Will we burn in heaven
Like we do down here?
Will the change come while we’re waiting?
Everyone is waiting
– Witness, Sarah McLachlan
Friday, April 7, 2006
General Hospital: Emergency Room Trauma Room
Emily rushed into the trauma room, snapping on gloves as paramedics rolled Lucky in. Her best friend was bloody and bruised, his face nearly unrecognizable with cuts and a swollen right eye, and he was writhing on the stretcher, screaming at the top of his lungs—
“We tried to calm him down in the ambulance,” one of the paramedics said with a sigh to Patrick as he handed him a chart. “But he saw his wife get in a car with the guy she’s been having an affair with. It set him off all over again—”
“What?” Emily demanded, her eyes wide. “What the hell—”
And then she heard Lucky’s screams. She heard the words
“Fucking whore! This is her fault! She did this to me! She did this!”
Emily’s head spun as she looked across the stretcher to find Patrick’s blank face, stark-white. He swallowed hard, met Emily’s eyes, then looked at the other attending in the room. He slapped the chart into his chest.
“No way in hell am I treating him.”
Then he stalked out—shoving past Alan, who stumbled back in surprise. When he saw that Monica had arrived, he took off after the neurosurgeon as her mother took the chart from the other attending.
“Emily—” Monica closed her eyes, maybe to block out the word whore as it echoed in the room. “Can you deal with this?”
She took a deep breath. “Yeah. Yeah, I can.”
“Where is she? Where is that cheating bitch? Is her asshole boyfriend with her?”
“Good. Get some goddamn meds and shut him up,” Monica barked to the attending. “I don’t want to hear his voice anymore—”
General Hospital: Emergency Room
The world felt like it was spinning around her. People kept talking to her, walking past her, but Elizabeth just sat on a gurney in the emergency room, holding a bleeding arm in her lap, staring straight ahead at the curtain. Jason paced next to her, glaring out at the emergency room through the cubicle’s drawn curtains again.
“Where the hell are all the doctors?” he muttered.
“With Lucky, I think,” Elizabeth said. She closed her eyes. Her voice didn’t even feel attached to her. Was she floating? What did shock feel like? Her body swayed slightly. “I’m fine—”
“Where the hell is everybody?” Epiphany demanded as she jerked the curtain back. She jabbed her finger at someone. “You! Go drag Junior Drake from wherever he is—I don’t give a flying fuck if a cop is bleeding on the table. One of our own is hurt. She comes first—”
“Epiphany,” Elizabeth said, then shook her head as her supervisor came in. She winced as Epiphany touched her chin, turned it. “He didn’t—”
“You gonna tell me he didn’t hurt you? I watched the tape. I know he hit you, obviously cut you with that knife—” Epiphany glared at Jason. “Why you still standing there? Go find Drake and get him here—”
“I’m here, I’m here,” Patrick muttered as he and Robin arrived, pushing the curtain back. “I’m sorry. I was having a difference of opinion with the Chief of Staff.”
“You’re going to get suspended,” Robin said idly as the neurosurgeon pulled on some gloves.
“Yeah? Won’t even be the first time this year.” Patrick tipped Elizabeth’s head back and shined a light in her eyes. “She’s shocky. Pupils dilated. Pulse is rapid—”
“Jason,” Robin said softly as she eyed the cluster of cops standing on the other side of the emergency room. “Maybe…you should be somewhere else.”
Elizabeth blinked at him. Tried to focus on his face, but it was blurry, and she couldn’t quite manage it. She took a deep breath, realized Robin and Jason had continued speaking while she was…
Trying to float back to reality.
Jason turned and scowled at them. “Why? Because they couldn’t be bothered to help her?”
He shook his head, took Robin’s arm, and walked a few feet from the cubicle. “None of the paramedics even asked her if she was okay. I had to bring her to the hospital.” His blood boiled, remembering the confusion and hurt in her eyes when she’d fallen to the ground and just stayed there. Waiting for the first responders to help her. Men and women who were supposed to be better than him.
“What?” Robin’s scowl matched his as she shot a dark look at them. “Why? Because of the bullshit Lucky is spewing?”
