Chapter Twenty-One

This entry is part 22 of 33 in the series For the Broken Girl: Reflections of You

If we both were born
In another place and time
This moment might be ending in a kiss
But there you are with yours
And here I am with mine
So I guess we’ll just be leaving it at this
I honestly love you.
I Honestly Love You, Olivia Newton-John


Monday, April 10, 2006

General Hospital: Lucky’s Hospital Room

Luke Spencer was not a good man. He’d never lied to himself on that account. He’d never pretended to be anything except a son of a bitch who’d managed to strike gold for a bit.

For a brief moment, for a handful of years, he’d played patriarch to a perfect family. He’d been married to the best woman God had ever created, and she’d seen fit to give him two children who had been perfect in every sense of the word.

No piece of that life had survived to this moment. His angel, his beloved Laura, was locked inside her own brain, unlikely to ever come back to him, and his children were strangers to him. He’d never been much of a father to Lulu—she’d always belonged to her mother—but oh, his boy—his son—had been someone Luke had been proud to know.

That pride was hard to remember now as Luke walked through the door to find his sullen son lying on his back, his eyes staring at the ceiling. This man was a pale shadow of the boy he’d been, and Luke wondered if maybe this was all just a fool’s errand.

But he’d already done the hardest part and convinced the second-best woman who had ever been put on the Earth to give his son another chance. Luke took the seat next to Lucky and cleared his throat.

“Well, this is a real mess you got yourself in, Cowboy.”

“I don’t want to talk to anyone,” Lucky muttered. He turned his head to the other side, to stare at the blank wall.

“That’s too damn bad because I got things to say. It’s a shame that you can’t have the life you thought you would. I never…I never really understood the cop thing, but you wanted it, and I decided to just try my best to support you. I’m sorry it can’t happen.”

Lucky remained silent, so Luke trudged on. “I decided to do a little damage control for you, Cowboy, because you’d made a mess of things with the pieces you still have left. I went to your place and found Elizabeth packing her things, ready to go.”

“Probably going to Jason,” Lucky muttered.

“Well, I don’t know where she was planning to go, but judging by the bruise on her face, she had her reasons.”

Lucky twisted his head then, his bloodshot eyes narrowed on his father. “Did she tell you?”

“She didn’t have to tell me. Your aunt did. She told me about your fight on Friday. And I saw the bruise today.”

“I didn’t—” Lucky’s voice faltered. “It was an accident.”

“And her shoulder?”

A flush rose on Lucky’s cheeks as he looked away. “That, too.”

“Any other accidents you want to tell me about?” Luke asked sharply. “I didn’t raise you to put your hands on women—”

You’re gonna lecture me about violence against women?” Lucky snorted. “Don’t bother, Dad. I guess I’m not much better than you.”

“You were supposed to be. But maybe there’s no point.” Luke’s shoulders slumped. “Maybe there is something rotten in us. I tell myself I never raised my hand to your mother in anger, but it’s a lie, isn’t it?”

Lucky said nothing, so Luke continued.

“That night—that night, I didn’t care about her. I only took what I wanted. It was a moment of insanity, of desperation, and yes, violence. I struck out at the woman I said I loved, and I hurt her. I can tell myself it wasn’t anger towards her, but maybe it was. Maybe I thought she should have given me some attention.” He paused. “I never forgave myself for that.”

“Didn’t bother you when you married her. Had kids with her—”

“I was raised in a world where men took charge, and women listened. I was raised by a man who claimed to love my mother, too. But when he was angry, she saw the back of his hand more than anyone else.” Luke’s chest tightened as he thought of his beloved mother, gone more than forty years. “Eventually, he killed her. He shoved her so hard that her head hit the table.”

Luke closed his eyes. Even after all these years, he could still see it. “She died instantly, Cowboy. From one angry shove.”

Lucky swallowed hard. “I—”

“In a lot of ways, I think my mother was already gone. He stole years of happiness from her every time he smacked her across the face. Every time he took his bad day or bad luck out on her body.”

