September 28, 2023

Update Link: Signs of Life – Chapter 17

Hope you’re having a good week! I took a half day because I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, and I have to catch the PATCO train into Philly. It’s with the TMJ doctor, and I’m looking forward to it. I got fitted for a dental thing that’s supposed to stop the clenching at night which is a huge cause of my jaw pain.

As soon as that’s sorted out, I’m gonna make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor. My shoulder is feeling really sore, and it’s hard to write after work because I move it so much while I’m teaching, then it’s too sore to do anything with at home. I’m planning to get a brace this week or next to help me avoid using it. I’m left-handed, so I just naturally reach for everything with that hand even if my right is available, and it’s hard to stop myself until I’ve already done the dumb thing, lol. A brace would force me to remember.

See you on Saturday!

ETA: I finally fixed the style issues with Signs of Life. Thanks for your patience while I tried to figure out why some of the colors and whatnot weren’t working. Just needed to change some tags and we’re all good now!

This entry is part 17 of 41 in the Signs of Life

If I could make it rain today
And wash away this sunny day
Down to the gutter, I would
Just to get a change of pace
Things are getting worse
But I feel a lot better
And that’s all that really matters to me

Amy Hits the Atmosphere, Counting Crows

Wednesday, January 5, 2000

Quartermaine Mansion: Foyer

AJ heard the door from the second floor, and jogged down the stairs to see who would be coming by at this time of the night — Reginald had already opened it and admitted Taggert before AJ reached the landing.

“Is your wife here?” Taggert wanted to know. “I thought she might want to know how the search went.”

AJ lifted his brow, rested a hand on the raised post at the bottom of the railing.  He waited for Reginald to disappear before answering. “What search? Why would my wife be involved—”

“Don’t play stupid, Quartermaine.” Taggert folded his arms. “She left her name. Now either you don’t know she tried to have your brother investigated for murder, or—”

“Carly isn’t available,” AJ replied. “And I already heard from a contact with the department. No arrests were made—”

“That’s not what I asked.” Taggert stepped closer. “Do you want to know what happened during the search? Why there were no arrests?”

AJ hesitated. “I assume because you found nothing—”

“You know, maybe this will make you happy.” The detective folded his arms. “I don’t know why Carly decided to throw Jason under the bus tonight, but if she thought he’d ever forget it, she’s shit out of luck.”

“What happened?” What could be worse than siccing the cops on Jason at home—

“One of the cops got handsy with Elizabeth. Destroyed her wedding dress, tried to arrest her—you know, I don’t much like your brother, but he’s pretty protective of his new wife. Did you put Carly up to making that statement?”

“I don’t think it’s any of your business—”

“It is when your personal drama gets in the middle of my case. I should have known Carly was trying to get to some revenge, trying to poke at the newlyweds—” Taggert shook his head. “You tell her to keep away from me. And she might want to avoid Jason for a long time, because he’s pissed off. And he couldn’t punch a cop to make himself feel better.” He lifted his brows. “And you know, Jason can’t really hit Carly, either. He’s not that kind of guy. You? He finds out you put her up to it—”

“We’re done here,” AJ said flatly. “My wife reported a crime. It’s not our fault you messed it up—”

“Your wife reported a crime a month after it happened on the day her ex got married.”

“And you took her seriously,” AJ shot back. “Who looks worse?” He stalked to the front door, yanked it open. “Get out.”

“With pleasure.”

AJ slammed the door behind him, took a breath. There was a swift pang for what had happened to Elizabeth, but Taggert wasn’t wrong. If Elizabeth had been mistreated during a search that Carly had instigated—

He smirked and headed upstairs to share the news.

Vista Point

Jason wanted to get Elizabeth out of the penthouse while the place was cleaned up and the furniture replaced. Her face lit up when he suggested they take the bike out. It was the first time in days when he’d felt like himself, leaning into corners, the wind roaring past his ears, Elizabeth’s arms tightening when he took the turns just a little too fast.

He parked the bike at the observation deck parking lot, and Elizabeth stumbled off, pulling the helmet over her head. Her cheeks bright red, eyes sparkling, and hair tumbling around her face—

This was how he liked her best, smiling and laughing, even shivering a bit from the cold and the wind. Not silently crying or explaining with that air of somberness that she wasn’t scared of his life.

Unable to resist the temptation, Jason reached for her, sliding his fingers into the pockets of the leather jacket he’d given her for Christmas, then taking her mouth, swallowing that smile and laughter as if he could take it into himself, tasting the wind on her lips—they were chapped and cold but he didn’t care—

The helmet clattered to the ground, and Elizabeth’s hands were on his face, leaning into him, nearly crawling into his lap as he still sat on the bike.

She pulled back. “I like when you do that.”

“Do what?”

“Smile.” Her thumb brushed over his bottom lip, sweeping across it. “You don’t do it enough.” Elizabeth paused, her smile fading slightly. “But that’s good, you know. You don’t smile or laugh when you don’t feel like it. I always know it’s real.”

Not like the smiles she’d pasted on for months, he knew. The way they’d never reached her eyes and no one had noticed or cared. “You never have to pretend with me,” he reminded her. “And I’ll never lie to you.”

“I know.” She kissed him again, then rested her forehead against his. “I want to paint the wind again. It’ll be even better this time. You can help, you know.”

Jason squinted. “You’re not driving.”

“Oh, come on, you let me before.” Elizabeth pouted, planting her fists at her hips.

“Weak moment,” he argued. “You closed your eyes!”

“Because I knew you were right behind me—” Elizabeth wrapped her fingers around the edges of his jacket, her expression determined. “Please.”

Jason made a face, then sighed. “All right.”


“Yeah, but you have to promise to keep your eyes open,” he reminded her. He slid back on the seat, and Elizabeth beamed. She scooped the helmet off the ground, shoved it back on her head and climbed in front of him. He reminded her where the controls were, even though he knew he’d be steering the entire time. They wouldn’t be able to take the turns nearly as fast, but it was worth it to see her smile.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“You got all the pictures you needed from the upstairs?” Sonny wanted to know as he stepped out of the way of one of the men carrying out the broken pieces of the coffee table. He grimaced at the insides of a sofa cushion on the floor. “Fucking animals.”

“Yes.” Alexis tucked the camera in her bag, then set the garment bag and destroyed painting on the desk. The garment bag had a torn zipper, and a long rip down the front. She removed the dress. “Do you see what I see?”

Sonny’s jaw clenched. “A foot print. Jason must have missed it, too. There’s no way Capelli gets out of that room alive otherwise.”

“He was in such a hurry to get to the dress that he destroyed the bag around it — then tore it off the hanger by grabbing the skirt—which ripped the strap—” She held that up, “as well as the dress itself. And then he tossed it on the floor and ground his foot into it. The painting he might be able to push off as an accident, but this? No.” She put it back into the remains of the bag. “I took pictures of how it was hanging in the closet. They have to take reasonable care. And none was taken.”

She touched a piece of the delicate tulle visible through the rip in the bag. “She tried on all four the dresses I picked out, you know. She was smiling, enjoying herself. She said it was almost like it was all real.” Alexis looked at Sonny. “Like she was really getting married and picking out her dress.”

“That was a good call, getting more than two,” Sonny said. He grimaced. “Can it be repaired?”

“The strap could be sewn, the skirt replaced. I could make some calls, but it would never be the same. And I doubt Elizabeth would be able to look at it the same way again. I’ll ask her. She might surprise me.”

“She usually does.” Sonny looked around the empty penthouse. “Furniture can’t be here until a bit later. But at least it’s cleaned out. Goddamn bastards. Coming after Jason, that’s one thing, but—”

“I’ll draft the papers for a lawsuit tonight. With the pictures, and these—” She gestured at the painting and dress. “Mac will be begging me to make this go away. Jason might have a reputation, but he’s got a clean record. And Elizabeth would be very sympathetic on the stand. This was a clear case of witness intimidation.”

Alexis picked up the garment bag again. “She put this on last — I think she saved it. I could see when she looked at them — this was the one she really wanted. But she wanted to try them all.” She paused. “And as soon as she did, she just lit up. And I thought, you know, maybe—maybe I’m doing a good thing. Maybe my ridiculous suggestion will turn out for the good.”

“This wasn’t your fault anymore than it was Elizabeth’s.”

“No, I know that. I just—she made a beautiful bride, Sonny. But she hasn’t been able to actually be one. Carly crashed her wedding, the PCPD destroyed her dress, and we had to force the prenup on her.”

“Jason will take care of her. You and me, we’re going to make sure the rest of it can’t hurt her again.”

Quartermaine Estate: AJ & Carly’s Room

AJ found his wife standing at the window. “The PCPD served a search warrant at the penthouse and the studio.”

Carly turned, her eyes narrowed. “And?”

“And nothing. No arrests.” He paused, considered telling Carly the full story of what had happened. But if Elizabeth really had been the target of the PCPD’s wrath, Jason would be furious. And if he wanted to confront Carly — maybe it would be more interesting for Carly to be blindsided.

Carly’s lips thinned. “I don’t understand—why didn’t they arrest him or take him in for questioning?”

“I see you’re disappointed because your little pet didn’t do what you were expecting.”

“Shut up—”

“Did you really think the PCPD would be able to do anything with your statement?” AJ leaned against the closed door, amused. “Your word with no evidence?”

“Jason would have a scar—”

“Sure. If they could get a physical examination,” AJ replied. “Sounds like they didn’t. Your word means nothing, Carly. Without evidence to back it up, no district attorney is going to put you on the stand as a credible witness.”

Carly fisted her hands at her side. “So what was this? A test?” she demanded. “Making me choose between my son and Michael?”

“No, this was me showing Jason one last time who you are.”

“And you’re married to me,” she spat. “What does that say about you?”