“He’s still—” Jason swore under his breath. “What’s he saying now?”
“That’s why Patrick is in trouble. He got into the room and heard Lucky demanding to know where the cheating bitch and if her asshole boyfriend was with her—” Robin grimaced. “Pretty sure he means you. Patrick listened to exactly one sentence of that and walked out.”
Jason liked Patrick Drake more and more. “So?”
“So, he can’t just refuse to treat a patient,” Robin said with a roll of her eyes. “Even if I kind of want to set him on fire, too. I mean, Jesus…” She looked back at the cops, saw her uncle had joined them. “But I guess they believe him.”
“I don’t know what happened. I never saw Lucky until it was over.”
“I don’t know either. But…” Robin hesitated. “It’s not that…I’m not judging, but if there’s any truth—”
Jason hesitated, and Robin raised her brows. “It’s…complicated,” he muttered.
“Okay—” Robin closed her mouth as her uncle approached them. “Uncle Mac, if you’re here to talk to Liz—”
“Jesse’s going to take her statement. She looked like she was okay at the docks, so we just want to know how Lucky ended up down there—” Mac began.
“Why—” Robin narrowed her eyes. “Why does that matter now? Manny’s dead.”
“Yeah, and that’s what we want to talk to Jason about. Care to answer some questions about what the hell happened?” Mac demanded, turning his attention to Jason.
Jason hesitated. If he’d thought this was about Elizabeth’s kidnapping and cleaning up loose ends, he might have agreed. But clearly, they were focusing on Lucky and the attempted murder of a cop. “Yeah, just let me call Justus—”
“Do you really need your lawyer for this?”
“You know, I hear the first responders didn’t bother to check on Elizabeth or offer medical assistance,” Robin said flatly. “She’s in shock, you know that, right? And she has a head injury. I’d hate the PCPD to get slapped with a civil rights suit.”
“Robin—” Mac sighed, looked back at Jason. “Get your damn lawyer down here. I’ll wait.”
“You’ll wait over there,” Robin snapped, pointing back to the main desk. “And I notice you didn’t deny it. I expected better from you, Uncle Mac.”
“Yeah, well, I expected better from Elizabeth Spencer, so I guess we’re even.”
Mac stalked away as Jason exhaled slowly. “They’re never going to believe this had nothing to do with me,” he murmured.
Robin folded her arms. “No, they probably won’t. I’m sorry. This is probably going to get a lot worse for Elizabeth. Which brings me back to my original point—”
“I should stay away from her,” Jason said. He scrubbed his hands over his face. “Yeah. Yeah, you’re right. She doesn’t need any of this. I don’t want to make it worse.” He looked back at the curtain. “Robin—”
“I’m not going to leave her alone. Emily is in with Lucky, her grandmother is flying in from Memphis as soon as she can get a flight. I have to go in there and talk Patrick into doing his job, but I promise you—” She touched Jason’s arm. “She won’t be alone. And I’m not going to let anyone push her around.”
“Thanks. I’ll go call Justus.”
Robin stepped back behind the curtain to find Patrick carefully placing a butterfly bandage on the cut on her chin. “Jason had to go call his lawyer,” she told Elizabeth. “Mac wants to question him.”
“Great,” Elizabeth murmured. “I’m sure he’s looking forward to that.”
Patrick turned to Epiphany. “I want her overnight for the head wound. We’re going to run an MRI on the head, wrist, and shoulder just to be sure. Get her a room.”
“Patrick—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “You should go take care of Lucky.”
“What? I never said—”
“I know what he said back at the warehouse.” Her head swayed, and she pressed a hand to her forehead. “Is he still calling me a faithless whore?”
“Manny called me that, too.” Elizabeth managed a sour smile. “Funny, isn’t it?”
“Not even a little bit,” Patrick muttered. “Elizabeth—”
“He’s hurt. And you’re a doctor. You should go help him. Don’t get into trouble because of me.”
“All right,” Patrick said carefully. He looked at Robin. “You gonna scrub in with me?”
