This entry is part 18 of 41 in the Mad World: Liberty

Do your memories haunt your dreams
Do they simply seem to have a mind of their own
Tell me what the emptiness brings
When everything you know is everything but gone
Tell me who will save you

When It’s Over, 3 Doors Down

Friday, March 6, 2004

Morgan Penthouse: Nursery

Elizabeth adjusted the mobile over the crib one last time, squinting at it. Was it perfectly centered? Maybe a little more to the left—

“Hey.” Jason’s arm encircled her from behind, and she smiled again as he pulled her against his chest, kissing her cheek. “You should get more rest. Just because I have to go out early—”

“Can’t sleep. Nervous,” she said. “We’ll get to meet him today, and you’ll be able to hold him first,” she added. “Since I’ll be in recovery.”

“Just for a few days,” he reminded her. “I’ll bring pictures—”

“I know. I know it has to be this way, and I’m okay with it. He’ll have you, and that’s important. Plus, at the baby shower, Monica reminded me there are things I’ll be able to do once I’m not pregnant. New medications to manage my blood pressure until the surgery.” She sighed. “I wish I could sleep. I feel like I’m dragging already.”

Jason hesitated. “Maybe I should reschedule. I can talk to Tommy later, and Justus can come here—”

She opened her mouth to argue with him, but then her lungs tightened. She winced, pressing a hand to her chest. He ushered her into their room.

He helped her sit and fit the oxygen mask over her face. She sighed as he handed her the control, and she switched it on. After a few moments, the pressure eased and she could expand her lungs again.

“I should stay home,” Jason said again. “I’ll call Justus—”

She reached out to grab his hand as he turned. “No. No. You need—” Elizabeth shook her head, took a deeper breath, and felt the dizziness clear. “No,” she repeated, tugging him to sit. “We talked about this. I should have done my oxygen therapy when I got out of bed, but I felt fine, so I waited. I know better.”


“I can’t check in until three—they don’t have a room for me in the ICU until then. And you have a thousand things you need to make sure are done before you come to the hospital. If you don’t do them now, you might have to later.”

“Right.” He sighed, took her hand in his, tracing his fingers over her palm. “And I want to be with you at the hospital. With Cameron.”

“Exactly. He needs one of us in the room as much as possible.” Elizabeth touched his face.

“I’ll wait until Nikolas gets here,” Jason said.

“What if Sonny gets released before you can go, and then you don’t get it done? We don’t know what time he’s getting out. You’ll carry me downstairs,” Elizabeth said. Even though she could mostly handle stairs once a day, today of all days, she wasn’t taking any chances. “You’ll put my bags at the door, and then you’ll go to work. Nikolas said he’d be here by ten.”

“I’ll call someone else—”

“Everyone else is busy,” Elizabeth said patiently. She knew how much Jason hated leaving her alone—especially when she wasn’t feeling well. He’d never forgive himself for leaving that day last summer when she’d nearly died. “Emily is at work. So are Monica and Alan. Your grandmother can’t travel anymore, and your grandfather won’t leave her.”

“And Carly can’t come to the Towers—not today. Bobbie and Lucas are sticking close to home because of Sonny.” He looked deep in thought. “We could have the meeting here—” he said again.

“Not when Sonny is coming home and might run into Justus. Jason—”

“I just—”

“Nikolas is the only option, and with the launch and weather on the lake, he can’t come until ten.”

When he still looked hesitant, she said, ” Cody will come in and sit with me. It’s only for—” She looked at her watch. “Three hours. And if you don’t leave now, you’ll be late to meet Tommy. You know you wanted this meeting before Sonny gets released.” Neither of them wanted to discuss why Jason needed to talk to Tommy about.

“All right,” Jason said reluctantly. He got to his feet and pulled Elizabeth up. “I don’t want to take any chances.”

“We’re not,” Elizabeth told him. “We made it. Our son is going to be born today.”

“I love you,” he murmured as he kissed her.

“I love you, too.”

Joe’s Bar: Alley

Taggert ducked out of the back door of the dive bar a few blocks away from Courtland Street, and scanned the dim alley. The weak winter sunlight offered scant lighting, but he found his quarry near the rusted, green dumpster a few feet away.

“You left me a message.”

There was a scuffle of steps as the tall, dark-skinned officer who had been on duty that day at Dispatch came more into view. “Yeah.”

Taggert arched a brow, spread his hands out at the side. “I’m here. What do you want?”

“I want a transfer,” Murphy said. He lifted his chin. “I need to be better than I have been, and if I do this, there’s nowhere for me to go where I am now.”

“You get me what I need,” Tagger told him, “and I’ll see what I can do. That’ll have to be enough.”

The younger man exhaled slowly, closed his eyes, then nodded. “Okay. Yeah. The day after you came in, O’Rourke gave us a verbal warning. No cooperation with Major Crimes on this case, and that we were to say nothing about the audio.”

“I knew that—”

“I pulled everything,” Murphy interrupted. He shoved his hands into his pockets. “Before he gave the order. And I was on duty when the Code 8 came in.”

“You were on duty,” Taggert repeated, his heartbeat picking up. “Did you take the call from Unit 84?”

“Yes, sir.” Murphy’s eyes found him. “And I put out an all call to surrounding units. Unit 81 responded that they were unable to comply.”

Unit 81 had been two blocks away. Capelli’s guys, on the stakeout. “The electronic record says it was a 10-97.”

“When I came back on duty the next night, before you came in, I pulled the call records  because I figured you’d be there. I wanted to be ready. The record wasn’t what I’d heard or written down. I told O’Rourke and he said he’d gone back to prep the records for you. He said I’d gotten it wrong.” Murphy’s eyes burned into Taggert’s. “Told me that it was his fault for letting a boy like me on the radio.”

A boy. Taggert bristled, knowing the word had not been meant due to Murphy’s age. “You would be willing to make a statement to this?”

“I can do better. I have the calls. The original recordings. I nodded and apologized to O’Rourke, said maybe I needed more training. He seemed satisfied and went on break. And I started to make copies. I can get them to you,” Murphy continued, “but he’ll know it was me.”

“Yeah, he will.”

“I can live with that,” Murphy said. “But I won’t be any better off than Falconieri or Spencer if you leave me in Dispatch. I want back on the street—”

“I will talk to the commissioner.” Taggert stepped forward. “It’s Byron, isn’t? That’s your first name?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Men like O’Rourke, like Capelli—they make this job harder for you and me. For my team,” Taggert added. “We need to stop them. Capelli isn’t going to be the only head that rolls. You get me what I need, and I promise you, I will take care of you.”

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Olivia stirred sugar into her coffee, keeping her eyes on the doorway to the upstairs. “Maybe I should just camp here.”

“He’ll just go out the window.” Lois reached across the table and put a hand over Olivia’s. “I know you’re still worried, but maybe you shouldn’t be. Dante’s always had a good head on his shoulders.”

“I know.” Olivia bit her lip. “But I still—he’s hurting so bad and not coming out—I know he says it’s about the press—but whenever he starts going around again, they’ll still be there—” She sighed. “And he’s a grown man who doesn’t need his mother nipping at his feet, trying to take care of him forever. Maybe I should have found a way to stay in Bensonhurst.”

“Where you’ll just be reminded that the only reason this is happening is that your mother told Dante about his father?” Lois challenged. “You stayed in Port Charles to stick close to Dante. You were worried this might happen—”

“I should have told him when he decided to take the job at the PCPD,” Olivia fretted. “I should have known. But I thought—well, it was just me and Frankie and Ma who knew. And we’d never tell no one. Sonny stopped thinking about me even before I left to have the baby.” She growled. “I’m glad Connie stomped all over his heart. Asshole.”

“And I suspected who his daddy was his whole life and never said a thing, Liv. I should have, but I wanted to protect him, too.” Lois exhaled slowly. “You have all that mama bear energy, and it needs to go somewhere. I know. I—” She stared down at her barely touched breakfast. “When we were working on the hearing and Elizabeth was preparing to testify, I got—I got involved. Too involved, maybe.”


“She’s just a little older than my baby, you know? And she put herself through so much to make sure Brooke got justice. She put herself on the line, made Vinnie go after her again.” She sighed. “Ned had to pull me back, had to remind me that Elizabeth isn’t my daughter. It’s hard, Liv, knowing that I’ll never be a mother again. I messed up my chance to protect my baby. I’m just glad Elizabeth didn’t realize how attached I was—”

“She probably didn’t mind,” Olivia told her. “Her own ma’s not around, is she? Why not you?”

“Because she doesn’t know me. And I don’t really know her. All we share is this terrible trauma. I will never look at her and not think of my daughter, and she’ll never look at me and never not think of Vinnie and Brooke. But I’m glad I could be there in whatever way I was, and she was kind to me. I’m just saying — you’re like me. We’re overprotective and smothering. Don’t try to run from that part of you, Liv. I did—last summer, when I sent Brooke away, I did it because I knew if I kept trying to control her, I’d lose her.”

Her eyes burned. “But I lost her anyway. If I’d let her stay—she’d still be here.”

Olivia opened her mouth, then scowled when the bell jangled over the door, and Anna Devane came in. “How dare she—” She jerked out of her seat.


“You gotta lot of nerve showing up here,” she spat at Anna, who blinked at her. “What, you coming to make Dante feel guilty about leaving? You should be crawling on your knees—you’ve had months to clean up that department, and you’ve done nothing! It instead, you put my boy in danger and—”

“I came,” Anna said, in her quiet, unbothered voice, “for some tea and breakfast. Just like you.” She paused. “I’m very sorry—”

“You should be. This whole town should be. You got Brooke killed, and you’ve ruined my baby—”

“Liv, Anna wasn’t even here,” Lois reminded her, coming up and putting a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “Last summer, that wasn’t her.”

“It was the people she works for. It was her department. Her detectives that butchered the case and didn’t—”

“And it was your nephew who attacked her,” Anna reminded her, “but I don’t hold you responsible for that either.”

