July 31, 2023

Update: Watch Me Burn – Part 34

Happy Monday! And happy last day of July! Three weeks left of summer vacation, hard to believe. Not much to say today (because I’m writing this at 8:48 and I wanna go blow dry my hair before I start to write). Whatever we need to catch up on, I’ll do it on Wednesday.

This entry is part 34 of 50 in the Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn

Written in 61 minutes.

General Hospital: Lobby

By the time physician appointments ended at seven and visiting hours at eight, the lobby of General Hospital was so quiet that every whisper and even the lightest of footsteps on the linoleum could be heard.

Tonight was no different, though the security guard at the front desk was joined by a handful of uniforms. Elizabeth used her security badge to get them through the front door.

At the desk, one of the cops turned and Jason recognized him—he’d worked with Lucky before. He focused on Elizabeth as they approached.

“Hey, Liz. Mac said you guys were coming by.”

“Cruz.” Elizabeth touched Jason’s shoulder. “Jason, this is Detective Rodriguez. Um, so you know why we’re here.”

“Yeah. Yeah. Uh, let’s head on down.” He signaled towards the elevators, and Jason followed him, his hand in Elizabeth’s. Once in the car, Rodriguez pressed a button for one of the basements, and it began to move.

The doors opened onto a long hallway, with doors every few dozen feet. Rodriguez led them into the first one which had a small room with a large picture window and door to a larger room with a wall of small, rectangular doors arranged in rows and columns.

“You don’t have to go in,” Jason said roughly. “They just need—”

“We’ll do this together,” she told him. Her lips trembled but her eyes were firm. “We’re ready,” she told the cop. He nodded, and knocked on the door to the doctor waiting.

Jason forced himself to keep walking, to keep moving forward. To walk into the room where he would identify his sister’s body.

Wyndemere: Study

Nikolas had stopped crying, but remained on the floor, his knees drawn up to his chest, arms wrapped around them. His eyes were swollen, the light from the fire burning nearby cast shadows onto his face.

Lulu sat next to him, stroking his hair, her head on his shoulder. Lucky still across the room, unsure how to offer his sympathy. How to process his own grief. He’d forced it down at the garage, had kept it at bay until he’d come into this room.

But just the memory, the quick flash of Emily in this room, smiling at him, had stolen his breath, and brought it all back, like a rush of wind passing through a tunnel, and how did you hold it back when it was roaring past you like a freight train.

“How?” Nikolas finally managed, his voice hoarse and raw. “What happened?”

“We don’t—” Lucky took a moment. “We think it was strangulation,” he admitted, and Nikolas flinched. “Like Georgie Jones and her roommate.”

“The same guy,” Lulu murmured. “A serial killer, isn’t he?”

Lucky hesitated. “That’s not for me to say, Lu.” He knelt down. “But yes. It fits the definition. Three or more people over a period of a month.”

“Six weeks apart.” Lulu looked at him. “Do you know anything you can tell us yet?”

“No. I’m sorry. I wish—”

“You know more.” Nikolas looked at him now, his eyes burning. “You knew there was someone out there murdering women. But you didn’t stop him.”

“No. We didn’t stop him.”

“She should have been here,” his brother muttered. He fisted his hands. “She would have been here—”

“She was working, Nikolas,” Lulu reminded him gently. “She wouldn’t—”

“Then I would have been there,” Nikolas said. And now something else crept into his gaze. Loathing. “It’s your fault I wasn’t. You did this. You made her choose sides, and she chose wrong. Now she’s dead.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Spinelli opened the door to Elizabeth’s grandmother, still frowning at her arrival. “I’m so sorry, Mrs. Hardy. Stone Cold and Fair Elizabeth did not say when they’d be back.”

“It’s all right, darling.” Audrey came in, touched Spinelli’s hand. “I’ll wait however long it takes. I woke to get a glass of water—” She set her purse on the desk, her hand trembling. “And I’d left the television on — oh, it’s so terrible.”

“Yes.” He closed the door behind her. “A terrible tragedy for all.” Spinelli leaned his head against the door. “Stone Cold said it was the same as Georgie. At least they thought so.”

“Georgie was such a lovely girl,” Audrey murmured. She folded her arms, hugging her torso. “Such a light. And Emily—” She squeezed her eyes shut. “Leyla. She was one of the last students I admitted into the program before I retired. She was so smart, so passionate.”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Hardy.” Spinelli looked at her. “The Jackal did not realize you knew the other…the other woman.”

“Not well. But I feel for her family. She’ll be lost in this, you understand. Just as Georgie’s poor roommate. Lord, I’ve already forgotten her name—”

“Chelsea. Chelsea Rae.” Spinelli’s smile was wistful. “She was quiet, but tenacious. Loyal. She and Georgie were very close. She wasn’t from Port Charles. She wasn’t the Commissioner’s daughter.”

“And Leyla isn’t a Quartermaine, so she won’t get the press. But I will certainly remember her. I’m so sorry, Spinelli, for your loss.”

“I’m sorry for yours.” Tears stung his eyes. “It seems very unfair for someone to get away with this. Public paths, public parking garages. What kind of demon inflicts this kind of harm?”

“We can only hope that they find him before he hurts someone else.”

Patrick’s Condo: Living Room

Patrick sat in the dark, the light from his television flickering over his face. Robin laid stretched out on the sofa, her eyes closed, red and swollen from crying. The murders were on the news, and it was—

It was surreal to see WKPC reporting live from the hospital, to be standing in front of the place where Patrick spent the majority of his waking hours, discussing the deaths of two unidentified women, though Emily had been speculated about as being connected to the Quartermaines. Irresponsible, Patrick thought bitterly. What other young woman connected to the family was at the hospital?

He thought about Monica Quartermaine being told that her daughter was dead, in a year when she’d already lost her husband. And Leyla’s family getting the call in London—

Two more families mourning daughters who had done nothing but take a walk after dark. How did you let your kids walk around in the world without you?

He’d be finding that out now. In a year, he’d have a kid. Boy or girl. And they’d need to grow up to go to school and work and breathe and how did you do that? How did you bring a life into the world when you knew it would be hard and terrible? He hadn’t wanted that responsibility. Had been terrified of it.

Now it was here. And there wasn’t a thought of letting Robin walk this path alone. He’d loved her enough to let her go when her dream hadn’t been his, and now he was going to love her enough to be part of that dream. He didn’t know how to be a good dad, but he’d learned how to be a good friend and a good boyfriend, hadn’t he? These weren’t skills he’d been born with.

He looked at Robin, who had shifted in her sleep, curling into a fetal position. He loved her enough to try to be what she needed. And maybe she’d be open to making their child live in a bubble. It was worth a shot.

General Hospital: Morgue

The room was a few degrees colder than the hallway. Kept this cool, Elizabeth thought dully, to preserve the bodies until they were transferred to a funeral home for burial or cremation.

She’d only been here once before when Manny Ruiz had dragged her down here and made her hide in a body bag, to smuggle them both out of the hospital without triggering security.

She walked beside Jason as they followed the forensic pathologist to the wall of doors. The man stopped at one and put his hand on the handle. Oh, God. Oh, God. She was in there. She curled her hands into fists so tightly, her nails dug into her palms.

There was a squeak as the doctor pulled the handle out, and it opened —

There she was. Laid out, her skin already taking on the chalk gray of death, blue tinge around her lips. Emily lay there, naked except for the sheet covering her up to the chest. Her shoulders were bare. Her hair pulled back—

Her neck with a long thin, dark line that told the story of her death.

