July 31, 2022

Update Link: Watch Me Burn – Part 2

Hope everyone’s having a great weekend! In addition to a Flash Fiction update, I have some main channel updates and some housekeeping.


  • We did the second WatchParty where I watched about 50 minutes of Jason and Elizabeth from September 2008 (there are also some rants).
  • Then, I posted the Summer 2022 Schedule video. You can check out the video below if you want to listen me walk through the schedule or check out the Canva Projects I used: Posting Schedule | August Writing
  • I’ll be posting again on the main channel, but I won’t do separate posts here for the videos. If you want to subscribe to the YouTube channel, that would be awesome. I’m 11 subscribers away from getting a custom URL, woo 🙂
  • Today a Fool Me Twice video will go up, and then videos will go up on Mondays & Sundays for the rest of August to go with the August Writing Schedule.

August Writing

  • I’m going to pick the next writing project on September 5, so I’m spending all of August getting a bunch of projects ready, so I can play with all of them. Every project has a time and place, and I want to pick one that really feels right. This should also make it easier to start a new project in the middle of the year..
  • The projects I’m working on are all really different, so there’s an excellent chance one is going to “speak” to me, lol.
    • Fool Me Twice, Book 2 – set in 2018
    • For the Broken Girl, Book 2 – set in 2006
    • Malice, sequel to Bittersweet – set in 2003
    • These Small Hours – set in Fall 2008
    • Burn in Heaven, sequel to A Few Words Too Many – Set Fall 2007
    • Kismet – Set Decemer 1997.

Crimson Glass

  • When I first started writing again in 2014, my first two novels (A Few Words & The Best Thing) were separated into parts which made the stories more annoying to read.
  • I’ve already reorganized The Best Thing into one list so that’s much easier to read. I’ll be doing the same to A Few Words shortly.

This entry is part 2 of 50 in the Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn

Written in 58 minutes.

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Emily Quartermaine retrieved her debit card and picked up the brown bag with her lunch. “Thanks, Penny,” she told the waitress behind the counter. She made it all the way to the door before turning back to look at the trio at the table.

“Honestly, Georgie, I think you’re right to be a little suspicious,” she told her. “A bouquet of flowers just showing up in your dorm?”

“I think it’s sweet,” Georgie’s friend, a pretty brunette, said with a shy smile.

“Creepy,” Spinelli muttered, picking up his orange soda.”

“It wasn’t even addressed to me,” Georgie reminded her friend. “It could have been for you, Chels.”

“Oh, no—” Chelsea’s eyes widened and she looked at Emily. “It’s totally for Georgie. She’s the friendly one—”

“Let Spinelli see if he can find something out,” Emily suggested. She patted the tech’s shoulder. “He’s going to do it anyway, so at least give him permission.”

Spinelli hunched his shoulders. “Was only gonna poke a little,” he muttered.

“Thanks, Em.”

“Let me know how it turns out—” Emily pulled open the door and then walked straight into Lucky. “Oof! I didn’t see you there—”

“Yeah, a lot of that going around,” Lucky growled. She grimaced and gently pushed him away from the entrance, back towards the courtyard. “Em—”

“I haven’t seen you in a few days,” she reminded him. “I wanted to make sure you were okay—”

“Okay?” He laughed derisively. “How am I supposed to be okay? I’ve been humiliated in front of the whole world—”

“I know it hurts right now, and it’s not  the way you should have been told. If Elizabeth had any idea that’s what she be asked on the stand, I’m sure—”

“Oh, you’re sure she would have told the truth? That’d be a first—”


Lucky shoved his hands in his pockets. “Did you know she was packing up today? Used me to avoid the press, and now she’s taking my kids—”

Emily bit her lip. “Have you talked to her? About custody. I know you were hoping you could find a way to stay in their lives—”

Lucky’s jaw clenched. “She shut me down. After a year of lying to me, it’s that simple for her. Everyone knows the truth, so Jason gets the kid he walked away from without having to do a damn thing.” He slapped a hand against his chest. “I’m the one that’s been there for him. Fed him, put him to bed, changed him—but she gets to give him away like none of that means anything—”

Emily exhaled slowly. “There are no easy answers in this situation, Lucky. What was she supposed to do? Keep lying? Keep Jason away from his son?”

“He’s my son—”

“Not biologically,” Emily said gently. “I don’t pretend to know why it went on this long — but better when Jake is three months old and not six. Did you really want her to keep this secret forever?”

“I wanted it not to be true!”

“I get that, Lucky, but that’s not on the table. It is true. You can go for another paternity test, but there’s already the one on file at the hospital.” Emily set her bag on the table. “I’m sorry, Lucky. I am. I don’t want it to be like this either. I don’t want those boys to lose someone who loves them. Is Liz shutting down all visitation with them?”

“No—” Lucky took a deep breath. “No. She’s fine with me and Cam, so I guess there’s that. But it’s a no on Jake.”

“Maybe it’s a no right now,” Emily said. “Jason got released this morning. They haven’t even talked about it yet. And Lucky, you don’t even know why he said yes to giving Jake up all these months. Maybe he didn’t want it either.”

Lucky went over to the table, jerked out a chair and sat down, putting his head in his hands. “She said something like that,” he muttered. “That she couldn’t keep hurting him to make me happy.”

“Yes, Elizabeth created this situation by not telling the truth.” Emily sat next to him. “But in order to resolve it, either you or Jason have to be hurt. And she’s  been hurting him for almost a year. Even if he didn’t know it. Lucky, do you remember what was happening last fall? What happened when you found out about the baby—”

“Do you think it makes me feel any better to know that she lied to keep me clean?” Lucky bit out. “Do you think I like knowing that my wife only stayed with me out of pity and fear? That I guilted her into all of this?” He leaned back, tilted his head up, his voice hoarse. “I knew something was wrong. Months ago. During the kidnapping. I knew she didn’t love me anymore. I killed that a long time ago.”

“I’m asking you to think about the boys here. Cameron adores you. You are the only father he has ever known—”

“I don’t think—”  Lucky shook his head. “I can’t do it. I can’t be around Cam and not think about Jake. And know what I’ve lost. It’ll hurt too much. It has to be both of them—”

“That’s—” Emily bit back her quick words, but he frowned at her. “That’s not fair. Cam is innocent. He didn’t ask for this—”

“Elizabeth should have thought about that before she did this. She started this lie. She’s going to have to deal with it.” He jerked to his feet and stalked out of the courtyard.

Emily sighed, picked up her order, and followed. This was going to get so much worse before it got better.

Port Charles Park

“It must be a relief to be free,” Elizabeth said, handing Jason a bottle from the diaper bag so that he could feed Jake. She sat next to him on the bench.

“It wasn’t so bad. I got to do those night shifts at the hospital for a while,” Jason reminded her. He smiled down at Jake. “He’s getting so much bigger.”

“I know. He’s sleeping so much better now. Or he has been. I’m hoping that won’t change now that we’re at my grandmother’s.” Jason frowned, looked at her. She continued, “I waited to leave the house. Lucky’s address is protected because he’s a cop. I knew the press couldn’t find me. I figured waiting until the trial was over would give things a chance to die down. And your acquittal was bigger news.”

“Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense.” Jason pressed his lips together, then asked, “Was Lucky okay with that?”

“He and I didn’t speak after the testimony. He went directly to Spoon Island until this morning. That’s something else I guess we need to talk about. Um, he came to the house while I was packing. I thought we were going to—” She picked at the cuff of her sleeve. “I thought we were going to be able to just walk away. Not happy or anything, but just accepting it was over. He gets to be angry with me. So do you—” she said, softly, meeting his eyes. “You should both be furious with me—”

“I’m not.”

She didn’t believe that. Couldn’t. “You can tell me how you feel. It’s not going to change my mind about Jake—”

“I made the decision, too—”

“I made it for you. You know that. I asked you on the day you buried your father—” Her throat tightened and she looked away, tears distorting the greenery that surrounded them into green blobs. “I shouldn’t have done that. I can never make up for it.”

“You’ve apologized—”

“I haven’t. I am sorry, but it won’t be enough.” She brushed at her tears with the back of her hands. “Anyway. Lucky told me he wants both boys.”

Jason tensed—he could see the way his hold on Jake tightened. “Both of them.”

“I told him no. It’s not even up for debate. It was hard because I’ve already hurt him, and I know the way it came out made everything worse, but I can’t keep choosing him. It’s not fair. To you, to Jake, and it’s not fair to Lucky. He doesn’t see that now, but he might.” She cleared her throat. “I need to get an attorney and file for custody. Um,  there might be stuff you need to do. I don’t know how to get a birth certificate changed. Or if that’s—I don’t know. It’s a huge mess, and I created it, so I have to fix it. I just don’t know where to start.”

Jason gently stroked Jake’s back until the infant burped. “Diane is general practice. You can have her.”

“Have her?”

“She’s on retainer with me,” Jason said, “so—”

“I can’t—” Elizabeth exhaled, looked up at the roof of the gazebo. “I can pay her—”

“Jake is my son. You told the world that. And you wanted me to be involved,” he continued. “We’re not married—”

She flinched and looked away, thinking of the elevator, of the repeated proposals he’d made. Just marry me. What if she’d said yes to that insane idea all those months ago?

“So I want to support Jake. And it’s in my best interest that you have an attorney who can get you custody. Diane is the best attorney that’s ever worked for me.”

“I don’t want your money—”

“I know you don’t. But Jake deserves my support, doesn’t he? It’s not for you. It’s for him.”

She made a face, then looked at her lap. “Yeah. Okay. That—that’s okay. Um, I don’t know what things are going to look for the next few months. I have to see if the hospital will let me end my maternity leave early. I took six months, but it was going to be unpaid for part of it. And Lucky’s going to make this as painful as possible. But I promise — I’m not going to break this time. I’m not going to let him or anyone else—including myself—guilt me into letting Lucky stay Jake’s father.”


“I’m going to make better choices,” she murmured. “I don’t want to be afraid all of the time.”

Jason frowned. “Afraid? Was it—the job? Because if that still—”

“No. And we are absolutely never  having that conversation again.” Irritated, she flicked her eyes back to him. “I swear, if you so much as say the word dangerous again to me, I’m going to scream.”


She shoved herself to her feet. “We had this argument in 2000. I won it, then. And then again in 2002. I won it again. I am done fighting this battle, Jason. Because I never get to win the war, and it’s exhausting, so I promise you, if you try to use your job or the danger to walk away from our son—”

Jason stood, mystified. “I didn’t. I wouldn’t. Even if I wanted to, it’s too late. The world knows—but I don’t want to. I never did.” When she flinched, he sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to make you feel bad—”

“No, you have every right—I didn’t—I just—” She folded her arms. “I’m just not interested in having the same conversation we’ve been having almost since we met.” She checked her watch, winced. “I have to get back to my grandmother’s. It’s almost time for the boys’ naps, and Gram needed to go somewhere.”

Reluctantly, Jason handed the baby back to her. “I’ll call you with Diane’s information and let her know you’ll contact her.”

“Thanks. Um, we’ll figure out some sort of schedule with Jake. I want you to see him as much as you want. Gram knows that,” Elizabeth added. “We’ll work it out. I’m going to make this right.”