Olivia’s eyes lit with incandescent rage. “How dare you—”

Lois stepped between the two women before Olivia could do anything that might get her arrested. “Liv, Liv, come on. She’s just pointing out that we can’t blame each other for things that aren’t our fault.”

“I apologize,” Anna said, regret flashing in her eyes. “I do feel responsible for Dante’s resignation. I’m limited by the system, and it moves slowly, if at all. I never wanted Dante or Lucky to get hurt. I promise you, we are working as hard as we can to hold someone accountable for what happened.”

Olivia swallowed hard, fighting for control. “No, I’m sorry. Lois is right. This didn’t happen because of you. It’s just—” Her voice faltered. “My boy wanted to be a cop his whole life, and he’s a damn good one. It hurts to see his dream torn away from him.”

“And it hurts that it was my officers who did it. I will find a way to prove it,” Anna replied. “We need more officers like him in the department. We are much poorer for his loss. You raised a fine son, Ms. Falconieri. I’m only sorry the PCPD wasn’t worthy of him.”

Blue Moon: Tommy’s Office

Tommy scowled, lunging to his feet. “What the hell are you accusing me of?” he demanded. He rounded the desk, but before he could reach Jason, Justus stepped between them.

“You heard me,” Jason said flatly. “Vinnie Esposito was a source for years. What did you cover up to keep him feeding you information?”

“You think I knew about your woman’s attack and let him get away with it—”

“She wasn’t connected to me at the time,” Jason said, his blood already boiling. “You don’t get to hide behind that, Tommy. This was years before Elizabeth and I met—”

“And she was a kid! A baby! You think I’d cover up for an animal going after a girl that way?” Tommy demanded. “Only sixteen—if I’d known it was him, I’d have killed him myself—”

“Sonny told us back in October,” Bernie said, “that you’d cleaned up some messes for Vinnie back before he left town in 2000. And there were one or two under Moreno and Sorel. Sonny said he didn’t press you on it. He was afraid you’d tell him that you’d known about the rapes.”

“Then Sonny is a fucking moron. That’s not how this works. You don’t cover for a man like that, for a crime like that—” Tommy cleared his throat, then sat down. “But Sonny wouldn’t know that. He did worse in his day.”


“Everyone knows the shit he pulled when he was running the Paradise. Even Frank knew, and he was in prison.” Tommy snorted. “Sonny was gonna be a liability, and that’s why he went after Frank. Had to take power before someone took it from him.” He focused on Jason. “You know how he is about that. If he thinks he’s under attack, he lashes out. And sometimes he don’t clean up well after himself.”

“We’re not talking about Sonny—”

“No, we’re not.” Tommy paused. “If you know about Vinnie, then you know about the girls. I don’t want to hear any bullshit about it.” He growled. “I took over Sonny’s girls when he moved up and turned over the clubs to me.  It wasn’t part of his image anymore. He wanted people to respect him. Can’t be respected if you run drugs and girls. But he never told me to shut it down, and he’s always known where some of the profits come from.”

“Sonny—” Jason paused. He hadn’t been around when Sonny seized power, and Tommy wasn’t wrong. Sonny was obsessed with self-image and had worked hard to become a certain type of man. He’d known about the Paradise but hadn’t thought much about the man Sonny had been before they met.

Maybe he should have.

“What about drugs—”

“That’s never been my business, and they cause too many problems. That’s where the violence comes from. The drug war,” Tommy added. “But I don’t screw with the Escobars. They’re your source in this town. Sonny told me to let them take Courtland Street. They stay in their area and run their business. They stay out of the schools and away from the waterfront and my clubs. That’s the deal.”

How could Jason have missed all of this? How had he not known about all of this underneath the surface? Sonny had known and deliberately left him in the dark when he’d split town all those years ago.

“Then what did you clean up?” Jason demanded. “Did Vinnie rough up the women working for you?”

“Yeah. Twice.” Tommy scrubbed a hand over his face. “And Vinnie’s the reason we don’t tolerate that bullshit anymore. It kills me, Jason, knowing that I let him get away with pushing some of our whores around and he was out there hurting innocents—”

“How bad did he hurt them?”

“I don’t know,” Tommy admitted. “The first girl just said he slapped her around when she didn’t act fast enough, and the other said he punched her. But maybe they weren’t comfortable telling me the rest. I listened to your girl at the press conference, Jason. I know it’s hard to report, and I doubt they’d tell me all the details.”


“We put a new policy in place after Vinnie got arrested. No one touches the girls. You lay a hand on them, and you’re done. Even whores deserve that much—”

Jason tensed. “Why—”

“Fine, fine. The women,” Tommy said, with nearly a sneer. “How you gonna be in this business if you can’t even admit the truth—”

“How are you going to stand there and pretend you give a shit about me or my family, Tommy, when you and I both know you’re working against me.” Jason fisted his hands at his side. “Acting concerned when you found out Elizabeth was sick—you just needed more time to work against me—”

“I wouldn’t have needed to if you’d do what you should have months ago,” Tommy shot back. “Sonny’s been useless since Lansing disappeared. Everyone knows it. The only reason you’re still in power is because I didn’t pick up that phone and call Zacchara or Tagliatti—”

“And the only reason you’re still alive,” Jason interrupted, “is because I don’t have time to get rid of the body. Are you behind the Lansing sightings?”

“The—” Tommy frowned. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“The sightings,” Jason repeated. “In South America. Puerto Rico. Miami, Baltimore—”

“Why the fuck—no! Every time Sonny thinks he sees that little fucker, he goes wild, and he’s had the PCPD after at us—why the hell do you think I’d want that? I was just gonna take Sonny on a long drive and dump his ass in a hole in the Pine Barrens. Why am I gonna fake months of sightings when I can just shoot him and be done with it?”

Lucky & Kelsey’s Apartment: Living Room

“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” Lulu demanded, planting her hands on her hips. “If Mom were here—”

“But she’s not. She went to work and back to her life,” Lucky said. “The doctors have cleared me. I’ll be back on duty next week.” He eyed Dante. “I’ll be the only one.”

Dante shoved his hands into his pockets. “I guess you heard.”

“Not from you.” Lucky shifted, wincing at the tightness in his chest. “What the hell is this bullshit about quitting?”

“You know what happened because of me—”

“Because of Capelli—”

“Because of me—”

And Dad,” Lulu interjected. “You both have shady ass fathers—sperm donors,” she corrected when Dante glared at her. “Hard to say which one of them was the reason Capelli screwed you over.”

“Lu, go get me some water. Please,” he added when Lulu just raised a brow.

“Fine, but I’ll just be over there. Either of you start being dumb, I’ll come over here and kick your asses.”

“She’s not kidding,” Lucky muttered. “Sit down, man. I’m not mad at you, so if you try to apologize, I’ll let her kick your ass.”

“She’s been doing that for two weeks.” But Dante sat next to him. “It’s not just that you got shot, Lucky. I know that’s not really my fault. It felt like it in the minute, and maybe I do feel some guilt. But I know that I’m not the one that refused to back up a fellow officer.”


“He’s still there. I know Taggert says they’re close, but I just—” Dante shook his head. “Maybe he’s right. Maybe they can get rid of him. I’m not saying I can’t ever come back, but right now, I’d be a liability to all of you. My head’s not in it. It hasn’t been since Vinnie. I’ve been working through it, but now with this Sonny stuff—”

“Have you even talked to him?” Lucky asked. “I realize now that’s why you were so weird when we went to see him, and we got called to the Brownstone. Don’t you think you’ll feel better if you talk to him—”

“I have zero interest,” Dante said. “He’s nothing to me. I’ve always known my father left my mother. She never named him, but it felt like the neighborhood always knew something. He’s not someone I want in my life, Lucky.  There’s nothing he has that I want.”


“But he’s the reason people are looking at me sideways. They don’t trust that I just ended up in Port Charles and didn’t know he was my father. We already had issues at the department after last summer. I just—I can’t go to work and pretend it’s the same.”

Lucky nodded. “Fair enough. But you belong here with me. All three of us. We came here to do the job. So get yourself together, and then come back. We can’t do this alone.”

Port Charles Municipal Building: Mayor’s Office

Ned ushered for Alexis and Lois to enter the office with one hand while the other was wrapped around the plastic receiver. “All right, Anna. I want to see a copy of the report as soon as possible. And the calls. When you’ve heard them. Thank you.”

He set the phone down. “Taggert is putting together his final report on Lucky’s shooting, and Anna wanted to warn us in case it leaks before she makes a move.”

Lois braced herself and traded a trouble glance with Alexis. “What is it? How bad?”

“Taggert got his hands on the original calls from that night,” Ned said. “Dispatch was running circles around them on the paperwork for the audio and the records of the other units.”

“Idiots,” Alexis muttered, sitting down. “They had to do know we’d be able to get the calls—”

“Arrogance,” Lois murmured, her eyes locked on her ex-husband’s. “They thought they’d get away with it. They’ve been doing it for years, haven’t they?”

“Yeah.” Ned shoved himself to his feet. “Taggert’s got the calls and he’s got the officer who took the backup call. A witness who says Dante called for backup and that a responding officer refused.”

Lois closed her eyes, exhaled in a rush. “Christ Almighty. How do they live with themselves? How can they—” She dragged her hands over her face. “Is that all she knows?”

“She hasn’t listened to the audio yet, but Taggert gave her the heads up. We need to get ahead of this—”

“But we need to be careful,” Alexis added.

“Right. Right.” Lois nodded. “We don’t want to be seen spinning the PCPD’s mess into hiding a scandal of our own, but there’s a way—there’s always a way. Capelli worked with the press before,” she reminded Ned. “I wasn’t here for any of that, but you were. So when this hits, we remind them.” She nodded. “That’s our spin. It’s just more evidence of the corruption and disregard for the people of Port Charles.”

“Will this be enough?” Alexis wanted to know. “I mean, will it finally be enough to get rid of Capelli?”

