Chapter 24

This entry is part 24 of 37 in the Counting Stars

Memories are just where you laid them
Drag the waters ’til the depths give up their dead
What did you expect to find?
Was there something you left behind?
Don’t you remember anything I said when I said

Don’t fall away and leave me to myself
Don’t fall away
And leave love bleedin’ in my hands, in my hands again
Leave love bleedin’ in my hands, in my hands
Love lies bleedin’

Hemorrhage (In My Hands), Fuel

Thursday, May 4, 2000

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Sonny set down a carry-on suitcase, then crossed over to the coffee bar to pour himself a cup. He’d be leaving for Portland in a few hours, and before he landed, he needed to figure out what to say to Jason that would fix everything.

He’d tried apologizing, but that hadn’t worked. He’d tried explaining himself. That had also failed. And then, he’d tried ignoring everything, and that had failed miserably. Maybe Jason would appreciate that Sonny had dealt with Carly—or maybe he’d be furious that Sonny had interfered again—

“I have a few things for you to sign—” Alexis held the door open, waited for him to focus on her. “If you still want the property downtown. I can file it while you’re gone.”

“Yeah, okay.” Sonny crossed to the desk, set down his cup. “I don’t know how long — I figure maybe a day or two.”

“You think you’ll be able to smooth things over that quickly?” Alexis asked with an arch of her brow.

No, but two days would probably be long enough before Jason lost his patience and asked him to get out—Sonny closed his eyes, tightened his grip around the pen. He was Sonny damned Corinthos. He wasn’t some silly teenaged boy looking for a girl to like him back.

“I think Elizabeth is probably nervous about Jason coming home when he wasn’t able to stay before,” Sonny said. “So he’s going to say what he needs to make her feel better—”

“You don’t think Jason wants to actually resolve things and move on?” Alexis tipped her head. “Maybe he’s nervous about coming home, too. It’s not like he’ll be able to pick up and just leave again. If he and Elizabeth have the baby here, it’ll be a circus. Clearing the air with you will make it easier.”

“Yeah. Maybe.” But Sonny didn’t want to fool himself. He hoped that some time and distance would allow for Jason move past that night in December. He didn’t expect forgiveness. Not anymore. He just wanted some peace of mind, and he’d hoped to find it on this trip. “What do you need me to sign?”

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Emily took a seat at the counter and flipped over a teacup. “When did you start working the breakfast shift?” she teased Bobbie who just smirked and poured boiling water into Emily’s cup.

“Since Penny had to duck out, and we haven’t found anyone to replace Elizabeth long term. I like pitching in sometimes,” Bobbie continued. “It reminds me of being back in Florida with Ruby, waiting tables.”

Emily stirred sugar into her tea. “Have you heard from Elizabeth the last few days?”

“Not since she didn’t come home with Luke and Laura.” Bobbie took a deep breath. “I’m hoping that’s good news. She and Jason have a lot to work out.”

Emily’s eyes widened. “You know where she went?”

“I’m not an idiot,” Bobbie said, but smiled. “But even if I hadn’t guessed, Luke told me. He didn’t say why.” She raised her brows. “Do you know?”

“Uh…yeah, but it’s the kind of thing Elizabeth would want to tell you herself.”

“I’ll have to take your word for it. Have you heard from her since she went out there?”

“Yeah, once. She really only calls when they’re in the hotel. They sound good.” Emily made a face. “She said she might not be home for a few more weeks, but I was thinking—maybe not even then, you know? There’s no reason she has to come back.”

“No, I suppose not.”

“And I can go see them where they end up.”

“But you’d rather she were here.” Bobbie glanced behind her, and Emily twisted to find Carly coming into the diner, taking a table with Michael and AJ along with a crowd of dock workers who’d just completed the overnight shift.  “If she doesn’t come back, maybe it’s for the best.”

“Yeah, anything that keeps Jason away from her is good in my book. I just wish I didn’t have to lose my best friend in the process—”

“That’s strange,” a new voice said, and Emily looked back again, surprised to see Nikolas standing there. She looked back at Bobbie who grimaced. She hadn’t noticed him either among the dock workers. “I thought your best friend was with you. In New York.” He tipped his head. “Because that’s what you told me.”

