Chapter One

Chapter One
 
November 2003
 

General Hospital: Tenth Floor Nurse’s Station

After a few moments of tense silence, Elizabeth abruptly whirled around and dashed for the elevator. Carly would have followed her but she was rooted to the floor.

Perfect, prissy Elizabeth Webber was pregnant and if Carly hadn’t been mistaken, the brunette had actually admitted she didn’t know the father.

She wondered if this signified the end of the world.

Port Charles County Jail: Visitor’s Center

Sonny tugged on the ends of his shirt and took a deep breath. “Look, how’s the bail issue coming?”

Jason shook his head. “Not well. You’re a flight risk.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “With Courtney out of town, they think you’ll head for her and then out of town. No one knows where she is.”

Sonny nodded. “Yeah, that’s for the best anyway. You any closer to getting this taken care of?”

“Sonny, we’ve talked about this,” Jason said, frustrated. “I can’t get this taken care of. You shot Carly. You shot Alcazar. This isn’t something we can explain away. You shot your wife while she was in labor.”

“What am I supposed to do?” Sonny demanded. “Wait for a trial?”

“Sonny, I don’t think you’re getting this. The lawyers all think you should make a deal,” Jason told him. “They don’t think they can win this. Every lawyer we’ve talked to says the same thing. There’s too much solid evidence, too much motive for you to shoot Alcazar. And even though he won’t press assault charges, it’s still a felony and you still shot Carly. It doesn’t matter that you weren’t aiming for her.” Jason leaned back and took a deep breath. “Look, I know that it’s not easy being in here but I can’t get you out. Not legally. Not for a long time.”

“So, what are you saying?” Sonny demanded. He lowered his voice. “That I need to…” he trailed off.

Jason nodded. “That’s the only option at this point.” He glanced at the clock on the wall. “I have to go. Carly’s done with her appointment.”

“How is she?” Sonny asked softly. “Has she remembered anything…?”

Jason shook his head. “No. She’s going to Cameron Lewis, hoping she might find out what’s going on.”

“And the boys? Are they okay with Courtney?”

“I have talked to them in a few days, but as far as I know, they’re all good.” Jason stood. “I’ll start working on the other thing.”

“Jason…I never meant to hurt Carly,” Sonny told him. “You know that right? I only wanted her to be safe.”

“Sometimes the more we try to protect people, the more we hurt them.” Jason shook his head. “I have to go.”

The Docks

“You shouldn’t be out here alone.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes and turned around. “Go away,” she said firmly.

Ric Lansing shook his head. “Elizabeth, you’ve been avoiding me for the past month. Since–”

“That was a mistake,” she said harshly. “And one I don’t intend to make again.” Even if she was pregnant and even if this child was Ric’s, she was never going to let him near it. He’d damaged her enough without being given access to a child.

He grimaced. “One day, you’re going to have to stop being so angry with me,” he warned her. “And you’re going to remember how much you love me.”

“Love was never the problem,” she hissed. She turned and crossed to the stairs, never turning back.

Haye’s Landing

“Aunt Courtney?” Michael asked as she helped him into a jacket to go and out play in the front yard. “Are we gonna live here forever?”

“No, of course not.” Courtney kneeled in front of her nephew. “Your mom is just not feeling well and it’s easier for her to get better if she’s not worried about you and Morgan.”

“What about Daddy?” Michael asked.

“Your father’s going through…” she hesitated. “A tough time.”

“Well…” Michael considered this. “I guess if we have to be somewhere other than home, this is okay. Brian is really awesome. I wish he lived in Port Charles.”

“Yeah, he’s great.” Courtney zipped the jacket up. “Okay, now go and play but don’t leave the front yard. I’m gonna go check on Morgan again.”

“Okay.” Michael dashed through the front door and Courtney moved to the back of the house. She wished Jason would call. They’d been here for two weeks now and he’d been there once and had called twice. They’d spent most of their first month married apart and Courtney was pretty much convinced that was the reason for her attraction to Brian.

After all, Brian was fast proving to be the anti-Jason. He came by a few times a day, he held a steady job and in a town like Haye’s Landing, the crime rate was so low, there was no danger in what he did. He was willing to talk to her which was more than Courtney could say for her new husband at this point.

Sometimes Jason shut down and she wasn’t sure how to deal with that. She’d tried to bring him out of it, tried to draw him into conversation but it never worked and it’d been happening more and more since this summer–since she’d doubted him about Ric, since she’d deliberately put herself and their baby in danger, since she’d take painkillers and hit Elizabeth. He’d go inside himself and nothing she could do could change that.

Courtney made sure Morgan was sleeping before taking the baby monitor and going into the kitchen to wash the dishes. She wasn’t going to lie to herself–she liked the quiet little life here. Liked the tree-lined streets, the small shops, the little white house with the big front yard and the back yard that stretched into the woods.