Jason’s voice was low, nearly inaudible. “That’s…that’s her.” He cleared his throat. “Do I need to say her name—”

“No,” Rodriguez said, quietly. Respectfully. He stepped around them so that he was next to the doctor. “That’s all we needed.”

Elizabeth laid a hand on Emily’s chest, the fingers trembling as she absorbed the lack of the heartbeat. The cold of the freezer. The way her skin had lost its softness. She forced herself to look at Emily’s face. At the eyes that were closed — they’d never sparkle with laughter, ignite with fury—she’d never smile again. Her lips would never pinch with disappointment.

This was Emily’s body. The shell of who’d she been in this world, but all the pieces that had made Emily were gone.

“I love you,” Elizabeth said softly. “I will always love you. I will make sure my boys remember their Aunt Emily.” Tears blurred her vision and she had to step back, to turn away.

Beside her, Jason exhaled on a shaky breath.  He leaned down, kissed his sister’s forehead, the way he’d done so many times in life. Then rested his forehead against hers just once more. His baby sister who had clumsily wormed her way back into his life after the accident, becoming one of the bright spots.

He stepped back, looked at the doctor and cop with eyes that didn’t see them. “That’s it. Right? We’re done.”

“We’re done,” Rodriguez said, nodding to the doctor. The drawer closed, and Emily was gone. Out of sight. “Thank you.”

Jason nodded, then turned and left the morgue without another word. Elizabeth, startled by his abrupt exit, didn’t follow for a few moments, but then hurried to catch up before he got on the elevator.

“It never gets easy,” the doctor murmured. “You know, you see him on the news and you forget—”

“He’s a human like the rest of us.”

PCPD: Commissioner’s Office

“I came as soon as I got your message.” Robert embraced his brother. “Talk to me. What do you need?”

“I—” Mac sat at the desk, put his head in his hands. “I don’t know how to do this, Robert. I keep just…looking at the next item on the list, but now there’s nothing left. Not tonight. Notifications are done, uniforms are canvassing, medical examiner is coming in the morning to do the autopsy—” He looked at him. “It could have Robin. It was supposed to be her.”

Robert frowned. “What do you mean?”

“She was supposed to leave with Emily tonight at the garage.” Mac rubbed his chin. “She changed her mind at the last minute. Sent Leyla Mir instead. It was my stepdaughter, then my niece.”


“I’m not saying I think that’s the connection, just that—” he grimaced. “We can’t ignore it.”


“I, uh—” Mac cleared his throat. “I called you because—I talked to Floyd. We both agreed that something—I can’t be in charge of the investigation. And after tonight—I didn’t tell Spencer yet, but he’s too close to Emily Quartermaine. He can still work it, but—”

“You need someone who isn’t as tightly connected,” Robert said. “Are you asking me?”

“Special assignment.” Mac smiled grimly. “Yeah, I’m asking you to take charge. Because there’s a serial killer out there, and I don’t think he’s done yet.”

General Hospital: Roof

Jason didn’t send the elevator up two flights to the lobby — but instead for the top floor. He needed air, and he didn’t want to see one more damn cop tonight—

Elizabeth said nothing as he stalked out onto the top story of General Hospital, making his way towards the roof access. She used her security badge to clear it and they both climbed the short access steps.

Once outside, hundreds of feet above the street, with the wind rushing in from the lake — Jason had nowhere else to go.

Nothing else to do. He’d identified his sister. Her broken, empty body. Nothing else he could do for her.

There was a trash can by the metal steps that led up to the helicopter pad level. Jason gripped it in both hands, threw it against the steps, the metal clanging almost satisfactory to his ears. He wanted to hurt something, to destroy it —

He’d felt this rage before, years ago, after the accident, when he’d destroyed Jason Quartermaine’s room and his mother had cried and yelled at him to stop. But there was no room to destroy here. No one to check his anger.

Only Elizabeth, standing by the door with her sad eyes. He looked at her. “I can’t do this. I can’t—I can’t do this. I don’t—” He stopped, shook his head, swallowing the ripple that rose in his throat. “She was just—” He threw the trash can again, and wished there was someone for him to hit.

Abruptly, he dropped down, to sit on the hard concrete roof. His legs slightly bent, he rested his elbows against his thighs. “I can’t do it.”

There was a small, quiet scuffle as Elizabeth sat cross-legged next to him, but she still said nothing. Because what could you say? What was Jason even refusing to do? To grieve? To accept it? The world didn’t care. It would keep turning. Emily would still be dead.

Dead. He was sitting on top of the building where his sister’s dead body was being kept, in the building where she’d been brutally murdered.

He looked at Elizabeth, said nothing. Tears slid down her cheeks, but she made no sound. Didn’t try to touch him. To soothe him. To offer comfort. He wouldn’t have accepted it. He didn’t deserve it.

“I remember the first time I met Emily,” Elizabeth said, and he frowned at that. “At school,” she continued. “I stuck up for her when some other girls were being rude.” Her smile was wistful. “Emily told me once she always knew I’d done it because I wanted to impress Lucky. But that it had given her the courage to stay that day. To keep going to school. It was after she’d come back from rehab,” she added. She took a deep breath. “I loved her so much. Even when she drove me crazy. Even when I wanted to…” She paused. “I think she knew that, right? Just like she knew you loved her. Even when you argued. Even when she did things you didn’t support or understand, she knew you loved her, Jason. I don’t know if that’s going to be enough to get us through this, but she knew we loved her.” Her voice faltered, but she said it again. “She knew we loved her.”

“Yeah.” He felt the tears start to fall, sliding down his chin, dropping from his jaw. “She knew I loved her. After the accident, it was just her and Lila that I could stand. I loved her so much.” He squeezed his eyes closed. “She knew that. I made sure she did, didn’t I?”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth scooted next to him, rested her head on his shoulder. “She knew.”

July 28, 2023

Update Link: Watch Me Burn – Part 33

Here we are for our regularly scheduled Flash Fiction 🙂 Someone asked yesterday if you were going to get a hint as to the killer’s identity, and you’re actually to learn everything you need to know next week — according to my outline, all will be revealed on Wednesday 😛 But that doesn’t mean the story is over! I have the general outline for the story done, but I’ve been working on breaking the story into individual scenes. I just passed the middle of the story, so we’re in Act 2, Part 2 which is scheduled to conclude on August 26, then we’re in Act 3. I have to finish breaking that down.

As soon as I post this, I’m moving onto finish up the beta draft of Signs of Life — I’m so excited to be crossing this off the list this week. I still have to do a final edit to clean up last minute typos and set up the posting situation, but it’s not going to be taking 1-2 hours every day. I’m making great progress on Fool Me Twice, Book 2. I’m basically rewriting Act 1 which has 16 chapters, and I’ve already written 6 of them.

See you on Monday!

This entry is part 33 of 50 in the Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn

Written in 65 minutes.

Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

Jason kissed Elizabeth’s forehead, holding on one more moment. “We should—we should go downstairs. Spinelli is on his way home. I don’t know if we—” He didn’t even know why he’d called him back to the penthouse. It was nearly eleven. What did Jason think he or Elizabeth could do at this time of night?

But maybe he just wanted Spinelli where he could see him, and now he wished he’d sent a guard to collect the hacker, even though there didn’t seem to be any threat to young college-age boys.