“You’re what I deserve,” he said simply. “I killed my brother and destroyed my family. Even if I never take another drink again, there’s no redemption for that, Carly.”

“I am nobody’s punishment! I deserve more than that!”

“No, you don’t.” AJ pushed away from the door and approached her, her eyes, damp and furious, focused on him. “Neither of us deserve more than we’ve got, Carlybabes, so maybe you suck it up. I married you, I gave you all the money you wanted, and we’ve got a beautiful son. I’ve got my job at ELQ. What do you really have to complain about? That you don’t have the man you really love?”

Carly hissed, then looked away. “You don’t love me, either.”

“No, I don’t.” He tipped his head. “So what’s it gonna be? Are you going to keep fighting this and planning your escape? Or are you ready to be realistic?”

She narrowed her eyes. “What does that mean?”

“I mean—” AJ tipped her chin up and nodded to the bed behind them. “New start, Carly. And last chance.”

She pursed her lips, glancing at the bed, her eyes calculating when she looked back at him. Then she pushed him hard so that he sprawled across the bed. She crawled across him and ripped his shirt open.

“Could be worse,” she said with a shrug. “You could be ugly.”

AJ smirked, hooked a hand around her neck and dragged her down to him for a kiss. And when in a few weeks she announced she was pregnant, he’d let her believed she’d beaten him.

It might even be fun.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason went in before Elizabeth, dropping his keys on the desk. He flicked on the light, then grimaced.

Elizabeth sighed — the bottom floor had been completely emptied — the sofa, armchair, coffee table — all that remained was the little metal shelf that was empty now. Jason’s small collection of travel books had been destroyed—save the one about Egypt that he kept upstairs.

She tossed her coat over the back of the chair. “Well, we were talking about getting new stuff anyway.”

Jason looked at her, then nodded. “Yeah. I’ll make some calls in the morning. Unless you want to pick—”

“Oh, I don’t care about any of that. I just need somewhere to sit.”

Jason nodded, then picked up her jacket — probably to put it away like he always did. But then he noticed the photographs poking out of the manila envelope. “Is this what Sonny brought over?”

“Oh. Yeah.” She slid them out. “Just a few he said the photographer developed — I’m glad they didn’t get to these. I mean—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I guess the PCPD has already been here, so maybe we don’t need them framed after all.”

Jason frowned, reached for one. He wasn’t that great with two-dimensional abstract images, but photographs were easier for his brain to process. This photo was just of Elizabeth and Alexis, just before the ceremony. The photographer had captured Alexis adjusting Elizabeth’s dress, fluffing out the skirt. Elizabeth was beaming, the flowers in her hand—her head tilted back, with her curls cascading over one shoulder.

“They—they came out nice,” he said, handing it back to her. “That’s a good one of you and Alexis.”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth’s smile was wistful. “She—she was kind of like a maid of honor, you know? Like Emily would have been. Or maybe if my mother—” she shook her head. “It’s stupid.” She started to put the photos back.

“No, it’s not. Which—we should put them up,” Jason said, and she frowned at him. He remembered what she’d said upstairs, the way she’d looked at the remains of her dress, and how she’d talked about it almost being real. She’d sounded sad. And he didn’t like that.

Maybe he hadn’t gone down on one knee like the movies Robin had liked to watch, and they hadn’t had a church full of family and friends—but they were married. Even if this ended in disaster, even if both of them married other people down the road — though the thought of it was irritating — she’d never get to have another first wedding day. The ceremony had been interrupted, her dress had been destroyed—

But they were married. It was real. And he didn’t like the way she kept stopping herself from enjoying when she clearly wanted to. And maybe she wanted to have a photo of her wedding day displayed where anyone could see it.

“Which one do you want?” he asked. He took the envelope from her and emptied it onto the desk. There were six photos. “Or do you want more than one? We can get frames tomorrow.”

“You don’t—we don’t have to—” Elizabeth’s cheeks were red. “Sonny just thought the PCPD—”

“Elizabeth.”  She stopped, looked at him. “You looked beautiful yesterday. I—I don’t know if I told you.” He should have, but — “When you got to the church,” he added. “I meant to, but everyone was there, and—” He cleared his throat, unsure why he was stumbling over his words or what he was even trying to do. “You always look beautiful, though. I just don’t say it—”

“You didn’t—” Elizabeth paused. “You didn’t have to. You looked at me.” Their eyes met, held, and he saw something different in her expression now. “Before. When I got there, you brought me the bouquet. And I felt beautiful. Even before you saw my dress.” She licked her lips, then drew the bottom one between her teeth. “I got so nervous when I was supposed to walk down the aisle, because the doors opened, and you were there, and you were looking at me. And I got so scared, because it was all so real. You looked so handsome—” She touched his chest, as if picturing the tuxedo he’d worn the day before. “And Father Coates was waiting, and it just overwhelmed me for a minute that it was really happening to me.” Elizabeth smiled at him again. “I didn’t know how I was supposed to move, but you came and it—it was all so nice.” Her lashes swept down as she looked down. “Until it wasn’t.”

Until Carly. He didn’t say her name, but it hung between them.

“I was nervous, too,” he told her, and her eyes flew back to his, startled. “I’ve never been married before. I was waiting for you, and I kept thinking you’d changed your mind.”

“I thought you would.” She let out a breath that almost sounded a laugh. “But you didn’t.”

“Neither did you.” Jason reached for her left hand, brushed his thumb across the ring he’d given her. “This is real. You should get to do all the things you want to do. Like choosing one of these for—” He glanced around. “The shelf over the fireplace. Or wherever else you want it.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth cleared her throat, looked back at the row of photographs. “Um, I like this one.” She showed him one where they were standing at before the altar, Father Coates behind. Jason had Elizabeth’s hands in his, and they were smiling at each other. During their vows, Jason realized. “Is that okay?”

“Yeah. I like that one, too.”

Elizabeth smiled again, and he smiled back, relieved that he’d found the right words to make her feel better. He put the photo back on the desk and took her hands in his, the way he had yesterday—and suddenly, he remembered what they’d been doing before the terrible scene with the PCPD—

They’d been standing in this spot—

Elizabeth’s cheeks flushed and she looked away — he wondered if she’d remembered as well. He nearly asked her, but stopped. It needed to be her making the first move, he thought. Even if he knew she was still a little shy and nervous. She needed to be in control.

So Jason kissed the inside of her palm instead, and just drew her closer so he could kiss her. She sighed and melted against him, her lips soft and sweet. He cupped her jaw, his thumb brushing her cheek. When he drew back, her eyes remained closed for another moment, her lashes a dark sweep against her pale skin. Then they fluttered, her eyes were a bit unfocused. “I like when you do that,” Elizabeth said, her hands fisted in his shirt.

“Yeah?” He kissed her again, lingering a little longer this time, then rested his forehead against hers—his own breath a little unsteady.

“We should get some sleep,” Elizabeth murmured. She drew back, almost reluctantly. “I have to go to work in the morning.”

“And—” Jason’s gaze swept over the empty penthouse. “I have to get some us somewhere to sit.”

She laughed, started for the stairs. “Don’t forget to get a pool table.” She turned on the bottom step. “You’ll have to teach me to play.”

He lifted a brow. “You don’t know how?”

“Nope. But I bet we could have fun.” And he blinked as her smile turned into a smirk. “I’ll see you upstairs.”

September 26, 2023

Update Link: Signs of Life – Chapter 16

This is usually up earlier because I schedule it the night before but my shoulder was really sore. I concentrated on getting a chapter of FMT done instead. Hope you guys are having a better week than me, lol. Frustrations at school — not with the kids, they’re great. But man, a lot of people have opinions about how to teach who don’t actually spend any time in classroom. Super fun for me.

This entry is part 16 of 41 in the Signs of Life

It’s just you and me
On my island of hope
A breath between us could be miles
Let me surround you
My sea to your shore
Let me be the calm you seek
Oh and every time I’m close to you
There’s too much I can’t say
And you just walk away

I Love You, Sarah McLachlan

Wednesday, January 5, 2000

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason immediately reached for his pants, yanking them on as Elizabeth went straight for the phone. He heard her greet Alexis by name as the pounding on the door continued.  He just shook his head, tugging his shirt on. She kept surprising him with her instincts—he hadn’t even had to say anything about calling his lawyer.

“She’ll be right up,” Elizabeth told him, cradling the phone on her shoulder. Jason nodded, then flipped the lock and pulled the door open, forcing his face into a blank expression even though he wanted to growl at the detectives on his doorstep.

“Took you long enough,” Taggert sneered as he sauntered past Jason, slapping a piece of a paper against his chest. He held out a second piece to Elizabeth. “I brought a second copy for the wife,” he drawled, his tone setting Jason on edge. “I know how you want to make sure everything is legal.”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes but accepted the warrant, scanning the opening lines. Her eyes widened slightly, but that was the only change in her expression. Jason dropped his gaze to the copy in his hands—

They were looking for evidence that Jason had been shot a month earlier—clothing with blood stains or bullet holes — he gritted his teeth. There was nothing to find of course. He’d never stepped foot in the penthouse until he’d nearly recovered, and there was nothing at the studio either. He’d made sure of that after Carly had made her threats—

But they knew he’d been shot which meant Carly had called their bluff.

“We’ll get started down here,” Taggert told the officers who came in after him. He nodded to Capelli. “You take a few uniforms upstairs.”

“I want to go,” Elizabeth said immediately. “I’m allowed,” she added when Capelli just glared at her. “I’m setting up my studio and there are chemicals, okay?”

“Fine,” Taggert retorted before Capelli could protest. Jason wasn’t wild about Elizabeth going upstairs alone to supervise. He had confidence in her, but Capelli was the wild card. New to the PCPD, he was hot-headed and wouldn’t have even the basic respect Taggert did for Elizabeth.

