November 30, 2023

Update Link: Signs of LifeChapter 40 | Epilogue

Last chapter posted! Thanks so much joining me on this journey! It was a lot of fun to revisit this story and expand it after finishing the “first draft” during flash fiction. It really changed the scope of what I was willing to tackle in the flash fiction series, and I hope you guys enjoyed all the expanded content!

I’ll see you on Saturday for Flash Fiction!

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

We were strangers, starting out on a journey
Never dreaming, what we’d have to go through
Now here we are, I’m suddenly standing
At the beginning with you

No one told me, I was going to find you
Unexpected, what you did to my heart
When I lost hope, you were there to remind me
This is the start

At The Beginning, Donna Lewis & Richard Marx

Sunday, June 4, 2000

Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

Jason emerged from the bathroom pulling on a gray t-shirt, then frowned because before he’d gone in for a shower, he’d been able to see the carpet. And now—

“I know what face you’re making,” came the muffled voice of his wife from somewhere in the closet. “I have a plan—” A sweater came flying out, landing on one of the haphazard piles clothing that surrounded the closet.

“It’s summer,” he reminded her, picking his way around the piles and going over to his dresser. His duffel bag, which he’d packed the night before, was ready to go. Five pairs of jeans, six t-shirts, two new backs of briefs, and five pair of socks. He tucked his shaving kit into the side pocket, and zipped it.

He turned back, shaking his head at the two large suitcases on the bed. She’d been packing for nearly a week and still, somehow, they were empty. She kept filling them, then removing the clothes and starting over.


“You won’t need the sweaters—”

Elizabeth finally poked her head out of the closet, the curls dancing madly around her face. He’d thought he liked her hair long so that he could slide his fingers through it, but there was something about the way the short hair framed her face now, and there was still plenty for him to touch—


He snapped back to attention, and her lips curved into a knowing smirk. She sauntered towards him sliding her arms around his waist. “You know how cold it gets on the airplane,” she reminded him, tilting her head up. Jason made a face because she had a point. He didn’t feel the cold, but Elizabeth did. “I promise. Today I’m going to pack. For real.”

“You don’t have a choice,” he reminded her, kissing the tip of her nose. “We’re leaving for the airport at six. Whatever is in those suitcases is what goes.”

“Today is the day, I promise.” She rose on the tips of her toes to kiss him again, fisting her hands in his t-shirt. He dragged her closer, and she giggled. Jason lifted her, then tossed her on the bed next to the suitcases. She tugged him over her, deepening the kiss.

“You have to pack,” he murmured against her lips.

“I can pack later.”

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

“And sign here,” Alexis said, pointing at the line. Sonny obeyed, then slid the contract over to her. “Congratulations, you’re now the active partner in Corinthos & Morgan Coffee, with completely control over all decisions.”

Sonny made a face, sipped his coffee. “Jason already signed?”

“On my way to give him a copy of it and a few other things before they leave.” Alexis tipped her head. “Are you all right with all of this?”

“With Jason leaving?” Sonny sighed. “Yeah. He’s making the right decision for himself. And for Elizabeth. They deserve this trip.”

“He’ll come back, Sonny,” Alexis said gently. “This is their home.”

“Eventually.” Sonny forced a smile. “But I’m happy for them both. I really am.” He looked back at the contracts. “Angry at myself because it didn’t have to be this way. If I could have just given in a little, been less selfish—”

“Then would you really be Sonny Corinthos?” Alexis smirked, put the contracts in her briefcase. “Jason made it work when you left him a few years ago, you’ll survive this.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“I would have expected to see more luggage,” Alexis said as Jason set down the duffel bag and crossed over to her. “Does Liz know you’re leaving for the airport today?”

“Yes,” Jason said, taking the paperwork she offered. “Does she realize we’re leaving in three  hours? Harder to tell.” He scanned the contract. “It’s all in order?”

“You’re a silent partner. And here—” Alexis gave him the last contract. “The post-nuptial agreement you asked for. Uh, does Elizabeth know about this? Because I remember negotiating the prenup, and—”

“She knows—”

“I know what?” Elizabeth asked, appearing on the landing. Behind her, she dragged a large suitcase. It thudded as she came down the stairs. Jason scowled, went to retrieve it. “I can—never mind.” She sighed as he took it from her, then set it next to his own. “Hey, Alexis. What do I know about?”

“Is your other bag upstairs?” Jason wanted to know.

“Yeah, you can get it later. What’s going on?” Elizabeth asked.

“Alexis has the post-nuptial agreement,” Jason told her. “She brought it for us to sign.”

“Oh, right.” Elizabeth went over to the table to pick up her purse and start rummaging through it. “Yeah, as long as it says what you promised.”

Jason looked at Alexis. “It should.”

“Oh, well, it preserves the agreement you made in January,” Alexis explained. “At the time of dissolution, you get half of everything each earns during the marriage. I just updated to include property which we left out the last time.” She gave him a pen.

Jason signed the new agreement, then gave it to Elizabeth who did the same. “Thanks,” he told Alexis.

“No problem.” Alexis tucked both contracts away. “Sonny said you guys were starting in Egypt?”

“Yeah, we’re doing two weeks,” Elizabeth said. “And then Italy for four, and Greece for six. After that, we’ll either come home or pick a new place. I keep trying to get him to tell me where else he wants to go—”

“I told you,” Jason said. “Anywhere you can paint is fine with me.”

“Well, have a great trip.”

When Alexis was gone, Jason went to go get Elizabeth’s other suitcase—then returned with two. He set them down, then just looked at Elizabeth. “Was this the plan you talked about earlier?”

“We’re going to be gone two months. If not longer,” she said with a shrug. “I don’t know what I’ll need. Do you have your passport? I’ll put it with mine—”

“Yeah, it’s in my desk drawer,” Jason told her. Elizabeth went over to retrieve it, pulling it open. On top of the passport sat a small velvet box. She frowned at it, then pulled both out, turning to him. “What’s this?”

Jason took it from her. “Today is June 4,” he told her.

“I know—”

“There’s a reason I asked Alexis to bring the contracts today. Why I wanted to leave today.” He paused, waited for her to meet his eyes. “Six months ago. Today. We got married.”

“I—” She cleared her throat. “I know—”

“When we made our vows in the church,” Jason continued, “I meant them. I know you did, too,” he added. “But we didn’t do things in the order that we should have. That you deserved—”

“I don’t care—”

“I do,” he said, and she close her mouth. “Because I want you to have everything I can give you. So I asked Alexis for a new agreement because it’s what we would have signed from the beginning. Not that I’m planning a divorce—” he added with a wince. “But—”

“I understand—”

“I didn’t ask you to marry me.”

“You did,” Elizabeth insisted. “We danced and everything—” She smiled. “Is that what you’re doing now?”

Jason flipped open the box to reveal a ring with a ruby and diamond setting. “I didn’t get you an engagement ring,” he said. “It happened so fast—” He took her hand and slid it over her finger. “So I thought—I don’t know—six months. It’s sort of an anniversary.”

“It’s also the earliest Alexis said we might be able to divorce,” Elizabeth reminded him. “So instead, you’re giving me a ring, a postnuptial agreement, and a honeymoon.” She slid her arms around his neck. “I should have known you were a romantic.”

“Don’t tell anyone else,” he warned, leaning down to kiss her. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”


Author’s Note: Thanks so much for joining me on this journey! This is the first flash fiction that I really revisited and edited into something a lot stronger than the original. Drop a line and let me know what you think about the finished product!

This entry is part 40 of 41 in the Signs of Life

Maybe it’s intuition
But some things you just don’t question
Like in your eyes, I see my future in an instant
And there it goes
I think I found my best friend
I know that it might sound
More than a little crazy but I believe

I Knew I Loved You, Savage Garden

Friday, February 5, 2000

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

“Are you sure?” Sonny asked. He stared down at the floor, not looking up. Not making eye contact with Jason, making him feel even worse at how things had turned out. His hair was disheveled and his eyes bloodshot from a sleepless night spent in lockup. Alan had dropped the charges that morning.

“There’s a chance she might be lying,” Jason acknowledged, “but she probably had this as a backup plan. The Quartermaines are going for the jugular in the divorce and custody — and Carly knew you weren’t likely to do her any favors with that.”