Elizabeth nodded, keeping her eyes closed. “Yeah. I—I’m sure someone is telling M-Monica a-and I don’t know. Maybe you want to just—” Her hand fisted in Jason’s shirt. “Maybe just sitting together will help. I don’t know,” she repeated.

Jason thought about the Quartermaines, the family he had pushed and shoved away for a decade now. There weren’t nearly as many anymore, he thought. Justus had died the year before. Alan. Lila. And now—

All that remained were Monica, Edward, and Ned. And he knew every single one of them had adored Emily. They all had. She and Lila had been the glue for the family, and now—

“Yeah, maybe. I don’t know. We’ll see.” He rubbed her shoulders. “If they call, we’ll go.” He released her, then went to scoop up his phone from the night stand. “Let’s go wait for Spinelli.”

“Jason—” Elizabeth looked at him, and his breath caught because her gaze was so shattered, he wondered if it mirrored his own. He certainly felt that way. His thoughts kept scattering and he didn’t know why. He was usually focus — able to push things aside. Compartmentalize—but right now— “I don’t—” She swallowed hard, closed her eyes again, took a deep breath. “Okay. Okay. I’m okay.”

She wasn’t, but he knew what she meant. “We’ll check on the boys one more time,” he promised her. “It’s—it’ll be okay.”

Her lower lip trembled, and she took another breath, but it was shaky. “Yeah. Okay.” But her feet remained planted in the carpet. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I just — if we go out there—” Her eyes focused on the door. “If we go out there and Spinelli comes home, we have to tell him, and it’s real. And neither of us—we haven’t said it. I haven’t—we haven’t said it. And we have to, I think, or it won’t be real, but I don’t want it to be real, and I’m—” She released his hand, raked her hands through her hair. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m trying not to do this.”

“Not to do what?” he asked, softly.

“I just want to stand here, and I want to scream, and I want to cry, and I want to hit something, and to—to—destroy something. I want to hurt someone, something—I don’t know, but I can’t do any of that because, well, I can’t, and I don’t know how to breathe. I should know how. I’ve done this before. I’ve lost people before, I know it gets—the day comes when you don’t choke on the grief anymore, but it’s different. It’s Emily, and it’s all the thousand things we don’t ever get to do. She never gets to be a doctor. Never gets to get married again and to laugh and drink hot chocolate with me or—” Elizabeth sucked in a shuddering breath. “And it’s all the ways she’s supposed to be here and just won’t. And it’s so selfish to think about any of it, and I keep putting it away, but it keeps spilling out, and I don’t want to be someone you worry about, and I know that’s how you process when things hurt too much. You lock it all up and focus on someone else and I just—”

She sat on the edge of the bed, dragged in a bracing breath. “Okay. Okay. I can do this. I’m sorry.”

He knelt in front of her, his hands on her knees. She lifted her tear-stained face to look at him. “We’re going downstairs,” he told her gently. “And we’re going to tell Spinelli. And then we’ll go out on the bike if no one else calls. We’ll both feel better.”

“Better.” She sighed. “Yeah, okay. Let’s try that.”

Quartermaine Estate: Foyer

Dillon swallowed hard when a pair of headlights turned into the drive just as Spinelli’s car had disappeared. He waited for the car to reach the house and park.

He knew, of course. He had watched enough television and film to know how this night would end. He’d lost someone essential to his existence, and the world had kept spinning somehow.

And now, Mac was stepping out of the car. The commissioner coming personally. Dillon swallowed hard.

“What are you doing out here this time of night?” Mac asked.

“Lulu, Spinelli, and I were down at the pool house, but Lucky called Lulu and Jason called Spinelli.” Dillon’s eyes burned into Georgie’s stepfather’s. “It’s bad, isn’t it? It happened again.”

“Yeah.” Mac exhaled. “Jason called? The rumors are starting to fly,” he murmured. “Let’s go inside.”

Dillon shoved the front door to the mansion open. At eleven, he knew that there wouldn’t be many people up — was this the kind of thing you woke people up for? “Wait here,” he mumbled at Mac. “I’ll go find someone.”

He found his brother in the family room, pouring over ELQ reports. Ned glanced up briefly at his entrance, then down again—but Dillon’s expression must have registered. He got to his feet. “Dillon. What’s wrong?”

“Um. Monica. We need to—We need her.” Dillon’s fingers felt too big. His head was throbbing. It had happened again. Whoever stole Georgie had taken someone else, and it hurt more now for some reason, because he was already living with the pain, and now—

Ned narrowed his eyes, then strode towards the foyer, Dillon following. He stopped when he saw Mac. Swallowed. “Christ. Mac. You’re here—” He looked back at his brother, then at Dillon. “Say it. Just say it quickly.”

Mac hesitated. “About an hour ago, Emily was found in the parking garage. She’d been—she’s gone, Ned.”

Ned flinched, then looked down, trying to gather his thoughts. Dillon knew his brother took his role as the family gatekeeper seriously. He would absorb the pain, put it away, then be the strong one for Monica and their grandfather. “Okay.”

“We need—I mean, we know who it is,” Mac said, almost awkwardly. “But we need—”

“An official identification,” Ned finished. “Right.” He took a breath. “Let me tell the family—”

“Jason knows,” Dillon said almost immediately, and Ned stopped. “I mean, I think he knows. Lucky called Lu to come down to the pier, I guess to go to tell Nikolas. And Spinelli talked to Jason. Jason wanted him home. I guess maybe someone else called him. Maybe—I mean, maybe he can do it. So that you can stay here. With Monica and Grandfather.”

“Yeah.” Ned rubbed his chin, looked at Mac. “I’ll have someone down there, but if Jason already knows — okay. Um, where?”

“The hospital. I’ll let the front desk know someone will be there. Ned—”

“Just—I’ll handle it from here.” Ned paused. “Mac, was it—was it like—”

“Yes. We suspect it’s the same.”

The same as Georgie. They couldn’t speak her name, but Dillon knew. Mac left, and Ned stared up at the darkened second floor, and Dillon didn’t envy his brother.

“Losing Alan nearly broke Grandfather,” Ned murmured. “But this? Emily? I don’t know how he’ll survive it. And Monica, Christ. How do you do this? How do you destroy someone’s world?”

“By remembering you’re not the one who did it,” Dillon said roughly, and Ned met his brother’s gaze. “You’re just telling someone what happened. But you didn’t do it. The sick son of a bitch who murdered Georgie and Emily and Chelsea—he’s the one that destroyed it.”

“It’s not going to feel that way in a few minutes. I’ll be—” Ned just shook his head and went upstairs.

Dillon waited in the foyer, and what felt like an eternity later, he heard a scream followed by sobs. He sat on the bottom step and put his head in his hands.

Spoon Island: Pier

There was an advantage of having a quick and clever little sister, even though it occasionally gave Lucky a headache. He’d met Lulu at the pier, relieved when Spinelli had been with her, not wanting her to be alone.

She’d known — he could tell in her eyes, because Jason had called Spinelli, and who else did Jason and Lucky have in common? Why would they need to meet at the pier?

He didn’t have to say it, which helped, but the trip over to the island was a quiet one. The launch pilot had been irritated at being dragged out of bed, but he’d taken one look at Lucky’s face and fallen silent. When they arrived at the pier, the pilot tied up the boat and headed over to the gatehouse where he lived, and Lucky and Lulu made the trek up to the main house.