“I don’t know what the hell you did to convince her to do this,” Taggert told Jason, “but you should be god damned ashamed yourself. She’s a kid—”

Jason said nothing. He knew Elizabeth was only eighteen, but why didn’t anyone ever stop to remember that he had no memories older than four years? Why didn’t that count for anything?

“Where’s the warrant?” Alexis demanded, appearing in the doorway, her cheeks flushed. Sonny was just over her shoulder. “What the hell is the basis for this search?” Jason handed her the paperwork. “Where’s Elizabeth?”

“Supervising the search upstairs—” Jason turned when he heard something rip—then saw one of the officers slicing down the cushion of the sofa. “What the—”

“Hey!” Alexis strode forward only to be waylaid by Taggert. “They’re looking for clothing,” she spat. “How the hell—”

“We can do a reasonable—” Taggert began but then there was a cry from the upstairs.

“Stop! Don’t—” Then Elizabeth’s voice went quiet. Even before her voice had faded, Jason had lunged towards the stairs.

Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

By the time Alexis reached the bedroom, she knew she was going to have to act quickly. Sonny had followed on Jason’s heels and had an arm out, blocking Jason from moving forward.

Capelli had Elizabeth shoved up against the wall—one hand on her head, the other holding her hands together behind her back. On the ground, between the closet and the bed was a pile of white fabric and nearby, a painting neatly wrapped in brown packaging — with a foot-shaped hole through the middle of it.

Taggert hauled Capelli away from Elizabeth who was crying, her cheeks flushed.

“What the hell is going on?” he demanded of the other cop.

“She interfered with my search,” Capelli snarled, “and was resisting arrest—”

“Interfered—” Elizabeth’s words were choppy as she forced herself to take a breath. Jason shoved off Sonny’s hand and went to her, framing her face with his hands. “I didn’t—I wasn’t—”

Alexis took another sweep of the room and her stomach pitched. They were searching for clothing, but the only clothing she could see was Elizabeth’s. The dresser drawers that had been dumped out onto the floor were hers, based on the feminine undergarments strewn across the carpet. Dresses and shirts and other pieces clothing had been ripped from hangers—

And the pile of white fabric, Alexis realized now, was Elizabeth’s wedding dress.

“I came in and he was throwing my clothes around,” Elizabeth tried to say. She cleared her throat, looked at Jason. “I tried to tell him where your things were because he was in the closet—and—”

“I can search everything in the damn room,” Capelli retorted, lifting his chin, but even Taggert was glaring at him. “What if he’d hidden evidence—”

“How did the dress get on the floor?” Taggert asked quietly. He went over to the garment bag that had, until the search, been neatly zipped and hanging outside the closet. The zipper was broken off as if it had been forcibly ripped open.

“He tore—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, it’s stupid. It’s just a dress. He’s right. He tore my dress, and I got upset. I grabbed his arm—”

Wordlessly, Sonny went to the dress and lifted it up by the bodice. One of the straps was ripped and there was a tear in the delicate bodice. He held it up by the one intact strap, then arched a brow at Capelli. “You think some bloodstained clothing was hiding inside the tulle?”

Capelli pressed his lips together. “I have every right—”

Taggert knelt down and turned over the painting. He looked at the foot-shaped hole, then at Capelli’s feet. “What happened to the painting?”

“It was on the floor—”

“When I grabbed his arm, he shoved me back,” Elizabeth interrupted. “And then he grabbed that—it was leaning against the wall—” she looked at Jason. “I brought it upstairs yesterday, remember? Before I—”

“I remember,” Jason said flatly. “It was leaning against the wall by the closet. And it was in one piece.”

“He did it on purpose—and then he shoved me against the wall—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “I’m sorry. I should have just let him—”

“Don’t be sorry,” Jason cut in sharply, and she flinched. “You did nothing wrong.” He fisted his hands at his side. “Or do you want to arrest her for interfering?” he demanded of Taggert who slowly got to his feet.

“You could try it,” Alexis said with a dangerous smile. “But then I’ll explain that Capelli clearly targeted Elizabeth’s possessions in this rooms. Jason’s dresser—untouched. His clothing? Not on the floor. And you went for a wedding dress knowing she only got married yesterday—and this—” She took the painting from Taggert. “This tips it over into destruction.”

“I have every right—”

“Shut your goddamned mouth,” Taggert threw at Capelli who growled. “She’s right.”

“He married a witness—”

“And if you think that’s true,” Alexis said pleasantly, “what you’ve done today is nothing more than witness intimidation. You destroyed my client’s possessions and did irrefutable damage to her wedding dress and her painting — these are irreplaceable and I will be filing suit against the department.”

“Get downstairs.” Taggert grabbed Capelli and shoved him towards the door. “And get out of here. We’ll talk back at the station—”

“I can do whatever I want—”

“Like hell you can. Not on my cases.” Taggert swept his eyes over the room, over the other uniforms. “This search is over. We’re leaving.” When they hesitated, he narrowed his eyes. “Now.”

He turned back to Elizabeth who refused to look at him. Regret was etched into his expression, but Taggert said nothing, then left.

“I’ll make sure they all get out,” Sonny said, shoving his hands in his pockets and shaking his head. “And they call us the criminals.” He gently laid the damaged wedding dress on the bed. “I’ll be downstairs if you need anything.”

“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth said again as she was left alone with Jason and Alexis. “I didn’t mean—”

“Actually,” Alexis said with a half smile. “You might have done us a favor. Capelli has just tainted this entire search. I can make a good case that he was engaging in witness intimidation—he was angry that you were supervising the search,” she added, “and that you’d removed yourself from being interrogated through marriage.” She looked around the room, then at the painting she held. “So he decided to punish you.”

“And that helps us?” Jason asked skeptically.

“They clearly got this warrant based on Carly’s statement,” Alexis said. “The only way to give her statement any corroboration was to find some evidence backing it up. They can’t search now, and I assume even if they searched the studio, there’d be nothing to find.” She shrugged. “They can’t question Elizabeth now because of the intimidation. I won’t let you answer questions under any circumstances,” she said. “No lawyer would. Their case is dead in the water.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth rubbed her arms restlessly. “I guess that’s good, then. I wasn’t—”

“Capelli did this to himself,” Alexis assured her. “No one is going to say you were wrong to react when he went after your personal possessions. There’s not a woman in the world who wouldn’t have been upset to have their wedding dress destroyed in front of them—”

She shrugged, and set the painting down. “You reacted naturally, Elizabeth. I’ll put in a call to Mac and put together paperwork. We won’t actually file, but it’ll be enough to hold it over his head.”

She left them alone then, and Jason didn’t know what to say. Carly had followed through with her threats, but Elizabeth had been the one hurt. The painting—

Elizabeth went over to it, tearing away the last of the brown packaging, sighing as she ran her hands over the familiar jumble of colors he remembered from a few weeks earlier. The canvas had been framed with a light wood and looked like it was ready to be hung—

Except for the Capelli-shaped foot in the middle of the ferris wheel.

“I thought it might be nice to hang it in here,” Elizabeth said, numbly, running her fingers over the rips in the canvas.

“Can it be fixed?” Jason asked, his chest squeezing. She’d painted the wind and then she’d made him see it. Because of him, it had been ruined—

“Probably not, but I’ll try, I guess.” Elizabeth set it back down and looked at him. “It’s okay. I’ll put everything back. You should go talk to Sonny and Alexis.”

He shoved his hands in his pockets, feeling uncomfortable. “Okay. If you’re sure.”

“I am.” She forced a smile and it made him feel worse. “I’ll be down in a little bit. We’ll get something to eat.”

“Okay.” He went to the door, looked over his shoulder, still unsure, but then left her to clean up the mess the PCPD had left behind.

PCPD: Commissioner’s Office

Mac lunged to his feet as Taggert charged through the door with Capelli hot on his heels. “What’s going on?” the commissioner demanded.

“This asshole just screwed our entire search—” Capelli began, his face florid.

“You just bought this department a civil suit,” Taggert shot back. “You dumb son of a bitch—Mac, I won’t work with him. He needs to be off my case—”

“Why doesn’t someone just tell me what happened at the Towers?” Mac wanted to know, stepping between the two of them. “I take it we didn’t get anything from the search—”

“Dumbfuck over here called it off,” Capelli sneered. “And called back the guys from the studio—”

Mac frowned, looked back at Taggert. “Is that true?”

“He went upstairs to search the second floor,” Taggert said, tightly. “I stayed downstairs with the uniforms and wait for Alexis—she was on her way. Elizabeth went upstairs to supervise—”

“She interfered—I had every right to haul her into the station—”

“Interfered? You asshole—” Taggert grabbed Capelli’s shirt and shoved him against the wall. “You think I didn’t see what the hell you did in that room? How you treated her?”

“Taggert, Taggert—” Mac pushed himself in between them again. “What happened?”

“I knew Morgan was too damn smart to hide anything in his own dresser, so you’re damn right I searched that whore’s dresser first! And she tried to stop me, so I—”

“Ripped her wedding gown from the hanger, stomped on it, and put your foot through a painting—”

“Both of you shut up right now.” Mac raked a hand through his hair. “You searched Elizabeth’s possessions. That’s within the law—”

“Really? Really?” Taggert shook his head. “Not a damned chance. The dresser next to the door — that’s where you start. You don’t go across the room and start yanking out drawers — and you only dumped her lingerie drawers. Then you went to the closet — and you shoved everything on the floor—you tore the garment bag—”

“Is that true?” Mac demanded. “Did you deliberately go into that bedroom to destroy Elizabeth Webber’s possessions?”