“Not in a chance in hell—”

“If she’d kept the baby,” Jason said gently, “she’d be fighting custody battles on two fronts. I honestly think she cut her losses. She wasn’t able to get out of town with Michael and live to fight another day. She thought I’d wait until the paternity tests came back and that there’d be more time to plan.”

And she hadn’t been wrong, Jason thought with some bitterness. He had been ready to wait until the last minute to come forward with all of this. What did that say about him? He dragged a hand down his face. “Listen—”

“It’s her choice at the end of the day,” Sonny said. He finally met Jason’s eyes. “And I don’t—I don’t blame you. Okay? I know I said I did, but I thought about it, and you know, you could have been right. Maybe a paternity test says it’s AJ’s kid. Better for everyone. Why blow up the situation if you don’t have to?”


“And it’s not like I really wanted to bring a kid into this world with that woman,” Sonny continued. “We’d have spent eighteen years screaming at each other.” He went over to the minibar, poured himself a drink.


“Even with all that,” Sonny murmured, “I still had a moment—where I thought back to Lily. When she told me about the baby. I didn’t love her the way she deserved, but I would have tried so hard for that baby.”

“I know you would have.” Jason shoved his hands in his pockets. “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well, at least Carly is finally somebody else’s problem.” Sonny raised the glass in Jason’s direction in a mock toast, then drank.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason came in, found Elizabeth sketching at the desk. “Hey.”

“Hey.” She twisted on the chair and came over to him, sliding her arms around his waist. “How did it go? I mean, where—”

“I don’t know and I don’t care. I found her, and I called Ned with the information. I only went to talk to her for Sonny. She had an abortion,” Jason said, tugging off his jacket and hanging it up in the closet. Then turned, looked at her. Silence hung between them.

“I don’t know what to say,” Elizabeth said finally. “Did—is Sonny okay?”

“Yeah. At least for now. I’ll have to keep an eye on him, but—” Jason scratched at the corner of his brow. “It’s probably a good thing.”


“Just—I don’t know. Would Carly have a made different choice if I hadn’t stayed quiet?” And what if Elizabeth hadn’t talked sense into him? What if Jason had slipped into his old patterns, and to keep Sonny’s child safe, he’d done what Carly wanted? He didn’t know how he felt about that possibility.


“Or maybe it’s like I told Sonny—this was always in her back pocket. She could have an abortion for another month or so—”

“Longer,” Elizabeth corrected him, and he frowned at her. “New York is twenty-four weeks. I looked it up when I—” She folded her arms. “Bobbie gave me a morning after pill, but there wasn’t any guarantees, so I wanted to know. I mean, if I’d gotten pregnant after that, I think I would have terminated.” She cleared her throat. “Anyway. She had time.”

“Yeah.” Jason shook his head, clearing his thoughts. “It’s over. She’s been served, and she knows that I’m done. She’ll have to sink or swim on her own.” He drew Elizabeth close to him, framing her face in his hands. “Thank you.”

“I didn’t do anything—”

“If it wasn’t for you,” Jason said, resting his forehead against hers. Her hand slid up his chest. “If it wasn’t for you—” he didn’t know how to finish that statement. How to put any of this into words. He kissed her instead, pressing her closer, wanting to stay just like this for as long as he could.

Brownstone: Front Step

“Just wait here,” Carly hissed at the driver. “I’ll get your damn money.” She left him, the meter running to go up the stairs to her mother’s house, still seething. AJ thought a prenuptial agreement would protect him? That she wouldn’t find a way to regroup, to get back what she was owed? Damn it—

She’d just have to find a way to talk around her mother. To make Bobbie understand and give her just one more chance. She was a soft touch — Carly knew how to make it work.

She twisted the knob, but found it locked. She banged on the door, and a few moments later, it opened. Her mother stood there.

“Mama. Thank God. I need your help—” Her voice trembled. “It’s so horrible. They took my money, my car. I don’t have anything — I can’t even pay for the motel or the taxi—I need—please—”

Bobbie tipped her head. “I just got off the phone with Jason. He told me he’d found you. Didn’t want me to worry.”

Carly pressed her lips together. “I don’t know what he told you, Mama, but—”

“It was a good choice,” Bobbie said slowly. “The right one. You’re not fit to be a mother, and Sonny, for all his sins, doesn’t deserve what you’d do to him. AJ certainly didn’t.”


Bobbie stepped back for a moment, closed the door, and for one long horrible moment, Carly thought her mother was going to just walk away. But then she opened it, reappeared. Relief flooded. “Oh, thank God—”

“Here’s sixty dollars. It’s all I have on me. Why don’t you have that cab take you to a pawn shop?” She gestured at the rings on Carly’s fingers. “That should give you enough to start over. Not enough for the lawyer you’ll need, but that’s your problem. Goodbye, Carly.”

Bobbie closed the door, and Carly gaped in disbelief. She clutched the cash in her hand, her throat tightening.

No one left. All the bridges were burnt.

Oh, God. What was she supposed to do now?

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“Hey. I was thinking,” Elizabeth said, joining him at the window, sliding her arms around him. “Maybe we could invite Sonny over for dinner or something. I feel bad about him being alone right now. I know—well, I know you’re still not happy with him, but—”

“After I lied to him for two weeks,” Jason said, with a sigh, “it’s a little hard to hold on to the way I felt before yesterday.” He kissed the top of her head. “Yeah. I’ll go ask him later. Right now, I think he really does want to be alone for a while.”

“Okay. Do you have to go to work, or—”

“No. I’m good for a while.” He stroked her back, thinking about what had occurred to him on the way back from the motel. Yesterday, they’d been married a full month. He wasn’t one for birthdays or anniversaries, but he knew Elizabeth probably was.

And he hadn’t been able to give her much of anything that she deserved since that day in the church. But maybe—he thought of a silent promise he’d made to himself a few weeks earlier. “Wait here,” he said, drawing back. He took her hand in his, kissed the inside of her palm. Elizabeth smiled at him, but her eyes were a bit confused.

Jason crossed over to a table where she’d left a radio and stacks of her CDs and cassettes. He made a face as he looked through them. He didn’t know anything about music or which song were slow or fast — He could pick one at random, but— Finally, he looked at Elizabeth. “Which one is your favorite?”

“My favorite?” Surprised, she went over to him, took the CD he was holding, tipping her head. “Why?”

“Just—” Jason sighed. “At the No Name,” he clarified, “when we danced. You wished we were somewhere else.”

“And I said that the first time we danced, it was about someone else.” Elizabeth smiled at him, her eyes lighting with amusement. “Is that what you want? Something to dance to?”

He squinted. He couldn’t tell if she thought this was stupid idea or — “Yes. That’s what I want.”

“All right.” She set the CD in his hand down, then flipped through a few of the others stacked. She opened a case, put one into the radio, then messed with the buttons. “Here. This one.”

It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart
Without saying a word, you can light up the dark

He took her hand as the music filtered through the penthouse, and drew her against him, the way they had danced that night at Kelly’s. But it was different now. He was comfortable sliding his hands around her waist, and her cheek against his heart—her hands on the sleeves of his sweater.

Try as I may, I can never explain
What I hear when you don’t say a thing

They swayed slightly, and Jason just let the rest of the world fall away. There was nothing left to worry about. Sorel was out of their lives, Carly was no longer a threat—it was just the two of them.

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me
There’s a truth in your eyes saying you’ll never leave me

He wanted it to be like this all the time—coming home to see her face, to know that he could say anything to her and Elizabeth would always find a way to understand, even when he didn’t. That her face would never change — she knew who he was and what he did. What he was capable of.

The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me wherever I fall
You say it best, when you say nothing at all

“I was thinking about what you said,” he murmured, and Elizabeth stirred, stepping back just a bit so that their eye could meet. “When we found out we didn’t need the entire year.”

“What I said?” she echoed.

All day long, I can hear people talking out loud
But when you hold me near you drown out the crowd

“You said you didn’t want us to just drift,” Jason continued, tucking her hair behind her ears. He would never get tired of touching her, of letting his fingertips trail across her soft skin.

Her eyes searched his, then she nodded. “Because it needed to be a promise,” Elizabeth said. “I didn’t like the way you’d told me about it. The way Sonny had phrased it.”

“That we should just stay married until we didn’t want to be anymore,” Jason clarified. She nodded.

