Chapter 10

This entry is part 10 of 37 in the Counting Stars

Hard to be sure
Sometimes I feel so insecure
And loves so distant and obscure
Remains the cure

All by myself
Don’t wanna be
All by myself

All By Myself, Celine Dion

Monday, March 20, 2000


Since leaving school and her job at Kelly’s, Elizabeth’s schedule was all over the place. She stayed up, painting until dawn streaked across the sky, then slept until the sun was gone again.  And she almost always slept through the ringing of the phone, not that it was ringing off the hook these days.

This morning, however, it broke into her dreams and the shrill sound forced her to sit up. The phone stopped ringing — then started again. As if who ever was on the other line had hung up when the answering machine had picked up, and tried again.

Concerned, Elizabeth reached for the receiver.



“Bobbie?” Elizabeth’s hand tightened around the receiver. The other woman’s voice sounded a bit hoarse, as if she’d been crying. “Are you okay?”

“Oh, sweetheart. I—we were at work this morning, and your grandmother—she didn’t show up. There was no answer—I’m sorry, honey. We found her at the house.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes, braced herself. “She—in her sleep? Please…tell me—”

“It looked like she’d gone to sleep last night and never—I’m so sorry, Elizabeth.”

Her brain froze. Elizabeth couldn’t speak, couldn’t create the words. But she must have made a sound. “Elizabeth? Baby, you still there?”

“Bobbie—” Her voice broke. “I—I can’t—”

“I’ll be right there. Don’t you worry. I’m coming to get you. You’re not alone, sweetheart. I’ll be right there.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2000

Hardy House: Living Room

Bobbie pressed a mug of hot chocolate into Elizabeth’s hands and took a seat next to her as Alexis sorted through the paperwork in her lap. “I wish you’d let me get you something to eat—”

“I couldn’t.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “We can hold off on this, Alexis. Um, I’m still waiting to hear from my parents—”

“We can do a more formal reading of the will if they wish,” Alexis told her. “But there’s really no reason to wait for them.” She paused. “Audrey didn’t leave Jeff or Caroline anything.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth frowned. “Steven and Sarah aren’t coming either—it’s the short notice with their programs. Um, Steven said he might be able to get here in a few weeks, but Sarah’s slammed with her first year of med school—” Her stomach pitched. “Uncle Tom—he said he wouldn’t be able to get transportation out of Zimbabwe until the end of the month—” She closed her eyes. “I can’t wait that long to bury her. I mean, I could, but—”

“You shouldn’t have to,” Bobbie said with a short nod. “Audrey should be laid to rest with Steve now.”

“The estate is pretty straightforward,” Alexis told Elizabeth. “Audrey revised her will  two months ago. She’d had Tom as her executor, but as he hadn’t been in town for several years, and you had turned eighteen, she felt more confident in naming you.”

“I didn’t—I didn’t realize. What does an executor do?”

“Signs all the paperwork,” Bobbie said. She squeezed Elizabeth’s knee. “You know Alexis will take good care of you. And Laura and I are here—”

“I know. Um, okay. So I’m the executor. What else?”

“Your grandfather made several smart investments,” Alexis said, “which left Audrey very comfortable after he passed away. There were trust funds for her grandchildren—you and Tommy Junior come into that when you turn twenty-one. Steven and Sarah have theirs already. She directed that her estate should be liquidated and divided into quarters for her grandchildren, save for the real estate. The house she left to you.”

“The house—” Elizabeth stared at Alexis. “To me?” And there was a trust fund?

“Minus the house and the trust funds, Audrey’s estate was worth almost two million. After the inheritance tax is deducted from your share, you should inherit around three hundred thousand.”

Three—” Elizabeth looked at Bobbie who seemed as stunned as she was. “Did you know Gram had that kind of money?”

“No. No. But—” Bobbie took a deep breath. “Steve grew up in the Depression, and was always very frugal. It doesn’t surprise me that he made smart investments. Audrey never spoke about money, I only knew she and Steve never seemed to worry.”

Elizabeth hadn’t really worried much about money until December when she’d taken over her own rent and had had to balance her own checking account for the first time, but that really wasn’t the same thing. “Are you sure about the house? That’s—she didn’t leave anything for Tom?”

“He had his own trust fund,” Alexis said. “And according to Lee’s notes, Audrey sold some investments to help Tom set up his clinic and fund it.”

Elizabeth set the mug on the coffee table with a clatter, got to her feet and went towards the fireplace. She’d struggled to process any of this—hadn’t really had a clear mind since the phone call the morning before.

