Hey! I had a change of plans for my Sunday night that means I can’t write flash fiction tonight. I’m hoping to get it done during the week (Tuesday maybe). My niece, Isla, turned ten yesterday, and we weren’t able to have a party for her. My sister and her family literally just moved and their house is a shambles. So we’re getting together tonight to go out for dinner. I’m sure you guys don’t mind 😛
But! Just in case I can’t make a flash fiction update work this week because of school, I wanted to post something for you. Last month, I posted excerpts of possible projects and Malice ended up losing the vote by A LOT (huge surprise to me, honestly, lol), but I realllllllly loved the chapter I wrote, so I’m making the full chapter available to everyone. See you this week!
Made it to another Friday. This week was so exhausting. I know I say that every week, but man, I really feel like I just managed to crawl into the weekend. Wrapping up my first rotation of six graders and finally almost finished writing the content for the first of the new two new units this year. I’d hoped my 7th graders from last year would calm down since I have them in first block as 8th graders, but they’re insane in the morning, too. Chaos demons, honestly. We kicked off our first NJHS fundraiser, and that was a lot of fun. The kids are selling shout outs they can send to friends, and stickers for their binders and water bottles. Busy. Exhausting. Overwhelming, lol.
I literally never touched Counting Stars this week, so I have a lot of ground to cover this weekend. I’m glad I did my major cleaning project when I got home from school today because I’m gonna be spending most of my time this weekend working on Act 2. This is going to be a really fun act to edit 🙂 Can’t wait for you guys to read it in November.
See you on Sunday for the return of Watch Me Burn!
Jason stood just outside the double doors to the chapel, lingering in the anteroom of Queen of Angels, a bit unsure of himself as he watched the pews fill rapidly with members of the hospital staff and distant branches of the Quartermaine family. The front two pews had been left empty out of respect for the close family. Tracy had already passed by him, her arm in her father’s.
Edward looked as if he’d aged decades since Jason had seen him last, and it was hard to find the ruthless and cold man he’d battled after the accident. Monica had squeezed his hand and glad been glad to see him. She’d gone in with Ned and his ex-wife, Lois, and their daughter, Brooke.
But Jason couldn’t bring himself to sit down. To take a place in those front pews. To publicly proclaim a position of family, of relation, that he’d never taken when Alan was living.
“Hey.” Emily came around a corner, her eyes red. “I thought I saw you over here.” She touched a tissue to her eyes, forced herself to smile. “I was just washing my face. I can’t—” She swallowed, looked through the doors, and the tears were glimmering again in her eyes. “I could put it away for a while. The last few days. I made some calls for Mom. But mostly I just…” She closed her eyes. “I pretended he was at work, maybe. That it wasn’t real.”
Jason reached for his sister, drew her against him in a loose embrace. He wanted to tell her he was sorry, that he understood. He’d spent the last few days thinking about other things, but then Monica had called him with the time of the services, her voice hesitant. Would he come? All the confusion, the swirl of grief and numbness returned just like that. As if no time at all had passed since that terrible night in the hospital.
“I know you and Dad didn’t see eye to eye,” Emily said, drawing back so their eyes met. “But he loved you, Jason.”
“And somewhere, inside of you, I think you must have felt it.” Her smile faltered. “He didn’t always do the right thing. And he pushed too hard. He said things that hurt you. Especially after Michael was born—”
“I wish we’d had more time. I wish he was here to meet your child. I think it would have changed things. Or maybe that’s just me wishing again.” She inhaled sharply, her breath shaky. “You’ll come in with me, won’t you?”
“Yeah.” Jason nodded. “Yeah. But I know Monica saved you a seat in the front. I’ll—” Stand in the back? He looked down the aisle, to the empty space in the second pew.
“Oh, good.” Emily stepped back, turned towards the door. “I wasn’t sure if she’d make it.”
Jason turned and everything felt steady inside again. Elizabeth was climbing the stairs, a black coat pulled over an equally dark dress, one hand over her belly. He broke away from Emily, thinking he’d help her up the stairs—
But she was already there. “Sorry. Cam had a hard time going down for his nap. He didn’t want Gram to read him a story. It had to be me.”
“You’re just in time. We’re going in.” Emily hugged her. “I’m with Mom, and you and Jason can sit behind us.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth bit her lip, looked at him and he knew what she was thinking. The news of their child’s paternity had spread, but this would be the first time most people had seen her since the hostage crisis—and it would be at his father’s funeral? Sitting with him?
He nearly told her she didn’t have to—he didn’t want her to feel obligated or pressured—but then he did something he rarely did when Elizabeth was involved. He spoke what was in his mind. “I’d like that,” Jason told her.
“Oh.” Her eyes widened, but there was a warmth there, and he knew he’d made the right choice. “Okay. Of course.”
He took her hand and they trailed behind Emily as his sister walked down the aisle to join Monica and Edward in the front pew. Jason waited while Elizabeth sat down, and then sat at the end of the second pew.
There was a casket in front of them, and belatedly, Jason realized it was an open one. Alan lay there, his eyes closed. Beside a podium, there was a large photograph of his father, smiling as he hugged Emily at her medical school graduation.
Alan had wanted that future for him, Jason remembered, thinking of a conversation long ago, mere weeks after the accident. In the Quartermaine gym. Alan had opened up to him about what it meant for Jason to follow him into medicine, and Jason remembered feeling close to him in that moment, a fleeting emotion that he’d buried.
He swallowed hard, as he thought of that moment and others over the last eleven years—there were more harsh than good, but they were all he’d ever had. There was no turning back the clock. No time, no chance, no extra time.
For just a second, Jason wished he could go back to that day, to the moment he’d almost connected with his father, and be softer. To be kinder to the family that was grieving the boy who had never come home.
Elizabeth slid her hand into his, and he looked at her. Her eyes were damp and he wondered if she was thinking about regrets the way he was. If she was thinking of all the maybes and what ifs. The roads not taken. The choices he’d run from.
Her fingers tightened around his and the tightness in his chest eased as he looked forward again as Father Coates stepped up to begin the services.
This is the last time I’m asking you why
He didn’t run after the service, though he thought about it. He sat and listened as Father Coates delivered a eulogy, as Monica wept through the memories of her marriage—the good, the bad, and the ugly—as Emily broke down in front of the casket as she tried to talk about her father—and as Edward went up to the casket after the services had ended, and Jason had wondered if the old man would be able to walk away.
He offered Elizabeth a ride to the mansion and she accepted, though they didn’t speak in the car. He didn’t know what to say, and maybe she could sense that because she remained quiet, too.
When he’d parked in the driveway, and helped her out, he finally broke the silence. “Go inside,” Jason said. “I, uh—” He looked away, towards the gardens. “I wanted to take a walk.”
“I’ll go with you.” Elizabeth closed the car door and wound her arm through his. “If you don’t mind.”
He didn’t. He didn’t want to be alone, but he didn’t want to be around people. Not just yet. And not here. But Elizabeth wasn’t just anyone.
