Michael curled up next to his mother and leaned his head against her shoulder. “I really missed you, Mommy. When can we come home?”
“Soon, honey. Daddy’s sick right now and it’s better if you’re away with Aunt Courtney so you don’t have to see that.” Carly shifted Morgan in her arms. “But I’m feeling much better now and I’m going to come to Haye’s Landing to visit you–”
“Aunt Courtney said we were coming home,” Michael told her. “She said she misses Uncle Jason.”
“Oh.” Carly wouldn’t begrudge her sister-in-law from being with her new husband but what with Carly knew Jason was telling her…she wasn’t so sure if that would work now.
The kitchen door flew open and Courtney rushed out. She was almost a blur as she rushed past them towards the door. Jason was hot on her heels.
“Courtney, just let me explain–”
She was already in the car and pulling out of the driveway by the time he reached her.
“I guess it didn’t go well.”
Jason turned to see Carly walking down the path towards him with Morgan securely in her arms.
“She already knew,” he said quietly. “The other night, I went to Kelly’s and Ric was harassing Elizabeth. He’d found out about the pregnancy and assumed the baby was his.”
“And you set him straight, I imagine,” Carly murmured. “And he tracked down Courtney and told her?”
“Damn it, Carly, what am I supposed to do now?” he demanded. “She’s taken off–I don’t know where she’s going and she has every right to just…” He looked away. “I asked her to marry me, to share my life with me and after everything we’ve been through, I sleep with Elizabeth and now she’s pregnant. What the hell was I thinking?”
“Come inside,” Carly said. “Say hello to Michael, have some dinner. She might come back and…maybe she just needs time to go through this. Work it out in her mind.”
“Yeah. Okay.” He sighed and followed her back into the house.
Elizabeth reached for the shrill ringing phone and put the receiver to her ear. “Hello?”
“It’s me,” Emily chirped. “I just got off the phone with Lucky. He’s trying to pin down next week’s dinner guests for his aunt. Luke’s even coming. Are you?”
“I don’t know yet,” Elizabeth sighed. She rolled onto her back and stared the ceiling. “So I got evicted today.”
After a moment of silence, Emily responded. “How’d you manage that?”
“The city condemned my building. I knew it was only a matter of time. I was already looking for a new place because…well, let’s face it, this place smells like turpentine and it’s always drafty. I can’t raise a baby here.”
Emily hesitated. “Jason would give you the money in a heartbeat.”
“I’m not going to use Jason. I got myself into this mess, I’ll get myself out of it. I’m the one who–who slept with an almost married man, my psycho ex-husband and one of my friends. I have been wracking my brains trying to figure out how to pay rent on a better place but the truth is, Em, I am barely making ends meet now.”
As if on cue, her lights flickered and then shut off completely.
“Perfect,” she muttered. “Correction, Em, I’m not making ends meet at all.”
“Honey, what happened?”
“My lights just went out. I haven’t…I didn’t pay my electric this month.” She sat up and started to cry. “I can’t do this, Emily. I c-can’t take care of a baby, I can’t even take care of myself–”
“Shit,” Emily took the phone from her ear and looked at Nikolas. “How soon can the launch get me to the mainland?” she asked.
“It’s down for the night. I can’t afford to keep the launch master on during the night. Why?”
“Okay, Elizabeth, honey, you can’t stay there tonight. You have to go to Lucky’s place or Bobbie’s.”
“I have to go…I can’t even remember if I paid my phone bill this month. I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” Elizabeth whispered brokenly. She hung up and hugged her knees to her chest.
Nikolas came up behind Emily who was staring at the phone with tears in her eyes. “What’s wrong?”
“Elizabeth.” Emily looked at him. “I…I was going to tell you but I knew she wanted to keep it kind of low key for a while but she’s pregnant.”
“Pregnant,” Nikolas repeated. “I thought she and Ric–”
“It’s Jason’s baby,” Emily told him. She bit on her lip. “Her building just condemned and while we were talking, her electricity went out. She sounded so upset.”
“Whoa…Jason’s the father?” Nikolas asked. “That’s…wow. That’s a bad situation on many levels. Well…why doesn’t Jason help her with rent on a better place? Or at least her bills now?”
Emily sighed. “You know Elizabeth. She’s so independent–she’s paid for that studio all by herself for four years. Her salary at Kelly’s always took care of everything because…well she works double shifts, triple shifts…”
“But with all the medical bills and the lawyer’s fee with the divorce, she’s broke,” Nikolas concluded. “Well, she’s got to bend, Emily. If she’s pregnant, she can’t work those kind of hours and no one is going to hire her with her about to go on maternity leave.”