Nikolas kept late hours, and was sipping a whiskey in the study when they arrived at the house. He frowned when the butler announced them both. “What’s wrong? Did something happen to Mother? Or Luke—”

Lucky took a deep breath, squeezed Lulu’s hand. “Nikolas. Tonight, in the parking garage at General Hospital, two bodies were found.”

Nikolas’s eyes darkened, and he shook his head. “Don’t say it. Don’t.”

“Emily was one of them.”

“Don’t—” Nikolas’s voice broke. “Don’t say it. It’s not—it’s not. I won’t let it—No!” He gripped the glass in his hand, then threw it at the wall where it shattered. “Don’t say it.” His voice broke. “Please don’t say it. It’s not—”

Lulu went to her brother, embraced him as Nikolas slowly slid to the floor, tears streaming down his cheeks. Lucky stood there, in the entrance. Frozen. He’d said it. It was different now than it had been in the garage. That had been his job. He was on duty. He had an obligation to be cold, to be functional.

But standing here in a room, in a house where Emily had once lived — he could see her now, sitting on the sofa or leaning against Nikolas’s desk, smiling back at them, with that wicked smirk and glint in her eye.

The disappointment that had dulled her gaze when he’d seen her last. He’d never reached out after the custody trial, still ashamed at how far it had gone—

And now there would never be another chance.

Patrick’s Condo: Living Room

Patrick silently slid home the bolt in the door as Robin drew off her coat. He’d wanted her here where he could look at her and keep reassuring himself that she was alive, that she wasn’t lying in a morgue, not like—

His mind skittered away from that—from thinking about who was actually gone and who’d they lost because how did you wrap your mind around something that couldn’t be true? He’d just seen Leyla—she’d been one of the nurses on his patient’s case, and they’d exchanged greetings. And Emily—

How were they gone? How could it be possible—

Robin sat on the sofa, her eyes staring ahead, still somehow unseeing. The silence in the room felt like it would choke them.

“She was the sweetest kid,” Robin murmured. “I forget sometimes that we’re close in age because I feel like I watched her grow up.” She looked at him. “She moved in with the Quartermaines just before Jason’s accident, around the time Stone’s health started failing, so I don’t think I really got to know her before that. Jason tried like hell to distance himself from anyone with the name Quartermaine, but not Lila, and not Emily. You couldn’t stop yourself from loving Emily.” Her voice trembled. “Lila was grace personified, you know. Elegant and lovely, and warm. That was good for Jason, but Emily — Emily was light and air and sweet. She was silly and—” Robin squeezed her eyes closed. “She made Jason laugh which was so hard back then, and it’s how I met her.”

Patrick sat next to her. “Hard to think about him smiling or laughing.”

“He doesn’t show that side to many people. He learned how to guard himself after the accident. But Emily — he could never hold himself back from her. She struggled so hard. She  had a pill addiction, did you know that?”

“No.” Patrick frowned. “No. When?”

“Just a teenager. She started using drugs, God, when she was just fifteen. She tried to fly off the Quartermaine roof, but Jason and Ned stopped her—we were all so scared. But she got help, and she got clean, and then—” Robin’s breath was shaky. “I keep thinking if I had gone, maybe we would have been late. Maybe Emily could have waited for me to run my tests, and we wouldn’t have been there. And Leyla could have gone on with her night. But I—”

“You know better.”

“I do. I do. But I just—I also think maybe I would have been in that parking garage at the wrong moment, and it would be me there.” Robin met his eyes. “But I stayed behind. I didn’t feel up to a girl’s night. Not after I realized—” She swallowed hard. “I stayed behind, Patrick. To run a test.”

He frowned. “You said that before. What test?”

“You’re the reason I wasn’t in that parking garage,” she murmured. “A choice I made to make the world stop. And it’s why my world keeps going. It’s so odd.”

His heart began to pound. “Robin.”

“I’m pregnant.” The words escaped her lips in a rush that he almost couldn’t hear, but he did. “That night. You, um, you need to get a blood test. We should be fine because my viral load is—but I’m pregnant.”

“Pregnant.” The blood pounded in his ears, and he stared at her. “As in—”

“Sometime in June, I think, we’ll—well I’ll have a baby. You—I don’t know what you want. But—” She met his eyes. “I’m pregnant, Patrick. I was running those tests in the lab when Emily and Leyla died. It was supposed to be me, but it wasn’t. And now I get to keep breathing, and they don’t, and I feel so guilty, but I don’t know how to stop being happy and sick all at the same time—” She closed her eyes. “Can you say something that’s not repeating the word pregnant or my name?”

He so badly wanted to say something profound or useful or happy or just something, but the words—he’d forgotten every word in the English language that wasn’t Robin or pregnant. He licked his lips. “I—you’re pregnant.” When she just shook her head, Patrick tried again. “No, okay, let me—okay. This is okay. It’s okay.”

“It’s okay,” Robin repeated. “Are you—”

“Yes.” Patrick took a deep breath. He didn’t know if he’d be any good at this, hadn’t been entirely sure he wanted it, but somehow it was here. And if Robin hadn’t been running tests, she’d have been lost to him forever, so — “Yeah, this is okay. I’m okay. And you’re okay. And we’re going to be okay together. That’s what I got right now.”

“Okay,” she repeated. “Well, that’s something.” She leaned against him and he stroked her hair. “I’m going to miss her.”

“Me, too.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Spinelli unlocked the front door, and went inside, finding Jason and Elizabeth sitting on the sofa, both fully dressed. Elizabeth’s eyes were rimmed with red, swollen, and Jason—

Oh, it was something interesting to see Jason’s eyes nearly as red as Elizabeth. “The Jackal apologizes for his delay. Fair Lulu needed to meet her brother and he did not want to leave her alone. Not when he suspected—” He swallowed hard. “He suspects bad news. Noble Emily?”

Elizabeth’s lips parted, and she closed her eyes. Jason nodded swiftly. “Yes. It’s—yes.”

“Okay.” Spinelli swallowed hard. He quite liked Jason’s sister, and she’d been so kind to him. “Okay. How can the Jackal be of service?”

“We need you to stay with the boys,” Jason said roughly. “Ned called. He needs—” He faltered, and Elizabeth touched his arm.

“Ned asked Jason to identify her,” Elizabeth said. “So we need to go to the hospital. You’ll look after them? They should sleep until the morning. I don’t know how long we’ll be.”

“The Jackal will see it done. Whatever you need. He is—” Spinelli fisted his hand. “Is it—it’s the same? It has happened again.”

“Yes,” Jason managed. “They think it’s the same. We need to—we need to go.”

“Of course. Take your time, Stone Cold. The Jackal will defend the castle.”

“Thank you,” Elizabeth said, squeezing his arm as they passed. “We couldn’t do this without you.”

He watched them go, thought of the terrible task they’d been asked to do, and hoped that somewhere, the villain who had stolen those sweet lights from the world was counting his days.

There wouldn’t be many of them left.

July 27, 2023

Update: Watch Me Burn – Part 32

Making up for yesterday by posting this morning! I’m glad I took a day to reset and take a break. Sometimes I push myself a little bit too much, and I need to be nicer to myself, lol. I woke up, had my coffee, and dug back into Signs. I’m already almost caught up to where I wanted to be today anyway, so that’s pretty good. And the Phillies are off today, so I can write tonight.

See you tomorrow for another update!

This entry is part 32 of 50 in the Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn

Written in 64 minutes.

Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

He’d been irritated when he’d heard Sonny’s voice on the other end of the line. His partner knew Jason was spending the day with his family — had known he was hoping to find the right moment to ask Elizabeth to marry him — so when he’d heard Sonny’s voice, he’d immediately thought that he’d have to leave for some part of his job that was too dangerous or risky to ask anyone else.

He’d been wrong.

“There’s no official identification yet,” Sonny said, still talking even though Jason’s ears were ringing and he couldn’t really process anything beyond those first few words. “But Spencer’s on the scene.”

Emily. His little sister. Emily.


“Yeah.” Jason cleared his throat. “I’m here.”

“I wanted you to know before it hit the news. I don’t know how long they’ll keep it back. I don’t know what’s going on yet. I’ll get more, okay?”


Sonny was quiet. “I’ll let you go. You call me if you need anything. To look after the boys, to sit with — hell, if you need to take a swing—just—”

“Yeah.”  He couldn’t produce another answer. Couldn’t do anything but form the same words over and over again. Emily. His little sister.

There was a muffled sound of a door closing down the hall and Jason took a deep breath. “I have to go.”

“Okay.” The line went dead, and Jason lowered the phone from his ear, but then he just stared at it. How long had the call been? Two minutes? Three?

How much time did you need to destroy a world?

The door slid open, and Elizabeth stepped in—freezing when she saw him. “Jason?”

He looked at her, and in even in the shadows of the room, saw her swallow hard before she said his name again.

“Emily,” he said. “It’s Emily.” He flipped the phone closed and set it gently on the nightstand. How did he do this? How did he destroy Elizabeth’s world when his own was already in tatters and he couldn’t even think about the word or what had to be done or said—

“Was she—” Elizabeth’s voice wavered. “An accident? We’ll go to the hospital. We can—” She started for the closet, dragging the door open. “We’ll get dressed. I’ll call my grandmother.” Her movements were jerky, frantic as she ripped out a sweater. “She can sit with the boys—”

“Elizabeth.” His voice sounded rusty to his ears. He rose to his feet. “Elizabeth.”

“You have her number, don’t you? Can you—I have to—” Elizabeth turned, clothes clutches in her hands. Her eyes were wide, her face pale. Some piece of her already knew. He could see it in her eyes. Somewhere deep inside, she knew. But if she kept moving and speaking, she’d never have to say it.

He walked across the room, towards her, but Elizabeth backed away from him, shaking her head. “No, no, you have to get dressed, too. I’ll call her. I can do that. You get dressed and I’ll call her—” Her back hit the wall, and her eyes closed. Her fingers were wrapped tightly around her clothes, holding them against her chest like a shield. “We have to go to the hospital, don’t we?”

“Elizabeth.” Jason gently placed his hands over hers, and her fingers went limp, the jeans and sweater falling to her feet. Her beautiful eyes shimmered with tears, and he knew the burning in his own would only be relieved when he let his own tears fall. “She’s—”

He couldn’t say it. Couldn’t form the words. How many times had he said them before? Why couldn’t he do it? He couldn’t. Because even though Elizabeth knew, even though he knew —

If it wasn’t said out loud, it wasn’t real.

Her lips trembled, and she closed her eyes. “Oh, God.” The words were ripped from her soul, a prayer to a deity who wasn’t listening. But then she dragged in a deep breath, and she opened her eyes. “Jason.” She hurled herself into his arms, and he dragged her against him, because it was true, wasn’t it? It was happening, and he hadn’t had to say the words, but they both knew.

He felt her tears as they hit his bare shoulder, and then the same sensation against his own cheeks. He lifted her into his arms and carried her over to the bed, sitting down on the edge. She drew back slightly, resting her forehead against his. “What happened?” she asked on a shaky breath. “Was it an accident?”

The words came now, though they weren’t easy. “No. They found her in the parking garage. Sonny said it was like…it was like…”



Elizabeth nodded, took another breath. She brushed her thumbs beneath his cheeks, gently brushing away his tears. But she didn’t say anything else. They just held each other.

General Hospital: Lab

“Supposed to be you?” Patrick echoed. Robin pulled out of his his arms, dragging her hands through her dark hair. “Robin—”

“Robin,” Mac said at the same time, and Patrick immediately fell silent. “Baby, can you tell me what you mean?”

She couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe. How could this be happening? It was too much. Too much all at once. The horror, the fear, the swirl of worry and anxiety, and the guilt—oh, god the guilt. “Kelly and Lainey.” Robin cleared her throat. “They asked me earlier. To go to Jake’s when we were done. Emily was going, too. It was—Em and I were going to meet them there.” Robin looked at her uncle, barely visible through the blur of tears. “Emily and I were going together. She was going to drive me.”

“Christ,” Mac managed. “But you didn’t go.”

“No.” And remembering why had Robin looking at Patrick with another dose of fear. If she was pregnant, oh, God, Patrick. He had to get tested — he had to be sure— She swallowed that for now. “Um. I didn’t go. I had some tests to run, and I just—I wasn’t up for it. So I told—I told Leyla. Leyla Mir. She’s a nurse here. They left together. Or they were supposed to. Leyla went because I didn’t.”

“Okay. Okay.” Mac absorbed that. “Okay. So Leyla Mir. I’ll—I’ll get someone who can identify—okay. Robin—” He looked at Patrick. “You’ll take care of her?”

“I don’t—”

“Yes,” Patrick cut in, his dark eyes eyes sweeping over hers. “Yes. I’m not letting her out of my sight.”

“Okay. I have to go—” Mac strode over and took Robin into a fierce, brief hug. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

He left, and Robin lowered herself onto the stool at her workstation. “I have to call Kelly and Lainey. And Jason. Oh, Elizabeth and Jason—” She bowed her head. “Patrick. Please tell me this isn’t real. Tell me it’s not.”

He came up behind her, pressed his lips to the top of her head. “I wish like hell I could. Call Kelly and Lainey. Jason—he’s family. Someone will talk to him. And then—can you—I know you said—but I need to know you’re all right. Will you come home with me?”

She should say no. She should be with Kelly and Lainey, who would be upset and grieving, too. She should be there for them.

But Patrick was the reason Robin’s body wasn’t lying in the parking garage. Patrick who had done nothing since their break up but stand by and do exactly what she’d asked of him, even when it had hurt him.

He was asking her for something, and for once, Robin was going to do what she wanted. “All right.” She looked at him, tears burning as they fell unchecked. “Yes. I don’t want to be anywhere else right now.”

General Hospital: Parking Garage

Lucky swallowed the bile that erupted in his throat as the medical examiner and his team lifted Emily onto the stretcher, and her limbs dangled lifelessly — her arms hanging over the side until they were tucked away inside the black body bag—

He couldn’t— he turned away, forcing himself to breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. He owed Emily his best. He’d already failed her by not finding the son of bitch in time to stop what was happening — he couldn’t save Emily — but this son of a bitch was still out there, and with two more bodies, it was clear he wasn’t done.

There couldn’t be another one. Lucky wouldn’t let it happen.

Once Emily was moved, the examiner was able to get the second victim on the stretcher. When they lifted her, the hair was finally brushed away from her face. Lucky recognized her now. He’d seen her at a hospital function. “That’s a nurse,” he said. “It’s—”

“Robin said it’s probably Leyla Mir.”

Lucky turned to find the commissioner striding up. Mac put a hand on Lucky’s shoulder. “Robin was supposed to go with Emily to Jake’s tonight. She changed her mind, and asked Leyla to go at the last minute.”