They walked through the quiet, dormant rose gardens, and Jason tried to remember the last time he’d been here. Not after Lila had passed, no. But surely he’d made time before that—
“I haven’t been here since I came home,” Jason said, suddenly, stopping in the middle of a path.
Elizabeth had walked a few extra steps before realizing that he had stopped, and she turned to look at him, questions in her eyes. “After you were gone for that year?” she wanted to know. “You came to see Lila—”
“In the house. But not here.” He paused, looking around, wishing he was better at picturing things. That he had Elizabeth’s artistic gifts. He couldn’t remember what it looked like, bright with life. What Lila looked like, sitting amongst her beloved roses. “She loved it here.”
“I know. She used to invite me to tea even after Emily left.” Elizabeth smiled faintly. “She was special.”
“She was the first person I ever loved,” Jason murmured. “The first person who felt like family. She taught me what that was. Then Emily. Robin and Sonny, that was different, but Grandmother—” He shook his head. “I keep thinking about the weeks I lived here after the accident. We were all so angry.”
“I destroyed his—my—” he corrected gently. “I destroyed my room. Evidence of a life I didn’t remember, and Monica lost her temper. She was furious with me—I destroyed things she couldn’t replace.” He turned to look back at the house, wondering what that room looked like now. “They were strangers to me, and they kept looking for someone else. I couldn’t see they were grieving—”
“It’s easy to be hard on yourself with hindsight,” she reminded him. “Yes, they were grieving the boy they’d raised, but you were doing the best you could. I didn’t know you then, but I know that you’re not cruel—”
“You’d be surprised,” Jason murmured, but she shook her head. “I did things I knew would make them angry—”
“And your father and grandfather attempted to have you declared an unfit parent to take custody of Michael,” Elizabeth said. Jason exhaled slowly. “You’re looking back with regret, Jason, and that’s good. But don’t pretend that your family didn’t do things that hurt you, too. You hurt each other.” She tipped her head. “At the end, did Alan blame you?”
“No.” Jason struggled to speak, to force the words out. “No. He blamed himself. It’s a parent job to keep trying. To make their child feel loved. He was sorry for giving up.”
“My parents gave up, too, but I’m not sure they’ll have regrets on their deathbed.” Her smile was faint. “I was scared when I got pregnant the first time. What kind of parent would I be? All I knew was what I didn’t want to be.”
“You’re an amazing mother,” he told her. “Cameron adores you.”
“And you’re an amazing father. Michael was lucky to have you. This baby—” Elizabeth reached for his hand, rested it on her belly. Jason smiled as he felt a strong kick against his palm. “This baby,” she continued, “will be lucky to have you.”
“I’m sorry,” Jason said. She drew her brows together. “For asking you to marry me because you were pregnant. You’re right. Marriage is more than that. And I don’t want you to ever think that all I care about is the baby.”
“I didn’t think that,” Elizabeth assured him. “I know you want to be involved. To be a full-time father. I don’t know what that looks like, but I promise, we’ll make it work.”
“I know.” Reluctantly, he let his hand drop to his side, though he could have felt their child kick all day long. He thought about his conversation with Carly, what he knew Elizabeth wanted before she’d consider marry him. Love. Could he offer that? Was he ready? He didn’t know that answer, but she deserved to know how important she was to him. How did he put it into words?
“Last year,” Jason began slowly, and she looked at him, their eyes meeting. Holding. “I don’t know exactly how it happened—how we got our friendship back—but I’m glad we did. I couldn’t have made it through any of this without you.”
A tear slid down her cheek, but she smiled. “My life is always better when you’re in it,” she said, and he returned the smile. “There’s no one else I want to raise this baby with.”
32 You break my heart in the blink of an eye
Emily felt her mother tense next to her, and she twisted, thinking that Monica had over heard Tracy saying something—
But it was nothing so dire—only her mother watching as Jason came through the front door, turning slightly to make sure Elizabeth made it over the threshold without slipping. They ignored the eyes on them as he removed her coat, then handed it to Alice, along with his own.
Then they made their way across the foyer to Emily and Monica. “I’m so sorry,” Elizabeth said, offering a hand to Monica. “Alan was such a wonderful chief of staff. I didn’t think anyone could live up to Gramps, but he stepped in like the position was made for him.”
“He was so honored to be asked to take over for Steve.” Monica squeezed Elizabeth’s hand. “And your grandfather would be proud of you carrying the Hardy/Webber legacy into the future.” She looked to Jason. “Thank you so much for coming today. I know it’s not your favorite place in the world, but it meant a lot.”
“Thank you for asking me,” Jason told her.
“Alan’s will is being read in the next few days,” Monica continued. “He left you something, so I hope you’ll come.”
Jason shifted uncomfortably, but then nodded. “Yeah—Yes. I’ll be there.”
33 This is the last time you tell me I’ve got it wrong
The house was stuffy and crowded, so Jason made sure that Elizabeth was settled with Emily who promised to make sure she’d get her something to eat—and he escaped back into the fresh air on the terrace.
He realized too late that his grandfather was standing by the railing, looking over Lila’s gardens. He nearly went back inside, but Edward turned, and they stared at each other for a long time.
“Monica says you were there at the end,” Edward said, finally.
Jason nodded cautiously. “Emily and I were both able to talk to him.”
“Good. Good. I’m glad. He, uh, had a lot of regrets. You get older, and you start—” Edward slid a hand down his suit jacket, his voice trembling for just a moment before he continuing. “You start to think about the things that you could have done better. My list is—well, it’s endless. No surprise there.” He waited a beat. “You’ll be a father soon, won’t you?”
“Yes,” Jason said. “In May.”
“Spring.” Edward closed his eyes. “It’s a good time. Fresh starts.” He turned back to the gardens. “I shouldn’t be here,” he said abruptly. Furiously. “Burying a son? Preposterous. It should have been me. It should have been me instead of my Lila.”
Edward’s hands gripped the railing tightly and he bent over. “I shouldn’t be here. None of us should.”
“No,” Jason agreed, coming to stand next to him. His grandfather looked at him with surprise, and Jason was startled to see the old man’s eyes were damp. “But Grandmother wouldn’t want you to say things like that.”
“No, she wouldn’t,” he murmured. “I often wish I’d had an ounce of her heart. Of her grace. I’d have been a better man.”
“I think we all would be if we could be like her.” The silence drew out between them. “But she loved us anyway.”
“Yes, she did. Even when we didn’t deserve it. I rarely did.” Edward cleared his throat. “We—we pushed too hard. After the accident. We thought—” He shook his head. “I don’t know what we thought. I never expected you to stand up the way you did, to walk away. To stay away. You never would have before.”
“No, I guess not. But I’m not that different now,” Jason found himself saying. “I just found another family to be loyal to.”
“I suppose there’s truth in that.” Edward sighed. “I took my family for granted. I thought I could never push them too far—that I could always bring them back. But there’s no bringing my boy back, is there?”
It wasn’t a question that needed answering, so Jason didn’t bother. “We can’t bring him back,” he said slowly, “but I’d like my child to know who he was. Will—” Edward stared at him, hope in his eyes. “Will you help me?”
“Of course. Of course.” His craggy face broke into a smile. “Try and stop me.”