Wyndemere: Family Room

Lucky was still furious when he reached Spoon Island—he’d hoped the launch from the pier to the island would give him time to calm down—but the conversation with Emily had ignited everything he’d been trying to ignore—

Nikolas was sprawled out on the floor, watching as Spencer played with his toys. Lucky stared at the scene, at his brother with his son. Nikolas hadn’t known about the paternity for months. Jax and Carly had lied about it. Nikolas would understand what Lucky was going through, wouldn’t he?

“Hey—” Nikolas kissed his son’s forehead, then got to his feet. “Keep playing, Spence.”

“K, Daddy.”

“How’d it go?”

Lucky went over to the mini bar, but only poured himself water. His hands shook slightly—and for a brief moment—he wanted the high. Craved the oblivion it would offer. To let everything fall away, to fade. To give him peace.

“Disaster,” he muttered. “She’s not going to let me near Jake.”

“Is that what she said?”

“It boils down to it. I get it. I know it’s right. I know it’s the only to fix this. To just—tell the truth, and Jason gets his son, and I get to keep Cameron. Jason probably doesn’t want me playing daddy anymore than I want him to do it—”


“But I can’t. I can’t. I have to fight for Jake. He has to know that I love him. Blood doesn’t matter. I don’t care that he’s not biologically mine.” He turned to his brother. “If she’d told me the truth, I could have found a way to deal with it. I’m not my father. Okay? I can love a kid that’s not mine. I do it with Cameron, don’t I? That’s what went wrong with my parents. Dad could never accept you. Never  bend enough to understand. And you always felt like Mom could have loved you better—”

“Lucky, it’s not that simple.”

“I love him. It’s not fair to ask me to walk away like this. To split the boys like this. How do I go to pick up Cameron, and see Jake and not get to have him?” He set the glass down, terrified he’d through it. Or that it would break in his hand. “What if Jason and Elizabeth end up together? You know. They get married, and Cam has him all he time, and starts to resent me?”


“I have to fight for my kids. You get it, don’t you?” Lucky took Nikolas by the shoulders. “I love my boys. I don’t care about the blood.”

“Okay. Okay. I know you do. I just—you’re setting yourself up for grief down the road. I don’t know a judge that’s going to give you custody of Jake.”

“I’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it. But I need to fight. I didn’t fight last year. Not enough. If I hadn’t relapsed, she wouldn’t have stopped loving me. We’re done, me and Elizabeth. But my addiction—it can’t cost me the boys, too. I won’t let it.

Kelly’s: Diner

Jason grimaced when he pulled open the door and found Spinelli and Georgie inside, joined by a third person he didn’t know. Spinelli beamed when he saw Jason, jumping to his feet. “Stone Gold! My sensei! You will have the answers we seek!”

“We don’t have any noisemakers,” Georgie assured him. “I made him throw those out.”

Jason sighed, accepted Spinelli’s enthusiastic hug. “What answers?” he wanted to know.

“Faithful Friend has a dilemma that she refuses to let me resolve—”

“I don’t know if it’s my problem or Chelsea—oh, Chels—” Georgie leaned back. “Chels, this is Jason. Jason, this is my roommate and best friend, Chelsea Rae.”

Jason didn’t know why Georgie was introducing him to someone as if his face hadn’t been in all the papers, but whatever. “What’s the problem?”

“We live together in a dorm on PCU. We’re doing  summer program,” she added. “And this bouquet of roses showed up outside our room. No name — I don’t know if it’s mine or Chels—”

“It’s yours,” Chelsea insisted.

“Spinelli wants to hack into the PCU security to get footage,” Georgie continued. “I told him it’s not a big deal. If they’re not going to leave their name, why do I care who they are?”

Jason looked at Spinelli who scowled. “If she says don’t do it, don’t do it. No means no.”

“Okay, but what if I hack in and get the footage, but I don’t watch it,” Spinelli suggested. “Then, if you want to know later—”

“You will never, in a million years, not watch that footage,” Georgie said with a roll of her eyes. “Chels, do you care?”

“Um—” Chelsea bit her lip. “What if he gets the footage and gives it someone who won’t let him look? We might want it later, Georgie.”

“I’ll give it to Stone Cold. He will be the keeper of the files.” Spinelli nodded. “This is a most excellent compromise. I knew you could do it, Stone Cold.”

“I did nothing,” Jason said, then went to the counter to order dinner.

Hardy House: Nursery

 Elizabeth tucked Cameron in and smoothed the curls away from his face. Then, she went to the crib to make sure there was nothing for Jake to grab and hurt himself with. He wasn’t asleep yet, but was quietly laying there. Looking back at her with his daddy’s eyes.

“I’m going to do so much better for you, my sweet baby. No more running. I promise.”

July 30, 2022

Update Link:  Mad World, Book 4 – Chapter 104

Hope you’re having a good day 🙂 I’m doing a second Watch Party livestream tonight at 6 PM EST. I’m going to be watching scenes from the Fall of 2008 for Jason/Elizabeth to work on brainstorming These Small Hours, a possible upcoming future project. If you’re interested, check out the embedded video below and come to YouTube to join the chat 🙂 The stream will stay public if you want to watch it later.

This entry is part 29 of 41 in the Mad World: Liberty

One after another, they’ve always come and gone
So what if I’m a monster that’s been here all along
They’re dropping like flies whenever I’m around
So used to goodbyes, there’s comfort in the sound
Maybe I’m the monster that’s been here all along

Bending ’till you break and you can’t take anymore
I’m not worth the trouble it seems
I would say you’re wrong, but I’ve been here before
You won’t be the last one to leave

Monster, Gabbie Hanna

Friday, April 25, 2004

General Hospital: NICU

Elizabeth beamed as Nadine gently placed Cameron in her arms for the last time. She turned to look at Jason whose own grin was bigger than she’d ever seen.

This was the last day Cameron would ever spend in the NICU. Today they were bringing their son home.

“I’m gonna miss this little guy,” Nadine told them with a smile of her own, “but my favorite day is always their last day. I’m so excited to see him leave.”

“Thanks for taking such good care of him,” Elizabeth told her. “And for the tour before I delivered. I was so…” She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, before focusing on the nurse again. “I was so scared of what he’d face. But you believe me feel like he’d be safe.”

“Thank you,” Jason offered as Elizabeth handed him the baby. “For everything.”

“My pleasure. You know, we don’t always see a lot of family. Not because they don’t care,” Nadine added, “but for a lot of people—this is really hard. People get scared of getting attached or seeing the machines and wires. But your family—they really stepped up. And it makes me happy to know this little boy is going to have such a great start. Good luck. And, hey, send us pictures! I wanna know how he turns out.”

With another wave, the neonatal nurse left and Elizabeth turned her attention to packing up the things they’d brought to make Cameron’s room feel more comforting. A few photo frames, some stuffed animals—she tucked them into her tote as Jason fastened Cameron into the carrier. The baby swung his hands, opened his eyes briefly, then closed them again.

Cameron had already survived the car seat test the day before to make sure he could breathe without any issues. It had been the longest two hours of her life, but he’d emerged like a champ and—even more important, he’d gained two more ounces over the last few days. He was almost six pounds.

Their little miracle.

“You got everything?” Jason asked.

Elizabeth looped the tote over her shoulder, and he frowned at her slightly. She raised her brows. “It weighs, like, a pound. Cameron’s heavier.”

“I know.” He winced. “Sorry.” He lifted the car seat and she looped her arm around his, smiling at him.

“Nothing can get me down today,” she told him as they left the NICU. She waved at a few of the nurses she’d gotten to know over the last month, and they walked towards the entrance. When they’d exited the ward and started towards the elevators, she blinked back tears.

“Oh, man, he’s really going home. I kept thinking they’d stop us on the way out.” Elizabeth swiped her cheek, then pressed the button. “You sure you’re okay to be at home with us for the next few days?”

“I have a few things to handle today,” he reminded her, “and then I’m all yours. If Justus and Bernie need anything, they know where to find me. Stop finding things to worry about.”

He said this last part with a smile, so she knew he wasn’t really irritated. “I can’t help it. When we go to bed tonight, he’ll be with us. Honestly, I might not let him even sleep in his own room until he’s six. Or never.” She nodded as they stepped onto the elevator. “Never sounds good.”

“Uh huh.”

“You’re laughing at me again. I can tell without even looking at you.” She slid him a playful glare from under her lashes, then pressed the lobby button. “You know, I can make you pay for that.”

Jason smirked. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

“Oh, according to Kelly, I can keep that promise in about—” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “Five more weeks.”

“Five weeks?” He met her eyes, held them as her cheeks flushed. “Five it is.”

Lucky & Kelsey’s Apartment: Bedroom

Kelsey sat on the bed and picked at her cuticles. “Maybe your dad is right.”

Lucky drew a shirt over his head, then turned to her. “About letting it go? Kelse—”

“I mean—” She sighed. “If he can make sure my mom is safe, maybe I should just put the file back. I have to do that anyway, but maybe there are things I don’t want to know.”

He sat next to her, reached for her hand. “Kelsey—”

“My dad was a good guy. If I bring this out, the world will find out what he did for a living and maybe that’ll be how people remember him.” She rested her forehead against his shoulder. “Is that what I want?”

“You’re the only one who can answer that, baby. You tell me to drop this, we will. We’ll put it away.”

He would, she knew that. Because she’d ask it of him, and she mattered. Had she dreamed she’d find someone who’d love her like this when she’d sat at his bar last summer and flirted with the cop and his pretty eyes?

Could she live with herself if she buried this again?

“I don’t know. I keep going back and forth on this, I’m sorry—”

“You don’t need to apologize for anything.” He cupped her cheek and kissed her. “This is your family. Your father—”

“It’s yours, too—”

“And I can live with my dad and his secrets. I had to learn that lesson a long time ago.” Lucky paused. “The only thing I can’t live with is if my father’s past comes between us. I believe him when he says he didn’t do it—”

“So do I—”

“But I don’t think he’s told us everything. We’d have to let that go.” His thumb swept over her cheekbone. “Can you do that?”

“Can you?”

Lucky laughed lightly, and it was lightly tinged with bitterness. “I’ve been letting my old man get away with a lot worse, you know. He’s never told me a truth when a lie sounded better. I didn’t always know that,” he murmured. “I used to believe every word out of his mouth like it was gospel. Like he was Moses on the Mountain.”


“And then I found out what he’d done to my mother, and I had to accept it wasn’t about me. I was horrible to her, did I ever tell you that?” he asked her. He got to his feet and went over to the dresser to pull out jeans. “Made it her fault that she’d fallen in love with the man who’d raped her.”


“Nikolas came along, and I made that her fault, too—because I didn’t know who my father was. I didn’t see him for who he was. I love him,” Lucky murmured. “Maybe that’s the hardest part of all of this. I couldn’t understand how my mother forgave him and lived with him, but didn’t I do the same?”

“You made peace with it, Lucky. And I can see why. Your father—”

“Is still lying to me. Still only telling me what he wants me to know. I had to learn the hard way to listen for the truth inside his lies. He lives his whole life like that—” Lucky scowled. “There’s the truth, the lie, and Luke Spencer is always somewhere in between. I can live with him lying to me, but I don’t know if I can live with him lying to you.”

Lucky zipped and snapped his jeans. “If you want to let this go, I can do it. Because this is your father and your life, and I love you. You matter. Whatever you want to do, Kelsey. I can do it.”

