Time: 12:04 p.m.
Date: February 12, 2003
Place: Corinthos-Morgan Warehouse; Sonny’s office
“Come in!” Sonny called, his attention distracted as he searched for a wayward coffee account file. He picked up a large pile of folders and started shuffling through them.
Francis, one of his top guards entered. “Boss?”
“Hey, Francis. What can I do for you?” Sonny asked, looking up for a second.
“Uh…is there a reason Jackie Ortolino is in town?” Francis asked, scratching his temple.
Sonny frowned. “Why? You see him?”
“Yeah…down at the docks. Boss, I saw something else that kind of…well, it worried me. I was on my way here to check in and I saw Ortolino hiding behind some bushes. He’s watchin’ someone.”
Francis had his full attention now. Sonny set the folders down and focused on the guard. “Who was he watching? We’re pretty sure he’s here on a contract, but no one’s been able to find out anything. He works for Frankie Gregory more often then not, but Frankie’s not returning my calls.”
“He was looking at Elizabeth,” Francis said.
“Elizabeth who?” Sonny asked. Francis frowned and tipped his head to the side.
“Webber, Boss. Jason’s ex-girlfriend?” Francis said, a little surprised that Sonny didn’t place her immediately.
Sonny’s shoulders slumped. “Oh, well, then that’s okay.”
“It’s okay that a hitman is watching Elizabeth Webber?” Francis asked.
“Well, she’s a pretty girl. I doubt she’s his contract,” Sonny replied. He started to flip through the folders again. “Besides, what would Ortolino want with a waitress?”
Francis shifted from one foot to the other. “Well, Ms. Webber meant a lot to Jason. Are you sure–”
“Elizabeth and Jason have barely seen one another for months,” Sonny replied. “He’s dating my sister now.”
“Look, if you’re really worried about her…” Sonny bit his lip. “Put Karl on her.”
“Karl?” Francis repeated. “Karl as in he’s only hired because he’s Johnny’s nephew Karl? As in he’s the worst bodyguard we’ve got?”
“You’re not questioning me, are you?” Sonny asked, intently. His eyes darkened and he glared at the guard.
“No, sir,” Francis said. “I’ll call Karl as soon as I leave.”
“Good. And if you see Ortolino, grab him. I want to know what he’s in town for.”
“Sure thing, Boss.” Francis exited the office, shaking his head in disappointment. Putting the guard with the worst record on a woman that had had more happen to her because of Sonny’s organization than any other woman he’d ever met…Sonny must be delusional.
Time: 12:15 p.m.
Date: February 12, 2003
Place: Wyndham’s Department Store
Courtney held the receiver to her ear and scanned the immediate area for Carly. When someone picked up on the other end, she smiled. “Hey, I can’t talk long. I’m out with the wife. Listen, is he here?” There was a pause and her smile broadened. “So it’ll be done today? Great.” She bit her lip when she saw Carly heading her way.
“Thanks, Uncle Frankie,” Courtney said and hung up the phone.
“Hey, who were you calling?” Carly asked, approaching her sister-in-law.
“I was just checking in with a neighbor,” Courtney replied. “She’s got Rosie for the day.”
“Oh…well, are you ready to do some shopping?”
“Definitely,” Courtney said grinning.
Time: 1:04 p.m.
Date: February 12, 2003
Place: Smith’s Laundromat
Elizabeth pushed the door open with her back and backed out of the laundromat. She tried to get a better grip on her basket of clothing.
“Shit,” she muttered as her purse fell to the ground. Elizabeth kneeled down to grab it, shifting the basket to her hip.
And then the window above her shattered. Elizabeth fell back, startled. The women inside were screaming.
Elizabeth looked around frantically–she wasn’t stupid. She’d been shot at before. She knew exactly how a window shattered when a bullet struck it.
She left her clothing and crawled for the safety of the cars. She weaved in between a few and when she was twenty feet from the Laundromat, she crouched against a white SUV and hugged her knees.
She’d just been shot at.
Someone had tried to kill her.
Elizabeth had to get out of here before someone–whoever it was who’d shot at her–found her.
“I’m not calling him,” she said, stubbornly. She shook her head. “No way.”
So what if Jason could help? So what if he could protect her?
She wasn’t calling him.
She heard footsteps coming closer and closer. Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Okay, I get the point.”
She fished her cell phone out of her purse and hit the number four on the speed dial. Please answer, please answer.
“Jason?” she whispered. “It’s Elizabeth.”
“Elizabeth? Why are you calling? Why are you whispering?”
“Okay, so I’m not really sure, but I think someone shot at me. Like I was standing and I knelt down and this window shattered.” The footsteps were getting closer. “And I think someone’s still looking for me. I’m really really really sorry but I didn’t know who else to call.”
“Where are you?”
“Um…the Davis Street Strip Mall; I’m crouched between a white SUV and a green Cadillac.”
“Is there anywhere safe you could go?” Jason asked.
“Um…safe? I don’t think so.”