Today is the last day of Scars! Thanks so much for the support in this story, and your patience as I left it on hiatus for almost a year. Tania asked me two years ago to write it and waited patiently as I created the universe with Darkest Before Dawn and A Shot in the Dark, so I could write the Tom Baker story properly. And because I left a lot of loose ends with Cassadines, secret sisters, and twins, you never know. It might get another entry in the universe.
Hope everyone had a great weekend 🙂 As we get into the school year proper, I’m making an adjustment to the Flash Fiction schedule by eliminating the Saturday update. The first three months of the school year are going to be a bit overwhelming as I get through my first two cycles. I spent a lot of time last year experimenting with my program — how to deliver the content, what kind of notes for the kids, the exercises, etc. — and at the end of last year, I had mostly figured it out. But I basically had no content written for my eighth graders. I planned to do it in August but, uh, we know how my August went.
I’m spending a lot of extra time that I wish I didn’t have to outside of contract hours. My content is completely teacher driven — the academic teachers get books and resources ready for the kids that need tweaking — my department literally has to create everything from scratch, and doing that for world languages is exhausting. I have to write the units and create the exercises for two more units, then create the teaching slides and the grading rubrics. And that’s in addition just everything else. Luckily, my other two grade levels are pretty well set, and I’m happy with the program. It’s just time-consuming.
I really want Saturday for writing — I finished the draft of Mad World last September-October because I concentrated from 10-2 on Saturdays. I’d hoped to do both, but so far it’s not working out. We can definitely revisit the schedule in the new year once my new units are written, and I won’t be doing so much work at home.
The new schedule is updated on the Canva calendar. The Last Timeon Fridays and Watch Me Burn on Sundays. Once The Last Time is done, Invisible Stringsreturns.
This entry is part 25 of 25 in the Flash Fiction: Scars
Written in 69 minutes.
Morgan House: Living Room
Elizabeth’s car was in the driveway, and Aiden’s bike had been left on the front lawn, tossed on its side. But when Jason got inside the house, it felt empty. Until he heard the shouts from the backyard. They grew louder as he went through the dining room into the kitchen and found Elizabeth on the back deck watching the kids. She was bundled up in a white coat, a blue scarf wrapped around her neck.
It wasn’t just their kids outside—it never was, Jason thought as he stood at the back door and watched as Jake and Aiden chased each other around in circles, Joss and Emma giggling while Spencer tossed a football towards Cameron. The sight of Joss’s blond hair and Emma’s dark had him flashing back to the night of the dance. The girls standing on their front lawn, Emma’s sweet smiles and Joss’s sullen eyes.
And his wife, standing and watching over them all.
She turned as he emerged, her eyes guarded. “You’re home.”
“I went to Sonny’s.” He closed the door behind him and joined her on the deck. “It’s getting too cold for this,” he murmured, watching the kids. “There’s snow in the forecast this week.”
“I know.” Elizabeth flicked her eyes at him before looking away. “I know you’re mad—”
“I don’t care that you did it,” Jason said, and she frowned, turning to look at him fully. “You think it bothers me — the act itself — and it doesn’t. I won’t apologize for not wanting my life to touch you. The violence, the danger — I know you can handle it. I’ve watched you do it for almost twenty years. That doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like it.”
“But—” He took a deep breath. “You’re right. If you’d told me, I wouldn’t have let you near it. I’d like to think if I knew how much you needed it, I’d have—” Jason pressed his lips together. “I hope the answer is yes.”
“I didn’t know myself until I was in that room,” she said softly. “Before that, it really was about protecting. I’m so angry that Jordan was willing to use my past to hurt you. And even more furious that she used the girls. I never thought her capable of that kind of cruelty—”
“She came to Port Charles working undercover for the DEA,” he reminded Elizabeth. “For her, it’s about making sure no one ever questions her loyalties. That she doesn’t have any soft spots for us. She goes harder than she needs to. I understand it—”
“But understanding doesn’t mean she gets away with this. I’m looking into a few things,” he said, and she sighed. “We’ll decide it together, I promise.”
“All right.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I wanted to protect you,” she said softly, looking back at the kids. “So you didn’t have to lie. I wanted your alibi to ironclad. I’m not sure I thought much past that or how it would feel to lie to you. I didn’t like it.”
“I know.” He slid an arm around her waist, tugged her into his side, smiling as the bump of her belly brushed against his body. “I know the feeling,” he added. “And how easy it is to hurt someone you love when all you want to do is shield them.”
She met his eyes. “You’re not mad anymore?”
“No. Sonny reminded me that I’ve done the same to you. And that I’ve taken care of threats to our family that you don’t even know about. He, uh, appreciates the alibi by the way.” Jason kissed her forehead, lingering. “Did it help?” he asked, softly. “You haven’t had any nightmares.”
“Yes. I should have done it years ago. I thought it made me stronger. That it said something about me to let Baker go through the system. But the system wasn’t built for men like him. For people who can’t be fixed. That’s what I realized, standing in that room. He was never going to stop, and I needed to be the one to stop him. I—” She licked her lips. “I almost wanted him to wake up. To know that it would be me who ended his life.” Tears shimmered. “I don’t know what that makes me—”
“Human,” Jason assured her. “It makes you human. He stole a piece of you, Elizabeth, that I don’t think you ever really got back. Maybe you never will. He didn’t deserve to die in his sleep.”
Elizabeth’s lips stretched into a humorless smile. “No. But I deserved to have a life after he stopped breathing, so it was necessary. Thank you. For understanding. For not…”
“You never flinched from me or this life. From what I’m capable of.” He took her hand in his, rubbed his thumb over her wedding ring. “I always knew you’d walk through fire for our family. I love you.”
“I love you, too.” Elizabeth snuggled against him and they looked back at their family, her hand resting on her belly. “I can’t wait to see the look on their faces when we tell them about the twins.”
Greystone: Living Room
“No one in this family should sing Christmas carols,” Joss declared, her hands on her hips. “Except Cam. He can hold a note.”
“I don’t sound half bad,” Spencer said with a roll of his eyes. He tossed another handful of tinsel at the humongous tree Sonny had set up for decorating on Christmas year. “I can outsing that townie any day—”
“You’ve lived on Spoon Island for five years out of fifteen.” Trina flopped on the sofa next to Jake who was furiously battling Morgan on the game system. “That makes you the townie, doofus.”
“Nice to know some things will never change,” Elizabeth said. She set a tray of appetizers on the table. “Leave some for everyone else. Not everyone is here yet,” she said as the kids descended on the food. “Patrick and Robin aren’t due for another twenty minutes.”
“Uncle Sonny can just make more,” Joss said. She grinned at Elizabeth, her blue eyes sparkling. “He loves to cook.”
Elizabeth flicked her shoulder, and Joss giggled, more upbeat these last few weeks. Elizabeth started to return to the kitchen, but stopped to look over her shoulder for another glimpse of Joss.
Jason and Sonny were still in the kitchen, her husband sipping a beer as Sonny slid another tray of lasagna into the oven. “Hey, did you tell them to save some food?” Sonny wanted to know.