“Anna won’t know for sure until the audio is authenticated, but it if it’s as bad as she says—” Ned’s smile held no humor, only malice. “He won’t be the only one to go. This is the break we needed. We’re finally digging into the rot in the department—”

“I wish I could be as optimistic, but I worry we’ve only scratched the surface,” Alexis murmured, but rose. “I’ll start putting together some legal notes. Lois?”

“I’ll get to work on the statement.” Lois turned to Ned. “It won’t ever be enough.”

“No, but we have to start somewhere.”

PCPD: Squad Room

Sonny stopped by the front desk, snapping his fingers. “Where’s my phone?” he demanded.

The officer on duty looked behind Sonny and his new lawyer, Jordan, to look at Cruz, who sighed and nodded. “Yeah, give him back his personal stuff.”

“You don’t need permission,” Jordan said. “He’s been fitted with the ankle bracelet, and he’s been officially released. Return his things.”

The officer shrugged, then set down the manila envelope. Sonny tore it open and dumped it out. He slid his wedding ring on his finger, then shoved his wallet in the back pocket of the rumpled suit he’d been wearing the night he’d been arrested.

He flipped open his phone to turn it on.  He started to click through—it looked like he was sorting through voicemails. He pressed a button, then raised it to his ear to listen. He growled, and stalked out of the PCPD, slapping a hand against the double doors so hard that they bounced back against the walls.

Jordan blanched, hurrying after her client.

Cruz watched Sonny storm out, then went over to Taggert who’d been watching the scene quietly from his desk, hoping to stay out of it. He had enough going on. “You want me to follow him?”

“No.” Taggert looked at the younger man. “But make sure that ankle monitor is activated. I have a guy sitting on the Brownstone. If Sonny shows up there, we’ll be ready. I want to know if he heads anywhere else.”

“He must have gotten something on his phone,” Cruz said. “He looked angry—”

“I’ll give Bobbie and Carly the heads up. We can’t mess this case up, Cruz. Sonny’s on bail. We let him dig his own grave. He’s good at that.” Taggert saw Anna motioning towards him. “I have to go deal with something else.”

Corinthos & Morgan Coffee House: Office

“With Tommy off the board,” Bernie said, “I don’t know what to say any more about these sightings. It doesn’t add up.”

“Are we sure that Tommy’s on the level?” Francis Corelli, their head of security, asked doubtfully. “I know he’s got a point, but—”

“He could be throwing us off,” Jason admitted, “but it didn’t feel that way.”

“I agree,” Justus offered. “Tommy’s been fed up with Sonny for months. He doesn’t really seem like the type to try psychological torture—”

“Maybe he didn’t think it’d take this long,” Bernie suggested. “Maybe he thought Sonny would fly off to South America himself, and Tommy could arrange for an assassination that way—”

Jason scrubbed his hands over his face, then checked his messages. Sonny could be to be released any minute, and he wanted to be at the Towers before Sonny got there. He did not want Elizabeth alone in the building with him.

“We’re running in circles,” he began.

“Are you sure that it’s not Lansing screwing with us?” Francis asked. “I know the reasons we said it couldn’t be, but—”

“But Lansing couldn’t be working alone. He wouldn’t have the connections in Baltimore or Atlanta. Or Philly,” Jason said.

“He could have pulled off Miami and South America,” Justus continued. “He worked for Alcazar after all, and Alcazar was close to the Ruiz family. He could have called in favors, but yeah, I don’t see anyone in Philly helping him out. And I don’t know how to explain the Babe getting involved in this kind of nonsense. He’s never had an issue with Sonny. We don’t deal with Baltimore.”

“Not since the Jerome days,” Bernie said. “Baltimore’s barely in the game since the shipping died out down at the docks. ” He shook his head. “Nah, the only guy they would help out is Zacchara.”

“Are we thinking about this too hard? Maybe you’re right, Francis. Lansing is in all these places, but it’s Zacchara pulling the strings.” Which Jason did not need right now. “It’s the only way to explain all of it.”

“Then we need to bring Sonny in on this,” Justus said reluctantly. “If we can tell him what we know—that we know something is wrong—he might get back under control.” He met Jason’s eyes. “Which we need while he’s on house arrest. The island isn’t going to happen. Not right now. He can’t leave the country. ”

“I know—”

“And you don’t have time for any of this,” Justus cut in. “Johnny will be here in the morning to take point on this, but he and Sonny are like oil and water. Maybe we hold off on that—”

“No, I need someone here that can handle Sonny. Johnny’s the best bet. He’s been here as long as I have, and he knows Sonny almost as well.”  Jason paused. “After today, I can’t be dealing with any of this for at least a week.”

“You won’t be,” Bernie promised. “Until Elizabeth is up and moving around, and the baby’s in the clear. We promise. I’ll talk to Sonny. Me and Francis. We haven’t pissed him off yet,” he added when Francis looked doubtful. “And if we make him think it’s new information you haven’t dealt with, then that’s good. We leave Tommy out of it, though. He doesn’t need to know Tommy was planning to get rid of him.”

“All right.” Jason checked his messages. Nothing yet. “Okay. Let’s get everything else done. I want to be home before Sonny is.”

PCPD: Anna’s Office

Anna pressed play on the tape recorder, then looked up at Taggert as the call from dispatch rolled in.

“Unit 84, Code 8 at Courtland and Van Ess. Repeat, Code 8, Courtland and Van Ess.”

“There’s Dante,” Anna murmured. “Clear as day.”

“And then—” Taggert nodded as a new voice came on.

“Copy that, 84. Code 8, Code 8. Unit 84 requesting back up at the corner of Van Ess and Courtland. Code 8. Officers requesting backup.”

“The all-call—” Anna dropped her head in her hands. “You have the officer who made this call?”

“It’s worse, Anna.”

“Unit 81?” Murphy’s voice crackled out over the tape, and Anna blinked at it, confused. “Unit 81, are you stationed at 308 Holloway?”

“Unit 81 responding, yes.”

“You’re closest to the Code 84—”

“Fuck that shit.”

Anna’s eyes widened as a new voice came in. Faint. Dim. As if who ever was speaking wasn’t near the radio, but sitting nearby. Perhaps in the backseat.

“Fuck that traitor.”

There was a pause, then the original Unit 81 voice came back over the radio. “Cannot comply at this time.”

The tape stopped and Anna looked back at Taggert, grimly. “We might not be able to prove that was his voice—”

“That’s him on that tape, and you damn well know it.”

“Yes, I know it,” Anna said, leaning back, her face pale but her eyes steady. “But if we’re going to nail him this time, we need to be careful. We’re only going to get one chance at this. If the union doesn’t back it—”

“Damn it—”

“Taggert.” Anna got to her feet and he closed his mouth. “We will get him this time. I promise you.”

“I had to sit back last summer and watch this piece of shit waltz back into work after he nearly got Elizabeth Webber killed—” Taggert fisted his hands. “And now I know I got him dead to rights, refusing to back up a fellow officer. Capelli is going to pay for this, even if it’s the last thing I ever do.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Elizabeth tossed her magazine aside and sighed. “I’m sorry, Cody. Nikolas should be here any minute—” It was nearly one, and Nikolas still hadn’t shown up. He’d sent a message about the launch being late, but at this rate, Jason would get home first.

And she was so tired. She should try to take a nap. Maybe when she woke, Jason would be home, and she could go to the hospital.

“It’s okay, Mrs. Morgan,” her guard told her as he brought out another glass of water. “It’s windy out. I know how the lake can be on days like these.”

“Nikolas should live in town and not on a goddamn island,” she muttered. “I’m tired—” Her fingers fumbled with the plastic tubing. “And sick of this thing.” She reached for the oxygen mask at her side.

“What’s that?” her guard wanted to know. “What’s wrong?”  Then he frowned, turning back towards the door as he heard voices.

“Oh, no—” Elizabeth got to her feet, then gasped—her arm shot out to brace herself on the air chair, her head spinning. She’d moved too quickly.

“Mrs. Morgan—” Cody turned back to grab her arm. “Sit back down. I’ll call Jason—”

The door shoved open, and Sonny pushed Max out of his way. “Where the hell is Jason?” He glared at Elizabeth.

Elizabeth closed her eyes, tried to take a full breath. “Not here,” she said. Cody held her arm as she moved backward, away from Sonny. Behind him, she saw Max with his phone out.

She had to get Sonny out of the penthouse. If Jason walked through the door right now, everything would be so much worse. Sonny would just get angrier, and Jason would be furious. There’d be arguments and screaming—and she didn’t want it. Any of it.

“Did you—” Her chest ached. “Cody, I need—”

“Sit down,” he told her gently, helping her back to the sofa. “Let me help, okay?” He fit the mask over her face, and she managed a deeper breath, though not quite a full one. “Let me call Jason.”

“What the hell is wrong with you now?” Sonny demanded.

“Mr. C,” Max said, grabbing Sonny’s arm. “Let’s go—let’s go home, and we’ll figure out what’s going on—”

“No, she needs to know—Ric is back in New York,” he snarled. “You happy? I got out of jail, no thanks to your husband, and the first thing I hear is that Lansing is in New York—”

“What?” Elizabeth gasped, then her lungs seized. She clutched at Cody’s arms. Then—finally, the oxygen did what it was supposed to, and she could take a deeper breath. Her lungs relaxed. Her head was still buzzing, but she could breathe. Mostly.

“What do you mean Ric is in New York?” She asked. She stood again, but Cody braced her as she did. “How do you know? How long ago?”

Taken aback, Sonny blinked at her. “I got a message in lock up.”

Why had—why was someone giving Sonny messages in lock-up about Ric Lansing? How could they have known he’d get his phone back today? “Sonny, did you—Oh, God, did you go to Carly’s?”

Sonny ignored the question and narrowed his eyes. “This is your fault,” he said, his teeth clenched. “If you’d just let me kill that piece of shit months ago, none of this would be happening—my wife left me because of you!”

“Mr. C,” Max said firmly. “Let’s go—”

“Get your hands off me—”

“My family is in danger because of you!”