Try as they may, they can never define
What’s being said between your heart and mine

“It keeps one foot out the door,” Elizabeth said, her fingers tightening on his sleeves. She swallowed hard. “And I don’t want that for us. To constantly worry that this is the fight, this is the moment when we’ll decide to walk away.”

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me
There’s a truth in your eyes saying you’ll never leave me

“I don’t want that either.” He tilted her chin up, kissed her, long, lingering. “I can’t ask you to marry me,” he murmured against her lips. “You already did that.”

“I did.” He could hear the smile in her voice, felt the curve of her lips against his own.

“I love you,” he said, and he felt her gasp. Then Elizabeth pulled back, their eyes meeting. “I love you,” Jason repeated. “So I’m asking you to stay. To make the promise. I want it.”

The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me wherever I fall
You say it best when you say nothing at all

“You—” Elizabeth swallowed hard. “I—” She closed her eyes, then opened them again, tears dampening her lashes, making her eyes sparkle. “I love you. And I want that promise, too. I want to stay.”

Song: When You Say Nothing At All, Ronan Keating

November 28, 2023

Update Link: Signs of Life – Chapter 39

Hey! This is a very late update because I wanted to do something first — I had a sneaking suspicion I’d hit 50k tonight on These Small Hours, and I did! This is the first November NaNoWriMo where I’ve completed the goal AND I have a pretty decent body of work to work with. I have completed 14.5 chapters out of 31 planned and while those 14 chapters need work, it’s a solid first half of an alpha draft.

I’ll be continuing to work on it in December, and hopefully finishing it during my winter break. See you guys tomorrow for the last chapter & epilogue of Signs of Life!

This entry is part 39 of 41 in the Signs of Life

Where we used to laugh
There’s a shouting match
Sharp as a thumbnail scratch
A silence I can’t ignore
Like the hammock by the
Doorway we spent time in swings empty
Don’t see lightning like last fall
When it was always about to hit me

How’s It Going To Be, Third Eye Blind

Friday, February 4, 2000

Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

The call came early the next morning — so early that the sun hadn’t yet broken through the clouds. Elizabeth stirred, then groaned, shoving her face deeper into the pillow. “Five more minutes,” she mumbled.

Jason slid his arm from beneath her and reached for his cell on the nightstand. “Yeah. Yeah, okay. Call me if she moves.” He hung up and rolled back towards Elizabeth. “Hey.” He brushed his lips over her hair. “I have to go.”

“Okay,” she mumbled. She shifted onto her side to peer at him blearily. “Call me if you need me.”

“Go back to sleep.” He kissed her gently, then went to confront Carly, promising himself this would be the last time.

Quartermaine Estate: Family Room

AJ reluctantly went in that morning, intending to grab a quick breakfast and leave. He was ashamed of the day before, when he’d nearly broken his sobriety — being around the minibar was just a temptation he didn’t need.

But then he stopped, blinking at the empty table that sat against the far wall. No decanters, no tumblers. He frowned.

“I had them moved, my dear. To your grandfather’s study.”

AJ turned at his grandmother’s voice, saw her already at the breakfast table. “You did?”

“Ned told me that you had a weak moment.” Lila held out her hand and he went to take it. “How are you, my love? Yesterday was a difficult one.”

He squeezed her hand, then sat on the sofa. “Difficult is a good word for it,” he murmured. “It’s humiliating, Grandmother, what I was willing to accept. How I was willing to lie to my own family just to—” He sighed, looked down at the carpeted floor. “How I felt any sense of righteous for the year Jason stole from me with Michael. I got a harsh reminder that one year doesn’t make up for all the ones he’s lost. Twenty-two of them.” He looked at Lila. “How can any of you stand me? I murdered my brother.”

“You made a terrible choice, AJ. One that you couldn’t take back. And yes, the Jason we loved once is gone to us. But you did not murder your brother. He’s still here.”

“For you. For Emily. Sometimes for Mother. But not for me. He’ll never—” Tears burned in his eyes. “I hated him for so long. I hated him for being the chosen one, for Mom loving him more when he wasn’t even her real son — I could never measure up to Jason. He was better simply be breathing. But he loved me, you know? Despite that. He was frustrated and disappointed in me. But he loved me. He came after me that night, and I let the world believe Ned caused the accident. Just weak moment. Ned was willing to take the blame, and I nearly let him. I would have kept lying if I hadn’t blurted it out in a drunken confession.”

“You must forgive yourself, AJ, for what happened. You cannot keep living in one single moment. It will choke you.”

“Forgive myself? How can I do that when no one else will?”

“Everyone else does not matter. You are the one who must live with the consequences. Did you want to hurt your brother?”

“No. No, of course not.” AJ cleared his throat. “Or maybe I did. Maybe part of me wanted it. With him gone, I could have risen to the top. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. And maybe I never will.” He exhaled slowly. “But you’re right about something, Grandmother. I can’t keep holding onto that moment. Not anymore. I have a little boy who depends on me. So—” He rose to his feet. “I’ll have to find a way to move on.”

He went into the foyer and stopped when he saw Ned. “Hey—”

“Hey. Good news.” Ned had his coat in his hand. “Jason found Carly. I’ll handle this part.”

“I should—”

“Go spend time with Michael. This isn’t you being weak,” Ned told AJ. “Or not wanting to face it. This is me getting a little revenge of my own. For walking into that room yesterday and seeing you think about taking a drink.”

AJ swallowed. “That would have been my choice—”

“Yeah, that’s true. But she doesn’t get to push you to the edge of the cliff, leave you teetering on the brink, and walk away. So if you really need to do it, AJ, if you need to be the one, I get it, but—”

AJ blinked. “You want to serve her the papers because of what she did to me?” he asked, startled. “Really?”

“You’re my cousin. Quartermaines may attack each other, but we close ranks when it comes from the outside.” Ned’s smile was grim. “And Carly is going to regret the day she tangled with us.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Elizabeth curled up at the desk, her history of architecture textbook open beside her. She was supposed to be studying for class and thinking about a paper, but instead, she’d grabbed a sketch pad after looking at the remains of the temple at Delphi. It had spurred something in her and the way she was thinking about her quest to paint a new version of the Wind.

She nearly missed the phone ringing until it had done so four times. Absently she picked up the cordless, pressed the talk button. “Yeah?”


“Oh. Em. Hey.” Elizabeth focused, setting down her pencil. “What’s up?”

“Nothing. I’m dying down here at school, waiting for updates. Ned wouldn’t tell me anything and Mom keeps telling me not to worry, but Deenie—you remember Deenie—”

“Yeah, she was Sarah’s best friend and hated me.”

“Oh. Yeah, right. Anyway, she has a brother who works at the PCPD, and she told me everything, or everything that she knows. So, is it true? Carly’s not pregnant with AJ’s baby and now she’s on the run?”

Elizabeth snorted at the image of Carly fleeing like a fugitive. “Yeah, I guess that’s the best to describe it. It blew up yesterday when Sonny found out and went to confront Carly. She took off before he got her. Sonny took a swing at AJ, they got into a fight, and Sonny got put into jail over night.”

“I always miss the best stuff,” Emily muttered. “How are you doing with all that? How’s Jason?”

“He’s actually out tracking Carly down now. I really hope he finds her today,” Elizabeth said. “He can drag her home to deal with her own mess and maybe I can stop thinking about her.”

“That would be nice,” Emily said. “But I think it might be just beginning. I mean, how are you and Jason going to stay out of this when Carly’s stuck in the middle of two custody battles with Sonny and AJ on either side and poor Michael in the middle.”

Elizabeth hesitated. That was a great question, actually, and she wished she knew. “Look, AJ’s going to shield Michael from the worst of it. As unfair as it is, you know your brother’s lawyers are going to wipe the floor with Carly, and Sonny will slap around what’s left.” And maybe Jason would feel a little conflicted about it, but—

“Yeah, I guess. I mean, you’re right. That’s not fair because Carly can’t afford lawyers if AJ cuts her off from the money, but I don’t know, I guess she shouldn’t have had an affair and lied about it. So there’s that.” Emily waited a moment. “But you really think you and Jason aren’t going to be affected?”

“Do I think Jason’s going to love it? No. He’s worried about Michael, and I am, too. And Sonny—this is going to be hard on him. But do I think my relationship with Jason will get messed up? Is that what you’re asking?”