“Oh, man.” Lucky absorbed the significance in that. “Mac—”

“Which means that should be Robin. We have to consider that, Spencer. The first victims were my stepdaughter and her roommate. The next would have been my niece and her friend. So far—” Mac’s face was gray as he forced out the next words. “So far the only thing the victims have in common is their connection to me.”

“Not the only.” Lucky’s mind could function now. Emily wasn’t laying there anymore. She was tucked away and gone. “They’re all dark haired — Georgie’s hair was dark blonde. Young. Emily, I think, was the oldest, and she’s only twenty-six. The youngest was nineteen.”

“Okay.” Mac’s face eased. “But Robin—”

“She’s not much older, right? Twenty-nine?”

“Yes. Thirty this year.”

“There you go.” Lucky shoved his hands in his pockets, watching as the crime scene unit continued to work. “And location. Parking garage. It’s riskier than the campus. There are more cameras. They’re already pulling them,” he added when Mac opened his mouth. “It’s a public location. He kills in pairs, Mac. That’s gotta mean something. If this guy wanted to hurt you specifically, there are easier ways.”

“That’s true.”

“Georgie probably took breaks in Kelly’s alone. Robin drives to work alone. But this guy didn’t grab them when they were alone.” Lucky’s mind was flying now with the list of things that had to be done. “We need to get cell phone records. Talk to friends and family. Robin would have said something if she was getting the phone calls and flowers like Georgie, but maybe Leyla was. We didn’t release that information to anyone else.”

“Spencer.” Mac nodded. “Yeah, we’ll do all of that. But you need to do something else first.”

Lucky exhaled slowly. “Yeah. I need to talk to my brother.” He thought of Elizabeth. This would destroy her — and against his will, he thought of Jason. For all they’d hated one another, they’d always loved Emily. “The Quartermaines?”

“I’m on my way to handle that. When you finish that notification, Lucky, you should stay—”

“I need to get started.” Lucky watched as the medical examiner’s team wheeled the bodies towards the elevators. “I can’t let this happen again.”

Quartermaine Estate: Pool House

Nothing cheered Lulu up more than deliberately choosing one of Dillon’s favorite movies to watch, and then needling him the whole time and getting film facts wrong.

“I think the resolution to who Rosebud is was the dumbest thing in this movie,” Lulu declared as the credits for Citizen Kane rolled. Dillon’s fingers tightened around the remote and he sent her a glare. “You know you agree.”

“I think I regret the day I met you,” he muttered. “Philistine. Imagine criticizing what every critic says is the best movie ever made—”

“Pfft…” Lulu grabbed a handful of popcorn. “Old white men. Everyone knows the best movie is Steel Magnolias.” Her eyes lit up. “Oh, no, wait. I think Naked Gun is the best—”

“It’s the best movie with a murderer in a starring role,” Dillon scowled. “You know, the fact that I ever thought I was interested in you boggles the mind—”

Spinelli watched them bicker back and forth, and found himself relaxing, even enjoying it. Lulu knew exactly how to push Dillon over the edge, and it truly was an amusing sight to see the Conflicted Film Major get all flustered and frustrated.

“Spinelli, tell Dillon I’m right.”

“Spinelli, tell Lulu that she’s going to burn in hell for—”

“Au contraire. Neither of you are, in fact, correct.” Spinelli grinned. “The best movie ever made is Hackers.”

Lulu gasped in mock horror and threw popcorn at him. “You need to take that back—”

“You would think that,” Dillon muttered.

Spinelli snickered, and leaned to the side to fish out the cell phone vibrating in his pocket. He frowned when he saw Stone Cold’s number. “That’s weird—”

Lulu opened her mouth, but then her phone started to ring. She flipped it open as Spinelli answered his phone.

“Stone Cold?”

“Spinelli. Can you—” Jason’s voice took a moment to steady itself, and a chill slithered down Jason’s spine. “Can you come home?”

“Of course. Is everything okay? Little Dude and Stone Cold the Sequel? Fair Elizabeth?”

“They’re—they’re okay. I just—if you could.”

“Of course.” Spinelli closed his phone, something swirling in his stomach. “Blonde One?”

“That was my brother.” Lulu’s blue eyes met his. “Lucky wants me to meet him at the boat launch. He said we need to go talk to Nikolas.”

Dillon frowned. “That’s weird. All at the same time? What could—” He stopped. “Wait.”

“Stone Cold said the family was good,” Spinelli said slowly. “But—”

“Jason and Nikolas only have one person in common,” Lulu said grimly. “Spinelli, we have to go. And Dillon—”

“Yeah, I think I need to head up to the main house.” Dillon dragged a hand through his wild blond hair. “Please tell me this isn’t happening again.”

Spinelli very much feared that Dillon’s hope would an empty one. “I’ll drop you at the pier,” he told Lulu. “Let’s go.”

Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

Elizabeth’s fingers were shaking as she buttoned her jeans. “Do you think they’ve told Monica yet?” she asked dully. She glanced over at Jason who was pulling on a t-shirt.

“By now.” He cleared his throat. “I don’t know if we should—should we go over there or wait for them to call us—”

“Maybe Sonny knows. He said he’d keep you in the loop.” One foot in front of the other make. Make a list of what to do. There were steps that needed to be taken. Get dressed. Make sure someone was sitting with the boys. Then—

Elizabeth couldn’t fall apart again. Not yet. She didn’t want Jason to have to take care of her. She’d done that earlier. When he’d still be grappling with the horror, she’d broken, and he’d had to worry. She couldn’t do that to him. Emily was—

No, no. Don’t think about it. One foot in front of the other. Deep breath. One foot in the front of the other—

“Do you want to call your grandmother?”

“Spinelli should be fine. Gram—” Elizabeth rubbed her throat. Every word felt like it had to be dragged from deep within. “Gram is asleep. And I’m afraid of waking her with news like this. The boys—” Oh, God. Her babies. Cameron loved his aunt, and now Jake would never—

She bit down hard on her lip. Don’t fall apart. Don’t do it. One foot in front of the other. “They’ll sleep through the night.”

They stared at each other from opposite sides of the room. They’d both put on clothes. Jason had made his call.

And now—

“Um, I should call—” There had to be someone, didn’t there? Someone that needed to be told, something that she could do to fill the gap in the moment, because if she stopped—

One foot in front of the other. Keep moving. Don’t stop. Don’t think. Don’t look at Jason too hard because you’ll see it in his eyes and then you’ll fall apart and you need to be strong because he’s always the strong one and he doesn’t—

“Patrick. Or—” Her fingers fluttered and she found herself twisting the ring on her finger. The ring— She stared down at it. The ring he’d put on her finger a few hours ago.

Had that been tonight?


“We should go downstairs and wait for Spinelli,” Elizabeth said, but he snagged her elbow as she passed him, and she finally looked at him. “We have to—there are things to do, aren’t there?”

“No.” His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. “No. Not right now. You can stop moving. There’s nothing to do.”

The tears spilled past her lashes and she shook her head. “No, no. There is. I just have to think of it—” She bit her lip again, and tasted blood. “Because if I stop, and I look at you too long, it comes back and I think about Emily and how she’ll never know that we’re getting married and what a stupid, selfish to think about—but now Cameron won’t know her and Jake will never know her and why is that what’s going through my head and no!” She stopped him as he came towards her. “No. Don’t. I’m fine. I’m fine. You don’t have to take care of me. I’m supposed to—”

One foot in front of the other.

