February 18, 2023

Hey, just checking in with an update on my status. I got really sick this week — even sicker than when I had Covid. I ended up with a version of a strep throat that doesn’t show up on rapid tests, so they missed it at first. By the time I had a diagnosis, the infection had caused literally the worst fever of my life. I spiked to 103.9 and it wouldn’t come down for a while. I was literally miserable from Tuesday night until maybe two hours ago (Saturday around 6 PM). The worst of the fever broke yesterday, but the throat pain has been literally unbearable.

I’m completely behind on literally every piece of my life. Thanks to the plumbing back up last week and getting sick, it’s been three weeks since I did laundry, I’m completely backed up on house chores, on work–it’s a huge mess, and I’m hoping I can start to pick at it this week. I’m on a four day break (so I still have off Monday) so that’ll help as long as I feel okay tomorrow and get some sleep tonight (which I haven’t managed more than an hour or so at a time in four days).

I honestly need to get all of that sorted and get things back under control before I can think about writing. The first two months of 2023 have not gotten off to a great start – I’ve spent a lot of time sick, which is really frustrating.

So I’m on a teeny hiatus from things for a bit. Definitely the rest of February.

While you’re waiting for me to come back, don’t forget the huge backlog of novels! I’m gonna link a few of my favorites in case you want reread or check them out for the first time.

  1. The Best Thing – Choosing this one first because I finished it six years ago this month, and it’s my favorite Sonny story.
    1. Set in Winter 2004. Sam died giving birth to her daughter and left custody to Jason, whom everyone believes is the father. He and Elizabeth reconnect over the next year as he struggles to keep his promise to Sam while balancing his loyalties to Sonny and Carly. Even as they fall in love, a dangerous power struggle is building that threatens every one in its path.
  2. Bittersweet – Has some of my favorite Liason scenes I’ve written 🙂
    1. Set in April 2002. After walking out on a disastrous wedding and unhappy relationship, Elizabeth Webber promised herself a fresh start. She moved into Bobbie’s Brownstone with Gia Campbell as an unlikely ally, and befriended AJ Quartermaine’s new wife and Sonny Corinthos’ long-lost sister, Courtney Matthews. When Carly Corinthos goes missing after a car accident at Vista Point, Jason Morgan is forced to return to Port Charles, testing Elizabeth’s resolve to put all her bad decisions behind her. AJ begins to plan for a custody battle for Michael Benson which pits brother against brother, and putting Elizabeth right in the middle.
  3. Mad World – an obvious choice. the most ambitious thing I’ve ever written
    1. Set in Summer 2003. One night in June, Ric kidnaps Carly and locks her in a panic room, drugging Elizabeth to cover his tracks. Before long, Port Charles is embroiled in scandal, corruption, and trauma that hits home for everyone. It will be a long time before anyone forgets Ric Lansing’s reign of terror or the evil simmering beneath the surface of the city. An ensemble series that basically rewrites the entire show from from 2003-04 with nearly every character showing up at some point or another.

February 12, 2023

Update Link: Signs of Life – Chapter 7

I swear, the universe has something against me. Last week was absolutely horrid. The kids were insane, the faculty meeting stole all my energy, and then four days into our fundraiser, we got told we couldn’t sell candygrams so we had to switch out for pencils and stickers (and organize refunds), and THEN my pipes backed up AGAIN for the fourth time in two years. So I had to spend the entire weekend dealing with that, and now I have to plan my life around my sewer pipe getting dug up sometime in the next few weeks to fix whatever the fuck is happening. There is literally nothing on this planet that I don’t hate right now.

Anyway. The schedule for the last seven days has gone to hell, but I’m determined to reset tomorrow and get back to work.

This entry is part 7 of 41 in the Signs of Life

Is that why they call me a sullen girl, sullen girl?
They don’t know I used to sail the deep and tranquil sea
But he washed me ‘shore, and he took my pearl
And left an empty shell of me

Sullen Girl, Fiona Apple

Friday, December 31, 1999

Harborview Towers: Hallway

“Wait here,” Jason told Elizabeth as they stepped off the elevator. “I need Sonny to get guys to your place.”

“Okay.” Feeling exhausted, she leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes. She couldn’t think about it yet. Couldn’t really understand how it had happened — in less than five minutes —

“They did what?” she heard Sonny demand. Then he appeared around the corner, following Jason. “Elizabeth, you okay? What the hell?” Without waiting for her to respond, he turned back to the guard on the door. “Get a team to down there. Grab Mikey and Paulie. They got explosives training. I want to know if that was a dud —” He turned back to Elizabeth. “What happened?” he bit out. “How did you find the bomb?”

“Sonny—” Jason began.

“He called me,” Elizabeth said at the same time, her voice faint. Jason broke off and looked at her, stunned. “I got home from work and maybe two or three minutes later, the phone rang. He said he was Joseph Sorel. I heard something at the door, and then I couldn’t open it. I couldn’t open it. Then he told me to look under the table.”

Sonny hissed. “He was watching you.”

“I guess so. There was a bomb under the table. And while I was looking at it, the timer started. Five minutes.” Elizabeth lifted a hand up, intending to rub her temple, but it was shaking. Instead, she curled it into a fist. “He told me that if I promised not to alibi Jason about that night with Moreno, he’d tell me how to deactivate it.”

“That doesn’t—” Jason narrowed his eyes. “It wasn’t on a remote timer then. He couldn’t stop it.”

“Risky as hell,” Sonny muttered. “If it was a live—” He bit off his words. “What happened then?”

“I realized it wasn’t a bomb he could turn off, so I hung up on him,” Elizabeth admitted. “I didn’t think it was a great use of my time. Then Jason called — but when he told me the studio was blocked—”

“Back and front—they’d nailed boards to the front,” Jason said, flexing his hands.

“I didn’t think he’d make it in time, so I hung up on him, too,” Elizabeth said with a wince. “I thought about going out the window—”

“That’s four stories down to the alley—” Jason began, clenching his jaw.

“Yeah, so I piled a bunch of stuff in front of the bomb and then hid in the closet. I thought it might block some of the shock waves.” She rubbed her fist against her collarbone, restless. “I read that somewhere.”

Sonny grunted. “Not a terrible idea. Would it have worked?” he asked Jason.

“I don’t know. I got through the door and heard her in the closet. I didn’t stop to look.” Jason paused. “Is that all Sorel said to you?”

“That’s all I gave him a chance to say,” Elizabeth said. “I’m sorry—”

“You did the right thing,” Sonny said with a wave of his hand. “We’ll get some guys down there to look at it. I’ll go supervise,” he told Jason. “You get those hands taken care of.”

“Yeah—” Jason paused. He looked at Elizabeth. “Can you go inside? I’ll be there in a minute.” He reached into the pocket of the jacket she still wore and drew out his keys. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I mean, well, no, but I can manage,” she clarified. Her fingers fumbled as she slid the key into the lock, but then she went inside and closed the door.

She was tempted to press her ear against the door, but she knew she wouldn’t need to do that. Jason and Sonny would make sure she was safe, but she knew she’d made a mistake. She hadn’t taken Jason’s safety concerns seriously, and—

She went over to the sofa, sat down, and clung more tightly to the jacket. She was such an idiot.

Back in the hallway, Jason looked after Elizabeth, his brows pinched together. Was she okay? Was she angry at him? She was going to change her mind, he decided. This wasn’t what she wanted—


Jason blinked, realized Sonny was looking at him. “Sorry.” He cleared his throat, flexed his hands again. Now that some of the adrenaline was fading, he could feel the stings. “What were you saying?”

“Something about this feels wrong,” Sonny repeated. “Sorel calling her? Leaving her a warning? And then the bomb doesn’t go off?”

“There’s also the chance that he meant it to go off and it didn’t. Which means he tried to kill Elizabeth,” Jason said. He swallowed hard. “Because of me—”

“Don’t go there yet,” Sonny warned him. “He wanted her to refuse to alibi you. Whether the two of you are together or not — that doesn’t change the fact that she’s involved. People know it. The PCPD has her in their sights over all of this. Moreno and her part exists either way.” He paused. “You’re scared, but this isn’t the first time people you know have been targeted because of you.”