“It’s Morgan now, don’t you forget that! She’s not some little sweetheart. She’s just a bitch whore spreading her legs for scumbags—”

This time it was Taggert who had stop Mac from choking Capelli as he stepped in front of the commissioner as he lunged towards the other detective — because insulting Elizabeth simply for dating Jason Morgan was an insult to Robin.

“If he’d unzipped that garment bag carefully, he wouldn’t have torn the fabric,” Taggert bit out. “He would have been able to see it was a pile of fucking tulle—” And there’d been something tragic about Elizabeth’s eyes when she’d described it. He’d thought it had been a ploy to avoid investigation—and maybe it was — but she’d cared about her dress, and it had been destroyed in front of her face.

“Could have been something—”

“Why didn’t you dump the rest of the drawers? Why you’d put your foot through a painting? That’s destruction—” Taggert stopped, shook his head. “Alexis Davis will be here in the morning with the lawsuit, you bet your goddamn ass. You want her to back down, you need to get him away from me.”

“You’re suspended,” Mac told Capelli. “Get out of my sight.”

“You’ll be hearing my union rep!”

“Looking forward to it.” Mac slammed the door, his scowl only deepening. “Tell me straight. How bad is it?”

“I tried my best to keep it under control, but Capelli picked the uniforms — and they trashed the place while I was upstairs.” Taggert exhaled slowly. “I know I get tunnel vision. I know that Morgan and Corinthos make me go crazy, but what happened tonight—” He shook his head. “It’s not right.”

“Capelli’s not the only one who’s going think it’s open season on Elizabeth because she married Jason—it’s not like Robin,” Mac said when Taggert began to protest. “Robin grew up around these guys. They knew her before she got involved with Jason. You’re the only cop who knows Elizabeth. They’re not going to care—”

“Well, it’s bullshit. And he torpedoed any chance I had of using Carly’s statement against Morgan. You keep him away from me, Mac, or next time I’ll knock his lights out.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason grimaced as he inspected the leather sofa, sliding his fingers down the split in the cushion, revealing the padding underneath. “Alexis took pictures of this, too?” he asked Sonny as his partner came back in, scowling at the broken items scattered around the downstairs. Jason didn’t have a lot of possessions, but what he had—

Glasses and mugs had been thrown around the kitchen, plates were shattered on the floor. The leather sofa hadn’t been the only furniture casualty—the coffee table had one its legs broken—the shelf of travel books had been scattered and some of the covers torn from being stepped on.

“Yeah, yeah. She took everything.” Sonny looked around. “I’m sorry about this, man—”

“I can buy a new sofa,” Jason muttered. And a table. Travel books. Plates and mugs. All of these things were replaceable.

“Not about any of this,” Sonny said, drawing Jason’s attention. “It sucks, but Alexis is right. This looks vindictive and destructive. If they’d left it at this downstairs—”

Most of the destruction had happened on their way out of the apartment—the officers forced to vacate before the search had finished. Capelli hadn’t been the only asshole on the force.

“But they didn’t,” Jason finished. He rubbed the back of his neck. “Listen, can you get some guys to clear this? I don’t want her to deal with—”

“Already on that. And they never got to the studio,” Sonny told Jason who exhaled in relief. “Taggert wanted to search both personally, but he called it off. It’s all tainted.” He glanced up to the second floor. “She okay?”

Jason opened his mouth because Elizabeth had said she was fine and she’d looked fine, but he wasn’t sure if that was true. She didn’t always say what she meant, and he knew she didn’t want to worry him. “I don’t know.”

“Yeah, the painting put it over the top,” Sonny muttered. “Could have fixed the dress maybe, but I know she takes her art seriously.” He rubbed his hands together. “I’ll go check on the clean up crew. We’ll get the furniture replaced—”

“Yeah, yeah. That’s fine. I just—” Jason started for the stairs. “I’ll get her out of here for a few hours or something.”

“Good, good. Let me make my calls and I’ll check in with Alexis. If we’re right—if this puts Carly’s story dead in the water—” Sonny nodded. “That would be good. Then we can just focus on getting rid of Sorel.”

He left, and Jason went upstairs, returning to the bedroom where he’d left Elizabeth earlier to deal with the dressers and closets that the PCPD had emptied.

“Hey.” Elizabeth dumped a pile of clothing in the laundry hamper next to the bathroom. “I’m almost done.” She made a face. “How does it look downstairs?”

“Not great,” Jason admitted. “They broke a lot of things and ripped the sofa.” He frowned when he saw the dress still laid out on the bed, the ripped strap and torn bodice evident—and now he saw the dark footprint across the skirt. “I didn’t—”

Her mouth pinched as she crossed to the bed, picking it up. “I think that’s what made me the most angry,” she murmured, sliding her fingers over the dirt and mud specks. Capelli had worn heavy boots and walked through the snow and dirt mixed out out front. “It wasn’t enough to tear it off the hanger—he threw it on the floor—” Elizabeth shook her head. “I’m sorry. I know I wasn’t supposed to do anything. I really just wanted to supervise, and it’s not like—I mean—” Her voice faltered and she sank onto the bed. “It’s not like it really matters,” she said softly.

Unsure, Jason sat down on the other side of the dress. “Why doesn’t it matter? It’s your dress—”

She bit her lip, her eyes trained on the white fabric “It’s my wedding dress,” she said, her voice barely audible. “Alexis brought me a few of them, and I got to pick it. Like I was really—like it was real.”

“It was—” Jason reached for her hand, laying it flat over the dress. He could feel the ring he’d placed on her finger only the day before cool against his skin. “It was real,” he finished. “Wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, but—” She met his eyes. “I mean, it’s not like we—” Elizabeth’s cheeks flushed.

“We got married,” Jason reminded her. He raised her hand, his fingers twisted her wedding ring. “This is real, Elizabeth.”

She managed a smile and reached for his other hand where she’d given him a ring, too. “I know. But it’s still just a dress at the end of the day, I guess. It’s not worth getting arrested over. Not really. But I just—I—” Her eyes met his again and her tongue darted out to lick the corner of her mouth. His body tightened. “It’s not just that I wore it in the church yesterday. It’s—I wore it last night.”

Last night. When she’d stood in front of the mirror and he’d stood behind her, unfastening each button—

“And Capelli was—he wasn’t just searching. Or being rough or rude.” Elizabeth released his hands and looked over at the painting, once again propped up against the wall. “Alexis was right, and I knew what he was doing. He dumped out my underwear drawer so I’d feel violated.”

Jason clenched his jaw. “I—”

“And when I tried to stop him from ruining the dress, he stomped on it, ground his foot in—I didn’t say that earlier,” Elizabeth admitted. “I was afraid if I did—”

Jason would have rearranged his face and been arrested. “I’m sorry—”

Elizabeth sighed, shaking her head. “You have nothing to apologize for.” She rose to her feet and went to pick up the painting, her fingers tracing the rip in the canvas. “Capelli was angry from the moment I was involved in the case. The first time he questioned me, he was the one asking the inappropriate questions. I don’t feel like it was personal, either,” she admitted. “It wasn’t that it was me. Not like Taggert. He’s disappointed in me, but Capelli—I’m just an obstacle.”

“Elizabeth—” Jason got to his feet.

“Capelli wanted me to feel like I’d done something wrong. Like I’d committed a crime—and I did, I know that, but—” Elizabeth sighed. “For all they talk about the violence you and Sonny are capable of—” she jerked a shoulder and turned away, setting the painting against the wall again.

Jason waited a moment. “I am violent,” he said in a low voice, unsure why he was saying it only that he needed her to hear it. To know it. “I’ve done worse things than what happened here today.”

Elizabeth faced him, her face unreadable. Then she tipped her head to the side. “To women like me?”


“You’ve intentionally humiliated and violated a woman for not doing what you wanted? For not acting the way you expected?”

“No, of course not, but—” Jason stumbled to a stop, squinting. “But—”

“But you have a gun and you’ve used it,” she said plainly. “And you have hands. You’ve used those. There are people who aren’t breathing because you still are. You’re capable of violence, Jason. Did you think I didn’t know that?”

“No, but—”

“Your world is violent,” Elizabeth continued, and he just stared at her. “People like to act like there’s something unique about what you and Sonny do. If you were out of business tomorrow, would things really change? Would there be less violence in the world?”

He had no idea how to answer that. How to react. “Elizabeth—”

“Would I be safe in the park?”


“This world isn’t safe for women, Jason. Look at what happened to me here today.” She held out her wrist and for the time he realized it was darkening into a bruise. “A cop did this to me in my own home because I didn’t want him to destroy my wedding dress out of spite and vindictiveness. Capelli will say it’s because I’m with you, and I deserve it because of who you are. But what happened today has nothing to do with any of that. It’s who he is. And it would have happened to any woman he didn’t respect.”

“I guess, but—”

“If you’re waiting for my face to change,” Elizabeth said, turning away and shoving another pile of clothes into the laundry basket. “You’re going to be disappointed. The night we met, you nearly tore the arm off the guy bothering me and never broke a sweat.”

He cleared his throat. “I don’t know what to say to any of that,” Jason finally admitted.

“The world you live in,” Elizabeth replied, meeting his eyes in the mirror over the dresser. “It does scare me. I know it’s dangerous. I know that the bullet you got in December wasn’t the first and probably won’t be the last. I don’t want to lose you that way, but I’m working on accepting it as a possibility.”

“And that’s okay with you?” Jason wanted to know. He stepped up behind her, his fingers lightly brushing her shoulder.

“I’m safe with you,” Elizabeth said softly. “And that’s all that matters to me.”

September 23, 2023

Update Link: Watch Me Burn – Part 50

Happy Saturday! It’s cold and rainy here in NJ as we get the scraps of the tropical storm that was annoying North Carolina yesterday (or last night, I think). Going into the last week of September, I’m pleasantly surprised by not tired I am. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not a bucket of energy, lol, but my last district had me feeling June tired within a few weeks and it was like dragging myself across the finish line every Friday.  I miss my chaos demons in the 7th grade, my 6th graders losing their minds because dix-neuf sounds like “deez nuts” (19 in French), but I’m enjoying the older grades as well.