“Well, it’s just Carly’s going to be desperate and asking for help. Jason’s always come through for her before. You don’t sound worried that it’ll happen again.”

Would Jason feel tempted to help Carly again? Elizabeth didn’t think so, not after  the last few weeks. Or the last few conversations. He’d been the one to blow everything up. But old habits were hard to break. Was she sure Jason was ready to break this one?


“It’s not that I’m hoping that would happen. I’m just scared. You and Jason haven’t been together long. And he and Robin—like that was serious. Not that you aren’t—this isn’t coming out right.”

“No, I understand where you’re coming from. All I can say is that Jason knows he made mistakes with Robin, and he’s been careful not to repeat them with me. And I’m not shying away from telling him how I feel. I just—” She looked at the photo on the desk, one of their wedding photos and thought about how that day had felt. How she’d felt walking down the aisle towards him and speaking her vows—

And how it didn’t even seem to hold a candle to how she felt now. “I can’t speak for Jason, Emily, but I can promise you this. I love Jason. And I love the life we’re building together. Carly’s not going to chase me away, and I’m not going to let her hurt him. Not ever again.” She paused. “Does that help?”

“Actually yes. You, um, you never told me that before. That you loved—I mean, I knew that. You don’t get married—and I saw Jason. I know he loves you, but neither of you said it in front of me or told me, and it’s just—wow, it’s kind of wild to hear you say it.” Emily’s voice sounded a bit more upbeat. “But it’s awesome, too, you know? I’m happy for you both.”

“Thanks, Em.” She hadn’t said it out loud before either, and wasn’t entirely ready to say it to Jason, but it was nice to hear it. To acknowledge what it was.

“I have to run to class. You call me the minute you know anything.”

“I promise.”


Carly yanked open the door and smirked at him. “Took you long enough. You’re getting slow.”  She stepped back, as if she meant to let him in. “You going to drag me back to Port Charles?”

“No. I wanted to confirm where you were and I knew you’d open the door for me.”

“Why?  So AJ can serve me?” Carly rolled her eyes and leaned against the doorway. “Or so Sonny can?”

“Does it matter?”

“Well, you can tell Sonny not to bother.” She tossed back her hair, then glared at him defiantly. “He has nothing to do with this—”

“Don’t lie to me,” Jason said tightly. “Not again—”

“I’m not,” she shot back. “I did what I should have done weeks ago. Lucky for me, New York doesn’t have a waiting period because the last thing I need is to be fighting two custody battles. So I took care of it.”

Jason stared at her for a long time, then swallowed hard. Waiting period. New York didn’t have a waiting period. “You had an abortion.”

“The right to choose and all,” Carly said. She folded her arms. “Go ahead. Judge me. I don’t care.”

He exhaled slowly, then shook his head. “I’m not going to do that,” he said, and she blinked at him. “You’re right. It’s your choice. It’s always been your choice. You’ve made all the choices, and I’ve just followed your lead. I guess we’re all better off if you’re not dealing with Sonny in court.”

She clearly hadn’t expected that. “Wait—”

Jason glanced behind him at the sound of another car pulling into the empty space next to his bike. He stepped aside, waiting for Ned to get out, a sheaf of papers in his hand. “Good luck, Carly. You’ll need it.”

“She’s all yours,” he told Ned as he passed him.

“Thanks.” Ned turned to Carly. “You’re not welcome back at the mansion, and all your accounts have been closed. And that car—” He gestured at the parking lot, where she hissed. “That’s in AJ’s name. Not yours. We’re taking it. Good luck finding your way home or paying for this room.”

“You can’t—”

“I can do what I want. I have all the money and the power, Carly. You should have thought about that before you slithered in and tried to hurt AJ.” Ned’s smile was wide and mean. He slapped paperwork against her chest. “You’ve been served.”

November 25, 2023

Update Link: Hits Different – Part 5

Ugh, the congestion from this cold is lingering and pissing me off, lol. Every morning, I wake up and want to yeet myself out the window. Hope everyone is having a better Thanksgiving holiday than me.

NaNoWriMo is almost over, and I’m about 9k away from finishing. I’m 12 chapters in — and I  think it’s going mostly well. I’m suffering a bit from having plotted and broken this down back in August of 2022 and not really looking at it again until I started writing. I had plans to look at it in September and October to refresh, but then I had that shoulder injury which held everything up. It’s nothing bad — there are just maybe some storyline elements I would have fixed, scenes I would have adjusted, etc. I’m doing it mostly on the fly, and it tends to hold me up a little bit inspiration wise. I ran into a sort of similar situation last year with Kismet, but instead of trying to reset in the moment, I just gave up. I’m pushing through, and I think that’s better. It’s especially easier when I know I have other content to release — both FMT Books 2 & 3 will be released before Hours, I think. I have to check my schedule.

I was hoping to double up on updates during breaks for Flash Fiction, but with the cold slowing me down, we’re sticking to the Saturday schedule. Remember, next Saturday is our last weekend update! I’ll be shifting to Wednesday updates starting December 6.

This entry is part 5 of 32 in the Flash Fiction: Hits Different

Written in 59 minutes.

He’d known, of course, that there had to be a good reason why he’d been fired from three jobs at the docks and turned out of at least two places to stay, despite having the money to pay. He’d had help from the cousin, Ned, in getting some money from the trust fund everyone always talked about to he could pay for Kelly’s, and the paychecks could pay for Jake’s. But both woman had turned him out, and at least two of the warehouses had just stopped putting him on the schedule after the first week.

He’d just thought it was the power of the Quartermaines — he’d heard enough about the family since being awake, had seen the way the doctors at the hospital deferred to them, but it had never occurred to Jason that there was more than that.

But now, holding a piece of paperwork that didn’t make any sense, Jason saw the last two and half months in a completely different light. If he’d been legally married prior to the accident, how could someone else petition for divorce? Or—

“I don’t understand,” Jason said after a long moment. He set the paperwork down, met Elizabeth’s nervous eyes. “How does that happen? What is a conservatorship?”

“I don’t—it’s so complicated, and they didn’t really—” She bent down again to tug another folder. “I went to the law library to see if I could find the statutes they wrote in that paper, but it still didn’t make sense. I printed it because I wanted to read it. As soon as I gave that to my lawyer — the one that did the power of attorney letter, they dropped my case.” Elizabeth slid papers across the small table, but Jason just shook his head. “You don’t…believe me?”

“I—” He didn’t know what to think, so he picked it up, but the print was small and the wording was complicated. Why did they always—”

The legislature hereby finds that the needs of persons with incapacities are as diverse and complex as they are unique to the individual…The determination of incapacity shall be based on clear and convincing evidence and shall consist of a determination that a person is likely to suffer harm..

“Does this mean they went to a court and said I was…” Incapacity. Damaged. Limited. His fingers tightened around the paper. “I’m not.” Or was he? A court should have evidence? Jason had ignored doctors who told him things, but—

“I was confused when I read that because it made it sound so…” She drew her bottom lip between her teeth, then rubbed her arms. “Anyway. I was reading it, and it said you were supposed to have a representative at the court. Someone who isn’t one of the conservators, so I tried to get the records, but I was denied. It’s all under seal. I don’t know if the hearing was fair. I do know the Quartermaines have a lot of friends in high places. All I know is that Alan still have power of you as a person, with medical stuff, and Edward is over your estate. Um, the power to contract. You can’t…not legally…do anything without him.”

He set the paper down, dragged his hands through his hair. It made sense, a horrible sense, and he wondered how many people had been lying to him. How many people in that damn house had known about this? Had the grandmother, Lila, who had been so kind to him? The sister—

He had no doubts about Alan or Edward—

“It’s my fault,” Elizabeth said, drawing his attention back to her. “If I hadn’t pushed, you know. With the power of attorney. Maybe they would have been okay with cutting me out. If they’d known you’d wake up without your memories…maybe—” She stared down at the table, tracing a nick in the wood with her thumbnail. “But I did. I got a lawyer. I was just…desperate for answers, and they weren’t telling Emily or Ned anything because they thought I’d find out…and I just…I should have left it alone. But I made Edward mad. And they went to do this—”

She jerked her head at the folder he still hadn’t looked through. “The legal stuff is in all there. I didn’t…know what to do. There’s not a lot of lawyers who will take on the Quartermaines. Even though Luke and Sonny offered to loan me money — I thought about asking Ned, but what if he knows? What if he…” Her voice trembled. “They did it to you to get rid of me, you know? The first thing they did was close the bank accounts. I never touched your trust fund. At least I don’t think so. You used to put money in the account, and you were doing the bills because I was maternity leave, and then after the accident—” She shoved her hair from her face, combing her fingers through the strands. “I don’t know. I couldn’t do anything.”