“Cody,” Elizabeth said with a grimace. “He—I can’t—”

“Yeah, okay, Mrs. Morgan. Sit down—”

“Can’t—hurts—” She pressed a hand to her chest. “Hurts too much.”

“Christ. Don’t—don’t move—” Cody released her and traded a look with Max. “Mr. C, you gotta go. She’s not feeling well, and we need to get her to the hospital—”

“No one tells me what to do! You work for me! I’ll fire you! I’ll end you!” Sonny thundered. He threw a punch when Cody reached for him, but then two more guards came in, and between the four of them, they managed to get Sonny out of the penthouse and across the hall, screaming.

Back in her living room. Elizabeth’s lungs seized again, and her throat tightened, felt so thick she could barely breathe. She coughed, trying to force air out. Then she couldn’t stop coughing—couldn’t take in a breath at all—her throat was on fire—

She looked down at her hands—still coughing—Her vision dimmed at the edges.

“Mrs. Morgan, we need—” Cody came back to the doorway, with a new guard behind him, his eyes bulging. “Elizabeth—” He ran across the room, hurling himself at her feet, taking her hands in hers, examining the streaks of red. “Where did the blood come from? Where are you hurt?”

She continued to cough, her knees buckling. “Can’t stop—”

“She’s coughing up blood,” Cody told the other guard. He lifted her in his arms. “Get the elevator, call Jason—we’re going to GH now!”

June 29, 2022

Update Link: Watch Me Burn – Part 2

Having a lot of trouble getting started in the morning. I think it’s because of the medicine I’m taking — I’m supposed to take it around the time I go to bed, but it’s making me really groggy in the morning. I’m gonna try taking it a few hours earlier and see if it helps.

I finished reformatting the ebooks for Mad World, Books 1 – 3. Books 1 & 2 have been reuploaded to the site already because they were already publicly available. I had never created an ebook for Book 3, so that’s exclusive to the Patreon tier for about a week — the $3 and above tiers get early access.

Book 1 | Book 2

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the ZFlash - Watch

Written in 34 minutes. 



Elizabeth stepped off the elevator, patient charts in her arms, and stopped short. Robin Scorpio stood at the nurse’s station, an arm around her younger cousin, Georgie Jones, whose cheeks were streaks with tears and her eyes red and puffy. “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah,” Robin said, giving Georgie’s shoulders another squeeze. “Georgie’s just having a tough day.”

“Chelsea’s parents came to get—” Georgie’s voice broke and she squeezed her eyes shut. “Epiphany won’t care about me missing a few days?”

“Of course not, sweetie.” Robin kissed her forehead. “Let me take care of it. I’ll talk to her, and you head home and pack for New York, okay?”

“Okay.” Georgie hugged her again, then disappeared onto the elevator.

Robin sighed, and joined Elizabeth at the counter. “Georgie’s roommate at PCU was the girl who was killed a few days ago,” she told Elizabeth. She reached for a chart, opened it, then just stared down at blindly. “They roomed together last year, and Chelsea had just come up for the new fall semester.”

“Oh, man—”

“Yeah, Chelsea was a sweet kid. And really good for Georgie. She needed someone to get her mind off everything that happened—with—” Robin flashed a weak smile. “With Maxie, the break up with Dillon, the hotel—anyway. Georgie’s going to head down to the city for the funeral.”

“The paper says the cops don’t have any leads.” Elizabeth shuddered. “That it might have been random.” It wasn’t safe to be alone after dark, she thought, her mind straying a bit as she remembered another night, long ago. Another girl.

“I hope not. I mean, it’s a tragedy either way,” Robin added, clicking the top on her pen. “But if it was random, what’s stopping it from happening again?”

“There’s a scary thought.”

“Yeah, well—I need to track Epiphany down and get Georgie off the volunteer schedule.” Robin forced a smile on her face. “We need a break from all this doom and gloom. Ever since the trial—”

“Even before that,” Elizabeth murmured.

“It’s been a long year, that’s for sure. You get a baby sister, and I’ll get Kelly and Lainey. We’ll do a Girls Night—”

“Not Lainey,” Elizabeth cut in sharply and Robin flinched. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make things awkward, but I’m just not ready to move on—”

“I was hoping with some time and space—”

“I’d forget?” Elizabeth shook her head. “No. All I’ll ever remember is precious time being wasted while Lainey and Lucky tried to convince me and the PCPD that I’d done something to hurt Jake.”


“There was no evidence of post-partum depression,” Elizabeth retorted. “Nothing except me being tired and distracted. And she never apologized. She just said she was doing her job—”

Robin exhaled slowly. “I know it felt like you were being attacked—”

“I was being attacked, and Lainey was supposed to be there as my friend. No one asked for her professional opinion—” Elizabeth closed her mouth. “I don’t want to put you in the middle, Robin. I really don’t. But I’m not ready to forgive or forget.”

“Fair enough. I don’t know if I would be in your position either,” Robin admitted. “And I certainly don’t want to make things harder for you. I know the last few weeks have been hard enough.”

“Exactly. I have to get back to work.”

Jason jogged down the steps at Elm Street Pier, then stopped abruptly when he realized that Lucky Spencer was coming from the opposite direction, turning the corner from Bannister’s Wharf. He thought of just ignoring the other man, turning around to avoid him but—

It was too late.

“Well, well, well.” Lucky sneered, hatred twisted his features. “I was wondering when I’d run into you—”

“Look, Lucky, I don’t want to get into anything—” Jason loathed this sorry excuse for a man for every piece of misery he’d brought into Elizabeth’s life, but the last thing he wanted to do was make anything worse for her and the custody hearing.

“If you think you’re going to waltz into my family and take over—” Lucky jabbed Jason’s chest with his index finger. “You better think again. I’m not letting her get away with what she’s done—”

Jason just remained silent, remembering Elizabeth’s anguished expression the other day. There was some truth to her words — she had lied to Lucky about Jake, and Jason had let the lie continue.

“She humiliated me in front of the whole damn town and now she thinks she’s going to take my boys away from me? Not a chance in hell, Morgan. She took everything from me, and I’m not going to rest until I’ve made her bleed—”

Jason clenched his jaw, but did nothing more than wrap his fingers around Lucky’s wrist and shove him back lightly. “Just remember,” Jason said quietly, “that you’re not innocent either, Lucky. I’m sure your attorney has informed you it’ll be an uphill battle to even get visitation with Cameron, much less Jake. It doesn’t have to be like this.”

“The minute that bitch lied to me about my son—”

“Was that before or after you nearly killed her on the docks by shooting at me?” Jason asked, his tone more pleasant than he felt. What he wouldn’t give to make this piece of shit disappear. “Or you drained the bank accounts to go into rehab for your drug problem? Or had an affair with a teenager who stole drugs for you—”

Lucky’s eyes burned. “Shut up—”

“Or when you accused her of hurting Jake and wasted time while some crazy woman got further away with him?” Jason cut in, and Lucky flinched. “And because you couldn’t stand being wrong, couldn’t stand that I’d brought him home, you made sure to violate my parole. I don’t know, Lucky. Do we really want to stand here and pretend that anything Elizabeth has done comes close to your crimes?”

“At least I’m not a killer,” Lucky growled, and Jason smirked.

“We both know that’s not true. You think you’re better than me because you have a badge?” Jason stepped back. “As far as the system is concerned, I’m a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen, and you’re harassing me.” He fisted his hands at his side. “Now I’m done with this conversation.”

“You stay away from my boys—”

Jason was done with the conversation. He’d said what he wanted to, and maybe more than he should have. He turned towards Pier 52 and the warehouse, leaving Lucky seething.

Mac Scorpio dragged his hands through his hair and closed his eyes. “Nothing came back from the lab?”

“No DNA under the nails, no footprints on the scene.” Detective David Harper sat across from the commissioner and shoved the autopsy report across the table. “The most we have is that we think the suspect is taller than the victim.”

“Great, round up all the guys taller than five foot six, and we’ll have him by dinner.” Mac sighed, looked at the photo on his desk of Georgie on her graduation day the year before. She was a wreck over all of this, and he just wanted to give her—and Chelsea Ray’s family some closure.

“We’re still doing rounds at the campus, but no one is sticking out yet. She was well-liked, friendly, but hadn’t been dating. There was a guy—they were still in the flirting stage,” Harper continued, “but his alibi checks out. He was back at the party. I’m sorry, Mac. I don’t think it was personal. Or at least someone she knew.”

“Christ. We don’t need a random killer out there picking on coeds,” Mac muttered. He’d lock Georgie in her damn room if that was the case.

“I hear you. We’ll keep at it, but right now? We’re dead in the water.”

This entry is part 17 of 41 in the Mad World: Liberty

This time
I’ll have no fear
I’ll be standing strong and tall
Turn my back towards them all
And I’ll be awful sometimes
Weakened to my knees
But I’ll learn to get by
Yeah I’ll learn to get by
On the little victories

Little Victories, Matt Nathanson

Thursday, March 5, 2004

Kelly’s: Courtyard

“What makes you think he’ll talk to us today?” Lois asked as she followed Olivia in from the parking lot. “Liv, he hasn’t returned one of my calls—he hates me—”

“He isn’t talkingto me either,” Olivia reminded her best friend as she stopped and looked at her. “But his roommate said he’s been at Kelly’s since the news broke. He wanted to give Cruz a break from the press—”

“And since the shooting and his resignation, it’s only gotten worse.” Lois closed her eyes, nodded. “I know. I’m so worried about him. This is my fault—”

“We’ve been over this,” Olivia snapped, worry threading into her impatient tone. “He knows you love him—”

“But I fed him to the wolves—”

“You had a weak moment—”

“In public—I know better—”

Olivia gritted her teeth. She knew Lois was struggling, that the last few weeks had been horrible for her—Brooke’s death had been splashed all over the papers again, and the Sun had even revealed that their source was, in fact, Lois’s argument with Ned. He’d been blamed in the papers for his daughter’s suicide — protecting a mobster’s kid instead of his own.

If Olivia could get just get Lois and Dante into a room together—she knew things would get better for both of them. She was just going to break some heads to get it done and play the only card she had left.