“Okay…just…stay there, okay? I’ll come get you.”
“Thank you,” Elizabeth said gratefully. She hung up and put her phone away. It never occurred to her to call the police–they’d probably think she was overreacting. Maybe a rock had hit it, they’d say.
No matter how irritated she was with Jason–she knew he’d believe her.
Time: 1:15 p.m.
Date: February 13, 2003
Place: Davis Street Strip Mall; Parking Lot
Jason had parked his bike a block away and hurried to the parking lot. Elizabeth wasn’t the type to overreact. If she thought someone had shot at her, someone had probably shot at her.
The fact that someone wanted her dead was something he didn’t want to think about.
He scanned the parking lot for the two cars that she’d mentioned and walked quickly to them. She was there, sitting on the ground, her knees pulled close to her chest and her head down.
Elizabeth looked up and a look of relief broke out on her face. “Thank God you’re here. I keep hearing footsteps, and…”
He held out a hand. “Come on, I’ll take you somewhere and you can tell me what happened.”
She took his hand and let him pull her to her feet. He pulled her close to him and left the parking lot.
Time: 1:46 p.m.
Date: February 12, 2003
Place: Oak Crest Motel
Jason locked the door behind them and turned around to see Elizabeth sitting on the bed. “Okay, tell me what happened.”
“I was coming out of the laundromat,” Elizabeth began, “and my purse fell to the ground. I knelt down to get it. And the second I did…I’m talking like the very next second, the window of the laundromat shattered.”
“You didn’t hear a gunshot?” Jason asked.
Elizabeth shook her head. “No, it was just like at the hospital. I felt the bullet whizzing by and then the vase shattered. It was the same thing.”
Jason frowned. “When you were shot at the hospital?”
“With Zander,” Elizabeth said. She shook her head. “I told you about that–remember? Before we came to the penthouse?”
“You were with him?” Jason asked, in disbelief.
“No I made it up for my health,” Elizabeth said, sarcastically. “I was there, too. I didn’t tell you?”
“No, you just said Zander,” Jason said. He shook his head. “Never mind. You have no idea who’d try to shoot you?”
“If it wasn’t an unhappy customer from Kelly’s, I have no clue.” Elizabeth shrugged.
“And it’s probably got nothing to do with me,” Jason said, more to himself than to her. They hadn’t been seen together in public since October. It was unlikely anyone thought there was anything more between them these days. No–they’d go after Courtney.
Elizabeth nodded. “Right. So, maybe it was mistaken identity?”
“Maybe, but I don’t want to assume that.” Jason paused. “I’m going to go outside and make a call to Sonny. I’ll be right outside the door.”
Elizabeth nodded and Jason stepped outside.
“Sonny, it’s me. We’ve got a problem.”
“Someone just took a shot at Elizabeth. She called me and I got–”
“Why’d she call you?”
“Does it matter?” Jason asked exasperated. He rubbed the back of his neck. “I got her somewhere safe. I don’t suppose you’ve heard anything.”
“Actually, what?” Jason asked. “Sonny, what’s going on?”
“Francis was by earlier. Said he saw Jackie Ortolino looking at Elizabeth on the docks. I didn’t think it was anything to worry about but Francis did, so I put Karl on her.”
“Karl?” Jason repeated. “Karl, Johnny’s nephew? You’re not serious are you?”
“What’s wrong with Karl?” Sonny asked defensively.
“Karl has the worst record. We only keep him around out of respect for Johnny. He never actually gets any assignments.” Jason shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. Francis told you that he was looking at Elizabeth, and you didn’t think to tell me?”
“You and Elizabeth aren’t dating anymore. I didn’t think it mattered.”
Jason closed his eyes in exasperation. “She still matters to me, Sonny. Look–I’ll keep her here out of sight. Find Ortolino.”
“No. Bring her back to town. She can be just as safe at the penthouse.”
“Why would I compromise her safety by bringing her out in public?” Jason asked.
“And what I am supposed to tell Courtney when she asks where you are?” Sonny asked. “No, bring Elizabeth to the penthouse. I’ll look after her.”
“Yeah. The same way you did when Francis told you that a professional hitman was looking at her. And you can tell Courtney the same thing you always tell her. I’m on assignment.”
“If you don’t come back, I’ll tell her you’re with Elizabeth. You’re not on assignment, Jason.”
“What is with you?” Jason asked. “I can’t believe you’d hurt your own sister just to get your way.”
“She wouldn’t want you hanging around your old girlfriend.”
“Elizabeth is more than an old girlfriend and you know it. I’m not coming back–I’m not risking her life.”
He heard a heavy sigh. “All right,” Sonny said. “Keep her there. I’ll find Ortolino. Where are you exactly?”
“The Oak Crest Motel, Room 13,” Jason answered. “Call me if you hear anything.”
“Oak Crest Motel, Room 13,” Sonny repeated, writing it down. “Okay. Tell Elizabeth I’m glad she’s okay.”
Jason didn’t wait for an answer and hung up.