“No, I’m waiting for Emily to get here. I promised Jason someone would stay with you,” Robin told Elizabeth, who just sighed.
“And that’s why he went somewhere else to call Justus. Because the last place he should be is with me. That’s going to make everything worse.”
Epiphany huffed. “Don’t you worry about any of that right now. Robin, go scrub in with Patrick. I’ll stay—”
“Elizabeth?” Jesse Beaudry appeared in the opening of the curtain. “I need your statement—”
“No,” Patrick said with a glare. “Number one, you don’t come near my patient without a goddamn handwritten engraved invitation. I’m talking calligraphy—”
Robin put a hand on her boyfriend’s arm. “Jesse,” she said to the other man, “we’re admitting Elizabeth to the hospital. Let’s wait until she’s settled and has some time. She’s been through a lot tonight.” She arched one slim brow. “You do remember she’s the victim, right? Not just Lucky?”
Jesse swept his eyes over Elizabeth, then snorted. “Doesn’t look much like a victim to me, but fine, have it your way.”
“What the actual fuck is going on right now?” Patrick demanded as Maxie’s boyfriend sauntered off. “What happened to protect and serve?”
“It’s simple.” Elizabeth laid back against the gurney. “They think I’m having an affair with Jason, and that’s why I got kidnapped. And Lucky—a brother in blue—got hurt because of it. So not only do they not care about what happened to me—I bet some of them think I deserved it.”
Robin pressed her lips together as her eyes burned. The flat affect in Elizabeth’s voice, coupled with the brutal statement, broke her heart. Elizabeth didn’t expect much from anyone at this point. The odds that she’d ever go public with what that brother in blue had done to her sl ipped from unlikely to not a chance in hell.
“Come on,” she told Patrick. “Let’s go. Epiphany will take care of her.”
“And I will slap the silly shit out of anyone else who comes in this room tonight,” Epiphany said with a firm nod. She shoved up the long-sleeved shirt she wore under her scrubs to her elbows. “Just try me.”
Outside the cubicle, Patrick scowled. “I do not want to spend one more minute of my life trying to help that abusive little piece of shit—did you hear her in there—I knew it! I knew I should have told her about the drugs—that’s what he’s on, you know that, right?”
When Robin just shook her head and sighed, Patrick continued. “He’s in withdrawal because Manny probably grabbed him before he could get his next fix, and he’s ready to set everything on fire—”
“I’m telling her—”
“You can’t. She’s a nurse, Patrick. She’ll understand when she does know. And she will find out—these things never stay hidden for long. You shouldn’t have even said that to me right now.”
Robin leaned up and pressed her lips against his. “I love you that you want to do something to help her. But I also heard her tell you not to get in trouble over this. And she’s had enough of people not respecting her tonight.”
“Damn it. Damn it. That’s a good point.” Patrick was still scowling as they made their way over towards the trauma room. “You’re a pain in the ass sometimes.”
“Part of my charm.”
General Hospital: Hospital Room
It was another thirty minutes before Elizabeth was admitted to one of the general wards. Bobbie had stopped by for a few minutes to let her know that Carly was keeping Cameron overnight and that Elizabeth shouldn’t worry. Cameron was ridiculously excited to have a sleepover with his new best friend, who happened to have a playroom bigger than Elizabeth’s entire apartment.
Then Emily had finally been able to leave Lucky when he went into surgery and come up to sit with Elizabeth. She’d stayed by Elizabeth’s side as Epiphany wheeled her upstairs into her own room, sending glares to anyone who even attempted to talk to Elizabeth.
While she and Emily hadn’t really spoken the last days, Elizabeth was grateful for her presence. They hadn’t even spoken a word about the fight they’d been having—Emily just planted herself at Elizabeth’s bedside and refused to leave.
Then Jesse Beaudry showed up to take Elizabeth’s statement.
Emily let Lucky’s partner in and just glared when Jesse suggested she leave the room. “Not a chance in hell.”
“Okay,” Jesse drawled. He set himself at the end of Elizabeth’s hospital bed, standing with his feet slightly apart. He nodded at the brace around her wrist. “I didn’t think you were hurt.”
