Chapter Five

Jerry was nursing a Scotch when Jax entered the lakehouse. He barely looked up as he said, “She’s in the bedroom and she’s given me explicit directions to let you know you’re on the couch.”

Jax didn’t answer as he shrugged out of his suit jacket. He hung it on the back of a chair and turned to his brother. “So, where were you before dinner?”

“Working an angle,” Jerry replied, absently. He stood and went over to the bar to refill his glass. “I’m thinking it’s connected to the friend who sold her in the first place. Except it was a mob hit so I haven’t the foggiest idea how to get any information on that without causing any suspicion.”

Jax shrugged. “You could ask Elizabeth to ask Sonny Corinthos. They are, or at least were, good friends. He’d be more than likely to give her any information he might have.”

“That’s true,” Jerry replied, thoughtfully. “But I’d have to tell her the name and I don’t want to have to do that.”

“Why not?” Jax asked curiously. “You wouldn’t even tell me.”

“Because I’m not at all sure he’s completely dead,” Jerry replied. “You know mob hits in Port Charles–they never go right.”

“What does that have to do with telling me?” Jax asked.

Jerry shrugged. “Just some things you keep to yourself that’s all…and having made the decision to trust this fool…well, it makes me look bad.”

“You do realize that Elizabeth will eventually find out that you’re keeping that from her,” Jax pointed out. “Better if you volunteer it now.”

“Did she get home all right?” Jerry asked.

“Yeah. Why in the world does she live in that drafty building?” Jax asked. “You’d think she’d move into a more suitable…heated place. It was absolutely freezing in her hallway.”

“She’s lived there for three years now–and unless she moves back in with Morgan, I don’t see that changing. Luckily, that seems like a far off prospect,” Jerry said cheerfully.

“I don’t know. She loves him, you know.”

“How can you tell?” Jerry asked curiously. He sat up to peer at his brother. “Did she say something?”

“Well she didn’t say it so many words but I could tell,” Jax replied. He poured himself a drink and sat on the couch. “She’ll forgive him eventually. Pity–she’s a good girl.”

“I wish she wouldn’t pin her hopes on that thug,” Jerry said, distastefully. “She’s better than him.”

“Jerry, if I were you, I wouldn’t go trying to make myself look better than Morgan–you forget…you’re no choir boy,” Jax reminded him.

Jerry shrugged and grinned cheerfully. “Yes, but it when comes down to it, I’m on the right side of the law more often than not. Especially lately.”

“Still…guys like Morgan…they tend to draw the women in. And they never break free.” A dark shadow passed over Jax’s face briefly.

“You’re talking about Brenda,” Jerry said. “You’re married–don’t worry about her.”

“I have to worry about her–she’s got a terminal illness,” Jax snapped. “She’s going to die.”

“And when she does, you’ll still want Skye to come home to. If you don’t play your cards right, little brother, you won’t have that. So no more kissing Brenda,” Jerry ordered. “And anyway, didn’t she choose you in the end?”

“Yes, I suppose so.” Jax studied Jerry. “Elizabeth’s a nice girl–don’t do anything stupid. I think she’ll fit in with the rest of the family well.”

“Yes,” Jerry agreed. “She will. She and Skye seemed to get along famously at dinner.” He frowned. “I saw Corinthos there with some blonde. He knows I’m in town.”

Jax nodded. “His wife, Carly. And what does that matter?”

“Corinthos and me…we don’t exactly have a good track record. We’ve had a few run-ins while I’ve been gone. The man hates me.”

“A lot of men hate you,” Jax said absently. “Anyway, that’s why it’d be a good idea to let Elizabeth help. She’s got connections–she might as well get some use out of it.”

“And then I’ll just be pushing her closer to Morgan. No thanks. I’ve only been a father for two days, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want that.”

“Now if someone had told her mother that about you…” Jax trailed off.

“I was a little more law-abiding when I was with Beth,” Jerry argued.

“Beth?” Jax’s ears perked up. “Is that what you called her?”

“Her name was Elizabeth Robinson,” Jerry said. “But I called her Beth. She looks like Elizabeth.”

“Maybe you should show her a picture,” Jax suggested. “I’m sure she’d appreciate that.”

Jerry nodded thoughtfully. “She would.”

“So you going to let Elizabeth help?” Jax asked, finishing his drink.

Jerry shrugged. “I’ll give it some thought.”

