And in your eyes I see ribbons of color
I see us inside of each other
I feel my unconscious merge with yours
And I hear a voice say, “What’s his is hers”
I’m falling into you
This dream could come true
And it feels so good falling into you
– Falling Into You, Celine Dion
Wednesday, January 5
Morgan Penthouse: Kitchen
She hadn’t been able to sleep. Even after Jason had waited a few hours before coming up, Elizabeth had laid there, staring up the ceiling, feeling Jason next to her, and wanting to set herself on fire from humiliation. She wasn’t sure either of them had gotten any rest.
Elizabeth really only had two choices. She could continue to ignore it and hope he did, too. Or she could force herself to talk about it. To find out what he was actually thinking. She worried if she continued to ignore it, Jason might never make the first move again. But the thought of actually starting the conversation? Maybe she could just run away and join a convent—
“Now you’re being insane,” she muttered to herself. She drew in a deep breath and went into the kitchen, finding Jason by the counter, sipping coffee. “Good morning.”
“Good morning,” he replied, but stayed where he was, his eyes on hers. “Did you, uh, sleep okay?”
“Not really,” Elizabeth admitted. She folded her arms, unsure what to do with them. “I, um, wanted to apologize, I guess.”
Jason set his coffee on the counter, his brows drawn together in confusion. “For what?”
Oh, was he really going make her say it? Because there was no end to this embarrassment. “Last night. Um, I know it’s not fair for me to…” She rubbed a finger against her bottom lip, then dropped it with mortification when she saw his eyes drop to her mouth. “It’s not fair for me to, like, lead you on like that. I’m sorry.”
“Lead me on,” Jason repeated. “When did you do that?”
Elizabeth squinted. Was he being deliberately obtuse or — “Last night,” she repeated. “I asked you to, um, help me with my dress—” And she knew her cheeks were flaming red. The heat was practically turning her insides into an inferno — which was what had happened last night only it hadn’t been embarrassment then. “And then I, um—”
She’d practically stripped for him, and even now she didn’t understand what had been going through her head. She’d been standing there, feeling his fingers trail down her back as he unfastened the buttons, and she’d been practically trembling by the time he was finished. Then she’d lost her damn mind.
“I remember.” His voice had changed, gone deeper, and the blue of his eyes were darker. Was that— “That’s not leading me on.”
“I—” Now she didn’t know where to go with any of this. “It wasn’t? But—”
Jason closed the distance between them, reaching for her hand, lacing his fingers through hers. “We’re going to take this as slow or as fast as you want,” he told her. “And last night, you stopped when you weren’t comfortable”
“Yeah, but—” Elizabeth searched his eyes. She’d been so sure — “You’re really not mad? It doesn’t bother you? Because I know you were, um—” Interested, but she didn’t say it.
“Did I want to go further?” he asked. “You know I did.” Jason brushed his knuckles down her cheek. “And yeah, I needed a minute after we stopped, but that still doesn’t mean I’m angry at you.”
Elizabeth exhaled slowly, the tension sliding out of her body like a receding wave. “I thought I might be able to—” She touched the fabric of his shirt where it had folded slightly over his chest. “I wasn’t thinking about anything but you until—” Until she’d felt her knees against the bed and knew what was next.
“Good.” He dipped his head and captured her mouth with his. She relaxed against him, sinking into the familiar taste of him mixed with coffee. She’d never liked the flavor until Jason had kissed her. “You’re what matters,” he murmured against her lips, sliding his fingers through her hair. “There’s going to be stops and starts, but as long as you trust me, we’ll get there.”
“I do trust you.” Elizabeth sighed, then frowned as she touched his shirt again, then drew back realizing he wasn’t just wearing a t-shirt. It was a thin gray sweater, and he wore a pair of dark trousers — not jeans. Not his normal hanging around the house or work clothes. “Are you going somewhere?”
Jason grimaced, kissing her one more time before reaching for his coffee. “Yeah, Sonny set up a meeting with some people. We have to tell people about this.”
“This,” Elizabeth repeated, then it clicked. “Oh. That we got married.”
“Yeah. Part of the reason was your protection,” Jason reminded her. “Now we have to go negotiate it.” His eyes iced. “Even if Sorel wasn’t behind the bomb — which I don’t buy — someone put it in your studio. And that has to be handled.”
