Carly and Lorenzo’s House
The flowers came the morning after their fight at the club. A dozen yellow roses. She threw them out.
They came every day for a week before Sage ripped the petals off and dumped the dead stems at Lucas’s front door.
When Bobbie opened her door the next morning to find the rotting dead flowers on her steps, she burst out laughing. She’d always liked Sage but she found herself admiring her as well. Her son had told her about the argument, thinking she would take his side but she smacked him upside the head for being a stupid male.
After that, the flowers stopped but Lucas called once a day. He would leave a voicemail on her cell phone or just talk if she actually picked up the phone. He’d apologize profusely–going so far as to say he was an idiot and they were definitely too young for marriage.
Which Sage agreed with–but that wasn’t the point of the fight. The point was that he hadn’t gotten his way and decided to ignore her as punishment. She would not put up with that.
Lorenzo was unsure how to handle this newest development. He’d liked Lucas–liked that the boy had given her a reason to love this town, had introduced her to the other kids. Had made his niece happy. But even he felt queasy at the idea of marriage so he decided to let Carly handle it since she was the woman.
But Sage wasn’t talking to Carly either. So Carly threw herself into planning Sage’s eighteenth birthday party and helping Jason plan the perfect marriage proposal.
“It has to be more romantic than when you told her you loved her,” Carly insisted as she flipped through a book of party invitations.
Jason grimaced. “Shouldn’t be too hard since I just blurted that part out. I thought I’d take her on a ride to somewhere and just ask her.”
Carly glared at him. “Not one romantic bone in your body. Where did I go wrong?”
“Elizabeth and I aren’t like that,” Jason explained patiently.
“All women are like that.” Carly set the book aside. “Now,” she continued briskly, “I’ll help you plan the dinner. You’d have to cook it of course but I can set the table and the atmosphere.”
“If she walks into a candlelit dinner, she’ll think you’ve talked me into something,” Jason told her. “I love you, Carly, but not everyone needs a production when something important happens. You tried to give her a huge baby shower and remember how well that went?”
Carly pursed her lips, remembering the way Morgan had crawled onto the scene and right through the cake. Michael had followed and somehow managed to topple over the pile of gifts. “I thought we agreed not to speak of it again.”
“We won’t as long as you trust me to do this the way I think is right,” Jason told her. “I’m going to take her to Jake’s, we’re going to play a game of pool. I’ll take her up to Vista Point and I’ll ask her there. It will be special because it’s special to us, okay?”
“Well, if you insist.” Carly sighed. “I’m worried about Sage.”
“She’s still not talking?”
“She’s talking. Just not to me or Lorenzo.” Carly flipped the page in her book. “She’s taking to Maxie, so I suppose that’s something. But when Lucas calls, it’s just…silence. She sent his flowers back.” Her lips twisted into a smile. “Though leaving the rotting stems on his door step…that I liked.”
Jason sighed. “You would.”
“That’s why this birthday party is going to cheer her up,” Carly said decisively. “We’re throwing it at the club and we’re inviting everyone. You’re bringing Lila?”
“Yeah.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “I had a call from Sonny yesterday.”
Her hands stilled on the book she was holding and she looked up at her best friend. “I–I didn’t realize he had phone privileges.”
“He’s been making progress in his therapy,” Jason reported. “And part of his therapy was contacting friends before working his way up to family. He sounded good.”
“I’m glad.” Carly flipped to the next page. “What did you talk about?”
“Nothing much. He wanted to know how Elizabeth was feeling, how Lila was. He read about her birth. He asked if we would send pictures.” Jason reached out and covered her hand. “Of Lila, of the boys. Of anyone. I don’t want to push you because I know you want to protect Morgan and Michael but I think it would help him to have that contact.”
Carly set the book aside and stood to cross to the bookshelf where she kept various albums and withdrew a slim one. “I put the pictures that had Sonny in here.” She ran her fingers of the light brown leather. “I thought it would be easier for the boys if he wasn’t spread throughout the house.” She looked back at Jason. “Michael’s stopped asking about him so much and Morgan doesn’t even know him. Do you think I made a mistake?”
“I think you did what you thought was best.”
“He was a good husband once, a good man. A very good man. I loved him for a long time.” Her voice thickened. “I want my boys to know that about him. That he wasn’t always like this.”
“Visitation rights are still a year or so away,” Jason stood and crossed to her. “You would have time to prepare them for it. Maybe some phone calls from him.”
Carly nodded. “I think that would be a good idea. I have to talk to Lorenzo about some of this. He loves them as much as anyone and he has a right to decide this with me.”
“I understand that.”
She held out the book. “When you send the pictures of Lila, send these as well. Maybe it will remind him of the better times.”
