Chapter 5

Studio

She almost expected the knock at her door, but it still jolted her out of her thoughts. She’d been through so much that day – she’d seen a side of Carly Corinthos she never could have dreamed existed.

She knew what it was like to flounder in the dark, to beunsure of your next move, not understanding the thoughts running through your head.

Not feeling safe in your own skin.

So even though she expected the knock, it still jolted her.

It was a haunting familiar image as she swung her heavy door open to reveal Jason.

“Something’s wrong,” he said quietly. “Something happened to Carly. What?”

Elizabeth shook her head. “I can’t tell you that.”

“Elizabeth–”

“Jason, there’s no arguments.” She sighed. “I’m not telling you.”

“Damn it!” He slammed his hand against the wall and glared at her. “How am I supposed to fix it if no one will tell me anything?”

“Maybe you need to remember that Carly is a big girl and she doesn’t always need you to ride to her rescue.”

“Somebody has to look out for her.”

“Yeah, I get that.” She bit her lip briefly before continuing. “Look, she’s not in trouble, I promise.”

“But there is something wrong.”

“Jason,” Elizabeth sighed, “you should know better than anyone that I don’t break my promises. What Carly says to me is her business unless she says otherwise.”

“I know how loyal you are,” Jason replied. “But Carly…she’s been different lately. Distant. Reflective. Quiet. And it has nothing to do with Sonny kissing Brenda.”

“How do you know?” Elizabeth challenged. “Maybe she is upset about her husband kissing his ex. Maybe her trust was shaken. Maybe she feels neglected. Maybe she resents being treated like a child who’s only there when it’s convenient–”

“Are we still talking about Carly?” Jason interrupted, curiously.

Elizabeth broke off, flushed and looked away. “I’m not telling you anything about Carly, so there’s no point in you sticking around.”

“Maybe I want to talk about something else.”

Elizabeth frowned. “Oh?”

“Why’d you walk out?” Jason asked, intently.

“Why’d you sleep with Courtney?” Elizabeth fired back.

He exhaled slowly. “That’s not fair.” Jason stared over her head. “And I’m not going to answer that.”

“Fine.” She looked away. “And I’m not going to answer you.” She stepped back and slammed the door in his face. She flicked the locks shut and walked away from the door.

“I’m going to find out what’s wrong with Carly!” Jason shouted. “It’ll just be easier if she’d tell me!”

She ignored him and picked up a sketch pad, intent on finishing an old drawing she’d been working on for a while.

“Elizabeth, please just tell me what’s wrong–”

She closed her eyes, ignoring the sound of his voice, the way desperation was beginning to break through.

“Elizabeth, please.”

She sighed and started to open the locks. When she pulled the door open, she sighed. “Jason, I am not going to break her confidence. Please stop asking me.”

“She always comes to me,” Jason said quietly. “When she was worried about Brenda, when she needed someone to take care of Michael, she came to me. And now something is wrong and she’s not telling me. Which means it’s not something I can fix or that I take care of and that scares me, Elizabeth.”

She bit her lip and stepped aside. “Come in.”

He took a deep breath and entered. When she shut the door, she kept her back to him. “I still can’t tell you what’s wrong. I promised her.”

“Can you give me a hint?” Jason asked. “Is it bad? Did someone hurt her?”

“Yeah,” Elizabeth admitted. “Someone hurt her very badly.” She sighed. “Jason, I know that you and Carly are close, but it took a lot for her to trust me and I…I can’t let her down. Please tell me you understand.”

“It’s not that I don’t understand,” Jason tried to explain. “It’s just…she’s different, Elizabeth. I know you see it. She’s been so quiet and it’s got Sonny worried she’s thinking about divorcing him.”

“Because of Brenda?” Elizabeth asked. “Because he kissed her?”

“Yeah. And other things, I guess. He hasn’t really told me a lot. Things have been…well…strained between us. We don’t talk about much else other than business.”

Elizabeth turned away and started shuffling some papers and sketch pads on the table. “Because of Courtney?”

“He doesn’t like that I didn’t tell him until after it was over,” Jason answered awkwardly. “Or that it happened at all.”

She nodded, shoved some random pencils into her pencil holder. “Well, she is his sister. Being kept in the dark never seemed to be something Sonny appreciated.”

“Courtney…she was a mistake, Elizabeth.”

She closed her eyes, sensing him standing behind her. If she moved back half a step, her back would brush against his chest. “A mistake,” she repeated quietly.

“Haven’t you ever made a mistake?”

“Yeah.” She cleared her throat. “But once I make it, I usually don’t do it again.”

“What about Zander?” Jason asked pointedly.

“You’re saying that Courtney was your Zander?” Elizabeth asked. She slid out from in front of him and crossed the studio to stand by the window, facing him. “Is that how you’re going to justify this?”

He sighed. “Elizabeth, please don’t do this. We’re not together. I didn’t do anything wrong–”
“No of course not,” Elizabeth cut in swiftly. “But excuse me for being a little upset that barely a month after I left, you were married to Brenda, and sleeping with your brother’s wife.”