“Nikolas—” Emily took a deep breath. “Look, it’s not like I planned to lie to you—Elizabeth didn’t want anyone to know where she was and if I’d told you she wanted to keep it quiet, you’d have been angry about it.”

“So you chose to lie?” Nikolas demanded. “I don’t know why it surprises me. You’re just like her, you know? You’ve both been lying for months. I thought we were friends, Emily. We were friends before you ever met Elizabeth—”

Emily twisted on her stool. “Don’t do this, Nikolas. Come on—”

“Maybe I’m the only one who’s been living in a fantasy world, thinking that I had friends who cared about me—”

“You do—” Emily slid off the stool, went to grab his arm. “Come on, let’s go somewhere. Let’s just talk—”

“No, no. I’m done talking. I waited for her to come to me,” he said, his teeth clenched. “I waited for her to trust me with the truth, and she just lied. You and I both know where she is. She’s with him and you’re all lying to me about it, to everyone—”

Her eyes widened, darted around the diner. Oh, God. “Nikolas—”

“But maybe she’s ashamed, huh? Getting knocked up by a guy who cares so little about her that she couldn’t even find him—”

“What?” Carly demanded, from her table as AJ just winced. “What the hell are you talking about?”

Emily yanked on Nikolas’s sleeve. “This is not what friends do—”

“No, friends also don’t lie, do they?” Nikolas yanked his arm out of her grasp. “She’s been doing it for months, why not keep going? Did she tell you she was pregnant? That she had to drag my mother and Luke across the country because she couldn’t find Jason on her own?”

“Carly—” AJ hissed as Carly left their table and stalked towards the duo.

“What is he talking about?” Carly growled. “Who’s pregnant? What—”

“Nikolas—” Emily began.

“Elizabeth,” Nikolas said, his eyes locked on Emily even as he answered Carly’s question. “Looks like Jason’s finally going to have a kid he doesn’t have to steal.”

Emily put her head in her hands as more than one table around them began whispering in a hush. She saw several cell phones come out—

“It’s time you left,” Bobbie declared, coming up behind Emily. “Now.”

“With pleasure.” Nikolas stormed out. A moment later, AJ dumped a few bills on the table, picked Michael up and left. Carly scowled but hurried after them before she was abandoned at the diner.

“Oh my God—” Emily moaned. Bobbie grabbed her arm and dragged her back towards the kitchen. “Oh, Liz is going to kill me—”

“No, she’s not. She’s not here. Right now, she’s three thousand miles away,” Bobbie told her. “So I’m going to call Laura. We’re going to do damage control—”

“Damage control? Bobbie, I have to call Liz and warn her—” Stricken, Emily focused on Bobbie. “And you didn’t even know—”

“No, I didn’t—but I’m not angry, sweetheart. It’s all right. Let me call Laura, and you can call Liz. This is probably the best way for the truth to explode—when they’re not in the state.”

“I guess,” Emily said dubiously, watching as Bobbie pulled out a phone.

Portland International Airport: Arrivals

Jason reflexively tightened his hand around Elizabeth’s as Sonny emerged from the baggage claim area. He was alone without any guards, a large carry-on bag looped over his shoulder. He’d spent four days wondering what he’d feel when he saw his former friend and partner again.

Speaking to him on the phone hadn’t been so bad, but in person — in person it was easier to remember how that night had felt. The searing pain in his side, the way everything had twisted when Carly sauntered down the stairs, the dress shirt haphazardly buttoned—

Sonny sitting in the chair, looking away from him, drinking.

Every time they had been in the same room since then had felt like torture, like swimming against the current, and the last time—

“This isn’t a test, you know,” Elizabeth murmured at his side. “No one is saying if you fail, you don’t get to go back home. That not what this is, right? We’re just visiting on neutral ground. If it doesn’t work out, Sonny can go back home tomorrow, and we’ll go on our trip and figure out the next step.”