The guilt trip.

“The only person he even talks to is that Spencer girl,” Olivia said, jerking the door open, the jangling bell riding her last nerve. “She’s too pushy to be ignored.” She scanned the crowded tables, then growled. “I don’t see her, do you?”

“No, but I see someone who might be able to help.” Lois tugged Olivia towards the counter and the cluster of younger people around it. “Maxie—”

Felicia’s daughter turned and blinked at her in surprise. “Oh, hey, Ms. Cerullo, Ms. Falconieri,” Maxie chirped, her eyes too wide, her voice a bit too high. Olivia narrowed her eyes. Had the kids been talking about her? Or her baby—

“Are you looking for Dante?” the sister asked, her voice quieter, her eyes kinder.

“We were looking for Lulu Spencer,” Lois clarified, “but only because we thought she’d get Dante to talk to us.”

Olivia glared at her—she didn’t want people knowing that her own son wouldn’t return her calls. “Is he upstairs?”

“Um, maybe?” Maxie said. “I don’t know. Lulu isn’t on shift until later, and usually, I see her sneaking some food upstairs. Dante, like, never shows his face. I don’t blame him. Some bitch told the Sun he was staying here.” She scowled. “There was a whole thing yesterday, but then Luke came by and yelled at them—”

“Oh, God. He’s not safe anywhere.” Olivia closed her eyes then took a deep breath. “So he’s probably upstairs.”

“I’m not sure if we’re supposed to say,” Georgie said with regret. “Lulu said Dante doesn’t want to see anyone, and, like, he’s been through so much, you know? I feel bad, and he worked so hard to make sure Brooke had justice and then all—” She swallowed. “You know all of that, I mean. Of course you do, you’re his mom and aunt, but I just mean—”

“Dante gets to decide who he wants to see,” Maxie cut in, lifting her chin. “And if he wanted to see anyone, he’d see them. I tried to cheer him up, but he wouldn’t let me in, either—”

“To hell with all of this,” Olivia snarled. She stalked towards the stairs. She’d respected Dante’s boundaries enough, but she was done waiting—

“Thank you for trying, we’ll tell Dante you had his back,” Lois called as she hurried after Olivia, who had already charged up the stairwell. “Liv, we don’t even know—”

“Dante Angelo Falconieri,” Olivia announced at the top of the landing, “if you don’t open one of these doors right now, I will stand in this hallway telling embarrassing stories until you do, and I will start with Cheryl—”

“Ma—” A door was tugged open, and Dante stepped out, his scowl matching his mother’s. “What the hell—”

Olivia brushed past him to enter his room. Lois was a lot more quiet, sliding gently past her godson. Dante closed the door, facing them. “You didn’t return one of my phone calls—”

“I didn’t want to see anyone—”

“You have no problem letting Twiggy feed you, and the Doublemint twins downstairs know you’re here—why do they get to see you and your own mother doesn’t?” Olivia demanded.

“Liv—” Lois put a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “You’re not really angry, you’re just worried. We’re in now.” She focused on Dante. “I’m sorry we forced our way in, but I just—”

Dante held up a hand to cut her off, and she immediately closed her mouth. “You’re here to say you didn’t mean for that to get into the papers, Aunt Lois, and I know that. Okay? I know.”


He gestured at the small table, cluttered with editions of the Sun and the Herald. “I’ve read the coverage. You and the mayor were having a fight because he’d lied about Kristina. Someone overheard.”

Lois cleared her throat. “It doesn’t change the fact that I could have talked to Ned like an adult instead of letting things boil over like this. That’s on me—”

“It’d be easier if I could blame you, but I can’t. I leaked the serial rapist case to the press back after Brooke got hurt,” Dante told them. “I didn’t say her name, just that the PCPD and the mayor knew there was a threat—”

“And Floyd leaked Brooke’s name to get the attention back on the Quartermaines,” Lois murmured. “Ned suspected, but he wouldn’t tell me who the original source was. Dante—”

“If I had kept my mouth shut, Brooke wouldn’t have been in the papers, Aunt Lois. I know it’s still Floyd’s fault, but I tried to make it right.” Dante shook his head. “There’s no bringing her back, so I can’t ever make up for that. And the whole world knows who my father is now. I’m done in the department.”

Dante held up a hand when Olivia opened her mouth to protest. “It’s not your fault, Ma. Or yours, Aunt Lo. It’s just this world. It’s the PCPD. It’s all of it. I got my partner shot just by being the one who called for backup. The next time, the guy bleeding in the alley might be me. I’m not gonna let it happen. It’s over. I’ll never be a cop again. It’s done. We all just gotta live with it.”

PCPD: Squad Room

“This is some absolute fucking bullshit—” Taggert launched out of his chair, his blood boiling. “What hell do you mean, the calls aren’t available?”


“I got a cop shot and you can’t get me a record of the calls? What kind of circus are you running over there?”

“I already sent the physical record for the calls on Unit 84,” the supervisor retorted. “You’re asking for calls that are outside your purview—”

“I’m not asking for—” Taggert gripped the phone more tightly, took a deep breath. “I’m not asking,” he said. “I’m telling you. You get me the physical calls for all units within a one mile radius by the end of today, or I’m taking this to the commissioner.”

“Go ahead and try it. My union rep will back me up—”

“Yeah, we’ll fucking see about that—” Taggert slammed the phone down and sat back down, staring blindly at his desk.

He hadn’t wanted to believe it. Even as he’d stood in Anna’s office and watched Dante quit, a small kernel had held out hope there was a mistake. That Dante had called in the 10-97 on location and just remembered it wrong.

Dispatch should have jumped at the opportunity to make Dante look like an idiot. No physical records of a backup call would just make the statement fall apart.

But refusing to even turn over the calls meant—

Taggert exhaled slowly. That meant there was something to bury.

They’d left Lucky and Dante out to dry, not giving a shit if they lived or died. Now Lucky was recovering in the hospital and Dante had quit the force.

There was no way in hell he was going to let anyone get away with that.

Quartermaine Mansion: Foyer

“I’m so glad we were able to steal you away,” Tamika said as she handed their coats to Alice. “Lila wanted to get together one more time before you went in tomorrow.”

Elizabeth rubbed her belly, feeling Cameron’s tiny foot pressing against her hand. “I’m glad. One of my big regrets about Cam being in the NICU is that it’ll take longer for everyone to meet him. I want Lila to know him.”

“She will.” Tamika squeezed Elizabeth’s shoulder as they walked towards the front family room. “I was worried about taking Kimi away from my family, but Justus was worried that she wouldn’t know his side—that she wouldn’t get any time with Lila.” She paused. “And it’s strange when you think of how Justus entered the family as the grandson of another woman—she’s not even his blood relative.”

“Family is what matters to her. I’ve always wanted to be Lila when I grow up.”

Tamika opened her mouth to respond, then the doors to the front room were thrown open.


Elizabeth blinked at the large cry from the crowd gathered inside the room, then took in the decorations, the streamers and signs, and the women inside. Emily, Bobbie, Gail, Lila, Monica, Carly, Tamika’s sister Portia—and women from her support group. Elizabeth saw Renee and Dana—

It was a baby shower.

She pressed her hands to her mouth as tears streamed silently down her cheeks. How had they known? How could—

Emily came forward and wrapped her arms around Elizabeth. “Jason told us,” she murmured in her ear. Drawing back, she continued. “Mom and I were planning it for after you came home,” she revealed, “but Jason made us realize that we shouldn’t wait. You should get to have everything you want right now.”

“Thank you.” Elizabeth hugged her again, then turned to face the others, keeping Emily’s hand in hers, squeezing it. “Thank you.”

Port Charles County Jail: Conference Room

“In preparation for your release tomorrow,” Scott began, setting down an agreement in front of Justus and Sonny, “I want to review the bail terms—”

“I got it,” Sonny said sourly. “I go home and don’t talk to anyone. Whatever.”

Scott said down and arched a brow at Justus. “Justus?”

“Don’t bother with him,” Sonny interjected. “He’s only my lawyer until tomorrow.” He sneered. “Can’t handle the pressure.”

“Don’t want to,” Justus said. “Jordan Baines has filed a notice of appearance, I’m sure you saw it on the docket.”

“I did—I assumed she was joining the team, not replacing you.” Scott sat back. “Trouble in paradise?”

“The court has ordered that you wear an ankle monitor,” Justus said to Sonny, ignoring the DA. “That’s the only reason you were granted bail, Sonny. You need to go straight to the Towers. It’s not an unconditional bail release—”

“This is bullshit—”

“You committed violent assault, breaking and entering, and Ned was pushing to file terroristic threat charges since you barged into a public building,” Justus reminded him impatiently. “This was the best anyone could do—”

“Maybe that you could do—”

“If you go anywhere but your apartment building,” Scott interrupted, “the department will be notified, and you’ll be arrested for violating the bail. And Albany won’t help you the next time, Corinthos.”

Sonny glared at him. “You’ve been waiting for this for years, Baldwin. Don’t pretend you give a damn—”

“Yeah, I really wanted you to go after your traumatized wife who was only kidnapped and tortured because of you,” Scott retorted. “It’s my dream to sit back and wait for you to go after more defenseless women whose only mistakes were to trust you.” He leaned forward. “I played this by the book, Corinthos. Your lawyer can tell you that. I’ve barely thought about you in months. You have no one to blame but yourself.” He shoved himself to his feet.

“You should have recused yourself,” Sonny snarled.

“If you really felt like I was biased,” Scott said with a pleasant smile, “you should have had your attorney file a motion.”

Sonny glared at Justus who just stared at the table.

“Oh, you already tried that? Let me guess.” Scott flattened his hands against the table. “In order for you to get me removed, Corinthos, you’d have to tell the court why I’d have a bias.” Scott placed his hands flat against the table and leaned in. “You’d have to tell them about Karen.”

Sonny’s eyes burned into him. “I’m not that man anymore.”