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t count on it.” Elizabeth sipped her water. “The boys are eating everything in sight, and I’m not much better lately.” Her pregnancy had advanced rapidly in the last three weeks, and her belly had doubled in size. She and Jason were holding onto the news about the twins until she was in her third trimester.
“Well, I got a call yesterday that I thought might make the holiday season brighter.” Sonny wiped his hands on the dish towel. Pitching his voice lower, he said, “The tox screen came back negative, and the medical examiner has filed it as undetermined. Officially, the case is closed.”
Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “Are you sure?”
“Oh, yeah. And—” Sonny’s lips stretched into a smile, though his eyes were cold. “The Herald will be releasing a bombshell story in the next few days. An anonymous source told them that the commissioner knowingly put some teenage girls in danger as a vendetta. They’ve got leaked surveillance reports to prove it.”
“Will it be enough?” Elizabeth asked softly.
“If it isn’t,” Sonny said, “there are other ways. But I think a few well-placed calls and threats of lawsuits should get us where we need to be. If Commissioner Ashford hasn’t resigned by New Year’s, we can reassess.”
“Thanks, Sonny,” Jason told him.
“Now that you’re in the clear—” Sonny lifted his brows at Elizabeth. “You considering a side hustle? I could use—”
Jason choked on his beer, then set the bottle down with a thud to glare at his best friend and partner. “That’s not funny.”
Elizabeth snickered which just earned her a dark look from her husband. “Thanks, Sonny, but I’ll leave that to you guys.” She picked up a tray of cookies and disappeared out the door. Jason’s eyes followed her.
“I mean it, Jason. The case is dead. And once the investigation gets leaked, no one is going to be interested in digging it back up. The PCPD is going to want Tom Baker to stay dead and buried.”
“Good.” Jason picked up his beer again. “That’s where he belongs.”
General Hospital: Maternity Ward
Elizabeth went into labor one night in mid-June, just before the end of the school year. They’d only just finished dinner when she’d cried out in pain. Jason had left Jake and Aiden with Cameron, and hustled his wife into the SUV and to the hospital.
Though everything had gone to plan and she’d been healthy throughout the entire pregnancy, Jason couldn’t help but flash back to the last time he’d rushed her to the hospital. As she’d laid bleeding on the floor, unconscious in his arms, and then the fear that lanced through him while he watched Jake be born, and the terror of nearly losing her—
“It’ll be fine,” Elizabeth said as he sped though the night streets. She squeezed his hand as another contraction hit. “We’ll be fine,” she panted.
And then thirteen hours later, as the sun rose over the sky, the first baby was born.
Elizabeth was laughing and crying, her face flushed and hair matted to her face as a nurse laid their son on her chest. “Look at how beautiful he is,” she managed, even as the pain of another contraction whipped through her.
Jason pressed his lips to her forehead. “You both are,” he murmured.
The baby was swept away to be measured and cleaned up after they cut the first cord, Jason doing the honors. And then her labor began again as the second baby demanded their attention—
Four minutes after her brother came into the world, Elizabeth held their daughter in her arms. Both of the babies were small, but the girl smaller than her brother. “Look at her,” Elizabeth breathed. The baby screeched her discomfort and discontent with the world, and Jason could only stare at the miracle of his wife and the children she’d created.
“She’s perfect. They both are.”
Their daughter was taken to be cleaned up, joining her brother under the warming lamp. Exhausted beyond measure, Elizabeth laid back, still panting, everything inside of her on fire. But the babies were here, and they were healthy. She’d done everything she could. She forced her eyes open to look at Jason, smiling faintly at the tears staining his cheek. “What’s this?” she murmured, as he kissed her lightly. She brushed her fingers over the tears. “They’re okay. Everyone is okay.”
“Everyone is perfect,” he told her. “Especially you.” Jason smoothed her hair off her forehead. “I’ve never been here for this part.”
“Well, good thing you’re here now. There’s one for each us,” Elizabeth said as two nurses returned, each holding a swaddle.
“Do we have a name for them?” Britt asked as she stepped back into the room. “You didn’t want to say before—”
“Drake Alan Morgan,” Elizabeth said, looking at her son in Jason’s arms, the safest place to be. “And—” She looked at her daughter. “Paige Audrey.”
“Dr. Drake is going to be insufferable,” Britt offered, but laughed. “Great job, Elizabeth. I’ll check in on you tomorrow, but you did great. Congratulations to you both.”
Later, after Elizabeth had been cleaned up and moved from a delivery suite to a regular hospital room—she couldn’t take her eyes off the plastic crib at her side. At her two gorgeous babies. Jason had gone for something to eat — she hadn’t had a bite since going into labor the night before.
There was a creak at the door and Elizabeth twisted her head slightly to grin as Patrick came in. “Hey, you.”
“Hey.” Patrick kissed her cheek, then went over to stare at the babies. “You didn’t say a word about twins, Webber. That’s a big secret to keep.”
“We meant to tell people,” Elizabeth said, “but I guess I was scared. We read about how difficult the birth could be. And sometimes one baby dies before birth—I guess I thought if I didn’t say it out loud, the universe couldn’t take them away.” She bit her lip. “Silly, I guess.”
“Whatever you needed to get through it.” Patrick brushed a knuckle down the cheek of one baby. “I hear they have special names.”
“Paige and Drake.”
Patrick looked at her, grinning even as his eyes were damp. “Yeah, that’s what I heard. You—you know Steven’s going to kill us both.”
“Let him. You’ve been a better brother to me than anyone else.” Elizabeth realized for the first time he was wearing scrubs. “Are you on a break?”
“No, no.” Patrick grinned. “Turns out we had something in common. Our kids are gonna share a birthday. Robin just got moved down here from Labor and Delivery. Noah Patrick was born about an hour ago.”
“Patrick!” Elizabeth squealed, then winced “Oh. Man. Everything hurts.”
“You might want to relax for a few months after all that.” Patrick kissed her forehead. “Congratulations, Mom.”
“Right back at you, Dad.”
The door open again and Jason came in—joined by all three of their boys.
“Mom! Mom!” Aiden raced in to her bedside, his eyes wide. “Dad said there was two of them!”
“Another brother,” Jake said. “Awesome!”
“And a little sister,” Cameron said with a grin. He went around the side of the bed to look at them. “Which one was born first?”
“Your brother Drake,” Elizabeth said.
“Which means your little sister is going to have four older brothers to look out for her,” Patrick said. “God help the world when she grows up.”
Elizabeth laughed, then looked at her kids, all crowded around the crib, arguing who got to hold which baby first, and Aiden complaining because as the youngest he wasn’t going to go first—She caught Jason’s eye as he grinned at them.
She’d fought so hard to get to this moment, to have this life. She’d lied, cheated, and even killed for this family. She’d been battered and bruised, but she’d come out stronger, and so had their family.