Her grandmother was gone. She’d died peacefully in her sleep, and now Elizabeth was listening to Alexis talk about trust funds and estate taxes— She simple felt frozen. Numb. Nothing made sense anymore.

“We don’t have to do anything today,” Alexis said. “I just wanted to let you know about the estate—”

“Gram updated her will two months ago,” Elizabeth said. She turned to face Alexis. “In January?”


After that terrible fight in December. “Before or after Jason left?”

Alexis frowned. “After.”

After Audrey would have learned about Elizabeth dropping out of PCU. Was that why she’d made Elizabeth the executor? Given her the house? To make sure her granddaughter didn’t end up homeless? Penniless?  “It’s not fair,” she said softly. “Dad and Uncle Tom should have had something. A-and I don’t—” She looked at Bobbie. “I could sell the house, couldn’t I?”

“You could. But I hope you don’t think you’re responsible for giving Jeff or Tommy anything. They chose to make their lives far away from Port Charles. Jeff sent you and Sarah here for Audrey to raise.” Bobbie pressed her lips together. “And Tommy left the country which meant Audrey had no real connection to his son. Audrey knew what she was doing, Elizabeth. You don’t have any obligation to do more.”

“I guess.” She folded her arms. “Um, I guess you should at least get started on what Gram wanted. That liquidation thing, you know. Do I need to sign anything for that?”

“I’ll get the paperwork together for it.” Alexis got to her feet. “Audrey loved you very much, Elizabeth. She wanted you to know that you would have always have a home in Port Charles. That’s why she left you the house. So you could always come back.”

Thursday, March 23, 2000

Kelly’s: Diner

Nikolas stared at the front page of the Port Charles Herald, at the photograph of Audrey Hardy just above the fold. With her connection General Hospital, her death and obituary had merited front page news.

Once he would have learned about Elizabeth’s grandmother from her—but it had been months since they had been close. Not since that terrible night on her birthday. He set the paper aside. If she insisted on holding a grudge, refusing to forgive him, there really wasn’t much that he could do to fix it.

The bell above the door jingled, and Nikolas turned to see who had entered, his face lighting up when he saw Emily step in. “Emily!”

“Oh. Hey.” She smiled back at him, then crossed to his table, hugging him tightly. “I was stopping in for something to eat before I headed over to the funeral home.” She set her coat and bag on the empty chair, then reached for the newspaper he had discarded. “It was a nice tribute, wasn’t it?”

“I suppose.”

“Are you going to the service? It’s open to the public. At least part of it.” Emily’s brown eyes were hopeful. “You don’t even have to go to see Elizabeth. You can sit in the back—”

“Elizabeth made it quite clear what she thought of me.” Nikolas took his seat, picked up his coffee. “I tried to talk to her after your brother walked out on her, but she never returned my calls. I can take the hint—”

“Nikolas.” Emily sat down. “We’ve lost so much this year,” she told him softly. “And Elizabeth has lost her grandmother. We’re her family. We can make this right. If you just go to the viewing—”

“She doesn’t want me there—”

“It’s not enough to apologize,” Emily said with a shake of her head. “You have to show that you mean it.” She paused. “Losing Audrey so close to the anniversary—and yes, Elizabeth also lost Jason, though that was different—”

“That was a good thing,” Nikolas said tightly, and Emily made a face. “It was. He was going to get her killed—”

“I don’t want to debate about my brother again. It’s just going to make me angry.” Emily sighed. “Can’t you just try to reach out? Show her you’re still here if she’s ready to listen—Nikolas, Audrey was her family. Basically her mother. And now she’s gone.”

“I’ll think about it,” Nikolas said finally. “But she won’t want me there.”

“Maybe not. But if you don’t start somewhere, you’ll both be lost to each other. We were so close, Nikolas. All of us.” Her eyes shimmered. “Please don’t let us lose that. We’ve lost so much already.”

Funeral Home

She didn’t look like she was sleeping.

It was a ridiculous thought that slipped into Elizabeth’s mind as she approached her grandmother’s casket. They had arranged for a private viewing before opening to the public, so Elizabeth was alone in the room. Staring down at the body in the coffin.

Her grandmother’s hair had been styled, and she wore a soft pink suit that Elizabeth remembered from her high school graduation. Audrey Hardy had never been elaborate with her jewelry, so she wore only her wedding rings and a bracelet that her husband had given her.


Laura stepped forward, dressed in a simple black dress, a black coat over her arm. She set her things on a chair and joined Elizabeth, putting an arm around her shoulders. “How are you?”

