Elizabeth and Carly had been working together for a week and not once had she said one disparaging thing about the brunette to her husband and to tell the truth, Sonny was truly starting to worry. He’d never known the two women to be in each other’s space without fighting or Carly whining about her at home.
Of course, for Carly to whine about Elizabeth at home…Carly would have to be speaking to him and she hadn’t spoken to him unless it was necessary in a long time. Three weeks, if Sonny thought back. And he didn’t really need to ask why. He’d kissed Brenda. He’d cheated on his wife and that didn’t sit well with him. He’d caused her to stop trusting him and that was a definite switch in positions.
To make matters worse, when he’d questioned Jason on his wife’s strange behavior, his friend had been silent, refusing to divulge anything. For the first time, Sonny was on the other end of Jason’s loyalty. Jason had just said that anything Carly might have said to him was between himself and Carly and that if Sonny had a problem with that, he might want to take it up with his wife.
Not that it had really surprised Sonny that matters between himself and his enforcer were strained to say the least. He’d been an ass–he had no trouble admitting that to himself. He’d apologized for the Courtney incident already and Jason had said it was in the past but Sonny was beginning to wonder if his friend’s disdain for him stemmed from something else–from something that Sonny had thought was long over.
Every time he’d been at the club this past week, Jason had been there. Trying to talk to Elizabeth. The brunette had brushed him off at every turn but Jason was resolute. He seemed determined to gain his former girlfriend’s trust back. Sonny thought that Elizabeth might eventually give in–that she was only refusing now to make a point. She was fine without Jason Morgan in her life–she didn’t need him to make her happy now. She had a life. And Sonny thought once Jason understood that fact and demonstrated it, she might break the walls down a little.
Sonny was seated at the bar, nursing a club soda. He’d realized in the last three weeks that every time he’d an unsuccessful talk with either Carly or Jason, he’d headed for the mini-bar. He’d never wanted that for himself–to rely on alcohol to make himself feel better. And it worried him that he’d fallen into that pattern.
Michael didn’t seem to notice the distance between his parents–he might notice that Carly was at the club more or that Sonny wasn’t at home for dinner a lot either. But Michael was just thrilled his parents were still living together since for so much of his young life, they’d been apart.
He watched his wife circle the room, talking to just the right people, smiling in all the right places, even laughing a little. He started to notice little things about her. The way her smile or laughter never reached her eyes. The tension in her shoulders, the stiff line of her spine. The circles under her eyes and the weight she could ill afford to lose.
The first night he’d noticed these things, he’d thought it was due to his presence in the club so he’d left. The next time he’d come, he’d hung out in the foyer and he’d thought she didn’t know he was there, but it was still there. She was still tense, still looked tired and still looked slightly miserable.
She was so different from the woman he’d known as Jason’s friend, as Michael’s mother. She was different than the woman he’d fought bitterly with–shared that terrible night with that had shattered Jason’s trust in him. She’d grown so much in these last three years, changed so much that Sonny wondered for the first time if he were more in love with that woman than the carefully poised and controlled one in front of him.
She never truly fought with him anymore. Not really. They’d argue–but she’d give in. She never stuck to her guns anymore. She’d just come around to his view and apologize. He hadn’t minded it at first–he’d thought they were entering a new phase in their relationship–one of trust and understanding.
But now he wondered if she’d given up too much of herself to be with him. He moved to an empty table in the back of the room in order to study her more discreetly. Where was the woman he’d married? Was she still in there somewhere? Or had she gone away?
Elizabeth approached him after a few moments and sat across from him. “I’ve been watching you all week,” she began hesitantly. “And I’ve noticed that your attention never wavers. You’re always staring at Carly.”
“She’s my wife,” Sonny replied noncommittally. “Is there something wrong with watching my wife?”
“No.” Elizabeth reached absently for a curl that had fallen from the carefully styled curls piled on her head. She twirled it for a moment before tucking it behind her ear. “Is there a reason why you don’t take your eyes off her for one second?”
“Is there a reason you’re asking?” Sonny turned the tables.
She sighed. “Look, it’s no secret that Carly and I didn’t used to get along and truth be told, sometimes our old problems still interfere. But we’re making an effort and I’m trying to look out for her.” She paused. “I know you’re having problems, but I don’t think coming to her place of employment night after night and staring at her is going to make a difference.”
“And what do you suggest I do?” Sonny asked pointedly. “Walk out on her? Take a page from your book?”
Elizabeth narrowed her eyes. “If I were Carly, I would have left you. You kissed another woman. Don’t you think she has the right to be upset? Do stop and think about whether or not what you have is worth her dignity and self-respect? About why she should stay with you, trust you when it’s clear that she means next to nothing to you? That you’d rather lie to her than trust her?” she demanded.
“Did you ever notice that when people get upset, they tend to stray from the topic?” Sonny asked, sipping his drink.
“What does that mean?” Elizabeth asked, irritated.
“I’m just wondering how long you plan on making Jason pay for his mistakes.”
Elizabeth hesitated. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Sonny leaned forward. “I think you do. I think that you came over here in defense of Carly, but that you ended up being angry with me because of what he did.”
“What he did has everything to do with you,” Elizabeth snapped. “Because loyalty to you is above anything else in his life.”
“Not everything,” Sonny said. “He refuses to talk about Carly with me anymore. And you…he’s never chosen me over you.”
Elizabeth stood abruptly. “I have to get back to work.”