But it was the first time with Elizabeth. “Sonny—”

“Don’t be stupid, and don’t do anything you can’t take back. You could walk away from her,” Sonny said, and Jason grimaced, “but it won’t change anything. Don’t make my mistake. Sorel had guys watching that building. Guys who just saw you rip your hands apart and bust down doors to get her out.”

“I know all of that,” Jason retorted.

“Okay. Then I’m going to go see what I get from the studio.” Sonny jabbed the elevator button. “Get those hands looked at,” he repeated. “And make sure she’s okay. You’ll feel better when you know she is,” he added.

Jason watched him step on the elevator, and then looked back at the penthouse. He took a deep breath and headed for the door.

Elizabeth was sitting on the sofa, staring blankly at the television that wasn’t even switched on. She turned when he came in, rising to her feet. “Um—” She stripped off the jacket and handed it to him. “I forgot to…”

“It’s okay.” He tossed it on the desk, then went to the closet for the first aid kit. He really didn’t know what to do or say to her. He had that ridiculous conversation with Alexis rolling around in his brain, the threats from Carly — and now Elizabeth was standing in the penthouse, a place she clearly didn’t want to be after a bomb had been set in her home.

“I’m sorry,” she said again. “I—you didn’t want me to be at the studio tonight. You asked me not to go back there.”

Jason remained silent, setting the kit on the desk. That was true, but he also knew if she’d run into Carly — Carly had a way of making people do destructive things. “It’s okay,” he said finally.

“It’s not. You need to know that I know it’s not. You—you need to be able trust that I’ll do what you need me to do with things like this. With safety—and your job, I mean.” Her voice was shaking, but the words made sense to him. “I was going to do that. I was just—” Elizabeth faltered. “I was going to do it tomorrow. Emily had plans tonight, and I just—”

“Didn’t want to come here,” Jason finished. He cleaned off the last of the blood on his hands, then started to close the kit. Instead, Elizabeth came forward to grab it.

“You didn’t clean—” Elizabeth bit her lip and reached for his hands. “It wasn’t about not wanting to come here,” she finished. “I mean—” She took one of the antiseptic pads and pressed it against a particularly nasty gouge in his palm.

“Then what was it about?” Jason asked. “I’m not mad,” he reassured her when she didn’t reply. “I didn’t think the safety thing was such an issue,” he admitted. “If I thought things were bad enough there’d be a bomb, I would have said something. I’m not mad,” he repeated. “I just want to know what I did wrong, so I don’t do it again.”

“Nothing.” Her eyes flew up to meet his. “Nothing! It’s just, um, I thought—staying at the penthouse for a few days—I thought it would mean—” She bit her lip, color staining her cheeks. “I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that—”

Jason started to frown because he didn’t really understand, but then with her next words — “I was going to talk to you about it, and then Carly—”

“Carly,” he muttered. “I knew it.”

“She just…I don’t know. She just has a way of saying things that get in your head,” Elizabeth said in a quiet voice. “Things you know aren’t true the way she means them, but they are a little bit—”

Knowing some of the vile things Carly had spewed to Robin in the past, Jason steeled himself. “What did she say?”

When Elizabeth started to pull back, he wrapped his hands around her wrists to keep her in place. “Elizabeth.”

“She just reminded me that I’m not…” Elizabeth looked away, broke eye contact as a tear slid down her cheek. “I’m not…I can’t—I don’t know if I’ll ever able to trust anyone—even you—because of what happened to me.”

Jason stared at her for a long time, trying to absorb it—trying to wrap his head around all the implications. Elizabeth had been nervous about the penthouse because she thought it meant he expected sex, and then Carly—

“What,” he said, “exactly did she say to you?”

“Why does that matter?” Elizabeth asked. “I just told you—”

“We’ll talk about that,” he told her. “Because that’s important, but I can’t—she came to me first,” he said finally. “And when I didn’t give her the reaction she wanted, she went straight to you. I need to know what she threatened you with.”

“Threatened—” Elizabeth’s eyes were wide. “Is that what she did to you?”

“Yeah. That’s something else we need to talk about,” he admitted. “But she did, didn’t she? She threatened you.”

“Not—not in so many words—” Elizabeth tried to edge away again.

“We need figure it out, Elizabeth—”

“This is just like that night at Vista Point,” she muttered. “You just keep pushing—fine—fine—” She twisted until he released her hands. “Fine. She reminded me that I’m fragile and I’m damaged, okay? Because I don’t like sex, and according to her, you do. Which just means you’ll go back to her when you get bored. Happy now?”

Jason just stared at Elizabeth as she stalked across the room, her back to him. Fragile and damaged. If that’s what Elizabeth had taken from the confrontation with Carly, it meant that somehow, Carly had thrown Elizabeth’s rape in her face and used it to make her feel less.

He exhaled slowly. “Elizabeth,” he began, not having the slightest clue what words he would use to follow that.

“Let’s just not talk about it,” she muttered. “I don’t want to.”

“I get that.” He waited. He knew he couldn’t leave it like this. “So let me talk and then we can drop it, okay? You don’t even have to look at me.”

“I won’t.”

Fair enough. Okay, so now what? “Carly has an idea of who I am,” he said finally. “Based on how we met. It was only a few months after my accident, and I was still—I don’t know. I was understanding how things worked. She thinks that because I had sex with her while I was interested in Robin that it gave her power over me—and Robin.” And it was humiliating to recount that, to remember how Carly had used that knowledge to try to lure him back to her bed. How she had used it to hurt Robin.

And he remembered that Robin had forgiven him even when he hadn’t really deserved it.

Now Carly was doing it again to hurt Elizabeth. He wouldn’t make the same mistakes. He couldn’t.

“I don’t know why she still thinks that’s true now,” Jason continued. “Robin always knew I couldn’t be Michael’s father because Carly and I haven’t been together that way in three years.” He paused again. “Yeah, I like sex, Elizabeth. That’s not something to be ashamed about.”

“I didn’t mean—” Elizabeth turned to him now, her voice quiet. “I didn’t mean you should be—”

“I know that.” Relieved that she was looking at him now even though she was still across the room, Jason took a step towards her. “You’re not fragile or damaged—”

“Really? You’re not living in my head, Jason, okay? I know—” Elizabeth wrapped her arms around her torso. “I know what goes through my mind when we’re together.”

“You’re right. I can’t tell you how to feel about yourself.” And knowing she felt both of those things—that Carly had forced them on her again just to get herself out of trouble—it left a sour taste in his mouth. “I can only tell you how I feel about you. I know you’re—I know you haven’t been with anyone. You told me that about Lucky—”

“I mean technically—”

Technically doesn’t count,” Jason said with a shake of his head. “And I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you that.”

“No. Bobbie said so. And I’ve been to therapy. I get it. But knowing it and feeling it—” She rubbed the side of her face. “I don’t think about it all the time,” she offered. “Days go by, and I don’t. But lately, now we’re—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I knew it would come up—”

He took another step towards her. “What scares you about it?” he asked. “I mean, if you can or want to—”

“I don’t know. That I won’t like any of it,” Elizabeth admitted. She twisted her fingers together in front of her, staring at them. “Or maybe worse. That I will, and then there will be a moment, and then I’ll be back there. It’s the hardest part of it, you know. You never know what’s going to trigger it. Um, sometimes people say something or, once, DJ—the cook at Kelly’s—he just bumped into me in the kitchen and I thought he was grabbing me—” Her throat closed. “I’m scared that if we try—If I try—then it’ll put me back in that night and it’ll ruin everything—”

Her eyes met his, tears still glistening in her lashes. “It’s not about trusting you. I wish it was that simple. I trust you. I trusted Lucky. It’s about trusting myself, and I’m not there yet. I’m sorry.”

“Why are you sorry?” he demanded, wincing when he heard the roughness of his tone. She flinched. “I didn’t—I just meant this isn’t something you did to yourself, Elizabeth. It was done to you.”

Elizabeth swiped at her tears. “I know. I’ve been in therapy. It’s not my fault. None of it is. But it still feels like there’s something wrong with me.”

Jason had been slowly crossing the room and now he was just in front of her. “You said you trust me.”

“Yeah, but—”

“Do you trust me when I tell you that I don’t care if or when we sleep together?” he asked.

