Take a bow, the night is over
This masquerade is getting older
Light are low, the curtains down
There’s no one here
Say your lines but do you feel them
Do you mean what you say when there’s no one around
Watching you, watching me,
One lonely star
– Take a Bow, Madonna
Friday, April 21, 2000
Hardy House: Living Room
Elizabeth been locked in this hell for five days — spending her mornings at the house waiting for the mail, and the afternoons at the studio, hoping Jason would call. She knew it was insane — that she couldn’t throw away everything and stop living until they found Jason—
Since the phone company had told them Elizabeth’s plan didn’t save incoming phone calls and only the police could get more information, since the red tape at Emily’s dorm had continued to thwart Luke and Sonny’s contacts—
All they had was waiting on a postcard, another call that might never come, and hope Jason hit an ATM.
“It’s only been a week,” Elizabeth said to Gatsby, her grandmother’s cat who lay curled up on the sofa. He raised his head as if he were actually listening, then yawned and rolled over to return to his nap.
A week since the pregnancy test, and less than twenty-four hours since she’d gone to her appointment at Planned Parenthood to confirm it. She rested her hands on her abdomen, lacing her fingers across. Nothing had changed yet, and if not for the test, a period that was two weeks late and some nausea—
She heard a car in the driveway and raced to the window to see Luke and Laura climbing out. At the same time the postal carrier was walking up to the house, a bundle in his hand. Elizabeth yanked open the door, startling the poor man as he reached towards the mailbox.
“Thank you,” she said breathlessly, flipping through, searching desperately as she had every day since she’d known to expect it.
“We got a hit on the bank—” Luke called as he and Laura reached the porch, but Elizabeth had already dropped the rest of the mail, her heart racing.
“Astoria,” she murmured. She looked at Luke, holding up the postcard. “Is that your lead?”
“Yeah. He hit the ATM in Astoria on Sunday.” Luke stooped to grab the rest of her mail. “Corinthos said that the jet would be waiting when we got to the airstrip. My guy is calling around to find where he stayed, but there’s not a lot of places.”
Elizabeth nodded, and went into the house. “I’m already packed. I wanted to be ready—” She turned the postcard over in her hands, expecting just to see nothing more than her name and address—but the entire side was covered in writing, a bit cramped as if to fit it all—
“Elizabeth—” Laura put her hand on Elizabeth’s shoulders. “Are you all right?”
“Um—” Elizabeth looked at Laura, a bit stunned. “I—”
“Luke, take her bag and put it in the car. We’ll meet you there,” Laura directed Luke who followed the direction without question. When he was gone, Laura nodded at the postcard. “Is it good news?”
“I—I think—” Elizabeth looked down at again. “Port Charles is my home,” she read, a bit breathlessly. “I understand now why you couldn’t leave yet. Why you wanted a place to belong—” She stopped, covered her mouth, closed her eyes. When she could speak again, she continued, “I didn’t until I came here. It’s like Port Charles in some ways, but in the most important, it’s not.”
“He mentioned it reminded him of home—” Laura said.
“There’s no water that stretches forever, and every time I see a bench, I look for you—” Her voice broke on that word. “I look for you to be there. You’re not. You’re thousands of miles away.” She closed her eyes again, thought of Jason on a dock somewhere, staring at a bench, thinking of her. How many times had she done the same? “I can’t come home—” Her heart sank at the rest of the message. “I want to, but I’m not ready yet. I want to ask you wait until I am, but that’s too much to ask. I miss you.”
“Elizabeth—” Laura put her arm around Elizabeth’s shoulder. “He’ll change his mind when you tell him—”
“I’d be no better than Carly if I used a baby to keep him,” Elizabeth said. “He doesn’t want to come back to Port Charles, Laura. And when I tell him, it’s the first thing he’ll do—”
She swiped at her eyes, then went to tuck the postcard in her purse. “I’m fine. It’s silly to read into this. He doesn’t know about the baby. It’ll be okay.” She turned to Laura. “Let’s get going.”
Davis Penthouse: Living Room
“They found him.”
Alexis sipped her coffee, watching Sonny pace the room. “I thought that would be good news.”
