Chapter Fifteen

November 25, 2003

An Apartment

Elizabeth folded her arms and glanced around the large space with obvious apprehension. “It’s awfully big,” she hedged.

“It’s got two bedrooms, a laundry room, two baths, a kitchen, living room and there’s a space for a dining room but with the kind of windows that’s there it might be better for a studio,” Jason told her.

Elizabeth glanced at him from the corner of her eye as she explored the cavernous space. “It must take up half the floor,” she murmured. She wandered from the living room area into the kitchen.

“It’s probably the size of my penthouse if it was on one floor,” Jason admitted. “But it’s got everything we need. It’s in a good area, it’s close to the Towers, it’s close to the docks so Emily and Nikolas can come by a lot.”

“Yes, but it’s huge,” Elizabeth called from the master bedroom. She looked longingly at the walk-in closet before crossing to the view of the harbor from the mammoth windows. “Much bigger than I need, you know? I really only need the one bedroom–”

“You need one for yourself and one for the baby,” Jason corrected her.

“Jason…I don’t think I could even afford the utilities on this place. No matter how much I work.” Elizabeth sighed and joined him back in the space he’d suggested for a studio. Her eyes drifted from the incredible light to the hardwood floors. There was tons of wall space–for shelves and other things.

And the view was incredible. The dining area was tucked into a corner of the apartment and offered a view of the harbor on one side and an excellent view of the entire city from the other.

“Don’t worry about that right now,” Jason instructed.

Elizabeth shook her head. “I have to worry about it–”

“I can afford ten places like this,” he told her. “So, it’s–” he stopped and took a deep breath. “I know what the media is saying, okay? But you and I both know it’s not true.”

“My grandmother doesn’t,” Elizabeth sighed. She crossed to the living room windows again. There were windows everywhere–all of them oversize with tons of light shining through. It was as if someone had reached into her brain and created this amazing apartment just for her.

Life was pretty fucking cruel.

He saw the emotions pass over her face and knew he was wearing her down. “You like this place, don’t you?”

“It’s great,” Elizabeth admitted. “Pretty perfect, really.”

“Come here…” he took her elbow and directed into a smaller room that she assumed would be a nursery. “You can see the elementary school from here. It’s three blocks away.”

Her hand strayed to her abdomen. In five years, her little baby would be old enough for school and this really would be the perfect area for him–or her–to live. Right near the school, close to the park…close to his father.

“What are the other places like?” Elizabeth asked turning back to him.

“Not as big, but pretty much in the same area,” Jason admitted. “This is the only one with enough space for your studio.”

“I won’t have time to think about painting,” Elizabeth sighed. “I’ll need to get two jobs just to pay everything–”

“Elizabeth…come on…” Jason sighed in frustrated. “Just…for once, don’t fight me on this.”

She hesitated and studied the apartment. “Okay,” she reluctantly agreed. “This…this is good.”

“So I can call the realtor?”

“Yes,” Elizabeth said. She sighed and rubbed her arms. “I’ll be squared away and you can concentrate on other things,” she muttered bitterly. He narrowed her eyes at her word usage but before he could question her or even argue, his cell phone rang.

“Yeah?”

“Jason, it’s me,” Carly sighed. “I wanted to know if you had a minute today. To talk…to talk about Sonny. Dara called and she wanted to meet with us about possibly testifying for him.”

Jason studied Elizabeth for a moment, noticing how she’d carefully walked away from him–putting herself out of earshot of the phone call. “When?”

“Sometime today. It’ll have to be after four for me because I’ve got Morgan at the house and Sage won’t be home from school to watch him until then. Oh, and Courtney’s coming over for lunch so we can catch up.” She hesitated. “Have you seen her since she came back from Haye’s Landing? She didn’t tell me.”

“Yeah. I talked to her yesterday.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t really want to get into it right now, okay?”

“Oh. Okay. Well…what’s your schedule like after four?”

“I’ve got a meeting at six and–hold on…” He looked at Elizabeth. “Elizabeth…did you…when is the doctor’s appointment you made for this week?”

“Tomorrow at three,” she answered a little surprised.

He hesitated because he knew he had a meeting at two-thirty and he’d never make it for both. “Yeah, I’m free between four and six today. Give me a call when Sage gets there and I’ll pick you up.”