—-

Elizabeth slipped her key in the door and opened it. Her conversation with Jax on the docks had been interesting to say the least. It had given her a few things to think about. She’d never really known Jax before dinner tonight and now suddenly, he was her uncle. And they seemed to have something very big in common. They’d both been in love with people who they thought were dead. They’d both moved on–developed feelings for other people when the first people came back.

The only difference? Jax managed to get married. Elizabeth could barely get Jason to talk to her half the time.

Certainly didn’t seem to be a problem now, Elizabeth thought bitterly. She kicked her shoes off and changed into sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Had Jason really considered lying to her to be worse than hurting her? She thought about it. Above all else–they’d always been honest with each other. They’d never really lied–Elizabeth had made tiny one in the park the previous year when she said she’d rather be with Lucky than be free, but Jason was willing to overlook that and Elizabeth was chalking it up to temporary insanity.

But the one constant in her friendship had always been honesty. She’d hurt him–he’d hurt her. Of course, not nearly as much as she’d managed to hurt him. First with Lucky, then with Zander. She frowned. If Jason had actually lied to her–accepted her comfort over Sonny’s death and told her to her face how much he missed him, etc…would she have felt betrayed when the truth came out?

The answer was a resounding yes. She would have been hurt–she would have felt untrusted and betrayed. And she probably would have made the same decision. She would have left.

So what was different? She still felt that neither of them trusted her–something that wasn’t easily remedied. She could see why Jason would have a few small problems trusting her–after the whole Zander ordeal, she’d have problems trusting her, too. But Sonny? To decide she wasn’t worth the truth? Had he done it because of what she’d done to Jason?

A thought occurred to Elizabeth that seemed cruel but altogether plausible. Sonny had probably never considered telling Elizabeth the truth–probably hadn’t even thought about her. And if Sonny wouldn’t mention telling her, then Jason probably wouldn’t bring up it to him. She thought back to the days before Sonny had faked his death. The last time she’d had a real conversation with him had been the day of the explosion–when he’d asked if she wanted to stay for Jason. She realized that had been the first time in a long time she’d actually spoken to him–and the first time in well over a year that they’d discussed Jason. Maybe…Sonny didn’t consider her a permanent part of Jason’s life. Maybe he thought she’d give up at the first sign of trouble.

If that were true…he was probably right. She had walked away–the first time they’d come up against something like this. She’d moved out and told Jason she wanted out. She hadn’t given him a chance to explain–to redeem himself. She cut him off every time he tried.

Suddenly, Elizabeth felt horrible. She’d walked away and cut him out of her life without knowing the whole story. She should have at least heard him out before making that sort of decision. After everything he’d been to her, how could she have done that?

She bit her lip and sat on the couch. Maybe Jason, in acting the way he had, had been keeping a different promise to her–one that he’d made a long time ago. One they’d both made. He’d always been the one person she could be honest with, not to hide her feelings. Maybe he really had thought lying to her would be worse than hurting her.

Was it? She thought about how betrayed she’d felt when she found out Nikolas and Gia had been lying to her. She’d cut them out of her life and it’d only been recently that she and Nikolas had gotten back on track. Sarah and Lucky had lied about their attraction and she still wasn’t talking to either of them.

She stood up and started pacing the room. She’d told him she couldn’t handle him lying to her–and with all the evidence, she certainly couldn’t blame him if he thought that she’d cut him out of her life the second he did. She’d done it before.

She sat back on the couch. Hadn’t she made the decision to concentrate on her new family and finding out why she’d been sold and to whom? Didn’t she make that her top priority? She’d made the resolution that Jason–or anyone else–would never become her whole life.

She’d meant it when she’d said it–but maybe…maybe she couldn’t concentrate fully on her new problem without properly dealing with her last one. Maybe she should give into her instincts for once. She should pull on a jacket, shove her feet into some shoes and go to Jason’s penthouse now.

Her eyes darted to the clock. She should go now if she was ever going to go–she’d certainly never get the courage going again any time soon.

—-

Twenty minutes later, Elizabeth emerged from the elevators and hesitated. It’d seemed like a good idea back at her studio. But now…mere feet from Jason’s door…she was beginning to reconsider the situation. Surely…she could wait until the next time she saw him. Port Charles was a small town–she was bound to run into him soon.

She took a deep breath and mentally smacked herself. She was here now–she might as well go through with it.

