Courtney stood up and went over to the back window. “She forgave me though. For Jason’s sake, she told me.”
“Are you clean now?”
She turned and glared at him. “No, I’ve been high this whole time. Of course I’m clean. I told Jason that I was getting addicted and he made me get rid of all the pills. It was hard and I went through a bit of detox but I haven’t touched them since the night I hit Elizabeth.”
“I’m sorry.” Brian slid his hands in his pockets and sighed. “Courtney, I don’t know what to think. You seem to be an intelligent young woman but here you are, married to the hit man for your own brother. I can’t fathom how someone could put themselves into that position.”
“You didn’t know me last year when I was divorcing AJ,” Courtney bit out. “I had just been stalked–by my own husband, none the less and the only person I trusted–the only person who I felt safe with was Jason. Yeah, he’s a criminal. Sure, whatever. But just because you know how many times he’s been arrested it doesn’t mean you know Jason. You don’t know him and you don’t know me!”
“I know that you’re unhappy,” Brian replied easily, not giving in to the urge to yell back. “I can see it in your eyes. You’ve been married for what…a month? And how much time have you actually spent with your new husband?”
“Look, you don’t understand. My brother threw his wife out of the house. She was upset, in the last stages of her pregnancy. Things–they just happened fast and I couldn’t really concentrate on what was going on.”
“Because your husband was too busy helping them out instead of being with you?” Brian asked.
She shook her head. “No. He and Carly have been friends for years–he’s known them longer than I have. I’ve only known about my brother for about two years so I understand–”
“All I hear about this is that you understand. What about your wonderful husband?” Brian asked, his voice finally starting to raise. “When does he start to give a damn?”
“You don’t…” She broke off abruptly and a lump formed in her throat. “You’ve known me all of two weeks and you haven’t even met Jason–not really. You can’t sit here and make these judgments about me.”
Morgan started to cry then and she glanced at the baby monitor. “I have to go take check on him. I think you should leave.”
“Courtney, I’m not trying to–”
“I don’t really care what you’re trying to do,” she snapped. “But just in case you’re curious, you have succeeded in making me feel bad about pretty much everything I’ve done in the last year or so. Now please leave.”
Carly stood in the doorway of the room that had been Michael’s during his short time here. She entered and sat on his bed, trying to get some sort of feel for her son.
She could picture him in her mind and even if she couldn’t, there were pictures of him all over the house. She remembered loving him but remembering the feeling and still experiencing that feeling were two different things.
There was a photo of herself and Michael on the nightstand. They were sitting on the couch in the penthouse. He was on her lap and might be about four.
“Such a beautiful little boy,” she whispered, tracing his face. Her eyes caught on her wedding and engagement rings. She hadn’t taken them off–not even when she’d moved out.
She set the photo down and slid the rings off her fingers. She hadn’t taken them off when they’d been divorced. She’d tried it but she could remember her hands feeling naked–feeling very different.
Now she felt lighter. A bit…free. It didn’t mean her marriage to Sonny was over. It just meant she was going to be on her own for a while.
And for the first time that Carly could remember, the prospect of being alone wasn’t a terrifying one.
Elizabeth had finished with her tears a while ago. The panic had set in. This was bad. This was very bad.
It was bad enough there were three men she’d slept with in the span of two months. She really needed to get her life under control. No more mistakes, no more one-night stands. It wasn’t like her and she needed to stop making excuses.
But she was pregnant and it wasn’t the result of a drunken stupor or comfort sex. She was pregnant and it was because of a mistake. And it was a mistake, even she could acknowledge that.
She speared her fingers through his hair and tilted her head back as his lips scorched a path down her neck. “Oh, God,” she moaned as her hands slid up the slick skin of his back.
Elizabeth shook her head to clear the memory. Okay, logical thought time. Tell him. Right? She couldn’t just keep this from him. He had a right to know. And once he did…they could…
No, no, if she told him, everyone would find out and they’d know what a horrible person she was. She couldn’t even think of telling Emily, much less Nikolas or Lucky.
She chewed on her lip and resumed her pacing. Okay, back to her first instinct. Tell him. This was half his fault after all. She hadn’t been the only one in bed.
So she was going to tell him.
When was she supposed to do this? How was she supposed to do this?
They really needed to write some sort of instruction booklet on how to tell a married man you’re pregnant with his kid.
“Okay, try this.”
Jason stared at the plate of eggs Carly placed in front of him. “I don’t eat breakfast.”
She rolled her eyes. “Humor me. I’m trying to learn how to cook.”