Elizabeth made a face. “Jason—” She took a deep, watery breath. “See, I know you meant that to help, but now—”

“What?” he reached for her hands, stopping her from twisting them. “Do you think because I don’t care that it means I don’t want to?” he asked and from the flush in her cheeks, he knew he was right. “I’ve been scared,” he admitted in a low voice, “to show you how much I do want you. Maybe saying I don’t care isn’t the right way. Because I do,” he continued, “and I hope one day you’re ready. But it’s not a dealbreaker. I just like being around you.”

“Jason—” She squeezed her eyes shut. “It’s so frustrating,” Elizabeth muttered.

“What is?”

“Because most of me wants to—” She sighed. “I think maybe I didn’t really believe you were—I mean, that you wanted to have—you know, this is ridiculous. It’s frustrating,” Elizabeth repeated, meeting his eyes and now he saw the flare of irritation, “because if you want me, and I definitely want you, that I don’t get to have that, you know? It shouldn’t be this hard—”

“It’s been less than a week,” Jason cut in. He cupped one of her cheeks, letting his thumb slide over the tear-stained skin. “I can be patient.”

“Yeah, well, patience has never been one of my virtues.” But some of the sadness had dissipated and he knew that he’d managed to reassure her. She smiled at him. “This has been a really weird day.”

“Yeah, and it’s not over yet.” Sensing the storm had passed, he leaned forward to kiss her, but she put her hands on his chest. “I’m sorry—”

“No, no, I just realized—” Elizabeth narrowed her eyes. “You never told me how Carly threatened you. You said she had and that you’d turned her down so she came to me. What did she say to you?”

Jason winced because he really didn’t want to have this conversation since it just put that insane conversation with Alexis back in his head.

Fortunately for him, before Elizabeth could press further, there was a slight knock on the door and then Sonny pushed it open. “Hey, hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

“No.” Elizabeth cleared her throat and put some space between them. “Do you—um, should I go upstairs? Or whatever—”

“No, I think since the bomb was in your studio, you should at least get to know about it.” Sonny glanced at Jason. “Don’t you think?”

“Yeah. Yeah. The guys already looked?”

“Didn’t take long. The studio isn’t far from the warehouse.” Sonny rocked back on his heels. “Good news and bad news,” he continued. “Bad news, it was a live bomb. It should have detonated.”

Jason exhaled in a rush as he reflexively tightened his grip on Elizabeth’s hand. “But it didn’t.”

“No. Uh, Paulie said you might have made it out with minor injuries,” Sonny told her. “In the closet, I mean, but tough to know for sure. The thing is — there was a wire crossed. The bomb could count down but detonation wouldn’t trigger.”

Elizabeth squinted. “So, was that a mistake?” she asked. “Did he want the bomb to go off or did he just want to scare me?”

“It’s hard to say,” Sonny said slowly, and Jason could tell he was impressed that Elizabeth had made that leap. “The thing is—we don’t know. I’m getting a meeting together, so we’ll see tomorrow.” He hesitated. “You can’t go back to the studio.”

“No, I didn’t think I could. Um—” Elizabeth flicked her eyes to Jason. “I was gonna stay with Emily while you got the door and lock replaced, but I don’t feel—I mean, he could go after her, too.”

“If you were there, yeah. He wanted you to refuse to alibi me,” Jason reminded her. “He doesn’t know you weren’t planning to.” He looked at Sonny. “Do you need anything else from me tonight?” He really didn’t need the other man for the rest of this conversation.

“No, no. You’re good to go. Uh, Happy New Year’s,” Sonny said, gesturing at the clock which had clicked over to midnight when they hadn’t realized. “Call me if you need anything.”

When Sonny was gone, Jason turned back to Elizabeth. “I know everything we just talked about, but—”

“You want me to stay here in the Towers which has better security,” she finished. “I figured.” Elizabeth bit her lip, glancing around the room with its spare furniture. “Um, I’m also guessing maybe the guest rooms aren’t furnished.”

Jason scratched the back of his neck. “Uh, no. Just the one bed. But you take that and I’ll take the sofa—”

“No, no.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “When we were in the studio, you were on the sofa and I was on the floor. I know how to share a space with you Jason.” Her cheeks flushed. “I mean, if you want—”

“If you’re sure.” His skin felt like it was stretched too tight all of a sudden. He cleared his throat. “You can change your mind. Even in the middle of the night.”

“I know. I just—I trust you,” she said. She hesitated. “I guess we should—I mean, unless you don’t have—”

“No, we can—” Go to bed, he finished silently, but saying it out loud didn’t feel right. “Yeah.”

“Right.” Neither of them moved for a minute, then she laughed—with a mixture of embarrassment and nerves. “Can I borrow something to sleep in? I guess a t-shirt or—”

“Yeah. I’ll get you something,” he said immediately, starting for the stairs relieved to have a task. He heard her footsteps behind him and hoped like hell they weren’t making a mistake.

Maybe he should just take the sofa after all.

February 8, 2023

Update Link: Chapter 5 & Chapter 6

I meant to post over the weekend, but time got away from me. I know you’ve heard this before, but I’m pretty sure Flash Fiction will be back in rotation this weekend. I’ve been working hard to get things on track in school, and we’re there. I’m still caught up on grading and pre-prepped for the week ahead. I was bit worried that I’d get off track because we’re launching our huge fundraiser for Valentine’s Day and that always gets me off track but so far so good.

I’ve been writing FMT mostly, and I want to be sure that project is really off the ground before I reintroduce Flash Fiction into the routine. I’ve written four chapters of the planned 27, which is less than I’d like since I began on January 1, but in my defense — Covid, lol. So hopeful that the next time I check in, we’ve made even more progress.

See you in a few days!

This entry is part 6 of 41 in the Signs of Life

It seems no one can help me now
I’m in too deep
There’s no way out
This time I have really lead myself astray
Runaway train never going back
Wrong way on a one-way track
Seems like I should be getting somewhere
Somehow I’m neither here nor there

Runaway Train, Soul Asylum

Friday, December 31, 1999

Kelly’s: Diner

Elizabeth dumped a few coffee mugs into the dish tub and turned back to the counter, frowning when she saw her grandmother. “Gram.”

“Elizabeth,” Audrey said with a stiff nod. “I was hoping you would reconsider coming to the hotel with me tonight for the party.”

She opened her mouth, then saw Carly sauntering in and taking a seat at the counter. This was definitely the last thing she needed today. “Thanks, Gram, but I already have plans tonight.”

Audrey’s expression grew even more stony. “With Jason Morgan?”

“Yes,” Elizabeth said, ignoring Carly’s smirk. “Gram—”

“I certainly hope I won’t have to be attending your funeral,” her grandmother snapped then stormed out of the diner.

Fantastic. Her day was going just great. She turned her attention to Carly. “What can I get you?”

“It’s really what I can get for you,” Carly said coolly. “I’m here to do you a favor, Little Miss Muffet—”

“I doubt that—”

“You know Jason’s only playing around with you because of me,” Carly interrupted and Elizabeth closed her mouth. “Because I made a mistake—”

“Just the one?”

“He always comes back.” Carly leaned forward, her brown eyes dancing with glee and malice. “You can ask Robin. I was his first, you know? After the accident. She wasn’t enough for him—”

“That’s—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “That’s none of my business—”

“It should be. He and I—we have chemistry. You know, where it counts. You’ve seen him, haven’t you? He’s gorgeous, sexy—” Carly closed her eyes and Elizabeth’s throat burned because she knew what the other woman was insinuating. “Mmm, the things he can do with those hands—”

“I have customers—” Elizabeth started to turn away, but Carly’s hand snaked out and wrapped around Elizabeth’s forearm.

“He always comes back to me,” Carly repeated. “He likes to pretend girls like you turn him on—fragile, soft—” She paused. “Damaged.”

Elizabeth flinched at that, and Carly’s lips curved into a smile. “That’s right. He put up with Robin and her sob story for as long as he could. I know about you.”

Her breath froze in her lungs and Elizabeth could only stare at her in stunned silence. “Everyone knows. I’m sorry for you,” Carly added. “Because you were young. Don’t think I’m not sympathetic—”

“Sympathetic—” Elizabeth choked out.