“Really? I bet your wife doesn’t agree. Go ahead. Tell the court that I hate you because you fed my barely legal daughters drugs so you could rape her.”

“That’s not—”

“Sonny—” Justus put a hand up. “That’s what I meant. To get Scott of the case, you’d have to prove bias. He’s right. He’s done everything by the book. Even if he should absolutely recuse himself, ethically,” he added, glaring at Scott, “it won’t matter. We need to prove a conflict of interest. You would have to tell them about Karen. Even if the statute of limitations ran out—”

“I’ll beat this case like I always do,” Sonny retorted. “You can’t bring me down.”

“Maybe not for the smuggling or the gambling or the drugs—but I always knew you’d dig your own grave. The trash you were back then—” Scott leveled a malevolent glare at Sonny. “He’s always been there underneath the suit, the charm, and the dimples. You’re a violent, ugly, disgusting piece of shit. And the rest of this town is finally learning what some of us have always known.”

Kelly’s: Diner

Cruz watched as Lulu climbed the back stairs to the second floor, a tray in her hands, and didn’t notice as he was joined at the counter until a textbook hit it with a thud, making the mug and saucer rattle.

He blinked and looked at Maxie. “Where did you come from?”

“Statistics,” the blonde muttered. She craned her neck to see where Cruz had been looking. “He’ll come around. I mean, he talked to his mother earlier.”

“Lu said his mom just walked in. I don’t think I get to do that.” Cruz shifted his attention back to his dinner. He pushed the pot roast around. “It’s fine—”

“It’s not, but I get why you don’t wanna say anything. He’s shutting everyone out except Lulu, and that’s only because he needs to eat.” Maxie’s lips thinned. “And you barely know anyone else, so it must really suck with Lucky stuck in the hospital and Dante shutting down.”

Cruz stared at his dinner, letting Maxie’s words sink in. He’d come to Port Charles to go to the academy and because getting hired at the PCPD was a slam dunk, but she was right. He didn’t have a whole lot going on otherwise.

He couldn’t go home again. Abuela had made that much clear, and his parents hadn’t disagreed. He cleared his throat, forced a smile. “You’re right. He’ll come around—”

“Yeah, Lu will force him. It’s hard to be down around her.” Maxie went around the corner to pour her own soda. “But that’s Dante. We’re talking about you.”

“I don’t like talking about myself—”

“No—” Maxie planted a hand against her chest, widening her eyes in mock surprise. “Really!”

Cruz smiled again, and this time it was a bit more genuine. “I’m good, Maxie. Really.”

“And you can be even better. Lucas and I are gonna hang out at Club 101 Saturday night. It’s their under 21 night, and I’m solo since Kyle’s at school. Come with me, so I don’t have to third wheel with Felix and Lucas.”


“Please. You’ll be doing me a huge favor.” Maxie clasped her hands under her chin and fluttered her lashes. “Pretty please.”

He knew she was asking a little bit out of pity, but Cruz needed to branch out and make friends who weren’t in the department. He nodded. “Okay. You convinced me. I’ll keep you company.”

Kelly’s: Dante’s Room

Lulu dropped Dante’s dinner tray on the table, frowning at the newspapers she had to shove out of the way to make room. “You shouldn’t read this trash.”

“When my name disappears, when they stop reporting on all of this—” Dante sat down. “I can figure out the next step—”

“The next step,” Lulu declared, sitting across from him and reaching for his fries which he wouldn’t eat anyway, “is to go to Anna and ask for your badge back.”


“Or go see my brother in the hospital.”

Dante listlessly pushed his spoon around the bowl of chili. “I can’t do either of those things. And if you keep this up—”

“What? You’ll starve? Please.” Lulu snorted. “Try it. You’d come crawling back in a week.” She broke a fry in half and ate one piece. “Maxie said you had some visitors—”

“Does Maxie have a life of her own?” Dante wanted to know. “It seems like she has nothing better to do than worry about mine—”

“Maxie knows everything about everyone. It’s why I keep her around,” Lulu told him. “She said your mom and aunt forced their way upstairs. If it makes you feel better, Georgie and Maxie tried not to confirm you were here—”


“Hey—” Lulu scowled at him. “You can be in a bad mood. You can get mad at me, I don’t care. I can take it. But Maxie and Georgie have been nothing but kind to you. Maxie is the one that called my dad to get the press out of here. I know you’re having a shitty time, Dante, and I let you take swings at me, but I’m not gonna let you go after my friends. They’re your friends, too.”

Dante dipped his head, then shoved the tray of food away. “I’m sorry,” he muttered. “I’m not good to be around right now.”


“And I should—” He looked around the room, this place that had been his home for two weeks. His prison. “I should just leave Port Charles. Maybe head out west. Idaho or something. They might not call the department or find out about Sonny.”

“Eventually, someone will find out, Dante. You can’t run from it forever.” Lu tipped her head to the side. “Don’t hide. And you know you’re not the only reason this happened to Lucky.”

“Don’t start—”

“It wasn’t just you calling for backup — it was you and Lucky. And don’t forget — Capelli hates all three of you. Cruz got all the accolades for the kidnapping case last year because he was the only good cop on that case, then my brother cracked the rapist case, and you put the bastard away. Capelli and the others — they’re jealous.” Lulu waited for Dante to look at her. “Taggert respects you guys, doesn’t he? And you said your old training officer wasn’t a complete dick. Just lazy.”

“No, I guess not.”

“You guys knew the PCPD was trash last summer, but you stuck it out because you wanted to do better. And you have. They found the guy that shot Lucky by the end of the day,” Lulu reminded him. “Change doesn’t happen overnight.”

“Do you really want me to go back to the PCPD?” Dante demanded. “Knowing that the next time I call for backup and get screwed over, I could die—”

“You being a cop scares me to death,” Lulu told him quietly, and he stopped. “Because Lucky got shot in the line of duty, and I’ve already buried him once. You know that I care about you. Do you think I wanted to? After nearly losing my mother, my brother, what happened to my grandmother—the violence that’s surrounded me my whole life? Do you really think that I wanted to sign up for someone who invites that?”


“But the reason I care about you,” Lulu continued, “is the same thing that scares me. You knew that turning that tape over would be hard. For your family, for you with the department, but you did it anyway. Because it was the right thing to do. You went to the sentencing to make sure Vinnie got what he deserved for all the damage he did.”

He exhaled slowly. “I know all of that, but—”

“You did what had to be done because that was the job. You made sure the public knew about the attacks because that was the job. You followed through. Do I want you to be a cop? That doesn’t matter. It matters what you want. Can you honestly tell me you don’t want to be a cop anymore?” she demanded.

He was quiet for a long moment, then shook his head. “No. I’ve wanted to be a cop my whole life, Lu. And even as hard as the Lansing case was—as hard as all that Vinnie stuff was—at the center, I knew we were doing good. I knew we were trying to make a change. But wanting to be a cop doesn’t mean I can be. Or that I should be. My head’s not in the game anymore, Lu. And maybe I’ll end up distracted. Hurting someone. I couldn’t live with myself.”

“Okay.” She nodded. She pushed the chili back towards him. “Then that’s a reason not to go back.”


“Yeah. Now, eat. You’re gonna need to keep up your strength. As soon as the papers stop harassing you, you’re taking me out to that movie,” she told him. “We had plans the night my brother got hurt.”

He lifted his brows. “We did, didn’t we?”

“Yeah, plus, tomorrow, Lucky’s getting out of the hospital, and you’re going with me to see him.”

“Lu—” He paused. Then lifted his spoon. “Yeah, okay. Maybe it’s time.”

Portia’s Closet: Office

Taggert leaned in the doorway of Portia’s office, watching her lean over a large drawing, scribbling at something that looked like a lot of lines right now, but that he knew with a bit more work, it would turn into some sort of incredible outfit.

She glanced up and smiled at him, a bit distractedly. “Hey,” Portia straightened and rubbed her back, wincing. “I thought you were coming later.”

“Needed to see your face.”

“Hey,” she murmured against his lips. “Not that I mind the afternoon sugar, but something’s wrong. You’re smiling here…” She touched his lips. “But not here—” She tapped just underneath his left eye. “You ready to tell me what’s going on yet?”

He sighed, dipped his head. “This shooting—it’s making me question everything.” He told her about the backup call and trouble with the dispatch supervisor. She listened, nodding at the right moments, then waited a long moment before replying.

“You know, until I met you, I didn’t know if there really was such a thing as good cops,” Portia said. She crossed to her mini-fridge and offered him water. “You’re doing everything you can, Marcus. You know that, don’t you?”

“Maybe. I just—these kids—the rookies—they came to us looking to do something good. But it’s just been one disaster after another. First Elizabeth Webber’s case—that one broke Cruz. He’s working hard, but his first week on the job, he saw a cop sacrifice a woman for his own case. Lucky had to go on calls with Vinnie—he tried to tell me that Vinnie was terrorizing his rape victims,” Taggert admitted.

Portia frowned. “What do you mean?”

“I didn’t know—I didn’t know it was him, but Lucky—he saw that Vinnie’s interviews of the victims were offensive, even traumatizing. And I brushed him off.”

“Did you? So Vinnie got to keep doing the interviews?” Portia pursed her lips. “No, I don’t believe that.”

“I took sex crimes away from him—and the cases,” Taggert admitted. “But I could have done more.”

“Maybe, but you’re just one man.”

“Yeah, well, then Dante found out his own cousin was raping women. You know, they were all thinking about quitting after Elizabeth’s case. I talked them into staying. Into giving me a chance to turn things around. And then this happened.”

“Marcus.” She touched his chest, waiting for him to meet her eyes. “You’re giving that supervisor one last chance, aren’t you? And when he doesn’t cough up the calls, you’re gonna get them another way. I know you. You won’t give up.”

“Shouldn’t be this hard,” he murmured. “Shouldn’t have to keep wondering if I’m even making a difference.”

“Well, what about that rapist case?” Portia asked. “I read the newspaper articles. I know you all broke that case at the same time. You followed the leads, you got the job done. And now he can’t hurt any one else. No more Brookes or Elizabeths.”