She shivered slightly, folding her arms again. With everything that had been going on with Carly and then getting married, she’d nearly forgotten how this had all started. The bomb on New Year’s felt like another lifetime ago. “Oh. I—Do I need to be there?”
“No,” Jason said firmly. “Sonny and I will go, tell them that you’re my wife, and that changes how they see you. It better,” he muttered as an afterthought and she flashed a hesitant smile. “And then we’ll get Sorel to pledge protection. It’s just—it’s nothing you have to worry about, I mean.” He paused. “We haven’t really talked about what I do.”
“We don’t have to,” Elizabeth said quickly, but he shook his head.
“We do. You live here,” Jason continued, “and you’ve already dealt with the police. You’re doing fine,” he added. “And you’ve got good instincts, so I’m not worried. But there’s still some things we need to talk about.”
“Okay. I mean, isn’t it basically a don’t ask, don’t tell sort of thing?” Elizabeth asked skeptically. “I don’t ask you anything, and you don’t tell me anything.”
“Well—” Jason frowned. “Yeah, I mean that’s how it’s supposed to be, but—” He looked away. “I don’t know how well that works. That’s how Sonny tries to handle things, and I tried to do with it with Robin.” And Carly, though he didn’t say her name. “But there are times when you need to know things to keep you safe. You need to know who people are.”
“Like this guy Sorel,” Elizabeth said. “I know about him—”
“But there’s others. You need to know who they are and what they look like,” Jason continued, “and what our relationship is to them so you know who to trust and who not to.”
“Okay,” she said slowly. “That sounds fine.”
“But yeah, most of the time, I can’t tell you anything. And it’s easier if you don’t ask,” he admitted. “Because then—”
“Then you don’t have to lie or refuse to tell me,” Elizabeth finished. “I get it, Jason. I do—”
He still didn’t look quite convinced, but before he could say anything else, there was a knock on the door. He grimaced. “That’s probably Sonny. Or Alexis. Anyone else has to be called up from the front desk by Wally.”
Elizabeth followed him out of the kitchen, her head still spinning a bit. She managed a smile at Sonny as he entered, carrying a manila folder. “Hey, Sonny.”
“Good morning. Jase? You about ready?”
“Yeah.” Jason went over to the closet to draw out a black suit jacket. “What’s that?” he asked Sonny, nodding at the envelope.
“Oh, the photographer developed some of the shots we took after the ceremony yesterday,” Sonny said. “I wanted to have a few in case we got, uh, visits from the PCPD over the next day or so.” He handed the folder to Elizabeth. “You might want to toss some up in a frame or something around the place.” He glanced around the mostly barren penthouse. “I thought you brought your things over from the studio.”
“Um, most of them. There are a few more things I need, but I didn’t really live there long.”
“We should probably get this place set up—” Sonny started.
“We’re handling it,” Jason said, shortly. Elizabeth blinked at the tone, and Sonny looked taken aback.
“I know, but—”
“Well, Jason only moved in here a few months ago,” Elizabeth interrupted, wanting to cut through the tension she didn’t understand, “and I’ve only been here a few days. If we change everything too fast, wouldn’t that look more fake?”
“Maybe.” Sonny frowned. “I’m not trying to tell you what to do,” he said to Jason. “But—”
“Jason doesn’t like clutter,” Elizabeth said, “and as long as I have somewhere to paint, I don’t need anything else. I know I can’t go back to the studio until it’s secure,” she told Jason, “so I hope it’s okay if I use one of the rooms upstairs.”
“Yeah, no problem. Let me know if you need anything to make it work.” He turned his attention to Sonny. “You want to get this over with?”
“Yeah, I know how much you like this stuff,” Sonny said dryly.
“I got shot at the last one,” Jason muttered, grabbing his leather jacket off the hook. He ignored Sonny’s flinch and crossed over to Elizabeth, kissing her one more time, then holding her against him. “When I get back,” he said, dropping his voice lower, “do you want go for a ride? The roads should be clear enough.”
“That sounds good.” Her cheeks still flaming because Sonny was right there, she kissed him again. “Um, good luck, I guess.”