He eyed her with some trepidation. “Why?”
She sat down and sighed. “I’m going to be on my own for a while and I’d like to be able to take care of myself.” Carly crossed her legs. “Could you just let me know if they’re edible?”
He sighed and scooped some into his mouth. He chewed for a bit and then swallowed. “They’re not…bad.”
“They’re not good though right?” She sighed. “Frozen dinners here I come.” Carly pushed her hair behind her ears and Jason caught sight of her bare fingers.
“You took off your rings,” he observed.
She nodded. “It’s a symbol for me,” she told him. “Even if Sonny gets out of jail, I’m not going back to him. This…this not remembering my love for him…I think it might be good for me in the end. Even if I do get those emotions back…I have this chance to look at my life and my marriage without emotions blinding me.”
“I think he’s going to be convicted,” Jason told her bluntly. “He’s asking me how I’m getting this taken care of and truth be told, I’m not.”
She stared at him. “Why?”
“He shot you,” Jason said simply. “He’s out of control and he’s past the point where I can help him.” He took a deep breath and looked away. “He’s been my best friend for so long that even when he started to change, I didn’t really see it. I didn’t–I don’t think I wanted to see it. But he’s changed and before…I knew how to help him. I knew what to say, what to do to bring him out of these moods–these periods but I don’t know anymore. He needs help that I can’t give him and you can’t give it to him either.”
“So what are you going to do?” Carly asked softly. “He’s claustrophobic. You know he’s always hated jail.”
Jason nodded. “I know. I talked to his lawyer and I suggested he get examined by a psychiatrist. Put in a defense for mental defect.”
Carly pursed her lips. “What do you think is wrong with him?” she asked.
“I don’t know but something has to give, Carly. He shot you while you were in labor. It’s hard to forget that. So, when the next time he asks me if I’ve arranged for his escape…I’m gonna tell him what I told the lawyer.”
Carly reached out and covered Jason’s hand. “You know…I woke up without any emotions from my life before. Nothing for Michael, for Morgan, for Sonny, for you, for Courtney, my own mother…” she laughed a little. “I even woke up without the annoyance for Elizabeth and the hatred for Ric.” She gripped his hand. “But some of it has come back. The more time I spend with people, the more it comes back. And I want you to know that I really do love you. You have been here for me every step of the way without demanding things, without trying to change it…when I made it clear I wanted Lorenzo in my life, you didn’t argue even though I know you have every right to despise him.”
“You get to live your life how you want to. Do I agree with your decisions? No. But they’re your decisions and you have to do what you think is right.”
Carly nodded. “So, this is what I want to do. I want Courtney to bring the kids home for a visit this weekend…I don’t think I’m at a place where they can come live with me…I want to be further along in my therapy and a little more sure of myself before I do that but I want to spend time with them.”
“You want them to keep living in Haye’s Landing?” Jason asked surprised.
“Not if Courtney wants to come home, no. I know you two just got married and it’s not fair for her to be living away from you–”
“I didn’t agree with her leaving at first, no,” Jason allowed, “but once Sonny was arrested and you were still in the coma, I decided that it was for the best that they were gone so Michael wouldn’t keep asking questions about why Sonny was gone and what had happened to you. And Michael likes the house there, it’s a good area and I’ve got men posted around the town, not where anyone would notice. They’re safe, Carly, but say the word and they’re home.”
“While Sonny’s trial is going on, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea,” Carly replied. “I just…I need time and if you’re okay with her being there, that’s fine.”
He nodded. “I’d go there, too, but…I have responsibilities here. With Sonny out of commission for…well, there’s just things I need to do.”
Carly nodded. She looked away and her eyes caught a picture on the wall and for some reason, it reminded her of Elizabeth. “The strangest thing happened to me yesterday,” she remarked looking back at him. “After my appointment with Dr. Lewis yesterday, I ran into Elizabeth at the hospital.”
He pushed the plate of eggs away and nodded. “Is she okay?” he asked.
“Well, I assume so. She’s pregnant,” Carly admitted.
Jason’s head snapped up and he stared at her. “What’s that?”
“She’s pregnant,” Carly repeated. “When I say I ran into her, I mean we literally ran into each other and I saw the pamphlets.” She bit her lip before continuing. “I felt kind of weird asking her but since I knew she wasn’t with Ric anymore, I asked her who the father was.”
Jason swallowed hard. “What did she say?”
“Well, that’s the strange thing. I mean, I’m not saying I know her by any stretch but I always figured she was kind of prissy, not a slut at all–”
“Carly,” Jason interrupted. “What did she say?”