Lucky hesitated, flicked his eyes to meet his father’s. “I didn’t know that.”

Luke shook his head. “My father beat my mother every day, and I hated him for it.” His voice trembled as he finally admitted the dark truth. “And I hated her sometimes for not leaving. How could a woman stay after that? And how can a man say he loves a woman and do that to her? It wasn’t until I was older, until after…that terrible night, when I looked at your mother, saw the damage and the terror—” He stared down at his hands. “It scared me.”

“I didn’t mean to do it.” Lucky closed his eyes. “I was just… I was so angry. Jason—Fucking Jason Morgan bought Cameron medicine that I knew we couldn’t afford, and I just—I couldn’t stand it. I started to get rid of it, and Elizabeth tried to stop me—” His voice wavered. “I told her I was sorry. She stayed, Dad. She forgave me.”

“And then?”

“And then…I grabbed her. I pushed her.” The muscles in Lucky’s throat worked hard as he struggled to speak. “I kept telling myself to stop, but I couldn’t. And then she went to Jason. She’s been having an affair with him, Dad. She’s lying to me—”

“Even if that is true,” Luke said gently, “what gives you the right to put your hands on her? To bruise her? Leave a mark?”

“N-Nothing. I know that. I always know it after it happens, I just get so mad—and then she’s just standing there, and I know she wishes I were him—”

“If she wanted Jason Morgan, I guarantee you, Cowboy, Elizabeth could have him. She’s always stayed with you.”

“But Manny—she went to him about Manny—” He stopped, took a deep breath. “That’s not right. She came to me first. And I pushed her away. I told her we couldn’t do anything.”

“And Elizabeth Webber never takes no for an answer. She wanted to protect Skye. And she needed to protect herself. Do you blame her for doing whatever she had to do? I would have gone to Corinthos and Morgan myself if I needed protection for my family.”

“It doesn’t matter. I lost control. I said things—did things—I can’t take them back.” Lucky shook his head. “It’s over. I can’t fix it—”

“I talked to Elizabeth, and God love her, she’s not ready to give up on you yet.”

“She…” Lucky’s eyes were damp. “She didn’t—but you said she was packing—”

“I reminded her of what the two of you have, and that it’s worth fighting for. I know you, Cowboy. And so does she. She knows this isn’t you. She’s always loved you, and she’s willing to give you another chance.” He hesitated. “She has some conditions, I’m sure, and she’ll talk to you soon enough. But I got my own terms if you want my support.”

“What conditions—”

“You stop throwing tantrums about Cameron playing with Morgan. That’s Bobbie’s grandson, and apparently, our Cam has taken a shine to him. Elizabeth is not giving up something that makes her boy happy, and you don’t get to hurt my sister over this Jason crap.”

“Fine. I-I can do that—”

“If you lay one more hand on her, I’ll help her pack. You get me, boy? If you touch her again, I’ll lay you out flat.” Luke shook his head. “That’s it. Those are the only things I wanted to make clear to you. You give her whatever she wants, Lucky. Because if Elizabeth walks this time, you’re not getting another chance.”

“Okay.” Lucky took a deep breath. “I can do this, Dad. I can—I can do this. If Elizabeth…if she’ll forgive me, and stay away from Jason, I can be better.”

Luke searched his son’s face, had hoped to see more resolution, more determination. And maybe a bit more shame. But whatever he’d wanted to see, it wasn’t there.

Luke nodded, then got to his feet. “We’ll see what we see then.”

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Elizabeth gingerly stepped into the small courtyard, Cameron’s hand clutched in hers. She avoided the curious stares from two of the tables seated, enjoying the unseasonably warm early spring weather.

“Aunt Em!” Cameron let his fingers slide from hers as he toddled over to her best friend, seated at the third table. Emily stood up and swept the little boy into her arms, pressing kisses to his face. Cameron giggled and blew raspberries at her.