After closing, Carly sat down in the now empty club and started to massage her aching feet. “Oh…I think I need to sit down more.”
Elizabeth busied herself, bussing tables and getting rid of dirty glasses. She was silent as she went about this task and when she came back from the kitchen, she pulled her coat on. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I can’t stop him from coming,” Carly said quietly. She sighed. “And he just sits there and stares at me.”
Elizabeth hesitated and then dropped into the opposite chair. “I tried talking to him tonight but it turned into a conversation about Jason and I had to get away from it.”
“It’s not your problem,” Carly sighed. “You know…I think this is the first night since you started that Jason didn’t stop in.”
“Yeah,” Elizabeth remarked, her eyes distant. “I guess he’s getting the point.” She cleared her throat. “I think you should tell Sonny.”
Carly shook her head. “No. I can’t. I–I’m not ready.”
They heard the door from Kelly’s open and then footsteps started coming down the steps. Ric appeared in the doorway. “Elizabeth, I need to speak with you.”
“We have nothing to discuss,” Elizabeth said coolly. She stood and turned away from him to face Carly. “Paul and Johnny are still outside right?”
“Yeah,” Carly said. She stood and slipped her feet into her heels. “I’m going to go okay?”
Without another word, the blonde all but fled the room through the back entrance. Elizabeth buttoned her jacket and started for the other entrance.
“Look, it’s obvious you’ve chosen to believe Carly’s lies–”
Elizabeth whirled around at the base of the stairs and glared at him. “How dare you come into her club and call her liar!” she seethed. “Stay away from me!”
“Look, she was all over me,” Ric attempted to defend himself. “What was I supposed to do?”
“You pig!” Elizabeth spat out. “You raped her!”
The door to Kelly’s slammed shut and someone thundered down the steps. “What?” Jason demanded.
“J-Jason,” Elizabeth stammered. She stepped back. “I…What are you doing here?”
“He raped her?” Jason snarled, taking a menacing step towards Ric who had the common sense to take two large steps back.
“That is not what happened!” Ric protested hotly. “She was drugged, I tried to take her home but she didn’t want to go–”
“She told you to call Jason and you told her you were going to but you never did!” Elizabeth cut in angrily.
“There has been a huge misunderstanding here,” Ric said, chucking nervously. “And you know what? I’m not going to stand here and listen to these ridiculous accusations anymore.” He turned on his heel and walked out the back entrance as quickly as he could without actually running.
Jason attempted to go after him but Elizabeth leapt in front of him and held him off. “Whoa, wait a second!”
“I’m going to kill him,” Jason fumed. He attempted to push past her, but she grabbed his arm and planted her feet down. He actually pulled her a few feet forward before he stopped.
“Jason, just take five seconds and think about this, okay?”
“I want to know exactly what happened,” he said shortly turning to look at her. “And this is definitely something I can fix because I am going to tear his fucking head off and–” He broke off, muttering under his breath before he started across the club again. She hurried after him and managed to block the entrance.
“Will you just stop?”
“Get out of my way,” Jason said angrily. “Right now, Elizabeth.”
“You are not going anywhere until you calm down,” Elizabeth retorted. She braced her hands on either side of the doorway. “This is exactly why Carly didn’t want to tell you. You’re taking off and not giving a damn about what she wants.”
“You want me to let the jackass who raped her just walk free?” Jason demanded.
“Because it won’t do Carly any good,” Elizabeth replied. “Because no matter what happens to Ric, it won’t fix her.”
“It’ll make me feel better,” he muttered.
“This isn’t about you, it’s not about me, it’s about Carly,” she snapped.
He took a deep breath. “Okay. Okay, you’re right.”
She slowly slid her arms to her side. “You okay now? Or am I going to have jump on your back to keep you from going after him?”
“I’m fine.” He stepped away from the door and leaned against the wall, staring into space. “I can’t…I just can’t believe this happened.”
Elizabeth folded her arms and stepped towards him. “She was afraid you’d be ashamed of her.”
Jason looked up sharply. “What?” he asked incredulously. “That’s…I could never…” He exhaled slowly and shook his head. “No. I don’t feel that way at all.”
“I told her that but it had to be in her own time.” Elizabeth sighed and looked at her feet. “I feel so bad about how you found out.”
“When did she tell you?” Jason asked.
“Last week…the day you came into the club and I was leaving. She told me then,” Elizabeth replied, “Ric came in not long after she told me and basically called her a liar.”
“Is that when you broke up with him?” he asked.
Elizabeth shook her head. “No. That was two weeks before then. He was lying to me…and…” she shrugged. “He’s been trying to convince me to go back to him pretty much since but there’s no hope of that.” She cleared her throat. “You should go talk to Carly. I think…I think she could use your support.”
He nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I think I will.” Jason stepped towards her. “I’m glad Carly confided in you–that you’ve been there for her.”
“I’m glad she could trust me,” Elizabeth replied. She tilted her head towards the door. “Go talk to her.”
He moved as if to go through the back entrance, but he stopped abruptly and took hold of her elbow, tugging her towards him. Her protests were silenced when he captured her lips beneath his own for a short but intense kiss.
After a moment, he pulled away. “Okay, I’m going to go see her now.”
“Okay,” Elizabeth breathed, slightly dazed.
“Jason?” Carly asked sleepily, tying her robe. “It’s after one. What are you doing here?”
“We need to talk,” Jason told her.
Carly hesitated. “About what?”
“I know what happened.”