It was tempting to take her up on that offer, to just keep driving away from all his problems. He’d done that before she’d shown up. But it hadn’t fixed anything, and it wasn’t a real solution.

“Jason.” Sonny stopped in front of them, flashing a hesitant smile at Elizabeth, but it faded nearly as quickly as it appeared. Maybe he’d been remembering the last time he’d been friendly to Elizabeth in front of Jason. “Elizabeth. How are you feeling?”

“Good. Jason and I drove in from the coast yesterday,” she said, tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “Um—” The phone vibrated against her hip, and she pulled it out.

“That’s the second time since we got here. You’d better answer it,” Jason said.

“It’s Emily again. I’ll just tell her we’ll call her later.” Elizabeth put the phone to her ear and took a few steps away, leaving Jason and Sonny in awkward silence.

“Things are, um, okay? I mean, it’s not my business,” Sonny said, glancing after Elizabeth. “I was just worried after—”

“I know. Things are fine—” Jason’s voice faded when the color faded from Elizabeth’s cheeks. She focused on him, her eyes wide. Quickly, Jason closed the distance between them. “What is it?”

“It’s, um—” Wordlessly Elizabeth shoved the phone at Jason. “I can’t—”

Sonny was there, taking the phone from Jason as he put an arm around Elizabeth’s waist and steered her over to a bench. “Look at me. Hey—” He cupped her jaw in one hand, squeezing her hand with the other. “Elizabeth.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I just—” She squeezed her eyes shut. “She said it, and I just—lost my breath, and then I couldn’t catch it again.”

Sonny came over, handed them a closed phone. “It’s out,” he said shortly and Jason stared at him, unsure what he meant. “Nikolas Cassadine announced it in the middle of the lunch shift at Kelly’s. Everyone knows about the baby.”

Wyndemere: Conservatory

Stefan tossed aside the paper when the doors blew open and Laura stalked in, her face pale and her eyes burning. “Laura,” he said cautiously. “I know you’re angry—”

“Where is he?”

“He’s down at the stables, but—” Stefan put up a hand to block her before she could head out the garden doors. “We should talk about this first.”

“Talk about what?” Laura lifted her brows. “Do you know what he did, Stefan?”

“He told me he had an argument with Emily at Kelly’s, and as a result, revealed some sensitive information Elizabeth might have wished to keep secret.” Stefan blocked her forward advance again. “He’s hurting, Laura—”

Laura took a deep breath. “And you’re protecting him. Just like you have for months—”

“He’s had a difficult year—”

“I know that, and I have tried to be understanding but he refuses to see reason—” Laura curled her hand into a fist. “I know that everything with Katherine on top of losing Lucky has made things difficult. But it’s not an excuse how he’s been acting, for what he’s said and done for months—”

“So, you’re going to what?” Stefan arched a slim brow. “Confront him? Chastise him? He’ll just see you as choosing yet another person over him. You’ve done it all his life, why stop now?”

Laura’s eyes burned. “That is not fair, Stefan, and you damn well know it. I did the best I could. What I was capable of. Just as you did. And I am not choosing Elizabeth over him—”

“You came all the way to the island so that you could yell at him about what he’s done. Do you think he’s not ashamed already?”

“I will not have him blaming his childhood and the fact that I wasn’t there for the rest of his life. I am done with the guilt trips. Now—get out of my way.”

Quartermaine Estate: Hallway

Carly stepped out of Michael’s room, leaving the toddler with his nanny, then grimaced when AJ’s hand slid around her forearm, just below the elbow. “Hey—”

“Shut up,” her husband hissed, steering her around the corner into their bedroom. He released her so suddenly that it felt almost like a shove, and she stumbled. The door slammed behind her, and Carly whirled.