Hope everyone had a good week! Feels so strange to go so many days without posting. I don’t think I’ve gone five days without an update since May. Sorry for dipping out on Sunday’s update — I woke up with an insane TMJ migraine and I couldn’t quite focus on writing. It was a really rough week — our first full week with the normal schedule, complete with a faculty meeting, Back to School night, a doctor’s appointment and I had a night even on Tuesday. Lauren’s services in August were private, just close family and friends, but her husband always planned a larger dinner/get together for us all to get together. That was this week.
Plus, this month is the ninth anniversary of Lauren, Mike, and me moving to London for a year to attend grad school (London is where I started writing fanfiction again and got Crimson Glass back online), so my TimeHop and Facebook memories are just kind of throwing a lot of Lauren at me right now. They’re all amazing memories, but they’re feeling just a bit raw honestly. It was hard on Tuesday to get together — her parents were always so warm and lovely to us, and they’re just barely keeping it together. You just want to make it okay for them, and it’s not possible. I got into the car on the way home, and Coldplay came on — Lauren’s favorite band. Her prayer card had the lyrics to The Scientist on the back, and I started crying in the car.
Anyway. It’s Friday, we got to the end of the week, and I can sleep until 6:30 tomorrow morning. I’ll see you tomorrow for an update for The Last Time, and *crosses fingers* the conclusion to Scars on Sunday.
This entry is part 24 of 25 in the Flash Fiction: Scars
Written in 65 minutes
He’d expected her to deny it. To continue lying, or maybe to discover that he’d been horribly mistaken and there was some other explanation for all of this—
Instead his wife had lifted her chin and stated the truth bluntly, the light in her eye suggesting that she wasn’t looking for forgiveness. She’d murdered someone—she and Patrick Drake had plotted to kill someone and had actually gone through with it—and lied about it.
Jason clenched his jaw, took a deep breath. “You injected him,” he repeated. “You.”
“Yes. Patrick was there in case the injection woke him, but I did it. Succinylcholine,” Elizabeth said. “It paralyzes—”
“I know what it does,” Jason bit out, and she closed her mouth. She wasn’t really going to explain how to kill someone without a trace, was she? But then he took another deep breath. “There are tests for that—”
“You have to test specifically for the metabolites which isn’t part of any standard tox screen,” Elizabeth said. She folded her arms. “And it’s even harder to detect in a body that’s begun to decompose.” She finally broke eye contact, looked back over the harbor. “It’ll be weeks before we know if they tested for them, before the tox screen comes back—”
“They didn’t,” Jason said, and she looked back, furrowing her brows. “It was a standard tox screen. I made calls,” he added, a bit irritated with himself when she just frowned. “As soon as I found out he was dead. I knew.”
Elizabeth exhaled carefully. “I didn’t want to lie to you,” she said. “But if I’d told you, you’d have insisted on handling it yourself—”
“And I knew Jordan was watching you. Not me, just you and Sonny. You told me that. And she’d never suspect you’d let me do it. I made sure you and Sonny were safe—”
“I don’t need you to protect me—” That was his job, damn it. “Did you know about the pictures? Why didn’t you—”
“No. Not the pictures. But—” Elizabeth rubbed her chest. “Not long after the dance, I saw Baker in the park. He was watching the girls. It terrified me,” she murmured. “But you were still under surveillance. And I didn’t know what Jordan was watching. If she’d found other ways into your organization. I broke into his house—”
Jason closed his eyes. “You—”
“I am not some amateur,” Elizabeth cut in sharply, and he focused on her again. “I watched him first. I understood his schedule. I know how to pick a lock. I went into the house, and I saw the photos. And I realized she had to know. Those photographs—she had to. There were too many.”
He’d find out if Jordan Ashford had been aware the girls were being stalked— “There were pictures of you.”
“I know.” Her voice faltered a bit, and some of his fury faded. “I know,” she repeated. “I saw them. He followed Joss that night, Jason. My worst nightmare. He wasn’t going to stop until someone stopped him. I should have done it two decades ago. I went inside to see if I could. And then I went to Patrick. We bought cars in cash and I got rid of them both, just the way Luke taught me—”
Jason grimaced, but acknowledged the information with a nod. “What else?” Was there a trail he needed to handle—
“Patrick and I went to the drug store so there’d be a receipt if anyone asked. We made sure the window was small if anyone looked into us, but I knew Jordan wouldn’t. She didn’t even check with the hospital to see if we were scheduled. We burned the clothes we were wearing—”
“Patrick knows how to work the system at the hospital,” Elizabeth said. “It’s an outdated med dispensary. We’re always off on the count. The only mistake I made was the one I made with you.” She huffed. “Starbursts,” she muttered, obviously disgusting with herself, and Jason had to admit that she’d thought of almost everything. And he knew that she’d left no trace behind in the house. Jordan would have found it by now.
And still — “You lied to me. And you let Baker walk around for two more weeks—what if he’d gone after the girls?” Jason demanded. “I could have handled it—”
“Maybe.” She swallowed hard. “Maybe. But you wouldn’t have let me do it. You would have made me stay home.”
Jason shook his head, turned away from her, his hands at his waist. He was so goddamn angry—the blood was pounding in his head, in his chest, everything felt like it was going to explode — “You’re pregnant—”
“And if I hadn’t been, you would have let me be part of it?” she demanded caustically, and he scowled. “No. You would have just taken care of it. Like you offered when he first got out. This was mine—”
“Because he’d follow me,” she retorted, and he fell silent. “He wouldn’t try to protect me. I lied to you because there’s no reasoning with you sometimes. I can handle myself, Jason. I’ve carried three other children. I know what I can handle. I’ve been in car accidents. I’ve been held hostage. I’ve nearly died giving birth—”
“And you heard Britt. I’m perfectly healthy. All I did was drive to a house, pick a lock, and shove a needle inside the monster plotting to hurt more girls. If I hadn’t been there that night, Jason, we’d be picking up the pieces of Joss right now. But you wouldn’t have let me do what needed to be done.”
“No, I wouldn’t have,” Jason snapped. “You think you’ve got everything, including me, handled. But what about Patrick? Do you think Robin is happy about any of this? You think she doesn’t know? As soon as she found out Baker died on Thanksgiving, she knew—”
“Years ago, when I was furious that Luke had killed Helena first—before Laura or I could even get our hands on her—you told me that you were relieved.” Her eyes burned into his. “Because something like this stays with you. You were glad I didn’t have to.”
“And I warned you then. I told you who I was. What I knew I could do. I would have strangled that evil bitch with my bare hands and danced on her grave! Did you think I was bluffing?”
“No—” Mystified at how the argument had turned, he just shook his head. “No—”
“You were glad that my hands were clean. It was fine to kill Stavros in the heat of the moment, but you don’t want me to get dirty. Like you.”
“That—Okay, that’s what I said then, but—”
“And it’s how you feel right now. You’re angry that I did this. That I didn’t just plot a murder, but that I actually went through with it.” Her eyes glimmered with tears. “I killed him, and then I shared Thanksgiving dinner with my children. And the only reason you even know is I slipped up with my cover story. I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment—”
“You’re twisting this around,” Jason interrupted. “I’m angry because you put yourself at risk without telling me—that you lied to me about it when you damn well know that I had the connections to get it done without a trace—”
She swiped at her eyes, and laughed bitterly. “You don’t even hear yourself, do you? I didn’t need your connections, Jason. I have my own. I killed my rapist—” Elizabeth flattened her hand against her chest. “I killed my monster. Not yours. Helena was mine. Stavros was only aiming at you because of me and my history. It’s okay for you to take care of crime in your world without discussing it—but I can’t do the same?”
