He waited until Ric had left her alone in their apartment before he knocked on the door. This conversation didn’t need to be heard by a man who’s first instinct was deception.
He would do what his sister asked of him–but only when he heard Elizabeth tell him that she wanted him to do it. Something about the scheme didn’t feel right. Not once during Emily’s plea had she ever said Elizabeth wanted to cover-up it up.
It’d always been Ric thought or Nikolas said or the baby deserves better.
He’d do anything for his sister–except something that so clearly wasn’t her business. If Elizabeth wanted to get away with Zander Smith’s murder, he would sign the statement that would clear her and accuse a dead man. But if she wanted something different, he’d do that.
Because she deserved the life that she wanted.
It was a few moments between his knock and the opening of the door. She was dressed in a long white maternity nightgown with a matching silk robe untied over it and she tilted her head to the side a little. “Hey,” she greeted a little surprised to be seeing him at her door at all–much less at eight o’clock morning.
“Emily came to me,” Jason Morgan said after a moment. “And the whole time she was talking, I never once heard anything about what you wanted to do. So…is this what you want?”
And Elizabeth Lansing was so surprised to hear someone ask her that instead of deciding for her that she started to cry.
Emily Bowen-Quartermaine knocked hesitantly on Ric Lansing’s office door and was startled when his voice came from behind her.
“Sorry, I’m running a little late,” the attorney said smoothly as he unlocked the door and entered. He flipped on the light and moved towards his desk, setting his brief case down.
Emily shut the door behind her. “I talked to Jason and he said he’d get back to me about it.”
Ric pulled off his jacket slowly, a frowning stretching across his face. “Why does he need to get back to you?”
“Jason’s not comfortable with lying–no matter whom he’s doing it for,” Emily said shortly. “He’ll do it but he needs to think about it. Don’t be so picky, Ric, I’m doing this for you.”
“No, you’re doing this for Nikolas but you should be doing it for your best friend,” Ric replied with a glare. “You remember her, right? Kind of short, pregnant, blue eyes, brown hair?”
Emily rolled her eyes. “Right, I forgot. Because I look out for my fiancé, it means I don’t give a damn about Elizabeth. Whatever, Ric.”
“No, because you’re using Elizabeth to get your fiancé acquitted of murder and you’ve been using her friendship with you all along to get what you wanted. You lured her to Wyndemere under false pretenses so you could accuse me of murder. Does her well-being ever enter your mind, Emily? Do you ever think about how nauseous that launch trip makes her? Do you ever remember that she’s pregnant and really doesn’t need the stress?”
“I know my own best friend, thank you very much and I’m not doing anything for Nikolas that she wouldn’t do for you or for anyone else she loves,” Emily said sharply. “You’ve known her for barely a year and she’s been my best friend for years. Let’s remember who has the upper hand here.”
“Yeah, Elizabeth would do anything to protect the people she loves but she wouldn’t do it at the sacrifice of someone else that she loves.” He sat down and snapped open your briefcase. “I have no use for you right now. Get out.”
The tears didn’t last long and she invited him inside. Elizabeth belted her robe before gingerly sitting down. “I kept quiet about it until I couldn’t anymore,” she said softly.
“You’re pregnant and I’m sure Zander did something to provoke you,” Jason said simply. “I don’t blame you for not coming forward immediately.”
“But once Nikolas was arrested, I knew–I knew that I had to do something. And I told Ric. I thought–I thought he would support me in confessing but he just wanted to forget it.”
No surprise there, Jason thought bitterly. But he kept his thoughts to himself.
“So I told Emily and Nikolas but they were only interested in how it could clear Nikolas.” Elizabeth looked away. “I don’t think Emily even once asked how I was or if I was okay.” She blinked, as if not realizing that’d she said that part out loud. “After I was in the accident, I tried to tell Lucky–I mean…he’s a cop, he’d have to listen to me.”
“But he didn’t.”
“No. He just…he just went along with Ric and the others. They want to pin this on Detective Capelli because he’s already dead but I don’t–I don’t think that’s fair. I mean, I know he was a dirty and corrupt cop and it’s not like he wasn’t capable of cold-blooded murder. He did lock you to a pipe in a burning building but–” She shook her head. “It just doesn’t feel right to do that. Yes, I’m pregnant and no, I probably don’t need the stress of a trial but I’m a lot stronger than I look and besides–I don’t want to be treated differently because I’m having a baby. I committed a crime and I should pay for it.”
“So you don’t want to cover it up.” Jason stood and nodded. “Yeah, somehow I thought so.”
