Chapter Ten

Elizabeth unlocked her studio door and pushed it open. “You, in there now,” she directed with a push of her head to Jason.

Jason shrugged and walked in. She closed the door behind her, tossed her keys on the table and shrugged out of her jacket. Once it was hung up, she put her hands on her hips and glared at him.

“What did I do now?” he asked, mystified.

“Three years,” Elizabeth said, shaking her head. “What would possess you to tell my father that?”

Jason shrugged one shoulder. “He asked me and I told him. He shouldn’t have asked if he didn’t want to know.”

She folded her arms across her chest. “Three years. Why didn’t you tell me?”

He raised an eyebrow. “Did you honestly want to hear it?”

She pursed her lips and looked down at the ground. “It’s possible,” she said. “I actually had a crush on you then.”

“A crush and being in love are two different things.”

“Well, duh,” Elizabeth remarked dryly. “But I never let myself feel more because you were…well, you were older than me and you…” She stopped and shrugged. “You were out of my league.”

“Out of your league?” Jason echoed.

“Uh, yeah,” Elizabeth said. “Have you looked at yourself lately? I was barely eighteen and I looked fourteen. How was I supposed to know you’d look twice at me?”

“So, wait, are you mad at me or not?” Jason asked.

“I’m not mad,” Elizabeth said frowning. “I just wished you wouldn’t egg him on.”

“I just answered his questions.”

“That’s what I’m talking about,” Elizabeth replied. “You know, in the course of like three days, he’s become more protective than Jeff Webber ever was. He asked those questions to have a reason to hate you more.”

“Wait, loving his daughter makes him hate me more?” Jason asked, the confusion clearly written on his face.

“Will you stop saying that?” Elizabeth asked.

“Saying what?” Jason asked. “That I love you?”

She grimaced. “Yeah. Stop saying that.”

“Why? It’s true.”

Elizabeth just shook her head and started to walk past him. He grabbed her shoulder to turn her around.

“You don’t believe me?” he asked.

“No, I believe you,” Elizabeth replied. “But it doesn’t do either of us any good.”

“Why not?” Jason asked.

She looked at the ground again. “Because we can’t do anything about it.”

“We can’t?”

“All right, I can’t,” Elizabeth replied, raising her eyes to meet his. “I can’t because I just…” She let out a frustrated breath. “I can’t, Jason. All right? Because it’s not enough.”

He pulled his hand away and ran it through his hair. “Yeah, I know that. But–”

“It’s not enough and it shouldn’t be,” she cut in. “I love you, too. And it doesn’t change the fact that Sonny still comes first. That you would do it all over again. And because I don’t rate very high on your priorities…it’s not enough.”

“Elizabeth–”

“Could you just leave?” she asked softly. “I mean, I appreciate you helping out and bringing the file and all that, but I just can’t do this anymore. I don’t like feeling like the bad guy and that’s how I feel right now. So, will you please leave?”

“All right,” Jason said. “See you later.” He opened the door and closed it. She sighed and drove both her hands through hair.

She headed for the phone and dialed a number. “Nikolas? Yeah, I need to see you tomorrow. Uh, huh. Bright and early, it’s an emergency. What kind? I just told Jason I loved him and then I made him leave. I’m not going to chase after him, Nikolas. Just…just meet me at Kelly’s tomorrow at eight, okay? We’ll even discuss the job. Okay, I’ll see you then.”

—-

Skye strode straight past Jax and towards the bedroom. She mumbled a quick hello to Jerry and was halfway through the bedroom doorway when Jax caught up to her.

“Skye, we need to talk.”

Skye whirled around and glared at him. “No, we don’t.”

“Yes, we do,” Jax replied, ignoring the jackhammer currently drilling away at his brain. Next time, he’d listen to Elizabeth and just say no to the Scotch.

Skye crossed her arms and intensified her glare. “Okay, fine. Talk.”

“I love you,” Jax began. “And I love Brenda.”

“Bad move,” Jerry grumbled.

“Quiet you,” Jax threw over his shoulder. “I didn’t say that right–”

The bedroom door slammed in his face. “Shit,” he muttered.

“Smashing job, little brother,” Jerry said. He stood. “I’m going to head back to the hotel.”

“I hate you,” Jax muttered.

Jerry shrugged. “I’ll get over it.” He smiled. “I was good tonight wasn’t I? Behaved myself and everything.”

Jax nodded. “Yes, you did. I was quite surprised. So, do you approve of him yet?”

Jerry frowned. “Hell, no. My little girl will not end up with a thug.”

“Your little girl is twenty-one years old and was in love with Spawn a lot longer than she’s been your daughter,” Jax reminded him. He headed for the kitchen and Jerry followed him.

“Doesn’t change that he’s not good enough for her,” Jerry replied watching Jax take a few aspirin, washing it down with a glass of water.

“You’re her father, no one’s ever going to be good enough for her,” Jax replied. He made a face. “They ought to make flavored aspirin.”

“They do,” Jerry said. “It’s liquid.”

“That’s for children,” Jax replied.

Jerry shrugged. “So, I take a few extra tablespoons. No harm done.”

Jax just shook his head. “He loves her.”

“Yeah, I caught that. Three years. She was just eighteen. I should kill him.”

“She was a mature eighteen.”

“How the hell would you know?” Jerry demanded.