I’m also pretty happy by the progress I’ve made in FMT since school started. I wasn’t expecting to really do much of anything, but to manage three chapters during the work week? Pretty great. When baseball ends, I’ll have even more time. (But let’s hope for a deep October postseason run for my Phillies!)

Fun GH Trivia note: I was looking through my old CD sleeves for a Backstreet Boy foreign important single (my 90s girls know what I’m saying), and I found my Scott Clifton CDs!! I forgot about these, lol. He played Dillon in 2003-07 and had a brief career as an indie artist. He sold a trio of CDs through his website and I snapped every single one up because your girl is the OG stan. I watched Bold for like 3 weeks this summer, and it took me like six episodes to hate Liam because, well, it’s SCOTT. Anyway, I am now binging on these old gems 🙂

I’ll see you guys on Tuesday for the next update of Signs of Life. We’re starting to get into the middle part of the story where I added most of the new material, and there’s some really good Liason stuff coming up in the wake of the PCPD search warrant debacle that I can’t wait for you guys to read!

This entry is part 50 of 56 in the Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn

Written in 61 minutes.

Quartermaine Estate: Family Room

Jason stepped back from hugging Monica, touched her shoulder. “How are you holding up?”

“I’m managing,” Monica said, squeezing his hand. She gestured for him to join her on the sofa. “Some days are better than others.” She hesitated. “I’m sorry about Sam. I didn’t know her that well, but I know you cared for her.”

“I did,” Jason said, a bit uneasy. “But not the way I used to. We broke up months ago, but we were really over a long time before that.”

“That’s what makes grief complicated,” Monica told him. “Just because you’ve moved on and you’re planning a future with someone else, it doesn’t mean you have to pretend you didn’t have a history with someone else—”

“It’s not—” He stopped, considered how to put it into words. “Sam knew Maureen Harper kidnapped Jake,” he told Jake, and her expression tightened. “She saw her do it. She didn’t stop it. She didn’t say anything. And I don’t think she ever would have. Jake was an obstacle to her. Not a person.”

“Oh. Oh.” Monica closed her eyes. “Oh, how horrible. I’m so sorry, Jason. Of course that makes this so much more difficult. And then she testified against you—”

“And was trying to have me arrested for making threats against her life,” Jason continued. “That’s—it’s part of the reason why I came over. Sam—she doesn’t fit the profile. I know that Robert Scorpio has a theory to explain that, but there are cops who don’t—they’ve asked for my alibi. Last night. And for—” His throat tightened. “For the others.”

“They what?” Monica demanded, her tone low and dangerous. “They can’t seriously think you had anything to do with what happened to Emily! She was your sister! And why would you hurt Georgie? Or Leyla, or Georgie’s poor roommate—oh, I can’t think of her name—”

“Chelsea.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t think anyone seriously does, but I didn’t want you to hear the rumors and—I don’t know. I didn’t want you to hear about it another way.”

“It’s preposterous, and I’ll be making that clear to anyone who will listen. And your grandfather, well, he’ll go straight through the ceiling—I hope you told them to take their questions and go to hell—”

“I’m letting Diane handle it for now. I don’t want to worry you, Mon—” Jason hesitated. “Mom.”

Her face softened, and she touched his hand. “I know it’s uncomfortable for you, Jason. You don’t have to call me that after all this time.”


“It means the world to me that you’ve let me in. That you’ve given me time with your children. Made me—and Edward—part of your future. But don’t do anything you aren’t ready for.” She touched his cheek, then smiled. “I have something for you. Give me a minute.”

She rose and crossed over to the bookcases lining the back of the room. She pulled out a photo album and brought it back over. “I thought you might like…” Monica flipped it open to a page with a photograph of Alan holding a baby. She touched it. “You were almost eighteen months old here. You’d just come to live with us, and that’s your old room upstairs.”

Jason studied the photograph of a much younger Alan holding a toddler to his chest, grinning. The child looking up at him with a matching smile, clearing adoring. He’d loved his father. “I don’t want to have the same the regrets with you or Edward that I have with Alan,” he said slowly.

“You won’t. We won’t.” Monica flipped back to the beginning. “I was upset for so long when Alan wanted these photos in here,” she said, holding the book back out to him. “I didn’t want a single reminder that someone else was your mother. But Susan loved you, too, Jason. And you look so much like Jake—”

Jason could see the resemblance now as he considered the infant in the woman’s arms. She was a pretty woman, he thought. With brown hair and a happy smile. And the baby she held really did look like Jake.

“I didn’t want you in this house,” Monica said, and he looked at her. “I nearly divorced Alan over the possibility. I didn’t want any reminders of Susan after you came to live here. I wanted to forget it ever happened. The night Susan died, I didn’t even think about where you were. I didn’t—” She took a deep breath. “I didn’t care about you.”

Jason frowned, bewildered at the turn in the conversation. “Why—”

“You told me about Sam. About seeing Jake as an obstacle,” Monica said. “That’s what you were to me, Jason. Before you were mine, I always thought of you as someone else’s. And it was wrong, of course, but I wasn’t a very good person. I regret it now. I regret every moment I wasted with you. Sending you to boarding school. Spending so much of your childhood and growing up years mired in my own personal problems. I was a selfish woman, but you were always the best of sons and you deserved so much more than I could give you then.”


“You don’t want to have any regrets, you said. And I’m telling you that we won’t. The past—we won’t let it matter.”

Lake House: Living Room

Alexis was always far more comfortable in a courtroom than she was in her own personal life, and words always came more easily to her when she was slipping and sliding through the intricacies of the law.

Molly, thankfully, was just too young to have this conversation, and Ric had promised to keep her a bit longer, but Kristina? Oh, she was old enough. She’d loved her big sister, and now Alexis had to tell her that Sam was never coming home again.

“Thank you,” Alexis managed as Sonny closed the door behind him and stepped down into the living room. “I can do this, but I think it would just help for you to stand there. To just…” She twisted her fingers together. “To just be there.”

“I want to be wherever Kristina and you need me to be.” Sonny took her by the hand. “Ric is bringing them home today?”

“Just Kristina.” Alexis touched her forehead. “Molly’s barely two years old. God. When I think—”

“It’s okay—” Sonny stepped as the knock at the door came, and he turned to find Ric pushing the door open, Kristina in his arms. His chest tightened as always when seeing his half-brother with Sonny’s daughter, but that wasn’t important right now.

“Daddy!” Kristina wiggled and hopped to the ground, racing over to her father. Sonny swept her up, kissed her cheeks. “Daddy Ric bring me home for you! Him and Mols having Daddy-Daughter day, so I get to?”

Ric winced when Alexis looked at him. “I wasn’t really sure how to—” He swallowed. “How to explain why Molly was staying with me, so—”

“No, it’s all right.” Alexis nodded. “Thank you.”

“I better let you, ah, get to it.” Ric held Alexis’s gaze for another minute. “I really am sorry. I know you might not believe that, but—”

“I do. Thank you, Ric.”

When he’d gone, Alexis turned back to her daughter. And prepared to deliver the news.

Spencer House: Living Room

“I don’t bloody care what my brother said,” Robert said, sweeping past a surprised Lucky and into the house. “You’re still on this case until the damn end, and that’s just how it is.”

“I don’t want to do anything to mess up the case—”

“You won’t.” Robert stopped, took in Lucky’s exhausted appearance. “Mac told me you’d kicked a pain pill addiction last year. But I know it’s been a bad few months. Are you still clean?”

Lucky winced, closed the door, then faced Robert. “Yes. I’m going back to meetings though. But I’m clean. And staying that way.”

“Good. Had to be asked, of course. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. That’s the consequences of what I did. Were there any developments after I, uh, left last night?”

Robert shook his head. “Nothing beyond what we expected. If not for Robin and Elizabeth’s statements that they heard footsteps running away just as they discovered the body, if not for the tight time frame, I’d have serious doubts this was connected. Sam’s neck was broken. It was a quick death. She likely only had moments to realize something was wrong.”

“That tells us something though,” Lucky said, regret swirling. What if he’d taken Sam more seriously the week before? Or at least spoken to her? What if he’d tried hard to get her to come around to his side? Into getting on with their lives? Maybe she wouldn’t have gone to Kelly’s, maybe she wouldn’t have gone into a fight with Robin and Elizabeth.

But then maybe Robin and Elizabeth would have been the targets. There were no easy answers.

“It does. Our guy knows how to make this kill. No easy feat to break a woman’s neck and cause instant death. He’d need the strength and the knowledge.” Robert rocked back on his heels. “So we’ll apply that to the profile and see what we turn up.”

“Yeah.” Lucky sat on the arm of the sofa. “What, um, do you think about Robin being the target twice? Do we think it’s random? Or planned?”

Robert’s expression was pained. “I want it to be random,” he said slowly. “That it could have been any two women at a public place. But I think it’s important that we not let go of the possibility. I’m going over to talk to her about that.”

“Maybe it was random,” Lucky said, considering. “But a different kind of random. He could have chosen them at random, but then once he’d locked in, he looked at them differently. I can’t get over the parking garage — it was a shift change.”

“So maybe he chose them for different reasons, and then waited for an opportunity.” Robert exhaled slowly. “Which means he chose Robin and Emily. And Robin changed his plans.”

“So he chose her again, and she’s slipped away—again.” Lucky fisted his hands. “But that would mean he also chose Elizabeth.”

“And he’s lost on both of them. It’s still just a theory,” Robert cautioned. “We need to work with our shortlist, but I don’t like even the smallest possibility that Robin could be the target. And I’m sure, despite all the history, you’re not keen on Elizabeth being in his sights either.”