“I’m not arguing about this anymore.” Jason went past her, heading for the parking lot, irritated. She just didn’t understand—
She followed him back to his bike, took the helmet he offered, just staring at him with sadness in her eyes—and a hint of disappointment. “I didn’t want to lie to you. But it was the only way—”
“We’ll never know because you didn’t trust me.”
“Would you have let me into that house, to be the one to kill him?” Elizabeth asked. “If I told you it needed to be me?”
Jason opened his mouth, then closed it, troubled by the question. He didn’t know the answer. He climbed on the bike, and without another word, drove them home.
Scorpio-Drake House: Kitchen
Patrick studied the menu in his hands. “How many pizzerias does one town need?” he wanted to know when Robin came through the door. “This is the third new flyer in the last month—”
“Did you kill Tom Baker?”
The question fell out of her mouth before Robin even knew she was going to ask it. Her husband froze, then lowered the menu, their eyes meeting.
“You can tell me,” Robin hurried to add. “Even if you—if you didn’t do it alone—I’m your wife. I can’t tell anyone what you said even about someone else—”
“I’ve got a passing familiarity with spousal privilege,” Patrick said, finally finding his voice. “Yes. I didn’t do the final deed. But I secured the means, drove to the house, and went inside. I watched it happen. And then I came home. That makes me just as liable.”
They stared at each other for a long moment, then Robin bit her lip. “Did you know about the photos?”
“No. I didn’t. Not until I saw them. He was watch Emma, Robin. He was watching our little girl. And he was there the night of the dance.” A muscle ticked in his cheek, and his Adam’s apple bobbed. “If Elizabeth and I hadn’t hung out that night, if she hadn’t doubled back—it might have been Joss. It might have been any of them. But he stole photos of Emma from my locker. They’re both pinned on that board.”
Her hands were shaking as Robin dragged them through her hair, digesting that news. “He was stalking her, then.”
“He must have seen her around Elizabeth. Knew Emma was special to her. And—”
“And Emma has superficial resemblance to Elizabeth,” Robin finished, her stomach lurching. “Oh, God. Our baby.”
“The system didn’t protect Elizabeth. I couldn’t take the chance. Not with Emma. Not with any of those girls.” Patrick folded the menu and set it on the counter. “I understand if you think less of me. If it changes how you feel about me—”
“No. No.” Maybe it should, Robin thought. But she’d seen rape victims over the years, and she had some sense of how Elizabeth had struggled. The thought of her precious baby being shattered that way— “No, I’m glad he’s dead. We’ll—we’ll let it go. We’ll put it away.” She closed the distance between them, his eyes staying on her hers. “I can let it go.”
“Okay.” He cupped her face in his hands, his thumbs fanning out over her jaw. “I’m sorry I had to lie to you.”
“You’re not very good at it.”
“I didn’t—” Patrick stopped. “If you know, then—”
“Jason and I know. Or suspected. I don’t know if he’s asked Elizabeth yet. He said it looks like the PCPD doesn’t have anything yet, but he’ll make sure it goes away.”
“I should tell her he suspects. We didn’t want to lie, but Elizabeth—” Patrick hesitated. “There just wasn’t another way.”
“No. I can see that, I guess.” She kissed the corner of his jaw. “Thank you for protecting our daughter.”
Sonny offered Jason a drink, but the younger man just shook his head and stalked across the room to glare out the terrace doors. Sonny poured himself a bourbon and took a seat, considering the situation.
“What’s the part that’s making you the most angry?” Sonny wanted to know. Jason turned to him, a scowl etched into his expression. “The lie or the crime?”
“Damn it—” Jason clenched his fists. “My wife just admitted to committing murder, and you want to me to pick which part makes me the most angry—”
“How many men have you killed to protect Elizabeth and the boys?” Sonny asked idly, and Jason stared at him. “There was that guy who set the bomb all those years ago. It’s why you left and went to Puerto Rico. And the one who kidnapped her. A few Russians. Some Cassadine guards—”
“Your wife,” Sonny said slowly, “saw a threat to her family and she eliminated it. Just the way you’ve done over and over again.”
Jason’s shoulders slumped and he sat on the sofa. “She thinks I’m angry because she got her hands dirty,” he muttered. “I said something a few years ago about being glad she didn’t have to be the one to kill Helena—that her hands were clean—” Sonny winced. “She was angry at me then, but I didn’t realize she’d held on to that. I’m not—this isn’t about that.”
“It’s a little about that,” Sonny said, and Jason’s scowl returned. “You hated when the violence touched her. When it came near your family. But you always hated it more than she did. And every single time she tried to show you she could handle it, you ran as far and as fast as you could in the opposite direction.”
“I—” Had done exactly that, though he hadn’t seen it that way. “Maybe.”
“She knows who you are, Jason. Always has. She never flinched from any of this.” Sonny leaned forward. “She lied to you because she didn’t want you to realize that she wanted to be the one to kill Baker. She was scared you’d flinch from her. And then you did exactly that.”
“My face changed,” Jason murmured. Sonny frowned, and his friend looked at him. “I don’t care that she killed him. I don’t. I’m glad he’s dead.”
“I’m a little impressed with her, honestly. She ever decides to make this a second career—” Sonny winced when Jason glared at him. “Kidding.”
“It’s not funny.”
“It’s a little bit funny.” Sonny got to his feet. “You’re glad Baker’s dead. And maybe Elizabeth got some satisfaction from doing the deed. Some closure. The girls are safe. And, cherry on top, Elizabeth pulled off what might be the perfect crime. Go home. Tell her you love her and that you understand. Because you damn well know about taking a life to protect others.”
“And tell her I appreciate the alibi. I enjoyed having Diane tell Jordan that she should ask a trio of former commissioners where I was all day.” Sonny sipped his bourbon. “We’ll make sure the case gets buried, Jason. Go home to your wife and family. You have a woman who’d kill to keep you and the kids safe. We should all be so lucky.”
ETA: Sunday, 11 Sep 2022: No Flash Fiction tonight. Woke up with a terrible TMJ migraine, and have been struggling through things today.
Hope everyone is having a great Saturday! I slept in this morning, and decided to push Flash Fiction until this evening. I’m definitely not going to let myself feel tied to a time on the weekends — sometimes I might update in the morning, other times at night. As long as I update, no one will complain 😛
Spent today relaxing, and just getting myself together. Trying to prep for next week, but not pushing it so that I spend all weekend running around, and then I’m tired going into the week. See you tomorrow for another part of Scars!
Her mother was probably the last person Sam wanted to see right now, but she forced herself to smile as she let Alexis into the penthouse. “I know. I’ve been avoiding your calls.”
“I would have come over yesterday,” Alexis said, “when I heard what happened, but I thought maybe you needed some space.” She looked around the penthouse. “Jason isn’t here?”