“Yeah, I finally got Elizabeth some justice. Five years later, and she nearly lost her life for it.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to come over and ruin your day.”

“You’re not. Hey—” She turned his face back to her when he looked away. “I don’t know how you grew up, but I never met a cop that deserved an ounce of respect. But here—I’ve got you. I know how hard you work. You’re going to get to the bottom of this. You’re going to find out who screwed your officers, and then you’ll be closer to getting rid of them. You’re a good cop, Marcus.”

“Maybe. I just—I wanted to have a little bit of power,” Taggert admitted. “I didn’t want to be afraid anymore. I don’t know if I joined up for the right reasons.”

Portia nodded, her expression grave. “What about now? You get up every day and go to work. You doing that because you don’t know what else to do?”

“No, I—” Taggert’s smile was faint. “No, I transferred to Major Crimes because I didn’t ever want another Elizabeth Webber on my conscience. I wanted to do better.”

“That’s what I thought. It’s just gonna take the world a little longer to catch up,” she murmured. She leaned up and kissed him again. “You’ll have to show them the way.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Elizabeth turned back to Cody, still standing on the threshold. “Thanks. I appreciate you helping me in with some of this.” She’d brought up some of the smaller gifts, leaving the bigger stuff for Jason. “I thought Jason was supposed to be here—” She turned back to scan the living room. “But—oh, there you are!”

“Sorry—” Jason jogged down the stairs and joined them at the door, taking Elizabeth’s hand. “Cody, we’re good for the night.”

“Sure thing. You need me at the usual time tomorrow?” the guard asked.

“No, earlier,” Jason replied. “I have things to do before we check into the hospital,” he told Elizabeth. “The appeal got decided today. Sonny’s coming home tomorrow.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Really? I thought with punching the mayor—”

“He’ll be on house arrest,” Jason reported. “If he goes anywhere but here, they’ll arrest him and put him back in lockup.” He winced. “I was hoping he’d be gone longer—”

“We’ll figure things out.”

Jason turned to Cody. “I need you early, around seven. I’ll be gone most of the morning, so I don’t want to leave Elizabeth alone in case Sonny gets released before I get back.”

“I’ll call Nikolas,” Elizabeth offered. “He can come over and sit with me for a while. Or maybe Bobbie.”

“But I’ll be here on the door until Mr. Morgan gets back,” Cody promised. “Good night.”

Jason closed the door, then turned to Elizabeth with a sigh. “I’m sorry about this. I really thought the appeal would fail, and he’d stay in lockup longer.”

Elizabeth took off her coat. “You can’t help when things happen—”

“But this is the last thing I needed.” He hung up her coat in the closet. “He’ll be on house arrest. If he disappears, the PCPD will climb down our throats—”

“Which isn’t what we want with a baby in the NICU.” She wrinkled her nose. “So, what’s the plan?”

“I’m meeting with Bernie and Tommy at the club first,” he said lightly, and Elizabeth knew that was probably about the Vinnie situation. She’d asked Jason not to tell her anything else, and he’d listened, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t know what was going on. “Then we’re going to the coffeehouse. I want to make sure Justus and Bernie have everything they need to run things without me for at least a week. If not more. And now I need to figure out how to keep Sonny in check—”

“The house arrest thing could help us,” Elizabeth reminded him. “If he leaves the Towers, then he’ll be arrested. I won’t be here for him to harass since I’ll be in the hospital for a few days.” She leaned up to kiss him. “This will be okay, I promise.”

“I wish I could believe that.” He leaned his forehead against hers. “But—”

“Tomorrow, we’re going to meet our son. Nothing is going to ruin that.” She cupped his face with her hands again, lingering. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

“Thank you for today.” She drew back. “Emily said it was your idea.”

He ran his fingers down her arms, from her shoulders until his hands linked with hers. “I knew they were planning something after. I think Monica was worried that if she threw you a baby shower, it would be like pressuring you to deliver early when you didn’t want to. But—”

“I wanted just one thing to feel normal. Getting to have the celebration while I’m still pregnant—it meant so much to me. And so many people were there—” She sighed as they walked towards the stairs. “Monica had some of the members from my support group there. I want to go back after Cameron comes home. I miss it. I think I still need it, and seeing them reminded me how good I felt while I was working with them.”

He swung her into his arms to start up the stairs. “You’re back on board with PCU in the fall, then?”

“Yeah, I think so. I could defer for a year,” she admitted, “but Gail pointed out that I don’t need to take a lot of classes the first semester. I could do one or two. So as long as I’m healthy, I’m gonna do it.”

He set her on her feet in front of their room. “I just want you to have everything I can give you,” Jason told her. Then pushed open the door across the hall — the room that had been empty two weeks ago.

Elizabeth blinked, then her eyes widened. “You—how—”

It was painted in the soft ocean blue that she’d picked out. It had reminded her of Jason’s eyes, the color she hoped their little boy would inherit. And it had furniture. The set she’d circled in a magazine—but she hadn’t—

And the rocking chair from her grandmother’s house that had been in storage. The mobile that Emily had given her that day at the baby shower. There were other things from the shower as well—

“How—” She turned back to Jason, her eyes wet. “How did you do this—”

He slid his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “You left your magazines around, and I saw the sketches. I figured if there was anything you didn’t like, we have time before Cameron comes home. Carly came over last week to go through it while you were at lunch with Emily. She’s better at this than I am.”


“And then we had people to do it while you were at the shower. The painting actually happened two days ago,” he added as she wandered around the room. “When Bobbie took you out to go shopping and lunch after your doctor’s appointment?”

She touched the mobile over the crib, smiling at the soft blue motorcycle that Emily had attached. “I thought we’d do it while Cameron was in the hospital—”

“I thought about what you said a few weeks ago. All the things you didn’t get to do because you’re sick. We’d have more time for all of this, Elizabeth. The shower, the nursery—” He took her hands in his again. “I made you a promise when we decided to keep the baby. I promised you we wouldn’t live in fear the whole time.”


“We didn’t do a good job of keeping that promise,” he admitted, “and I’m sorry—”

“I made it so much worse—”

“We both did,” he corrected gently. “But this part? We should get to do this right. You should have a baby shower before you have the baby. And you should get to decorate his nursery before you go into the hospital. We can change anything you want, but—”

“It’s perfect. It’s exactly what I wanted, and it means more that you did it for us.” She leaned her head against his chest, looking at the crib. “I’ll have to call Carly in the morning. To thank her. I made sketches and notes, but she turned it into reality.”

“She didn’t really get to enjoy being pregnant with Morgan either,” Jason reminded her. “So she knew exactly how you felt. And she wanted to do this for  both of us.” He led her over to their room. “But I also know that Cameron will be with in our room at first—”

In the corner of the room that had remained empty, there was now a plush chair that would be perfect for cuddling up with their son. Next to the chair was a cradle where Cameron would sleep for a few months. “We’re ready for him. Whenever he gets to come home.”

“This is why I can believe everything will be okay.” She leaned up to kiss him. “Because I have you, and we’ll have our son. That’s all I need.”

Miami, Florida

The Setai Miami Beach Hotel: Grand Suite

Claudia sauntered out onto the terrace, where Ric was lounging in the hot tub. “I need to fly home tomorrow,” she told him.

He arched a brow. “Really?”

“I just received the most delightful update.” She waggled her cell phone at him. “The stars are aligning for the final step. We’re ready for Manhattan.”

“Really?” he climbed out of the tub, reaching for the towel to drape around his naked waist. “I thought we were holding onto that one for the right moment. You’re sure?”

“Definitely. My father has played his part excellently.” Claudia smirked. “Won’t he be surprised when we finish the job—you’ll let me be the one to take him out, won’t you?”

“As long as you leave my father for me,” Ric said coolly. “But not until we’re sure. We need the Zacchara contacts. We need them to play patsy—”

“Oh, believe me. They’ve already done it. Their contact inside the Corinthos organization just got in touch, and Enzo ran right to tell me.” She slid her tongue over her teeth. “Enzo was a great investment and quite the animal in the sack.” She danced her fingers down his bare chest. “We could all have so much fun together—”

“Not interested,” he said. “What did he learn?”

“He overheard my father and Trevor talking about Manhattan. Sonny’s being released tomorrow,” Claudia told him. “And Elizabeth’s going into the hospital for delivery.”

He frowned. “Already? She can’t be due yet—”

Claudia waved away his concern. “Something to do with the baby or something. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. It means Jason will be distracted with his family while Sonny is let loose on the world. What will he do without Jason to hold him back?”

Claudia snorted. “My father thinks he’s so smart, fooling Jason and Sonny into searching desperately for a man he killed months ago.”

“Now it’s our turn to have the last laugh.”

June 27, 2022

Update Link: Invisible Strings – Part 2

Apologies for the late posting. Over the next few weeks, I have a few doctor appointments and tests scheduled on days when I’m writing Flash Fiction, so they might not be posted at 11 AM, but they should be at some point that day. My Twitter feed is on the side — I usually post there if there’s a delay. You can also sign up for the update emails so you’ll get notified when I do post.

I also added some more images on the Flash Fiction page.

This entry is part 2 of 22 in the Flash Fiction: Invisible Strings

Written in 29 minutes.

Almost as soon as she’d closed her mouth, Elizabeth knew that something was terribly wrong. When the pair of men had come into the station, she’d spied the gold star pinned to the taller of the men’s shirt. She’d been pleasantly surprised that such a good looking man would need to advertise for a wife, but she’d heard all about the imbalance of men and women out in the West.

Still, as he’d drawn closer, Elizabeth’s stomach had begun to quiver. He was more than just generally good-looking with sandy blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. He had broad shoulders, and a kind smile—

The younger man at his side bore some resemblance — similar hair color and eyes, but he was a bit more spindly and his eyes kept darting all over the place. But the sheriff—Jason Morgan—hadn’t made eye contact with her—his eyes had passed over her at first.

Something was wrong.