“No. I’m not.” Lucky waited a moment. “But Elizabeth lives at the Towers. The security is tight. I went to see her today. You can’t get to certain floors without the right access key. And the parking garage—I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think there’s any blind spots. And I know they don’t do shift changes. There’s always an overlap. I, uh, used to wash Jason’s cars when I was a kid,” Lucky said when Robert frowned at him. “I did some work at the Towers. Security got tighter. There’s a list of people with access, but I’m not on it.”

“Maybe we can get Robin to stay there until we get this guy. I’ll suggest it to her. If we take his targets out of his sight for a while—” Robert furrowed his brow. “I’d be interested in seeing what he does without them.”

Patrick & Robin’s Condo: Living Room

Robin hung up the phone just as Patrick came out of the bedroom. “Are all men just Neanderthals masquerading as humans?”

“Not sure that’s anthropologically accurate since—” Patrick stopped when he saw the irritated look on her face. “Right. Debate later. What happened?”

“My father just called, and he wants me to ask Jason if I can stay with him and Elizabeth or something until they catch this guy.” Robin made a face, and went towards the kitchen, yanking out a glass from the cabinet. “I just got done telling you that I didn’t want to be locked up—”

“You also told me that you would ask Jason for some help,” Patrick reminded her and she scowled. “And look, that penthouse is so full of people, what’s two more? Plus, the kids. Remember, we were going to simulate a newborn with—”

“We—” Robin looked at him, her eyes wide. “What?”

“Well, if he has a guest room for you, I don’t see why I can’t go. If you think I’m letting you out of my sight, you’re insane.” Patrick leaned against the counter.

“Oh. Well—” Robin chewed on her lip. “They used to keep empty apartments,” she said slowly. “It was one thing when you and I just talked about it, but Dad seems convinced I’m…” She pressed a fist to her belly. “That I’m on the short list. That I made this guy mad because he’s tried to—”

“Hearing it from your dad made it more real.”

“Yeah.” She looked at him. “No offense, but you’re just…you’re not a cop. Or a former spy. Or…I don’t know. But Dad is usually calm about these kinds of things. Or he was. But he really thinks it might be true.”

Patrick scooped up the cordless from where she’d left it. “Call Elizabeth. Or I can. But there’s no point in either of us taking chances just because we’re stubborn. It’s not just us anymore, Robin.”

“No.” Now Robin flatted her hand against her belly, thinking of the life she carried. The precious, miracle which had already saved her once. “No, you’re right. Let me call.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“Of course he’ll say yes,” Elizabeth said, glancing over as Jason came in. “Do you want to talk to him?” She pressed her hand over the speaker of the phone she held. “It’s Robin.”

“What’s up?”

“I’m passing the phone to Jason now,” Elizabeth said, and handed it over.

“Robin?” Jason asked, taking the phone with one hand, and shrugging out of his jacket with the other. Elizabeth took it from him, along with the photo album Monica had sent home.

“Hey. Hey. I’m sorry. I know you’ve got so much going on right now, and the last thing you need is to worry about me—”

“Robin, what’s wrong?” he asked, glancing around the penthouse, looking for the boys. He found Jake napping in his playpen.

“With Spinelli,” Elizabeth answered, gesturing up the stairs, and Jason nodded, returning his attention to the phone.

“Elizabeth said she told you, uh, about my dad’s theory. That we were—” Her voice faltered. “That it was supposed to be us.”

“Yeah. He did.” And it was something Jason hadn’t told his mother, knowing it would only upset her. “What can I do?”

“Dad asked if maybe—I don’t know—maybe if we can stay at the Towers. You know, because of how secure it is. And the guard—they think the guard scared this guy—” He could almost see Robin on the other side of the phone grimacing. “I hate to ask—”

“Sonny’s old place is across the hall. It’s still furnished. You can take it,” Jason said immediately. “It’s the safest floor in the building, you know that. And even more than when we lived there. I’ll leave the keys and everything else with the desk downstairs.”

Robin was quiet for a long moment. “Just like that?”

“Of course. You matter, Robin. You always will. You just tell me what you need, and I’ll make it happen.”

“Thank you. Thank—I’ll talk to Patrick and I’ll call you back with—thank you.”

He hung up the phone, looked at Elizabeth as she looked through the album. “Monica, uh, she thought you might like to see the ones from—”

“I can’t believe we got away with the lie for as long as we did,” Elizabeth murmured. “He’s your double. And he’ll just keep growing up to look like you.”

He sat next to her, and she leaned into his shoulder. “Robert thinks this guy locks in on his victims like we’re property,” she said softly. “He came after Robin again because she got away. And now—”

“Now you both did.” Jason kissed her forehead, ignoring the sliver of fear as it slid down his spine. “We’ll be okay. I’ll make sure of it.”

September 21, 2023

This entry is part 15 of 41 in the Signs of Life

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 wouldn’t—”

“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.”

“You’re not—”

“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!”

Update Link: Signs of Life, Chapter 15

Hope everyone is having a good week! I’m feeling good considering it’s Wednesday, and I’ve already written two chapters of FMT. I don’t know if anyone remembers last September when I promised Flash Fiction updates and editing on Counting Stars and basically did NOTHING the entire month, lol. I don’t know if it’s just easier with a 2 minute commute, not running lunch duty EVERY day, or the shorter classes, or maybe just the switch in district — I just feel like I have things mostly under control. Which is…not my normal September, lol. Let’s hope this holds! I know I can’t write tomorrow — Back to School Night for me, but I feel good about Friday.

See you on Saturday for Flash Fiction!

September 19, 2023

Update Link: Signs of Life – Chapter 14

I hope everyone’s week got off to a good start. We had a bit of a rainy, bleak Monday and I caught an eye infection to complement all my other health problems (at last count, it was herniated discs in the neck, TMJ, pulsatile tinnitus, tendonitis of the rotator cuff, and bursitis in my left foot), and now my tooth hurts. But that last one is on me — I was supposed to have my wisdom teeth out last summer — but it was scheduled for the day before Lauren’s memorial, so I had to cancel. I figured I’d do it in the summer, and then I lost my insurance. So…we’re figuring it out, lol.

Anyway, forget my health problems, let’s talk about the good stuff 🙂

Crimson Glass turns 21 today! I opened my fanfiction archive on September 19, 2002, and for once I sort of remembered it! Not in time to do anything about it, but I did remember it! I can’t believe all these years later I’m still writing fanfiction for this couple and this ridiculous soap opera. It’s been a crazy journey.  I thought I’d take a walk down memory lane and talk about my writing journey, highlighting writing from different stages of my career to remind myself where I started, and how far I’ve gone.

In the Beginning, 2002-03

I remember sitting in the cafeteria at Camden County College as an 18-year-old kid completely in over their head outside of high school, and failing miserably because I couldn’t quite manage my classes or assignments. I probably should have studied, but I wrote fanfiction instead.  Sometimes I go back and read that early stuff and I cringe, but mostly, I look at it as part of the learning process.  If you’re interested in some of that early stuff, check out some links below:

  • The Sisters: The second story, Sweet Revenge, actually contains the earliest writing. I had a story, Deserving, that I rewrote into this series. I never liked this series, and I always wanted to go back to rewrite the summer of 2002.  Bittersweet comes close, but I really still want to rewrite the OG Luis Alcazar story.
  • Surviving the Past: Probably my best of the early stuff. It’s overwritten in a lot of areas, and not a great effort at a hybrid AU/AH, but I always think of it fondly.
  • When You’re Done: One of my earliest Flash Fictions! The Canvas launched this genre for me, and I think it’s crazy to go back and look at how far I’ve come in writing for 60 minutes.

Figuring It Out, 2003-04

My first foray into college didn’t last very long. I failed out during the spring semester. I really didn’t have the maturity or academic skills to handle college, so I took some time off and went to work in 2004. I kept writing, but I didn’t often finish stories. I was always starting them and losing interest a few chapters in. But I was starting to get a little bit better at writing, I think, and the stories I finished were decent enough.

  • Take Me By The Hand: Probably my best writing of this period, written in May 2003. Like a lot of things from this era, it’s underdeveloped in some areas and overwritten in others, but I’m still really happy with it and can reread it without (much) wincing.
  • I Shall Believe: Probably my most popular story from this era, written in the fall of 2003. There’s a lot I like about this story — I played with pairings I’ve never written again: Lorenzo/Carly, Brian/Courtney, Lucas/Sage (prior to his coming out). Ironically, I think Liason is probably the pairing that I’m not happy with, but I found my rhythm somewhere along the way.
  • She’ll Be Gone: A short story about Faith Roscoe. It got picked up by a GH blog who was searching for Faith’s husband’s first name (I named him Mickey and just kept it forever lol). They said some nice things and I got new readers. I wish I’d saved it!

Returning From My First Writing Break, 2005-2007

I got my job in May 2004, and couldn’t watch GH any more except on Soapnet which I was terrible about. I dipped in and out, but mostly out because 2004 wasn’t a great year for GH, and 2005 didn’t get better. I did write the first version of Mad World (in the Fiction Graveyard now) but mostly stayed on the boards. Then I got a DVR in August 2005 and came back for what ended up being GH’s last golden age with Manny Ruiz, Patrick Drake, Liason’s return, the Zaccharas, Kate Howard, ah, such a good time! And my favorite period of writing because I really think I came back a stronger writer.

  • Sanctuary: The second, and better, of my two Scrubs fic. 2006 gave me so many story ideas, and it was a really fun time writing for both couples. Until I got banned at the Scrubs board for defending Liz too, uh, much. (Profanity was involved, if I recall right). I never wrote another Scrubs focused fic, but you know Patrick is never far from my heart.
  • The Witness: An absolutely bonkers story that was a lot of fun to write. If I wrote it now, it’d be 50 chapters, lol.
  • Daughters: I began this in December 2005, and it’s the only story that I brought back in 2014 and didn’t just rewrite. I made some light edits, then finished the story. One of my favorite AUs.