“What is your—”

“That—” AJ held up a finger, his eyes dark and swirling, “is the last time you humiliate me in public—”

Carly bristled. “I didn’t—”

“It is none of your business what my brother does,” AJ bit out. “And you have no right to demand answers about a relationship and pregnancy that have nothing to do with you—”

A shiver slid down Carly’s spine as she swallowed hard. Would Sonny see this as a violation of their deal? “I didn’t—” She cleared her throat, put up her hands. “I didn’t mean—it wasn’t—I was just upset—”

“Why?” AJ demanded flatly. “I’m your husband. Jason is nothing to you. He’s moving on. He’s having a family with someone else—”

“The hell he is—”

“Shut up!” AJ roared and it was so unexpected that Carly fell silent, closing her mouth. “I’m done! That’s it!” He started across the room, and Carly realized with a start he was heading for the phone.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m done with this. I’m done being runner-up—” AJ jerked the phone off the base and jabbed in a number. “I’m calling my lawyer—”

“No, no, no—” Carly leapt across the room, grappled with him for the phone. “No!” If AJ filed for divorce now, everyone would think it was because of Jason—because of Kelly’s—and she couldn’t be sure Sonny wouldn’t send those photos just to be an asshole— “Please—”

AJ slowly set the phone back down and looked at her, his expression hard and unyielding. “This is the last warning, Carly. You and I both know that if I file for divorce, I will destroy you. I will keep you in court until your bones are dust, and there is no one coming to save you.”

Carly’s hands were shaking as she held them up. She wanted to deny it, wanted to believe that if AJ really went after her but Jason was gone. He’d cut her out.

“I know.” Carly squeezed her eyes shut, tears stinging as her voice broke. “I know! I screwed everything up and now we’re all miserable! I won’t do it again. Okay? I’m done. It’s over.”

AJ shook his head and disgust and left the bedroom, the door slamming so hard in his wake that it shook the frame. Carly sank onto the edge of the bed. She’d reached the end of the road. No more cards left to play.

Wyndemere: Stables

Nikolas ran a brush through Sheba’s mane, enjoying the quiet, the peace of the stables. To be away from everything that had happened that morning.

He hadn’t meant to say anything about the pregnancy. Not when he’d arrived. He’d hoped to spend some time with Emily, to resolve some of the anger burning at his gut. But then he’d overheard them talking about Elizabeth—

And it was clear that his mother wasn’t the only person Elizabeth had trusted. Emily knew. And they’d all cut him out. He squeezed his eyes closed, wishing when he opened them again, he could have turned back time. That he could be back at Kelly’s that last night, to stop his brother from burning those candles—

“How could you?”

Nikolas turned towards the entrance of the stable and forced his features into a blank expression as he studied his mother. “Are you here to tell me what a bad boy I’ve been?”

“Any chance of Elizabeth ever trusting you again is gone. You understand that, don’t you?”

“She started the lying, not me.” Months ago. She’d told him she wasn’t ready to move on from Lucky after her birthday, but it had been a lie. She didn’t want him. No more than his own mother did.

“Did it ever occur to you that Elizabeth wouldn’t have seen it as a lie?” Laura’s footsteps approached him, and he focused on her. “She told me, Emily, and Jason. Luke and Sonny know because we had to find Jason. But that’s it. She had every right to hold on to this as long as she could. Some women don’t say anything for months—”

“Some women aren’t supposed to be your friends. She could have trusted me—”

“And you proved so worthy of that last Christmas,” Laura said. “When you told the world she was dating Jason.”

“Not dating,” Nikolas bit out. “He had her hidden in the studio like a dirty secret.” Nikolas wouldn’t have treated her that way — he would have given her the world. Not anymore. That was done.

“Oh, so it’s concern for her that had you telling the world she was pregnant. Just like concern made you announce her sex life—”

“It doesn’t bother you at all, does it?” Nikolas bit out. “She’s out there acting like Lucky never existed! It’s what you’re all doing—”

“I’m acting like my life didn’t end last year,” Laura corrected. “It didn’t. I went on breathing, Nikolas, as hard as it was to imagine for a time. And Elizabeth went on living. She fell in love again.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t get to find another brother—” He closed his eyes as the pain sliced again. He hadn’t really had his brother at all and now everyone treated Lucky like he was a burden that had to be endured. “She’s going to get herself killed, and if that’s not enough, she’s dragging another innocent life into this. Why am I the only one who sees it? How many lives does Jason Morgan get to destroy? Lucky wasn’t enough?”