Jason and Elizabeth’s Apartment: Living Room
Elizabeth studied Maxie very carefully. “And how many infants have you taken care of?” she asked stubbornly.
“I’ve been baby-sitting since I was thirteen,” Maxie said helpfully. “Lila’s just the prettiest baby, Elizabeth.”
“Mmmm,” Elizabeth wasn’t about to be deterred. “What do you do if she starts to cry?”
“First I’ll pick her up because sometimes they just to be held,” Maxie began, “and if that’s not it, I’ll check her diaper.”
“Elizabeth,” Jason took her elbow and pulled her towards the door. “Lila will be fine.”
“But–” Elizabeth protested.
“I know my mother’s phone number, I know my dad’s number and I know how to call the hospital,” Maxie assured her. “I told Kyle that I’m busy tonight so there will be no boys.”
“It’s fine, Maxie,” Jason said. He opened the door and tugged Elizabeth out. “Call us if you need anything.”
Elizabeth fretted until they were down in the parking garage. “I don’t know about this,” she murmured. “She’s so young.”
“Lila or Maxie?” Jason asked, slightly amused before leading her too the bike.
“She’s our little baby, Jason,” Elizabeth pouted. “What if she forgets who we are before we come home?” Her eyes widened. “What if she says her first word and calls Maxie mama?” Panicked now, she turned and would have made a leap for the elevator if Jason hadn’t plucked her off the ground and all but tossed her on the back of the bike.
“She’s a month old, she won’t call Maxie anything.” He handed her the helmet. “Put this on.”
“Elizabeth, we won’t be gone more than a few hours.” He got on in front of her and started the bike.
The rest of her protest was lost in the roar of the bike as he drove the bike out of the garage.
“Why are we here?” Elizabeth asked as she climbed off the bike and stared at the neon sign. “I can’t remember the last time I was here.”
“I thought we’d play a game of pool,” Jason remarked casually. He strapped the helmets on the bike and took her hand. “You ready?”
“What are you up to?” Elizabeth asked suspiciously.
He didn’t answer and just led her inside the bar, which was empty. There was a single table in the center of the room with a candle lit. He narrowed his eyes. “Carly,” he muttered.
“Carly what?” Elizabeth asked as her eyes took in the scene around them.
“She knew I was bringing you here tonight and just had to do something.” He let go of her hand and moved to the center of the room. “It doesn’t look anything like it used to.”
“Well, no, it’s clean,” Elizabeth crossed her arms. “Jason, why would Carly be concerned with this?”
“She knew–” He broke off and shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Never mind. Let’s just play a game.”
“Jason.” Elizabeth took his hands in hers. “What did Carly know?”
“I told her…” he hesitated. “Elizabeth, you know how much I love you right?”
She nodded. “I love you, too.”
“And I love Lila, more than I thought I could love anyone.”
“I know you do,” Elizabeth’s voice caught and she swallowed.
“I want a family with you. A permanent one. More children.” He took a deep breath. “I want to marry you.”
She’d had an idea that it was coming but she never dreamed it of what it would feel like to hear those words. To know that a year ago they’d barely been on speaking terms and now he was asking her to marry him. “Oh, Jason,” she breathed. She closed her eyes and tried to hide her smile. “I want to marry you, too.”
He let go of one of her hands to dig into his pocket. “I bought a ring,” Jason told her as he withdrew a velvet box. “I–” he broke off and just opened it to her show her the gold band with a deep red ruby instead of a traditional diamond.
“It’s so beautiful,” she murmured. But she didn’t take her eyes off his as he took it from the box and slid it on her fourth finger. “I’m going to make you so happy,” Elizabeth promised, throwing her arms around his neck.
“I think that’s supposed to be my line,” Jason said, closing his eyes and burying his face in her hair.
July 2, 2004
Emily raised her glass of champagne to her brother and her best friend. “Congratulations, you two. I’m just incredibly thrilled.” She elbowed Nikolas. “We both are, right?”
“Right,” Nikolas said hastily. He stepped forward and kissed Elizabeth’s cheek. “I’m happy about anything that makes you smile.”
“Thanks,” Elizabeth beamed.
“Can I have another?” Michael asked, jumping up and down to get his mother’s attention.
“No more soda for you,” Carly told him. She moved around the bar and poured him an iced tea. “Here.”
“Aww,” Michael pouted. “Sage gets to have soda.”
“Sage is an adult,” Carly said seriously.
Lorenzo paled. “I’m not sure I like the sound of that.”
“Believe it, Uncle Zo,” Sage teased, kissing her uncle on the cheek. “I am eighteen and I am so an adult.”
“Stop scaring your uncle,” Maxie came up next to her and gave her a one arm hug. “Hey, Mrs. Corinthos, hey Mr. Alcazar. D’ya think you can talk my mom into a party like this in November when I turn eighteen?”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Carly smiled.