Jason and Sonny were gone long enough for Elizabeth to brew herself a cup of tea and settle down in the living room to make a list of things she needed to make a guest room into a temporary studio. She hoped one of them didn’t have a carpet, but if they all did—she’d need a tarp—
Then the phone rang, jarring her.
“Yeah? Hello?” Elizabeth asked, bracing herself for another diatribe from Emily. She really hadn’t figured out how to say anything about the situation to her best friend, so —
“Hey, Mrs. Morgan—” It was Wally, down on the front desk.
Mrs. Morgan. Holy crap.
“Uh, your grandmother is here. Should I send her up?”
“Oh.” Elizabeth bit her lip, then rubbed her forehead. “Yeah, I guess so.” Audrey had barely just started to accept her relationship with Jason — how the hell was she going to react to a quick wedding? Which just reminded her that she still had to deal with the rest of Port Charles — when she went back to work in a few days, her section would be overflowing again with busybodies wondering why Jason Morgan’s wife was still waiting tables —
Elizabeth opened the door a few minutes later to her grandmother. “Uh, hey, Gram.”
“Hello.” Audrey’s face wasn’t giving Elizabeth much to go on, but she didn’t look angry. “How are you?”
“Uh, all right. Come on in.” Elizabeth closed the door after Audrey had passed her. “I guess you, um, heard.”
“I have.” Audrey set her purse on the desk, removed her coat and scarf, draping them over the purse. Then she reached for Elizabeth’s hand, tilting it back and forth. “It’s a lovely ring. Did Jason pick it out?”
“Yeah, he did. Gram—”
“When I was reconciling with your grandfather,” Audrey said, letting Elizabeth’s hand fall away, “there were some parts of our relationship that were a bit difficult.” She paused. “I had trouble trusting anyone after my marriage to Tom Baldwin ended.”
Elizabeth folded her arms. “Gram—”
“Considering the time period we were in,” Audrey continued, “and the fact that Steve and I had already been married once—we certainly weren’t strangers to one another. Still, it took me time to feel…” She hesitated, searching for the right word. “Safe, I suppose.”
Elizabeth’s throat tightened. “Was Gramps kind?”
“Steve was the best of men,” Audrey said softly. “And he never once made me feel like any of it was my fault. Until you, he was the only person I ever told.”
“I’m glad, Gram. Um—”
“When I heard from Lila yesterday,” Audrey continued, “I took a minute to hear the happiness in her voice. Lila adores her grandson, and she genuinely likes you. She wanted to welcome you to the family, and hoped I felt the same.” Audrey’s smile was a bit thin. “I don’t think it will surprise you that, at the time, I didn’t. She shamed me with her graciousness. It’s easy to forget that Jason Morgan isn’t just…well, he’s not just the man in the newspaper, is he?”
“He’s not, no.” Elizabeth paused. “I know you might not understand—”
“There are two kinds of safety, I suppose,” Audrey continued. “There’s the external safety. The world around you. And then there’s the way you feel inside.” She pressed a fist to her heart. “And I think I had forgotten that. Sometimes one of those feels more important than the other. Particularly when the world fails you. And the world has failed you, darling, repeatedly. With your parents, with that terrible night in the park, with the loss of Lucky—”
Elizabeth’s eyes burned. “You never have.”
“Of course I have, sweetheart.” Audrey hesitated. “Does Jason—is he kind?” she said finally.
“Yes. More than I ever thought anyone would be. I feel…not just safe,” Elizabeth continued, “but like there’s a future again. I didn’t think I would after Lucky died.”
“Of course I have my reservations by how fast this seems to be happening,” Audrey admitted and Elizabeth sighed, “but I’ve been known to be hasty in my own time, and impulsive,” she added. Elizabeth smiled. “I certainly don’t want to pretend that I was perfect.”
“But you…you’re okay with this,” Elizabeth said, almost questioningly. “Or at least, you’re not going to cut me out for getting married.”
“I would be denying myself a lot of joy if I did that, wouldn’t I?” Audrey said. “If it doesn’t work out—and it might not—I want you to always know you have a home with me.”
Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “Are you here because you hope it doesn’t—”
“No, and I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. I just—even your grandfather and I divorced for a time,” Audrey reminded her. “Love doesn’t solve everything, and we often let our own pride get in the way. I just—you might not always have my understanding, but you will have my support.”