“It’s good to see you out.” Emily flashed a hesitant smile and embraced Elizabeth lightly before helping Cameron into his booster seat. “How…how are you? Since, um…”

“Since you dropped me off yesterday,” Elizabeth said. She unwrapped the bundle of utensils from its napkin so that her hands would have something to do. “I’m okay. Um, better than I thought I’d be, to be honest.”

“Good. Good. I’m glad to hear that. I, uh…” Emily picked up her iced tea, sipped it. “I haven’t known what to say to you. I mean, I feel like I knew on Friday. I had my head together, and I had one goal—to protect you. Keep the idiots away.”

“I know. And I appreciate that.” Elizabeth squeezed Emily’s hand. “I don’t know if I could have gotten through it without you.”

“I think I thought people were just…upset. I mean, it was fresh. With some time and space everyone would just…stop being stupid. They would just stop saying things, and Lucky would wake up yesterday and realize how insane he sounded…” Emily shook her head, her dark eyes worried. “But that didn’t happen. And I don’t know how to fix any of this.”

“There’s nothing for you to fix,” Elizabeth said gently. She handed Cameron a toy to occupy them as they waited for a waitress. “This is my problem—”

“Yeah, but I should be able to do something—”

“Emily—”

“And I think some of this has to be my fault. Like, is it because I said all that terrible stuff about Jason and you? Is that why Lucky is like this? Why was he saying all of those things—”

“I think,” Elizabeth said slowly, “there are a few reasons why Lucky…why he said those things. You told me that no one ever believed Jason and I hadn’t been together that Christmas. That Lucky thought I was lying.”

“Yeah, I mean—” Emily squinted. “Wait. Wait.” She shook her head. “You…you really weren’t together? I mean, I just—I know what you guys said, but I saw the way you looked at each other, and talked about each other—”

“Emily, I would have told you.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Oh, God, is that why you and Nikolas were so annoying that spring Jason was in town? Because you thought—” She shook her head. “It explains why Lucky was so…angry then. He thought I was lying about my first—” She chewed her on her bottom lip. “Emily, Jason and I—it’s never been like that. We’ve never—I mean—God, this is so stupid—”

“You don’t have to explain yourself—”

“No, I don’t, but when I don’t, people just make up their own versions,” Elizabeth muttered. She shredded the napkin into pieces. “Look, yes, maybe what happened with you and Jason—I don’t know—it was part of it. Because I felt bad for you and for him, so I decided to talk to him about it, and he was….” She sighed. “Obsessed with making sure I knew he hadn’t been with Courtney back then.”

“I’m sorry—”

“But it’s not your fault, because that should have taken exactly one conversation. It’s just—Jason and I were already talking about things we shouldn’t be. I had already asked him for help with Manny. Lucky and I were having other issues—” Elizabeth hesitated. “I’m not having an affair with your brother, Emily. Not…like that.”

Emily looked away for a long moment, then looked back at her. “There are a lot of ways to have an affair, Elizabeth. And sleeping together is just one of them.”

Elizabeth pressed her lips together, then reluctantly nodded. Because pretending had created this problem in the first place. “ Yeah. Yeah, I know. Jason and I crossed a line. One we never would have if we’d—if other things were okay. Sam’s dealing with some stuff—clearly. And I told you—Lucky and I are not…we’re—Jason and I just…got…distracted talking about what happened. A-and…” Nervous, she tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “We said things we shouldn’t have.”

It’s not past tense for me.

“You know, Lucky and I have been friends almost since the day I moved here,” Emily said softly. “But I love you, and you can trust me.”

“There’s…nothing to say. I’m married. And I made vows. I have—need—to make sure I do right by them. Lucky’s been through a lot. Luke said—and I agreed—that me leaving him right now would only make things worse.”