Elizabeth blinked, then looked down at her wrist. “Oh. I strained it. I—” She grimaced. “I’m not sure when. I think when Manny dragged me…” She exhaled slowly. “But yeah, it’s a strain.”
“Why did Manny kidnap Lucky, too?” Jesse asked. “Did you know Manny was targeting him?”
Elizabeth turned her face away from him. “Not until he dragged me into the room. Manny said…” She swallowed hard. She didn’t think they’d believe her about the bruises. Not now, when she was covered in them thanks to Manny Ruiz. “Manny said he’d seen me fight with Lucky.”
“Uh-huh. You weren’t at your apartment last night? Manny knew you were in a different car, so he followed you to work, didn’t he?”
“I stayed at my grandmother’s house—”
“How is any of this relevant?” Emily demanded. “Manny kidnapped her, then took Lucky. He’s dead now. You can thank my brother any time—”
“It’s important we understand the details. You don’t want Jason to be arrested for murder, do you?” Jesse sneered.
At that, Elizabeth turned back abruptly at the smug cop. “What? Why?”
“Manny was unarmed when we found him. Jason shot him in cold blood.” Jesse shrugged. “You’d already escaped from him—How can he argue defense of others?”
“This is bullshit—” Emily scowled.
Elizabeth struggled to breathe as her heart began to race. “Manny came after me. He followed me. He kidnapped me. He tried to kill my guard—”
“Yeah, how do you explain a cop’s wife being followed around by one of Jason’s goons? Manny came after you. Why?”
She closed her eyes. “I told you. He kidnapped me last fall. I filed a report. He…he told me he was obsessed with me.”
“Really? Because he also stalked Sam McCall. Jason Morgan’s fiancée Are you sure it was you that caught his attraction and not…” Jesse sneered. “Your connection to the local mob element?”
“Okay, that is absolutely it. You are done here.” Emily strode forward and yanked open the hospital door. “Get out—”
“It wasn’t about them,” Elizabeth tried to explain even though she knew he wouldn’t listen to her. “It was me. Manny got a job here because of me.”
“Sure. You and Jason Morgan used to date, didn’t you?” Jesse glanced down at his notebook. “I asked around, and you’ve been off and on for the last seven years, going back to when you were eighteen—how long have you been on again?”
Elizabeth felt a sob bubble up in her throat. “We’re not—”
“Get out,” Emily repeated. “Get out, or I’ll have hospital security remove you.” She stepped up to Jesse, who rolled his eyes. “How dare you come into this room and use this moment to go after my brother—Elizabeth was kidnapped! She has a concussion, a strained wrist, and shoulder—she was threatened with rape and torture at knifepoint, watched her husband be beaten in front of her and you’re in here—”
“Her husband was beaten in front of her because she got herself mixed up with criminals,” Jesse retorted, but Emily had already stopped listening. She stalked out into the hallway. Jesse turned back to Elizabeth.
“I don’t care if Lucky’s been in a bad mood lately,” Jesse snapped. “He deserved more loyalty from you. Even if you weren’t screwing Jason Morgan, you were clearly up to something with him. Why else would Manny Ruiz give a damn about you?”
“Get out of this room right now,” Alan Quartermaine thundered as he stormed into the room, Emily hot on his heels. “And don’t come near this patient again!”
“She’s a witness—”
“She’s the victim, you son of a bitch!” Emily tried to push past her father, but Alan held her back. “What the hell is this?”
“Get out,” the chief of staff ordered again. “You’ll be hearing from the hospital’s attorney. Don’t come in here again.”
“I’ll be in touch—”
“You’ll be in touch with her lawyer!” Emily retorted. “Justus Ward, the family attorney—”
“Yeah, I know him. He’s downstairs defending Morgan from another murder charge.” Jesse shook his head as if he were disappointed in them all. “Man. This town has its priorities screwed up.”
He left, and Alan went after him to make sure he got on the elevator. Emily turned back to Elizabeth, who was silently crying in the bed.
