Chapter Twenty

November 27, 2003

Wyndemere: Living Room

“God damn Rams,” Luke grumbled, reaching for his bourbon glass.

“I told you I was gonna win, Uncle Luke,” Lucas said, grinning. “It’s the Patriots year. Brady’s gonna take them all the way.”

“He’s a young little arrogant hotshot,” Luke argued. “He’ll choke.”

“His team won the Super Bowl before thanks to him,” Lucky reminded his father.

Luke glared at his son. “Luck don’t strike twice.”

“God-given talent,” Lucas argued. “Brady’s the best quarterback the Patriots have had.”

“Ah…” Luke waved it off and sat back.

Sage frowned. “I have no idea what’s going on right now,” she told Michael, who nodded.

“I root for the blue team because that’s my favorite color,” he told her with complete seriousness. “Who do you like, Mommy?”

“He’s cute, who does he play for?” Carly asked, gesturing to the screen where a picture of a player and his stats were profiled.

“That’s Tom Brady for the Patriots,” Lucky said, absently.

“Okay, then I’m a Patriots fan.”

“Hey, Spencers are Rams fans,” Luke told her with a glare.

“This Spencer ain’t,” Lucky said with a grin.

“This one either,” Lucas agreed.

“You both take after your mothers,” Luke muttered. “Hey, Barbara Jean, you got any more of this pigs in a blanket crap?” he called to the kitchen.

“Make it yourself!” Bobbie called back.

“Where did Uncle Jason go?” Michael asked disappointed. “He was supposed to watch the parade with me.”

“He went to talk to Elizabeth,” Carly told him. “Besides, I’m here. Aren’t I good enough?” she teased.

“Yeah,” Michael agreed. “But he promised.”

“He and Elizabeth had a fight and he went to make it better,” Carly explained.

“Oh, that’s okay then.”

Lucky frowned. “What kind of fight?” he asked, concerned. “What did he do?”

“Oh, you know men. Said something he didn’t think was particularly bad and her hormones,” Carly waved it off. “He just went to apologize.”

“I remember when Laura was pregnant with the squirt,” Luke said, gesturing towards the floor where Lulu was studiously brushing and braiding about a dozen different Barbie dolls. “I said cow referring to something on the television and she thought I was calling her a cow–” he whistled. “To this day, I don’t say the word around a pregnant woman.”

Sage rolled her eyes. “I am so not going to be that way when I get pregnant.” She grinned. “I’m going to do my pregnancy in style.”

Lucas laughed. “What? With designer maternity clothes?”

“Of course. Just because you’re having a kid, it doesn’t mean you have to lose all sense of style,” Sage said with a teasing glint in her eyes.

“I feel bad for the schmuck you marry,” Lucas said shaking his head.

She frowned. “Schmuck? Why’s he gotta be schmuck?”

“I dunno, just seemed like the thing to say,” he shrugged. Sage whacked him in the arm with a magazine. “Ow! Geez, sorry.”

“Hey, it’s snowing!” Michael announced gleefully. He ran across the room to stand by the huge window. “I wanna go play!”

Sage grinned. “How much snow is on the ground?” she asked.

“Lots now!”

“Someone promised me snow angels,” she told Lucas. “Come on.” She stood and yanked him off the couch.

“What about the game?” Lucas protested.

“Please–the cute guy will win, I totally predict it.” She turned to Carly. “Is it okay if I take Michael?”

“Sure. Michael, just listen to Sage and don’t wander off,” Carly directed.

“Okay, let’s go,” Sage yanked on Lucas’s hand and drug him into the hallway, Michael running behind them.

“He seems happier away from…everything,” Luke observed. “Michael, I mean.”

“I was sorry to let Leticia go, but…” Carly shrugged. “I think it’s better for them. It’s not like I have this rigorous schedule that I can’t take care of the boys. I’m not going to the club full-time until after the holidays and even then I can take Morgan during the day.”

“Sage seems nice,” Lucky told her. “Hard to believe she’s the same girl that tried to shoot–” he grimaced. “Alexis. She doesn’t know Sage is here.”

“And Sage doesn’t know about Alexis…” Carly trailed off. “I like to think she’s come away from that person she was just a few weeks ago. Maybe…maybe this will be okay,” she said hesitantly.

Luke snorted. “I guess this is going to be a crazy Quartermaine-esque holiday anyway. Good, I thought it’d be boring.”

Elizabeth’s Bedroom

He knocked lightly on her door and Elizabeth–thinking it was Nikolas–told him to come in. “Elizabeth,” Jason began.

“Jason, I don’t have the energy to argue anymore,” she sighed.

“I don’t want to argue,” Jason assured. He sat hesitantly on the edge of her bed. “I’m sorry for what I said downstairs. I just–there are things going on inside my head that you–you don’t know about and–”

“Then tell me,” she said softly. She turned on the bed, tucking a leg underneath her body.