“Okay…did you pick out something for Elizabeth?”

“Yeah, I think she’s settled on a place. I’ll see you then.” Jason slid the phone back in his pocket. “I don’t…that was Carly–something about later today. You know I wanted to go to the appointment, right?” he asked.

Wanted. Past tense. Elizabeth nodded. “Yeah…but I guess you can’t right?”

“I have a meeting at 2:30,” Jason admitted. “I can try and reschedule it–”

She shook her head. “No, no. It’s not a big deal. We’re not even doing much tomorrow. Just….a general check up and what not. She wants to do them more often than usual because of the miscarriage last spring,” Elizabeth told him.

“Is she worried about that?” Jason asked, concerned. He stepped towards her.

“Well…it’s just something to keep in mind.” She twisted her hands together. “I…I’ll check with you before I make appointments if you want–s-so we can coordinate for next time.”

“I would like that,” Jason agreed. “I don’t want to rush you or anything–”

“No, no, it’s fine. I–Lucky has the day off today and he was going to help me pack up the studio.”

Jason nodded. “Okay. Do you want me to drop you off there on my way to the warehouse?”

“Sure,” Elizabeth replied. “Um…what about the realtor and stuff?”

“I’ll take care of all of that,” Jason told her. “I–” He slid his hands in his pockets. “You’ll need furniture and stuff.”

“Is that your way of saying you’re giving me more money?” Elizabeth sighed.

“No…it’s my way of saying I want to set up a bank account for you. Put everything in your name. The apartment, the bills, anything you want. So…if anyone looks…they won’t see a kept woman.”

“But they’ll know the money’s from you.”

“For a little while, yeah,” Jason shrugged. “But–”

“I really don’t want to argue about this anymore,” Elizabeth sighed. “I appreciate it–the gesture I mean. And…it’s what I want. If I’m going to be taking money from you, I’d at least like the illusion of independence so I don’t have to ask you for the money for the bills or whatever.”

She started for the door. “I should get to the studio anyway. Lucky will be waiting.”

He sighed and followed after her.

Carly’s House

“So…” Carly shifted and pushed her sandwich plate away. “It’s been a while since we could sit down and talk.”

“Yeah.” Courtney sighed and leaned back in her chair. “I was going to go back to Haye’s Landing yesterday but I’ll drive back this afternoon. I really wanted to see you.”

“You really like it there, don’t you?”

“I do. The house is gorgeous,” Courtney told her. “And it’s a small town–everyone knows everyone. Brian took me to this diner on Saturday night and everyone knew my name and said hello and it just…it’s like the town I dreamed of living in.”

“Brian…” Carly hesitated. “You’ve mentioned him a lot. Before you came home and since you’ve been here today.”

“He’s a good friend,” Courtney said. “Brian…he’s…” she stopped, searching for the right words. “When he talks to me…he doesn’t judge but I feel like…like I can tell him anything. He’s blunt but not cruel and he’s just…he’s a good guy.”

Carly sipped her water. “How do you feel about him?” she asked carefully.

“I feel…” Courtney frowned. “I…he’s good to me,” she said softly. “In a way that no one else ever has been. He listens when I talk, he gives advice but mostly–mostly he just listens. If I–I think if things were different…if I were in a different place in my life I could see myself–” She shook her head. “Okay, I’m not doing this right–”

“There’s nothing you need to do right here, you just… talk and I listen.” Carly crossed her arms and leaned forward. “If anyone knows what you’re going through, it’s me. I love Sonny, I do. But I can’t deny what I feel for Lorenzo.”

“But it’s different for you,” Courtney argued. “You were in a coma, you had these dreams. I went away to little town and met someone. I mean–Brian hasn’t made any moves and I wouldn’t do anything while I’m with Jason but I care about him.” Her face flushed. “I’m attracted to him.”

“There is no law that says you can’t be attracted to other people,” Carly told her. “Attraction and love are different things.”

“But once you’re married, it should stop at attraction,” Courtney said firmly. “You are supposed to be married to this person, you are supposed to love them until you die, you–”

“Not if getting married was a bad decision. Not if you aren’t happy,” Carly interrupted. “And you weren’t happy. You’re not happy.”