“But what am I supposed to do? Ric’s the DA, Lucky’s the cop and neither of them will listen to me or even take my statement. There’s no one who will listen to me,” Elizabeth said softly. She stared at her hands. “It’s like I don’t exist. What I want doesn’t matter.”
“It does,” Jason assured her. He thought for a moment. “Okay. Okay, I know what to do. If you want my help, you’ve got it. If you want to come forward and take responsibility, I’ll help you do it. If you want to cover it up, I’ll do that. Whatever you want to do, Elizabeth.”
She frowned. “Why would you help me?” Elizabeth asked. She stood and looked at him warily.
“Because you would do it for me if you could,” Jason answered without hesitation. “Because you’ve spent the better part of your life helping people get what they want and I think it’s time someone did that for you.”
She nodded. “Okay, then. Yes, I want to come forward. What do I do?”
“Get dressed. The first thing you need is a good lawyer.”
Justus Ward entered Jason’s penthouse. “I don’t have a lot of time; I’m due in court at noon.” He set his coat over Jason’s desk chair and was already halfway through his next sentence before he noticed Jason wasn’t alone in the room.
Elizabeth Lansing was standing next to him, looking very anxious. She’d changed into a pair of jeans and a black sweater with sleeves that were a little too long for her and she was currently playing with the hem, curling it inside her fist.
Justus looked at Jason before looking back at Elizabeth. “What’s going on here?”
“Elizabeth needs a lawyer,” Jason said simply. “And you’re the best one that I know.”
“Well, thanks, Jason but–I’m sorry, Elizabeth, I thought you were married to one. If you need legal advice…?”
“Ric isn’t interested in giving me the advice or help that I want,” Elizabeth informed him quietly. “I need someone who will listen to me.”
Intrigued, Justus motioned for her to go on. She took a deep breath. “I killed Zander Smith.”
This information caused Justus to blink and then frown. This tiny woman who probably didn’t weight more than a hundred pounds soaking wet when she wasn’t pregnant was telling him she’d bashed a known violent criminal over the head and killed him. “I’m sorry…can you give me some more specifics?”
“I…Zander was the father of my child and he’d been giving me a lot of trouble before his death. I wanted him to sign over his rights–” Elizabeth hesitated. If she was going to trust Justus Ward, he needed the whole truth. “Ric wanted him to sign away his rights so that we could raise this child ourselves and Zander didn’t want that. Not at first. Ric practically blackmailed him into doing it and he did sign the papers.”
“If you didn’t want your husband to be the father, why not say so?” Justus asked.
“Because Ric has this little quirk of not being able to hear me when I speak,” Elizabeth said dryly. “Anyway–he signed the papers and we thought that was the end of it. The night of the fire, I got a call and Zander asked me to come to the hotel. I did. He’d stolen the papers from Ric’s office and refused to give them back unless I convinced Emily to leave town with him.”
“And when you wouldn’t, he became angry.”
“Yes–well, he turned away and said that I could kiss my baby goodbye.” Elizabeth closed her eyes and took another deep breath. “I–I couldn’t think clearly after that. I know he didn’t mean he’d hurt the baby b-but I didn’t know that he was innocent of the things he was running away from and pressed against a wall, Zander’s capable of anything, you know? All I could think about was not letting him hurt me or the baby. I g-grabbed something from behind me and hit him. I didn’t even know he was dead until Ric told me so.”
“Clear case of self-defense,” Justus nodded. “Any lawyer fresh out of law school could do this. Why aren’t you talking to your husband about this?”
“Ric doesn’t want me to come forward and neither does anyone else I’ve talked to about this,” Elizabeth told him. “They’d rather I cover it up.”
“But you told Jason and he’s obviously going to help you confess,” Justus nodded, looking at Jason with obvious curiosity. Having been away for five years, he had no idea of the friendship that had existed between them and the idea that Jason would put himself out to help a friend of his sister’s had him thinking.
“That’s where you come in,” Jason said. “Will you help?”
“Sure. I’ll need more details and I’ll need to figure out exactly who to go to down at the police station for her to make her statement seeing as how Mac is still out of commission and they haven’t named an interim commissioner. Not to mention, the DA can’t do it since–as you said–he’s not interested in seeing you come forward. With Brian Beck and Andy Capelli both dead, the PCPD is seriously understaffed.”
“Tell him about Lucky,” Jason prompted.
“I don’t want to get Lucky in any trouble,” Elizabeth protested.
“Lucky Spencer? Is he also in on this cover-up?” Justus inquired.
“Yes, but–not by choice. He’s just doing what Ric’s telling him to do. We could go to him,” Elizabeth said hesitantly. “I think so.”
