Elizabeth bit her lip and glanced at the clock sitting on her table. 8:30.She glanced back at the book she’d dug out of her luggage from the house. She’d bought a pregnancy book back when she and Ric were trying to conceive again–wanting to be prepared.
And even after the marriage had crumbled, she’d kept the book. She was glad she had now–she wouldn’t have to fork over some of her hard-earned savings for one.
Even as she tried to concentrate on the paragraph about the changes taking place inside her body during the second month of pregnancy, her eyes kept straying towards the clock.
8:32. 8:33. 8:34.
She sighed and stood to stretch her legs. Was it really too much to hope that he’d be on time for once? That maybe what was going on with her would take precedence over something else? One would think he’d want to get this taken care of as soon as possible.
As annoyed as she was with Carly for spilling the beans about this, she was also sort of grateful. God only knew when Elizabeth would have worked up the courage.
Seven weeks along. Her hand strayed to her abdomen. If she pressed down, she could feel something a little hard there. Her book said that she wouldn’t really notice a very big difference until the beginning of the fourth month.
To be honest, she wanted as much time as possible to go by before she started to show. She needed to come up with explanations–what would she say to her grandmother, to Emily…Oh, God, she could only imagine how much worse this divorce proceeding was going to go once Ric found out about this.
The knock on her heavy steel door jarred her from her mournful thoughts and she crossed to open it. He was about forty minutes late but since she remembered all too well the nights he never showed at all, so she let it go.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I got held up in a meeting with Sonny’s lawyer.”
Elizabeth nodded and returned to the table where she bookmarked her page and closed the book. “It’s fine. I was just reading anyway.”
“Elizabeth…” he took a deep breath. “I’m not really sure what to say and I know that I don’t want to piss you off but I’d really rather that right now we were honest with each other.”
“Okay. Honesty’s probably the best way to start.” She crossed her arms and leaned against the table. “I’m almost a month behind on my rent and my electric is about to be shut off. I also have some medical bills to pay off from when I was in the hospital for the accident and also for the embolism. How’s that for honesty?”
“If you need money, I can give it you,” he told her. “I know how hard you work but–”
“Yeah, I know I’m going to have to cut back at Kelly’s. I’ve been working double shifts constantly since I got my vision back.” Elizabeth arched her eyebrow. “So, what exactly are you looking to get out of this?”
He frowned. “Get out of this?” he replied.
“Well, I’m not really sure what you want from me. If you’re going to sue me for full custody so you and Courtney can raise the child or–”
He sliced his hand through the air. “I’d never do that to you. Come on–you should know me better than that, Elizabeth.”
“Have you told her yet?” she asked pointedly.
Jason shook his head. “No, I wanted…it’s going to be hard enough to tell her about that night and now I have to tell her you’re pregnant when…” he hesitated and looked away. “Courtney’s miscarriage…it damaged her…she can’t conceive.”
“Oh.” Well, now Elizabeth could feel some sympathy for the other woman. Not only had her fiancé cheated on her, but he’d conceived a child with that woman–a child she herself couldn’t give him. “I’m sorry.”
“So, it’s going to be difficult to tell her that. I thought I’d wait until we’d settled this between us. There’s so much up in the air–I just…I wanted to wait.”
“Fine. That part of it isn’t really any of my business anyway.” She lifted herself up onto the table to sit on the edge. “Regardless of what’s happened between us, Jason, I know you’d be a good father and I’m hoping you want to be in the child’s life.”
Jason nodded firmly. “There was never a doubt in my mind. I…I won’t deny that part of me is happy about this, Elizabeth. You know how much Michael meant to me and the idea of having another child…” he exhaled slowly. “No matter what the situation is, I want this child to feel loved and wanted.”
Her eyes teared and she cursed her hormones. “So do I. And I want this child–and part of me is happy, too. I wasn’t sure if you would be, too.”
“I’m not denying this isn’t going to be messy,” he warned her. “Because I still have to tell Courtney and while Carly knows, Sonny doesn’t. And you have…your grandmother and Ric to deal with and something tells me that neither of them is going to be very happy about it.”
“Ric can go jump off a cliff for all I care,” she remarked coolly. “We’re in the middle of the divorce now and he’s dragging it along. I’m hoping to get that settled before I have to tell him anything.”
“I want to be involved in the pregnancy, too,” he told her. “Go to doctor’s appointments and…all of that. Will you let me?”
“I…” She hesitated. “I think you should wait to make that decision until you talk to Courtney. As much as I don’t want her to have a say in any of this…you are married to her and her reaction and opinion are going to matter.”
“But will you let me?” he pressed.
“If that’s what you want.” She crossed her legs and took a deep breath. “I’m going to start looking for another job–one where I can work better hours and make some more money. I don’t want to ask you for more than I absolutely have to.”