“I just–” he exhaled slowly. “What Michael said downstairs–about things not being black and white, that after we stopped—after you left,” he hesitated, “I didn’t wake up and not feel the same way anymore. That was true and I wasn’t prepared for him of all people to say it.”

“He was just repeating what Sage told him,” Elizabeth said softly. “I’m sure she didn’t mean any harm–he probably just had questions–”

“But she was right and it kind of–it just…it surprises me that people can even guess the reasons…what happened…happened,” Jason tried to explain.

“I don’t–I don’t understand.”

“I used to be able to do it–switch emotions off and on. It made my life more simple. For the job–for survival,” he told her. “When Robin left–when I lost Michael, I had to find a way to shut out the pain. It didn’t always work–but I could do everything possible not to see Michael and Robin was out of the country–” he shook his head. “When you left, I couldn’t do that.”

“I–” she broke off when she realized she didn’t know what to say. “I don’t–”

“There was this–this emptiness inside,” he told her. “Like someone was squeezing me and it was hard to breathe. I tried–I tried to keep my mind off it. I threw myself into work–and Courtney.”

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Elizabeth said immediately. She stood and crossed the room, folding her arms tightly.

“I’m sorry, Elizabeth. I didn’t–I don’t feel like I’m doing this right.”

“Why’d you kiss me?” she demanded suddenly, turning to face him.

He blinked. “What?”

“That night. In the hallway, why did you kiss me?” Elizabeth asked. “Why did you come inside? Why didn’t you leave?”

“Why’d you kiss me back?” he asked instead of answering. “Why didn’t you stop it? Why didn’t you tell me to leave?”

“I asked you first.”

He sighed, drove his fingers through his hair. “I don’t–” he stopped and shook his head. “No, I do know why I did it. When you looked up at me–when I helped you unlock the door–there was just…you were looking at me the way you used to. Before I lied to you–before I hurt you. And I just…I wanted to hold on to that look for as long as I could.”

Elizabeth wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “Isn’t that a nice coincidence? Because you were looking at me the way you did before I walked out–and I missed it. You know? And I really didn’t want to lose that again.”

Fountain

“Wow, this has got to be the coolest place ever,” Sage marveled as they found the large out of service stone fountain outside Wyndemere’s main entrance. “I bet this was like the courtyard when the Cassadines had money. And all the really awesome balls and parties they must have thrown.”

She twirled in a little circle and c aught some of the falling snow on her tongue. Lucas laughed. “You think you’d never seen snow before.”

“Did I mention most of my schools were in South America?” Sage asked. “I lived in Brazil and Spain. My father hated snow so I never spent the winter anywhere where there was snow.”

“Wow, so you’ve never seen snow?” Michael asked. He found a bigger pile of it and jumped feet first, sending little puffs of snow everywhere.

“Just dusting the other day,” Sage reported. She tugged on Lucas’s arm. “Come on, you promised.”

“It’s like baby-sitting two kids,” Lucas laughed and he started to search for a place so Sage could do her snow angels.

Elizabeth’s Bedroom

Elizabeth cleared her throat. “We should–should go downstairs.” But she didn’t move.

“Elizabeth–I kissed you that night because I wanted to,” Jason told her. “I don’t know if that’s enough for you but everything that happened that night–it meant something to me.”

“It meant something to me too,” Elizabeth said quietly. She clasped her hands nervously in front of her and stared at the floor.

“I do…I do love Courtney–but it’s not the way I should,” Jason attempted to continue. “It’s not the way she deserves.”

“What’s between you and your wife is none of my business,” Elizabeth said stiffly. She smoothed her hands over the skirt of her dress and licked her lips nervously. “I–”

“She’s filing for divorce,” Jason interrupted her. “Because she knows that–that–” he swallowed hard. “That I could never love her the way I love you,” he finally managed to say.

Elizabeth raised her eyes to his slowly. “What?” she asked–almost scared of the answer. Maybe she’d heard wrong–maybe he meant it in another way.

“I tried–I tried to forget it,” he said, “I tried to bury it, you know? And for a while, I thought I had but–but no matter what–I keep coming back to that.”

“To what?” Elizabeth asked, desperate to hear the words spill from his lips again. “What do you keep coming back to?” There was a note of desperation in her voice and she hated herself for it.

“I never stopped loving you,” Jason admitted. “And the reason I came inside that night–the reason I didn’t leave is because I wanted–for the first time in a long time, I didn’t care what you wanted or what I should do or shouldn’t be doing. I just–I did what I wanted to do.”

Say the words! Elizabeth’s mind screamed. Say them, damn it! “Jason–if–if that’s true then why did you tell me–why did you say it was a mistake?”

“Because it was in a way,” Jason sighed. He took a deep breath. “You deserve better than that night–better than some cold hard floor or an old threadbare couch–”

“That’s my studio,” Elizabeth said, shaking her head. “It was my home and none of those things ever mattered to me–you know that. That night was perfect to me in every way. Even if shouldn’t have happened–it was perfect.”