“Yeah, it is. It is.” Sonny stopped, stared at her. “They’re on their way to the airport now. Seven hours to Portland—” He scrubbed a hand down his face. “Astoria is another two hours from there—”
Alexis made some notes. “With the time difference, that puts them in place around four this afternoon. That’s not terrible—”
“Jason hit the ATM on Sunday. How do we even know he’s not somewhere else?” Sonny wanted to know. “Five days — he could be in California by now—”
“Sonny—” Alexis sighed. “At least they’ll be on that side of the country. And Luke said that they were going to start driving down the 101 if Jason’s not in Astoria. Ask at some motels. Maybe he stayed a few days somewhere else.”
“Maybe. And then what?” Sonny wanted to know. “Jason will come back to Port Charles, everyone will find out about this baby, and what do you think Carly will do?”
“You know, I’m not really that good at being positive and optimistic,” Alexis said after a moment. “I could call Chloe. She’s better than I am. Sonny, you’ve done everything you can do. We have a last known location. Luke knows how to find people.”
“Yeah, I guess—” Sonny exhaled slowly. “I just—” He looked at Alexis. “I just want him to come home and to be okay, and I don’t know if I get to have both and still be in the picture. I don’t even think I deserve it.” He sank onto the sofa. “He’ll come home the second he finds out Elizabeth is pregnant. You know he will. He would never say it, but I think he always wanted to be a father again. And Carly is going to make his life a living hell. The last time I tried to help him out of that—”
“Well, don’t use your penis this time,” Alexis suggested. His look was scathing, and she made a face. “What? I’m not wrong.”
“No. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to find something else. Some sort of leverage.”
“Yeah, I don’t like where this is going,” Alexis said, but Sonny was already on his feet and out the door, purpose renewed.
Brownstone: Living Room
“And then Mom got a call,” Lulu told Nikolas with a bright smile. “She got very excited, and said that I had to come stay with Aunt Bobbie—”
Nikolas looked at his former aunt, who came in from the kitchen with lunch for Lulu. “Mother didn’t give you any more information than that?” he wanted to know. “Are you sure everything is okay?”
“She said that she was going to take Elizabeth away for a few days,” Bobbie said, with a shrug. “I think maybe they were going to New York to see Emily—”
“Mommy said they might be gone for a while because they might have to drive all the way to California,” Lulu reported, and Bobbie frowned at her niece. “To find what they were looking for.”
“Oh, well, that’s odd,” Bobbie said. But then she shrugged and looked at Nikolas. “She said it might be about a week. It was up in the air—”
“And you didn’t ask any questions?” Nikolas demanded. He fished out his cell phone, intending to call Emily’s dorm and get to the bottom of this. It sounded insane — why would his mother go with Elizabeth to visit Emily? Laura wasn’t even that close to Emily—
“No, I didn’t think I needed to. It’s not my business. I’m happy to look after Lu for a few days, and it’s not like Laura and Elizabeth don’t deserve a break.” Bobbie watched him dial with narrowed eyes. “And why do you care?”
“They could be in trouble,” Nikolas bit out, grimacing when he only reached Emily’s machine. He got to his feet. “I can’t believe you didn’t ask—”
“I can’t believe you care so much,” Bobbie said. “You and Elizabeth aren’t friends anymore, or did you think I forgot about that fight?” she demanded.
“Aunt Bobbie?” Lulu said. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Nikolas—” She took him by the arm and steered him towards the foyer. “Elizabeth made it very clear that she’s not interested in having you in her life. That means you don’t get to ask questions about where she goes. Drop it.”
“Fine.” Nikolas yanked the door open and stalked down the steps. He knew exactly why Elizabeth and Laura had disappeared—it was about her pregnancy. Maybe they’d found Jason. Or maybe Elizabeth was going out of town for an abortion, worried that someone would find out if she had it here.
Either way, he was going to get to the bottom of it. Lucky deserved for one member of his family to do something right.
Portland International Airport: Arrivals Hall
“All right, Luke is getting our rental car.” Laura set her carry-on down, and unzipped it to pull out anatlas. “We could take US-26 or the Columbia River Highway—both look pretty direct—”
“26,” Elizabeth said, and Laura looked at her. “It feeds into 101. If we need to drive 101 later it might help if we scout some motels now to check.” She folded her arms, looked around the airport. She was so close to finding him, to starting the next step of this journey —
And she still didn’t know what she’d say when they did. She didn’t want a child to be an obligation—he’d come home and he’d be so unhappy—
She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, then focused on Laura who had marked the page on the atlas and closed it. “Thank you. For doing this. For dropping everything and coming. I hope we’ll find him tonight, but—”
“But we might not,” Laura said with a nod. “I know you’re thinking about the postcard. About what he said.” She stepped closer, took Elizabeth’s hand. “But don’t forget the first part of it. He misses you, sweetheart. He’s looking for you everywhere he goes. That matters.”
