all that matters to me.”