She’d miss this place when it was time go back to Port Charles. She’d never really had a home of her own. She’d gone from living with Janine to living with AJ to living with Jason. All of her homes had been paid for by someone else and this…while Jason was paying the rent, she was taking care of it. She was buying the groceries, cooking the meals, doing the housecleaning and when she went outside, she didn’t have to make five different calls to inform everyone. She just…went outside.

She was up to her elbows in the soapy dish water when the idea that she might actually resent Jason started to creep in. It was silly to resent him, she told herself. He’d warned her all along that life with him would be difficult and she’d thought she knew that. She’d thought she understood that his life was dangerous but as long as he loved her, it didn’t matter.

There was a knock on the back door and she knew who it was before she even looked. She forced down the fluttery feeling inside and reached for the dish towel.

“Come in,” she called.

Brian pulled open the screen door before pushing open the inside door. “Hey. I just…” He ran a hand through his hair. “When you told me your last name was Morgan, it didn’t occur to me that your new husband was Jason Morgan.”

By now she was used to this kind of conversation and she turned back to the dishes. “Yes. He’s my husband. Sonny Corinthos is my brother. Why?”

“I guess it’s pointless to point out that they both break the law on a daily basis.”

She closed her eyes. She could hear the disappointment in his voice and once, it would have pissed her off. How dare someone judge her for the decisions she’d made? How dare they judge Jason or Sonny before they knew them?

But now she was just resigned. “They’ve never been convicted,” she said lamely placing a plate in the drying rack.

“Because they’re damn good at what they do.” He strode towards her. “I pulled your file.”

She turned to look at him suspiciously. “I have a file?”

“Yeah. You’ve been arrested a few times. Prostitution, vehicular assault–two counts…” He shook his head. “You’re not exactly who I thought you were.”

“If you read my file,” Courtney began carefully, “then you’d know that I’ve never been convicted either. The prostitution charge was filed after cops raided a strip club I was working at it. The first count of vehicular assault was dropped because it was proved I wasn’t at fault and the second…”

The second  she’d been guilty of and it ate her. No matter that Elizabeth had forgiven her. No matter that Jason had, too. Or that Lorenzo Alcazar had ensured that she wouldn’t be prosecuted. She still felt guilty for every second Elizabeth couldn’t see–for every moment she’d spent in the hospital.

“The second?” Brian prompted.

“I hit a woman named Elizabeth Lansing,” Courtney began in a quiet voice. “I had had a miscarriage a few weeks beforehand and I’d found out that I wasn’t able to conceive again.” She closed her eyes. “I was attacked on the docks a few days before the accident and I was prescribed hydrocodone for the injuries. And I was…all I could feel was pain. Anger. Hurt. I was so angry with myself because I hadn’t told Jason about the baby and at first I wasn’t even going to tell him.”

“Why not?” Brian asked. “Weren’t you engaged by this time?”

“We were.” She hesitated and set the last plate in the drying rack. “Jason and I were talking about kids–he didn’t know I was pregnant and he didn’t think it was a good time to start a family. He said it was a good thing that we hadn’t yet…so I just…I decided I was going to put off telling him. And then I had the miscarriage and I didn’t…I didn’t think I should put him through it. So I kept it to myself.” She closed her eyes. “But every time I saw him, it was tearing me up inside and he knew something was wrong. But I just…I took the painkillers to hide it.”

“And you were high when you hit the woman?” Brian pressed.

“Yes. I didn’t need the painkillers by then–I had told Jason about the baby but…” Courtney shook her head. “Elizabeth Lansing…I knew her. She’d dated Jason before me and it was one of those relationships that…even people who don’t know them know they’re in love and I don’t…I’m not sure what went wrong. I know what he says and I know what she says but I don’t think it matters except that he was in love with her for a long time and we got together soon after they ended.”

Brian sat at the kitchen table while she talked, getting some insight into her relationship with her husband. “I was dealing the end of my first marriage to his half-brother AJ and we just…I guess maybe it started as a rebound thing. For me, anyway. But I did love him–do love him, I do,” Courtney corrected in a hurry. “But he’s got a history with Elizabeth Lansing and I saw them together one night and I was sure he was going back to her.”

“Together how?”

“Jason’s sister was sick and Elizabeth is best friends with her,” Courtney explained. “They were comforting each other. A week later, we’d just had a huge fight and Ric Lansing–Elizabeth’s husband, they’re separated…he told me that he’d seen them together and I guess…I just…I lost it. I took some pills, I got into the car and I hit her.”

She sat down across from him, her eyes downcast. “I didn’t mean to and even now I don’t remember much of it but she just…she came out of nowhere.” Courtney licked her lips nervously. “I got home somehow and Jason and I went on vacation after that. I didn’t remember it but someone knew–Carly, my sister-in-law–she tried to cover it up. But when I got back and I realized…” Her hands were shaking so bad she laid them flat on the table. She’d never spoken about this to anyone and somehow it seemed so wrong to tell Brian before anyone else but she had to say something.