“Let me make a few calls and see if I can’t get out of the custody hearing at noon.” Justus looked at Jason apologetically. “No offense, man, but that hearing is a waste of time. The judge is going to rule for joint custody today. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
“It’s what’s best for the kids anyway,” Jason sighed. “They’re just too angry with each other to see it.”
“Yeah, so I’m going to see if someone else can stand in for me. Let me go do that and I’ll be back in about fifteen minutes.”
“But you’ll help me?” Elizabeth asked.
“Not only will I help you, Elizabeth, but I’ll have you at home, free and clear, before your baby’s born,” Justus promised. “I never lose cases and like I said–any lawyer with half a brain could do this. I don’t understand why your husband–an officer of the court–won’t just plead this down to a misdemeanor.” Justus’s eyes lit up with a little bit of mischief. “Maybe he’s not the guy to be DA after all.”
Elizabeth opened her mouth to protest that statement but closed it when she realized she agreed with him. “Thank you, Justus,” she told him gratefully. “And thank you, Jason. I really–I really appreciate this.”
“I’ll be right back,” Justus told them.
Emily was silent when she walked into the study at Wyndemere. Nikolas was seated behind his desk and reading the paper. He set it down. “Did you tell Ric?”
“Do you think I’m selfish?” Emily asked instead. She sat down stared at the wall behind him. “Uncaring? Self-centered?”
“You’re not going to want to ask that question of the man who’s so crazy in love with you that he thinks you walk on water,” Nikolas remarked as he joined her on the couch.
“I’m serious, Nikolas,” Emily pushed his shoulder and sighed. “It’s just–all this time, I’ve been justifying the way I’ve been acting by the fact that I love you and I’ll do anything to see you cleared of the murder.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Nikolas replied, tucking her hair behind her ears and trailing his finger down her jaw line.
“There is if my actions hurt my best friend,” Emily said softly. “Ric said some things today that really made me think. He said that while Elizabeth would do anything to protect someone…she’d never do it at the sacrifice of someone else.”
“That’s true but that’s not what you’re doing either,” Nikolas argued.
“Isn’t it?” Emily asked pointedly. “We convinced Elizabeth to come here the other day and bring Ric with her. Did either of us consider the fact that a trip on the launch at this time of year is really choppy and with her pregnancy…it’d be more difficult than it would be for us?”
Nikolas hesitated. “Well, no…”
“And when she was in here yesterday…she came here because she was upset about you, Nikolas. That you might pay for her crime. And all I said was that if this could clear you…” Emily’s voice faltered. “She’s my best friend in the whole world, Nikolas and she’d do anything for me. I didn’t even ask her if she was okay. I didn’t ask how she was doing with this knowledge. I haven’t asked her about the baby in weeks. And every time we’ve seen each other lately, we’ve argued.”
Nikolas exhaled slowly. “Maybe we’ve been a little wrapped up in each other,” he said. “That’s not a bad thing but…no, you’re right. Neither of us have been the friend she deserves.”
“We didn’t even think to go after her yesterday when she left. If Ric hadn’t gotten that call about the accident…we wouldn’t have. And…you know…Jason said something that’s really resonating right now. When I finished telling him everything and outlined what we needed him to do…he asked what Elizabeth wanted.”
“She wanted to confess,” Nikolas said. “But I thought we talked her out of it.”
Maybe,” Emily said softly, “or maybe we just talked over her. Maybe we weren’t listening.”
He took her hand in his and kissed her knuckles. “Then maybe it’s time we started. What do you say we give her a call and ask?”
“That sounds like a good idea to me.”
An hour after Justus left the penthouse, he was escorting a somber Elizabeth into the police station. Despite some protestations from Justus, Jason followed them in.
“Who are we going to be talking to?” Elizabeth asked as Justus pulled open the door to the squad room.
“A blast from the past,” Justus remarked cryptically. The second he stepped foot inside, a Hispanic man got up from a desk and crossed to him. “Justus Ward, I see you’re still on the other side,” the man remarked good-naturedly, offering his hand.
“Alex, it’s good to see you again. I’m sure you recognize my client, though she has grown up a bit since the last time either of us saw her.”
“Of course,” Detective Alex Garcia said with a smile. “Elizabeth Webber.”
“Detective Garcia, it’s such a surprise to see you again,” Elizabeth said, instantly at ease with the man who’d originally investigated her rape. “I thought you’d transferred to Los Angeles.”
“I did, but the department has taken several bad hits these last few months and they transferred me back. I’m actually Captain Garcia now,” he said, with a bit of pride. He frowned seeing Jason Morgan behind Elizabeth. “Aw, and I thought you could do better than Lucky Spencer. Apparently I was wrong,” he joked.