“I’m supposed to—” Her voice broke. “I can’t be selfish. I don’t want to be selfish and make you worry about me. I want to worry about you, but I don’t know how because there’s no room for any of it, because none of this is real, and this—” Her voice faltered and there was nothing left.

“Okay. Okay. I won’t worry about you.” Jason took a breath. “Then let me hold you because I need to. That’s what I need. I need—”

She didn’t let him finish, she went into his arms, wrapping hers around him tightly, his face buried in her hair as his shoulders shook. Okay. They’d find a way to take care of each other. Somehow.

July 26, 2023

Hey! Just dropping in real quick — I woke up with an ache in my jaw that’s making it hard to concentrate on writing for long periods of time, so I had to cut the morning writing session this morning. I’m gonna go pop some more ibuprofen and grab an ice pack, so I can work this afternoon. Honestly, I may have over done it on Monday/Tuesday, lol. I wrote around 5k on Monday for Signs of Life, and over the last two days, I’ve written 42 pages and 16k for the new beta draft of Fool Me Twice. That’s not counting the 2k or so for Monday’s flash fiction.

Anyway, lol, I’m gonna take it easy today, but you know my policy — if I miss a scheduled update, you get a prize. So here’s Chapter 10 of Signs of Life — the revised flash fiction novel I’ll be posting later this month. Chapters 1-8 are already posted, and Chapter 9 is previously released material when it was a Flash Fiction series. Chapter 10 is the first piece of brand new work, so you can get a sneak peek of the type of expansion I’m doing with the novel. Zip file opens a PDF. Let me know what you think 🙂

Signs of Life – Chapter 10


This entry is part 31 of 50 in the Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn

Written in 55 minutes.

General Hospital: Lab

This couldn’t be happening. In fact, Robin decided that it wasn’t happening. The first time she ran the test, she was sure it was false. She’d made a mistake. She’d used the wrong calculations — she’d fed the information into the system incorrectly — she hadn’t drawn enough blood. Whatever it was, it had been wrong.

So she drew another vial of her blood and ran the test again. When it was still positive, Robin  went up to the locker room, snuck into Kelly’s locker and stole one of the emergency tests that her roommate kept, arguing to herself that Kelly would both understand and support this crime.

She returned to the lab, went into the bathroom, then waited five minutes for the results.

And despite the fact she’d run more scientific test twice first, it was the test Kelly had bought over the counter in a convenience store that convinced Robin.

She sat hard on her stool, the little white slab of plastic in her hands with a plus sign. There could be no mistake. Her hormone levels had been elevated in her blood, and then she’d peed on a stick.

She was pregnant. With Patrick’s baby.

Oh, God.

General Hospital: Parking Garage

“An orderly found the body,” Cruz told Lucky as they jogged down the aisle towards the site. “He didn’t do anything but see the legs sticking out from the car. Called it in right away.”

“He didn’t look?” Lucky demanded, his heart pounding as they rounded the last corner. “He didn’t try to identify it?”

“No—got spooked—”

Lucky stopped when he saw the cluster of uniforms standing at the end of a row. They were crowded around a red sedan.

A red sedan Lucky recognized. A terrible, hollow feeling swirled in the pit of his stomach and raced through his lungs, into his throat, and he just stood there, frozen. He couldn’t move a single step closer.

There was a set of legs just barely visible by the wheel. The toes were painted a cotton-candy pink, laced into a pair of strappy sandals.


The car had frozen him to the spot, but recognizing the shoes — oddly, they broke the paralysis and Lucky was able to move. He closed the distance and the uniforms stepped back, revealing the full scene.

Two bodies, tossed between the cars like broken dolls. Toward the back, by the wall, a woman lay on her side, her dark, almost black hair hanging over her face. A hand was extended, disappearing under the car. She wore a green tank top and a pair of black pants — the legs were obscured by the second body.

She lay on her back, her light brown hair tangled beneath her. Her eyes were closed, her mouth slack. Her arms were limply hanging by her body, likely where they had landed when she’d been thrown away like garbage. When her killer had completed the job —

Around her neck was a thin cord that Lucky recognized as the same that had been looped around Chelsea Rae’s. And he knew, even though he couldn’t see the neck of the first woman, he knew she would have the same dark, strangulation marks as Georgie Jones.

The same killer. The same victim profile. The same murder weapon.

“Spencer?” Cruz said again, but his voice was subdued. They all knew the identity of the second woman, but no one wanted to say it out loud.

But Lucky had a job to do. And she deserved the best he had to give.

“We’ll need family members to make the official identification, but someone needs—” He took another deep breath, and knelt down to look more closely at the bodies. “Victim number one is a young woman, likely in her early to mid twenties. Victim number one is in her late twenties and is tentatively identified as Emily Quartermaine.”

General Hospital: Operating Suite

Patrick tossed the remains of his mask into the garbage along with the protective yellow gauze gown he’d worn. He washed his hands, then removed the surgical cap with racing cars from his head. “I’ll be up to check his post-op in the morning,” he told Epiphany as they emerged from the operating room into the hallway. “You know the drill.”

“That I do—” Epiphany squinted. “What’s going on down there?” She gestured at the check-in desk where a cluster of doctors and nurses were talking.

“Don’t know.” Patrick made his way to the group. “What’s going on?”

Regina Johnson, one of the surgical student nurses, turned to him, her eyes wide. “Dr. Drake. Oh my god. They found a body in the parking garage—”

“Two!” Another nurse corrected. “They said it was two women—”

Two women. Christ. Patrick’s heart leapt into his throat. Robin was working tonight. What was her schedule? When was she done? “Do they know who?”

“Not yet. PCPD just sealed off the garage,” Andy Archer, an anesthesiologist said with a shudder. “Damn. I hope they didn’t work here—”

Patrick went for the elevators, jabbing the buttons rapidly. Damn it, damn it. He needed to get to the lab. He needed to know. When the elevator didn’t open fast enough, he raced for the stairs.

Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

Elizabeth snuggled into Jason’s embrace, her left hand laying across his chest. She wiggled it so that the diamond glinted in the moon light slithering through one of the windows. “It still doesn’t seem real,” she murmured.

He stroked her hair lazily, sifting through the chestnut strands as they cascaded over her bare back, shoulder, and onto his own skin. “I wasn’t sure if it was too soon—”

“I don’t care.” She tilted her head up. “You and I both know it wasn’t. We’ve been dancing around each other for so many years. I wish I’d said yes last year.”

“Which time?”

She grinned. “Any of them. All of them.” Then her smile faded slightly, though her eyes stayed bright. “You asked before you even took the paternity test. I always wondered if you meant it.”

“I did. And I was disappointed when you said no. Both times,” he admitted. “I should have probably thought about that more than I did.”

“I wanted to say yes. I just—” She sighed, closed her eyes and laid her head back down. “But I’m also glad it was this way. Just us. No guilt. No lies. We had such a great time with the boys, and then you asked me when we weren’t trapped in an elevator. It was so normal.”

“Normal,” Jason repeated. “That’s a good thing?”

“It’s a great thing. So much of our lives can’t be normal, and I accept that. You’ll start working more, and I know what comes with it. But I like this this little piece of it—you, me, the boys—”


“We’re just a normal little family. Mom, Dad, two kids, and Spinelli.”

