From this moment, as long as I live
I will love you, I promise you this
There is nothing I wouldn’t give
From this moment, I will love you
As long as I live, from this moment on
–From This Moment On, Shania Twain
Monday, May 14, 2000
Hardy House: Living Room
Bobbie checked Jason’s vitals one last time before removing her stethoscope and smiling. “It all looks good. Your pulse is strong, the heartbeat is regular, and most importantly, your blood pressure is normal.” She patted his arm. “You’re in the clear. You might still need a few days before you feel like yourself all the way, so take it easy.”
“I don’t think I’ll have much of a choice in that,” Jason said, eying Elizabeth across the room who was talking with Luke and Laura. After the airport, he’d expected everyone to go home, but instead they’d all come here. Bobbie had insisted on one more medical checkup, Sonny and Alexis were in the kitchen, and Laura was hovering near Elizabeth.
Beside him, Emily beamed. “I’m so glad you’re home,” she told him. “Grandmother is so excited for the baby and for Elizabeth, and now you get to be here for all of it—” She paused. “And you really want us all to get out of here, don’t you?”
“I do, yeah,” Jason admitted. “It’s not that I don’t appreciate everything—” He looked to Bobbie. “I really do. But—”
“But we’re smothering you.” Bobbie rose from the sofa. “I’ll talk to Sonny and Alexis. They’ll be easier to hurry along.”
“It’s hard for me to go anywhere,” Emily admitted as Bobbie disappeared into the kitchen, the door swinging lightly. “To let you out of my sight.” Her smile faded, and now Jason could see the shadows lingering. “What if…what if Nikolas doesn’t give up?”
“He will,” Jason promised. He squeezed his sister’s hand. “And even if he doesn’t, this time we’ll see him coming. I’m sorry. I know how much you cared about him—”
“I cared about a man who clearly didn’t exist. Someone who never, in a million years, have hurt you or Elizabeth this way.” Emily took a bracing breath. “But you’re right. We know there’s a threat now. I trust you to look out for yourself. You have too much to lose.”
“I won’t let anything happen to her, either,” Jason assured his sister. “I’m glad to be back.”
Across the room, Elizabeth hugged Laura one more time. “Thank you,” she said, then drew back to look at Luke. “For both of you. For the last month, it’s been a roller coaster, but you’ve both been there when I needed you.”
“And we always will be,” Laura reminded her. “I told you, you won’t be getting rid of us that easily.” She glanced at Jason and Emily on the sofa, then saw Bobbie leaving the kitchen followed by Sonny and Alexis. “But I think we’re overstaying our welcome. It’s time for us to go, and for you to get some rest.” She hugged Elizabeth. “I love you, honey.”
“I love you, too.”
It took another ten minutes and a promise from Sonny to make sure the fridge was stocked, and meals would be delivered before the house had finally emptied. Elizabeth curled up on the sofa next to Jason, laying her head down on his shoulder. “We’re home,” he murmured, tightening his arm around her.
“How does it feel to be back in Port Charles?” Elizabeth looked up at him. “I mean, I know you haven’t been here long—”
“When I came back in March…” Jason exhaled. “It wasn’t right then. It is now. I know where I want to be, and it’s right here with you.”
Spencer House: Living Room
“I’ll get Lu from Felicia in the morning,” Laura said, switching on the light as she came in. “We should have dinner with her. Together. We’ve been gone a while—”
“Sounds like a plan.” Luke set down her suitcase. “Felt a bit like old times for minute there, didn’t it?”
Laura turned and her smile deepened. “It did, didn’t it? It’s been a long time since I felt like I could make something good happen.” Her eye caught the mantel and a photograph of Elizabeth and Lucky from their last—their only—Christmas together. She crossed the room to pick it up. “I wonder what Lucky would have thought about all of this. About Nikolas—” The wave of grief, of anger came so quickly it nearly brought her to her knees. “I’ve lost them both.”
“It seems obscene, doesn’t it?” she murmured, setting it back on the mantel and looked at the photo next to it — the only one that existed of Lucky and Nikolas together, taken at Christmas in his garage apartment. Emily had given it to her after the funeral, and Laura had cherished it — this small piece of evidence that her boys loved one another. “He’d have been horrified.”
“There aren’t words for any of it, Angel.”
“No, I suppose not.” She picked up the stack of mail that Felicia had left on the table during the check on the house and on Gatsby. There was an envelope from the state — Laura opened it, skimmed the contents, then looked at Luke. “I…the divorce.” She passed the letter to him. “It’s finalized.”
He took it, read it for himself, then nodded and refolded the paper. “So it is.” Luke looked at her. “Time for a fresh start. For all of us. Wherever it takes us.”
Friday, May 18, 2000
Hardy House: Kitchen
“I got a call from my agent,” Elizabeth said, breezing into the room that morning. She headed for the fridge and poured a glass of orange juice. “I have a new contract, so I’m going to head to the studio to get some work done.”
Jason set down the newspaper he’d been perusing and picked up his coffee mug. “Okay. I have to go see Sonny anyway. And stop by the dealership — the new bike is ready.” He raised his brows. “You wanna go on a ride tonight?”
“Do you even have to ask?” Elizabeth asked, her eyes lighting up. She leaned over to kiss him. “Maybe I could—”
“You’re not driving.”
Elizabeth pouted and sat at the table. “I’ll wear you down eventually,” she muttered, but her eyes were still sparkling.
He’d spent most of the week resting — Bobbie was right. It had taken until yesterday before he felt like himself again. This morning, Jason had jogged down the steps and hadn’t felt even a little winded.