“That—” Elizabeth almost couldn’t speak. “That means so much to me, Gram. Thank you.”
“Well, I missed the wedding, but I certainly hope there were photos—”
“Oh—” Elizabeth wiped the tears from her cheek. “The photographer gave us a few. I think we’re getting more, but—” She reached the folder. “Sonny dropped them off this morning, and I almost forgot.” She opened the folder, surprised when she saw more than just the posed shots they’d taken after Carly had crashed the wedding. There was one of her standing alone at the end of the aisle, then another of Jason walking her down — and then one of them speaking their vows.
“Oh, how lovely—” Audrey beamed as Elizabeth handed them to her. “And you look wonderful. That’s such a beautiful dress—thank you. I hope to get a copy of some of these when you get the full package.” She paused on the posed portrait. “He really is a handsome young man. Your grandfather thought highly of Jason before the accident, and he hoped he would recover.” Audrey’s eyes sparkled now as she returned the folder. “You know, he once thought one of his granddaughters would end up with one of Alan’s boys, and I think he secretly hoped it would be Jason since he wanted to be a doctor.”
“Well, I guess Gramps got his wish a little bit,” Elizabeth managed, surprised. And then they both laughed.
No Name Restaurant: Private Dining Room
Jason didn’t think much of any of the men he and Sonny worked with, but Joseph Sorel might be one of the worst. Jason might have been willing to buy Sorel’s story that the phone call could have been something trying to create more trouble, but Sorel’s stupid, smug smile made it clear — at least to Jason — that Sorel had been the one to call Elizabet. To taunt her. To try and kill her.
“I’ve mostly controlled the internal problems in my organization,” Sorel said coolly as he leaned back in the chair. “Whoever went after Ms. Webber—” He paused. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Morgan,” he corrected with a smile that indicated it had been a deliberate slip. “Whoever went after the young woman—he took a shot and it didn’t work.”
“Well, as a sign of a good faith,” Sonny said, “I expect you’ll be making it clear that if anything happens to Jason’s wife, you’ll be the first person I blame. And Jason will have free reign to handle it as he likes.”
That put a hitch in Sorel’s step because it wasn’t the way things were done. “Without evidence?” he demanded. “Without proof—”
“Those are concepts for a court of law,” Sonny murmured. “If I wanted to live within that system, I wouldn’t be here.” He flicked his eyes to Sammy Tagliatti, seated next to Sorel. “What do you think, Tagliatti?”
“I think that’s a very fair deal,” the man said with a silky smile. “Clearly, the culprit came from your organization,” he said to Sorel. “That makes it your problem—”
Sorel clenched his jaw. “She wasn’t his wife when it happened—”
“Which is why you’re still breathing,” Daniel Vega proclaimed from the other side of the table. He gestured at Jason. “And why he hasn’t ripped your throat out at this meeting. Shameful, shameful, going after such a young woman just to keep her from cooperating with the police. After Jason eliminated Moreno for you, you try to take something from him?”
Sorel’s face was florid with fury. “That’s not what happened—”
“No, it’s not,” Jason said flatly, drawing their attention as he hadn’t spoken yet. “You and your boss ambushed me at a meeting that was negotiated in good faith to make a deal, and then you finished Moreno off and dumped him. You wanted me framed for the murder, and you tried to use Elizabeth to do it.”
Sorel met his eyes, pursed his lips. “That’s one way to write the story—”
“I’m in agreement,” Daniel said. “Anything happens to the young Mrs. Morgan, you’ll have my support to handle it however you like,” he told Sonny. “I don’t believe in collateral damage and using women and children. Extra bodies just draws the authorities to us. That’s how they got in trouble in Manhattan and Philly,” he continued. “We don’t give them an inch to come after us here.”
“Tagliatti?” Sonny said.
“Agreed. Sorel will be held responsible if a single hair on the woman’s head is touched. I’ll help dismantle his operation.” Tagliatti smirked. “And enjoy taking pieces of it.”
Accepting that as a price, Sonny nodded, then focused on Sorel. “Any questions?”
“No,” Sorel said tightly. “As I said, I had nothing to do with the bomb. And I’ll make it clear that she’s off limits.”
“Good.” Sonny got to his feet. “I’m glad we understand each other. Elizabeth Morgan is under the protection of the entire syndicate. Harm her and we’ll destroy you.”