“I know you can.” She wound her arms around his waist and drew him in for another kiss. “And that’s why I love you.”

Corinthos & Morgan Warehouse: Office

Jason walked into the office, impatient to get the few meetings he’d scheduled over with. Now that his son was home, he wanted to spend as much time as possible with him. Cam still required a lot of close attention and constant care, and Jason wanted to be part of it.

He scowled when he found Johnny Zacchara standing by a table, a gift bag in his hand.

“What are you doing here?” Jason asked, frowning. He barely remembered that Johnny was even in Port Charles. The Zaccharas had been quiet and the son had been working at one of the clubs without an issue.

Johnny turned. “Dropping off a gift for the kid.” He nodded at the table. “Bernie put out word that it was okay. You know, people want kiss ass, Morgan. Or maybe people like your wife. I don’t know. It’s just what you do when the boss has a baby.”

Jason walked over to the table — it was stacked with several gift bags, a stack of cards, and a few boxes that had baby-related things on it. He grimaced. “We didn’t do it for Morgan,” he said more to himself.

“I don’t know anything about that, but Tommy stopped by the Star—the club he’s letting me manage,” he added when Jason didn’t say anything. “He said it might be a gesture of goodwill. It’s not from my dad—”

“It’s fine. Uh, thanks. We just—” Jason picked up the stack of cards, sure there were was some hefty cash gifts. He didn’t want to deal with any of this. He looked at Johnny. “We’re not much on the old school stuff in Port Charles.”

“Yeah, Dad used to hate that about Sonny,” Johnny said easily. “Some of that old school stuff kept up the lines of communication. Made it easier to stop things before it got bad. I don’t want anything to do with this stuff,” he reminded Jason, “but I grew up with it, so I guess I gotta say that anything that keeps the peace or at least the crap away from your family is probably worth it.”

“Yeah.” Jason agreed with that, and it made sense now that he remembered Bernie had been the one to talk to Elizabeth about the guest list. She’d played into those traditions and the men she’d invited were probably returning the gesture. He looked back at Johnny. “You’re good at the Star?”

“Yeah, yeah. It’s nice. My sister was right. Coming up here to get away from Dad and do something I actually like—not a bad thing.” Johnny shoved his hands into his pockets. “Course if I try to stick around after the six months are up, I’ll have to give Dad a good reason.”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Jason told him. “I’ve got meetings—”

“Yeah, yeah. See you around. Congrats on the kid, by the way. Coming home, I mean. It’s gotta be a relief,” Johnny said over his shoulder as he left. Jason looked back at the table, peering into one of the bags that held a stuffed yellow bear. He’d have to take this stuff home to Elizabeth, and she’d probably have to write thank you cards.

He’d never wanted to be in power, but Sonny hadn’t left him a choice. Jason wouldn’t make the same mistake he’d made six years ago, thinking there was a chance to get out. There was no getting out, so he’d just have to make the world he lived in as safe as possible for his family.

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Sonny smoothed a hand down his chest, his heart beating a bit fast. He hadn’t felt nervous until Max had pulled up in the parking lot and let him out. He wanted to get back to his life, wanted to be normal again but people kept looking at him. Kept waiting for him to flip.

He wasn’t going to do that. He was under control again. He’d agreed to therapy, hadn’t he? Wasn’t he shoving the medication down his throat every day? Hadn’t he sworn off alcohol?

He deserved a second chance, damn it. He’d done some terrible things, but he was sick. And he was getting better. If Justus, Jason, and Carly were too selfish to see it, that was fine. There were other people who might give Sonny a chance.

He went into the diner, smiling at Lulu Spencer behind the counter who stared at him for a long moment, her eyes wide. She looked so much like her mother, Sonny thought, as he slid into the seat. “Hey, Lu.”

“Uh, Mr. Corinthos, hi. I didn’t—” Lulu took a deep breath. “I didn’t know you were home. I’m glad you’re feeling better. Can I get you anything?”

“A coffee.” Sonny flipped the cup over and waited as she poured the liquid. He saw a flash of dark hair in the window behind her. “And maybe a small favor.”

“A favor?” Lulu’s hand trembled slightly as she set the carafe back on the hot plate. “What’s up? Did you want to talk to my dad?”

“No, I thought you might go and ask Dante if he has a break coming up,” Sonny said. He cleared his throat. “I, uh, hoped he’d talk to me. For a few minutes.”

Lulu pursed her lips. “I’m not sure—I mean, I could ask him,” she allowed, “but I’m not sure he’ll come—”

“If he says no, that’s fine,” Sonny assured her. He could understand that. He’d heard somewhere that Dante was friendly with Lucky which naturally followed to his sister. He was glad Dante was the kind of man who inspired people to look out for him. He was sure Olivia had done an excellent job raising him.

And unlike Alexis, Sonny held no ill will towards Olivia for hiding the truth. He’d broken her heart and tossed her over for Connie, then he’d left the neighborhood. No, Olivia didn’t owe him anything. Neither did Dante. That was why it was easier to approach him. To ask him for a chance. Just a small one.

He just needed someone to give him a break.

“Okay,” Lulu said. She went into the back, tossing another glance at Sonny over shoulder.

Corinthos & Morgan Warehouse: Office

“I’m putting together a buyout package,” Justus told Jason, “but I thought we might want to discuss doing a more silent partner thing. It might be easier for Sonny to agree to,” he added.

“Yeah. Yeah.” Jason scrubbed a hand over his face, scanning the vendor contracts and the property agreements. “I don’t care. Whatever Sonny will agree to. I don’t want him at the warehouse, confusing the guys.”

“He’s handling all this pretty well,” Bernie admitted. “When he came home, I thought we’d have a fight on our hands.”

“He’s saving that for Carly,” Jason replied, getting to his feet. “Maybe his meds are starting to work. Maybe he’s biding his time. I don’t know.” He glanced at the clock on the desk. “All I know is he’s not making any moves. Max would tell me if he was, and it’s been quiet. He hasn’t even come over to talk to Elizabeth.”

“Well, that’s good.” Justus paused. “It just seems like it all ended abruptly, but I’m not going to be mad about it.”

“Is that the last of it?” Jason asked. “I’ve already been gone a few hours. Cameron needs feeding every few hours, and Elizabeth needs to make sure she’s still resting.”

“I thought she was recovered,” Bernie said, alarmed. “I know she hasn’t had the surgery—”

“She’s recovered from the C-section, but she’s still at risk for blood clots—” Jason caught sight of the gifts out of the corner of his eye. “About those—”

“Oh, yeah, Tagliatti reached out when Cameron was born,” Bernie said. “Wanted to send over something as a sign of respect. He paused. “I thought—”

“We both thought it might be better if everyone waited until Cameron had a release date,” Justus finished. “I didn’t want you have to deal with any of that if—”

If Cameron hadn’t survived. Jason nodded. “Yeah. I wasn’t expecting—I mean, I didn’t think—”

“Some are from guys in our organization,” Justus reported. “A lot are from the families that Elizabeth invited to the wedding. And there are several from the organizations that, uh, Zacchara used to screw with us on the Ric stuff.”

Jason grimaced. “You mean those assholes sent me a baby gift thinking I’d forget about the bullshit they pulled?” He scowled. “I don’t want anything from them, and I’m not making Elizabeth write them a damn thank you card—”

“I put those aside,” Justus assured him. “We need to deal with that at some point, but look at it this way—they’re groveling for your favor. That’s a good sign. We could donate them or something. It’s a peace offering, Jason, and I don’t think they’re expecting a thank you card from Elizabeth.”

“Make sure they’re not.” Jason pulled on his leather coat. “I’ll take them home and let Elizabeth start sorting through them.” He might not like the idea of people using his son to curry favor with him, but Elizabeth always saw things like this in a different light. He’d let her decide what to do.

Kelly’s: Kitchen

Dante was at the tail end of the lunch rush, clearing the last of the tickets, and looking forward to the end of his shift when Lulu came into the kitchen. “Hey,” he said, grinning at her. “You’re off at two, aren’t you? You wanna go do something?”

“Um, yeah. Sure. We can do that, but Dante—” She put a hand on his forearm. “Sonny’s out at the counter.”

Dante stilled as her words sunk in. “Sonny.”

“He asked to talk to you. He says it’s okay if you said no, but that he wanted me to ask anyway. I was going to refuse,” Lulu said when he looked at her. “But I thought—I don’t know. It should be your choice if you talk to him or not, you know?”

“Yeah.” His good mood had faded. “I heard he was home, but I figured he wasn’t going to look me up. Why would he?”

“Aunt Bobbie said that he’s in therapy for the bipolar diagnosis,” Lulu reminded him. “And that he started meds like three weeks ago. He could be feeling better from all of that.” She paused. “The Sonny we’ve seen the last year or so — it’s not the best version of Sonny. All the problems since the kidnapping, I mean. But I grew up with him, you know. And there’s—I don’t know. I just—” She lifted her hands. “The man at the counter? He looks like the guy I knew as a kid.”

“And it’s harder to say no to that,” Dante said. “I’m not mad, Lu. You don’t need to shield me from things like this.” He’d been feeling better lately. Leaving the department and getting away from all of that, taking the job here, and letting himself finally open up to Lulu — Dante felt like he had a future again.

“I’ll go out and talk to him,” he decided. “He deserves that much, I guess.”

“Yeah?” Lulu’s brows shot up. “I thought—”

“I may not like the idea of him being my father,” he cut in. “And I may not want a relationship with him, but if you’re right—if the illness caused most of what was going on, then he should at least hear that from me. It’s only fair.” He met her eyes. “You’ll come out with me?”

“If you want me to.”

“I do.” He turned down the heat on the pot of simmering chili, then took Lulu’s hand, and led her back out to the counter where Sonny was sitting.

It was the first time he’d been face to face with the notorious gangster since moving to Port Charles.  Dante wasn’t sure what he expected. Sonny was clean-shaven, his hair was carefully slicked back, with strands of gray still showing at his temples. The suit he wore was obviously expensive, a ring on his finger flashing as he sipped his coffee.

Objectively, Dante could even see a resemblance to his own face. The color of his hair, the line of his jaw—Sonny Corinthos was, without a doubt, the man who had donated the genetic material necessary to create Dante.

But that didn’t make him a father.

“Uh, hey.” Sonny straightened, setting down the cup. He flicked his eyes to Lulu, then down to their intertwined hands before meeting Dante’s cool gaze. “I didn’t—I didn’t expect you to come out. I mean, I thought maybe—”

Dante squeezed Lulu’s hand once more before releasing it and going over to the counter. “I came out because we should at least talk,” he told Sonny. “I’m sorry you found out from the papers. About me and Kristina.”

“You—you already knew?” Sonny’s voice sounded nervous, and that comforted Dante a little bit. “I mean, did you know when you came to Port Charles—”

“No. If I had suspected it, I wouldn’t have moved here,” Dante cut in. “I wanted to be a cop my entire life, and I can’t be a cop with people knowing we’re related. I never would have come here and put that in jeopardy. I’m sorry, Mr. Corinthos, but that’s just how it is.”