Jason didn’t know what to say to any of this. It was a life he didn’t know or understand. But the trust fund — “They thought you wanted the money,” he said slowly.

“Yeah, um…I mean, there were a lot of reasons they didn’t like me. It wasn’t so bad when Emily and I were friends. At first, they thought maybe I was bad influence on her, but she kept being an honors student, so they let it go.” Elizabeth twisted a ring on her finger. “But you…you brought me a New Year’s Eve party last year and it was like I was a serial killer.” Her smile was faint. “I wasn’t good enough.”

“Why?” Jason shook his head. “What did they care?”

“Oh—” Elizabeth jerked a shoulder. “A lot of things. I’m a Webber, but I’m a shame to my family, especially if you ask my parents. I paid, like, zero attention in school, barely got to graduation. I was a waitress, and now I’m a bartender…nothing like my sister Sarah who they basically picked out for you—” She winced. “Anyway, it’s all….it just boils down to this. They think I’m a gold digger who got pregnant to trap you and get my hands on your trust fund, and their worst nightmare came true when you married me.” She smiled ruefully. “Alan offered me money to leave town, but I refused, and he’s always been angry he couldn’t get rid of me the way he did Nikki.”

“Nikki?” Jason echoed, bewildered. He’d lost track of the conversation entirely. “Who—”

“When we were still in high school, AJ was going to marry this girl. Nikki Langton. She probably was trying to get to AJ for the money, but Alan paid her to go away, and she went.” Elizabeth picked at her nails, looking away from him. “It was a little better when Cady was born. You know, Edward has his issues, but he really does love his family. He just…wants to control them, you know? He thinks he knows best. But…well, any chance of things getting better…”

Elizabeth dragged in a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get into all of that. Especially when I can’t…I can’t prove any of it, right? And that’s what you wanted. You wanted to make up your own mind. I thought maybe if you wanted someone to read through that or you know what you’re looking for now, you could…for yourself. Decide what you want. I mean, listen, the conservatorship was a horrible thing, I thought, but since the only thing Edward’s done with it is to get rid of me, maybe you don’t mind—”

“I got fired from my job because of it,” Jason said flatly, and she looked at him, her eyes wide. “Kicked out of Jake and Kelly’s. He wanted to force me back into that house. It’s not just about you.”

“Oh. I didn’t…Emily hasn’t told me much. I didn’t want to know,” Elizabeth confessed, her cheeks flushing and her eyes averting again. “And Luke and Sonny really just said people were being pressured, though I guess I knew it was part of this. I just…I know why it started, so I was blaming myself for all of it—” She closed her eyes. “Being selfish. Just like always. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” She swiped at her cheeks, brushing away the few tears that had escaped. “Well, you know everything now. Or at least you know what I know. And you have access to anything else.”

He didn’t know what he was supposed to think or feel — it was all muddled and confusing again. There was still so much else he didn’t know — and maybe plenty he didn’t want to know. And he didn’t like how he kept making her cry.

“What else is in the bag?” Jason said finally, noticing that her tote wasn’t entirely empty. “You said I had everything.”

“Oh. I didn’t know what else to bring, so—” Elizabeth pulled out the last few files. “Um…I looked in your desk at the apartment, and I don’t know. There were financial things. The taxes from last year, and you were keeping a folder for this year, though I might need that back—” Her brow furrowed. “That’s next month, isn’t it? I don’t…there are bank statements. You never threw anything out. I thought you…might want to see for yourself about the trust funds. And you have the bank now, maybe you could ask for other accounts—there’s more stuff at the apartment—” She tapped the bottom file. “And this is college stuff. Um, you went to Stanford for undergrad, and you were in PCU for med school. I don’t know if you wanted it, but it was part of the story, and I just…”

There was too much on the table. Too much history he didn’t want, and now he regretted ever hinting he wanted to find out things for himself, because she’d actually listened and now there was too much. There was a life here, proof and evidence of everything that he’d never ever remember.

Jason shoved away from the table, and a few things fell to the floor. “I didn’t ask for all of this.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth’s face drained of color and she looked down at the table. “Oh. Right. I did…it’s…more than you asked for. You just asked about the hospital, and I’m sorry—I just I didn’t want to…” Her hands were shaking as she started to shove things back into the bag. “I’m sorry. I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave anything out because people always do that and then I did too much. I just…you tell me what you want to keep and I’ll take the rest—”

“Just stop—” Jason held up his hands. “Stop. Okay? I don’t know. I don’t want any of this! I don’t know you, and I don’t know what any of this is! I don’t care how much paper you shove in front me, I’m not going to remember you!”

“I didn’t…” Elizabeth pressed her lips together, then rose to her feet. “I wasn’t trying to make you remember,” she said, though her voice seemed steadier now. And now she was looking at him. “You know, there’s no manual or instructions for how to do this, okay? Unless you have one you want to share, I’m just trying to figure this out the same way you are! You aren’t the only person whose entire life ended three months ago, okay? You don’t remember anything, fine. But I do. And I’m doing my best. You tell me when to back off, and I’ll do that. But don’t yell at me for trying to give you what I thought you wanted.”

He fisted his hands at his side. She was right, of course she was, but there was all this pressure inside, this tightness, and he just wanted to hurt someone—he wanted it to go away— “I’m telling you to back off.”

“Then I’m backing off.” She yanked her purse up. “You keep the papers. Throw them out, burn them, I don’t care—”

And then she left, slamming the door so hard that it rattled in the frame. The room was silent now, the air was gone, and all that was left was the information she’d dumped on him.

Jason exhaled slowly, then crouched down to pick up what he’d knocked from the table — the first few things he’d looked at. The marriage certificate…and the baby book. He carried the book over to the bed, and sat down, cracking open the cover again.

On the first page, there was another copy of the birth certificate, pasted inside. He stopped to read it again. Cadence Audrey Quartermaine, born September 19, 1995 to Jason Morgan Quartermaine and Elizabeth Imogene Webber. Beneath the birth certificate, someone had written birthday twins! And then Jason remembered that he was supposed to be have been born on September 19, too.

There was more information about her birth — she’d been born at General Hospital at 9:25 AM. A Tuesday. She’d been six pounds and 13 ounces. A birth announcement that didn’t make any mention of her grandparents on either side, just of her parents.

A photograph under the page that said “My First Home” and Jason stopped to study it, to make the colors and lines and shapes make sense to him. They were standing on a street in front of a building — a brick one, he realized. Elizabeth’s face was pale, clean of any makeup, and she looked tired. He held the baby in his arms. She had almost no hair, and a yellow outfit.

There was a page of with a record of accomplishments — and most of it was blank. There was something so stark about it that sat with him. Makes known likes and dislikes – from birth. Follows movements with eyes – 5 weeks.

But there was nothing written next to recognizes mother and father or laughs aloud. The following pages were blank, too. First Christmas. First Birthday. It was empty.

It was a book meant for a long-lived life, with pages for weddings and school and jobs — but they were snow white. Empty. Nothing had been written on them. And nothing ever would.

He thought about that picture of himself standing in front of a building with a baby who hadn’t lived long enough to recognize her parents or even to laugh. He didn’t know yet exactly when this baby had died, only that it had been sometime in November. And then Jason gotten into the car just after Christmas.

He’d woken up into a world with nothing in it — no memories, no recognition of anyone he was supposed to know. And maybe for the first time, Jason could see there was a silver lining in that. He didn’t remember this baby, and wouldn’t have to live with that memory.

But now there was a heaviness hanging over him. Because he didn’t remember this baby. And there was a paper that said he’d been her father.  Photographs that proved he’d cared about her, about her mother.

And that mother had buried her child and lost her husband weeks later.

Jason closed the book, set it aside, and returned to the table stacked with documents and folders. She’d done too much, he thought, but she was the only person who had actually listened to him. Had heard what maybe he hadn’t understood either. That he needed to know these facts for himself —

How could he complain now because he had too many facts to digest?