“I’m glad you made it safely,” the younger man said—maybe the cousin Jason had written about in his letters? “I know Jason was worried about you traveling with your son.”

“Oh—” Elizabeth twisted to look at Cameron still dozing fitfully on the bench, shoving her doubts down. Maybe Jason was just nervous. That was possible. They’d only written a handful of times—perhaps he was even shy around women. That might explain why he’d searched all the way back East for a wife. “He did well enough, but the last few legs, we had to travel overnight and he didn’t sleep much.”

“I was born out here,” the cousin said cheerfully, though he was speaking a bit fast. He elbowed Jason. “But Jason traveled here when he was just a kid, not much older. Right?”

“What?” Jason blinked, then cleared his throat. “Uh, yes.” He rocked back on his heels. “From San Francisco. When I was nine.”

“Not nearly as far as you came,” the cousin said—what was his name? Something with a D—David? Elizabeth couldn’t quite bring it to the forefront of her memory. Everything had scattered when the men had arrived, and she was still trying to make sense of everything. “New York or New Jersey?”

“New York.” Elizabeth fiddled with cuff of her dress. “Port Hamilton. On Lake Ontario.”

“Well, you’ve moved from one lake to another,” David—no, Dillon! That was it—said. Elizabeth remembered that it was spelled differently. “And Jason’s got the Colorado running past his ranch outside of town. You’ll love it.”

She looked at the man in question who hadn’t said more than a handful of words. What was she supposed to do? Push him into conversation? What if he was just a quiet man?

“I’m looking forward to it,” Elizabeth said. She lifted her chin. “I was hoping that I could get Cameron settled somewhere. You said that I’d be staying in the hotel for a few days while  we made arrangements?” she asked Jason.

“Uh, yeah. I—” Jason looked at his cousin. “Did you take care of it?” he asked Dillon, and Elizabeth was a bit surprised by the tense tone. Jason had nearly bit the words out. Was Dillon normally unreliable?

“Of course. Just as you told me. A little suite with a bedroom and a sitting room.”

“All right then.” Elizabeth returned to the bench to pick up her bag, looping the straps over her arm, then carefully hoisting Cameron into her arms. She swayed for a minute—her little boy wasn’t as little as he’d once been and the added weight—

“I’ll—I’ll take that.” Jason reached for her bag. “I’d—” He carefully removed it from her arm without disturbing Cameron who had only opened his eyes bleerily, then snuggled closer to her. “The hotel is just across the way.”

“Well, then let’s get to it, I suppose.” She pasted a smile on her face and followed the men outside, wondering if she’d made a terrible decision after all.

Jason made sure the woman—whose name she still didn’t know—and her son were comfortable in the rooms that were, of course, registered in his name. The woman behind the check in desk had raised her brows, but Jason had just glared. If Britta Westbourne opened her mouth before he had this settled—

As soon as he’d cleared the hotel entrance, he’d grabbed his cousin by the  back of the neck and dragged him around the corner and shoved him against the brick wall. “What the hell is going on?”

“Okay, I can explain—” Dillon held up his hands. “I meant to tell you. I started to a thousand times, but it wasn’t something that really rolled off the tongue, you know? And then before I knew it, she was on her way—”

“On her way,” Jason said flatly. “But you had time to find out her travel arrangements and pay for her hotel by charging it to my account. Dillon—”

“Look, just hear me out, okay? Listen.” Dillon took a deep breath. “It’s not like I sent for the first women who replied. A lot of women replied. I mean, a lot,” he repeated. “So I made sure I picked someone you’d like—”

Jason gritted his teeth. “What—”

“She’s a hard worker, and she’s devoted to her kid. I mean, she was super clear about the son right away.” Dillon’s face was flushed. “And talked about how she wanted someone who’d love him and be a father. You like kids. And she likes to talk. You hate to talk—she’ll fill all the silence—”

“You—” Jason had to step back or he’d do something he’d regret. “You wrote her as me. She has no idea that I don’t know.”

“Well, no. And she doesn’t need to.” Dillon shrugged. “I’ll give you her letters, and you’ll know everything she told you. You said you’d get married if the right woman came around. She’s the right woman—”

“Says you,” Jason retorted. “Then you marry her—”

“Oh, no. We both like to talk. We’d irritate each other in five minutes.” Dillon’s eyes widened. “You promised—”

“You made me promise that knowing she was already here,” Jason interrupted. “That’s not fair—”

“Give me one good reason she’s not perfect for you!”

Jason opened his mouth, then closed it. The trouble was—the idiot had a point. The woman was beautiful—someone he’d take a second, even third look at—damn it—

“I don’t even know her name, for one—”

“Oh, that’s easy. She’s Elizabeth Webber from Port Hamilton, New York. Her son is Cameron, and she’s twenty-four. He’s four, I think. Nearly five, maybe I don’t remember. Just read her letters, you’ll see—”

“She wrote them to you,” Jason said with a shake of his head. “And she wrote them because of some advertisement you created. It’s not right. And you’d have me lie to her some more? Lie to her for the rest of our lives?”

“I—” Dillon frowned. “Well, why should it matter? She came here to marry a stranger—”

“The fact that you don’t understand the difference tells me how stupid you are. Go back to the jail. I’ll stay and clean up your damn mess—”

“Jason—” His cousin’s face fell. “You’re not even going to give her a chance?”

“It’s not fair to either of us.” Jason shoved Dillon towards the street. “Now get out of my sight.”

June 24, 2022

Update Link: Signs of Life – Part 37

EDIT: A peek behind the curtains here. I set up everything before 10 AM and writing, so my update posts are written in advance. I do this so that I can hit publish as close to 11 as possible. I was about 20 minutes into writing Part 37 when my phone flashed with a notification.

Roe v. Wade overturned.

I knew it was coming today. I knew the decision was going to be brutal, and I knew it was going to put every SCOTUS decision that means anything to me on the line. If they can take Roe, they can take Brown and Lawrence and Obergefell.  I knew all of that, and still there was a small kernel that wanted to believe differently.

I literally just can’t. So today’s update is short. Two scenes. Sorry. I just can’t.  My brain just can’t focus.

The first week of our summer schedule is done, so here’s a quick round up if you missed anything.

If you’re a Patreon supporter, I’ll be back and updating the perks on Sunday.

This entry is part 37 of 41 in the Flash Fiction: Signs of Life

Written in 20 minutes. Had to stop because brain couldn’t handle today.

Thursday, February 3, 2000

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Sonny looked from Jason to Elizabeth, then back again as he absorbed what Jason had just told him.

“I don’t know if you’re the only other person it could be,” Jason continued, “but AJ made it clear to me yesterday that it isn’t his baby.”

Sonny turned away, scrubbing his hands down his face. “How long?” he asked quietly. “How long have you known she was pregnant?”

“Sonny—” Elizabeth began but Jason shook his head, released her hand, and stepped forward.

“Since the day of wedding reception. I didn’t say anything at first because Carly said there was a chance—”

“And you believed her?” Sonny bit out, whirling back. “She does nothing but lie—”

“I know. I told her I wanted to a paternity test—”

“Like they can’t be faked—” Sonny’s gaze burned into his. “Was this your idea of revenge? I put your family at risk, you keep mine from me?”

“No, that’s not—”

“Sonny—” Elizabeth tried again, but he wasn’t in any mood to be comforted or talked down.

“You had no right to—” Sonny shook his head. “To hell with this,” he bit out. He stalked past them, slamming the door behind him.

“He was never going to take this well,” Elizabeth murmured, putting a hand on Jason’s shoulder.

“He would have if I had told him when I found out,” Jason replied, irritated with himself. And he’d thought of keeping his mouth shut even longer? Was Sonny right? Had there been some thought in the back of his mind that Sonny deserved to be in the dark?

“Should we go after him?” Elizabeth broke into his thoughts, and he frowned, looking down at her. “He’s going to the mansion to confront Carly, but she’s not alone. AJ might be there. Lila definitely is, and maybe Michael—”

“Sonny might be angry, but—” Jason paused. He wasn’t worried about Lila or Michael, he realized. He trusted Sonny enough to moderate himself around his grandmother and a toddler.

But if AJ was there—or Edward or Alan—if any of the Quartermaine men were—Sonny would be arrested before he got two steps into the mansion and that would be a headache none of them could afford.

“You’re right. Let’s go.”

Quartermaine Estate: Terrace

Carly kicked at small pile of snow that had collected beneath one of the railings. She was running out of time to figure out what to do. She’d managed to hold Jason off for a while, but eventually he’d demand that paternity test—

She huffed, her breath exploding in a cloud of white as it dissipated into the freezing air. She should have gotten out of town when she’d had the chance. Jason had been ready to make her and Michael disappear, but no, Carly had to reach a bit higher. Had to go for the gold.

She’d never settled in her life, and until these last few weeks, she’d never had to. She’d set out to destroy her mother’s marriage, and she’d done it. She’d schemed to make sure no one took Michael for her, and until now, she’d managed that. She’d made sure she was a wedge between Jason and Robin—

It should been easy to get the little bitch away from Jason. Robin had almost been pathetically easy to get rid of once Michael was in the picture. Carly had nearly tipped Jason into having an actual affair with her, and if not for that Webber bitch—

She squeezed her eyes shut. If Jason had just left with her, had taken Michael and run, they’d be somewhere and a family. Jason would believe this child was his. It should be his. It wasn’t fair—

There was a thud and some distant voices somewhere in the house. Carly turned away from the gardens, towards the terrace doors, frowning. Who was even here to argue with? AJ had taken the day off to spend with Michael, but nearly everyone else was gone—

Carly pulled the doors open and went towards the entrance connecting the family room to the foyer—stopping when the voices became more clear.

When she recognized them.

“Where the hell is that whore?” Sonny demanded. Carly couldn’t hear AJ’s response, but she didn’t need to.

It was over. Sonny knew. And he was going to tell AJ—if he hadn’t already.

Damn it.

Carly closed the door again and headed back to the terrace. She’d leave through the gardens, get into the garage, take one of the cars—

It was time for Plan C.