Frowning, Carly eyed him suspiciously. “She said that she didn’t know.”
“I have to go,” Jason said abruptly. He stood and headed for the living room.
Carly was hot on his heels and watched as he pulled on his leather jacket. “Jason, what’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Jason lied smoothly. He winced when he realized how second-nature lying was becoming. “I have a meeting I need to get to.”
“So what about my Elizabeth’s pregnancy news reminded you about this meeting?” Carly demanded. Realizing how accusing her tone was, she took a deep breath and stepped towards him. “You remember that understanding and unconditional support you’ve been showing me? Give me the chance to return the favor. What’s going on?”
Jason took a deep breath. “Carly, I’m not…I’m not going to put you in this position. You don’t need–”
“Let me decide that. Jason, is there a chance her baby could be yours?” Carly asked hesitantly.
Jason slid his hands uncomfortably in the pockets of his jacket. “There’s…there’s a slight chance,” he confessed.
“A slight chance,” Carly repeated. “What does that mean?”
“It means that I spent the night with her about two months ago, shortly after she got out of the hospital when Courtney and I were having some trouble. It was a mistake and we both decided we weren’t going to bring it up again,” Jason explained.
Carly blinked. She knew that Courtney was her best friend and sister-in-law but she’d barely seen the other woman since she’d woken up and therefore all of her sympathy and support went to Jason. “Then I guess you’d better go and find out.”
He nodded. “Carly…thank you. For not…”
“Yelling? Flipping out?” Carly shrugged. “Sorry to disappoint ya, Jase, but I think those days are over.”
Elizabeth ducked into the bathroom in the back to throw up. It was a slow morning and she was the only waitress on duty right now.
When she’d emptied her stomach of its contents, she leaned against the stall door and closed her eyes. God morning sickness sucked.
After a few moments, she stood and went to wash her mouth out. She went into the kitchen and grabbed a glass of orange juice to get the taste out.
She’d just take a big gulp when Jason entered the kitchen. “We need to talk.”
She coughed and set the glass down, struggling to get her breath. She kept coughing, trying to clear her throat. He patted her back, feeling guilty he hadn’t been more careful with his ntrance.
“Are you okay?” he asked, alarmed.
She nodded and took a deep breath. “I’m fine. Did you need something?”
He nodded. “I talked to Carly today.”
Elizabeth’s face paled and she looked away. “Oh.” Her eyes went to the dining, hoping desperately a customer needed her. But…everyone was fine and she was going to have to have this conversation a little earlier than she wanted to. “And?”
“She told me you’re pregnant.”
Elizabeth folded her arms tightly across her chest. “I am.”
“And that you weren’t sure of the father,” Jason continued. “Obviously you can see where I might be interested in this information.”
“I told her that yesterday because I didn’t know how far along I was,” Elizabeth said quietly. “And last night, the doctor called and confirmed the pregnancy and told me so I know whose baby it is.”
“And?” Jason prompted.
She glanced out at the dining room and saw with relief that Nikolas and Lucky had entered. “I have to work,” she mumbled pushing past him.
“Hey,” she greeted. “How are you guys?”
“Fine, just grabbing something before I have to go on duty.” Lucky grimaced. “Foot patrol.”
Nikolas grinned. “Too bad you don’t have an office job.”
“I like my job but it can get really boring just doing the same thing over and over again.” Lucky looked at Elizabeth. “Hey, what are you doing for Thanksgiving? Aunt Bobbie’s trying to get some kind of family going.”
“I’m having dinner with my grandmother or at least I figure I am,” she remarked, trying desperately to forget that Jason was waiting for her in the kitchen. “I’ll check and get back to you.”
“Okay, then I just need a coffee to go and Nikky here–”
“I was really hoping you’d grow out of that,” Nikolas grumbled. “I’ll just have a coffee and the scrambled eggs plate.”
“Okay, I’ll get your coffee.” She avoided Jason’s impatient eyes and poured their coffee quickly.
“Did we, ah interrupt something with you and Jason?” Nikolas asked. “Because my meal can wait.”
She took a deep breath. “No. I’m fine. He’s fine. It’s all…fine.” She squared her shoulders and walked back to the kitchen.
“I’m seven weeks along,” Elizabeth said, careful to keep her voice low. “And I’m sorry to inform you, but you’re the only person I slept with seven weeks ago. If you’ll excuse me, I’m running a double shift and I have to cook.” She moved towards the stove.
He stared at her. “That means…”
She whirled around and glared at him. “Congratulations, Daddy,” she said scathingly.