“I know. I know it does.” Elizabeth looked past Laura, smiling as Luke approached, keys swinging in his hands. “We’re taking US-26,” she told Luke.
“Smart. We can scout 101.” Luke picked up Elizabeth’s bag. “Let’s hit the road.”
Jason had decided to take his time driving down the Oregon coast — he liked the way it curled into bays and inlets. He’d spent so much time inland, in Texas and South Dakota and Arizona — flying through those places in days — but there was something about the Pacific Northwest that made him want to linger.
He’d spent a few days in Cannon Beach, and then had headed south again, stopping in Newport and for the first time since Monday, decided to try Emily again. It was early evening back in New York, and maybe he’d catch her before she went out.
The phone rang twice — and then it connected. “Hello?”
Jason closed his eyes at the sound of his little sister’s voice. “Emily.”
“Jason!” The shriek came through the lines and nearly crackled with static. “Oh my God, oh my God! Finally! I’ve been waiting—” And then her voice broke. “Jason, I miss you, and thank God you called. I can’t believe it’s you—”
“I miss you, too,” Jason told her, smiling at her excitement, glad he’d done this. He should go see to the city to see her. That would be okay — maybe he could take a room for a while somewhere nearby and she could come see him or would that be too close to Port Charles —
“Are you still in Astoria?”
Jason frowned. “Astoria—how did you know I was there—no, I left—”
“Oh, damn it—”
Jason straightened. “Emily, what’s going on?”
“Elizabeth. She’s looking for you. She waited all week to get that stupid postcard you called about, and we were looking everywhere, and she flew out there—she must be on her way to Astoria right now because it was the last place—”
“Elizabeth—wait, I need you to—” Elizabeth was in Oregon. Looking for him? Why—had she changed her mind— “Emily—”
“She said if you weren’t there, they’d drive all of 101 to find you, but you can just—I’ll call her. I’ll tell her where you are and she can meet you there—”
“No. No.” Jason got to his feet. “No. I’m three hours away. She’s—she left this morning?”
“Yeah—” Emily took a deep breath. “Yes. She went with Luke and Laura. They flew to Portland, and were supposed to get there around three, I think — and then I don’t know how long until Astoria—”
Elizabeth had traveled with Luke and Laura—that really didn’t make any sense. Jason looked at the clock on the side table. It was nearly eight. Elizabeth had flown for more than six hours, driven at least two more —
“You said they went to Astoria. Do you know where they were planning to go? Which hotels?”
“Yes. Um, they had a list of places to start with, but Liz wanted to start with the water views—Jason, where are you? I need to tell—”
“Tell them to stay where they are. Don’t leave Astoria. I’ll come to them.” He didn’t want to sit and wait. Elizabeth was here in Oregon, just a few hours away. He needed to be doing something.
“Is she okay?” What if she’d searched for him because she was sick? What if something had happened? Why else would she bring Laura and Luke with her? “Tell me she’s okay.”
“She’ll explain everything when she gets there. Wait, wait—I know where they were going to start, I wrote it down—” He heard paper rustling in the background. “The Riverwalk. I can call the inn and leave a message or something if Luke doesn’t pick up the cell. I don’t know if he has roaming—”
“Okay. I’ll call you—” Jason hung up the phone, shoved his things back in the bag, and headed out. Three hours. She was three hours away.
From the name, Elizabeth had expected something a bit more inn-like. Instead, it looked like any other motel they’d seen as they’d traveled Route 101. It was two stories with all the rooms open to the outside. But around it—
Elizabeth stepped out of the car, wondering what about the area had called to Jason and reminded him of home. Maybe if he’d meant Courtland Street…
“All right, do you remember the story?” Luke wanted to know as he crossed to Elizabeth. “You’re meeting your husband here. You want to know if he checked in—”
“I got it, Luke.” She looked around the parking lot, her spirits sinking. It was too much to hope that he’d be in the first place they looked. “I don’t see his bike—”
“That doesn’t mean anything,” Laura said, squeezing her hand. “He could be out.”