“Sympathetic enough to let you take a few rolls with Jason to get yourself back in the game.” Carly shrugged, released Elizabeth’s arm. “He’ll make you like sex again.”

Her stomach was rolling and bile had risen in her throat until she nearly gagged from it, but Carly just continued. “And you might even entertain him for a little while. At the end of the day, honey, you and I both know you’re not enough to keep him. He’ll get bored, just like he did with Robin, and then he’ll come back to me. He always does.”

Carly got to her feet and adjusted the strap of her purse over her shoulder. “I told you, kid, this was me doing you a favor. Have your fun for as long as he’ll let you but don’t fool yourself. You’re not woman enough for Jason. You’re just a damaged little girl looking for a hero.”

As soon as Carly had left the diner, Elizabeth went into the kitchen and straight into the walk in fridge to give herself a long moment. To take a deep breath. She had Emily’s words rolling in her mind to just talk to Jason, to ask him—

But she also knew that Carly’s venom was rooted in truth. Elizabeth was damaged. She was fragile. Not as much as she had been, that much was true. She could take care of herself — but in the ways that mattered — as a woman — there was a piece of Elizabeth that would always be broken. Shattered.

And she was terrified that Carly was right — that the piece of her soul Tom Baker had stolen that night meant that she could never be okay. That she would always be trapped in those bushes, her back against the cold, frozen dirt with someone looming over her—

“Lizzie?” DJ poked his head in. “You okay?”

She closed her eyes and sank to the ground, resting her head against the cool metal wall. “No,” she said softly.

“Let me call Tammy, kid.” The cook edged his way into the freezer and knelt in front of her. “We’ll get someone to cover your shift—”

“No.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I’ll—I’ll do it. I have to call someone anyway.”

Elm Street Pier

Jason was just heading to Kelly’s for some dinner when he felt the phone in his pocket vibrate. He tugged it out and smiled when he saw Elizabeth’s name on the screen. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Her voice sounded a bit strange—almost flat and empty. “I’m not feeling well, so I’m going home early.”

Jason frowned. “I’ll be right there. We can get your stuff tomorrow—”

“No, I—” She cleared her throat. “No, I—I, um, talked to Emily. I’m going to stay with her. I just—I’m sorry.”

“Elizabeth, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I mean, except for—I think I’m getting a cold—”

“Then let me—” He could take care of her, the way she’d done for him. “I’ll come right now—”

“Jason, I—look, I’m sorry. Please. I just—I have to go.” The line went dead, and Jason found himself staring at the silent phone, unsure what had happened. Things had been fine that morning. She’d been happy and hadn’t seemed sick at all.

He grimaced. If Carly had gone after him—why wouldn’t she confront Elizabeth? Damn it.


Wearily, Elizabeth pushed open her door, then slid the bolt to lock it behind her. She’d felt terrible lying to Jason about where she was spending the night. She reminded herself that she’d go to Emily’s in the morning.

She just didn’t want to see anyone or anything right now. She wanted to sit with herself in the dark, the quiet—

Elizabeth dragged her hands through her hair and took a deep breath. It was stupid to let Carly into her head, stupid to let the words sink into her bones.

Stupid to think that Carly wasn’t right.

The phone rang, and Elizabeth jumped from the sound. She turned to look at her landline, wondering if it was Jason. Or maybe it was someone else—

She bit her lip, considered letting the machine pick up but then reached for it. If it was Jason, she almost wanted him to catch her in the lie. To come over.

Elizabeth lifted the receiver to her ear. “Hello?”

“Miss Webber, hello. This is Joseph Sorel.”

Her heart froze for a moment, then began to beat wildly in her chest. “What—”

“I regret to tell you that this will be the last time we speak. I hope you’ve made peace with yourself.”

“What the hell—” Elizabeth began, then she heard something slam against her door. She rushed towards it — tried to twist the knob. It wouldn’t turn.

“It won’t open. Now, go check under the table.”

Elizabeth obeyed, kneeling down to peer underneath her artist’s table—then her mouth dried up.

“Have you found it yet? You’re trapped, my dear, and unless you do exactly as I say, you won’t see the year 2000. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” she breathed, staring at the 5:00 numbers blinking in red, attached to a bulky device. Then, in horrors, they stopped blinking, then began to change. 4:59. 4:58.

Oh, God. There was a bomb in her studio.

Studio: Back Alley

Jason was already irritated with himself as he approached the back door entrance to her building. He hadn’t been checking on Elizabeth when he’d called his sister earlier — but Emily had no idea what he was talking about. She was going to a party that night, and Elizabeth was definitely not supposed to be with her.

Elizabeth wasn’t someone who lied without a damn good reason, and Jason had a feeling he knew who had caused all of this. Carly hadn’t gotten the reaction she wanted from him, so she’d gone after someone she thought of as a weaker target.

He’d find out what Carly had said to Elizabeth, he’d fix it — and then—

He stopped short when he saw that the back entrance to her building had been blocked off. There were boards nailed across it.

They had not been there that morning.


“What do you want?” Elizabeth demanded, her heart racing as she went back to the door and started to pull on it. Damn it, damn it—it wouldn’t turn—

“I can’t have you speaking to the PCPD about the night Anthony Moreno died,” Sorel said, his voice almost tinny in her ear. “You agree not to alibi Jason Morgan, and I’ll tell you how to deactivate the bomb—”

“Are you—” Her heart seized. “Wait — can’t you just turn it off?”

“Oh, it’s not that kind of device,” Sorel said with a laugh. “Once I start the timer—”

“Then why am I wasting my time talking to you—” She hissed and slammed the phone down. Almost immediately, it started to ring again. “What? I told you—”


“Jason!” Elizabeth nearly sank to her knees in relief. “Jason, I can’t get out—there’s a bomb—”

“What?” Jason bit out. “Where? What—damn it—both entrances to the building are blocked—”

“My door—they did something to the—” She pressed the receiver to her ear, trying to think. He’d never make it upstairs in four minutes. She was trapped. “Jason, you have to go.”


“You won’t—” She turned around, trying to gage the size of the window. Could she push it open and get out? It was a hard fall but she had a better chance—She turned back to the phone. “You won’t get here in time, and I don’t want you to get hurt, okay? This is my fault—”


“I’m sorry.” She hung up the phone and went to the window, shoving the couch over to it. She boosted herself onto the window sill and shoved it open. She glanced down, swallowing hard. It was trash day and the alley was littered with boxes and crates—

She looked back to the studio, focused on the door in the back, the closet. Could she hide in there? Would that block the shockwaves? How strong was the bomb? Damn it, why hadn’t she paid attention when bombs went off on television?

She looked under the table, swallowing hard. Two minutes left.


Jason didn’t bother calling her again. She wouldn’t answer. He needed to get upstairs, he needed to get to her and get her to safety—

He tossed the phone aside, grabbed one of the boards with his hands and yanked. Nails and splinters dug into his flesh but he didn’t stop to let the pain register. He kept going.

He had the door unblocked and was running up the stairs, taking them three or four at a time, his chest heaving, his heart pounding—

How long was the timer—did she know to hide—how to protect herself—


Elizabeth dragged the sofa in front of the table, and then stacked a few things — unused canvases, her easel — anything to block the blast—

And when she knew her time was almost at its end, she went into the closet, dragging boxes and supplies behind her, not caring as they tipped and spilled. She closed herself inside, then curled into a ball in the closet.

Then she put her head down and prayed.

On her floor, Jason rushed down the hallway towards the studio. He tested the knob but it refused to turn—he braced a shoulder against it and forced it open —

Elizabeth heard a loud bang and screamed, thinking it was the bomb, thinking it was over—

Then the door to the closet was dragged open and hands were reaching in, reaching under her elbows to drag her to her feet. “Jason?”

“Let’s go,” he said, half carrying, half dragging her out of the studio, past the broken down door. Elizabeth didn’t argue.

Elm Street Pier

The blast of wintry cold air against her cheeks forced her brain to react. “Wait, wait—”  She turned back to her building. “It didn’t go off.”

Jason was running his hands down her shoulders, down her arms, checking for injuries — then he stopped. “What?”

“Five minutes.” Her lips started to chatter and Jason yanked off his jacket to wrap it around her. “The timer. And when I went into the closet, it had to be around thirty seconds—”

They both looked back at the building now, waiting to hear the explosion. Waiting. Nothing. Elizabeth blinked. “Was it real?” she asked softly. “Was it fake?”