There was no scorn in his voice though she knew he meant what he said. “Actually, Jason’s just a friend. Ric’s my husband. It’s Elizabeth Lansing now.”
“Okay, then. My good faith in you has been restored.” Garcia turned to Justus. “You didn’t say much on the phone except that Ric Lansing could not be involved in anything that was going to happen. Dara Jensen was just appointed ADA so I asked her to come down. She’s waiting in the room now.”
“Okay, Elizabeth are you ready for this?” Justus asked.
Elizabeth nodded firmly. “I’m ready.”
Lucky emerged from a back room, escorting a drunk. He put him in the cage and crossed to Elizabeth and Jason. “What’s going on?”
“I’m doing the right thing, Lucky,” Elizabeth told him. “Please don’t argue with me.”
“I thought we talked about this,” he said, quietly, stepping past Garcia.
“Yeah, you did. You talked about it. Everyone talked about it. Except me. And now I’m doing what I think is right.”
“Could you excuse us, Officer Spencer?” Garcia asked politely. He stepped aside and held his hand out to motion towards the interrogation room. Elizabeth and Justus followed him into the room and Jason moved after them. Lucky held up a hand to stop him.
“You were supposed to make a statement, not change her mind,” Lucky said coldly.
“I didn’t have to change her mind. You just weren’t listening.”
He pushed Lucky out of his way and entered the room. All the seats at the table were taken so he stood behind Elizabeth, knowing that Justus had already negotiated his presence.
“Good morning, Elizabeth,” Dara said. “You know…you put Lucky Spencer in Justus’s seat and it almost feels like we turned back time, huh?”
Elizabeth managed a weak smile. “I really would rather slit my wrists than go back to that time in my life.” She cleared her throat and glanced at Justus for her next move.
“Elizabeth Lansing is here to make a statement. I want it on the record that she came in on her own accord with no insistence from the department and that she is cooperating fully with the officers of the court,” Justus remarked.
“Of course. Now…what is this matter pertaining to?” Dara asked, setting the tape recorder in the middle of the table.
“The murder of Zander Smith,” Elizabeth said softly.
“Sheryl, can you tell Miss Jensen that I need to speak with her as soon as possible?” Ric asked Dara’s secretary as he passed by her desk.
“Sure, Miss Jensen is in the interrogation room taking a statement,” Sheryl replied with a smile. “I’ll give her the message.”
Ric doubled back and frowned. “What statement? I don’t have anything on the schedule from the department.”
“Oh…well…if you’d like, I can call and check.” Sheryl had already picked up the phone and was dialing. She spoke to someone for a few moments and placed the receiver back on the hook with a little confused smile. “She’s talking to your wife.”
Ric’s face drained of color and he dumped the files he’d been looking at on Sheryl’s desk, taking off for the stairs.
Not more than ten minutes later, he burst into the squad room and stalked across the room, stopping short at the little window. Elizabeth was inside, seated next to Justus Ward.
And Jason Morgan was standing behind her like her own private guard.
“I tried to stop her but she wouldn’t listen to me,” Lucky said from behind him. “It’s too late anyway. They’ve been in there for almost a half hour.”
“Why didn’t you call me immediately?” Ric demanded, whirling around. “Do you know what’s going to happen now?”
“If this is what Elizabeth wants, then who are we to say differently?”
“Oh, come on, she’s not thinking straight. She should be thinking about the baby, not her own damn conscience.”
The door opened behind them and Dara and Jason stepped out first. Justus exited and Elizabeth and Garcia rounded it out.
Elizabeth was just in front of Garcia and her hands were behind her–leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that she was handcuffed. “Ric,” she stated. “What are you doing here?”
“Captain Garcia, my wife has been under a lot of stress with her pregnancy. I don’t know that she can held accountable for what she says,” Ric said immediately.
“Elizabeth is of sound mind and body,” Justus assured Garcia and Dara. “Can we just get this over with so I can get my client home?”
“Your client?” Ric demanded. “What the hell is going on here?”
“I’ve got the arraignment for an hour, you’ll only have to be in the cell until then,” Dara promised. “And you don’t have to wear the cuffs after you’re in there.”
“Thank you…for all your help,” Elizabeth said softly. Garcia led her away then into the back where the holding cells were located.
Ric lunged after them but Jason shoved him back. “You’ve done enough damage, don’t you think?” he asked coldly.
“I’ve done enough damage?” Ric repeated incredulously. “My pregnant wife was just led away in handcuffs and I’m the one who did the damage.”
“If you’d just let her come forward when she originally told you, this might have gone a little easier,” Dara sighed. “Officer Spencer, I need you to put DA Lansing under arrest for obstruction of justice.”