“I think I have a right to be unhappy. He slept with Elizabeth and she’s pregnant.” Courtney hesitated. “Pregnant,” she repeated in a small voice. “With a child I can’t give him. And if him knocking up some other woman wasn’t bad enough…it’s Elizabeth.”

“They’re over,” Carly said firmly.

“Carly…” Courtney shook her head. “I believed that once. When she found out we were together, Elizabeth was so hurt. She felt so betrayed and she was right to. I was her friend. I had been her friend throughout the whole break up and she’d confided in me and I had tried to talk her into forgiving him. But I slept with him. First as a way to get past the pain of AJ and then I fell in love with him.”

“Courtney–”

“And I asked Jason after the whole confrontation–if he had ever been in love with her and he said no. I believed him. Until Ric told me that she was pregnant and it was Jason’s child.”

“That doesn’t mean he’s love with her–then or now,” Carly argued.

“People who are over each other don’t tend to sleep together a month before one gets married,” Courtney said, coolly. “He feels something for her. I don’t doubt he loves me but I do doubt that he’s not in love with her, too.” She shook her head. “I don’t want to argue with you, Carly. I said the same thing to him yesterday. I told him that I thought he was in love with her and he didn’t deny it.”

“He made a mistake,” Carly pressed.

“He slept with a woman that I have been trying to forget ever existed in his life,” Courtney corrected. “If Sonny had slept with Brenda–if he’d gotten her pregnant, how would you feel?”

“I would feel betrayed. I would be angry and upset but–”

“I can’t be in this marriage. Not just because of Elizabeth and the baby although that’s the big reason. Every time I see him with that baby, it’s just going to remind me that I can’t have a child. When I see him with her, I’m going to wonder–is he with me out of guilt? Does he really want a life with her–a life with his other family?” She shook her head. “I will drive myself crazy wondering and eventually I will hate myself for staying.”

“And what are the other reasons?” Carly asked softly.

“Love can’t be enough. It’s a starting point, it’s a foundation but it can’t be all you have,” Courtney said. “He lives a life that I do not understand but I tried. I tried for a long time to prove to everyone that I could do it–to prove it to myself. But I can’t, Carly. I don’t want this life forever. I don’t want to look over my shoulder–I don’t want to have to tell eight different people that I’m leaving my own home. I don’t want to have to wonder when my husband leaves at night–if that’s the last time I’ll ever see him. I don’t want that life, Carly.”

She took a deep breath. “I tried…I thought I could. I mean…I had an idea of what my life would be like when I was growing up. I would get married, I would have a family. I would be happy. I had this very clear picture and my life with Jason didn’t fit that. But I just figured…life shows you surprises–it’s unexpected and you have to just go with the flow. Everyone has dreams–they don’t have to come true. But that life I always pictured–it’s not just a dream, Carly. It’s the life that I want. And it’s a life I have a right to.” She twisted the wedding ring on her finger. “It’s a life that I’m going to lead. I don’t know how I’m going to afford it, but I’m going to move to Haye’s Landing permanently. I’ll get a job somewhere. I like it there. I like the people, the atmosphere–”

“Brian,” Carly added softly.

“Yes, Brian is there. And yes, maybe…when I’m in a better place–when I feel like it’s time…I’d like to see what could happen there. If maybe Brian is the man that I’ve been looking for. But that’s far off in the future. I love Jason, Carly. I love him so much–but it is not enough. Not for me. And it’s not fair to him for his wife to resent everything he stands for–for the very life he leads. He needs someone to love him, Carly. To look after him. And I want him to be happy, but I’m not that person and I can’t stay with him knowing that.”

“I’m not going to argue with you,” Carly told her. “You have the right to decide what you want. And I’ll be honest with you. I think you’re right. I think that while you are a good person Courtney–because you are–you’re not the right person for Jason. I wish that I had opened my eyes to this last year–maybe we could have talked about it. I wish that we all could have seen it for what it was in the beginning…” Carly hesitated. “I wanted someone in my life. I wanted a friend who wasn’t Sonny or Jason and I think that’s why I pushed for you and him. Because I was scared that if it ended, that I would lose you.”