“No.” Sam closed the door, rested her forehead against it. “He left. Yesterday. He came in after being out all night at the hospital, packed a bag, and left. I haven’t heard from him.”
Her mother said nothing, so Sam turned to look at her, a bit suspicious. “You’re not going to tell me I’m better off?”
“I made a mistake last year,” Alexis said gently. “I was just—I was so scared, Sam. I’d just found out, and I was terrified I’d lose you—but I never should have pushed Jason when he was already struggling—”
“I wish I could blame you. It’d be easy. I blamed you for everything else wrong in my life.” Sam sighed, wandered over to the sofa. “Blamed you for my daughter’s death, even though placental abruption is often fatal. Especially when it comes without warning. Blamed you for Danny’s death—”
“Blamed you for Manny, too.” Sam sat on the edge of the sofa, her hands fisted in the cushions next to her, staring blindly at the coffee table. “And I blamed you for Jason leaving. So I decided to hurt you both.” She closed her eyes. “You knew that, didn’t you? That it wasn’t spur of the moment. I wanted to hurt you, Mom.”
“I know.” Alexis sat in the chair next to the sofa, and waited for Sam to look at her. “Did it make you feel better?”
“Do you want the truth?” Sam asked.
“It did. It felt good. For about an hour.” Sam’s smile was wistful now as she looked away, staring again at the coffee table. “And then the regret set in. Because the only way for it to work as revenge would be to make sure you knew. That Jason knew. So I got up and went to tell him. I got all the way to the Towers, to the penthouse. Up all those stairs—and I couldn’t do it.” Her voice shook. “I knew it would hurt him so much. And then I though about you. And Kristina and Molly. And how it would hurt everyone.” She swiped at her tears. “I wish I’d let that matter before I did it.”
Sam took a deep breath. “You pushed Jason into leaving me last year, Mom, but you didn’t hold a gun to his head. He chose to do it. And he chose to keep pushing me away until I was angry enough to lash out. You were right, by the way. About what I was letting it turn me into. I was nothing without Jason. No one. And now—” She waited a moment. “He found out last night about the baby. He didn’t know the whole time.”
“I’ve been sitting here, angry at myself because I didn’t handle it well. I—I pushed at him, and I definitely jumped down his throat because he spent the night at the hospital with Elizabeth. I was telling myself that if I had just let him breathe, if I’d let him go to sleep or take a minute, he’d still be here.” Sam looked at Alexis. “I can’t have children because of what Manny did to me. And Manny was aiming for Jason when he shot me. It’s not Jason’s fault. Not really. I took the risk. But I was arrogant. I thought I could handle whatever this life threw at me. But I can’t have children. Ever. That’s done for me.”
“I’m sorry,” Alexis said. “I don’t know what else to say—”
Sam swiped at stray tear. “I could make him feel bad, you know. I could have used this to keep him with me. Make him feel guilty for having a child with another woman when I can’t. I spent all day yesterday trying to think of how to do it.” She shoved herself off the sofa, went over to the terrace doors, folding her arms around her torso. “I could still maybe pull it off. If I play it right. I know how to do it. I managed to seduce your husband in about six weeks. I could get Jason back.” She looked at Alexis. “Sorry.”
“Don’t apologize.” Alexis rose and crossed the room, her fingertips trailing over the green felt of the pool table. “I know what happened and why. It’s my choice to forgive you. I’ve made it.”
“I don’t deserve it, but thanks.” Sam closed her eyes. “I could get Jason back,” she repeated. “And there’s such a big part of me that wants it. Because I liked who I was when we were together. I liked that he made me feel strong and capable. I think he was the only man I’ve ever been with who came close to knowing who I really am. And he loved me anyway. For a little while.”
She scratched her arm absently as her mother remained silent behind her. “But Jason doesn’t love me anymore. It would end in tears and anger and we’d hate each other if we kept clinging to whatever this was. He’d see the pieces of me I’ve locked away—and he’d lose what little respect or warmth he has for me.” She exhaled in a rush of air. “Despite that, I’m still tempted.”
“You could do all of that,” Alexis said, “or you could pack your things and come home to me and your sisters. And we’ll figure out what’s next together.”
“You’d still want me in your home?” Sam wanted to know. “After everything I’ve done. After what I’ve said today?”
“Yes, I do. You need to be around people who love you.” Alexis tipped her head. “And I think we can both agree that I’ve got some sense of those pieces you’re afraid Jason will see. And I love you, anyway. So, will you try to grab a few more months with Jason or will you come home with me?”
28 Just you and me
Elizabeth peeked through the window and sighed when she saw Lucky standing on her grandmother’s porch. She rested a hand on her belly, felt the reassuring kick of the baby. Then looked at her grandmother. “I don’t know if I want to answer it.”
“I’ll be right here,” Audrey promised. “Or I can tell him to go away.” She rose and crossed to Elizabeth even as Lucky rang the bell a second time. “You said you were sorry that he found out the way he did. Maybe there’s a chance—”
“Not for reconciliation,” Audrey said hastily. “But closure.”
Elizabeth sighed, and went to open the door. Lucky blinked in surprise, nearly dropping the manila envelope he held. “Lucky.”
“Uh. Hey. Hi. I—” He cleared his throat. “I’m sorry to just show up like this, but I thought maybe we could talk. For a minute.”
“Yeah, sure. Come in.” Elizabeth stepped aside, and when he entered, she closed the door. “How are you?”
“Fine, I guess. Staying with Nikolas for a few days just to keep my head on straight.” He nodded. “Mrs. Hardy.”
“Lucky.” Audrey looked at Elizabeth who nodded. “I’ll go check on Cameron. He’s napping upstairs.”
When her grandmother had disappeared up the stairs, Lucky looked at Elizabeth. “How are you feeling? I, uh, know you were in the hospital overnight—”
“I’m good. Kelly was just worried about the cramping I had while we were held hostage. And my blood pressure. She’s got me on light rest.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I’m not sorry that the truth is out there,” she said, “but I wish it hadn’t been that way. It was so public and I know that’s been hard—”
“It was a bad night.” Lucky stared down at the envelope in his hands. “You were tired. Dehydrated. I’m angry at you,” he confessed. “So angry that I almost can’t breathe.”
Elizabeth flinched, cleared her throat. “I know—”
“But I’m angrier at myself.” He raised his eyes, met hers. “Before I got hurt, we were so good. You, me, and Cam. We were a family. You were worried about the pain meds from the start. I know that. I couldn’t see it. I didn’t think of myself as being weak.”
“I wanted to be angry that you’d had an affair—I wanted to see it as proof that I’d been right all along, but—” He swallowed hard. “I think maybe that’s just me looking for someone else to blame. I thought it was Patrick, but I was wrong—”
“It was one night,” Elizabeth said. “The blackout. After I found out about Maxie.” She folded her arms. “I was planning to leave you, but then I came home and you were going to a meeting. You wanted to get clean. And I wanted to believe in you. In us.”