“Elizabeth is an artist, has been for years,” she told him. “But the accident rendered her blind temporarily and God…that just…I couldn’t deal with it. I still can’t. If she’d never gotten her sight back, I don’t think I could have lived with myself.”

“If you were guilty and arrested, why weren’t you put on trial?” Brian asked bluntly.

And for the first time, Courtney told someone exactly why she was never formally charged. “Because Lorenzo Alcazar was in love with Carly and he thought arranging for a cover-up would look good in her eyes. I went to turn myself in and it was already taken care of.” She shook her head. “Sometimes, I wish he hadn’t. Because I deserved to go to jail for what I did to her.”

Carly’s Home

Lorenzo Alcazar was standing on her front steps when Carly pulled into her drive way. She couldn’t hide the smile and wasn’t even sure she wanted to.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, clearly pleased to see him. She unlocked the front door and ushered him inside.

Lorenzo shrugged. “I knew you were having your first session today and I wanted to see how it went.”

“It went okay,” Carly told him. She closed the door and hung her coat and purse up. “We just really scratched the surface but he thinks I don’t remember my emotions because now I can see the situation a little more objectively.”

He followed her into the kitchen and watched as she made herself a sandwich. She offered to make him one but he declined. “Which situation is that?” he asked finally.

“My marriage.” Carly sighed. “I remember thinking that as long as we loved each other, the rest of it didn’t have to matter.”

She sat down and shook her head. “But that’s not right at all. I should have seen it. The old me would have realized what was going on. The girl who sauntered into town and destroyed pretty much ever one she touched…” Carly nodded. “She would have seen that I was in a hopeless situation.”

“I doubt you destroyed every life,” Lorenzo remarked with a smile.

She flushed and bit into her sandwich. When she’d swallowed, she shrugged. “It doesn’t matter–that’s what I’d set out to do. Pay my biological mother back for abandoning me. I decided that I was going to steal her husband and make her life a living hell. I did for a while…but when I got pregnant with Michael, things changed for me.”

“Like what?”

“I won’t say it changed me for the better–not right away,” Carly admitted. “But I stopped worrying about my mother and more about myself. I don’t…I don’t really feel like psycho analyzing myself anymore.” She pushed her half-eaten sandwich aside. “How’s your niece doing?”

Lorenzo chuckled. “Sage? She’s wreaking havoc on everyone she meets. Nothing new. I am glad to have her here. It’s nice to have some family in town.”

“You should…” Carly hesitated. “I’d like to get to know her better. Maybe you could bring her over for dinner.”

Lorenzo raised his eyebrows. “Can you cook?”

“I’m a little out of practice,” Carly admitted. “But I could probably do something.” She took a deep breath. “And I’m going to ask Courtney to bring the kids in the same night. I think if I’m going to try and get…to get some of the emotions back, I need to spend time with them.”

“It must be hard to look at the people you once loved and not be able to feel those things but yet remember that you once did,” Lorenzo said.

“It is,” Carly said. She flushed. He didn’t know about the dreams–or about the fact that the only thing she did still feel was the way she had in those dreams. “But you’ve been so good to me, Lorenzo. A very good friend and I’m lucky to have you in my life.”

He squeezed her hand. “I’m the lucky one,” he said quietly. He could deal with gratitude and friendship. His schemes to get into her life hadn’t worked and maybe that was for the best. If he gained her love and trust this way…

Maybe they could make it after all.

Jason’s Penthouse

He pushed open the door and flicked on the light. The top floor of Harborview Towers was eerily silent.

There was a red blinking light on his answering machine so Jason pressed play and pulled off his leather jacket.

“Jase? It’s Carly. The therapy session went fine. Give me a call.”

“Hey…it’s me…” He paused and turned when he heard Courtney’s tired voice. “I guess I missed you. Um…things are okay here. Michael likes it and well, Morgan’s still crying all night but I guess that’s something to expected. Call me…”

“Jason…it’s me…Elizabeth. There’s…we need to talk.”

He stared at the answering machine and pressed replay for the third message.

…need to talk.

He couldn’t imagine what it was but maybe it had something to do with why she wouldn’t look him in the eye earlier today.

Studio

“Okay…” Elizabeth nodded and sighed. “Okay. Yeah, I’ll make an appointment. Is there a reason I didn’t realize until now? Okay…yeah, that makes sense. Thanks, Dr. Meadows.”

Elizabeth hung up and chewed on her lip. She was seven weeks pregnant. Not long enough to be either Ric or Zander’s…

Her eyes filled with tears and she sank to the ground.

“Oh, God,” she whispered painfully.

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