“No, I, uh, get that. So you did you find out from the papers—”

“No. My grandmother told me after the hearing,” Dante replied. “Apparently testifying against my cousin the serial raping monster made me no better in her eyes than you. I’ve known for a few months, and I was hoping that no one else ever would. I don’t know you, Mr. Corinthos. Lulu says you were a decent guy to her growing up, but that’s not the man I’ve met.”

“No, I know that—”

“And I’m not a cop anymore because the whole world knows the truth now.” Sonny’s head dipped. “I liked being a cop. It was all I ever wanted, and the world finding out about you made it impossible for me to have that. Thanks for coming today, but I don’t really have an interest in getting to know you better. I’m sorry, but that’s just how it is.”

Sonny closed his eyes. Nodded. “Yeah. Yeah. No, I get that. Um, I just—if you change your mind or you need anything—”

Dante nearly told him he wouldn’t, and even if he needed an organ, he’d never ask him for it—but there was a sadness in the man that stopped him. A year earlier, Sonny had been one of the most powerful men on the East Coast, and he’d lost it all. His wife and children were gone, his business, the respect, even his own mental health was fragile.

Dante didn’t need to slide the knife even deeper. “Yeah. Sure. Thanks for coming by.”

“Yeah.” Sonny took a deep breath, then laid a hundred down next to his cup. “Thanks for this, Lu,” he told her. “You grew up really good, you know. Your mom—she did good work. I’m glad she’s home.”

“We all are.” Lulu stepped up to Dante’s side. “And I’m glad you’re feeling better,” she told him. “I really am. I hope one day your boys—all of them—get to know the guy I grew up with.”


Sonny left then, ignoring the stares of the people at the tables around him.

Lulu bit her lip. “I’m sorry for the last part,” she told Dante. “I just—he looked so sad—”

“Yeah, I know. I thought it would feel better to turn him away,” Dante murmured. “But it really didn’t.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Elizabeth was just stepping off the bottom step when Jason came in, followed by Marco and another guard, both of whom had their arms full with boxes and bags.

“What’s going on?” she asked, mystified as Jason kissed her cheek and the guards set down their items. “Hey.”

“Hey. First, I told you were getting a new daytime guard,” he said, nodding to the new guard. “This is Richie. He’ll be on the door and going out with you. Marco’s going back to nights.”

“Oh, good. I know you like that schedule better,” Elizabeth said to Marco. She smiled at Richie. “I probably won’t be going out much with Cameron home, but I hope I won’t be any trouble.”

“None at all, Mrs. Morgan.” Richie flashed her a warm smile, then nodded at Jason. “Is that everything?”

“Yeah, thanks.” Jason closed the door, then turned around to find Elizabeth going through the boxes and bags. “I’m sorry. I went in today, and this was in the office. Apparently, people wanted to give us something for Cameron. Justus had them waituntil Cam was home.”

“That makes sense.” Elizabeth sat down, blinking as she opened the first envelope and took out a thick wad of cash. “Holy crap—”

“Yeah, uh—” Jason hung up his coat, then crossed to her. “Look, if you don’t want any of this, then I’ll have them send it back—”

“No, no. Bernie said before the wedding this kind of thing helped. I actually just sent a card off to that guy in Baltimore,” Elizabeth told him. “His daughter is getting married, Bernie told me. So I wrote them a card and he said he’d put in some money.” Her eyes continued to widen as she counted the money. “I guess my idea of some money and his are very different.”

“You shouldn’t be worrying about any of that right now,” Jason said with a scowl. “How long has Bernie been bringing this kind of thing to you?” And Baltimore? Which guy in Baltimore? Had Elizabeth been asked to send congratulations to one of the assholes who’d helped Zacchara?

“Since the wedding. Carly used to do this stuff,” she continued. “She told me that. She helped me write the cards. Benny used to bring it to her before he died—” Elizabeth frowned at him. “You didn’t know that?”

“No, I—” Jason leaned back. “Benny brought it up once. When I was with Robin, after Sonny left. But I turned him down. Robin wouldn’t have been interested. I didn’t—” He shook his head. “I didn’t think about it.”

“Oh. I thought you—well, anyway, it’s like an hour a week. Plus—” Elizabeth shrugged. “I don’t get to do a lot to help you with the job. And I don’t want to,” she added when he frowned. “But it seems like an easy thing to do to keep peace. Or at least humanize all of us. Bernie was telling me that everyone wants to do more to contain collateral damage. Except for Anthony Zacchara. I heard what he did to that guy’s wife.” She shuddered, then continued going through the cards.

“Thank you,” Jason said after a long moment. She met his eyes, confused. “I guess it’s selfish of me to wish none of this would ever touch you.”

“Jason, this is your life. It touches me because you’re part of it. I can’t keep you safe when you go out the door. I can only hope the men you’ve paid will do what they’ve agreed to do. If I can write a few stupid cards and throw some parties that make the men in your business happy, it’s a simple thing—”

She opened another bag and slowly pulled out a yellow bear. The same one he’d noticed earlier. “Elizabeth?” he said when she just stared at it. “Hey, you okay?”

“Baby’s first toy.” Elizabeth brushed her fingers over the soft fur. She looked at him, and he was surprised to find tears clinging to her lashes. “This—I’m sorry. It’s just, um—” She closed her eyes. “Last year, the day after we got married, Ric gave me a bear that looked like this one.”

His throat tightened as Jason looked down at the bear again. “Like this one?” he echoed.

“Yeah, it was a present for the baby. When I got out of the hospital, I saw it sitting on the mantel—” She turned the bear over in her lap, sliding her fingers over the price tag. “I made Ric get rid of it. I didn’t want to see it. It was supposed to be the baby’s first toy, but—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. It’s not—it’s over. It really is. I have you and I have Cameron—”

He drew her into his side as she pressed the bear to her chest, the tears sliding down her cheeks. “But you loved that child,” he murmured. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. Or it will be. One day.” Elizabeth took a deep breath, kissed his cheek. “It just—it threw me for a minute. But it’s not—it’s not someone messing with us, you know? It’s—there’s no way someone knew about that toy unless Ric told them, and it’s new—” She tapped the price tag. “See? It’s not the same one. If Ric had done this, he’d have sent the old bear.”

“I guess.” Jason took it from her. “I don’t know—which bag did it come from?”

She pulled out the card and skimmed it. “It’s from Solana Ruiz,” she said. “I don’t remember who she is.”

“Hector Ruiz’s wife,” Jason said tightly. And one of the families that had manufactured a Ric sighting. Obviously, Justus hadn’t gathered all of them. “He has three sons and a few daughters.”

“Oh, oh, I remember now. Her daughter just had a baby, too. I sent a card for the shower.” Elizabeth nodded. “That makes sense. She must have sent this. I can’t—I can’t keep it. But I’ll write a thank you note anyway. It’s not her fault.” She put the bear back in the bag.

“I’ll take care of it. I’ll donate it to the hospital,” he told her. “Isn’t it time to feed Cameron?”

“Oh, yeah, in about ten minutes.” Elizabeth got to her feet. “I’ll go get his bottle ready, but you want to do it, right?”

“Yeah, I’ll be up.” He smiled as she went into the kitchen, then pulled out the bear again. It could have been as simple as Elizabeth said. She’d sent a card for the Ruiz family, and they’d reciprocated. And maybe Bernie and Justus hadn’t put the Ruiz family in the same category as the others. After all, it hadn’t been Hector who’d called it in, and Sonny hadn’t been contacted.

But it still gave him pause. Was it a coincidence that Elizabeth had received a replica of a bear that brought back such a dark memory from the Ruiz family? Or was something else going on?

July 29, 2022

Update Link: Scars – Part 12

Happy Friday! I’m pretty excited to be bringing back Scars, which was last updated in November. I had hoped to have it back much sooner, but we’re here and ready to go! The story has been plotted out and will be updated twice a week until it completes in early September. I’ll be back with Part 13 on Sunday.

If you’re having trouble keeping up with the daily updates (totally understood), don’t worry 🙂 The updates will slow down in September when I return to week and return to a permanent Friday-Monday updates until August. Any non Flash Fiction updates will be made on Mondays all at once, and I’m going to do a much better job of keeping the Recent Updates page up to date.

Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to make it easier for you to find stories if you’re catching up later 🙂

I’ve finished plotting our Monday Flash Fiction, Invisible Strings. It will be 22 parts and will go on hiatus after August so I can finish Scars and The Last Time, then it returns in November to run alongside Watch Me Burn. Watch Me Burn is the only story that doesn’t have a plot sketch, so I don’t know how long it will be. I’m going to do a few parts to see how it feels, then have it figured out by the end of the summer. So glad you liked the relaunch of that yesterday!

And, saving the best news for last, Counting Stars is completed! The Alpha Draft clocked in at 27 chapters and 96k words. It’s really different than I’ve written — a narrow focus on the romance and characters, with a straightforward main plot. Looking forward to what the Patreons think so I can make adjustments for the second draft.

Patreon Updates

  • Added Counting Stars, full Alpha Draft, for Crimson Obsessed tiers. The weekly post for Crimson Stalker was also updated with Chapters 21-27.

I’ll be editing Counting Stars in September and October, and posting will begin on Monday, November 7, 2000.

This entry is part 12 of 25 in the Flash Fiction: Scars

Written in 54 minutes.

Morgan House: Backyard

Cameron was determined to end this fight with Emma, even if he wasn’t entirely sure what he’d done wrong. He’d invited her over to hang out in the backyard while he baby-sat his younger brothers (to remind Emma that she liked what a good brother he was), made sure to have her favorite soda and snack ready.

He was going to fix this. Somehow.

Emma sat stiffly across from at the patio table, her arms folded. “Well?”

“Uh.” Cameron shoved the drink closer. “You want some Dr. Pepper? I also got you Takis. You know, the purple kind—”

Emma pursed her lips—not a good sign—looked down at the soda and bag, then back at Cameron. “You said you wanted to apologize.”

He coughed lightly. “Uh, yes. I was wrong. And I’m sorry.” He flashed her a bright grin. “Did you get your dress for Homecoming—” He glanced over his shoulder when the back door opened and Jason stepped out. “Oh, hey, Dad. You’re home early.”

“Yeah. Your mom wants a burger. On the grill.” Jason went to light the gas. “So that’s what’s for dinner.”

“Oh, one of those cravings.” Cameron turned to Emma, confident that he’d taken care of everything. “Mom’s been cranky lately. On Monday night, like in the middle of the night, she woke up and was eating ice cream.”

“Which you wouldn’t have known about if you’d been in your room sleeping,” Jason said idly. “Instead of playing video games in the living room.”

Cameron hunched his shoulders. “Uh, yeah.”

“Your mother is having a baby. She’s literally creating life,” Emma said flatly, the tone indicating that perhaps he hadn’t done an adequate enough job of apologizing. “Men do nothing but complain—sorry, Mr.Morgan,” she said as afterthought. She got to her feet. “You have no idea why I’m mad, do I?”

“I do, too.” Cameron stood. “You wanted me to ask you to the dance, and I didn’t. I’m fixing that. You’ll go, right?”

Emma’s cheeks flushed, her eyes flashed, and she whirled around. Then she was gone, the kitchen door slamming behind her.

Cameron sunk back into his seat, glared at the Dr. Pepper and Takis. They were just mocking him because they hadn’t done a damn thing except make Emma angrier—he slid a glance at his father. “Hey, Dad.”