“Anything you need, Elizabeth, I want you to be able to come to me for it. I can…” Jason hesitated. “You’re going to say no and get really pissed at me for offering this, but I want you know that I can arrange for you to have an apartment at the Towers, rent free.”
She arched an eyebrow. “You want me to live in the same building as you and your wife?”
“Sonny and I own the Towers,” he tried to explain. “And right now Courtney’s out of town with the boys. We don’t know when she’ll bring them back. Probably not until the trial is over.”
“I still don’t think it’s a good idea. I mean…providing Courtney doesn’t try to kill you, it wouldn’t be fair for her to have me in the same building.”
Jason nodded. “And asking you to let me pay for rent and utilities on any other apartment is out of the question, I’m guessing.”
“Absolutely,” she told him. “The only thing I’d consider letting you pay for is Dr. Meadows as my obstetrician. She’s the best at the hospital but she’s also expensive.”
“Then just tell her office to bill me.” He stepped closer to her. “Elizabeth, this is probably the easiest this is gonna be. You know that I’m gonna have to…” he hesitated. “I’ll probably have to put a guard on you.”
“Why?” she demanded. “I…that doesn’t make sense. I’m not Courtney. I’m not Carly. I don’t need a guard.”
“To keep you safe,” he told her. “Elizabeth, come on, you know that I’m not just being paranoid about this. The last time I ignored the trouble and left you alone, you were kidnapped. And then you were shot. So…just trust me for once.”
“I also don’t want a guard,” Elizabeth said stubbornly. “It’s restricting and they don’t let you walk anywhere. You have to take a stupid car.”
He dropped his head into his chest and took a deep breath. “Okay, let’s compromise. You don’t…you don’t have to have one at all times but you’ll let me put one on you at night when you’re in the studio or when you move to another apartment.”
“Just at night?” she asked hesitantly. “I don’t…I don’t see what you’re worried about. Courtney’s your wife. I’m just–”
“–pregnant with my child and Elizabeth, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not but…” Jason paused, trying to think of the best to explain this. “Sonny’s out of the business. I’m the one in charge now.”
She stared at him, a little surprised. “But once he gets out of jail–”
“He turned it over to me before he shot Carly,” Jason informed her. He ran a hand through his hair. “And the way things are going, it doesn’t look like he’ll be coming home soon.”
“So…you’re…in charge.” Elizabeth blinked. “I’m…I’m not sure what to say to that. As long as I’ve known you, you’ve just been…Jason and now–”
“That hasn’t changed,” he said quickly turning around to stop her. “I’m still the same person but I just have a different job now.”
She nodded slowly. “Okay. But you wouldn’t have brought it up if you didn’t think it was something I should know.”
“I just…things are different now. It’s not like it was a year ago when we were…” He broke off, trying to find the right words. “My role is different–it’s higher now and the people around me are in more–”
She rolled her eyes. “Danger,” Elizabeth remarked flatly. “Gee, there’s a word I haven’t heard before.”
“I think there’s something we have to get straight. If you’re going to be in the baby’s life, then you need to be in it. None of this it’s too dangerous bullshit that you always spewed at me, okay? You don’t get to pick and choose. Either you’re in it or not. Is that understood?”
He took a deep breath. “I wasn’t trying to…okay, it’s understood. I’m just trying to explain why I want a guard on you.”
“I get it. You’re the big boss now and the people around you are even bigger targets.” She shrugged. “Message received. So they might come at you through your illegitimate child and the one-night stand carrying it–fine. I’ll take the guard at night–”
“You are not just a one-night stand to me,” Jason interrupted.
“What? Are we friends?” she challenged.
“I was hoping for that at least,” he told her. “Elizabeth, are we going to spend the next seven months arguing?”
She sighed and looked away. “Okay. I don’t really want to argue about this either. I’m going to get enough shit from the other people in my life–it would be nice if I didn’t have to deal with it here.”
“Courtney’s bringing the boys in for the weekend,” Jason told her. “I’m going…I’m going to tell her then.”
“Okay.” She pushed her hair behind her ears. “I think…I think that’s enough for tonight.”
Instead of leaving, he reached past her and picked up the book she’d been reading. “Is this helpful?”
Frowning, she nodded. “Yeah, I guess. Why?”
“I thought I might…get a copy of it,” he told her. “Just…to understand what you’re going through.”
She smiled then and looked down at the book. “You know you don’t have to do that right?”
“I want to know. I can’t…I can’t be here all of the time–I meant it when I said I wanted to be part of this in every way possible.”
“What if Courtney doesn’t…what if she fights you on that?” Elizabeth asked.
“I don’t know how she’s going to react,” Jason replied hesitantly. “I know it’s going to hurt her and…I don’t want to do that.”
“Okay. I just want you to know that it’s okay if you don’t…I know how important she is to you and if she forgives you, she’s not going to want to be constantly reminded of this situation either.”
“Yeah.” Jason took a deep breath. “I should go. I’ve got…I’ve got some things to do. I’ll talk to you later?”