Jax turned around to face him. “You don’t live in a town as long as I have without learning something about everyone here. She’s a tough girl. Survived her boyfriend dying in a fire, a few other unspeakable things we won’t discuss and she also took the Cassadines head-on. She was in a car accident this spring. I read about that in the paper. She was kidnapped and she’s in love with Morgan. You’d have to be tough to be able to do all that.”

Jerry narrowed his eyes. “How the hell do you know all of that?”

Jax shrugged. “After you told me she was part of the family, I had someone to do a report. A lot of it’s on public record.” He cleared his throat. “Anyway, she loves him, too. As you can tell, she’s already forgiven him. I predict another week until she takes him back.”

“Not if I can bloody help it,” Jerry muttered darkly.

“Jerry, don’t do anything stupid,” Jax warned. “You’ve only been her father for three days–I don’t think she’d hesitate to drop kick you.”

“Well, between you and me, you’re already doing enough stupid things,” Jerry said. “Telling Skye you love her and then in the next breath, saying you love Brenda, too. Moron.”

Jax frowned. “Well, it’s true. I love Skye and Brenda. I’m in love with Skye, but not with Brenda. She’s part of my past…I’m just working on putting her there.”

“If you cut out the first line, you might have a shot,” Jerry said.

“You think?”

“Stranger things have happened.”

—-

Nikolas frowned. “So let me get this straight,” he began stirring his coffee. “Jerry had an interrogation session with Jason where he actually answered questions about you.”

“Yep,” Elizabeth replied, buttering her toast. “Asked him how long he knew me, if he was in love with me and how long. To which Jason said three years.”

Nikolas’s frowned deepened. “So he was in love with you when he was staying with you that Christmas?”

“According to him,” Elizabeth replied. She took a bite of her toast and chewed it thoughtfully. “I can’t believe I told him I loved him.”

“Well, it was only fair,” Nikolas replied. “He’s said it to you.”

“Yeah, but it was easier to push him away when he didn’t know the feeling was returned.”

Nikolas leaned forward. “Elizabeth.”

She wrinkled her nose. “What?”

“Jason might be a little slow, but he’s not dumb. He had to know you had some feelings for him.”

She shook her head. “Not the way I left it,” she replied. “I told you about the conversation we had the night I left the penthouse. I made it clear that there wasn’t a chance for us.”

“Yeah, well, you and I know that’s a lie,” Nikolas said. “You know you’re gonna take him back.”

“You know, I count on you to remind me why I don’t go back to him,” Elizabeth said. “You’re supposed to tell me what a thug he is, that he’s no good for me and all that fun stuff. What am I supposed to do when you take his side?” she complained.

He sighed. “Look, I’m not going to lie. I don’t think Jason’s good enough for you–I think you deserve better. I think you could do better–but I also know you love him. And that he apparently loves you, too. I know you don’t want to get hurt again, but honestly, Elizabeth, how much of life can you have if you constantly shield yourself because of that?”

She sat back in her chair. “I hate you.”

He smirked. “Why?”

“Because you’re on his side.”

“I am not on Jason’s side,” Nikolas said, grimacing. “May someone strike me dead if the day ever comes when I am. I’m on your side, Elizabeth. I’ve spent far too much of our friendship worrying about what Lucky wanted or Gia wanted…and not enough about you. I didn’t see the way you and Lucky had grown apart…I didn’t see that you wanted out…I didn’t see anything during the accident except that Gia couldn’t be blamed whether or not she did it. Those were my mistakes and I am sorry. But I’m never going to sacrifice our friendship for something that’s not what you want. If you don’t want to be with Jason, that’s fine. In fact, that’s great news. But if you do, don’t decide that it’s not worth the pain. Because love…the real thing and not the stuff in movies…real love is always going to be painful. Because it’s real and you can’t fake it. You have to give everything in you to make it work and when you do that, you’re taking a risk. Elizabeth, love is always worth the pain.”

She sniffled a little. “I really hate you now.”

He put a hand over her hand on the table. “You know I’m only telling you what you already know.”

“Yeah,” Elizabeth sighed. “I know.” She looked up. “So if I decide it is worth it…do I have to do it today?”

He shook his head. “No, you don’t.”

She gave him a little smile. “Good.” She looked at her watch. “Crap.”

“What?”

“Jax and Jerry are going to meet their parents’ plane and I was gonna go with them.” She yanked her coat off the back of the chair. “Can you give me a ride to the lakehouse so I don’t miss them?”

“Sure,” Nikolas replied, standing and tossing some bills on the table.

—-

The ride to the Port Charles Airport was silent as the two brothers sat in the front seat and Elizabeth leaned her head against the window. She was hearing Nikolas’s words in her head over and over again. She hated that he was right–she absolutely despised him right now. How dare he go and change her mind about protecting herself from Jason? Some friend he was. He should have told her what she wanted to hear. Would have made her life a lot easier.

“Everything all right, princess?” Jerry asked.

She frowned. When had he started calling her that? “Everything’s fine,” she replied quietly.

Jerry twisted in his seat. “Did Morgan do something?”

She bit her lip and shook her head. “No. He didn’t.”

“Jerry–” Jax said, his tone warning him.

“Because I’ve got this shotgun back at the hotel–”

“He didn’t do anything,” Elizabeth cut in. “I’m just…I’m not having a good day.”

Jerry seemed to take the hint and turned back in his seat. His parents would snap Elizabeth out of her funk, he was sure of it.

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