“Yeah?” Jason closed the grill and came over to sit across from him.

“You used to mess up with Mom a lot, right?’ Cameron brightened. “Like all the time. She used to cry a lot.”

Jason stared at him, and then Cameron’s grin faded. “I mean, Mom messed up, too, sometimes.”

His father sighed, then sat across from him. “Everyone messes up,” he said, pushing the snacks aside. “It’s normal. Yes, I made your mother cry sometimes. And she hurt me, too. That’s a relationship. It doesn’t matter how much you love or care about someone, it’s impossible to go through life and not cause pain.”

“Yeah, okay. I guess that’s realistic. It’s just—” Cameron gave up and cracked open the Dr. Pepper. It was his favorite, too. “We were all fine one minute, and then the next nope. It’s all about this stupid dance. She’s mad because I didn’t ask her. I just assumed we’d go together.”


“Well, it’s just—we’re dating, right? You and Mom are married. You go to stuff sometimes. Does she wait for you to ask her? Like when Dante’s mom got married. You and mom went together. Did you ask her?”

“No. She—” Jason squinted. “No. She told me when it was.”

“Exactly. Because you’re married. Why can’t things just be understood in a relationship, you know? Why do I have to magically know that sometimes I’m supposed to ask.” He shoved the other soda at his father, hoping he’d drink it, and then it’d be like two guys hanging out. Jason accepted it, popped it open and drank. “Did you and Mom used to argue about this stuff?”

“No,” Jason said after a moment. “But sometimes she was hurt when I didn’t always say what I was thinking. She’d assume what I was thinking — and be wrong — and then she was upset.”

“But that’s her fault for assuming and not asking, right?” Cameron pointed out. “Wouldn’t it have been easier if Mom had just asked? Like, if Emma wanted me to ask her, and that’s the problem, she could have just told me. But now I’m in trouble because I didn’t know there was a rule.” He huffed. “Why can’t she just tell me why she’s mad so I can fix it?”

Jason opened his mouth, then closed it. Cameron felt the sweet sting of victory. “I’m right, aren’t I? If Mom asked you, you would have told her. If she gets upset then, okay. But it’s not your fault if she created a whole argument out of nowhere—”

His father hesitated. “Well, that’s not really it, but—” Jason paused. “I know you’re not right. And that I was wrong,” he continued, “but I can’t really remember why. Your mother explained it better.”

“Mom knows?”

“Yeah. I don’t know if I was supposed to say that—” Jason scrubbed his hand down his face. “Okay, listen. Sometimes we have to do things that don’t make sense. I’m pretty straightforward. Logical. You’re like that, too. You like things to just be said straight out. No guessing.”

Cameron tightened his hand around the soda can. He liked the idea of having something in common with his dad. Even better, like maybe Cameron had this trait because they’d been a family, and this was something that was theirs. “Yeah. That’s all I want. Why am I wrong?”

“I don’t know. You are,” Jason added. “But—” He sighed. “Maybe you both are. She’s not wrong for wanting to be asked, but you’re not wrong for wishing she’d tell you why she’s really mad.”

Cameron perked up. “So, like, she owes me an apology, too.” He got to his feet, chugged the last of his soda. “Thanks! I knew I was right.”

“Uh, that’s not—” Jason winced as Cameron went into the house. Damn it. He’d understood what Elizabeth meant when she said it, but Cameron had made sense, too. He was just going to turn the whole mess over to her. She would fix it.

General Hospital: Hallway

Patrick opened the staff locker room door for Elizabeth. “After you, madame.”

“Thanks. I’m so excited for you guys,” she said as they headed for their lockers. “I’ve loved Cameron and Emma growing up together, and the idea that we get to do it again—”

“And that we’ve got built in baby-sitters.” Patrick rubbed his hands together in glee. “Grandparents, brothers, sisters. This is much better than when we were doing this alone.”

Elizabeth laughed, and spun the dial on her locker. “Have you heard about Cam and Emma’s fight?”

“They’re fighting?” Patrick frowned. “I knew she was upset over something, I just figured it was Joss again.”

“No, that’s been quiet since the blue dye fiasco.” Elizabeth pulled out her street clothes. “It’s not that serious. Cam didn’t ask her to the Homecoming Dance because he assumed they were going to go together.”

Patrick wince. “Rookie mistake, man. You hate to see it. I blame Jason. He doesn’t remember being a teenaged boy. Number one rule — you never assume when it comes to occasions where a girl’s gotta  buy a dress.” He sighed, pulled open his locker. “That explains her rotten mood.”

“I told Jason to talk to him, but you know,” Elizabeth smirked, “I’m not sure Jason doesn’t agree with Cameron’s stance. He thinks Emma should have just told him she wanted to be asked.”

“That defeats the purpose of being asked in the first place.” Disgusted, Patrick opened the locker. “And there’s no way Jason doesn’t agree with the kid. He’s too logical. Are you sure there’s emotion in there?”

“Ha—” Elizabeth tugged off her scrub top, then pulled on a sweater. “I just thought if I tried to explain it, Cam would think I was taking Emma’s side.”

“You are.”

“Yeah, but he doesn’t need to know that. If Jason tags me in, and I mess it up, you’re on deck.”

“Got it—” Patrick stopped abruptly. “That’s weird. The picture from Labor Day—” He tapped the inside of his locker where he’d taped photos. His wedding day, a picture of Emma as a toddler, a shot of Emma and Cameron dressed as Rapunzel and Flynn Rider with Aiden as a pumpkin — and there had been a group shot from the Labor Day barbecue at Patrick’s house with Patrick, Robin, Robert, Anna, and Emma.

“Maybe it fell off and got swept up by the janitor.” Elizabeth looked around the staff room, checking the other aisles. “I don’t see it. I’m sure Robin can just print another one—”

“Yeah, I guess. It’s the second picture that’s gone missing in the last few weeks,” Patrick admitted. “I should start paying attention.” When she frowned, he continued, “Last week. The picture in my wallet? The day I bought you Doritos.”

“Oh, yeah. That is weird.”

Patrick closed his locker. “You doing anything for dinner?”

“Jason’s grilling — I made him,” Elizabeth said. “You ready for Robin’s cravings?”

“Can’t wait.”

Morgan House: Kitchen

Elizabeth hung her keys up on the hook, smiled at Jason pulling out a bag of buns from the cabinet. “Hey.”

“Hey.” He paused, pulled her in for a kiss that lingered.

“Mmm, what was that for?” she asked, wrapping her arms around his neck.

“I missed you.” Jason kissed the tip of her nose, then winced. “And I talked to Cameron.”

“Oh, no.”

“Yeah, it didn’t go well.” Jason sat at the island. “He takes after you. You talk in circles until I agree with you, and I don’t know how I feel about being manipulated by a fourteen year old.”

Elizabeth laughed, went to the fridge to grab some tomatoes to slice for the burgers. “It’s also just possible you agree with him. Cameron thinks Emma just have just told him she wanted to be asked, and it’s not his fault if she gets mad because she didn’t tell him what she wanted.”

“Uh—yeah.” Jason nodded. “That sounds fair to me.”

“Me, too.”


“Because I’m a thirty-six year old woman who has has a lot of life experience, and I know that sometimes—” She leaned forward, resting her elbows on the counter, their eyes meeting. “Just because someone doesn’t say something, it doesn’t mean they don’t feel it. But I had to get hurt a lot of times to get here. Cam and Emma—they’re just learning these things.”

“But you still think Emma’s right,” Jason said slowly. “That Cam should have asked?”

“I think—” Elizabeth paused. “I think she’s not wrong for wishing Cameron thought this dance was a special occasion. That it means as much to him as it does to her. They’re freshman. It’s the first year in high school. And it’s a real dance. Not like the middle school stuff. She’s starting to feel grown up. And mature. And all she wants in the world is the boy she’s crazy for to think she’s special. To treat her that way.”

Jason tipped his head. “And not asking her makes her think she’s not.”

“Yeah. It’s not just the movies on a Saturday night or grabbing dinner at Kelly’s. It’s their first formal dance since they started dating. And she’s probably bought a really pretty dress, and thought about her hair, and—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I was the same. And I wish I could tell her that it’s not that serious. That it’s just a dance, and that Cameron has proved how much he cares in other ways. But she’s just a girl, Jason. And maybe it’s wrong not to want her to have this sweetness as long as she can. Robin and I—we didn’t get to have that. Not really.”

“You did all that for your dance, didn’t you?” Jason asked. “The dress, the hair—”

“Yeah. I searched for hours—” Elizabeth laughed again, but it was a little derisively. “I knew Lucky thought we were just friends, but I thought — if I find just the right dress, he’ll change his mind. I’ll look so beautiful and better than Sarah, and he’ll fall in love with me.” She swiped at a tear. “He only saw the dress after it was torn and dirty.”


“I’m fine. I am. I didn’t—maybe it’s why I understand Emma so much. I wanted that dream. I wanted to matter to someone. I had the dress box in my lap when Lucky came to tell me he was going with Sarah. I was crushed. Embarrassed. Humiliated. I lied to cover it up.”

“Maybe you’re just a little worried that this is all over a dance,” Jason pointed out gently. “And you’re feeling protective of Emma because of that. You don’t want her upset enough to lie and not  go.”

“That’s part of it, I think.” She exhaled slowly, put the sliced tomatoes in a container. “But I think it’d be a good lesson for Cameron to learn. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you get to stop taking care of each other. Look at you—you were at work, and all I did was mention I had a craving for a burger. It’s the little things that matter, Jason. Because when you don’t do the little things, they pile up and explode into one big problem. Today, he doesn’t think it’s a big deal to not to ask her to a dance. Sure, he’s got a point. It’d be easier if Emma explained this to him. But maybe she can’t. Maybe it’s too big and it hurts too much to put in words.”

Jason rounded the corner to take her in his arms. “Hey.” He brushed at a tear sliding down her cheek with his knuckle. “You’re right. Cameron might not be wrong, but I don’t want him making the same mistakes I did. It took me too long to say what needed to be said, to do what needed to be done, and you shouldn’t have had to wait for me to figure that out.”

“I should have been able to find the words. I didn’t try hard enough. I let the pain and hurt swallow me whole.” She rested her forehead against his chest, and let him put his arms around her. This would always be her safe place. The one place in all the world where nothing could hurt her. “I’ll talk to him.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yeah, I can do it now.” She kissed him, cupping his face. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

July 28, 2022

Update Links: Mad World, Book 4 – Chapter 103 | Watch Me Burn – Part 1

Today, I’m starting the rewrite of Watch Me Burn. I appreciate your patience and willingness to go along with my insanity. I promise you, it will be worth the wait. The Flash Fictions are meant to be my version of an Alpha Draft, but writing and posting as we go to get your feedback, so I can adjust for the revisions. I was really happy with how Signs of Life came out, and I think Watch Me Burn could be on the same level if I take my time and do it properly.

In other news –

  • Recent Updates is actually up-to-date. I had two months of updates to add. I’m going to try to do better at updating it at least once a week.
  • Counting Stars, the alpha draft, is almost done! This afternoon, I’m going to write the last two chapters. I’ll be posting that in November & December.
  • Mad World is scheduled to conclude on August 25, when I post Chapter 115 & Epilogue. It seems weird to be finally at the end of the journey, but I’m excited to close this chapter and work on the next project.