Jason went to the plastic phone on the night stand. He wanted to know exactly how much the Quartermaines had known and he needed someone who could explain these legal papers to him—

And there weren’t that many people who could do both.

“Justus? Hey. Uh, you said if I ever needed anything—”

Note: I pulled my own baby book from the shelf in my office and used my own information, lol, for some of the milestones, and the page content.

November 23, 2023

Update Link: Signs of LifeChapter 36 | Chapter 37 | Chapter 38

Whoops, another week, another set of forgotten chapters. I’ve been battling a cold all week, and the congestion is really lingering which is making it hard to sleep, and as always, I’m trying to prioritize the writing which is going along. I hit a bit of a snag this week only because I just…didn’t plot out a certain set of scenes and I should have, and now that I’m writing my planned scenes, I feel the lack.  It’s an easy fix honestly, and I’m taking care of it today. We’re still on track to complete NaNoWriMo with a story I can actually edit later, lol.

I think the biggest thing I’m dealing with is a little regret I didn’t get a chance to take a better look at the prepped story. I did all of the planning and chapter breakdown last year and meant to revisit it this fall before writing, but then I had my injury and never got to do it. I think I mentioned I was following the “Take Care of Maya” trial and story really closely and it’s really inspired me to think more deeply about the hospital part of this story. I’m tackling the fake drugs story GH half-assed in 2008, and I’ve gotten a really good look at how hospitals run while watching this trial, and some of the, uh, problems. So I’m working it in on the fly and plan to deepen it more in the beta draft.

Anyway, that’s just to say that I’m enjoying writing the story, and I hope you’ll like it too one day. Have a great Thanksgiving!

This entry is part 38 of 41 in the Signs of Life

Today was gonna be the day, but they’ll never throw it back to you
And by now, you should’ve somehow realised what you’re not to do
I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now

And all the roads that lead you there were winding
And all the lights that light the way are blinding
There are many things that I would like to say to you, but I don’t know how

Wonderwall, Oasis

Thursday, February 3, 2000

PCPD: Squad Room

“Wait here,” Jason murmured to Elizabeth by the doors. “I’m just going to talk to Alexis, and then we’ll get out of here.”

“All right.” Elizabeth caught his hand as he started to walk away. “Hey.” He looked back at her. “None of this is your fault,” she told him. “It’s not.”

He squeezed her hand, then released it. She was wrong, of course, but he appreciated the attempt. If he’d told Sonny weeks ago, if he’d found a way to do it more quietly, he could have kept this from blowing up.

But instead, he’d waited. He’d been selfish, trying to protect himself and Michael, and not doing what was right. Now Sonny had been arrested for assault and trespassing, Carly was in the wind, and Michael’s life was going to be destroyed anyway. All Jason had done with his silence was delay the inevitable.

“Hey.” Alexis emerged from the interrogation room with a sigh. “Alan’s holding firm on the charges of trespassing, and right now, AJ’s not in the mood to deal.”

Jason scrubbed his hands down his face. “They’ll back down eventually,” he muttered. “To protect the name. The last thing they want is to be splashed over the papers with all of this.”

“You’re probably right. When Edward gets down here,” Alexis continued, “I suspect he’ll talk to Alan. AJ’s angry. Humiliated. Which he has a right to be, I guess—” She bit her lip. “I don’t think I can get Sonny out today. Maybe later tonight if I can get a quick arraignment, but—”

“That’s fine.” Jason glanced back at Elizabeth, then at Taggert who was glaring in her direction. “I need time to track Carly down and it’s easier if—”

“Why bother?” Alexis wanted to know. “What purpose—”

“I don’t care about her,” Jason interrupted. “But Carly’s angry. And panicking. She does her worst damage at this point. Shooting Tony, having me arrested for kidnapping—” He shook his head. “And she’s going to take it out on me. The last time she did that—”

“Right.” Alexis held up a finger. “Excuse me.” She stalked towards Taggert who had just stood. “Going somewhere?” she asked coolly. Taggert tore his eyes away from Elizabeth and looked at the attorney.

“I just thought I’d ask—”

“She’s represented by counsel and there’s an injunction against this department. You’re not allowed to breathe in her direction,” Alexis reminded him. “And we’re still reserving our right to sue—”

“I didn’t—” Taggert took a deep breath. “None of that is my fault—”

“No?” Alexis arched a brow, then tapped the shield he wore on a chain around his neck. “This makes it your fault. You were the lead officer on that search and you knew from prior encounters that Capelli was overly aggressive and angry with my client. You let him into that penthouse. You let him go upstairs to search her personal possessions. You let her go upstairs with him—”

“She went on her own—”

“Protect and serve,” Alexis cut in. “You stayed downstairs to harass Jason, and you let Capelli loose. Her wedding dress, by the way, couldn’t be repaired.”

Taggert grimaced, then looked over at Elizabeth again who just stared back at him. He returned his attention to Alexis. “You and I both know she’s protecting him. That she knows something about Moreno’s murder—”

“Prove it,” Alexis challenged. “Until then, stay away from my clients. Slapping a badge on your chest doesn’t make you a good man. You should know better than that.”

Jason waited for Alexis to back into the interrogation room before joining Elizabeth again. “Hey. Let’s get out of here.”


Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason dropped his keys on the desk and rubbed the back of his neck. “When do you have class?”

“In a few hours.” Elizabeth perched on the arm of the sofa. “I’d skip it, but I can only miss two classes all semester, and I’d rather save that for something that isn’t about Carly.” She paused. “Will you call me if you find her?”

“I don’t think—” His sigh was heavy. “I don’t think we will tonight.” He grimaced. “I’m sorry.”

She hated to see him looking so lost, so upset with himself. He’d waited too long to tell the truth, she knew that, but he’d only wanted to protect Michael. It wasn’t really that terrible when it came down to it. “I went back to the studio last night,” she told him.

Jason looked at her, his expression grateful for the change in topic. “Yeah?”

“I’ve been trying to repaint the Wind,” she continued. “You know, the way it was before. With the Ferris wheel, and Angelina’s yellow door. But I can’t make it come out right. Something always feels off.”

He grimaced. “I’m sorry—”

“No, it’s—it sucks,” Elizabeth admitted. “But you know, it happens. Art gets destroyed. I’m taking this class about the history of architecture this year, and we were comparing the ruins in Greece to what historians think they looked like. The Parthenon, do you know it?”

“I’ve seen pictures.” He tipped his head. “What does that have to do with your painting?”

“It’s beautiful now. Even ruined. It must have been incredible when it was all put together, but it’s still beautiful now. Because you look at it, and you think about the civilization that created it.” Elizabeth stood and reached for his hand, drawing him closer. “When I wanted to paint the wind, it wasn’t just the visual I wanted to put on the canvas. I was trying to find a way to express how it felt, you know? The way it blocks out everything else and makes the world go away.”

“Is this your way of asking for a ride?” he asked, a little suspiciously. “Because you’re not driving—”

Elizabeth laughed. “No, but pencil that in for later. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve gone out.” She took a deep breath. “I can’t fix the painting that was ruined. And maybe if I kept trying, I could make another one that looks exactly the same. Just like they could rebuild all those ruined places. I want to see them, you know. In Athens. And in Rome, and everywhere else. You can rebuild it, but it won’t ever be the same. It’s okay. Because I already put that feeling on the canvas. I don’t need to look at it to remember how it felt.”

“I still hate that it happened. That you went through it—”

“Yeah, it still sucks.” Elizabeth traced a finger down his thin sweater, circling one of the buttons at the collar. “But the feeling is what mattered. That night at Jake’s, I was drowning, and I thought that it would never get any better. I was sure of it, and you made me feel like you understood that it would never get any better. You didn’t tell me it would, you just sat there and listened.” She flicked her eyes up to him. “And then you took me on the bike, and it went away. And eventually, it stayed away. The grief, it’s part of me. It always will be. But it doesn’t surround me. It’s not what I think about when I wake up. Or go to sleep.”

“I’m glad.” He stroked her cheek with the back of his knuckles, and she sighed. She loved when he touched her. “You did that for me, you know that, don’t you? I wasn’t much better back then.”

“Today, I decided to start trying to paint a new feeling.” She licked her lips and his eyes darkened slightly. She absolutely loved that she could do that. “I wasn’t just the girl who lost Lucky when I met you. I was the girl who was frozen forever in that night, always doomed to be crawling out of the bushes, looking for the pieces of my world that couldn’t ever be put back together.”

