Can you see me up here?
Would you bring me back down?
I’ve been living to see my fears
As they fall to the ground
I remind myself of somebody else
– Somebody Else’s Song, Lifehouse
Wednesday, April 5, 2006
General Hospital: Nurse’s Hub
“Hey, how’s Cameron this morning?” Epiphany asked as she stepped up behind Elizabeth in the hub and put a hand on her shoulder. “He doing better?”
“Oh, yeah.” Elizabeth flashed her supervisor a tired smile. “Thanks so much for covering for me. The medicine and some cuddling really perked him up. He slept last night, and he was okay to go to daycare.”
“Good, good. You know, we single moms have to stick together,” Epiphany told her. Elizabeth opened her mouth to protest the description of her as a single mother, but she pressed her lips together and looked away.
“Did I ever tell you about Stanford’s father?” Epiphany asked as the two of them continued their work. Elizabeth peered at her curiously, then shook her head.
“No. What happened to him?”
“We got divorced when Stan was younger. He wasn’t a bad man, mind you. I think he even meant the promises he made me when he proposed. But…I think life just disappointed him. I got what I wanted—I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to be a mother. But David just never really got together. He wanted to be a doctor, but we couldn’t afford it. He was going to go back, but…” Epiphany sighed. “He just couldn’t handle the setbacks, you know?”
“Yeah.” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “How…how did it end?”
“Without a lot of fanfare. We spent a couple of years drifting, mostly lying to each other. I wanted to keep things together for Stan, but David just…he thought there was something else out there for him, so one day, he went to find it. And we…we never heard from him again.”
“Never?” Elizabeth repeated. “I’m surprised. Stan never looked for him?”
“I asked him once if he was going to, but Stan wasn’t interested. He said he knew who had raised him, and the man that left didn’t matter enough to find..” Epiphany lifted a brow. “You know what I really regret about all of that?”
“Letting him be the one that walked. I should have gone first. But I had a little boy, and I didn’t want to raise him alone. I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t really get that I already was. David was gone long before he left for good. You see what I’m saying?”
“It’s…more complicated than that,” Elizabeth said finally.
“It usually is. But just in case—I want you to know that there are some people who will stand by you. You are not alone.”
Elizabeth sighed, and without thinking, shoved a piece of hair behind her ear. She realized what she’d done when she saw Epiphany’s sharp inhale of breath. She turned and winced at the anger she saw on the older woman’s face.
“It’s not what you think—”
“What I think is that you have a bruise on the side of your face that looks like someone shoved your face into something hard,” Epiphany bit out. Elizabeth brushed her hair forward. “Oh, you can’t unring that bell—”
“Oh, don’t you try that—”
“Epiphany.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Yes, Lucky and I got into a fight last night. Yes, we were yelling at each other. But he didn’t hit me. He didn’t.”
“There are a lot of ways to cause a bruise on a woman without a man laying his hand on her,” Epiphany said. “Elizabeth—”
“I can handle this. We argued. It’s—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. Lucky had been gone when she woke that morning, and she, honestly, hadn’t come to terms with any of it. If she could be given a choice, she might not have come to work at all. When she’d seen the dark purple bruise blooming on her cheek, she’d been worried.
Because maybe she could convince most of the people that it was an accident, but there were others who would never believe her. And thankfully, she thought Jason would probably stay away from her, at least for today.
She knew she’d never be able to lie to him. Not yet. In a few days, when she’d settled—she might be able to manage it.
“I tripped on a carpet and fell. Lucky was upset—he blamed himself, you know. And it just—we’re under a lot of stress. He’s struggling. He just wants to get back to work. Things will be okay when he gets back on the job—”
Epiphany hesitated, clearly wanting to say something else, but then nodded. “Okay. I hope so. I’m here if you need me.”
Elizabeth flinched when she heard the wheels of the custodian’s cart as Manny Ruiz slowly rolled past them. He stopped in front of the hub and flashed them his bright white teeth. “Hey, pretty ladies. Having a good day?”
“I was,” Epiphany said flatly.
“Elizabeth, I haven’t seen your pretty redheaded friend around.” Manny’s smile seemed to deepen. “I’m sorry she had to leave.”