“Great, Sage, babe, I’ve got someone who wants to talk to you.” Maxie steered her best friend away from the adults and as they walked across the dance floor, the blonde cleared her throat. “You know there’s no one else I love more than you–except maybe my sister and that’s because my mom makes me.”
“I love you too,” Sage hugged her tightly.
“So when I tell you that I’m doing this for your own good, you know that I really mean it.”
Sage narrowed her eyes. “Maxie–”
Maxie pushed her into Carly’s office and closed the door behind her. “Maxie!” Sage called, knocking on the door.
“I didn’t think she’d actually get you to come.”
Sage whirled around. “What in the hell are you doing here?” she snarled.
“I don’t want to fight,” Lucas held up his hands. “I just wanted a chance to give you your present and apologize.”
She bit her lip. “Present?” she echoed, eyeing the elaborately decorated box sitting on Carly’s desk. She did love presents.
“I was working on it for a while, so I decided to just give it to you.” He stepped in front of the box. “But I wanted to say something first. I’m sorry. I handled the entire situation badly and my only defense is that I’ve never loved anyone like I love you.”
Sage shifted. “Right.”
“I didn’t even mean marriage would be like tomorrow or even in the next four years. And I wasn’t really asking,” Lucas swallowed. “I just meant…I wanted it in our future. When we were both ready.”
“That might have gone over better,” Sage said slowly.
“And when we had that fight, I didn’t know how to fix it. I didn’t know how to talk to you. So…I didn’t. And then I saw you with that other guy…” Lucas shook his head. “I just felt awful about it. I feel like a real jerk, Sage and I hope you can forgive me one day.”
“Uh huh,” she murmured.
Resigned to the fact that he’d screwed it up for good, Lucas turned and handed her the box. “My mom helped me with it.”
Sage set it on the chair in front of the desk and tore the top wrapping off. She took off the top lid and withdrew the first tissue wrapped package. She unwrapped it and saw a framed picture of she and Lucas at the Prom in early May. “Lucas…”
“There’s more. I asked Carly and Lorenzo for help with the rest of it.”
Sage set the frame aside and lifted the second out. A leather bound scrapbook. Filled with photos of her, of him throughout their entire lives. The first third of the book was pictures of her and mementos from her childhood–things she hadn’t realized her uncle saved. The second third of the book was like the first, only it was for Lucas.
And the final third was their six months together. Ticket stubs from their first movie. Wrapping paper from the gifts they’d exchanged at Christmas, dried rose petals from Valentine’s Day. “Lucas.”
“I know it seems a bit awkward to give it you know that we’ve…” He hesitated, not able to say the words. “But I worked really hard on it and I thought one day you might be able to look at it without hating me–”
“I don’t hate you, Lucas.” Sage set the book down carefully and wrapped her arms around his neck, steeping herself in his familiar scent. “I miss you,” she confessed.
He tightened his arms around her waist. “I miss you, too.”
She drew back, sliding her hands down his chest. “I don’t want to miss you anymore. I’ve seen the way the people in my life have let problems come between them and I don’t want that to be us.”
“I don’t either,” Lucas admitted. “Can you forgive me?”
Sage nodded and kissed him softly. “Yeah. I can.”
“Great party,” Brian nodded, handing Courtney another soda. She sipped it and laughed.
“Yeah, hard to imagine Carly now has an eighteen-year-old daughter.” Her laughter faltered when she saw Elizabeth showing off her engagement ring and Jason holding Lila as they talked to Bobbie Spencer.
“So they’re getting married,” Brian said.
“Yeah.” Courtney smiled. It wasn’t a strong smile but he was relieved to see that it was genuine. “I’m glad. It’s been a long time coming.” She sipped her soda and set the glass back on their table. “I was thinking…maybe if you’re free one night this week, we could have dinner.”
“You sure?” Brian asked.
Courtney nodded and her smile was a little brighter now. “Yes, I’m sure.”
When Carly saw Sage and Lucas emerge from the back, hand in hand, she smiled and tapped her glass to get everyone’s attention. “I want to thank everyone for coming tonight. It means so much that you all wanted to celebrate Sage’s birthday.”
Sage grinned at the sea of people, none of which she’d known last year.
“It’s been quite a year for a lot of us in this room,” Carly continued. She linked hands with Lorenzo. “I’ve found a home in Lorenzo, in my family. My best friend in the whole world is finally marrying the girl he should have many moons ago.” She grinned saucily at Jason who just rolled his eyes and smiled down at Elizabeth and his daughter.
“My sister has moved away and I miss her…I miss her a lot,” Carly smiled at Courtney, “but am I so glad she’s happy.”
She raised her glass in the air. “A toast to the past year and all those to come.”