“You will never lose me,” Courtney told her earnestly. She covered Carly’s hand with her own. “You are more than my brother’s wife, Carly. You are my best friend, my sister and I’m here for you. No matter what.”

“Even if I decide to file for divorce from Sonny?” Carly asked.

“Is that what you’ve decided?” Courtney asked, surprised.

Carly sighed. “Sometimes I think so. Sometimes I’m so sure that it’s over that I pick up the phone to call Dara and ask her to file but other times…I know that I care about Lorenzo and he knows that I care about him and I’m sure he’s expecting–or hoping at the very least–that we can go some where. But I don’t know, Courtney. I truly don’t.”

“Are you still seeing Cameron?” Courtney asked.

“Yeah, I saw him on Monday to talk about my feelings for Sonny and I have another appointment for Thursday. I wish I had a clear view in my mind because I’m making these decisions based on not knowing–” She took a deep breath. “I told you that Lorenzo’s niece is staying with me this week and I’ve made promises to her. Promises that she needed someone to make and I don’t want to break them but what if I decide that I want to make my marriage work?” Carly asked. “What happens to her then?”

“You can’t know that until it happens,” Courtney replied. “But I don’t really understand this relationship–this connection between you and Alcazar–”

“I thought the feelings were from the dreams–that once I remembered my love for Sonny, that they would go away. But they didn’t. They are very real, Courtney. And I think…I think I developed during this time since my coma. Because he has been here every step of the way with me. Supporting me, taking care of me, listening to me…just…being there. And I should…I should have seen it would be a vulnerable time for me. That I would be more open to falling in love with him because I didn’t have that love for Sonny holding me back.”

“Do you think that he took advantage of that–”

“No,” Carly denied. “No, he wants a new start just as much as I do. He wants to make amends for what he’s done. For helping Ric keep me hostage, for setting Marcella on Sonny–he regrets the methods he chose to get to me and I can’t…I can’t hold them against him because of the things I’ve done to get what I want. I’ve done some things that would make anyone think twice about being in love with me.” Carly laughed. She pressed a hand to her forehead. “I just…everything is still flying around inside my head. Once I started getting my emotions back, they’ve been flooding through me and nothing is the same anymore. I don’t know how to feel.”

“I think that you should stop thinking and start feeling,” Courtney suggested. “Stop thinking that you shouldn’t be doing this or you should be doing this and just…feel. When you’re with Lorenzo, does it feel right? I don’t care if it is right–does it feel right?”

“Yes,” Carly admitted. “He treats me in a way that no man has ever treated me. Sonny…he was good to me. But he couldn’t tolerate parts of me. The schemer in me– the manipulator in me…he didn’t like those things so I put them away. I shut them out of myself. Sonny always treated me like maybe I was up to something–and Jason, god though I love him–treats me like I am up to something. But to be fair, I usually am. But all he wants to do is fix what I’ve done wrong. Jason never wanted to fix me. Sonny never wanted me to do anything wrong.”

“And Lorenzo?” Courtney asked, forcing herself to use the mobster’s first name.

“He trusts me. In a way that no one in my entire life ever has. And I like it. I like that he trusts me, that he believes in me. If he were to give me start up money for a club, he would do it because he believed I could make it a success-that he’d be getting his money back ten fold. He wouldn’t treat it like a distraction for me…like it’s a hobby.”

“Are you listening to yourself?” Courtney asked, amused. “You’re not falling for Lorenzo Alcazar…you’ve already done it. Carly, I don’t care what you say. You’re in love with him.”

Before Carly would even come up with a response, there was a knock on the front door and she hurried to answer it.

“Lorenzo,” she said softly. “You…you’re back early.”

“I decided I didn’t want to be away from Port Charles any longer than I absolutely had to,” Lorenzo told her. He frowned. “You’re not glad to see me?”

“I am,” Carly assured him. Just a little thrown, she thought. She wasn’t ready to be this close to him–to be in contact with him so soon after she’d realized her feelings. She threw her arms around his neck. “I’m glad you’re home.”

He grinned and kissed her cheek. “I’m glad, too.”

Courtney folded her arms and stood up, feeling both uncomfortable and happy at the same time. Uncomfortable because she would never get along with Lorenzo Alcazar and happy–

Because it looked like Carly had finally found her home. Her place in life.

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