“I don’t know, but I’m not leaving you out here in the open to find out,” Jason said. “I’ll call a team—” he winced. “Will someone call in the noise I made when I came through the door?”

“Not in that building,” Elizabeth said, leaning her forehead against his shoulder. She frowned, reached for his hands. “What did you do?”


“Jason—” His hands were bleeding, scraped, and there were splinters—She raised her eyes to his. “I—”

“Come on.” He reached for his cell phone, then grimaced. “I lost it in the alley. We’ll go to the penthouse. We’ll figure it out.” He hesitated. “Please. I just—I need you to be safe. We can—”

She hadn’t listened to him earlier. He’d asked her not to go back to the studio alone, and she’d not only done that—she’d lied to him about it. Elizabeth swallowed hard. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t—I didn’t think—” She pressed a fist to her mouth as it sunk in. She’d nearly died and Jason might have died, too, trying to get her out— “I’m sorry,” she repeated.

“We’ll talk about it later, it’s okay,” he assured her, tugging on her her arm again. She sighed and followed him. Sure they’d talk about it, and then it would probably be over. He’d never trust her again. Not after she’d nearly gotten them both blown up.

This entry is part 5 of 41 in the Signs of Life

You worry about the weather and
Whether or not you should hate
Are you worried about your faith?
Kneel down and obey
You’re happy you’re in love
You need someone to hate
An ordinary girl, an ordinary waist
But ordinary’s just not good enough today

Superman’s Dead, Our Lady Peace

Friday, December 31, 1999

Studio: Hallway

Elizabeth could really get used to starting her day like this, she thought as she tugged open her studio door and beamed at Jason framed in the doorway, clad in his leather jacket and dark blue jeans. He was so pretty—

“Good morning,” he murmured, then leaned down to kiss her. It might have been meant to be a brief greeting, a brush of their mouths, but Elizabeth decided that she was going to go all in for as long as this lasted—

She wrapped her arms around her neck and pressed her body against his, trying out the move he’d used on her day before—where she gently nibbled at his bottom lip and he opened his mouth—oh, it was just as good as when he’d done it—

Surprised, Jason stumbled back just a step, leaning against the door jamb, tightening his arms around her waist, lifting her off her feet so that their bodies lined up just right—

“Don’t you have to work?” he managed some time later, lifting his head.

“Yeah.” She wrinkled her nose and released her grip, then was pleasantly surprised when he still held her close. “I just missed you.”

“I missed you, too,” Jason said, dipping down to kiss her again. It took maybe another minute before she finally pulled back and he set her back on her feet.

“I gotta go or Tammy’s going to make stay until midnight.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “I don’t know why she’s bothering to stay open — no one is going to Kelly’s on New Year’s Eve.”

“I would if you were working,” Jason said with a grin as she grabbed her purse and locked the door. He narrowed his eyes, some of the amusement fading. “I don’t like that lock.”

“I know. You said so a thousand times when you were staying here.” She shrugged as they started down the hallway. “I asked the landlord and he told me I could change it, but I’d have to pay for it.”

Jason opened his mouth and she stabbed a finger at him. “Don’t you dare offer—”

“I wasn’t—” he stopped. “Okay, I was, but even if this were a safer area—”

“Ugh, you sound like Gram—”

“It’s different now,” he finished and she frowned at him. “Because people know. About us, I mean.”

“Oh.” She hadn’t thought of that angle. She looked back at her door, accepting for the first time that it wasn’t just her lock that wasn’t so great—it was also the door itself with the window. Wasn’t that how Nikolas—and Carly—had known he was there? And her grandmother—

“Okay. You can do what you want to the lock.” Before he could open his mouth. “And the door,” she added.

“Thanks.” He pushed open the door to the alleyway, scowling at the condition of that, too. Was there anything in the studio he didn’t hate, she wondered idly.  “I might not be able to get it done for a day or two. The holidays, I mean.”

“That’s okay. I wasn’t going to be able to do anything until I got my tax refund in a few months.” She took the helmet he offered—but then he didn’t release his grip. “What?”

“The security on the whole building is bad,” he told her because apparently he’d sensed his opening.

“Well, you get what you pay for,” she quipped, uncomfortable. “I mean, look, I’m sorry. I wasn’t planning to live here when I rented the place, you know? I was just gonna use it to paint. But it’s cheap and close to work—”

“Yeah, I just—” Jason paused. “Would you stay at my place until I get the lock replaced?” he asked.

“At your—” Her mouth dried up. In the penthouse? Across from Sonny? What did that mean? At his place? What did stay mean? Did it mean the couch or guest room—

“It’s my fault you’re living here,” he continued, completely oblivious to full on anxiety attack he’d triggered. “I just want you to be safe.”

“Well, it’s my grandmother’s for being unreasonable,” Elizabeth managed. She cleared her throat. Hadn’t she told herself she’d be all in? She knew Jason was wildly out of her league, especially in experience. How long would he put up with her being a stupid, scared kid?

“Yeah, that’s fine,'” she finished. “Um, we should get going before I’m late.”

Kelly’s: Kitchen

Halfway through her shift, she took a tub of dishes back to the sink, still obsessing over what Jason’s offer had meant.

Would he expect her to share the same room with him? Why wouldn’t he? She’d slept less than a foot from him when he’d been at the studio—sharing a bed was basically the same thing—

And if they were sharing a bed, did that mean Jason thought they’d have sex? Was she ready for that? What if she wasn’t? And what did it even mean to be ready? How did you know you were ready? Was there a memo or like an alert signal from your brain—

“Lizzie, you good?”

Elizabeth broke out of the new spiral of anxiety to blink at DJ staring at her quizzically, the spatula in his hand. “What?”

“You’ve been staring at nothing for a minute. You good?”

“Yes. Yeah. Um, I’m great.” She forced a smile. She was good. She was absolutely perfect. She had managed to snag the attention of a kind, decent guy who knew how to listen and filled out a pair of jeans better than anyone else in the universe—

She squared her shoulders. “I’m fine,” she repeated. With that mantra firmly affixed, she left the kitchen, then stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Emily sitting at the counter.

“Hey.” Emily offered her a weak smile. “I was hoping we could talk.”

“Talk or yell?” Elizabeth said, walking behind the counter. She reached for the kettle of boiling water and filled Emily’s cup. She set Emily’s preferred tea bags down next to it. “The last time—”

“The last time I was still kind of, um, adjusting. I didn’t—I don’t know—I wasn’t ready to hear you and my brother were a thing.” Emily tossed some sugar into her tea, then stared at the steeping liquid. “I guess I always figured you’d tell me when you were ready to move on. Or, um, you know, take that step.”

“What step—” Elizabeth wrinkled her nose.

“You know. Nikolas said you were sleeping together, and I know you were, like, scared of that—”

Elizabeth hesitated. “Does that still bother you? The idea of me and Jason—”

“No, no, once I calmed down and, like, thought about it, it makes sense, you know?” Emily brightened. “You’re better than Carly, of course. And I knew Jason listened to you. I knew you were friends. I just didn’t realize you were friends.

“Oh, well, that part is new. Nikolas—he just—he was irritating me,” Elizabeth admitted. “And you know how I am. I kind of—I lied to him. Jason and I—it’s happening, but that, uh, hasn’t happened.”

“Oh. Okay. I mean, you were right. It’s not my business, but I just—” Emily paused. “I don’t know. I guess it wasn’t so much I was thinking about your sex life,” she continued, her cheeks flaming, “but that I wanted to know you were okay. And, like, being able to do that—it means you’re okay. Not that you weren’t okay—”

“I know what you mean.” And because Elizabeth could see the concern and hope in Emily’s eyes, she sighed. “For a long time, even with Lucky, I didn’t think I could. I’m still—” She twisted a napkin. “I’m still not sure if I can. Or if I’m ready to find out.”

“Oh.” Emily furrowed her brow. “Well, that’s okay, too. You said it was new with Jason, and, like, if it can’t be Lucky who would have been good, I mean—shoot—” She scrubbed her hands over her face. “This is ridiculous. We are adults,” she told Elizabeth. “We can talk about sex.”