“I’m sure she’s sorry she didn’t get a chance to say goodbye,” Elizabeth said, even as heart pounded. “I’m surprised you decided to make Port Charles home. With everything that’s happened here.”
“Oh, well, this is just a stop in my journey. But it’s nice to hear you’ve been thinking of me. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by such beautiful women.” His smile faded slightly, the corners of his mouth curving down slightly, giving him a sinister air. “Beautiful inside and out.”
Elizabeth couldn’t dredge up a reply at first as her throat went dry. “I should get back to work.”
“Me, too. But, hey, we should talk again sometime soon. You can never have too many friends. See ya, Pretty Girl.”
With a whistle, Manny returned to his duties as Elizabeth closed her eyes. Damn. Damn. Damn. Neither she nor Epiphany spoke until Manny was safely on the elevator and had left the floor.
“I need a few minutes,” Elizabeth told Epiphany finally, cutting off her supervisor. She sighed and left the hub to go over to the waiting area where Cody had set up to watch over her. He had dressed casually as a visitor with a newspaper and magazine. He was already looking at her as she approached.
She furrowed her brow, realizing it wasn’t the first time he’d addressed her by her maiden name.“Hey, um, I don’t know if this is something you should tell Jason, but Manny Ruiz—”
“I saw.” Cody got to his feet as he slid his cell phone out of his pocket. “I didn’t hear everything—”
“He commented about Skye being gone. Called me beautiful and said we should talk again. That we should be friends.”
“That is not good.” Cody winced. He dialed the phone. “Hey, Vic—yeah, I know—but I need you to come up to the surgery floor and stay on Elizabeth. I need to go to the boss. Emily isn’t the target. Yeah, okay—”
“Do you really think that’s necessary?” Elizabeth began.
“I do. Jason told me if Manny so much as looked at you to let him know immediately. And I want to tell him in person in case he needs me to do…” Cody hesitated. “I have my orders. But I’ll wait until Vic gets up here—”
“I’ll be okay—” When Cody shook his head, Elizabeth sighed. “But you have your orders.”
“You don’t get left alone in the hospital. I follow you to your apartment, and then I’m relieved by a night guard. It’s not perfect, but—”
“Okay, okay.” Elizabeth went back to the hub to finish paperwork, studiously avoiding looking at Cody until a man in an orderly uniform got off the elevator, went over to Cody. The two men talked for a few minutes before Cody left.
“I know it’s wrong,” Epiphany said, as they watched Elizabeth’s guard leaves, “but I feel better knowing someone is with you. And Lucky hasn’t noticed them?”
“They know better than to let a cop see them.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I thought about telling him,” she admitted. Or at least she had until last night. “But he’d never understand.”
“No, I guess he wouldn’t. Well, we better get back to work. Psycho or not, we got patients to help.”
Morgan & Corinthos Warehouse: Sonny’s Office
Jason and Sonny were going over shipment schedules when Max knocked rapidly on Sonny’s door, then opened it. “Jase, Cody’s here—”
Jason was out of his seat before Max had even finished his statement, having spied Elizabeth’s guard over his shoulder. “Cody? Is Elizabeth with you?”
“No, but don’t worry. I pulled Vic and waited for him to switch before I left the hospital. I just didn’t want to do this over the phone. I was afraid someone would overhear me.”
“What happened?” Sonny asked as he also got to his feet. “Did Manny do something?”
“I don’t know if Elizabeth saw him, but Manny made a point to walk past her three times today, including just wheeling his cart past a patient room while she was in it. Then two more times while she was at the hub. But then the fourth time—”
“Four times—” Jason flinched. “When did her shift start?”
“At eight. It’s only been four hours.”
“That’s pretty fucking deliberate,” Sonny murmured. “Do you think he made you watching over her?”
“No. I don’t think so,” Cody answered. “Elizabeth knows how this works. She doesn’t make eye contact or even look at me unless she needs me. The reason I came over to tell you is Manny stopped at the hub and talked to her. Talked about missing Skye. He told Elizabeth that he was lucky to be around such beautiful women, inside and out. And that they should be friends. They’d be talking soon.”
“That’s…a pretty clear threat.” Jason frowned. “Why bother warning her?”