Emily’s brow furrowed. “I don’t understand. Do you…want to stay with Lucky? Because if you don’t, I’d understand. The people who matter would understand—” She shook her head. “You’re feeling guilty about whatever happened with Jason. Don’t let that push you into doing things you don’t want to—”

“I—” Elizabeth blinked. She hadn’t expected that. “Emily—”

“You blame yourself for Lucky’s injuries, but Manny’s the one to blame. And I know Lucky has been a jerk to you lately. I wasn’t that distracted by Sonny that I didn’t see it, you know? Don’t let Luke talk you into saving Lucky. Not again—”

“It’s not—”

“I think my brother is in love with you,” Emily said bluntly. “I watched him while you were missing, after you were safe—I’ve seen him a few times since—and I’m pretty sure that you’d just have to crook your finger—”

“Emily—” She really didn’t need this.

“If you’re staying with Lucky because you feel sorry for what happened to him, because you pity him, or maybe you still think you owe him for what happened after you were…hurt, then you’re not doing anyone any favors. Stay with Lucky because you love him. Because you still see a future together—”

“I can’t be the reason he falls apart. He’s lost his career, Emily. For months, he’s had one goal—get back to active duty. And now he can’t have that. How do I walk away from him when he’s this low?” Elizabeth shook her head. “Even after everything—”

She took a deep breath. “For better or for worse. This is worse. Marriage means something to me. Marriage to Lucky was all I ever wanted—” She closed her eyes. “I can’t stop. Why can’t I stop lying—”

Emily frowned. “Elizabeth—”

“Even now, I can hear myself saying all the same things I’ve always said. Marriage is what I wanted. A future with Lucky is what I wanted.” She met her friend’s eyes. “I don’t want them anymore.”

“Then what do you want? Why are you staying?”

“I just want—” Elizabeth sighed. “I don’t know. I wish I did. I just know—I know that leaving now would be a mistake. Luke is right. Lucky has lost everything. What happens if I leave—”

“Why is that your problem?” Emily demanded.

“Because of what we meant to each other. Because he never would have given up on me—”

“Yeah, he would have. The boy might not have, Elizabeth, but this man? He’s already given up on you. And your life together.” Emily pressed her lips together. “Are you afraid of what would happen if you left?”

Elizabeth frowned. “What—what do you mean?”

“I mean, the way everyone would look at you. The way the papers talk about you—or maybe it’s not that complicated. You’d rather stay with a man who makes you miserable than make the slightest attempt to be happy with someone else.”

“Emily—” Her voice broke. “It’s—” She looked away. She busied herself wiping up Cameron’s face as he dissected the burger they’d ordered for him. He was covered in ketchup. He grinned at her, and she managed a laugh at the smears on his face.

“Sonny was a mistake,” Emily said softly. Elizabeth looked over at her. “You were right, of course. And so was Jason. I handled it badly. I was so sure you would support me, so sure that Jason would stand with me—but I never gave either of you a chance. I think I knew it was doomed. I think I saw it from the start. But I had to make the mistake. I had to find out for sure.”

“Em—”

“So you need to make this mistake. You need to see that what you’re fighting so hard for isn’t worth winning. I just—I don’t know why you can’t fight as hard for Jason.”

It wasn’t a terrible question. She knew Jason cared about her—he might even think he was in love with her but—

“Right now, he feels guilty. He feels guilty about hurting me four years ago. About hurting Sam. About what happened to Manny.” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “When the smoke settles, we’ll just have the same fights over again. He won’t trust me to take the risks I need to take to be in his life. And I’ll just get angry all over again and leave. Because…”

She hesitated. “Because I don’t trust that he loves me. And he’s never given me a reason to believe he does. He never gave me the words, but I should have been able to feel it. And I didn’t.”

“Elizabeth—”

“It’s simple to say we failed because of what happened with Sonny. Or because of what happened with Zander. Those things are easy to blame. But the truth is, he didn’t love me enough to take the risk. Or trust me enough to know that I understood the risk.” She looked down, started to cut her salad into small pieces, avoiding Emily’s gaze. “So no, Emily. I don’t fight as hard for Jason. Because he never loved me. And I don’t believe he does now.”

“And you think Lucky does?”

“I think…” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “I think he needs me.”

“Well, what I think is this—all of that crap you just said about Jason is just that—bullshit. I think you are very good at rationalizing and explaining the simple fact that you’re afraid.” Emily shook her head. “Look at me, Elizabeth. Look me in the eyes and tell me again that you don’t think my brother is in love with you.”