Going Back To College And Nearly Quitting GH

After the biotoxin story, I was starting to lose interest in GH again. They’d broken up Liason, and I felt like we were heading back to LL2 and JaSam which I was annoyed about because I just felt like there wasn’t story left to tell. Then Claire Coffee (Nadine) left, and Megan Ward was taken off contract (OG Kate). What finally made me dip out for good was Nikolas grabbing Liz and kissing her to prove a point to Rebecca. I just wasn’t at all interested. Plus, I was back in school. I went back to Camden County in the fall of 2008 and turned around my academic life, becoming an honors student. I graduated with my associates in 2009, and transferred to Rutgers-Camden where I stayed until 2013. I didn’t write at all during this period, and after Jake was killed off, I actually felt like I’d never come back. CG went briefly offline when I let the original domain expire, but I tossed it back up on a different site.

And then something strange happened in 2012. I started watching GH again. Because, ha, Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati were at GH now, and I’d liked their run at OLTL. The irony. I started watching again with the poisoned water crisis. Ron’s writing has its issues, but he mostly made me happy, and I was back in again. But I wasn’t writing yet. That came later. I was too busy with college, friends, family (the siblings started reproducing! Olivia in 2010, Isla in 2012, Nolan (my sister) & Mackenzie (my brother) in 2014!)

Then I moved to London, and I wasn’t with my family anymore, and only had my two best friends. I thought…I’m still watching GH (torrenting back then because Hulu wasn’t available in the UK and didn’t carry GH at that point).

So…now we come to the next chapter.

Writing Again — Sometimes (2014-2018)

When I first started writing again, of course, I started by looking at stories I’d left unfinished and with the exception of Daughters, I decided to start fresh. I rewrote two stories, and started two more longer stories.

  • Shadows: I rewrote this story (the OG is in the Fiction Graveyard) and it really gave me the courage to think that I could actually do this again. It was a shorter novella, but I was happy with it.
  • A Few Words Too Many: An angsty mess and a rewrite of Poisonous Dreams (also in Fiction Graveyard), it was my first novel and I wrote it in a month. There are definitely pieces I’d rework, and I’d add more of Jason’s POV earlier on, but I honestly love it.
  • The Best Thing: I say it all the time, but this one of the best stories I ever wrote it, and until Mad World, it’s my best Sonny story. I really pushed myself to be better writing both Jason and Sonny, and it taught me a lot about both of their characters — and Carly’s.

Full Circle (2018-Present)

Until 2018, I was still writing the way I had back in the old days. Writing a few chapters and posting them. I was doing more prep work and planning before I wrote to ensure I’d finish stories, but I wrote and posted The Best Thing over a period of two years! And Bittersweet — I posted 8 chapters, stopped, posting a bunch more, then stopped — it was that story that told me that I had to change my approach because I stopped to do a massive rewrite of a major story point.

Since Mad World Book 1, I complete everything I write before posting — and I do extensive rewrites and edits. I’d say my novels are slower to go up — but they end up being much better, and sometimes even longer. Plus, with the addition of Flash Fiction, I think we do okay here.

I’m proud of everything I’ve written over these last five years, but I’ll highlight my favorites.

  • Mad World: It goes without saying that this is my favorite work, my most ambitious (at least until FMT is done). Four books that began with a narrow focus on the Jason/Elizabeth/Sonny/Carly piece of the world and end up extensively rewriting most of the show. Sometimes I can’t believe I actually did it.
  • Death Becomes Her: The first of a trilogy of murder mysteries I wrote for GHWhoDunIt (Death By Moonlight & Karma being the others). These were so much fun to write and plot, even though I definitely went overboard.
  • Fool Me Twice: Another insane ambitious project. Book 2 has been a struggle to write, but as I push towards the end of my first round of rewriting, I’m really proud of what I’ve written so far and what I’m trying to accomplish. I might miss the mark, but I’m glad I’m trying.
  • Flash Fiction: Everything I’ve written on this page since 2020 when I relaunched this project. In three years, I’ve written SO MUCH and it’s been an absolute blast!

The Future

I don’t know how much longer we’ll have General Hospital in our lives, airing every week day. I want to believe it’s forever because it’s always been there, in the background, always there when I needed something to fill my time. I don’t think we’ll ever see our couple back together the way we deserve, and we certainly never got the story Steve & Becky deserved either. I hope, in some small way, I’ve filled the gap and brought a smile to your face for the last 21 years.

I hope to continue writing my mix of novels and flash fiction, though I’d love to mix in more short stories. (I’m just terrible at being concise! Everything I write ends up being 50 chapters!) If you’ve been with me since the beginning or just found me this year, I love and appreciate everyone.

Take care of yourself and everyone you love. We never have the time we expect or deserve, and you’ll never go wrong telling people what they mean to you in the moment.

See you on Thursday!

This entry is part 14 of 41 in the Signs of Life

I don’t wanna be so shy, oh, oh
Every time that I’m alone I wonder why
Hope that you will wait for me
You’ll see that you’re the only one for me
I wanna believe in everything that you say
‘Cause it sounds so good
But if you really want me move slow
There’s things about me you just have to know

Sometimes, Britney Spears

Tuesday, January 4, 2000

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

“I think we should be discussing damage control,” Alexis declared, accepting the glass of wine Sonny handed her. “Carly might already be at the PCPD—”

“She’s impulsive and stupid, but I don’t think she’s going to the police tonight.” Sonny sipped his bourbon, then wandered over to look over the skyline of Port Charles as the sun dipped behind the buildings, plunging the downtown into night. “Tomorrow. Tonight, she’ll be cursing Jason’s name. We have time.”


“And we’ve done the damage control,” Sonny reminded her. “Jason and Elizabeth got married in a church with a priest. We’ll have wedding photos of them, there’s rings. They’re living together, and half the town already suspected they were dating before this. Carly crashing the wedding did us a favor.”

Alexis grimaced. “Maybe—”

“Because now when she tries to turn on Jason with no corroborating evidence but her word, the PCPD might go after us, but it won’t get to court. You said that, remember? She’s got nothing but her own testimony. Bobbie will lawyer up just like we will. She played the role of scorned woman almost too well today.”

“I suppose you’re right. All we have to do is tell the PCPD Carly vowed revenge on Jason and was cruel to Elizabeth about the rape.”

Sonny’s scowl only deepened at the reminder. “She barely had credibility before this, and now—it’s gone. She’s destroyed it.”

“Fair enough. I just—I put this idea into Jason’s head, and Elizabeth seized on it to keep Jason in town. I feel responsible. I don’t want either of them hurt.”

“Neither do I,” Sonny said. “I’ve already done enough.”

Quartermaine Mansion: AJ & Carly’s Bedroom

Carly paced the length of the room, an ice pack against her cheek, and quietly seethed at the events of the day. First that freak show of a wedding and then that humiliating scene with AJ —

She’d been so sure—so certain—that Jason would leap at the chance to protect his precious damsel in distress that he’d agree to leave town with her and Michael. Once they were gone, Carly knew she could change Jason’s mind. If they could just get a few minutes alone in a room, Carly was convinced she could have swayed him.

But instead Jason had done something wholly unpredictable. Something absolutely beyond the pale.

He’d married that little bitch. And why? Why? Why had he done such a drastic thing? What could it—

Carly stopped, meeting her own shocked eyes in the mirror. Because wives couldn’t testify against their husbands. Elizabeth could never be asked any questions about the studio or what happened there. Even if she was dragged into the police station, Alexis Davis would have her out by supper.

“That son of a bitch,” Carly muttered. He’d stood by while that damned bitch had punched her, and he’d abandoned Carly when she needed him the most. Why did he refuse to see how things could be? How they should be?

This couldn’t be allowed. It couldn’t stand.

She’d let him think he’d won tonight, but tomorrow — tomorrow she’d make Jason regret he’d ever walked into that damned church.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason put the lasagna in the microwave to defrost, then went back to the living room to wait for Elizabeth to return. He picked up his suit jacket where it had dropped to the ground earlier—

None of this was turning out the way he thought it would, but wasn’t that the story of every day since he’d met Elizabeth? Since he’d really and truly met her that night at Jake’s? Wasn’t that part of the reason he’d been drawn to her? Her smiles, her laughter, the twists and turns of conversations—

He hadn’t meant to tell her all of that tonight, hadn’t even known it was inside of him, but he’d desperately needed to explain how he could have done something as stupid as tell Carly he loved her only a few weeks ago without making what he felt for Elizabeth seem wrong or too fast. Or worse, a lie.

He’d believed what he had said to Carly in the moment, but it had already been fading and shifting and turning into something else. Not even hatred, but apathy. The only good Carly had ever brought to his life was Michael, and he couldn’t even think of the little boy without the pain that followed.

Jason just wanted to be done with Carly forever, and he wanted Elizabeth to understand that she was the key to that—to his realization that he’d been punishing himself by letting Carly stay in his life, clinging to a hope he could have Michael back.

Michael—and Carly—were in his past. Robin was in the past. And for the first time in a long time, Jason wanted to look to the future.

When the microwave timer went off and Elizabeth still hadn’t come downstairs, Jason started to worry. Was she upset? Had he pushed her too hard? Was she still thinking about Carly—

The door to his—their—room was partially ajar, but he still knocked. “Elizabeth? Are you okay?”

“Um, yeah. I forgot—you can come in,” she said. Jason pushed open the door, surprised to find her still in the wedding dress. She was standing in front of the full-length mirror, twisting and trying to reach—

“I can’t get it off,” Elizabeth said miserably, turning to face him. “It’s got all these little tiny buttons, and I can’t—” Her face flushed and she bit her lip. “Can you help?”