She strode forward and raised her hand to knock on the door. She thought briefly back to the days when this had been her temporary home–when she’d had a key and could come and go as she pleased. For a while…she’d thought she’d never go back to the studio. That she’d actually been home.

Forcing those thoughts out of her mind, Elizabeth squared her shoulders and knocked briskly on the door.

A few moments passed and just as Elizabeth had convinced herself that he asleep or not there and that she should leave–the door swung open.

“Elizabeth.” Jason didn’t bother to hide his surprise.

“Hi,” she said, biting her lip. “Is this a bad time?”

“No.” Jason took a step back to let her in. She walked in hesitantly and gave a small sigh. For so long, she’d thought of this place as theirs that it seemed weird to have knocked and asked admittance.

Jason closed the door behind her and leaned against it. “Is everything all right?”

She turned and for the first time, realized that he’d either been asleep or on his way to bed. Because he was shirtless and only wearing sweatpants. She cleared her throat. “I’m sorry to come over like this but I was afraid if I didn’t do it while I had the courage, I wouldn’t do it at all.”

“Do what?” Jason asked.

She licked her lips nervously and decided to just go with it. “I, ah, um…I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. And someone said something really interesting tonight about this…and it got me thinking…” She ran a hand nervously through her hair. “I shouldn’t have walked away without giving you the chance to explain. That was wrong–and I’m…I’m sorry.” She clasped her hands in front of her. “It’s occurred to me that you never would have hurt me without a good reason–and I think I understand why.”

“Really?” Jason asked, warily. It couldn’t be this easy.

“Yes. I once told you I couldn’t handle you lying to me–and I think you might have took that a little more literally than I meant it. I realize now how it looked…I’d cut anyone who’d ever lied to me out of my life and I think you might have thought I’d do it to you.”

Jason took a deep breath and straightened. He walked past her and flipped absently though some papers on his desk. “It crossed my mind.”

“Jason.”

He looked up and for the first time he met her eyes. “I didn’t want to be like Sarah or Lucky. They’d lied to you–and I…I knew if I accepted the comfort you wanted to give, I’d feel like a…” he stopped. He put his hands on his hips. “I thought at first if I could avoid the topic–then maybe I wouldn’t be lying. But I realized that you’d know something was wrong–and I couldn’t tell you what was going on. So I decided to avoid you all together. I didn’t know what else to do. I could lie to you…or avoid you. I guess…” he took a deep breath. “I didn’t realize how much it was hurting you until that day at Kelly’s.”

Elizabeth nodded. “I have to ask you something.” She bit her lip and looked away. “The reason you didn’t tell me…was it because…was it because you couldn’t trust me? Because I don’t…I don’t…Sonny told Carly so she wouldn’t worry,” Elizabeth said. She wasn’t sure exactly how to phrase the thought that she felt she should have known. “Why…why wasn’t I given that same consideration?”

“Sonny only wanted Carly to know,” Jason said. “It had nothing to do with trust–I wanted to tell you. But it was Sonny’s decision.”

She nodded and decided her theory was right. “He never even thought about telling me did he?” she asked, hesitantly. “It never even occurred to him that you’d have to lie to me, did it?”

Jason didn’t want to admit that she was right. That Sonny had been so centered on how it affected Carly, Courtney and Mike that he had hadn’t stopped to think about how the ruse affected Jason and his life. He didn’t want to admit that his friend was that selfish–that he hadn’t realized the position he’d put Jason in until it was too late to fix it. It was bad enough Jason knew it–there was no reason for Elizabeth to realize it as well.

She took his silence as confirmation and sighed. “All right. Can’t really blame him. I don’t see where I’d be at the top of his list. I’m glad it wasn’t because he couldn’t trust me…because I think I might have had to hurt him. After hiding you in my studio twice, I really think that I could have handled the knowledge he was alive.”

Jason looked away. He known all along that Elizabeth could be trusted with the knowledge–the times she’d stuck up for him and protected him had been in the forefront of his mind. He’d known she could deal with it–she’d faked her own death after all. But it had never occurred to Sonny to tell her and Jason had never brought it up.

“And my next question…” Elizabeth crossed her arms. “If it never occurred to him…why didn’t…why didn’t you ask him to tell me?”