“I—” Elizabeth drew in a sharp breath. She made eye contact. “Emily—”

“You’re afraid to reach out because my brother hasn’t always been the best at reaching back. But don’t tell me he doesn’t love you. You know what the problem is, Elizabeth?”

“Emily—”

“You think love is measured by the people who stay.”

Elizabeth’s chest suddenly tightened, and she gulped down a sob. “Emily—”

“And, sure, Lucky needs you right now. He’s always needed you. He needed you to get him through what happened with his family back in the beginning. He needed you to get through the brainwashing. To get through the injuries. He needed you, Elizabeth. And some of the time, he loved you.”

Elizabeth looked down at her plate. Closed her eyes. “But not now.”

“No. Not now. He needs you, Elizabeth. But he’s not staying because he wants to.”

“He’s staying because he has nowhere to go,” Elizabeth murmured. She looked at Emily. “Yeah, I know—”

“I thought Zander needed me. I thought that was why I should stay with him even when I didn’t love him anymore. I thought what he needed was more important. I just made myself—and him—miserable.” Emily sat back in her chair. “Don’t you think you deserve better?”

“I think…” Elizabeth sighed.

“Mommy? You crying?” Cameron furrowed his brow. “I hug you?”

“I’m okay, sweetie,” Elizabeth told him. “Finish your food, and we’ll go play in the park, okay?”

“Okay.”

“I don’t want to upset you, Elizabeth. I’m sorry—”

“You’re not wrong, Emily. About any of it. Maybe—” Elizabeth sighed. “I don’t know. I don’t know what I want. I know that I’m not being fair to anyone. To me, to Lucky…”

“To Jason?” Emily continued. Elizabeth just sighed again. “Does he know you’re staying?”

If you ask me, I’ll tell you.

I won’t ask you tonight…

Elizabeth sighed. “No.”

Are you still staying?”

Elizabeth waited a long moment, tried to gather her thoughts. Her confidence had been shaken by Bobbie, by Emily—by all of it. But at the end of the day—

“Yes. For now.”

“You should talk to him—” Emily bit her lip. “I love you. And I want you to be happy. But I also love my brother, and I don’t want him hurt either.”

“I know. I don’t want to hurt him either. I’m going to talk to him.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I’m staying to give Lucky a chance to get himself together—and maybe—I don’t know. If he goes to counseling, if he gets himself under control—I don’t know, maybe we have a chance. I know you think it’s not worth the trouble. You’re not wrong, Emily.”

“Then why—”

“Because if there’s the smallest chance that me staying right now means a part of that boy can come back to us, Emily—” Elizabeth sighed. “I have to take that chance. For everything we were to one another—I owe this to him.”

“I don’t agree, but I guess I can understand why you’d think that.”

“But that still means that I need to—I need things to go back to the way they were. Jason and I can’t be friends.”

Emily pursed her lips and sighed. “No, I guess not, but—”

“We’ll just drift right back towards one another. Just like we always do. And I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to hurt him, Emily. And I don’t even know if he’s still engaged to Sam. All of this might not mean anything—he might even agree with me that it’s better if nothing changes.”

“Well, then you’re both stupid,” Emily said. “This isn’t love. What you’re describing, what you’re going back to—that’s not love.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes, pained. “Well, it’s the only kind I know.”

“If it hurts this much,” Emily said, pausing until Elizabeth looked at her, “then why do you want it so badly?”

“I—” Elizabeth pressed her lips together. “I don’t know.”

“Your parents left you. Sarah and Steven left you. God, even Nikolas and I have left you. Lucky’s left you.” Emily reached across the table to squeeze Elizabeth’s hand. “Jason’s left. I get it, you know. You deserve better from all of us. Love shouldn’t be measured by the people who stay.”

“That’s not what I’m doing—” Elizabeth protested, but the words died on her lips because, of course, it was.