“To see what she’ll do,” Sonny said quietly. They all turned to look at him, and Sonny shrugged. “Manny had to know Elizabeth is the reason Skye is gone. He’s not an idiot. Elizabeth put herself in between them, then Skye disappears. Maybe he knows she told you, Jason. Or maybe he thinks Skye told Lorenzo. Either way, if he makes a threat towards her—”
“He thinks she’ll go tell someone.”
Jason took a deep breath. “And if she had come here today to tell me—”
“Manny might think there was a game worth playing. Instead, she might just be a nosy nurse who took away his plaything.”
“Uh, which one do we want it to be?” Cody asked with a frown. “Because both of those sound like bad things.”
“If he thinks Elizabeth mattered to me or even to Alcazar, he’d send us a threat. He’d want us to know. But he hasn’t said anything.” Jason hesitated. This was bad, but he didn’t know exactly how bad it was or if there was something they should do.
“What do you want to do?” Sonny asked Jason.
Surprised by the question, Jason hesitated. “I don’t know, but we need to do something.” He wasn’t interested in giving Manny any more time to focus on Elizabeth. He’d had long enough.
Sonny looked at Cody. “Stick to Elizabeth like glue. Make sure her night guard knows Manny remains a threat. See if there’s an empty apartment on her floor. I’d feel better if we could get closer inside. For now, nothing changes but tell Elizabeth to stay on her guard and keep doing what she’s doing. Don’t piss him off.”
“Yeah, all right.”
When Cody had closed the door, Sonny looked at Jason. “If she weren’t a cop’s wife, I’d tell you to send her away. To get her out of town. If you want to take Manny out, make it clean and untraceable to us.”
“I thought you said it was too high profile—”
“That was before he was making actual threats. If we wait on this, we might not get another chance.” Sonny sat down at the desk. “If Manny just disappeared, no body, I think the PCPD might not even bother. I know I’ve been shit on this, but I agree with you now. We can’t wait to deal with Ruiz anymore.”
Sonny hesitated. “If we wait, Jason, we run the risk of Manny finding out exactly how much Elizabeth Webber matters to you. And I think that’s the absolute last thing anyone wants.”
Jason frowned, looked at him with a shake of his head. “What does that mean?”
“It means that this is exactly the kind of thing a psycho like Manny would enjoy. A cop, his wife, and the mobster who…” Sonny hesitated. “I don’t know what you and Elizabeth are doing these days, but I know that look in your eye. And it’s not friendly.”
“It’s not that simple—”
“Yeah? Sam’s been gone a whole day, hasn’t she? You talked to her?”
Jason pressed lips together. Didn’t answer. But, no, he hadn’t spoken to Sam since she’d left the night before. And she was only in Miami—he could have called to see if her plane had landed, but he hadn’t.
“None of this matters, Sonny—”
“No? You telling me Manny wouldn’t find it entertaining as hell to play with the three of you like a cat hunting mice? You sure he wasn’t following her around before you put a guard on her?”
“I—No, I don’t know for sure.”
“Exactly. Why take a chance? Get rid of him. Make him disappear before he figures out Elizabeth is more than just some annoying nurse who got in his way.”
Miami, Florida: House
Sam had forgotten how much she loved the warmth and humidity of Florida. As soon as she’d arrived in Miami the night before, she’d headed out to the clubs and enjoyed a night out for the first time in months.
It had been years since she’d remembered she was only twenty-six and didn’t have to take life so damn seriously all the damn time.
The next afternoon, as she drove out to meet Paulie Rothstein, one of her dad’s frequent partners, Sam realized she hadn’t heard from Jason since she’d left the penthouse the day before.
It was kind of crazy to take a minute and just think about how much their relationship had fallen apart since Danny’s death five weeks earlier. Before the quarantine at General Hospital, Sam would have said their relationship was as solid as a rock. She’d been confident not only in her future with Jason but in herself.
But what had she actually been so upbeat about? She’d been wandering around Jason’s penthouse for nearly two years, and while it was nice to have access to his bank accounts without a lot of arguments about how she spent his money—Sam wondered if the restless feeling she’d developed in the last month had been inevitable.