“I wish Lucky was alive,” Emily continued, “and we both know he would have taken care of you and been as patient as you needed him to be. But since it can’t be him—” She took a deep breath. “Oh man, sometimes it just hits me, you know?”

“Yeah. It still hits me, too, Em. I wish he could be here. Sometimes I still think he’ll walk through the door. But I can’t—”

“You can’t put your life on hold. And it has been almost a year,” Emily continued. “Lucky would be the first person to tell you that he wanted to you be happy. He’d never want you to mope around. He liked Jason, too. Plus, I know Jason will be just as patient as you need him to be. I overheard Robin talking to Brenda how kind he was to her—she had a lot of anxiety with everything because of the HIV.”

Elizabeth hadn’t thought about any of that. “I’ve been kind of worried about it,” she admitted. “I mean, it’s not that I don’t want to. Because I do. He’s—well, I know he’s your brother—”

“I can be objective,” Emily assured her. “You think he’s hot. He is.”

“And I’m not thinking about what—I’m not thinking about anything else when he kisses me,” Elizabeth admitted. “I’m just—I’m scared that I’ll have a flash or I’ll freak out, and it’ll mess things up.”

“You should talk to him. You know he’d understand.”


“Absolutely. Why wouldn’t he?”

And of course, once Emily said that, Elizabeth knew she was right. She was the only one putting all the pressure onto things. Jason would never want her to do anything she wasn’t ready for.

“Thanks, Em. I’m glad you’re with me on this.”

“Well, like I said, I’m ready for him to be done with Carly, and you’re my favorite person in the world. Why wouldn’t I want the best for my brother?” Emily beamed at her. “Thank you for not being Carly.”

“Uh, you’re welcome?”

Elm Street Pier

Jason scowled when he saw Carly waiting for him on the bench when he stepped up from Bannister’s Wharf.

“Don’t walk away—” Carly called as he turned to do exactly that. “You have to listen to me—”

“I don’t have to do any damn thing—”

“You sure about that?”

And there was something in her tone that made the hair on his neck stand up. Jason slowly turned to face the blonde and walked towards her. “Fine. Say what you want to say, and then I’m going.”

“We’ll see about that.” Carly folded her arms. “I was at my mother’s and Taggert was complaining to her about you and the little brat—”

“I’m going—”

“I wouldn’t if you want to keep the angel out of the slammer.”

His shoulders tensed. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“I know she’s your alibi for the night Moreno died,” Carly retorted. “I know everyone thinks the two of you were shacked up in her crappy studio. I wonder if Taggert would be interested in finding out you were recovering from a gun shot wound.” She tapped her chin. “Now, correct me if I’m wrong, if Elizabeth helped hide you while you recovered, that makes her part of it right? What’s the word—”

Jason stared at her for a long moment, then shook his head. “You’re not going to say anything. Bobbie could get in trouble, too—”

“Don’t you think that would give me more credibility?” Carly said coolly. “I must be telling the truth if I’m willing to incriminate my own mother. What will Taggert say if I told him Elizabeth was hiding you and my mother helped?”

“Bobbie could lose her license—”

“She could. It would be a shame,” Carly continued. “She’s a great nurse, and the hospital is lucky to have her—”

“What do you want?” Jason bit out. Carly was right — if she told the PCPD that Elizabeth  was involved, they’d drag Bobbie in for questioning ,too. Elizabeth’s grandmother might think more closely about how Jason had looked when she’d seen him—Nikolas would probably back all of it up—Carly going to the police might trigger a domino effect that would lead directly back to Jason.

“I need to get out of town,” Carly said. “I need to get out of my marriage. You’re going to take me and Michael, and we’re all going to leave.”

“I’ll get you out,” he told her. “But I’m not going anywhere—”

“No, that’s the deal. You go with us.” She sauntered towards him, softening her eyes. “Michael misses you. We both miss you—”

“I’m not yours to miss, and he’s not—” Saying the words still twisted at him. “Michael’s not my son. I’m not leaving town, Carly—”

“You’re staying for that simpering little nothing—”

“I’m not leaving town with you,” Jason retorted. “I wouldn’t go to the end of the block with you. Not ever again.”

“You’re never going to forgive me—”

“I’ve put up with a lot from you,” he cut in sharply. “More than I should have. You had me arrested last year, Carly. You treated Robin like garbage. I let that go—”

“You loved me—you said you did!”

“I was wrong. You married my brother and had me arrested for kidnapping,” he repeated. “And then you slept with my best friend because you saw me with someone else? And if that wasn’t enough—you’re threatening Bobbie and Elizabeth with arrests for saving my life—”

Carly pressed her lips together. “I did all of that because I’m miserable! Okay? I just—you need to help me, Jason. Please. Please. I love you. You know you love me. Give me one more chance—”

“You’ve had all the chances. Don’t go after Bobbie or Elizabeth. You’ll regret it.”

He left her standing on the pier, his hands nearly shaking with rage—and worry. If the only way to get Carly to back off from her threats was to leave town with her—

What the hell was he going to do?

Corinthos-Morgan Warehouse: Office

“You know, if you’re going to do the books for this place,” Alexis Davis began amicably as she put down her briefcase on the rickety table, “you should get a room that doesn’t look like it could double as solitary confinement.”

Jason frowned at his lawyer. “Why? All I need is a table, a chair, and some lights.” He shook his head and went back to the ledgers. “Sonny has an office. People are always trying to make appointments.”

“Yes, that’s how you stay legit,” Alexis began, then shook her head. Trying to make Jason even slightly more corporate to support the image of the warehouse as a legal business was never going to work. “I was able to get that search warrant quashed, by the way. It was clearly fishing.”


“But,” Alexis continued, “it would be simpler if you could alibi yourself for the night Moreno went missing. They can’t pinpoint an actual time of death, only that the body was in the harbor for a few weeks.” She tilted her head. “Elizabeth—”

Jason leaned back. “She can alibi me for a few hours,” he said slowly, “and I know that if she phrased her answer just right and they didn’t follow up, it would hold. The problem is she wasn’t with me the whole night.”

Alexis wrinkled her nose, then gingerly perched on the edge of a chair that looked like it had been dragged up from storage. “I was afraid of that.”

“There’s—” Jason grimaced. “There’s more. I got shot that night.” He stared at his lawyer, waiting for her to ask the question.

Alexis pursed her lips. “Okay.”

“Elizabeth found me the next morning. I stayed at her place while I was recovering, and Bobbie looked in on me.” Jason rolled the pencil between his fingers, feeling the ridges against his skin. “How much trouble would they be in if someone told the PCPD that?”

“Well,” Alexis drawled slowly, “that would depend. You’re not required seek to medical assistance. If Bobbie gave you medical help—” She paused. “Did it include any medication?”

“Not from her,” Jason said.

“But from someone,” Alexis continued. “Did Elizabeth give you medication? Does anyone know that?”

“I—” Jason frowned over the question. “I don’t know if anyone other than Sonny knew.” Did Carly? She might have. “Maybe.”

“That’s likely where the problem would come,” Alexis told him. “If anyone gave you pain pills and the PCPD could somehow prove it enough to file charges — they could be in trouble. Elizabeth could be charged with distribution of a narcotic. They wouldn’t even have to tie you to Moreno’s death,” she added. “If someone knew Elizabeth was doling out pain meds—” She stopped. “Maybe we should stop speaking in hypotheticals, Jason, and you tell me what’s going on. I’m your lawyer. I can be Elizabeth’s lawyer if she needs one, at least until there’s a conflict of interest—”

“Carly knows I was shot,” Jason said. “Sonny gave Elizabeth the medication I needed. I only took the antibiotics after the first day. But, yeah, she got me some pain meds. She flushed them when I refused to use any.”

Alexis absorbed that information for a long moment. “Carly knows you were shot, and from what you’ve asked, I imagine she also knew Bobbie and Elizabeth were involved. She might not make the connection with the drugs, Jason, but I assure you — if she goes to Taggert, he will. He’s already trying to tie Elizabeth to this any way he can to force her statement.”

Jason sighed. And if Carly had the chance to throw Elizabeth under the bus— “Her statement would be enough to force Elizabeth on the record, wouldn’t it?”