It was time to get back to both their lives — or to rebuild one together. And it started with going back to work and taking Elizabeth out on the cliff roads, where he just might let her steer for a while. Not that he’d tell her now. It was much more fun to tease her.
Elm Street Pier
Jason jogged down the steps to the pier, halfway to the warehouse that sat on the adjoining wharf when he heard a voice call out his name. An unwelcome one.
He knew it would happen eventually — that it was just a matter of when, not if—he came face to face with Carly. He’d just wanted a few more days, maybe even weeks. But the choice had been taken out of his hands. That always seemed to be the problem with Carly — she acted and left him no choice but to deal with her.
He stopped and turned around, watching as Carly hurried across Bannister’s Wharf, keeping his hands at his side and his expression empty. Carly paused a few feet away from him, her own features unsure. “What do you want?”
“I—” She took a deep breath, her brown eyes shimmering. “I don’t know. I just—I saw you and I reacted—wait—” Carly called out as Jason turned away. “Please. Just let me have a minute—”
“I’ve given you too many minutes—”
“I know. I know you have.” Carly swallowed hard. “A-and I know I made my choice. I did this to myself. I just—I never meant to hurt you—”
“Yes, you did,” Jason said, and she closed her mouth. “You meant to hurt me. That night. And with Michael on the docks. You used him to hurt me. Don’t lie, Carly. You wanted me to be hurt and to remember how much I loved him — as if I’d forgotten.” He looked at her, at the woman who had driven him to the worst mistakes of the last four years. “Michael is happy where he is. AJ’s a—” He paused. “AJ is a good father. Stop screwing that up for him.”
“I’m not trying to—”
“You never try to do anything, Carly.” He waited another minute. “You and I are done. We’ve been done for a long time. I just didn’t see it. Now you have to accept it and leave me alone.”
“We can’t even be friends—wait, please don’t just—” Carly’s voice went up a pitch as he turned away. “Jason—”
He left, striding across the pier and down to the wharf, walking away from Carly just as he should have done a lifetime ago. He’d once thought anything she’d done to him was worth the pain because she’d brought Michael into his life — now, he just wanted to put her in the past and move on.
She couldn’t hurt him anymore.
The sun was still setting when he picked Elizabeth up that night and drove up to the cliff roads, taking the turns just a little too fast so that she’d have to hold him tighter. He’d missed the sound of her screaming, the way it whipped into the wind roaring past their faces.
“Do you remember the last time we were here?” Elizabeth asked, turning her back on the view of Spoon Island.
“The night I came home,” Jason said. He rested his arms on the railing, taking in the Gothic mansion in the middle of the harbor, wandering if it would ever be inhabited by Cassadines again. If Nikolas Cassadine would stay locked up in Greece or if he’d shake loose and come after them again—
“I think about it sometimes,” Elizabeth continued and he looked at her. “When you took me home—if you hadn’t stopped me from going inside—”
If he hadn’t blurted out how much he thought about her and missed her, she might not have kissed him. He wouldn’t have stayed the night. And she wouldn’t be pregnant. Where would they be right now if he’d kept his mouth shut?
“I never told you how much I thought about you,” she continued, and he straightened. “When you were gone. I tried not to, but I’d stand on the pier and think about it. It was hard to work in the studio for a while because I kept turning around to look for you…” Elizabeth turned so that they were facing each other, their bodies brushing against one another. “I wanted you to stay so much. I wanted to be selfish. But I’m glad I wasn’t. That you’re here because you want to be.”
He kissed her, softly, lingering—a hand against her throat, feeling the flutter of her pulse. “You know how much I thought about you. You found those postcards.”
“That was Nikolas’s mistake,” Elizabeth said, her eyes still closed. “The man he sent after you — he left those behind. But I knew you wouldn’t have done that. I was already sure by then, but those—I found them in a drawer.” She opened her eyes, met his. “You were so embarrassed— you’d have burned them, not left them behind. He thought that you’d disappear, and I’d believe you left me. That I’d go back to Port Charles and forget about you. But he didn’t know me at all.” Her voice trembled. “I would have searched for you to the ends of the earth.”
He kissed her again, then pressed his forehead against hers. “You read them, didn’t you?”
“Every single one. When I was supposed to be sleeping, I stayed up and I read every single word you never sent—” Her lips curved into a wicked smile. “And I’m holding you to the promises you made.”
“It doesn’t count—”
“It absolutely does.” She danced away from him, then lifted her hand where he saw his keys dangling from her fingers. “You said if you got the chance, you’d let me drive.”
He grinned despite himself. Those damned postcards. “You better not close your eyes.”
“I promise.” Elizabeth laughed, then wound her arms around his neck. “I wouldn’t want to miss a moment.”
Cassadine Island: Dungeons
Stefan slid the key into the lock, then turned it, listening to the click of the tumblers. Behind the bars, his son sat on the cot, his hair disheveled, eyes bloodshot, and clothing rumpled.
“It’s been a week since they left,” Stefan said, pushing the door open and stepping back, forcing himself not to hold his breath. “I waited longer to be sure they would not return.”
Nikolas’s eyes burned as he rose to his feet. “And what promises did you make in exchange for my life?” he demanded.
“You are to be confined to the island for a period of time. And then you will stay away from Port Charles.” Stefan pocketed the key. “I had no choice, Nikolas. Not if I wanted to save your life.”
“You had a choice,” his son said flatly as he limped past Stefan and started down the hallway. “You made yours—”
“Now it’s my turn.”