Even on Sam’s best jobs, she’d wanted to move on. Shed the old identity, slip into a new life, a new challenge. She’d been bored, and it had taken the destruction of her old life to see just how empty it had been in the first place.
She pulled into the driveway of a mid-sized house and grinned when she saw the older man waiting at the front door.
“Paulie!” Sam called as she stepped out. He ambled down to meet her, and she kissed his cheek. “How long has it been?” He’d been like a second father once upon a time, a big grizzly bear of a man with thick hair he’d let go gray and a full beard to match. Paulie just oozed trust and charm, a skill that Cody and Sam had relied on often.
“Ah, not since your dad loaned you out on that father/daughter gig we pulled in…Seattle?”
“I thought it was Portland.” Sam shrugged and lifted the Coach purse from the passenger seat of her rented sports car. She’d had to stop at a store and stock up on her rich woman wardrobe—she’d discarded a lot of it ages ago when she’d gone after Jax. “All the Pacific Northwest towns feel the same.”
“I was surprised when your dad told me you’d gone off on your own. I thought he’d never let you get too far.” Paulie shook his head as he unlocked the door. “Where’d you end up?”
“I got tired of running the baby game,” Sam admitted. “I know Dad liked it, but…” She grimaced. “It got too hard.” And four abortions by the age of twenty—too risky for her health. Eventually, her luck would have run out.
“Yeah, I did warn Cody he might want to vary that one a bit, but you know your dad always thought he knew best. You probably made a mint at playing the trophy wife.”
“I did, but a lot of it went into Danny’s place in Hawaii.” Sam’s smile slid from her face as Paulie led her into the airy foyer. “You know it’s not cheap out there. I don’t…have to worry about that anymore.”
“I was sorry to hear about that. Danny wasn’t much use to your dad on the road, but he was a sweet kid.” Paulie shook his head. “I still can’t believe you were adopted, Sammy. Your dad never said a word.”
“Yeah, it’s kind of weird. Dad wasn’t one to run a game that needed kids. Not then. You don’t know what he was planning?”
“I think he was thinking about getting set up for a few years, and the single dad trick can give you a bit of comfort. Still, I thought Cody and I were close. Ah, well. I’m glad you decided to get back in the game.” Paulie raised a brow. “You are back, aren’t you?”
“This…” Sam bit her lip. “I promised my fiance this was a one-time thing, Paulie. He’s not a big fan of this.” She looked around at the large home with the acres of sunlight shining through. “It’s not like I can go back to my best tricks. I can’t run the trophy wife anymore.”
“No, I guess not. But real estate is always a solid investment. And I could always use another girl on a regular basis.” Paulie slung his arm around her shoulders. “You had a gift for this life, Sam. It’s a shame to see it go to waste.”
“I’m just visiting the old life,” Sam told him. “I live in the real world now.”
“That’s a shame, but I appreciate you doing me this favor. Let me get you up to speed.”
Lucky & Elizabeth’s Apartment: Living Room
Elizabeth had managed to get out of work by four that day and get home to be with Cameron while Lucky went to a late physical therapy session. She was sure Lucky was just avoiding her as her husband had barely spoken a word to her since he’d shoved her into a wall.
And that suited Elizabeth just fine. She didn’t even know what she’d say to Lucky at this point — she knew she’d lied when talking to Epiphany earlier that day about her bruise.
No, Lucky hadn’t hit her. But he’d shoved her so hard she’d been unable to stop herself from slamming her into the wall.
And every time Elizabeth glanced into the mirror, she saw the bruise. She’d taken the classes about domestic abuse—she knew that’s what had happened. But somehow…
Somehow she was still here. She hadn’t kicked him out. Hadn’t taken her son and left.
She didn’t really know why. She told herself and anyone who asked that things would be okay once Lucky was back at work, but Elizabeth didn’t really know if she believed that. Because, yeah, Lucky would be working again and they’d have more money.
But would that change Lucky’s relationship with Cameron? Could she really let her little boy grow up in a home where he wasn’t loved? Hadn’t that been difficult enough for her?
Elizabeth didn’t want to think about that now. Not on this night when she was alone with her son and could just cuddle on the sofa with him, watch some cartoons, and just enjoy him. She didn’t really get to do that all that often.