She nodded. “Okay.”
November 17, 2003
Carly’s House: Kitchen
Carly cursed when her sauce stuck to the side of the pot. She tried to save some of it, but it was hopelessly burned.
What the hell had made her think she could do this?
The phone rang, cutting off her thoughts and she reached out to pick it up. “Hello?” she said distracted.
Her fingers clenched around the phone instinctively. “Sonny.”
“I…how are you?”
“I’m doing okay,” she murmured. She turned the stove off and dumped the pot in the sink. “You?”
He exhaled slowly. “I could be better. I just…I just got finished a meeting with Dara. She’s my new lawyer, did you know that?”
“No, I didn’t.” Carly rooted around in the refrigerator, looking for something edible to eat. Lorenzo and Sage would be here in two hours.
“Jason, he, ah, convinced me to go with the new defense.” She closed her eyes. She could picture him standing against a wall in the country jail, dressed in prison blues, scratching his chin. “I wanted to see what you think.”
“I think that it’s a good idea,” Carly said softly. “I think that you could benefit from the help.”
“Yeah. Yeah, you’re probably right. I…it occurred to me that I haven’t…I haven’t apologized. And I don’t know why. I mean, I have been stuck in here and you haven’t come to see me–a-and I’m not trying to make you feel guilty. I know what I did was wrong. And I’m sorry, Carly.”
She sighed and blinked her eyes, surprised at the sudden sting of tears. “Sonny, I want you to get out, believe me. No one knows more than I do that you…I know you can’t be in there and I just…it’s okay. All of it, I mean. It’ll be okay if you just…promise me you’ll cooperate,” she whispered. She pushed her hair out of her face and took a deep breath. “Promise me that you won’t argue with Dara–she’s a good lawyer and if she took your case, she believes in you and that has to matter.”
“I promise. Carly…I want to see you. Eventually, I mean. I don’t–I don’t want to push you. I know you’re doing good with your therapy and I just…I want to see you. I haven’t seen you since that night and I know you’re doing okay–that you’re alive but there’s…there’s this tight feeling in my chest and I just don’t think it’s gonna go away until I see you.”
Carly nodded. “Okay. I’ll come out this week. With Jason. Is Dara going to reopen the bail issue?”
“Yeah. She’s gonna, ah, volunteer to do the ankle tracking thing. I’m gonna surrender my passport and all of that stuff. But if Baldwin goes for the deal, it won’t matter. I’ll be at Ferncliffe.”
“Will Scott go for it?”
“Probably not. You know how he loves to make a splash. Ah, Carly, they’re giving me the signal. I gotta go. I…I love you.”
Wishing desperately that she could give him that back–that he could take it with him back to the cell and it could comfort him, she fought back tears. “Goodbye, Sonny.”
She hung the phone up and looked back at the fridge. Maybe Sage and Lorenzo wouldn’t mind pizza.
“Are we really gonna see Mommy?” Michael asked, bouncing up and down as Courtney tried to zip up his winter jacket. The snow that had started to fall last night had continued to fall all night and most of the morning and had only stopped this afternoon.
“Yep. We’re leaving Friday afternoon and it’ll take three hours for us to get there but we’re going to see Mommy and Uncle Jason, too.” She yanked his hat over his red hair. “Okay, you’re ready to go.”
“Brian’s not here,” Michael observed, disappointed. “He promised to take me sledding and he’s not here.”
“Well, honey, Brian is the sheriff of this whole town. It’s a really important job and he has to concentrate on that.”
He pursed his lips. “He’s a cop?” Michael asked. “I thought all cops were mean like Taggart.”
“No, not all cops are mean,” Courtney sighed, disappointed that Michael was being brought up to distrust authority figures. “Taggart didn’t like your father and your uncle. But there are some good ones. You remember Mac Scorpio?”
Michael nodded. “Yeah. Is he a good cop?”
“He is. He’s fair and he’s someone you can trust. He’s the commissioner of the police which is kind of like a sheriff except Haye’s Landing is smaller than Port Charles and doesn’t need a commissioner.”
“So Brian’s a good guy too?” Michael asked. He pulled on his mittens.
“Yes,” Courtney answered. There was a knock on the door then and Michael ran to yank it open.
“Brian!” he announced excitedly. He looked past the taller man to see the sled sitting in the front yard. “We’re gonna go?”
Brian nodded. “I’m gonna take you out to the biggest hill in town.”
“Can I go, Aunt Courtney?” Michael asked exuberantly.
Courtney nodded. “Sure, just be careful.” She tugged on her ear. “Hey, Brian.”
“Hey Courtney,” he remarked. “You ready to go, big man?”
Michael darted past him and went into the yard and Brian laughed. “Okay, wait for me!” he called. He pulled the door shut behind him and Courtney sighed.
It wasn’t until a few minutes later that she realized he’d barely spoken to her and the thought depressed her a little.