When he said nothing in return, she sighed and started past him. “We should go down stairs,” she mumbled.

He caught her elbow as she passed and spun her back to him. “Jason–” he cut off her protest with his lips. She resisted at first but he kept his grip on her elbow and shifted his other hand to her cheek. After a moment, Elizabeth melted into him, letting the familiar sensations roll over her.

He changed the angle of the kiss, slanting his mouth against hers harder, thrusting his tongue inside her mouth.

A loud crash sounded from the kitchen below them and Elizabeth broke away from him, breathing hard. “What are you doing?” she demanded.

“I–” Jason frowned. “I thought it was kind of obvious.”

“You…you’re married and I can’t–” she shook her head. “I can’t keep doing this, Jason! This whole situation–everything we have been about for the past four years–I can’t do it anymore!”

“What do you want me to do about it?” he retorted.

“I can’t be your second choice,” Elizabeth told him. “And that’s what I am right now. You left my studio that morning and you went home to her. You married her. You stayed with her.”

“I–”

“And I do deserve better than that. You cannot stand there and tell me that you love me in a way you don’t love Courtney when the only person you’ve gone out of your way to be with is her.”

“Elizabeth, I thought–”

She jerked open her bedroom door and disappeared down the hallway. After a moment, he followed her.

Fountain

“Okay, how do I get up without ruining it?” Sage asked, looking up at Lucas.

“Here.” He took her hands in his and helped her stand step away from her finished snow angel. “What do you think?”

“I want to make another,” Sage announced. She looked around. “Where did Michael go?”

“I’m building a snowman!” Michael called from around the corner of the house.

“You have snow all over you,” Lucas told her, brushing it from the top of her hair. “You’re like a kid.”

“Just because I’m spoiled little rich girl, it doesn’t mean I don’t get happy over little things,” Sage remarked airily. She giggled and crouched down, rolling together some snow.

“Don’t tell me you’re trying to make a snowball.” Lucas shook his head and crouched down in front of her. “You’re doing it all wrong–this is way too loose. You can’t use any of the powder.”

“Well excuse me, Frosty,” Sage replied, rolling her eyes. She abandoned her snowball and pushed him playfully. “You know–I could take you,” she boasted.

He stood and pulled her to her feet. “Yeah, okay.”

“I could. I know five ways to cut off a man’s airway,” Sage remarked seriously. “I saw it on the Discovery Channel once.”

“Oh, really?” Lucas said, amused. He pushed her lightly.

“Yeah, I’m totally stronger than I look,” Sage reported. “Bet you can’t catch me!” Her eyes sparkled and she faked a lunge to the left before darting to the right.

Lucas caught her easily. “Please, you’re trying to out run a track star.”

“Ha! You haven’t seen my best move!” Sage hooked her foot around his ankle and yanked, sending him crashing backwards. He still had a grip on her and she went down hard on top. “Okay, that wasn’t what I had in mind,” she grumbled.

“Serves you right,” he replied. She shifted and sat up so he could as well. “How much longer until dinner do you think?”

“I don’t know, it’s like only noon,” she replied. Sage reached forward and brushed the snow from his hair.

“Hey, I’m a growing boy–I need to eat,” he said defensively. She laughed and Lucas suddenly leaned forward and kissed her quickly.

Her eyes widened and she stared at him. “What was that for?”

Lucas shrugged. “Felt like it.”

“Well, okay then.”

“Sage, Lucas! I need help putting the head on!” Michael yelled.

Kitchen

Elizabeth stalked into the kitchen, making a beeline for the counter where she’d been making the fruit salad. She furiously started to slice apples.

“You should never use a sharp instrument when you’re angry,” Alexis said from her perch across the room, sipping a glass of apple cider.

“Honey?” Bobbie asked, setting down a finished bowl of mashed potatoes. “Are you feeling better?”

“I’m feeling much better and yet worse all at the same time,” Elizabeth muttered.

Emily set a finished pumpkin pie on the counter. “Did my brother say something asinine?” she asked, understandingly.

“Oh, you bet.” She tossed her hair over her shoulder. “He told me he loved me.”

All work ceased in the kitchen–the sounds of the knife cutting into fruit were all that were left.

Emily exchanged sympathetic looks with the other women. “That’s not a good thing?” she asked hesitantly.

Elizabeth whirled around, a knife in her hand and her eyes flashing with anger. “Not when he’s married to Courtney. Not when he chose her over me time and time again. Not when he left me to be with her. Not when I wasn’t enough to be with after that night,” she seethed.

“Well…” Bobbie trailed off and sighed.

“Elizabeth, my brother has got himself into a very deep amount of shit this year,” Emily began with good intentions.

“And he still went from my bed to hers and he married her,” Elizabeth reminded her. “Apparently he loved me enough to tell me that the night we conceived our child was mistake and he loved me enough to marry another woman. Yay for me.”

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