She grimaced at the knock on her door, then sighed as she went to answer it. “Don’t worry, buddy. We’ll send whoever it is away and go back to Spiderman,” she promised him.
“Okay, Mommy.” Cameron snuggled into the corner of the sofa more, laying his head down on the pillow, his eyes glued on the television screen.
Elizabeth visibly flinched when she opened the door to find Jason there. “What are—”
“I’m sorry,” Jason said at the same time. She scowled, stepped back away from the door, and grabbed his arm to yank him inside.
“Get in here before the neighbors see you,” she muttered. The last thing she needed was someone mentioning his visit to Lucky. “What are you—”
“I knowed you.” Cameron sat back up on the sofa, rubbed his eyes. “I trew up on you.”
“Uh—” Jason hesitated, then knelt down as the toddler rolled off the sofa and padded over to him. “Yeah, I guess you did. You were pretty sick. I’m surprised you remember me.”
“You didn’t yell,” Cameron said plainly. “Sorry I trew up. I trew up on Mommy, too. All night. And I messed up da bed. But she not yell too.” He looked up at Elizabeth with a bright smile, his tiny baby teeth flashing like pearls. “Mommy nice.”
“Yeah, your mom’s great. Are you feeling better?”
“Lots. Mommy says I need cuddles and juice. I gots both today. We watch Biderman.” He took Jason’s hand and led him over to the sofa. “You like Biderman?”
“Uh, can’t say I’m familiar with it—” But Jason, a bit mystified, sat on the sofa as Cameron climbed up next to him.
“It’s awesome. Biderman, Biderman,” Cameron sang. “Bider can!” He grinned at Jason. “He nice too.”
“It’s Cameron’s favorite cartoon,” Elizabeth said finally as she took a deep breath. She sat on the sofa, pulled Cameron into her lap. “Hey, can you do me a favor, baby? Why don’t you go to your room and pick your absolute three favorite toys to show Jason?”
“Tree?” Cameron repeated. He pursed his lips. “What about five?”
“Five.” Cameron nodded as if it had been agreed to. He slid down from Elizabeth’s lap and ran into his room.
“That’ll take him fifteen minutes, at least. He takes his favorite toys seriously.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “Thank you. Cameron was scared yesterday, and I didn’t realize he’d remember you. But he did. And it’s a good memory now, not a bad one. I—I appreciate it.”
“Yeah, yeah. I’m just glad he’s okay. He looks a lot better.” Jason looked back at her, his eyes narrowed. “What happened?” he asked, gesturing at her face.
“Oh.” She’d forgotten to leave her hair down. She pressed a hand over the tender skin. “It’s so silly—I was so tired yesterday, and I tripped on the rug going into the kitchen.” She stood up and walked away from him, hiding that side of her face. “Why are you here? I mean—”
“I’m sorry. I know you asked me to stay away.” Jason cleared his throat, also got to his feet. “I checked with your night guard, and he said Lucky had left. I’m not using them as a spy—”
“No, I appreciate you making sure he wasn’t home.” Elizabeth crossed her arms. “Is this about Manny?”
“Yeah. Cody came by the warehouse—I mean, you knew that.” A bit flustered, Jason looked away, scratched his temple. “I just—I wanted you to know that Sonny is taking this seriously—I am too, but I already was. But he—” He hesitated. “Manny isn’t going to be a problem much longer.”
“You could have given that message to Cody,” Elizabeth said. She found the courage to meet his eyes. “You could have called. Why are you here?”
“I—” Jason exhaled slowly. “I wanted to apologize. For yesterday. You—you were upset and tired. I took advantage—”
“I was upset and tired,” Elizabeth agreed. She bit her lip. “And man, I’d love to blame it on you. On that. But you didn’t take advantage. I—” She looked away, towards the bedroom door where she could hear Cameron rustling through his toys. “I had a weak moment, Jason. You should be used to them with me.”