“Brenda was…there was nothing behind that,” Jason argued. “I told you that.”

“You married her two weeks after I left,” Elizabeth said. “How do you think it felt to find that out? Especially when I found out she was with Sonny at the safe house? Where you were most of the time?”

He stared at her in surprise. “You think something was going on then?”

“How else was I supposed to explain you marrying her two weeks after I walked out?” she demanded. “Or maybe I read too much into it. I mean, we said we wanted to be together, but we never defined it. Maybe I have no right to be angry. I mean, hey, we weren’t together.” Tears were glistening in the corner of her eyes and she turned way.

“Elizabeth–”

“Could you please leave?” she asked softly. “I can’t handle this right now.”

“Wait a second,” Jason argued. He stepped up behind her and turned her around. “You can’t just throw me out. How are we supposed to get past this?”

“Maybe we’re not supposed to,” she whispered. She reached up to wipe her eyes, but Jason got there first. He smoothed his thumbs over her cheeks, grasping her face with his hands.

“I don’t accept that,” he said, shaking his head. “I miss you, Elizabeth Doesn’t that count?”

“Of course it does, but it’s not enough,” she replied, peering up at him, meeting his eyes and holding the gaze. “It can’t. Not without trust.”

“I do trust you, Elizabeth.”

“Then I want you to be honest with me,” she pleaded. “When did this thing with Courtney start? How soon after I left?”

He swallowed hard and searched her eyes. “She kissed me. The day before I married Brenda.”

Her breathing hitched. “Two weeks after I was gone? You didn’t…you didn’t even wait a month?”

“She kissed me,” Jason assured her. “I didn’t kiss her back and nothing happened after that. Not until December.”

She looked down. “It doesn’t matter,” she said, her voice barely a whisper.

“Don’t… don’t say that.” He moved his thumbs over her cheek bones. “It does matter, Elizabeth.”

“No,” she said, her voice almost a sob. “Not anymore.”

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Carly stepped off the elevator and found Jason waiting for her. She frowned when she saw his face. He was upset about something, she could tell.

“Jason, what’s wrong?”

“Come over to my place. I want to talk to you,” Jason said.

“What about?” she asked warily. Had he talked to Elizabeth? Had she told him too much? “Jason?”

“It’s not about what’s going on with you,” Jason said after a moment. “I promise.”

She nodded and followed him into his penthouse. He closed the door and she set her purse on his desk, still with a guarded look in her eyes.

“I went to talk to Elizabeth today,” Jason began. “I thought I could convince her to tell me what was going on–if you had told her anything.”

Carly nodded. “And?”

“She’s loyal. She didn’t tell me anything, and I think I figured out why you’re not telling me.”

“Oh?” Carly said. She tucked a piece of hair behind her ears.

“Yeah. See, you usually come to me when you need me to fix it and I thought at first that you were trying to do it by yourself but that’s not it, is it?”

“Jason, I thought this wasn’t about me,” Carly protested. “Did you lie just to corner me?”

“It’s because I can’t fix it. Because someone hurt you.”

She held her breath. “I thought Elizabeth didn’t tell you anything.”

“She didn’t,” Jason assured her. “But I know Elizabeth well enough to read between the lines. You can trust me, Carly.”

“I know…” Carly sighed. “But Jase…”

“I’m not going to push you anymore. I just wanted to tell you that. That you can trust me, that you’re not just Sonny’s wife to me, you’re my friend. We were friends before your marriage and I’m not obligated to tell him everything all the time.”

“Okay.” She sighed. “So, if this isn’t an interrogation, then what is it?”

“I need your help,” Jason said. “You and Elizabeth…you’re on at least…better terms right?”

Carly nodded warily. “She’s a good person. I’m finally beginning to see it.”

“I want her back.”

A smile crossed Carly’s face then, the first genuine one in days. “Really?” she asked softly. “And what does she think about this?”

“She’s still angry with me about Courtney and Brenda and the reasons she left,” Jason admitted. “I don’t know how to convince that I’m sorry.”

“And you want my help?” Carly asked skeptically. “You just said that my plans always backfire.”

“Because your plans are just that…plans. I don’t need a plan, Carly. I just need your advice.”

“Wow. I wish I had a camera or a tape recorder for this,” Carly said, feeling like someone had lifted a weight from her shoulders. Once again, Jason had saved her without even knowing it. “Because the day may never come again when you ask for my advice.”

“It probably won’t,” Jason admitted. “So?”

“My advice is simple.” She smiled. “Don’t give up. Believe me, I think that’s the last thing she’d want right now.”

“So, just keep…talking to her? Keep trying to work this out?”

“Yeah. Persistence. It might just work.” Her eyes lit up. “And if not, I know a guy who’ll lock you two up in a room, no questions asked.”

“Yeah…how about we not do that, okay?”

“You know, you never know, it could work.”

He surprised her by grabbing her arm and pulling her into a tight hug. “You’re my best friend, you know that, right?”

“Yeah.” Tears sprang to her eyes. “Yeah, I know that.”

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