Jason looked down and tried to explain his reasoning. He’d felt it was none of his business–that he had no right to ask it? That he’d been unconsciously testing her…to see if she could handle the secrets his life could have? He didn’t have a good answer for her because he couldn’t answer the question himself. Why hadn’t he asked Sonny tell Elizabeth? Had he been hoping Sonny would pick up on his frustration and offer the suggestion?

“I don’t know,” Jason said, finally. “I don’t have a good reason–I don’t have any reason, actually. Not one you’d understand.”

She arched her eyebrows. “Try me.”

Jason sighed. “I guess I was expecting Sonny to pick up on it…I mean, it’s stupid, but I guess I wanted to prove to myself…that he was still a friend and not just the man I work for.”

Elizabeth’s eyes softened with sympathy. How many times had she wondered about Sonny and Jason’s friendship? She’d always felt it was slightly one-sided, but she’d never spoken up. He’d never butted into her life when she didn’t ask, and she wasn’t about to do it to him. She’d always seen Jason run to do Sonny’s bidding or go help Carly whenever she called…but other than the sparse lectures Carly had given her…she’d never seen either one of them do anything for him.

She didn’t know how to respond to that–so she didn’t.

Jason hesitated before speaking, but he finally asked the question. “Where does this leave us?”

“Honestly?” Elizabeth asked. “I don’t know.” She hadn’t expected the conversation to go this way or this far and hadn’t dealt with the idea that she’d understand and even forgive Jason’s reasoning. She bit her lip. “I wish I could say that all’s forgotten, but I can’t. Because I know…I know your loyalty to Sonny will always come first…and that’s…that’s not something I was prepared for.” She tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and continued. “I was ready for the amount of worrying…the lack of phone calls…being away all night…because you’d pretty much warned me. And you’ve always told me there are things you can’t tell me. So…I was prepared for all that. But…you never…you never made it clear that Sonny always comes first–even over promises. And…I don’t…” Elizabeth hesitated seeing the look in Jason’s eyes. She suddenly wished she could handle that–because she’d do almost anything to be with him…tell him she loved him. She’d never said it–he’d only said it once to her, in the midst of one of their arguments, but she hadn’t said it back. She didn’t want to say it while she was angry or hurt. She wanted it to be different. She took a deep breath and continued. “I don’t think that’s something I can handle. And I…I’m not going to compromise the way I feel just because…” She bit her lip. “Just because I’m in…I care about you,” she finished.

He nodded and looked away. “He doesn’t always come first,” Jason said quietly. “When I told Zander to leave town…” he hesitated and looked at her. “Sonny didn’t ask me to do that…he wanted me…he didn’t want Zander to just leave town. He wanted him gone–permanently. But I…told him to leave. Because I’d promised you I wouldn’t hurt him.”

Her heart skipped a beat. Somehow, Elizabeth had known that Sonny wouldn’t just send Zander out of town. She’d been around Jason, Sonny and their business long enough to know that probably wasn’t the way things were handled. But she hadn’t dared to think any differently–afraid she’d get her hopes up or that she was reading into the situation too much. She bit her lip. “I…thought…I thought that might have been the way it happened…but I…didn’t want to think…”

“When you were kidnapped,” Jason continued, “I went to Taggart.”

Elizabeth’s mouth dropped. “You went to the police?” she asked, stricken.

“Yeah.” Jason drove his fingers through his hair. “I even went to Edward and AJ because I thought it had something to do with ELQ. It was the initials of the crypt you were in–but I didn’t know that. Sonny…wasn’t happy with that decision either, but I guess he let it go. Because Carly sort of…something else came up and he forgot it.”

Jason had gone to the three people he hated the most to save her life. All she could do was stare at him in wonder.

He shifted. “I didn’t tell you that because I wanted to…I just thought you should know that I’ve put you first.”

She crossed her arms tightly and shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “I wish I’d known that,” she said quietly. “Maybe…I don’t know. Maybe I would have heard you out a little earlier.”

Jason didn’t say, only nodded. She took a breath and made a conscious decision. That even though she’d already confided in Nikolas, she wanted Jason to know about her new family. To let him know that she still trusted him–and that she’d decided something else important.

She wanted him in her life.

“Do you remember the other night on the docks when I said that I have a lot going on?” Elizabeth asked.

“Yeah,” Jason said, crossing his arms.

“Well…it’s true. And I…” She stopped and bit her lip. “I found out that…well…Jerry Jacks…he’s sort of…well, he’s… he’s my biological father.”

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