“I guess. All right, I guess you guys can wait out here. I’ll be right back.” Elizabeth left them by the car and went towards the awning that sprawled over the entrance. The lobby was a bit dingy, but clean.
“Hello.” She flashed a smile, made her left hand was visible with the diamond ring and wedding band that Luke had produced out of thin air. “I’m meeting my husband here.”
“Sure.” The clerk smiled brightly. “Name?”
“Morgan.” Her stomach was rolling. “He might have checked in under his name or both of ours. I don’t—Jason or Elizabeth?”
The woman skimmed the register in front of her, then frowned, meeting Elizabeth’s eyes. “Are you sure have the right place?”
“No, I—” Elizabeth smiled, hoped it looked natural. “I’m pregnant—” She rested her hand across her middle. “And I’ve been so distracted and absent minded. He, uh—” She fished in her purse. “He gave me his itinerary for the trip, and I was supposed to join him here—” Elizabeth sighed. “Oh, no—”
“I think I switched up the dates.” She set it down. “I have Astoria on April 16, but when I read it today—my handwriting is terrible. Am I right? He was here a few days ago, which means he moved on to the next place in Portland.”
“Yes, we have Jason Morgan checking out on April 16.” The clerked offered a rueful smile. “I wish I could tell you pregnancy brain goes away, but then the baby gets here and there’s a thousand more things to keep track of. Mr. Morgan checked in on April 12, extended his stay, but then left last Sunday. I’m sorry. Do you have cell phones?”
“We do, but you know those roaming charges.” Elizabeth took back the paper, put it in her paper. “Thank you—”
“You’re welcome. Good luck!” The clerk turned to answer the ringing phone. “Good evening, Riverwalk Inn Astoria—excuse me? Oh, wait—Mrs. Morgan!”
Elizabeth turned around, halfway to the lobby. “Yes?”
“There’s someone looking for you—” The clerk looked a bit confused. “She asked if someone was looking for Jason Morgan—”
“She?” Elizabeth echoed, her heart pounding. “Oh, maybe it’s my sister-in-law—” She took the phone. “Hello?”
“Liz! Thank God! I caught you. Jason called me!”
“He did?” Elizabeth’s breath exhaled in a rush. “Where is he? Did he—”
“He said stay right there. He’s coming to you. He was three hours away.”
“Three—” Elizabeth checked the clock on the wall. “Three hours. Em—”
“He said he was leaving right away. I’m so glad I stayed in tonight. You have to call me as soon as you know anything. Promise.”
“I will.” Elizabeth handed the phone back to the clerk. “Good timing,” she said, the relief so dizzying. “He was worried when I didn’t show up, and he and his sister started calling around. He’s on his way to get me but it’ll be a few hours. Maybe I could check in? My parents, too. Um, two rooms?”
In the end, they requested three rooms. Luke and Laura disappeared into theirs, Luke intending to call Sonny and catch him up, while Laura went to take a shower. She tried to get Elizabeth to go out to get something to eat, but she didn’t want to leave. She was so worried there was a mistake, that Jason wouldn’t show up—
Three hours became two. And her body was starting to protest how long she’d been awake—it was nearly eleven back in New York, but Elizabeth couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t shut her mind down. She picked at the food Luke and Laura brought back for her—
As the clock ticked towards ten—towards the time when she could start to expect Jason— Elizabeth left her room and went downstairs. She wanted to be outside, wanted to be able to hear the bike as it came in the parking lot—
She’d waited an entire week for this conversation—Elizabeth stood on the sidewalk, the cool wind rising off the river behind the motel. Would she blurt it out the moment she saw him? And what did he think about her being there in the first place?
She heard the roar of the engine before the bike came into sight, the headlight blocking her view as it turned from the highway into the parking lot. Elizabeth came forward, her heart racing as the bike pulled into a parking space maybe fifteen feet away. The rider swung his leg over the bike, and then his face was finally visible—
A sob ripped out of her throat, and suddenly, Elizabeth was running towards him. Jason caught her as she hurled herself in his arms, holding her tight. She buried her face in his neck, and for the first time in a week—in months—felt like she could breathe again.