“Look, I’m not going to pretend my marriage is…everything it should be. And right now, it’s not good. Okay? I can’t lie about it. And you—I don’t know. You were there, being kind at a moment I needed it, and I just—I lost my mind for a minute.” Her throat tightened. “I can’t afford to be weak, Jason. I have a little boy who depends on me—”
“You’re not weak, Elizabeth. You never were—”
“I wish I could always believe that.” Elizabeth paused. “We’ve been stirring up a lot of old memories, Jason. And I don’t think it’s a leap to say neither of us is happy with our relationships right now. But I married Lucky. I made promises to him. And you made promises to Sam. They both deserve better from us.”
“I know that.”
“If you need to get in touch with me about Manny, you need to call me. Or go through someone else. Cody. Vic, the other guard. Hell, send Sonny. But this needs to be it, Jason. Because I just…” She dipped her head down.
“Okay.” Jason stepped towards her, though, stopping just a few feet from her. “I don’t want you to be unhappy, Elizabeth. I’m sorry if anything I’ve done or said—I just want you to be okay. You and Cameron. So if me staying away is what you need—”
“I’m not even sure what I need,” Elizabeth admitted. She looked up, and their eyes met again for a long moment. “I’m just trying to get through this.”
“Okay,” Jason said again. He nodded. “You know if you ever need anything—”
“Yeah, I know.” She managed a half-smile. “Thanks.”
“Okay, Mr. Jason,” Cameron announced from his doorway. They both turned to look at him as he dragged one of his little yellow storage boxes behind him. “I know Mommy said five, but I counted just like Dora. I got eight.”
Elizabeth laughed, pressing her hands to her face as a few stray tears slid down her cheeks. “Cameron—”
“Eight of your favorite toys?” Jason asked, turning away from Elizabeth. “Let’s see what we got.”
Even though Cameron would have loved to linger over every toy and tell Jason elaborate stories about each and every action figure he’d dragged from his room, Elizabeth kept her eye on the clock. The absolute last thing she needed was Lucky to walk in and find Jason in his living room.
But she didn’t have the heart to hurry Cameron, and Jason didn’t look impatient. Her precious baby didn’t often get this kind of undivided attention from anyone other than Elizabeth or her grandmother. She couldn’t help but wish that Lucky could find it in himself to share this kind of moment with her son.
And wishing even for a minute that Lucky was as good with Cameron as Jason was…that was not the way to get herself together, so finally, after nearly a half-hour, Elizabeth flashed Jason a meaningful look, and he nodded.
“Thanks for showing me all your cool toys,” Jason told Cameron as he handed Cameron the Spiderman figurine. “I had a lot of fun.”
“Me, too.” Cameron offered his new friend a shy smile and climbed into his lap to hug him. “I gots lots more. You come back.”
“We’ll see,” Jason said as Elizabeth visibly relaxed, realizing Jason knew better than to make a firm commitment to a little boy. He hugged Cameron back. “I’m glad you’re feeling better. Have a great time with your mom and Spiderman.”
“Go put away your toys,” Elizabeth told Jason. “Before Daddy gets home.”
“Okay, Mommy.” With a happy smile and a dance in his step, Cameron dragged the yellow box the way he had come.
“You should go, but…thank you. He…he had a lot of fun.”
“He’s a great kid.” Jason turned towards the front door just as they both saw the doorknob twist. Elizabeth’s throat closed tight as Lucky stepped inside the room.
Her husband frowned at first at the sight of Jason, as if not entirely understanding what he was seeing. “What the hell—”
“He came over to check on Cameron,” Elizabeth said quickly. “I told you, Jason drove us home yesterday. He just wanted to make sure Cameron was feeling better.”
Lucky scowled, then glared at Jason. “Get out of my house!”
Jason’s jaw clenched, but he looked at Elizabeth and nodded. “Yeah, no problem.” She relaxed only slightly when she realized he was really going to go without a fight or a scene. Of course, he’d never make things worse for her.
And she couldn’t blame him for still being there—Elizabeth should have sent him on his way a long time ago.
Lucky slammed the door behind Jason as the other man left and spun around to glare at Elizabeth again, his eyes reddened. “What the fuck was he doing here?”