He exhaled slowly, his breath a bit shaky. “Elizabeth—”

“Even with Lucky, I never thought I’d move past that. Maybe I could get through it for him, and I knew he’d be kind. But I could never, ever imagine wanting someone to touch me. To look at me. I just knew I’d always be locked in that night.”

He brushed her cheek again, and she realized a tear had escaped. “So that’s what I’m trying to paint now. What it felt like when you showed me I was wrong.”

“You showed yourself,” Jason corrected, with a swift shake of his head. “I was just in the room—”

“Don’t do that,” Elizabeth said, fisting her hands in his sweater. “Don’t make yourself less that way or pretend that who you are and the way you took care of me wasn’t important. Not every man would have your patience and understanding. And not just any man would have made me feel more than just comfortable, but—” She hesitated, unsure of the right word. “Powerful,” she said finally. “You gave me back my power, Jason. That was you.

He dipped his forehead down, rested against hers. “You trusted me. There aren’t words to tell you what it meant for you to do that.”

“No, there aren’t. So I’m trying to paint it instead, and when I do, I’ll be able to tell you about it.”

Quartermaine Mansion: Family Room

AJ stared at the minibar, at the decanter of vodka surrounded by other liquors. The glass tumblers by its side.

He’d thought Carly’s pregnancy was karma—the universe returning the favor and allowing AJ some revenge. He’d get to raise his brother’s child. He deserved that much, didn’t he?

But he’d been right that day with Carly — she was the punishment he deserved for what he’d done to his brother, what he’d done to his family. He’d been in this room with his parents, trying to block out the sound of their disappointment, the vision of their disgust—and Jason had been there, trying to make peace.

He’d give anything for that moment back, for just a chance not to leave the house. He’d go upstairs and sleep off the drunk, he’d wake up with a hangover but maybe then he’d go to rehab—

But there was no redemption. You couldn’t be forgiven for murder, and it didn’t matter if Jason hadn’t died. His brother, his beloved little brother, would never come home. It was worse, somehow, than death.

He deserved what Carly had done to him, and maybe he deserved even worse. He deserved to die himself, didn’t he? What kind of father could he ever be with his past, with his crimes?

As if in a trance, AJ reached for the vodka and poured himself a glass.


AJ turned and found Ned in the doorway, his hand up. “Don’t do it, AJ.”

“What’s the point?” AJ asked. He closed his eyes, wrapped both hands around the glass, letting the warmth of alcohol seep into his body, craving the burn as it slid down his throat. The way it would let him sink into nothing. All of this would go away. “Why bother staying sober?”

“For your son,” Ned said gently. He reached AJ and took the glass away. AJ didn’t fight. “Carly was a mistake. You did your best to give Michael a family, but that’s over now. She’s given you what you need to get her out your life for good. We’ll find her, AJ. You’ll serve her with papers, and it’ll finally be over.” Ned poured the vodka back into the decanter. “Carly’s not worth this.”

“I—” AJ swallowed hard. “I wanted it to work. I really tried.”

“I know you did.”

“I even asked Jason for permission,” he said. He met Ned’s eyes. “After you talked to me — I thought — I’ll get Jason’s blessing. And instead—”

“Instead, Jason decided to come forward. He must have been waiting. Maybe he thought it was your child. That there was a chance. Did you tell him there wasn’t?”

“Yeah.” AJ managed a laugh. “Yeah, I did. I tried to do the wrong thing in the right way. I guess I got what I deserved.” He exhaled slowly. “I won’t drink, Ned. Not tonight.”

“That’s enough then. We’ll take care of tomorrow when it comes.” Ned put his arm around AJ’s shoulders. “Let’s go upstairs. We’ll go see Michael, okay?”


Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason set the receiver down and put his head in his hands. Nothing. No sign of her. How the hell had Carly been able to disappear?

He glanced over when Elizabeth came through the door, her bag slung over her shoulder. “Hey. How was class?”

“Fine.” She dumped the bag on the sofa, then leaned against the side of the desk where he sat. “No luck?”

“No.” Jason leaned back, looking towards the ceiling. “She did this before. When Michael was born. She disappeared.”

“I remember.”

“There were decisions that had to be made about Michael. About his health. And he didn’t even have a name. I could have told the truth then.” He tilted his chin back down to look at her. “I didn’t.”


“Because I’d promised her,” Jason said. “And I knew what the Quartermaines would do. She’d never get the baby back. They’d use her leaving against them, and I just thought—she deserved a chance. But I should have told the truth.”

“You’re saying that now, two years later, because you have the advantage of knowing what she was capable of,” Elizabeth said gently. “Give yourself a break, Jason. You did the best you could at the time, and Michael’s better off for it. Maybe there were other times you could have told, but you’re only human. And you loved him. I know how much you still love him. He’ll always be a little bit yours.”

“I just—she’s out there,” Jason said slowly, “angry, scared, and panicking. And planning.”

“Jason, what can she do?” Elizabeth wanted to know. “I mean, to you? To Sonny? Or the Quartermaines? Realistically, what can she do now? What does she have left to hurt anyone with?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. He didn’t really have all that much to take, he thought. He had Lila and Emily. He had Elizabeth. He reached out for Elizabeth’s hands and drew her down to sit in his lap, holding her close. She tucked her head under his chin. He traced her wedding ring with the tip of his index finger.

“You’re doing the best you can, Jason. Carly, Sonny, and AJ are adults who can make their own mistakes.”

“Yeah. I’ll just feel better if she’s somewhere where she can be watched.” Jason exhaled slowly, then stroked Elizabeth’s back. “But there’s nothing else I can do until she makes a mistake and we find her.”

“Then I think—” Elizabeth shifted until she was straddling him, one knee on each side. “I think we should find something else to do.” She arched a brow. “I’m really tired of talking about Carly.”

“Me, too.” Jason grinned then, and swallowed her gasp with his mouth as he abruptly stood. He set her on the desk, and she parted her legs so he could get closer.

“You know, the desk is on that list of I made,” Elizabeth teased as she nipped his lips. “Right after the shower.”

This entry is part 37 of 41 in the Signs of Life

Please tell me why
My car is in the front yard
And I’m sleeping with my clothes on
I came in through the window last night
And you’re long gone, gone

It’s no surprise to me, I am my own worst enemy
‘Cause every now and then, I kick the living shit out of me
The smoke alarm is going off, and there’s a cigarette
Still burning

My Own Worst Enemy, Lit

Wednesday, February 3, 2000

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Sonny looked from Jason to Elizabeth, then back again as he absorbed what Jason had just told him.

“I don’t know if you’re the only other person it could be,” Jason continued, “but AJ made it clear to me yesterday that it isn’t his baby.”

Sonny turned away, scrubbing his hands down his face. “How long?” he asked quietly. “How long have you known she was pregnant?”

“Sonny—” Elizabeth began but Jason shook his head, released her hand, and stepped forward.

“Since the day of wedding reception. I didn’t say anything at first because Carly said there was a chance it was AJ’s baby—”

“And you believed her?” Sonny bit out, whirling back. “She does nothing but lie—”

“I know. I told her I wanted a paternity test—”

“Like they can’t be faked—” Sonny’s gaze burned into his. “Was this your idea of revenge? I put your family at risk, you keep mine from me?”

“No, that’s not—”

“Sonny—” Elizabeth tried again, but he wasn’t in any mood to be comforted or talked down.

“You had no right to—” Sonny shook his head. “To hell with this,” he bit out. He stalked past them, slamming the door behind him.

“He was never going to take this well,” Elizabeth murmured, putting a hand on Jason’s shoulder.

“He would have if I had told him when I found out,” Jason replied, irritated with himself. And he’d thought of keeping quiet even longer? Was Sonny right? Had there been some thought in the back of his mind that Sonny deserved to be in the dark?

“Should we go after him?” Elizabeth broke into his thoughts, and he frowned, looking down at her. “He’s going to the mansion to confront Carly, but she’s not alone. AJ might be there. Lila definitely is, and maybe Michael—”

“Sonny might be angry, but—” Jason paused. He wasn’t worried about Lila or Michael, he realized. He trusted Sonny enough to moderate himself around his grandmother and a toddler.