Quartermaine Mansion: Master Bedroom
Carly’s voice was filtering out from the bathroom as AJ went into their bedroom that afternoon. He’d slept in another room the night before, still seething over Carly’s humiliation. Everyone knew his wife preferred Jason to him, and AJ put up with it to keep his family together. To give Michael both his parents. For all her faults, Carly was a decent mother and AJ didn’t want to lose his son, even to partial custody.
He was ready to make another attempt at convincing Carly to give their marriage a chance. So he went towards the bathroom and gently pushed on the slightly ajar door to hear whoever she was talking to better.
“I can’t tell you anymore than that,” Carly said, her teeth clenched. “Can’t you work with what I’ve told you? He was shot at the same time that Moreno guy went missing! No, you can’t have my name you little cretin, just do your damn job—” She slammed the phone down and whirled around, stopping dead when she saw AJ leaning against the door frame, his arms crossed. “When did you get here?”
“So my little brother got shot at the same time Anthony Moreno went missing?” AJ repeated. “Interesting. How did you find out?”
Carly glared at him, her lips pressed together. AJ shook his head. “You’re not going to be able to keep this to yourself, Caroline. How did you know Jason was shot?”
“Jason got pissed at me for some reason,” Carly bit out, “and I couldn’t get a hold of him. Not because I was sleeping with him, so don’t get any ideas—”
“That’s not answering my question—”
“I followed that little twit,” Carly retorted. “She was ducking out of work, claiming to be sick. I followed her back to her studio and confronted them both. Everyone thinks they were sleeping together, but she was taking care of him. He got shot.”
“And you kept the secret because it suited you.” AJ straightened. “Now, because you were wrong about his relationship with Elizabeth Webber—”
“I wasn’t wrong!”
“Obviously you were since they got married yesterday,” AJ said coolly. “Now that Jason has married someone else, you decided to pay him back.”
“Why do you care?” Carly said sullenly. “I would think you’d want me to hurt him—”
AJ wasn’t that wild about Jason these days — not after months of being lied to and then having to go to court when Jason sued for visitation. But at the end of the day, Jason had loved Michael and been a decent father. He’d walked away from the visitation, and to the best of AJ’s knowledge, walked away from Carly. Still —
“You’re trying to have it both ways,” AJ said. “You’re doing an anonymous tip, Carly. If you’re ready to make Jason pay and put him in the past, go to the PCPD and make a statement. Go on the record.”
She clenched her jaw. “But—”
“But what?” AJ asked pleasantly. “It doesn’t suit you? You don’t want to burn all the bridges with my brother?”
“You’re deliberately twisting all my words—” Carly exhaled slowly. “Fine. Okay. Will you stop accusing me of sleeping with Jason every other minute if I go to the PCPD?”
“Yes. You go on the record turning my brother in, and I’ll believe it’s done between the two of you.”
General Hospital: Waiting Area
Elizabeth could feel the weight of the stares from nurses, doctors, patients—practically everyone she passed as she walked towards Gail Baldwin’s office, but she ignored them.
It wasn’t like the way everyone had looked at her after the Christmas party when they’d been snickering and waiting for Jason to get tired of her. Now, they were twisted and turned around — Jason had married her instead of breaking it off. No doubt they were probably going to be counting down the months and waiting for a baby.
Unless the immaculate conception took place, they’d be in for a rude awakening.
She arrived at Gail’s office and waited to be let in by the receptionist, her pulse fluttering. She’d called Gail after Jason had left this morning, mostly on a whim, never expecting her grandmother’s best friend to move around her morning and agree to see her immediately. Elizabeth thought she’d have more time to put together her thoughts, but now —
“Hello, darling.” Gail smiled, then kissed her cheek. “I had breakfast with your grandmother, so I know congratulations are in order.”
Elizabeth bit her lip. “Do you mean that?”
“Of course.” Gail squeezed her hands. “Two years ago, you were wondering if you’d ever be able to get this point, and now look at you.”
“That’s why I’m here. Um—” Elizabeth set down her jacket. “The thing is — I mean, Jason and I are married, but we haven’t—and we weren’t—” She closed her eyes. “I know what the rumors were saying, and I know the new ones think I’m pregnant. But I’m not. Jason and I got married, but we haven’t—we haven’t had sex.”