“I thought it would help to see her,” Elizabeth admitted. Her fingers were trembling as she brushed her hair out of her eyes. “That I could see her at peace and I could—I could let go of all the regrets.” She looked at Laura. “We fought so much since I moved here. It’s been better these last few months, but I think she was just doing a better job of hiding her disappointment.”

“Audrey was never disappointed in you,” Laura said softly. She squeezed Elizabeth’s hands. “Speaking as a parent, I can say that honestly. We say things we don’t mean, and maybe we’re not happy about choices our children make. But disappointment? Never. She loved you, Elizabeth.”

“I just—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “She was there for me. And she cared what I was doing. She never gave up on me—I thought I could look at her and apologize, but that’s not her.”

She looked at body with her grandmother’s face. “She’s empty. She’s not there anymore, and I can’t ever tell her how much I loved her—”

“She’s not in that body, no. But she’s with us. She’ll always be with us.” Laura led Elizabeth to a seat. “Just like Lucky. They’re in the air we breathe, the words we speak, the way we feel. You’ll hear her voice, you’ll be able to see her in your mind. She knows how much you love her, Elizabeth. Parents always know.”

On a shaky breath, Elizabeth exhaled. “Thank you.” She looked back at the casket and sighed again. “Thank you.”

Twenty minutes later, the funeral director opened the double doors to allow the public in. Laura stayed by her side, and Bobbie joined her as mourners filed past Elizabeth and offered their blessings and final goodbyes.

“You came,” Elizabeth said with a watery smile, embracing Emily. “I thought you said you had a test—”

“What’s the point of being a Quartermaine if you can’t pull some weight?” Emily asked with an arched brow. She hugged her friend again. “I’m so sorry. I would be wrecked without my grandparents.”

Elizabeth opened her mouth, but then closed it when she saw Nikolas slip into the room and take a seat in the back. They made eye contact briefly, then his eyes dipped away. Elizabeth’s hand tightened slightly in Emily’s. “Did you say something to him?”

“I told him to come and just sit in the back. Not to come up.” Emily hesitated. “Was that wrong? We want to be here for you, but—”

“No.” Elizabeth smiled at her. “No. I know you meant well.” She still didn’t see herself forgiving Nikolas for the harsh things he’d said to her, but Emily’s heart was in the right place, and Elizabeth didn’t want her to be in the middle any more than she’d wanted Laura to be.

Emily’s family was also behind her, and Elizabeth managed to greet all of them—Edward, Monica, Alan, Ned—and then, near the end of the line, there was a surprise. Sonny stepped up, Alexis at his side. “I won’t stay,” he said softly as he embraced her. “I just wanted to offer my condolences. I know it’s not the same as having him here—”

Elizabeth’s throat tightened and she looked away. “Have you heard from him?”

Sonny hesitated. “Once.” He didn’t offer any details, and Elizabeth didn’t press. “What about you?”

“A few postcards,” Elizabeth admitted. “Thank you for coming, Sonny. I know you and Gram didn’t get along, but—”

“She was a classy lady who loved you. She gets my respect for that. You need anything, Elizabeth, all you have to do is ask.” Sonny kissed her cheek. Bobbie offered him a handshake while Laura simply looked away. Alexis murmured her own condolences before moving on.

True to his word, Sonny left but Alexis sat in an empty seat a few rows away from her nephew, and the funeral director began the service.

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Later that evening, Sonny perused the latest contracts Alexis had sent over, but he couldn’t focus. He kept thinking about Audrey Hardy’s memorial service and the way Elizabeth had looked standing by the casket, all on her own. Laura and Bobbie had been there—but no one else from her family.

And even if it had been Carly’s fault Jason had decided to go—Sonny had started it all with that terrible night.

At his side, the phone on the desk began to ring. Sonny reached for it, answering without checking the caller screen.



The connection was faint and the voice crackled, but Sonny would know it anywhere. He sat back in his chair, exhaled slowly. “Jason. I didn’t think I’d hear from you again.”

“Yeah. I—I wasn’t sure if I was gonna—” Jason’s voice faded out, then back in. “I guess I just wanted to see how things were.”

There really wasn’t anything else to say. No way to sugar coat it. “Audrey Hardy passed away on Monday.”

There was a long silence as Jason took in that information. “How—was it—”

“Natural causes. Bobbie went to check on her when Audrey didn’t report for work. She passed in her sleep.” Sonny waited, but Jason said nothing. “You still there?”

“Yeah. Yeah, um, how—how is—is Elizabeth okay?”