“Look, I can’t…she can’t be alone right now. I’m going to call Lucky to go…pick her up and force her to stay with him. If he has to arrest her, I don’t care. She can’t be alone.” She snatched the phone up but Nikolas stopped her.
“Call Jason,” he advised. “She needs his help and honestly, Em, he’s the one that got her in this position in the first place.”
“It takes two,” Emily reminded him.
“And she needs him. Look, I know he would at least want to know that the mother of his child is currently residing in a studio apartment with no heat or electricity. If Jason is anything like the man I think he is…he won’t need to be told to go to her.”
She sighed. “You’re right. I’ll call him.”
“Are we sleeping here tonight?” Michael asked, handing his mother his plate so she could put it in the dishwasher.
“Yep. You still have clothes here from when we first moved in.” She smoothed his hair away from his face. “Maybe we can even make this a permanent gig after all. What do you think?”
His eyes lit up. “Yeah! I want to come home!” He wrapped his arms around his mother’s waist. “I miss you so much, Mommy.”
“I’ve missed you, too baby.” She met Jason’s eyes in the doorway. “Why don’t you go and put Morgan down for sleep while Michael and I get all caught up?”
“Sure.” Jason lifted Morgan into his arms and carefully made his way up the stairs. The baby was so tiny, tinier than Michael had been.
In a few months, he’d be holding his own child. As he entered the nursery, he wondered for the first time what the baby would look like. More like Elizabeth? Like him?
Morgan barely woke up as Jason put him to sleep and no sooner was the baby out of his arms than his cell phone rang. He ducked into the hallway so the baby wouldn’t be disturbed.
“Jason?” Emily said hesitantly. “We have a problem.”
Brian pulled his car to a stop and frowned when he noticed lights on in the house. Courtney and the kids had left only hours ago and he hadn’t been expecting them to come back.
He parked the car and went up the walkway, noting her car had returned to its normal place in the driveway.
He got a sick feeling in his stomach, knowing she was going to confront her husband as soon as he got home.
The door was slightly ajar and Brian pushed it open to see Courtney curled up on the couch.
She looked over at him, her eyes wet and swollen. “It’s true,” she whispered. “She’s pregnant.”
He closed the door quickly and went to her side. “Jesus, I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry…I know I said I wouldn’t be back…b-but I-I didn’t have anywhere to go.”
“C’mere,” he tugged her into his arms and tucked her head under his chin. “I told you that I’d be here if you needed me.”
“How could he do this to me?” she said softly. “I…I gave up so much to be with him. I knew what people were saying behind my back–because of the way my last marriage ended. But I loved him. I…” her voice broke and she started to cry harder.
He smoothed his hand up and down her back. “I’m so sorry, Courtney.”
“I don’t know what I’m gonna do,” she sniffled. “Carly is obviously on his side. He’s got this whole supportive family with his sister and her boyfriend. I don’t…I don’t have anyone.”
“You have me,” Brian told her. “You’ll always have me.”
Elizabeth stared into the darkness and studiously ignored the knocks on her door. She knew it was Jason and she’d ream Emily out tomorrow for calling him.
She didn’t need him. She didn’t need anyone.
The knocks stopped and Elizabeth sighed, grateful that he’d given up. But just as soon as she’d decided that, the door swung up and he stood, sliding his lock picking tools into his coat pocket.
“She shouldn’t have called you,” Elizabeth murmured.
Jason sighed and closed the door behind him. It was pitch black in the studio but he managed to feel his way to the couch and sit next to her. “You can’t really think you can stay here tonight.”
“This is my home,” she replied. “Of course I’m staying here.” She tugged a folded comforter from the back of the couch and wrapped it around her.
He took a deep breath. “You were right…about Ric. He went straight for Courtney.”
He could feel her eyes on him. “She knows?”
“She came home with the boys tonight and told me that Ric had been by to tell her. I don’t think she wanted to believe it but…I told her and then she ran from the house. She’s gone, I think she went back to Haye’s Landing.”
“I’m so sorry,” Elizabeth sighed. Her eyes burned with tears. “We’ve really made a mess of this haven’t we?”
“Yeah,” he paused, “but Elizabeth…I’m serious. It’s almost December, it’s freezing in here, there’s no electricity. Let me do something. Let me help.”