Lucky nodded slowly. “Okay. Okay. I can—I can be okay with that. Um—” He looked away. “I don’t really know what to do with any of this. I’m angry because you lied, but I know you had reasons. But it doesn’t really stop me from hating you. I don’t want to, but—” He held up the envelope. “Our divorce is almost final. I was going to bring these to dinner to tear up. So we could try again. I was just going to throw them out, but…” He handed it to her. “I signed them. I know that doesn’t matter because the divorce will be final anyway, but I didn’t sign them before. I made you go through the court. To give us more time. To give me more time to convince you to forgive me.”
Elizabeth held the papers against her chest. “I’m sorry,” she said. “That it ended this way. I loved you so much, Lucky. I wanted so much more for us.”
“Yeah. Me, too.” He slid his hands in his pockets, rocked back on his heels. “I wanted—I wanted you to know that I love Cam. That I always will. But I’m angry at you,” he repeated. “So maybe we just walk away. You’re gonna have this baby, and Jason—” He closed his eyes.
“No. You’ll have this baby, and Jason will be there. And he’s—he’s an okay guy. I mean, I liked him just fine when we were kids. And he’s a good father. Maybe it’ll be easier for you if I’m out of the picture.”
“What about you?” Elizabeth asked. “Cam loves you—”
“He’s young,” Lucky said, but he looked away, swallowing hard. “And being a good father isn’t always about holding on. It’s about knowing when to walk. I’m angry at you,” he said once again, and this time when he looked at her, she saw the fury he’d been hiding. The flare of his nostrils. The tension in his shoulders. “Right now, I’m keeping it together because we’ve been through hell. And you’re pregnant. And because I can remember that this wasn’t some sort of deliberate plan. But I think it’s better for you and me if this is the end. Because I can’t promise I’ll always feel that way. When you have that baby, and I remember it was supposed to be mine—” Lucky’s jaw clenched. “We’re done now. The divorce will be final. We both walk away with what we came with.”
He strode past her, yanked open the door, and left. Elizabeth looked after him, her eyes stinging with tears. “Goodbye,” she said softly. She felt the baby kick again, and reminded herself that Lucky had a right to his anger, and he had a right to walk away. He’d never adopted Cameron and hadn’t really sought him out after Elizabeth had moved out, but—
Oh, it hurt to know that her little boy was losing the only daddy he’d ever known. Lucky had just assumed Jason would step in, and Elizabeth knew he was right—but it didn’t make it right. It didn’t make it okay that Lucky could be Cameron’s father for over two years and then walk away because of her mistake, assuming another man would pick up his responsibilities.
As much as Lucky had railed against his father, he wasn’t much better than Luke who had walked out on his daughter when Laura hadn’t quite measured up.
29 This is the last time I’m asking you this
Jason picked up the note that Sam had left on the desk, staring at the contents, trying to digest it. He’d had a call from the front desk that Sam had left with her mother—and that there had been suitcases.
He’d decided to venture back to the penthouse to find out—and sure enough—Sam’s dresser and closet had been cleared out. She was gone.
I hope whatever you’re looking for makes you happy. You were kind to me when you didn’t have to be, and you took care of me when I was nothing more than the bitch ruining your best friend’s marriage. I hope one day we can both remember the good we brought to each other.
It was a generous note, one he certainly didn’t deserve after the way he’d acted the day before. After he’d finally slept for more than two hours, this morning, he’d woken up with a fair bit of embarrassment and regret. Not that he and Sam had broken up — it had been overdue, but he wished it had been handled better.
And then he’d gone to Elizabeth the news of the break up as if it was something that would magically change her mind about marrying him—Jason was lucky she was still talking to him—
There was a sharp knock on his door, but before Jason could even turn towards it, Carly was pushing it open. “Finally!” She rushed towards him, hugging tightly. “I’ve been looking for you for ages!”
“What did you need?” Jason asked, hugging her back, then pushing her away gently. “Is everything okay?”
“What? How can you ask me that?” Carly’s eyes were wide and she slapped his chest. “I’m here for you! I can’t believe this! She lied to us all! I always knew she was a manipulative bitch just looking to get her claws into you—as soon as she had the chance—”
Jason scowled, dropping Sam’s note on the desk. “What the hell are you talking about?” he demanded. “Are you talking about Elizabeth?”
“No! She saw her chance in that stupid elevator—and look what happened! You walked into that elevator in love with Sam and then you broke up with her! Elizabeth is using that baby and your father’s death—”
“Don’t stay another word—” Jason whirled around and stabbed a finger at Carly. “Not one more word.”
Carly closed her mouth, but the silence only lasted for a minute. “You always defend her! She lied to you! She’s just using you—”
“If she’s just using me, then why did she refuse to marry me?” Jason wanted to know, out of patience with the woman who claimed to be his best friend. “I’ve asked her more than once.”
That threw Carly and she actually stopped to think about it. He could see the wheels turning in her head, trying to make sense of it. “She refused,” she echoed.
“I asked her twice last fall,” Jason bit out. “And then three more times yesterday. So go ahead, Carly. Explain that to me. If Elizabeth’s trying to manipulate her way into my life, lying about the paternity and refusing to marry me doesn’t really play, does it?”
“If she refused to marry you, she’s dumber than I thought—” Carly furrowed her brow. “Or there’s something else she wants. She just wants you to grovel. That’s what it is. She wants you to beg her to marry you. Or do declare your undying love—”
Jason had been heading for the stairs, intending to get a shower and ignore Carly, but those words stopped him in his tracks and he turned back. “What?”
“She wants something from you, of course. No woman would be dumb enough to turn you down. Especially not Elizabeth who has been running after you since she met you,” Carly spat. “You’re not giving her what she wants. Maybe it’s money—”
What she wants. It was so simple, Jason really shouldn’t have needed Carly to point it out. “You’re right,” he said, and Carly was so stunned that she stopped in mid sentence.
“I am?” She cleared her throat. “Of course I am. So that’s why—”
“That’s why I can’t ask her to marry me again until I’m ready to give her what she wants,” Jason said. “Thank you, Carly. You’ve been a big help.” He took her by the elbow. “Now go home before you ruin it.”
“Uh, okay, but—”
Jason closed the door on her face, flipped the deadlock, and went upstairs to shower. He had to think about this before he took any more action.
Welp, we made it to the end of the first week. It was a rough one, honestly. My supplies haven’t arrived, including the new class set of headphones, so that’s going to make my life difficult if they don’t show up in the next two weeks. I pretty much dragged myself through this week — it was a tough one on my foot — I’ve been putting off dealing with it because of the neck and TMJ issues I was trying to resolve (not to mention the tinnitus), but it’s really been difficult. I know what it is — I strained my Achilles tendon, and they’re going to recommend rest and ice which is impossible as a teacher. I’m constantly on my feet between the classroom and duty.
Haven’t done much at home — literally ordered out every night. But next week will be better — we’re in our normal schedule, and I’ll be able to stay off my feet a little bit more. Haven’t touched any writing since Monday, but going to enjoy working on it this weekend and more next week.
See you tomorrow for the morning update!
ETA: Saturday’s update will be in the evening. I overslept, lol.