“She’s holding up. I went to the services today. Sent flowers. Laura and Bobbie are sticking close, and Emily came home to be with her.” Sonny paused. “I’m sure she’d like to hear from you. Your voice. Not just a postcard.”

“She told you about—” Jason’s voice was hesitant, a little more raspier but Sonny thought it might also be the connection. “She mentioned the—was she mad?”

“No. She didn’t seem to be. She looked tired, but I guess that’s to be expected.” Sonny tapped his fingers on his paperwork. “Listen. Jase—”

“Is there anything else I should know?”

“No, I guess not. Can I get a number to contact you—”

“I’ll call you when I can.”

The connection broke then, so Sonny closed his phone and set it down. Without really thinking, he got to his feet, left the penthouse, and traveled the short distance between his penthouse and his lawyer’s.

Alexis opened the door after his knock, dressed in a pair of sweats, a bowl of popcorn in tucked in one arm. “Sonny? It’s almost nine—”

“Oh—” Sonny grimaced. He glanced behind her, saw the darkened sky in her window. “I didn’t realize.”

“Is something wrong?” Alexis demanded. “Are you being arrested? Raided?”

“No.” Sonny shook his head. “Never mind.”

He started to turn away, but his lawyer sighed. “You came over for a reason. What’s up?”

Sonny rubbed his thumb against his temple. “Jason just called me.”

“Come in.” Alexis jerked her head towards the sofa.

He followed her in, and Alexis closed the door behind her. She pressed pause on her remote, and Sonny wrinkled his nose at the television screen. “Is that Steel Magnolias?”

“The fact that you know which movie I’m watching means you’re not allowed to judge me.” She sat down and held out the popcorn.  “Did you tell him about Audrey Hardy?”

“Yeah. I suggested he call Elizabeth—but—” Sonny paused. “I don’t know what he’s going to do.” He took a handful of popcorn. “Mind if I stay for the rest of the movie?”

“As long as you don’t make fun of it.”

Friday, March 24, 2000

Kelly’s: Dining Room

“I’m trying not to hover,” Laura said, stirring sugar into her tea. She flashed Bobbie a commiserating smile. “But it’s hard not to wrap her up and make her come home with me.”

“I know.” Bobbie shook her head. “She’s just eighteen,” she murmured. “And she’s already been through so much. Why did this have to happen now?” She met Laura’s eyes. “We’re close to the first anniversary.”

“I know. A year since we lost him.” Laura forced herself to smile. “But he’d be happy that we’re coping. I think he would be, anyway.” She sipped her tea. “And I can see Elizabeth and Nikolas are still awkward with one another. I’d hoped they’d be able to put that Christmas party behind them—”

“There was—” Bobbie winced. “There was another fight,” she told Laura. “A bad one. Just before Jason left. She didn’t want me to get into the details—and it’s not as though she chose to confide in me,” she added when Laura just stared at her. “I was here when the fight happened. Nikolas was very angry that she was moving on—with Jason.”

“Ah.” Laura nodded. “I thought so. Elizabeth came to me shortly before Jason left, worried because she was considering a physical relationship with Jason, and feeling a bit guilty about not being ready when Lucky was—” She forced herself to say the next word. “When he was alive.”

Bobbie’s mouth tightened. “Nikolas threw that in her face. I could have murdered him—how dare—”

“I assured her that it was fine. That whatever she was ready for was the right decision, and that Lucky would not think less of her. But Nikolas is holding on to what happened — to our initial suspicions that Sonny’s enemies were behind the fire.”

“They weren’t—”

“I know. Luke’s assured me of that, and I know enough that if it had been Sonny and Jason—well—things would have happened afterwards. But Nikolas needs someone to blame, I suppose, and Jason is as good as anyone else. I—I didn’t get a chance to see them together. I just know that—well, I suspect it was serious. Or that it could be.”

“He was smitten with her,” Bobbie said. “And I knew she was falling. But they didn’t have a chance to see where it would go. Right person, wrong time—” She stopped. “Excuse me for a minute.”

Laura twisted to look as Bobbie got up and left the diner. Spying Carly in the courtyard, Laura’s curiosity waned and she reached for her tea.

“Mama—” Carly folded her arms. “I thought we were meeting for lunch, but you’re in there with Laura—”

“She stopped in—what’s the problem?” Bobbie wanted to know. “You don’t even know her—”

“No, but—” Carly bit her lip. “You were talking about her? Weren’t you?”