“I like it, too. Even Spinelli,” he admitted, and she laughed. “When do you want to start decorating a room for him?”

“We’ll have to make sure it’s just right so he doesn’t find out too soon—” Elizabeth paused when a phone rang in the distance. She sat up. “That’s the land line. Who would be calling it this late?”

“If it’s the front desk,” Jason said, also sitting, looking at the night table for his phone. “Wally will call my cell—”

The line downstairs rang twice more before falling a silent. A moment later, Jason’s phone lit up. He frowned. “It’s Sonny—”

“Guess it’s time for that normal to end,” Elizabeth said with a knowing smile. “I’ll go check on the boys.”

“Okay.” Jason watched her slid into a satin robe, then leave the room before flipping his phone open. “Sonny? What’s up?”

There was a heavy sigh on the other end that made Jason’s hair stand on end. “Jase. Listen. We just had a call from our guy at the PCPD.”

General Hospital: Lab

Patrick didn’t realize how convinced he was that Robin was one of the bodies in the parking lot until he shoved open the door to the lab and saw her at her workstation. The relief that flooded him was almost dizzying and he had to brace himself on the wall to keep his balance.

“Patrick?” Robin slid off the stool, her dark eyes creased with anxiety. “What’s wrong? What happened?”

“They found—” Patrick took a deep breath, dragged both his hands through his dark hair, leaving it disheveled. “They found—in the parking garage. They found two bodies. Two women.”

“Two—” She took a step towards him, and he lost it. He had to touch her, had to know she was real — Patrick yanked her into his arms, burying his face in her neck.

“It’s not you. I thought it would be you. Oh, God, I thought it was you.”

Robin patted his back a bit awkwardly. “You—okay, that’s too tight, Patrick.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry—” He stepped back, but didn’t release her—he couldn’t. What if  this was a dream? A hallucination? What if he let her go and she faded away, and she was really—

“I’m okay,” she told him, her dark eyes searching his. “I’m okay. I’m right here. They—they don’t know who it is? Were they visitors or—how could it happen in the parking garage?”

“They didn’t say anything else.” Patrick forced himself to take a deep breath. She was here. She was making conversation. This was real. “I don’t think they know who it is yet. I just—I knew you were working, and you were done about now—”

“Oh, God—” Robin covered her mouth, the sharp cry echoing in the empty room. “Oh, God!”


“It’s—” She looked around frantically, her eyes fastening on the clock on the wall. “It’s—it’s ten. When—when did they find them—”


“Emily. Emily.” She lurched away from Patrick, back towards her workstation and scooped up her phone, her fingers trembling. “She’s not picking up her phone. She’s not—”

Realization dawned and Patrick swallowed hard. “Emily was working tonight?”

“We were supposed to go to the bar. Girl’s Night. She was meeting—She’s not answering because she’s driving. Or she’s dancing with someone.” Robin’s hand jerked as she dialed another number. “Kelly? Kelly! Did Emily get there yet?”

Patrick watched Robin’s expression, and he knew the minute it sunk in. Her eyes widened, found his, and then horror crept in. “She never showed up,” Robin said. The phone clattered to the ground. “Oh, God. Is it Emily? Oh, God.”

He strode forward and jerked her back into her his arms. “We’ll find out, okay? We’ll go—”

The lab door opened again, and Patrick turned to find Mac there. His face was grave. “I came to tell you—but I guess the rumors are already flying.”

“Mac?” Patrick asked, roughly. “What—who?”

Mac’s hands weren’t quite steady as he stepped inside and closed the door to the lab. “Emily was found in the parking garage,” he said quietly. “We’re still doing the notifications, but we can’t identify the other woman. Her hair is covering her face and the CSU—”

“Leyla Mir.” Robin’s cheeks were tear-stained, her voice trembled. “They were going to Jake’s together. I asked Leyla to go. Instead of me. Oh, God, it was supposed to be me.”

Morgan Penthouse: Bedroom

Elizabeth tucked Cameron in a little more tightly, brushing his curls back. Then she went over to Jake in the crib. He lay on his back, his arms stretched out his sides, his little hands curled in fists. She spent an extra minute staring at him, then stroked the silky blonde hair that was coming in more thickly. It was white-blond now, but she thought it would darken as he grew older. Would it be Sarah’s shade or Jason’s?

It almost seemed like a dream, she thought. A few months ago, they’d had their own rooms in a house that had never felt like their own. Now, they shared a room but she liked that. She wanted them to grow up and be close, to love one another the way she, Sarah, and Steven never had.

She touched the night light as she passed it, wondering again where Spinelli had found the motorcycle whose headlight emitted the soft light that kept the monsters away. He really was the sweetest kid.

She closed the door, then went down the hall, hoping it had been enough time for Jason to complete his business with Sonny. Oh, she hoped he didn’t have to leave. She had told him she could accept the less than normal nature of his job, and she really meant that, but tonight — when he’d just asked her to marry him — when it was nearly her birthday — oh she hoped he could stay. Just to stay in their bubble a few hours more.

Elizabeth had closed the door when she’d left, wanting to give Jason full privacy. She knocked lightly, but heard nothing in response. Worried, she pushed it open. He’d turned on the lamp at the side of the bed, and she could see Jason on the edge of the bed, the phone still flipped open in his hand but he was staring at it.

“Jason?” She tipped her head. “Is everything okay? Do you need to go?”

His shoulders tensed, and he took a deep breath before looking at her. His eyes were still shadowed, and she couldn’t see them clearly.

But she knew him. She knew every line of his body, his face— “Jason?” she asked again, but her voice was quiet.

Whatever he said next, she knew, oh, she knew it was going to be devastating.

And even though she had braced herself for the worst, oh God, nothing could have prepared her for it.

“Emily,” Jason managed. “It’s Emily.”

July 21, 2023

Update Links: Watch Me Burn – Part 30 | Fool Me Twice

Happy Friday! Hope everyone had a good week!

I’ve been working on three editing projects this month: Fool Me Twice, Book 2 – second draft, Signs of Life – second draft, and Fool Me Twice, Book 1 – final edit.  It’s been a bit exhausting and draining — y’all know how I feel about editing. It’s a necessary hell, lol.

I’ve been keeping a small secret from you guys — as I edited Book 1 to clean up typos and inconsistencies (as I said when I started this project, for personal reasons Book 1 never got the second, polish edit), I was updating the chapters online. So if you read here at Crimson Glass, or on Fanfiction.net or Archive of Our Own, you already have the edited chapters! I’ll include a list of changes and updates under the Read More tag if you want specifics, but the biggest change was Chapter 4. I had a Liason flashback scene that was driving me crazy because I had misremembered the show, and so the scene was canonically inaccurate. It was largely rewritten, so I definitely recommend checking it out.

I’m formatting the ebook which will be up on the Patreon next week and for the public on September 1 to prep for the release of Book 2 in October.

For Signs of Life, I’ve completed 32 of 40 chapters for the edit, so I should be finishing that up sometime next week.  And for Book 2, I’m almost done constructing my beta draft (restructuring and figuring out additions and changes) so I start writing it on Monday.

I got more information about the new job, and I’m actually starting back early (boo!) The entire district reports back on Aug 28 for four days of teacher prep and professional development (which is awesome because my last district was 1 day), but as a new hire, I’m actually reporting on Aug 22 and 23 at 8 AM for orientation. This just means I need to shift around one of the last Flash Fictions, no worries. We’ll work it out when we get there.

See you on Monday!

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