“All right.” Gail gestured for her take a seat. “Let’s talk about it, then.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Still irritated after the meeting with the leaders of the syndicate, Jason was disappointed to learn Elizabeth had left not long after he had. Had she mentioned going out? He didn’t remember, but it wasn’t his business. She could do whatever she wanted as long as she took Francis, and she had.
But he’d been looking forward to coming home and then taking her out on a ride. Getting away from all of this. They hadn’t been able to do that since before New Year’s, and he was starting chafe at all of this. He hated going to those meetings, hated being in this penthouse day after day.
He just wanted to feel the wind rushing past him, the roar of the engine in his ears—
The door opened behind him and Elizabeth came in, her cheeks flushed from the cold. She smiled at him. “Hey. I was hoping I’d get back before you. When did you get here?”
His mood instantly improved, Jason shrugged. “Just now. I didn’t know you were going anywhere.” He winced. “Not that you have to report to me—”
“No, but I’m sure knowing my schedule, especially right now, is useful. And it’s not like you want to call Francis,” Elizabeth said. She cleared her throat. “I didn’t know I’d be going anywhere, honestly. I called Gail Baldwin to make an appointment later in the week, and she had a cancellation this morning, so I went to the hospital.”
“Gail?” Jason echoed. “She’s a therapist, isn’t she? Is everything okay?”
“Yeah. It’s fine. It’s just—well—” Elizabeth exhaled in a rush of air. “I know we talked about it this morning, and I know you’re okay with it taking as long as it takes, but I still wanted to get…I don’t know. Some perspective.”
Jason drew his brows together, unsure. “Perspective?”
“Yeah.” She stripped off her coat and tossed it over the desk. “You know, like I trust you. Obviously—” Her cheeks flushed, and he knew she was remembering the night before. Standing in front of the mirror.
“At the same time, I guess I just need to understand what exactly I’m afraid of. Because if I can figure that out, we can—or I can—I don’t know, it made sense when Gail and I were talking.” She wrapped one arm around her waist, then used her other hand to bite her thumbnail. “I also don’t know how much you want to talk about any of this—”
“I want to talk about anything you want to,” Jason told her. He took off his jacket because it didn’t look like they were going to the cliffs anytime soon. He grabbed her jacket and then hung them both in the closet, wanting something to do with his hands. “You can tell me anything.”
“You say that, but I’m not sure if you—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “Part of working through this means acknowledging what happened to me. In more detail than I think I was ready for when I was in therapy two years ago. And maybe it’s not you. Maybe it’s me. I’m afraid to say these things to you. I don’t—” Her voice thickened and she looked away.
Jason approached her, reaching for her hand, sliding his own fingers over the ragged thumbnail she’d bitten nearly to the quick. “You’re afraid that if you talk about what happened to you, it’ll change the way I feel about you,” he realized. She bit her lip, looked away. “That I won’t want to touch you. Or that I’ll be afraid to.”
“I don’t know. Yes. Okay, that’s—I mean, God, Jason, how am I supposed to tell you that the thing that scares me the most if that it’ll feel the same way? Like I’m being ripped apart, and that all I’ll feel is pain, and I’ll never—” She broke off in a rush, her eyes wide. “Oh, God.”
“You tell me like that,” he said roughly, forcing the words. “You just say it. Because you don’t have to live with it by yourself.” And how the hell did he actually handle that? The power and the responsibility of knowing that if he screwed this up — if he took one wrong step — he could bring it back to her — put her in that moment — “I’m scared, too,” he admitted in a low voice.
“You are?” Elizabeth asked. She wiped at her eyes, using her other thumb to dash away the tears. “I don’t want that—it shouldn’t be like this—”
“No, maybe not, but it is. And I care about you. I want this to be good for you. I want to make you feel—” Jason didn’t even know how to put it into words. “I don’t want you be scared of me. Ever.”
“I’m not. I’m really not.” Her voice caught on a sob as she said the words. “I’m not. But I’m afraid I will be, and I think it’ll just kill me.” She placed a hand on his chest as she said it and he drew her closer, clasping her hand in his.