“It might,” Alexis admitted. “Again, a gunshot wound around the time Moreno was presumed to be murdered—that doesn’t look great for you. It’s circumstantial, but it’s enough to pull Elizabeth and Bobbie in for questioning. If the cops can threaten either of them with an accessory charge, particularly if they make this drug connection — I don’t know, Jason. It would depend on the evidence. I could probably get it dismissed eventually, but I wouldn’t be able to represent you and them.”

He’d been afraid of that. “Carly is threatening to turn them in,” he admitted. “If I don’t help her disappear with Michael and get out of the marriage.” He paused. “I told her I’d do that—but she wants me to go with her.”

“Of course she does,” Alexis muttered. “Jason—” She hesitated. “The rumors about you and Elizabeth—are they true?”

Jason frowned at her. “What? About the party? What Nikolas said? Why does that matter?”

“I’m certainly not interested in your love life,” Alexis said dryly, “nor am I helping you to circumvent the law. I just wanted to point out that you need to shake Carly’s credibility and prevent any situation where Elizabeth could be forced to testify against you. Taggert doesn’t want her. He wants you and Sonny.”

Jason squinted. “I don’t understand—”

“The entire town knows that Carly is a jealous shrew,” Alexis reminded him. “You make this look like it’s revenge for you moving on with another woman—it’ll take her down a notch. And if Elizabeth wasn’t in a position to testify against you because of, I don’t know, some sort of confidentiality—”


“There’s several types of confidentiality,” Alexis continued. “Priest, doctor, and, well—spousal.”

Jason just stared at her. “Alexis—”

“It’s tricky to assert privilege regarding actions,” Alexis continued, “but generally lawyers try to avoid calling spouses to the stand because if it’s not voluntary, then the spouse can sabotage the case by offering material that was confidential—”

“Just— Jason put up a hand. “Listen—”

“It would work both ways,” Alexis continued, “because then if you were asked if Elizabeth gave you narcotics, you could—”

“This is—” Jason took a deep breath. “That’s—” He paused. “That’s your best advice?”

“I’m not advising you to do anything that circumvents the legal execution of the law,” Alexis said blandly. “I’m merely stating the ways in which you could protect one another under current legislation. Now, there are some challenges to privilege, but it usually gets tied up in appeals and goes for years — it’s messy,” she repeated. “And it mostly gets avoided by just not asking the spouse to testify if they’re the only witness.”

“Uh, thanks—”

“Don’t thank me. I didn’t do anything. Remember — I gave you zero advice. We just chatted about the law.” She got to her feet. “Right?”

“Right.” He watched Alexis go, then sat back in his chair, thinking over the conversation. He hadn’t thought twice about Elizabeth getting supplies from Sonny — he had only taken two doses of the pain pills on the first day when it had been unbearable, but those kinds of charges—even the accusation could follow them both. Bobbie’s career would be done.

He scrubbed his hands over his face. He’d have to find another way to deal with Carly.

February 2, 2023

Update Link: Signs of Life – Chapter 4

Hope everyone’s having a good week. I got off a to a good start with some live sprints on Monday & Tuesday, but the temperature dropped hard in my area on Tuesday, and it’s messing with my congestion. The air is really dry, and my humidifier isn’t keeping up. It’s giving me some breathing issues which is messing up my sleep, so I’m more tired than normal. Hoping that’s going to get sorted sooner rather than later. I don’t normally have this issue in the winter, but who knows post-Covid.

I’m doing really well keeping up with work — I’m already prepped for next week, so I don’t have to spend three hours on Sunday morning working on it, so yay for me 😛 Grades are current, too, so maybe I really meant it this time when I said I’d figured out my system.

Right now, I’m planning to come back for Flash Fiction at least twice this weekend, if not three times. I’m still really trying to get Invisible Strings completed, so I can put it into edits. And I’m going to be bumping up Signs of Life updates to every other day.

See you this weekend!

This entry is part 4 of 41 in the Signs of Life

It’s driven me before and it seems to be the way
That everyone else gets around
But lately I’m beginning to find that when
I drive myself my light is found

Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there
With open arms and open eyes yeah
Whatever tomorrow brings
I’ll be there I’ll be there

Drive, Incubus

Thursday, December 30, 1999

Kelly’s: Parking Lot

Carly scowled as her keys slid out of her hand and dropped with a clink to the ground. She started to crouch to retrieve them but her foot slid out from under her, kicking the keys under the car. Wincing, she glared at the glint of silver mocking her from just out of reach. “Fine,” she hissed to the world.

She got to her feet, determined to go in the diner and force someone to get her damn keys for her. She was a Quartermaine now—she wasn’t supposed to be rolling around on the ground like a nobody.

Carly hitched her purse over her shoulder and started towards Kelly’s, but the roar of a familiar motorcycle stopped her in her tracks and she grinned. Jason might be angry at her, but she knew he wouldn’t leave her in the lurch. She waited for his bike to turn into the lot—but it sped right past her, around the corner of the diner towards the alley—and someone was riding with Jason, her arms wrapped him, frizzy brown hair peeking out from underneath the helmet.

Carly growled and stalked towards the alley, determined to put a stop to this once and for all. Jason needed to stop playing in the playpen and concentrate on what was important — getting Carly out of her marriage. That was the only reason he was getting distracted by that child—he was bored—

Carly heard the motorcycle’s engine switch off, so she stopped at the corner, waiting for Elizabeth to go inside—

Only to see the little brat hand him the helmet and say something to him that Carly couldn’t make out from where she was standing. Jason grinned—her eyes narrowed—she knew that particular smile, the jerk—

Then she stared as Jason put his arm around Elizabeth’s waist, pulling her against him and kissing her. Not on the cheek. Not on the forehead. But on the mouth—and clearly not for the first time the way the little bitch curled up against Jason and all but climbed into his lap—she might as well straddle him on the bike, Carly thought bitterly.

“I’ll see you at closing?” she heard Jason asked, Elizabeth nodding and smiling at him. She waved and went inside. Jason watched her go, and Carly was not at all happy about the way he was smiling.

It looked like she was going to have to remind him who came first around here.

Kelly’s: Diner

Elizabeth smiled sunnily at DJ who just squinted at her, since the last time the cook had seen her, she’d tried to freeze herself into feeling nothing the night before.

“You look better, Lizzie,” DJ said. He flipped a pancake. “You pulling another double?”

“Mmm, until break is over in January, I took all the hours Bobbie would give me,” she said, hanging up her jacket and purse. “You, too?”

“If I let anyone else make the chili,” the cook said with a sigh, “we’d go out of business. Miss Ruby said no one ever made it like me.”

Elizabeth smiled wistfully, remembering the owner of the diner who had passed away earlier that year. Ruby Anderson had taken a chance on Elizabeth even though she was the worst waitress ever, and the tough as nails woman had had always had a soft spot for her. “Without you, this place would have fallen apart,” she told him, then went out to start her shift.

A few hours later, as she was finishing the first half of the lunch rush and gearing up for the late lunch shift workers from the docks, she noticed Bobbie coming in, smiling at Penny who was handling half the diner that day.

Elizabeth went behind the counter to check on the coffee, trying to avoid the redhead’s notice. She was grateful that Bobbie had been wrong the night before, but part of her couldn’t quite shake the notion that Bobbie knew Jason better than Elizabeth did. Had Bobbie said something to Jason? She knew she should just trust Jason—he said what he meant, and wouldn’t lie to her.

But that didn’t mean he didn’t also have a deep streak of kindness—that was just her insecurity again, Elizabeth decided. She was listening too much to the people around her who said she’d never be Jason’s type, but he didn’t kiss her like she wasn’t his type—

Except he wouldn’t just want to kiss her. That thought had slid into her head like an assassin somewhere between the third and fourth pots of chili, and Elizabeth knew the topic of sex would come up faster with Jason than it had with Lucky. It hadn’t really ever come up with Lucky, except just that once and she knew Jason wouldn’t pressure her but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t get bored—

“You look like you’re trying to figure out peace in the Middle East,” Bobbie said with a smile as she came around the corner to pour herself a cup of coffee.

Elizabeth smiled tightly. “I didn’t pay a lot of attention in history,” she said, “but even I know that’s probably not going to happen.” She cast her eyes over the diner, wincing when she saw her last customer leave—Penny’s section still had a handful of diners, but Elizabeth was done for the moment.