This entry is part 1 of 50 in the Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn

Written in 53 minutes.

August 2007

Spencer House: Master Bedroom

She had dreamed of living in this house once, as love-struck teenager who thought that the Spencer family and the home where they lived represented the epitome of love and devotion. Even after Luke and Laura Spencer’s marriage had crumbled—this house and the sanctuary it had always represented featured in a dream of her future.

Today, Elizabeth Spencer finally accepted that the dream she’d created for herself as a terrified, broken, and fragile girl had ended a long time ago. She and Lucky had just been clinging to the wreckage like two people adrift on a sea. Who were they when they weren’t Liz and Lucky, Lucky and Liz? They had tried to find out once before, but they hadn’t been brave enough to stick it out. They’d drifted right back, too comfortable to see that their love had died in a fire long ago.

She emptied another drawer from the dresser into the suitcase, dumping the mixture of socks, bras, and panties in before going to the next for t-shirt and sleep shirts. It only took her a half hour to pack the things she’d brought to this house, this dream she’d wanted so badly for herself and her boys.

Now, standing in the wreckage, Elizabeth could only admit to herself that the dream she’d woven for them all had rested on foundation of lies, secrecy, fear, and jealousy. She couldn’t begin to hope for forgiveness from anyone involved—she’d started on this path months ago when Jason Morgan had looked at her and told her it was for the best that he wasn’t the father of the child she carried.

She closed her eyes. For so long, she’d been able to hold on to that moment as evidence that the road she’d chosen was the right one. The slice in her gut as he’d spoken those words, the memory of knowing her own parents had never really wanted her, that she’d ruined her mother’s bright medical career simply by existing—

She’d let herself drown in those memories, the childhood that had made her lash out and demand attention from anyone who would look at her—and she’d let it take over. Jason would be a good father, but maybe it would come at a cost, and he’d always look at their beautiful child and think of everything it had cost him.

Elizabeth couldn’t hold onto it anymore and if she allowed honesty in her heart for once, she hadn’t been able to since the elevator. Since Jason had made it clear that he wanted the baby and to be a father—

And she’d cruelly taken advantage of him, of his grief, and fear for his child to steal that from him.

On a shaky breath, Elizabeth went to the nightstand to clear out the bits and bobs—a forgotten bracelet, a pack of tissues—

She’d ripped away the illusion only a few days ago, and had finally done what she should have from the beginning.

“So I have to ask, Mrs. Spencer, is it possible that Jason Morgan, the man on trial for the murder of Lorenzo Alcazar, is the father of your little boy?”

She had nearly denied, nearly let the words that had so easily fallen from her lips for months, be said. Of course not, Mr. Lansing. My husband is his father.

But she’d looked at Lucky, at the doubt that was already in his eyes, at Jason, whose eyes always told more than the rest of the world could see.

“Yes. Jason Morgan is the biological father of my youngest son.”

And with those words, the life she’d tried to stitch together—all of the holes she’d tried to patch over and tape up—ended.

Elizabeth closed the suitcase, zipped it, then it on the floor next to the other two suitcases and a box with the contents of her vanity table. She had to pack Cameron’s room and Jake’s nursery next —

There were footsteps on the stairs, then down the hall. She turned to find Lucky in the doorway, the first time they’d been in a room together since that terrible day. His hand gripping the white frame, his eyes dark with a mixture of resentment, pain, and grief. He hadn’t come home after the trial, and she’d worried—had he gone to Courtland Street? Had the truth done what she always feared and driven him back to the pills?

Then Emily had quietly informed her that Lucky had gone to Wyndemere, that he was with Nikolas, and that when he was ready, he would contact her.

“You’re packing,” Lucky said. The Adam’s apple in his throat bobbed, and he exhaled. “You waited until Jason was acquitted, didn’t you? Is that—” His hand curled into a fist. “Is that where you’re going? Where you’re taking the boys?”

“No.” Elizabeth laced her fingers together. “I’m going to my grandmother’s. I wanted to wait until the trial was over because of the press.” She cleared her throat. “You’re a cop—”

He nodded. “They didn’t have the address to harass you,” Lucky finished. He dragged a hand through his hair. “And now the press is bothering the DA and Jason, I guess. Smart.” He paused. “But you’re still packing.”

“I don’t think we need to keep lying to each other—” She winced. “I don’t think I can keep doing it,” she finished. “I’ve been trying so hard to make this work that I didn’t stop to ask myself why.”

“Yeah.” Lucky wandered into the room, stopped at the dresser with nothing but a framed photo of their wedding day and from his parents’ wedding the year before. “This—” He tapped it. The vision of Luke and Laura, smiling as if his mother wasn’t going to slip back into catatonia within weeks. “This is why you came back to me. You let my mother think we were still a family.”

“It’s—” Elizabeth folded her arms. “I’ve loved you since I was fifteen, Lucky. I didn’t know how to stop. Or let go of what I thought my life was supposed to be.”

“You loved me at fifteen,” Lucky murmured. He turned to face her. “We’re not kids anymore. Making promises we can’t even understand in some church. We made new ones.”

“We did.”

“I wanted to blame you. I did—I do,” Lucky corrected. “And that first night, I was furious. Nikolas had to talk me down. I went to him because it’s an island. And I knew if I were in Port Charles, I knew that I might want to make it go away.” His voice tightened. “You might have ruined our second marriage, but I destroyed the first.” His mouth stretched into an ugly smile. “I guess we’re even.”

“I’m sorry isn’t enough,” Elizabeth said. “I’m ashamed of the things I’ve done. The lies I’ve told.” Tears burned her eyes. “This wasn’t how this was supposed to end.”

“Yeah, well—” He took a deep breath. “The boys. I want them. They’re still mine. And I don’t think I deserve to lose them because you lied.”

“Cameron, yes. You’re the only father he’s ever known,” Elizabeth said. “But—” Her chest ached. “Jake wasn’t mine to give to you. I hurt you, I know that. But I hurt Jason. He didn’t know at first. Not until the Metro Court. I told him when we were in the elevator. And he wanted to be part of Jake’s life. I asked him to give Jake up.”


“We wanted him to have a family and safety—” Elizabeth laughed harshly, then pulled her hands through her hair. “Safe. A four letter word that’s never brought me anything but pain and unhappiness.”

“For a year, I’ve believed that was my little boy. Before he was born—” Lucky growled, some of the anger drowning out the grief that had dominated the conversation. “You have no right to take him away—haven’t you done enough to destroy my life? You can’t do this—”

“I have to do this—” Her voice broke. “The only way to keep you in Jake’s life would be to take him from Jason. I can’t keep hurting him to make you happy—”

“Don’t act like you’re some sort of goddamn saint,” Lucky bit out. “You did this—you started this lie, and now it’s gone out the door and around the world! I’m a fucking laughingstock at the station—” He hissed. “And now you’re telling me I can’t even have my son—”

“If it’s a choice between hurting you and hurting Jason—” She closed her eyes. God, how easy it would be to just give in. To stop the argument, to stop explaining over and over again how this was all her fault and—

But she was done with lies. Done with being the villain in this story.

“I’ve chosen you too many times,” Elizabeth said softly. “And today, I’m finally making the right one. We can talk about custody of Cameron, but Jake is out of the question.  He was never mine to give and take. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, we’ll see about this. You’re going to pay for what you’ve done to me and my family—to my sons. Get out of my house by the end of the day or I’ll have you arrested for trespassing.” He stormed past her, down the hall, thudded down the stairs, and then she heard the door slam.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

It had taken longer than Jason Morgan had wanted to before his release from custody was finally processed. If he hadn’t been in jail on the bail violation, he’d have been free to go the moment the jury had given him his freedom—

But Ric Lansing had held him until the last possible moment. By the time he was out, the last thing he wanted to do with go with Carly to dinner or talk business with Sonny. He wanted to go home, take a shower, and then call Elizabeth. He was free. The world knew Jake was his son.

And it went without saying the absolute last thing Jason wanted in this world was to open the door and hear the blast of an airhorn and an explosion of confetti.

“Welcome Home, Stone Cold!” Damien Spinelli chirped as he threw another handful of  the confetti. “You have been granted your freedom from the The Dastardly DA—”

“Uh, Spinelli, I don’t think this is a good idea—” At his side, Georgie Jones, took the tech by the elbow. “He doesn’t look all that thrilled—”

“Nonsense! He’s been locked up for weeks! The Jackal thinks he deserves—” Then Spinelli focused on Jason’s irritated face, blew the noisemaker in his hand one more time. “The Insightful One might have a point.” He flashed Jason a rueful grin. “Welcome home.”

“Sorry about this,” Georgie said, making her way past the door. “He was going to do this with or without me, and I figured with me—”

“There’d be less chance of a marching band,” Jason said dryly. He stripped off his suit jacket. “Yeah, you’re not wrong. Thanks.”

“Welcome home,” she said, then dashed out the door.

“Have I overstepped, perchance?” Spinelli set the noisemaker down. “I knew you would not let Mr Sir or the Valkyrie properly celebrate  this momentous occasion, but we are all so happy to have walking among the free and the brave—”

“Yeah, yeah—” Jason found his mouth twitching, a sensation that was uncomfortable but normal around the tech. It was difficult to keep a straight face at times. “Thanks.” He rubbed the side of his face. He dragged out the bag of effects that had been returned to him upon his release and dumped out his cell phone. Dead, of course. He plugged it in, then went over to the desk and the phone.

“Great idea. We can call for pizza—”

“Spinelli—” Jason held the receiver against his chest. “Clean this up. Go get your own pizza. Thanks for the welcome, but I have things to do.”

“Ah—” Spinelli stuck up his hand. “You must see to the Wee One. The Stone Cold Special—” Spinelli pursed his lips. “I’m still testing this one.”

“Go away.”


Jason punched in Elizabeth’s cell phone number, hoping that it wouldn’t go to voicemail. Hoping that she would want to talk to him—it could haven’t been easy these last few days since her testimony and he couldn’t do a damn thing to help—


Her voice was breathless as if she’d rushed to answer the phone. “You’re home,” she continued. “I didn’t—” He heard her suck in a breath. “I didn’t know it would be this soon. I tried calling Diane to find out, but—I’m sorry. I’m sorry. You called me.”

“I did. I need—I need to talk to you.’

“Me, too.” She waited a moment. “An hour in the park? I have to finish—there’s something I need to finish, but at the park, near the old gazebo?”

“Yeah, I’ll be right there.”

Port Charles Park

Jason forced himself not to pace the length of the gazebo, and old wooden structure that had been in disrepair for several years. He knew why she’d suggested it — it was tucked away in the corner of the park where few people went.

But why she’d need secrecy when the whole world knew everything—his stomach clenched. What if she still didn’t want him in Jake’s life—

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry—” Elizabeth’s voice reached him first. He turned, and then just stared. “It took forever to get the stroller—” She stopped at the base of the gazebo, then locked the wheels. “It got stuck—” Her voice was still breathless. “I thought—” Her eyes met his. “I thought you’d want to see him. Um, because you know—you can do that now. Any time you want. As much as you want.”

When Jason still remained locked in place, staring at the infant in the stroller, Elizabeth stepped forward. She lifted Jake in her arms, then handed him gently to Jason. “I mean, I guess I don’t really know what you want. That’s why I asked you to meet me here. In case—I don’t know.” She folded her arms, stepped back. “But I’m done making the choices for you. I want to know what you want.”