“You need to know that there’s nothing you can say to me that’s going to make me stop wanting you,” Jason pledged and she met his eyes. “What you’ve been through—what you still go through every day—you never have to be scared you’ll say something that will change how much I want to be with you. It’s separate for me, okay? I don’t know how else to explain it. It doesn’t change how I see you. I won’t let it.”
She rested her forehead against his chest, and they stood there for a long moment, their breathing the only sound in the room.
“G-Gail said that it’s normal for me to feel this way. That this coming up now makes sense. This is the closest I’ve been to a sexual relationship since the attack.” Elizabeth stepped back, but he kept her hand in his. “And that even if we—if I can do this—it doesn’t mean it won’t come back at times. Part of me just—God, wants it to be over with. To just get through it and—” She sighed. “But that’s not fair to you. To tell you just to do it while I grit my teeth—”
“I know—” She managed a weak smile. Then stepped back more, using both hands to wipe the tears from her cheeks now. “And she told me that. She said there’s no one way to get past this. That I can just do what we’ve been doing. Going as far as I feel comfortable with, but what if that takes months?”
“What if it does?” Jason asked, frowning. “You think I’ll change my mind in six weeks?”
“N-No, but I don’t want it to be like that. I’m tired of waiting to get my life back. I’m tired of feeling like what happened to me two years ago—something that took ten minutes—that’s all it was, you know? I was sitting on a bench, minding my own business, trying to think of how I’d get myself out of that stupid lie I’d told—and then I was on the ground, fighting and choking on my own screams—” She pressed her hands to her eyes. “I couldn’t make it stop. I couldn’t make him stop. And then it was over, and he was gone. Ten minutes of my life. It doesn’t get to ruin the rest of it.”
He felt helpless to help her sort through this. He’d done what he could — he’d reassured her, he thought he’d said all the right things, but at the end of the day — he couldn’t get inside her head and change anything. So Jason stood there, remaining silent, waiting.
“It doesn’t get to define who I am,” Elizabeth said, sounding stronger now. “I am not the girl who got raped, and I don’t want to be her forever. I can’t be the girl crawling out of the snow forever.”
“I’m more than that. I don’t know who I am all the way yet, but I think—” Elizabeth paused. “I need to be in control. I think that’s what this is. I was okay last night because I—I think I was in control. And then I wasn’t.”
Jason tilted his head to the side, trying to parse it out, then understanding. “Because you made the first move. And then I started to steer you towards the bed. I didn’t see it as taking control, but—”
“I know you didn’t,” she said quickly. “And I wasn’t scared. I just—I couldn’t go any further. But I wasn’t nervous or scared.”
“Okay.” He could live with that. “You need to be in control. That’s not a problem.”
Elizabeth blinked at him, a bit surprised. “It’s not?”
“No. Why would it be? If this is what you need, then that’s good enough for me.” And if at the end of the day if letting Elizabeth be in complete control meant he’d get to put his hands on her, then it was a win win situation. “We both get what we want, don’t we?”
“Um, yeah. I guess.” She chewed her lip. “I don’t actually know what I’m doing though—”
Jason arched his brow. “You knew what you were doing last night,” he reminded her, his voice low again. Her cheeks flushed, but her eyes were sparkling now, her breathing just a bit quicker. “You took what you wanted. What do you want now?”
“Um—” Elizabeth drew her bottom lip between her teeth. “Really? I can say whatever I want?”
“Whatever you want.”
She cleared her throat. “So if I tell you to take off your shirt, you’ll just—you’ll just do it?”
As an answer, Jason reached for the hem of his sweater and drew it over his head, tossing it behind him. Her eyes were as wide as saucers now and her tongue darted out to lick her lips.
“And you’d—if—I mean, if I asked you to take everything else off—” Her cheeks were flaming now, her voice a bit less sure. “You’d do that, too? You’d stand here in front of me naked?”
“If that’s what you want me to do.” He put his fingers at the buckle of the pants, undid his belt. “Is that what you want?”
“Um. Yes. That’s—” Her voice nearly squeaked as Jason stripped off the belt, tossed it with the shirt, then unzipped his pants. He paused when he was just in his briefs because he wanted her to be sure. Her breathing was even quicker now—
And then there was a knock at the door. Not just a knock, but an aggressive pounding. “Open up! It’s the PCPD! And we have a warrant!”