“If you’re not ready to let Lucky rest in peace, I can’t help you. But Elizabeth is still part of my family—I’m not choosing her over you, but you are wrong for what you’re doing. And I’m not going to pretend that you’re not. You don’t have to like her choices, but they are hers to make. Leave her alone,” Laura warned. “You’re only making yourself miserable and you’re pushing everyone else away.”

Nikolas scowled as she left. He was only miserable because no one could see what was happening. He’d just have to show them.

Portland, Oregon

New Imperial Hotel

“I’m really okay,” Elizabeth told Jason again as he paced the length of their room. She turned to Sonny, seated beside on the sofa. “It was just—I was upset. Bobbie didn’t know, and that’s not the way I wanted her to find out—”

“Maybe you should see a doctor.” Jason sat on the edge of the bed. “You still look pale—”

“Anxiety attacks will do that.” Sonny straightened when Jason sent him a dark glare. “I’m sorry. Look, her pulse is good. She’s not cramping. She got some bad news and reacted. I could tell you to relax, but it’s not going to work.” He sent Elizabeth a reassuring smile. “Welcome to the next eight months of your life.”

“I’m fine,” Elizabeth said, and this time she saw Jason’s expression ease. “I’d rather we talk about what we’re going to do about this.”

“Actually—” Sonny got to his feet. “Not that my opinion really matters, but this — this is not the worst way for people to find out. You’re not in town for people to scream at,” he told Jason. “So, no extra pressure on Elizabeth. You’ve been gone long enough that, uh, people aren’t all that interested in you.”

Elizabeth knew what that meant — men in Sonny’s business likely wouldn’t care. “Did Emily say who else was there?”

“Carly and AJ,” Sonny said, and Jason tensed. “I don’t know much more than that. I’ll call Alexis and find out more. You guys take a minute.”

He went to the door that adjoined the rooms and closed it behind him. Jason took his seat on the sofa.

“I feel like an idiot for getting all upset,” Elizabeth said, with a grimace. “And I haven’t had a panic attack in over a year.” She took his hands, waited for him to meet her eyes. “I really am okay.”

“I just—” He cleared his throat. “Sonny’s got a point. Everyone finding out when we’re not there—it’s a little easier.”

“Yeah. I just don’t understand how Nikolas knew—and Bobbie—I meant to tell her, there just never seemed to be a good time—” Elizabeth shook her head. “I hate it.”

“Call her and talk it out.” Jason leaned over to grab the cell phone they’d dumped on the table. “You know she loves you. It’ll be okay.”

“Yeah.” She snuggled up to his side and he put an arm around her shoulders. “She’ll probably want to hear from you, too.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”


  • Uh oh. Nik is going to make an even bigger mess isn’t he??

    According to Michelle on December 26, 2022
  • Nik’s behavior displeases me. Thank you for the update.

    According to Shelly Samuel on December 26, 2022
  • Nik is going to get someone killed. I hope it isn’t the baby or Elizabeth. Hopefully everyone is right, and no one will care once Jason and Elzabeth returns.

    According to Carla P on December 26, 2022
  • Nic’s obsession needs to end.

    According to Kentisha on December 27, 2022
  • I just hope that Nik and Carly don’t pair up to undo everything for Jason and Elizabeth. I can’t wait for them to go back home and have Jason put Carly in her place once and for all.

    According to Carolyn Grandchamp on December 27, 2022
  • sorry that Ive been awol but ive been busy and this s the first time ive got to read and catch up.
    Im absuletly loving this story.
    nic needs some serious help

    According to Nicole on December 31, 2022
  • Nick is acting like a scorned lover. He is going to be trouble

    According to leasmom on January 2, 2023
  • this four-chapter part has been really good I seriously want to bitch slap Nic and Carly. I actually feel sorry for AJ.
    Sonny is trying so I give him props for that.
    I’m just so glad they are supporting each other now.
    ready for the next four

    According to Pamela Hedstrom on January 5, 2023