“Keep your voice down,” Elizabeth hissed, keeping her eye on Cameron’s bedroom door, which was wide open. But Cameron remained in his room. She could see his curly head ducking down behind his bed. Her heart broke open. “I told you. He was worried about Cameron—”
“You keep that fucking criminal out of my house and away from my wife—I’m not going to put up with this bullshit—”
“What bullshit?” Elizabeth demanded, forgetting herself. “Someone giving a damn about my son? Yeah, I can see why that would piss you off—”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Later, Elizabeth would wish she could relive this moment and control her damn mouth. But she couldn’t stop herself. “It means that Jason has shown my son more kindness and compassion in the last half hour than you have since the day we moved into together!”
Lucky’s eyes narrowed into slits, and he strode forward to grab her arms. He wrapped his fingers around her forearms. He yanked her forward, then shook her. “Are you fucking him again? Is that what this is?”
“Get your hands off me!” Elizabeth shoved back at him. “Are you insane? No! I told you!”
“Because I’m not going to be humiliated in front of the whole town! Not again!”
“I never humiliated—”
Lucky grabbed her again, and when she tried to push him away again, he twisting her arm behind her back. Elizabeth gasped as pain radiated up to her shoulder.
Oh, God, oh, God—
With a hiss, Lucky released her abruptly, his face pale and his eyes wide. The pupils were so large and black that the blue of his irises was all but gone. He swallowed hard, then looked down at his hands. “What did I just do?” he murmured.
Silent tears rolled down Elizabeth’s face as she stared at her husband, at the boy she’d loved so much and for so long, and wished like hell she had the courage to grab her son and run. Jason probably hadn’t even managed to get to the front door of their building.
But her feet were like concrete as her heart pounded, and her mind screamed at her to move. She couldn’t make this work in her head—she couldn’t understand how this was happening.
Cameron’s plaintive voice from the doorway had both of them turning to look at them. His lower lip stuck out as his voice trembled. “Mommy, can we watch Biderman?”
“Cameron—” Elizabeth’s voice broke.
“I have to go,” Lucky cut in. He shook his head. “I’m sorry. I have to go.” He turned and left the apartment abruptly.
“Mommy.” Cameron slowly crept out of his room. “Did you hurt your arm?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth managed. She closed her eyes, sucked down a hysterical sob. She was this little boy’s world, and she needed to pull herself together. “I’ll be okay, though, baby. Come sit on the sofa, and I’ll go get an ice pack.”
“Okay.” Cameron climbed up, his Spiderman figure clutched in his hand. “I’m sorry you’re hurt.”
“Me, too,” Elizabeth murmured. She disappeared into the kitchen and pressed her head against the wall, trying to get herself under control and stop herself from running like an insane person after Jason.
She knew she’d just have to say the word, and he’d take her someplace safe. He’d pack Cameron and her up and take them someplace Lucky could never find them. She could call him now, and he’d be back before she’d be able to hang up.
But this wasn’t his problem to fix. It was hers. So she took an icepack from the freezer and went to watch cartoons with her son.
She’d fix it tomorrow.
Outside the apartment in the hallway, Lucky sank to the ground, standing at his hands like they didn’t belong to him. He’d put a mark on Elizabeth’s face—that terrible bruise on her delicate skin—and he’d shoved her, twisted her arm—
Lucky squeezed his eyes shut. He was just so angry, so upset that he’d let her down so much. He didn’t know how to stop letting her down, and she had the nerve to throw that criminal in his face like Jason Morgan was so much better than him—
Well, fuck that.
He’d run out of the last refill Santiago had given him. He didn’t have the courage to take the dealer up on his suggestion to buy the heroin, even if the sample taste had done more to eliminate Lucky’s pain that any amount of oxy.
He wasn’t a drug addict. He just needed to get through two more days so he could take the physical on Friday, pass, and go back to work.
He had to get back to work so he could treat Elizabeth the way she deserved it. She was only leaning on Jason Morgan because Lucky wasn’t doing right by her. She was weak like that—but Lucky had to be the strong one.
He took out his phone and slowly dialed Santiago’s number. “Yeah. Yeah, I need more. No—not—just the regular. Yeah, I’ll see you in thirty.”
Lucky closed his eyes, took a deep breath, then forced himself to his feet. Two more days and he could go back to being the one in charge, and Elizabeth would be the sweet girl he knew again.
Just two more days.