This entry is part 28 of 41 in the Mad World: Liberty

It’s always been up to you
It’s turning around, it’s up to me
I’m gonna do what I have to do
Just don’t
Give me a little time
Leave me alone a little while
Maybe it’s not too late
Not today, today, today, today, today
Tomorrow, Avril Lavigne

Monday, April 19, 2004

Quartermaine Mansion: Family Room

Jason was more comfortable at the mansion than he used to be, but that still didn’t mean he liked spending time inside. He preferred meeting Lila in the gardens whenever he had to come over, but today, she’d surprised him by insisting on the family room.

He realized why when he came in and saw AJ on the sofa, a cup in his hands. His older brother set the cup on the table, flicked irritated eyes to their grandmother, then he got to his feet. “Jason. I didn’t know you were coming.”

“Oh, did I forget?” Lila asked, her eyes wide. “Dear me, darling. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know AJ would be in town until this morning—”

“I can go,” AJ said. “I have a meeting I should be prepping for—”

“It’s fine,” Jason said, even though it really wasn’t. They hadn’t been alone together since Courtney had filed for divorce and AJ had left for New Orleans. Though Jason knew now he’d never loved Courtney the way she’d deserved, he still felt a measure of guilt for his part.

And clearly AJ hadn’t forgotten where Courtney had ended up after the separation and with whom. The two of them eyed one another warily before Jason came around the end of the sofa.

“We need to co-exist,” Jason said finally. “If you and Carly are serious about all of this, we’ll be around each other.” He reached into his pocket for the packet of pictures he’d brought his grandmother. “She thinks you can be trusted.”

“We’re both taking a chance,” AJ said. He nodded at the photos. “I hear your son is doing well. I’m glad.”

“Yeah.” Jason handed the photos to Lila and sat down so he could talk her through them. “We’re getting closer to bringing him home,” he told her. “And as soon as we do that, we’ll bring him to you.”

“Oh, how darling—” Lila murmured. “Alan said he was in a crib now. And Elizabeth looks so happy. I’m so glad this is behind you.”

AJ gingerly sat at the end of the sofa. “Are you worried about any complications?” he asked after a minute. “Don’t premature babies have to deal with a lot of those?”

Jason tensed, but he saw Lila’s pleading. His beloved grandmother didn’t have much longer, he knew. And if she wanted peace in the family, he could give that to her. For all the times he hadn’t. “We’re in the clear on most of them,” he said finally. “He’s breathing and eating on his own. We might have vision issues later,” he added. “But glasses will take care of it.”

“How much longer?” Lila asked. “Your father said you and Elizabeth spend nearly every minute there now. It must be uncomfortable.”

“We’re doing overnight stays now, so yeah. A lot of time in cots.” He handed her a photo of Edward holding Cameron. “But sometimes Monica talks Elizabeth into taking the sofa in her office.”

“Is that Grandfather?” AJ wanted to know, leaning forward. “You let him near your kid willingly?”

Jason scowled, then forced himself to relax. AJ’s tone was light, almost teasing. He could do this. “It’s important for Cameron to be around people,” he muttered.

“Edward was a great source of support last fall,” Lila told AJ with a proud smile. “With the case and the mayoral race. It makes me very happy to see you taking your place in the family again, my darling.” She touched Jason’s hand. “I know there are things we can’t ever undo. Words that were said. Actions that were done.” She eyed AJ who looked down. “But I believe in second chances. In redemptions. Your grandfather has not always been a fair or kind man. But he’s always been a good one.”

“I don’t know—” Jason shook his head. “I know that’s true in a lot of ways,” he said finally. “And I know that everyone did their best after the accident. Including Grandfather,” he forced out. Lila’s smile was reward enough. “So we’re just going to see how this works out. It means a lot to Elizabeth for Cameron to have a lot of family around him, and she doesn’t really have anyone of her own with Audrey gone.”

“Steve and Audrey would be so proud of her,” Lila said. “They loved her very much, and I know they’re looking down with happiness.” She paused. “I won’t be here forever, my dears—”

“Grandmother—” AJ protested.

“I hope that you both learn how to see each other again. You competed all your life,” she continued. “And battled. And sometimes, you took care of one another. I know that’s behind you now,” she continued when Jason grimaced. “But my hope is that you can do this. Sit in a room and acknowledge who you were. Only then can you truly go forward.” She clutched a photo of Cameron and Edward to her chest. “I would like this framed, darling. So I can look at it often.”

“I’ll take care of it.” Jason glanced at AJ, then cleared his throat. “Elizabeth and I are testifying in the custody case,” he muttered. “For Carly. And—” He paused. Took a deep breath. “I know why she’s doing it. I support it. And I’m…sorry. For my part.”

AJ blinked. “Sorry—” he cleared his throat, then nodded. “All right. Okay. Thank you.”

Luke’s: Office

“Well, Barbara Jean—” Luke smiled as his sister came in. “This is a good surprise. You here to help me with the books?”

“Absolutely not. I gave Kelly’s over to a professional a long time ago,” Bobbie said, rolling her shoulders. “And you should do the same.” She kissed his cheek. “I just had lunch with Lucky—”

Luke wrinkled his nose. “Don’t tell me Cowboy is asking you for old stories—”

“He mentioned you didn’t seem all that interested in talking about Ollie Joyce or the old days.” Bobbie set her purse down on the desk and raised a brow. “I knew him, too, Luke. When Roy worked for Frank. Ollie was a good man. According to Lucky—”

“He was a nice guy, but don’t get it twisted. Good men don’t stay working for Frank Smith for almost two decades.” Luke lit a cigar. “I told Cowboy to leave this alone—”

“Because of what you know or because it brings back memories of another kid learning about the crimes of their parent?”

Luke grimaced, sat at his desk. “It’s not about any of that, Barbara—”

“Lucky thought you hung the moon. Laura had tumbled off the pedestal when Nikolas showed up, but he still thought you were the hero who’d saved the world.” Bobbie paused. “Kelsey thought her father was upstanding lawyer who died in a car accident. Lucky knows what she’s going through. He wants to find her answers, just like he found for himself.”

“None of that did any good,” Luke muttered. “Things are better left in the past. Dragging all that up for Laura—”

“What is there to find about her father, Luke, that’s so terrible?” Bobbie wanted to know. “Tell me.”

“It’s not about Ollie,” Luke said finally. “And I don’t know anything for sure. I can’t be talking about what I think happened. I’m not doing it. End of story.”

Kelly’s: Kitchen

Dante winced when Cruz appeared in the doorway of the kitchen. He caught Lu’s eye in the order window and glared at her. She just kept pushing, didn’t she?

“Don’t blame her,” Cruz said, leaning against the door. “And I’m not staying or anything. I just—” He hesitated. “I wanted to touch base is all. I got your rent payment, and thanks for that, but it’s been like two months. How long is this to keep going?”

“I’m not—”

“And I don’t mean the job. I get your concerns about the PCPD. I still got them, but—” Cruz paused. “You came here to get away from the reporters, Dante. And you stayed after the shooting to get your head together. But now it feels like—”

He didn’t turn to look at his friend, at his roommate. Dante just stared into the pot of chili simmering and bubbling on the stove in front of him. “Like what?” he asked when Cruz didn’t say anything.

“You’re hiding. Running from all of it. I don’t know why you’re still staying here when you’ve got the apartment,” he added. “Is it me? Because I’m still a cop?”

“No—” But maybe it was. Maybe watching Cruz get up and go to work at the job Dante missed like a lost limb. Cruz got to go to work every day. He still got to be part of the dream. They’d had plans after leaving the academy. Lucky and Cruz still got to be cops.

Dante couldn’t figure a way to be one anymore, and maybe he resented them both for it. Maybe that was why he couldn’t go back to the apartment. Why Lu had to drag him out of Kelly’s even for a date. Why he’d barely talked to Lucky or Cruz since the shooting.

“It’s not you. It’s nothing to do with you or who you are,” he told Cruz. “It’s me. I’m still working through things.”

“Should I look for a new roommate?”

Dante looked at him, but he couldn’t see anything in Cruz’s eyes. Not irritation, resentment, or even worry. Cruz could have been asking him to pass the salt for all that Dante could get from him.

“I don’t know,” Dante murmured. “I’ll let you know.”

Brownstone: Living Room

“I’m glad I ran into you,” Elizabeth said, following Carly into the room. “I was looking for Bobbie, but I wanted to let you know that if Alexis wants to schedule me for a deposition or whatever, I’m ready—”

Carly picked up a blanket from the sofa and folded it. “Are you sure? I thought you’d want to wait until Cameron came home—”

“We’re only a week or so away from that,” Elizabeth said. She reached into her purse. “And I know you haven’t been able to see him, so I was going to drop off pictures. You’ll be our first visitor when he comes home.”

Carly smiled. “If I’d known working at the hospital or being on the board would be my only way in, I would have finished the nursing program,” she said. She pulled out the first photo. “He’s bigger.”

“Yeah. We’re having hearing and vision test today, and Dr. Devlin wants to do the car seat test at the end of the week. If he passes all three—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “But I’m not here to talk about that. I know Jason’s not wild about me being involved because he knows what Alexis will ask—”

“And what Sonny’s lawyer will do,” Carly said. “Jordan Baines doesn’t have a heart. She’s going to go after you anyway she can. I don’t blame Jason for not wanting to do any of that.” She sighed. “I wish this were over, but—” she wandered into the kitchen and Elizabeth followed. “You want something to drink? Water?”

“Sure.” They sat at the table. “Jason said that the judge rejected Sonny’s push for a temporary custody order. That’s a good sign, isn’t it? He’s not getting visitation even without the hearing.”

“Alexis said it was. We filed in family court for AJ’s paternal rights. Which feels weird to say out loud.” Carly dragged her hands through her hair. “It’s been one thing after another,” she murmured. “For years. I’m so tired.”

“And I know this will take time. Sonny will fight every step of the way, but Jason and I are behind you. And it might be weird to have AJ back in this, but that means the Quartermaines are behind you now.”

“That used to scare the crap out of me.” Carly leaned back. “A year ago, do you know where we were?”

Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “Hating each other?”

“Well, yes,” Carly allowed. But also— I was solid and happy in my marriage, overjoyed at being pregnant. Happy that Jason was dating someone who I could get along with, and so sure that no matter what life threw at me and Sonny, we could get through it.” She rested her chin on her fist. “And now—I can’t even remember what it felt like.”

“I had just broken up with Ric for the first time,” Elizabeth murmured. “After learning all the lies and things he’d done to you, to Sonny—”

“I don’t know why the panic room had to change everything so much,” Carly said when Elizabeth didn’t finish. “Why it twisted and broke so many things. Some for the better. Jason’s definitely better off than he would have been. Outside of all of this with Sonny, I mean. That is what it is. But he’s happy with you.”


“For a long time, I kept thinking I wanted to go back to how things were before. That I wanted to be that Carly again. But what’s broken inside Sonny—it was always there. If it wasn’t Ric, it would have been someone or something else.” Carly took a deep breath. “I will never be grateful for what happened to me. To either of us,” she added. “I know Jason found a silver lining because without it, Cameron isn’t here, but I couldn’t find mine. I couldn’t see what it had brought me except trauma and terror.”