“Don’t listen to him—none of this is your fault—”
“Manny kidnapped Lucky because of me—”
“Because he was insane—” Emily shook her head, took Elizabeth’s hand. “None of this is your fault. And I’m not going to let anyone tell you it was. Lucky will understand that when he wakes up.” She hesitated. “When he calms down. He’s just hurt right now. And Jason isn’t going to jail. Justus won’t let that happen.”
“I just want this to be over. I just want it to be done.” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Why can’t it just stop?”
“It will. I’ll go get your doctor. I’ll find Robin. You need to sleep. You need to rest.” Emily rushed out to find someone. Within ten minutes, she’d located her mother, who prescribed sedation for Elizabeth without argument.
As Monica and Emily watched Elizabeth slip into sleep, Emily squared her shoulders and looked at her mother. “I’m gonna go check on Jason. He should know what the cops are doing to Elizabeth. I also want to make sure Justus will represent her.”
“I’ll wait here with her until someone else comes to sit with her,” Monica promised.
General Hospital: Conference Room
Jason had been interrogated maybe a hundred times in the last ten years and was generally pretty good at keeping himself under control. He let Justus deal with most of the questions initially, ferreting out what Justus thought was okay to answer.
No, he had no evidence that Manny was actually targeting Elizabeth. That’s why he didn’t go to the cops. No, Jason didn’t know why Manny had kidnapped and beaten a cop. No, Jason didn’t know Manny was unarmed when he shot him.
Jason thought the conversation was nearing the end when Mac introduced a new topic — one he’d never thought Robin’s uncle would actually bring up.
“And how long have you and Elizabeth Spencer been sleeping together?”
Justus put up a hand to ward off Jason’s immediate response. “We’re not commenting on gossip.”
“It’s not gossip,” Mac said blandly. He looked at Jason. “Before Lucky Spencer went into surgery, he claimed that Manny Ruiz told him he’d followed Elizabeth to see you several times. Apparently, Elizabeth didn’t deny it when Manny confronted her. Then Manny also told Lucky had he’d been kidnapped and beaten to get him out of the way.” He paused.
Jason squinted and looked at Justus. “What—” Jason broke off. “I don’t understand.”
“I do,” Justus said, grimly. “You’re suggesting that Jason was working with Manny somehow to get Spencer out of the way so he could have his wife, and what, Manny Ruiz went rogue?”
“That’s the story Spencer is telling—”
Jason pressed his lips together, shook his head. Justus sighed, looked at Jason, then looked back at Mac. “Give us the room for a minute. I want to talk to my client.”
Jason scowled as Mac left. “There’s nothing to talk about. It’s crap—”
“Of course it is. But you shot an unarmed man, and if Lucky Spencer sticks to this story, it’s going to create some serious shit for you. And for Elizabeth.” Justus hesitated. “Is that what you want?”
“No. I don’t care about me. But Elizabeth—” Jason sighed. “What do you want me to do?”
“You need to talk to this man about your relationship. You also need to give him something he can work with. You know Mac. He’s not a bad guy. But he’s a guy that has a cop who’s hurt and blaming the local mob. A lot of his guys are not making this easy on him. They stick together, and you don’t want them thinking Elizabeth is the enemy.”
“Fine.” Jason scowled. “Bring him back in.”
When Mac sat back down, Jason told him, “I’m only going to say this once. Elizabeth and I have been friends for years. We are not sleeping together.” That much, at least he could say without lying. “We’ve never slept together—”
Mac hesitated, looked at Justus. “Is—But everyone knows—”
“Everyone knows what they think they know. I asked her for a favor a few weeks ago, and then my sister…” He sighed. “Emily and Sonny were in the tabloids—it got complicated. We talked a few times about that. And then Elizabeth noticed that Skye was being followed by Manny.”
“Skye,” Mac repeated.
“She told Lucky who said the PCPD couldn’t do anything. And she was worried. So…” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “She asked me to look out for Skye. Elizabeth cares about other people. She didn’t want Skye to get hurt. Eventually, I told Alcazar, and Skye went to Miami. That’s it. That’s what Manny thinks he saw.”