“What else do you think and Laura have in common anymore?” Carly demanded. “Just her—”

“You know her name, Carly. And what’s the point of this?” Bobbie asked. “You just talked to Elizabeth last week. You were fine—”

“I’m trying to be,” Carly snapped. “If it weren’t for her—” She shook her head, and some of the irritation faded. “I’m trying to be fine. Making an effort with my marriage like you told me to. Accepting my future. But it’s hard. And then I saw that Audrey Hardy died, and I just—I don’t know. I thought maybe Jason would be here for the funeral.”

Bobbie narrowed her eyes. “Caroline—”

“Don’t look at me that way. I just went to the viewing. And tagged along with the burial. She never saw me.” Carly shrugged. “But he never showed.”

“And it cheers you up that he wasn’t here the day she buried her grandmother.” Bobbie threw up her hands. “Do you hear yourself?’

“I know it makes me a bad person,” Carly retorted. “I didn’t think I was a good one. But yeah, okay, it makes me feel better. Because he left me without looking back. That hurt. It nearly killed me. But he left her, too. Good. This was all her fault anyway.”

“I’m not doing this,” Bobbie said, disgusted. “Call me when you’re ready to grow up.” She yanked the diner door open and stalked back inside.

Saturday, March 25, 2000


It was a cold comfort, Elizabeth thought, as she stared at the paperwork she’d signed the day before at Alexis’s office. All this meant was that her family was gone. She hadn’t had a relationship with her parents in three years and neither of her siblings called or wrote all that much. Her grandfather had been gone for years, but Elizabeth had thought she and Audrey were on the edge of a new relationship—a better one, of equals.

They might have even become friends.

Instead, Elizabeth had a trust fund, an inheritance, a deed to a house, and no family to call her own.

She closed the folder, put it into the box with the rest of her important papers. She didn’t know if she was keeping the house, but she wanted her own bathroom again so she’d keep staying there at night. At least for now. She’d only come by here tonight to do some work—though she hadn’t managed it.

There was a knock at the door, and Elizabeth nearly ignored it. She was tired, and she knew it was probably Laura or Bobbie, who hadn’t wanted her to be alone these last few days. She’d gone to Laura’s for dinner earlier, so it was likely Bobbie, trying to get her to stay the night at the Brownstone.

Not a chance in hell if it meant Carly might pop over.

Elizabeth dragged herself to the door, not bothering with the shade to check into the hallway. “I’m fine—” She began as she opened the door, then simply stared.

“Hey.” Jason shifted, uncomfortably. “I’m sorry. I should have called—”

“Jason.” She shoved the door open all the way, drinking in the sight of him, shadowed by the dim light of the hallway, the weak light of the studio filtering out. “Is that—is that really—what are—”

“I called Sonny.” Jason’s face softened. “He told me about your grandmother. I just—” He paused. “I got on a plane. I’m so sorry.”

He’d learned about her grandmother’s death and come back. Her body began to tremble. It started at her shoulders, then slowly spread until her hands were shaking. She pressed them to her face, drawing them back with confusion when she felt wet. She was crying.

Jason stepped forward and drew her into his arms, into his embrace, with his warmth and scent and everything she needed making her whole again—

And for the first time since her grandmother’s death, since Bobbie had come to fetch her, Elizabeth let herself break down and sob.


  • You had me crying. Carly is a bitch and I can’t wait for her to find out Jason drop everything to be with Liz.

    According to Shelly Samuel on December 5, 2022
  • You so have these characters nailed… I love how you can make us feel especially what Elizabeth is feeling… it is a terrific story and I can’t wait to keep traveling through the journey !

    According to liketoread on December 5, 2022
  • Wow…just WOW! I always think your stories can’t get any better and then you knock me down and prove wrong! Absolutely amazing so far!!! I was crying at the end! Thank you for having Jason come back!

    According to Golden Girl on December 5, 2022
  • Ah, now I remember why I hate Carly.

    According to Lisa on December 6, 2022
  • I am so glad Jason came home if only for a little bit. I hope Elizabeth doesn’t feel so alone now. When Carly finds out Jason went to see Elizabeth, she will start trouble again.

    According to Carla P on December 7, 2022
  • crying
    loved it so glad he came back for her.
    Carly needs her rear end kicked and Sonny almost has me on his side.
    The death of Audrey was a surprise but she seems to be working hard to accept what she left her– I hope Jason stays

    According to Pamela Hedstrom on December 8, 2022
  • Carly is so clueless. I can’t believe Audrey is gone. Jason came back to see her. Dang! I’m an emotional mess. This story is so good!!

    According to arcoiris0502 on December 13, 2022