“This isn’t your problem,” Elizabeth replied stubbornly.
“Even if you weren’t pregnant, I would want to help you. But the fact remains is that you are pregnant and this is not a good environment–”
“You think I don’t know that?” she demanded scathingly. “I’m the one who has to live like this–I’m the one who blew her savings by going back to school last year. If I hadn’t done that, I’d be fine.”
“But you have your degree now,” Jason argued.
“What the hell does that matter?” she retorted. “I’m still a waitress at Kelly’s.” She blew out a large exasperated breath. “I can’t get a better job–with the baby, I won’t even be able to work.” The tears slid down her cheek, little paths of warmth on her icy skin. “I can’t do this Jason, I can’t.”
“Not alone,” he agreed. He took her hands in his and swore–they were ice cold. “Elizabeth, you can do this–you are strong and I know you’re capable of making it. But you’re not just taking care of yourself now. The baby needs you to take care of yourself and you can’t do that by sitting alone in a cold dark studio.”
Elizabeth pulled her hands from his and wiped her eyes with the corner of the comforter. “You’re right. Of course you’re right. What do you want me to do?”
“For starters…I want you to…” he hesitated. He couldn’t take her back to the penthouse, that would be wrong a few different levels. Carly. He could take her there. “We’re going to go to Carly’s for the night. We can talk about everything else tomorrow.”
Carly shut her bedroom door and moved towards the phone on her nightstand.
She dialed the now familiar number and waited for him to answer.
“Hey, it’s me,” Carly said. “You’ll never believe what just happened to me.”
Lorenzo leaned back on his couch and smiled widely. “Hey, Carly. How’s the visit with the boys?”
“Amazing, incredible–I remember!” she declared. She sat down on the bed. “I have such a huge smile on my face, it’s just…Michael ran into my arms and I was just hit with this huge emotion. I love him so much, Lorenzo, he’s my little boy.”
While the news made her ecstatic, Lorenzo wasn’t as happy. Not that he was begrudging Carly’s boys anything. He was happy she remembered that particular emotion but it was plain to see that it was coming back to her. She’d remembered Jason’s friendship, her hatred for Robin Scorpio, her love for her boys.
All the remained essentially was her love for Sonny. He couldn’t compete against that and he knew that.
“I’m delighted, that means they’re coming home doesn’t it?” Lorenzo replied.
Carly nodded. “I was going to have them go back because of Sonny’s trial but I can’t bear to let them go. Besides, Courtney–she needs to be in Port Charles. She and Jason are going through this thing a-and I can’t ask her to keep putting her life on hold like this.”
“You need your family around you right now–with Sonny’s trial starting next week. That’s going to be a tough time for you even without those feelings.”
Carly bit her lip. “I thought…aren’t you going to be there with me?” she asked softly.
Lorenzo hesitated. “I have some business in Central America that came up. I was going to call you tomorrow to let you know that.”
“Oh. Well…that’s okay. I mean…I don’t know what I was thinking…you’ve got more important things than going with me to my estranged husband’s trial.” Feeling really stupid, she sighed. “I probably interrupted something so I’m going to just say goodbye–”
“I’m glad you called,” he told her sincerely. “I’ve even more glad that you remember your love for the boys. I care about you and them and you are important to me. Nothing short of an emergency would tear me away at a time like this,” he assured her.
Her spirits picked up considerably, she smiled. “Is Sage going with you?”
“Normally, she wouldn’t but I don’t trust her here by herself.”
“Why doesn’t she stay with me?” Carly blurted out.
Lorenzo paused and she could hear the amusement in his voice. “Are you really serious?”
“Sure. I…I like her, I do. And I think we understand each other.” Carly curled her legs underneath her. “I could use the company.”
“What about Courtney?” Lorenzo asked.
Carly sighed. “She’s upset about this thing with Jason and I think she’s going to see me as on his side so things aren’t going to be the same between us.” She laughed a little bitterly. “Not that they’re any good now.”
“Carly…I’m sorry. I know how much she means to you.”
“Well…at least one of us does,” Carly remarked a little sadly. She glanced at the clock. “I should…I should go. Morgan probably doesn’t sleep through the night yet and I’m going to need all the rest I can get this weekend.”
“If you were really serious about Sage, I’ll talk to her about it,” Lorenzo told her.
“I am,” Carly assured him. “I’ll…talk to you tomorrow.”