“Lucky seemed pretty convinced,” Mac said, but he was hesitating. “Why do you think he’d believe—”
“You’ll have to ask him that. Manny called me tonight because I’m on Elizabeth’s speed dial. She put me on there last night when Manny went missing. I was worried. I put guards on her because I wanted her to be safe. We’re friends,” Jason stressed.
“And the PCPD wouldn’t have had any reason to suspect Manny at that time,” Justus reminded Mac. “You couldn’t have spared the resources. As to the reason Detective Spencer was kidnapped, you might want to wait for Elizabeth’s statement as she was in the room—”
“Oh, Elizabeth isn’t giving any more damn statements,” Emily said as she stood in the open doorway of the conference room. “And you keep your asshole cops away from her from now on.”
“Emily—” Mac said, getting to his feet. “What are you—”
“My best friend has been terrorized and traumatized enough by one psycho. The next time the PCPD wants to talk to her, they can ask Justus. Or any other lawyer I find for her. Because this—”
“Emily, what happened?” Jason asked, worried. “Is Elizabeth okay?”
“Oh you mean, is she okay after Jesse accused her of having an affair and told her this was her fault—if she’d stayed away from my brother, she might not have been kidnapped? Blaming everything on her?”
Mac muttered under his breath as Justus scowled, and Jason’s jaw clenched. “You know, it’s one thing for you to come after Jason with a bullshit charge,” Justus began as he clipped his briefcase closed. “But a terrorized victim barely an hour after she escaped a man who kidnapped her and threatened to rape and torture her? That’s low. Even for the PCPD—”
“That was not what was—” Mac closed his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he said finally. “He shouldn’t have asked it that way—”
“What does that mean?” Emily demanded, incensed beyond practicality now.
“Look, I like Elizabeth. I always have. But let’s not pretend that she doesn’t share at least a portion of the blame here—”
Jason growled and took a step forward. Justus shoved him back. “Don’t make this worse, Jason,” he hissed.
“Worse?” Jason repeated. “How can I make this worse? Are you listening to this? No one gives a damn about what happened to Elizabeth—”
“I can’t even find out what happened to her,” Mac said, throwing up his hands.
“All you had to do was ask her,” Justus said. “But don’t worry. You can ask her when hell freezes over. My clients are finished speaking with you. You want to talk to them again, you bring an arrest warrant.” He glared at the commissioner. “You have daughters. Would you want them treated this way? Would you want Robin to be treated this way?”
Mac exhaled slowly. “I’ll talk to my men,” he said after a long moment. He looked at Emily. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m not the one you should apologize to.” She stepped aside. “Get out of this hospital, or I’ll have my father escort you out the way he did Jesse.”
“I’ll be in touch,” Mac told Justus, then left.
Emily collapsed into a chair, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Why are they doing this? They’re supposed to be the good guys!”
Jason just shook his head. “I’m sorry, Emily—”
“And Elizabeth—God, she was expecting it. She knew it was coming, but it didn’t make it any less—” Emily scrubbed her hands over her face. “I never thought I’d say this, but I miss Taggert.”
Justus snorted. “Taggert hated Jason—”
“But he didn’t hate Elizabeth,” Jason said quietly. “He never would have treated her this way. And he would have kicked anyone else’s ass who tried it.” He scrubbed his hands over his face. He’d tried to be open, tried to avoid it, but this was a disaster spiraling out of control.
“Jason, you need to stay away from Elizabeth until this blows over,” Justus told him. “Let me handle any communication—”
Jason scowled, letting his hands fall back to his sides. “That’s not fair—”
“It’s what she needs right now,” Emily told him. “She’s exhausted. And she just wants this to be over. We need to make it over. Whatever it takes.”
“I’ll make some phone calls, but you should brace yourself for the morning papers.” Justus offered Emily a grim smile. “Because what’s about to happen will be much worse than your little scandal.”
General Hospital: Elizabeth’s Room
Elizabeth blinked, blearily, trying to adjust her vision to the darkened hospital room. As she turned her head, the events of the last day came back to her—from her mad dash to her grandmother’s, to taking photos of her injuries…
To the kidnapping. To the aftermath.