“Uh—” Jason nodded, his throat tight. He crossed the room and Elizabeth faced the mirror again, her back to him. The dress began halfway down her back, and his fingers fumbled as he reached for the first small, pearl button. There were at least a dozen, maybe more.

Slowly and carefully, he slid each button individually from the loop, painstaking avoiding the bits of lace and fabric around each. She looked so beautiful, and he didn’t want to make a single rip or tear in the dress.

As each button came undone, the bodice of the dress loosened, the two pieces in back gaped, revealing the soft, pale skin of her upper back. The bare skin without a single piece of clothing beneath it. He focused on the dress, ignoring the way her skin felt as his knuckles brushed it, or the way her breathing had changed.

The final button was at the base of her back, and reluctantly, Jason slid the last one out of its loop. He probably could have stopped halfway down—the dress would have been loose enough for her to shimmy out of it, but he hadn’t wanted to stop touching her—and she hadn’t asked him to.

He remained behind her, raising his head until he met her eyes in the mirror. She had hands pressed to the front of the dress, holding the bodice in place so that it hadn’t slid down while he’d been unbuttoning the dress.

Then Elizabeth moved her hands, letting them fall to her side. The bodice had been sitting higher on her chest as she held it against herself, but when she let go, the straps on her shoulder loosened first, sliding down her shoulders.

As if in a trance, Jason raised his hands to her shoulders, sliding his fingers beneath the straps. Maybe he meant to pull them back up, to put the dress back into place so that he could leave and give her a chance to change in private—

But Elizabeth raised her hands, sliding a thumb beneath each strap, their fingers brushing. And she gently pulled. Her dress fell from her shoulders, to the ground in a soft rustle, leaving her in nothing but a pair of white panties.

His chest felt eight sizes too big as their eyes remained locked together in the mirror. Elizabeth kept one of his hands in her own, raising it until it cupped one of her breasts. She was biting her lip, and Jason could feel her entire body had tightened, tense from something. Was it desire? Fear?

He wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he did anything that frightened her, that brought back those memories, so even though it took everything inside of him, Jason didn’t move his hand, just stood there, feeling the weight of her in his palm. Then he dropped his head down to brush his lips against the curve of her neck. Her body loosened and she sighed, slumping back against him.

Jason carefully lifted her from the folds of the wedding dress, aware that she’d been grabbed and lifted during her attack, and scared beyond words that he’d trigger something. But if he had, Elizabeth never let on, turning to him and wrapping her arms around his neck, then kissing him.

Jason pulled her against him, his fingers sliding across her soft, silky skin. His shirt fell off his shoulders, their skin bare against one another now. He started to gently steer her towards the bed, but when her legs brushed the comforter, Elizabeth was startled, jerking away, her body tensing all over again. Her breathing was choppy, her eyes squeezed shut. “I’m sorry. I—”

“It’s okay,” Jason said immediately. He kissed her one last time, soft and lingering to reassure her. He retrieved his shirt from the floor,  drawing it over her shoulders even as she started to use her hands to cover herself. “It’s okay,” he repeated. She met his eyes, still biting her lip. “I’ll go put the lasagna in the oven, okay? I’ll see you downstairs.”

She nodded, the motion little more than a jerk up and down. Jason closed the bedroom door behind him, but instead of going downstairs, he went into one of the guest bathrooms and splashed some cold water on his face.

It was going to be a long night.

PCPD: Lobby

Taggert tossed a report into the bin for Mac to read in the morning, and paused at the front desk to look through messages that hadn’t been passed to his desk.

A pair of uniforms passed by, and Taggert nearly ignored them entirely but he heard a stray pair of words that had no business being anywhere near each other.


“Hey. Hey, wait up!” He jogged after them, waiting as they turned. “Rodriguez, right?”

“Yeah, what’s up, Taggert?” The younger man frowned. “Did you need something?”

“Were you just talking about Jason Morgan?”

“Oh.” The other uniform, one that Taggert didn’t recognize, frowned. “Yeah, Cruz was just saying he hadn’t pictured the guy as the marrying type.”

His gut clenched. “Why? Why does that matter?”

“Figured you’d have heard by now,” Rodriguez said. “You’re usually more dialed in on this guy—”

“Heard what?” Taggert bit out.

“Jason Morgan got married this morning. That girl from the fire last year.” The second uniform elbowed Rodriguez. “Guess he likes ’em young.”

“Jason Morgan married Elizabeth Webber,” Taggert said. “Are you shitting me?”

“Nope. You’ll never see me getting so crazy over a broad—”

Taggert left them both and stalked back into the squad room. He snatched up phone and dialed the county clerk’s office. “Yeah, it’s Detective Marcus Taggert. I need to know if a marriage license was issued for Jason Morgan in the last few days.” He waited, then grimaced. Jason Morgan and Elizabeth Webber had filed for a license the day before, dutifully witnessed by Sonny Corinthos and Alexis Davis.

He slammed down the receiver.


Morgan Penthouse: Kitchen

Elizabeth wasn’t entirely sure how she managed it, but she had tossed on clothes and gone back downstairs where Jason had heated up food for dinner.

And, mercifully, Jason didn’t ask any questions or even refer to the…incident in the bedroom. Which seemed like the safest way to think about it. Elizabeth had lost her damn mind, and she’d thought for half a second that she could just ignore everything else in her head and go with the way he’d made her feel—

And then she’d basically humiliated herself, and probably ticked him off. He was too nice to say so, but there were names for girls like her, girls who basically stripped in front of a guy and then didn’t deliver on the unspoken promise—

She’d choked down some bites of the lasagna Sonny had left in Jason’s freezer, knowing if she ate nothing, Jason might want to talk about it, and she wasn’t ready. She didn’t think she’d be ready if she lived a thousand years.

But he didn’t bring it up. He asked her about work, about school, and she found answers, grateful that he was trying to make things normal.  After dinner, she took their dishes and went into the kitchen, happy to have something to distract her.

“I was thinking—”

Elizabeth jumped and spun around, the dish rag in her hand went flying right into Jason. Specifically at his chest, drenching the blue shirt he’d changed into. Her eyes widened, her cheeks reddened.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” Jason bent down and picked up the rag. He tossed it back into the sink, where the faucet continued to run.

“I didn’t—” She cleared her throat. “I didn’t hear you come in. I’m sorry.” She ripped paper towels from the roll and nearly raised her hand to dry him, but then thought maybe she wasn’t really ready to touch his chest or run her fingers over his muscles—

Her cheeks flaming, she just held out the towels. “Um, here.”

Jason met her eyes, a bit skeptically, she thought. Then took the towels and blotted at the water. “It’s fine.”

“Right. Right.” Elizabeth turned back to the sink and scrubbed at the already cleaned plate. “Um, you said you were thinking about something.”

“I didn’t really move in,” he told her. “Before you did. I just put clothes upstairs, and Sonny gave me some leftover furniture from storage.” He leaned against the counter next to her. “I never really had a place of my own before. I lived at the boxcar, then Jake’s. Then I was at Sonny’s.”

He didn’t mention the cottage where he’d lived with Robin and Carly, and Elizabeth didn’t bring it up either. “I haven’t either, but that’s probably not news to you.”

“We should probably get some things. I don’t have a television. That doesn’t bother me, but you probably want one.”

“Oh.” She glanced out into the living room, realized how much extra space there was. There was just a leather sofa, armchair, and coffee table with the desk by the door. “Okay.”

“Do you want, I don’t know, a table?” he asked. “Out there.”

Elizabeth made a face. “Like a dining table? Wouldn’t that just mean people would come over? You don’t like people.”

“No, but you do.”

“Not lately.” Elizabeth shook her head. “No, we’ve got the table in here if we really want to sit down. I thought—” She folded her arms. “Um, I thought—you’d know better—but it looks like there might be enough space for a pool table.”

Jason squinted, then looked out at the space she gestured at. “Yeah, maybe. But—you—do you play?”

“No. Um, no. But you do.” Restless, she twisted the ring on her finger—something she’d done a thousand time with the one she wore on her index finger, but the new one—the diamond Jason had slid on her fourth finger that day—it still felt somewhat uncomfortable on her finger, so she twisted it, and the glint of the stone must have drawn his attention because he dropped his eyes to it.

Elizabeth stopped, then clasped her hands behind her back. “Um, unless you prefer to go play at Jake’s. You probably do. And you should keep doing that like before,” she said in a rush. “I mean, you used to do that all the time, but you don’t anymore, and I don’t want you to think you have to baby sit me—” And maybe he’d want to get away from her because she was a babbling idiot child—

“I went to Jake’s all the time,” Jason cut in, his tone almost amused, “because I didn’t have anything better to do. I wanted to look for a fight most of the time.” He stepped towards her but Elizabeth instinctively stepped back, flushed, caught herself and stepped forward, but the moment was lost. He put his hands in his pockets. “I don’t really feel like going there the way I did before,” he continued. “You’re right. That’d be a good spot. I’ll measure.”

“Jason—” She started, but then closed her mouth, miserable. He’d probably been about to say something sweet and wholly untrue about how he didn’t need Jake’s because he had her, but she’d ruined it, like she ruined everything— “Um, I’m tired. I’m gonna go up early.”

Jason nodded. “Okay. I’ll be up in a while. I have some paperwork to do from the warehouse.” He waited another moment. “You’ll probably be asleep before I finish.”

Her throat tightened. He was giving her a reassurance—he’d stay downstairs until she fell asleep so it would be less awkward. As if anything could be— “Okay. Um, good night.”

She flew out of the kitchen before he could say anything, angry with herself for how she’d ruined her own wedding night.