But if AJ was there—or Edward or Alan—if any of the Quartermaine men were—Sonny would be arrested before he got two steps into the mansion and that would be a headache none of them could afford.

“You’re right. Let’s go.”

Quartermaine Estate: Family Room

Carly returned to the house, the nausea in her stomach gone but somehow the sick feeling remained. It was just nerves, she thought. Guilt. And worry. Jason was keeping her secret for now, but eventually he’d want results. And Carly still hadn’t found Lorraine or anyone else to help her with the paternity test.

She was running out of time.

She should have gotten out of town when she’d had the chance. Jason had been ready to make her and Michael disappear, but no, Carly had to reach a bit higher. Had to go for the gold.

She’d never settled in her life, and until these last few weeks, she’d never had to. She’d set out to destroy her mother’s marriage, and she’d done it. She’d schemed to make sure no one took Michael for her, and until now, she’d managed that. She’d made sure she was a wedge between Jason and Robin—

It should been easier to get the little bitch away from Jason. Robin had almost been pathetically easy to get rid of once Michael was in the picture. Carly had nearly tipped Jason into having an actual affair with her, and if not for that Webber bitch—

She squeezed her eyes shut. If Jason had just left with her, had taken Michael and run, they’d be somewhere and a family. Jason would believe this child was his. It should be his. It wasn’t fair—

There was a thud and some distant voices somewhere in the house. Carly frowned. Who was even here to argue with? AJ had taken the day off to spend with Michael, but nearly everyone else was gone—

Carly went towards the entrance connecting the family room to the foyer—stopping when the voices became more clear.

When she recognized them.

“Where the hell is that whore?” Sonny demanded. Carly couldn’t hear AJ’s response, but she didn’t need to.

It was over. Sonny knew. And he was going to tell AJ—if he hadn’t already—

Damn it.

Carly closed the door again and headed back to the terrace. She’d leave through the gardens, get into the garage, take one of the cars—

It was time for Plan C.

Quartermaine Estate: Driveway

Jason slowed the bike as they approached the main entrance of the mansion, but even before he’d switched off the ignition, he could predict the disaster laying ahead. One of Sonny’s cars was parked haphazardly near the garage, the driver’s door hanging open. The front door to the mansion was wide open —

And he could hear the shouting from where they stood in the drive.

None of this had anything to do with him, Jason realized as he stood next to the bike. Sonny might be his friend, but it wasn’t really Jason’s job to run after him. And Carly and this baby were nothing to him.

But his grandmother was inside, and she didn’t deserve any of this.

“Let’s go.” He took Elizabeth’s hand and headed in.

Sonny hadn’t made it further than the foyer—AJ and Ned were blocking his progress, and Alan was standing behind them, fuming.

“I want to see her now!” Sonny bit out. “Either get out of my way or—”

“I’ll be damned if I let you anywhere in this house,” Alan cut in. Sonny lurched forward again, and AJ shoved him back, the younger man’s eyes slightly wild, his hair disheveled. “I’ll have you arrested—”

“Sonny—” Jason reached for his partner but Sonny shoved him back.

“Not without talking to that—”

Ned grimaced as Sonny came forward, and this time Sonny threw a punch, landing a solid blow to AJ’s jaw as Ned ducked out of the way.

“Damn it—” AJ swore, then leapt at Sonny. The two of them began a fist fight, rolling around on the ground, trading punches, jabs, and kicks as Ned struggled to separate them.

“That’s it!” Alan strode to the phone and snatched it off the receiver. “I’m calling the police—”

“I’ll find Carly,” Elizabeth told Jason reluctantly as she slipped around the fracas and Jason moved in to break up the fight.

Elizabeth checked in the front parlor, then in the family room where she found a worried Lila with an irritated Reginald, her ever present manservant.

“Oh, darling—” Lila held out her hands, and Elizabeth squeezed them. “If you’re here, I hope that means Jason is. He’ll know how to sort everything out. He always does.”

“I know,” Elizabeth said with a rueful sigh. “He’s dealing with AJ and Sonny. I thought I’d try to find Carly before Sonny can—” Not that she cared much, but like Jason, she wanted to contain the situation somehow.

“Don’t bother,” Reginald said tightly. “She’s gone.”

“Gone?” Elizabeth echoed. “How—she’s not upstairs either?”

“As soon as Mr. Corinthos barged in, I came to find her,” Lila said, her voice shaking. “She was in the gardens, heading for the garage.”

“I tried to follow, but by the time I got there,” Reginald said, “her car was gone.”

That wasn’t good. Elizabeth went back to the foyer, relieved to find that Jason and Ned had separated AJ and Sonny, though both men were still tossing insults. She met Jason’s eyes and lightly shook her head, hoping he’d understand.

“I don’t care what crime you think was committed against you,” Alan told Sonny, his eyes burning. “You have no right to come into this house and attack my family. If you were dumb enough to sleep with another man’s wife, then you deserve every piece of misery coming your way—”

“She had no right to lie—”

“She had every right,” Alan sneered. “Isn’t that how Jason justified stealing Michael for over a year? The right of a mother? I may not want Carly anywhere near my family, but don’t pretend you didn’t lie for Jason, either.”

Jason flinched, then closed his eyes, his grip loosening sightly at this reminder that it had all started with him.

Elizabeth scowled at Jason’s father, but kept her mouth shut as she crossed the room to stand by Jason. She’d been in Port Charles long enough to know Alan had no business casting stones at anyone else. After all, Jason was the result of an extramarital affair, and she knew even AJ’s paternity had been in doubt as an infant.

Officers from the PCPD arrived then, and hauled Sonny out in cuffs. Elizabeth waited until he was clear before leaning up to whisper in Jason’s ear. “Carly took off as soon as she heard Sonny in the hall. Lila saw her go, and Reginald confirmed her car is gone.”

Jason winced. Now Carly had time to plan the next step, and he really didn’t want to think about what she might have planned. She had to know he’d told Sonny. He had to find her before she had time to plot her revenge.

PCPD: Squad Room

Bobbie came through the double doors, wincing as she saw the cluster of men around Taggert’s desk. Lila had nearly been in tears when she’d called, hoping that Carly was with her. She could barely get the words out, so Reginald had taken the phone and continued the story. Bobbie had listened painfully as her daughter’s latest schemes were revealed.

Jason wasn’t the father of Carly’s child. Sonny Corinthos was. And now everyone knew.

She’d rushed down to the police department, not entirely sure what she could do to resolve the issue but needing to do something. Bobbie felt responsible for the mayhem Carly had wrought.

“Bobbie—” AJ spotted her, his hair disheveled, a bruise forming beneath his eye. “What are you doing here?”

“I came—” She swallowed. “I came to see what I could do. There must be something.”

“Unless you know where Carly is—” AJ shook his head. “But you don’t. I know you wouldn’t. I’m sorry, Bobbie. For everything. I thought she and I—I thought we had an understanding. I know you think I’m terrible—”

“I think Carly has that effect on people.” Bobbie squeezed his hand. “What happened? Sonny came in? Started a fight.”

“I tried to—” AJ exhaled slowly. “I tried to do it right. I knew the baby wasn’t mine. So I thought if I just explained to Jason that we could make this work and no one had to get hurt, he’d understand. I tried to ask for permission.” His mouth tightened. “And I guess Jason—”

“He must have thought there was a chance it was your baby,” Bobbie said, wincing when she thought of the pressure she’d put on Jason and Elizabeth to handle the situation. “And you made it clear there wasn’t.”

“Yeah, so he decided to blow it all up.” AJ looked over to his father, still arguing with Sonny over charges of trespass. “I deserve this,” he murmured.

“No one deserves this, AJ—”

“Really?” AJ shook his head. “Go home, Bobbie. You’ve stood by Carly long enough. There’s nothing left to do.”

Planned Parenthood: Parking Lot

Carly switched off the ignition, and sat in her car for a long moment, staring at the gray building in front of her, the cluster of protesters that had nothing better to do than harass women.

She’d known all along that this was an option, but it had remained at the bottom of the list. If she kept the baby, she’d spend the rest of her life in court, fighting for Michael, fighting for this baby. Neither AJ nor Sonny would go quietly. And Jason wasn’t there to help. Bobbie wouldn’t either.

She’d burned all the bridges.

It was time to do what she should have done from the beginning and make at least one of her problems go away.