To the questioning.
She blinked again as a light switched on near her bed. “Patrick—” she licked her dry lips. “What are you doing here?”
“We’re taking shifts,” Patrick said as he stifled a yawn. “Emily didn’t want you left alone in case the PCPD came back. Justus left his card. Don’t talk to them without him. They’ve got some bullshit story about Jason going after Lucky and using Manny—” He shook his head. “Never mind. We can talk about that tomorrow—”
“What—” Elizabeth winced as she tried to sit back. Patrick reached for the bed remote and gently raised the bed. “That’s crazy. Manny kidnapped Lucky because of me. Because he thought Lucky had…” She trailed off. Looked at Patrick, then swallowed. “Because he thought Lucky left the bruise on my face.”
“But you didn’t tell them that,” Patrick said after a long moment.
“I didn’t think they’d believe me, and after all of this…” She closed her eyes. “I know they wouldn’t. They blame me.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t think it’s going to get better once they find out…” Patrick hesitated. “Whatever Manny did to Lucky’s back—”
“He stomped on him. Repeatedly. Ground his heel into his spine.” Her stomach rolled just at the memory of it. “Oh, God, if you’re here, then his surgery is done.”
“It is. Lucky has an incomplete injury of the lumbar—” He sighed. “The technical stuff doesn’t matter. Basically, Manny aggravated the injury from the car accident—the same discs that were originally injured in November. I’m sorry. It’s bad.”
“No. He’ll need another surgery, and he’ll be able to walk okay. But there’s no way I’ll ever be able to clear him for active duty again. He’s finished as a cop, Elizabeth.”
“Oh.” She leaned back and looked at the shadows on the ceiling. “Does he know?”
“No. He’s still out from the surgery. Elizabeth, this isn’t your fault—”
“Yes, it is,” she insisted. “I shouldn’t have made Lucky so angry. He asked me to stay from Jason, and I didn’t—I thought I had a good reason—”
“You did. Manny was stalking people, and a danger to everyone—” Patrick leaned forward. “And that’s bullshit that you made him angry. Lucky took a swing at me at one of our appointments. He’s an angry, violent man.” He pressed his lips together and shook his head. “You are not responsible for what he does—”
“Yes, I am. If I just—” She turned her face away. “If I could just love him better, if I were a better wife—”
“Elizabeth.” Patrick sighed, dipped his head. “I am so not equipped for this bullshit,” he muttered to himself. “Look at me.”
She turned back to him, her eyes damp with tears. “It’s my fault.”
“Because you made Lucky angry,” Patrick said. When she nodded, he shook his head. “No. A man doesn’t hit a woman. Full stop. End of story. I don’t care if he walked into the apartment and found you in the middle of a gang bang with the Five Families, he doesn’t get to put his hands on you.”
His scowl deepened. “I don’t care what bullshit excuse he gives you. I don’t care how much pain he’s in or how he’s managing it. You don’t take it out on the person you promised to love. End of story,” he repeated.
“I—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I know you’re right. You are right,” she repeated. “I think—” She sighed. “I feel guilty.”
“Because I did…I didn’t sleep with Jason. We’re not—that’s not what happened.” She met his eyes. “But it still felt wrong. I think…I don’t know. I feel like I cheated on Lucky. Jason and I—we just talked about—about before. When we were together. And it just—we never told—”
She squeezed her eyes shut. “I never knew he loved me then. And it shouldn’t matter. But it does. And I hate myself. I blame myself.”
“Why is it always me?” he asked the ceiling. Patrick rubbed the side of his face. “Promise me you’ll get some rest tonight. I’ll give you something to sleep, okay? Just—this is all really fresh for you. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But you just—I don’t care what the hell is going on with you and Jason, Lucky Spencer does not get to use that as an excuse to hurt you.”
Elizabeth released a shaky sigh. “No, I know that. I just…I can’t explain it.”
“Then don’t. We’ll talk tomorrow. Everything can wait that long. And I’ll find you someone who does not suck at this.” Patrick leaned over to do something with her IV.
“You’re not so terrible,” she murmured even as the world fell away again.