“And now?”

“I’m going to be a better person because of it. It made me look at everyone in my life. To look at who I was and how I reacted to things. I never would have let AJ back into Michael’s life, or God, apologized to Tony.” Carly bit her lip. “I wish it had never happened, but it did. It’s okay to find good in it. To find benefit. Isn’t it?”

“I think it’s the only way we can ever really move on from it. I’m a better person because what happened to me,” Elizabeth told her. “The rape. Ric. All of it. It brought me to this moment, to this life.” She twisted her wedding ring. “I have Jason and we have Cameron. I’m stronger than I would have been, I think. I found the good in what happened to me, Carly. But that doesn’t mean I wanted it. Or that I’m grateful. It just means I’ve found a way to live with it.”

“I guess that’s all we can hope for.”

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Taggert emerged from the diner, pausing when he saw Justus at a table reading over some paperwork. He had never been all that interested in the man but he’d be connected to Justus for the rest of his life thanks to Portia. Portia adored her family, and thought of Tamika Ward as her best friend, not just a sister.

And Justus was a father. Kimi would be his kid’s cousin.

Maybe it was time to put the old feelings aside.

“You, uh, got a minute?” Taggert wanted to know. Justus squinted at him, then nodded. “Thanks.”

“What’s going on?” Justus asked. “Is there something at the station—”

“No, no it’s not about any of that. You and I don’t have a lot of run ins these days as long as Sonny stays away from Carly.” And it went without saying Morgan wasn’t going to show up on Major Crimes’ radar. “Um, I know you know about Portia. She said she told her sister before me.”

“Yeah. Mikki said something.” Justus shifted. “Congratulations. She brought over the DVD. Mikki can’t wait to be an aunt.”

“Yeah, she’ll be a good one. Kimi’s a cute kid, so—” Taggert sipped his coffee. “Uh, I guess this means you’ll be my kid’s uncle.”

“That’s usually how it works.”

Taggert scowled. “Look, I’m just—” He exhaled in a huff. “Portia and I are good. Solid. She’s the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’m gonna be a good dad, but she’s got her heart set on a little girl. That scares the hell out of me.”

“Having a daughter?”

“You know this world. I’ve seen—” Taggert looked away, looked towards the diner where Georgie Jones was visible. “I’ve seen too much. And I can’t stop the world from hurting my kids.”

“I know it. I’ve had nightmares thinking about my little girl out in the world. Don’t think I’d do much better with a son,” Justus added. “Because there are whole conversations you gotta have with your son about walking around this world as a Black man.”

That hadn’t even occurred to Taggert and now his chest tightened. “How old were you when your mom had the talk with you?”

“Maybe seven,” Justus said, after some thought. “I got hauled in by some cops in Philly,” he continued. “I spent too much time in the candy aisle and the owner called in a beat cop.” He exhaled slowly. “You?”

“About the same. Mom told me that I was gonna have to fight harder than everyone else just to be seen half as good. She didn’t want me to be a cop,” Taggert added. “But I’d met a good one, I thought, and I wanted to help. I wanted to be part of a better world.” He shook his head. “I don’t know how anyone brings a kid into this world.”

“We’ve got an okay corner of it here. You’ve done good work at the PCPD,” Justus told him. “And you got good taste. Portia’s amazing. She’s going to be a world-class mother. And you’ve got family here. Whether we like it or not,” he added. “Mikki wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Yeah. Thanks.” Taggert got to his feet. “Appreciate it.”

“Any time.”

Kelly’s: Dining Room

“I swear, if Penny gives me that look one more time,” Georgie muttered as she rounded the counter and flashed an angry look at the equally irritated waitress across the room. “I was gone for six months, and she acts like I’ve never worked a day in my life—”

She huffed and looked at Dillon. “You want the usual?”

“Yeah. Penny’s just mad because she’s always been everyone’s, like, third favorite waitress,” Dillon assured her. “Remember? You told me she thought she’d get promoted to manager when Elizabeth quit last year right after Courtney did.”

“And instead Bobbie just hired more waitresses and does the schedule herself.” Georgie smirked. “Yeah, I remember when Elizabeth trained me. She and Courtney got more tips, and it pissed Penny off. Now, Lu and I get more tips. You’d think she’d figure it out.”

“I think Lucas got more tips and he only worked here last summer.” Dillon flipped a page in his text. “You ready for finals?”

“Yeah, I think. Worried about the chem final. If I want to get into organic next year, I need to ace it. I’ll probably pull all nighter.” Georgie ducked into the kitchen to put in another order. When she came out, “I talked to Lu. She and Dante are trying to put together a movie night. I feel like we haven’t done one of those in ages.”

“No, not since—” Dillon made a face. “Christmas. Lu and I broke up and it kind of soured things. But we should.” He hesitated. “There’s a Joan Crawford movie festival next week at the Harwin. They’re doing Baby Jane and Mildred Pierce on the first night. You wanna go?”

“Aren’t they both black and white?” Georgie asked. “You know Maxie hates those—”

“No, I just meant—” Dillon paused. “You and me. Just us.”

Georgie stared at him for a long moment, and he thought he’d made a terrible mistake. They’d only dated for a few months nearly a year ago and things had exploded. She wasn’t interested, and—

“Just you and me,” she echoed. “Dillon—”

“Hear me out, okay?” he said in a hurry. “We said we’d be friends again, right? But the thing is, Georgie—” He cleared his throat. “We were never friends in the first place, you know? From the first second we saw each other. And I know you were dating that guy for a while, but Maxie said that was over—”

“So you want to go on a date? With me?” Georgie said. “I know you said you forgave me for what happened—”

“It’s in the past. I promise. I’m not that innocent, either, you know. We all could have handled things better,” he continued. “And I just—” He met her eyes. “I just thought we could see if anything was still there. I never stopped caring, Georgie.”

“Neither did I,” she said softly. “And I miss your movies. Yeah, let’s go.”

Spencer House: Porch

Laura opened the door and blinked, stepping back. “Kelsey, this is a surprise—”

“I’m sorry just to drop in like this, but I went to the club, and the bartender said—” Kelsey stepped into the entryway and saw Luke standing by the sofa. “I hoped you’d give me a chance to ask you a few questions.”

“I told Cowboy everything I knew—”

“Yeah, he told me.” Behind her, Laura closed the door. Kelsey cleared her throat. “But he thought maybe you didn’t tell him everything, and if there’s something you don’t want people to know about my dad, I get it. I just—” She stepped down, closer to him. “I hope you’d at least hear me out.”

“He will,” Laura said, glaring at Luke. “He’ll hear you out and answer anything he can. Won’t you, Luke?”

“I can try,” he said, gesturing at the dining table. “What’s on your mind?” He sat across from Kelsey, his mouth tightening when Laura sat next to her and not him.

“I understand if you’re worried about things coming back on you, I really do get it. Lucky said you were mixed up in all of this for a long time.” Kelsey paused. “It’s just—I thought I knew who my dad was. I thought I understood what happened to him and why we left. But my mother’s still scared. Does that mean someone is out there? Still threatening her?”

Luke hesitated, then shook his head. “I’d be surprised if anyone has thought about your mother in a long time. I can appreciate her worry, but I’ll tell you Angela is safe. Even if she weren’t, I can make a few calls to make sure of it. Jason’s a good friend and this is his town now.”

“Okay. Okay. That helps. Did my dad—he was Frank Smith’s lawyer, and I know from the papers I’ve read Frank wasn’t a good guy. I know some of the terrible things he was accused of. They said he was running drugs and women in the clubs.” Kelsey’s eyes burned with tears. “Was my dad part of any of that?”

“Like I told Cowboy, your dad might have known about some of that, but he stayed on the right side of the line. Kelsey, you mean a lot to my boy, so I’m doing what I can here, but—”

“Do you know who murdered my father?” Kelsey asked.

Luke closed his eyes. “It wasn’t me, if that’s what either of you were thinking.” He saw Kelsey’s shoulders slump. “That wasn’t my thing,” he added, “and I wasn’t in the inner circle like that. Frank and me were enemies mostly. What happened to your dad seems like an internal thing, you know? I don’t know who did it.”

“But you know who might have.”

“I know who the players were,” Luke clarified. “And that’s all I know. I could give you names. But none of it would help. I’m sorry your father’s case got screwed up like it did. But the time to do something about it, that’s gone.”

“There’s nothing else you can tell me?” Kelsey wanted to know. “Please—”

“There’s nothing else I can tell you.”

When Laura had closed the door behind her son’s girlfriend, she turned to her husband who seemed already braced for what was coming.

“Secrets and holding things in for years and years is what broke me,” she told him. “I never said the things I wanted to say, and I didn’t deal with all that I’d been through. I can’t let that happen again.”


“Lucky loves her. And I mean he loves her. This isn’t like Elizabeth. It isn’t young, first, sweet love. Kelsey is probably going to be our daughter-in-law in the next few years. Our first grandchildren will come from her.” Laura lifted her chin. “If you are holding on to secrets about her father, that will fester and simmer. The truth might not come out today. But it will come out. It always does. You need to decide where you want to be standing when it does.”

NICU: Cameron’s Room

Elizabeth’s fingers dug into Jason’s as Dr. Devlin slid the tiny probe inside Cameron’s ears as Nadine held the newborn steady. His little face scrunched up, but that was the only sign of discomfort.

“It’s okay,” Jason murmured against her ear. “We’re almost there.”

“I just—” Elizabeth tightened her grip, then winced when she felt Jason flinch. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

Dr. Devlin drew the probe out and said something to Nadine. The nurse laid the baby back into his crib, and the doctor turned back to the parents. “He’s passed with flying colors. Just like all the other tests.”

Elizabeth’s air rushed out like a waterfall. “Oh, thank God.”

“All we need now is the car seat test.” He made a note in the chart. “I’d like to give Cameron a few more nights, so let’s schedule the test for Thursday. If it goes well—” Dr. Devlin looked up and flashed another smile. “Friday, you can take your little boy home.”

July 27, 2022

Update Link: The Last Time – Scenes 1-4

I hope everyone is having a good week! I feel like this summer is basically me just going back 15 years and finally writing stuff from 2007. I’ve never really dipped my toe in this era of Liason because I wanted to slap Elizabeth around most of the year. It took me a long time before I felt like I could get a handle on her voice and POV.

The Last Time was the second-place runner up in the Patreon poll which rewrites the paternity reveal. It’ll pick up kind of halfway through the elevator scene (literally after the marriage proposal). It’s a unique Flash Fiction in that I’ve designed it in the style of my stories like Karma, If Don’t Try With You, Shadows, etc with song lyrics and numbered scenes. There are 56 scenes. (Listen). The plan is to hit the timer and write as many scenes as possible in 60 minutes, then post what I finish.  When we’re all done writing 56 scenes, I’ll clean up and repost. Hopefully that makes sense.

I usually manage 4 scenes in 60 minutes, but it depends on how long the scenes are. Tentatively, I’ve scheduled this to conclude September 11, but it might be sooner. Might be later. But definitely around that point.

Tomorrow, we relaunch Watch Me Burn! (and another chapter of Mad World!)

And on Thursday or Friday, expect a video and post for Site & Story Status – Summer 2022.