“I’m sorry,” Bobbie said. “About last night. I really shouldn’t have said anything.”


“No—” Bobbie put a hand on Elizabeth’s arm. “You’re part of my family, the way that Jason is,” she added. “And I suppose I never saw it coming because in my head—” she sighed. “In my head, it’s still supposed to be Lucky.”

Elizabeth’s throat tightened and she stared blindly at the counter. “And it’s supposed to be Carly for Jason,” she muttered.

“No—well—” Bobbie pressed her lips together. “Yes, I guess maybe. Which sounds terrible since she’s married, but—”

“But you thought Jason would get her out of the marriage with Michael and they’d be a family.” Elizabeth folded her arms, picking at a loose thread in her sleeve.

“I did,” the other woman admitted. “But that’s selfish of me because Jason is a good man who deserves to be happy. And he was right—he gets to make that choice.”

“You talked to him?” Elizabeth asked, frowning. Oh, God, what had she said—

“Nothing, except that I had heard he’d moved out and was glad. He was very annoyed with me, worried I might have given you the wrong idea about how he felt,” Bobbie added. “I realize now that I heard what I wanted to hear. What I expected to hear.”

“Because Jason and I don’t go together,” Elizabeth finished when Bobbie said nothing else. “We don’t fit. I know that.”

Bobbie tilted her head to the side. “You know, I might have agreed even a week ago, but I think I just didn’t see how much you’ve grown up. You’ve been through so much, baby. I wish I could protect you from the world, but I can’t. And Jason absolutely deserves to be happy. He shouldn’t be cleaning up after my daughter or Sonny for the rest of his life. You’re both young enough to take a risk.”

Elizabeth frowned. “You don’t look like you believe what you just said.”

“It’s not that. Just because Jason is ready to let go of the last year—”

“That doesn’t mean Carly is.” Elizabeth bit her lip. And part of her wondered if Jason really was ready to move on from Carly. He’d been tangled up with her for years—had been rushing to her rescue barely two months ago. She was supposed to think that a few months of being around Elizabeth would change that?

“Just be careful,” Bobbie cautioned. “Carly can do quite a bit of damage, even when she’s not aiming directly at you.”

Corinthos Penthouse: Hallway

Jason nodded at Johnny on the door. “He wanted to see me?”

“Yeah,” the guard said, shoving the door open. “Yo, Mr. C. Jason is here—”

“Good, good.” Sonny waved him in and Jason reluctantly stepped over the threshold, avoiding the other man’s eyes. Was it always going to be this way? When Robin had hurt him, she’d left town and it had been easier to get over it. To find some understanding, even regret for how everything had worked out.

But Sonny and Carly were always in his face—even if Sonny wasn’t demanding forgiveness the way Carly was—Jason was finding it harder than he thought to handle everything. He’d stayed too long in the studio—had hoped by the time he’d left, his brain would have let it all go. But it just wasn’t working.

“I heard from my guy at the PCPD,” Sonny said. “You didn’t tell me Taggert had already gone after Elizabeth. He got a search warrant?”

“Nothing to tell.” Jason looked at Sonny’s forehead. It was easier than meeting his eyes. He didn’t know what he’d find there or if he even wanted to know. “Elizabeth handled it and he walked away. Taggert knows there’s nothing in the studio. He wanted to scare her.”

“She doesn’t scare easy,” Sonny said, folding his arms. “This isn’t going away—”

“I’m meeting with Alexis tomorrow,” Jason said. “She’ll take care of it. Taggert can’t prove anything and Elizabeth can talk circles around him.” He smiled then, not realizing it, remembering the frustrated bafflement in the other man’s eyes as Elizabeth had efficiently demanded the search warrant and located an error, forcing him to back down. She was tougher than she looked.

“I know that,” Sonny said. “I’m pretty intimidating when I want to be, but every time I tried to get you out of the studio, she just—” He shrugged. “Either ignored me or talked me around until I was agreeing with her.” He paused. “But the PCPD is still coming after you for Moreno—”

“They can do whatever they want,” Jason replied. “As long as Elizabeth is out of it.”

“She’s not giving you an alibi?” Sonny asked. “I thought she’d want to—”

“I don’t think she’d refuse,” Jason said slowly, hating that he even had to have this conversation, but Sonny’s business depended on keeping people out of jail so he, at least, had a right to know whether or not Jason was about to be arrested. “But I don’t want her to lie for me.”

“If it comes down to proving you were somewhere else—”

“Carly knows I wasn’t with Elizabeth that way,” Jason told Sonny with a shake of his head. “So—”

“Actually—” Sonny winced. “She doesn’t know. She saw you dancing with Elizabeth. At Kelly’s.” At Jason’s scowl, he sighed. “That’s why she was here,” he said. “She wanted to know how long that was going on. And I probably—” He hissed. “I egged her on. Didn’t tell it was probably innocent.” Sonny eyed him. “Whether or not it would be now—”

“It’s none of her business what I do,” Jason said, stiffly. “She married AJ. She made her choice. I’m making mine.”

“Okay,” Sonny drawled, waiting as if Jason would volunteer more but there was no way Jason was giving Sonny any more information about his life. Not when Sonny seemed to doubt the way Jason ran his life. Sonny had wanted to Carly out of his life, so he’d taken her. Jason didn’t want to know what Sonny might try if he didn’t want Elizabeth around.

No one going to take her away from him, unless Elizabeth didn’t want him anymore.

“Carly knows you were with Elizabeth that night. She doesn’t know exactly when you got shot. So if Elizabeth gave an alibi—”

“I’m not asking her to lie for me,” Jason cut in. “And that’s the end of it.”

Kelly’s: Diner

“So, really,” Elizabeth said to Francis as he stacked another set of chairs on a table as she mopped one half of the diner. “You just sit all day and watch me work? That’s it?”

“That’s it,” Francis said. “Mostly—” he hesitated.

“Mostly it’s to make sure the warehouse guys know I’m being protected,” Elizabeth said with a half smile. “I’m not an idiot. I told Jason about Sorel’s guys, and you showed up the next day.”

“That might be part of it,” the guard said, with a shrug. “Mr. C also likes you. Said you were a top priority.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth wasn’t sure if she’d ever thought about being the top priority to a notorious gangster, but nothing in her life had gone the way she’d planned since she’d moved to Port Charles. In fact, dating the number two guy in the local mob and needing a guard was probably the least traumatic experience she’d had so far. “Well, that’s probably a good place to be if someone has to be on a list.”

“It’s not bad.”

The bell over the door jingled as Jason opened it, nodding to Francis. “Hey.” He glanced at Elizabeth. “Can I—”

“Sorel’s guys sat in Penny’s section,” Elizabeth said as she moved the mop over to the section where Francis had stacked the chairs. “They said nothing, just like yesterday.”

Jason winced, then tipped his head to the guard.

“Night, Miss Webber,” Francis said as he took his coat from the rack and put it on. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See you tomorrow, Mr. Corelli.”

Francis flashed a grin as he left and Jason made a face as Elizabeth finished mopping the diner. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to sound like he was reporting back to me—”

“It’s his job,” Elizabeth said with a shrug. She picked up the bucket, waving him off. “I let Francis stack the chairs because I couldn’t stop him,” she said as she went into the kitchen to dump it. “I don’t mind closing and cleaning up. Bobbie pays extra.”

Something was off, Jason realized as he watched Elizabeth efficiently finish all the tasks and put on her coat. “Are you okay?”

“Me?” Elizabeth hesitated, then looked at him. “Yeah. It’s just—” She wrinkled her nose. “It’s silly, but I guess I’m still—this is weird, right?” She met his eyes. “A few days ago, we were something else. And now, we’re—whatever. And it’s just—” She bit her lip, then leaned up to kiss him, blushing furiously as she stepped back. “I’m allowed to do that now and not just think about it.”

Jason returned her grin, swallowing her smile as he kissed her again, letting himself push everything else away. He sucked her bottom lip into his mouth, soothing the nicks she’d caused by biting it.  “I know,” he murmured, as he drew back. He wound one of her curls around his finger. “But I like it.”

“Me, too.” She smiled again, slid her hand in his, and then they left to take the cliff roads.