“No one stays forever, Elizabeth. That’s just life. Lucky has nowhere else to go. If he had options, would he be staying?” Emily asked her pointedly. When Elizabeth remained silently, she shrugged. “You have options. You don’t have to do this.”

“I do,” Elizabeth said with a quick shake of her head. “I do, but I—I get it. And thank you.” She wiped her eyes again. “Can we just talk about something else? Anything else?”

Warehouse: Jason’s Office

“You know, I swore the day the ink was dry on my divorce papers that I would never set foot in this building again.”

Jason looked up from his paperwork and scowled at the sight of Carly in his doorway. “Uh. Hey. Did—Did I miss something?”

“Like ten calls, so yeah.” Carly shrugged and sat down. She wrinkled her nose as she took in the rickety desk, uncomfortable chair, and lumpy sofa. “Jase, do you know how much money you have?”

“Yes.”

“Then why—”

“You redecorated Sonny’s office, and people always go in there. I don’t like people.”

Carly considered this, then nodded. “Fair enough. Listen, I think I’ve been a very nice human being for the last seventy-two hours. By my measures, I’m eligible for sainthood.”

Jason set his pencil down and frowned at her. “Since when?”

“Since I watched Elizabeth Webber’s kid almost every day since Thursday. I even took the kid to the amusement park yesterday. I didn’t ask any questions about why Cameron couldn’t go to daycare or why I had to cancel my day at work on Friday to take care of him. I did a nice thing, Jason.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll pass.”

“Hey.” Carly leaned forward, slapped her hand on the papers Jason was pretending to read. “Buddy. I’m not saying you have to answer my questions. I just think I’ve earned the right to ask them.”

Jason nearly said no, but then looked up at his friend. “Thank you for helping Elizabeth out. It made her feel better knowing her son was safe, and more than that, he was happy. I appreciated it, but you did her the favor. I know that hurts—” Carly grimaced, but he continued, “but sometimes you’re not terrible.” He picked up the pencil again and return to his work.

“I already knew all of that, Ace. I’m still asking the questions.” Carly leaned back against the back of the wooden chair. “Are you having an affair with Elizabeth Webber?”

“Pass.”

She pursed her lips. “Did Sam really go after her in the hospital?”

“Pass.”

“Did they mud wrestle—”

“What?” Jason scowled, slapping the pencil down. “What the hell—”

“Hey, I do not control the gossip. I just enjoy it.” Carly held up her hands in mock surrender. “Are you still engaged to Sam?”

Jason hesitated at that—because that was information that shouldn’t be public yet. “Why are you asking me that?”

“Well, generally, once people start gossiping about an affair, the status of the existing relationships are fair game, too—but honestly? Max told Milo, who told me that Sam checked into Jake’s. He saw her last night with her stuff when he was getting a drink.”

Jason sighed. “No, we are not still engaged.” He eyed her. “And okay, yeah, it’s a little bit because of what happened in the hospital. But there are other issues that are none of your business.”

“Hey, if you’re finally drop kicking Sonny’s mattress buddy—” Carly shook her head. “Best news I’ve had all day. I’m actually almost happy enough that I might not mind that Elizabeth Webber is hanging around again—”

He was going to get a headache if she kept this up. “Carly, was there anything else?”

“Yeah, do you think Sonny and Emily are still a thing? Because we were all pissed about that for a hot minute, and, like…” Carly shrugged. “I guess we’re all good now?”

“You’d have to ask Sonny—”

“I’d rather set myself on fire.” Carly got to her feet. “So if you’re not going to give me any details about why Port Charles is obsessed with your sex life, then I guess I’ll go—”

“Oh, no. Please. Don’t.” Sonny stood in the doorway. “Don’t go on my account,” he continued in a wry, sarcastic tone.

“Haha. You deflowering any other children, or are you still busy with the last infant?” Carly demanded darkly.

“Carly,” Jason said flatly.

“Not that it’s any of your business,” Sonny said, then he looked at Jason, “Or yours, but no, Emily and I are not seeing each other anymore. It turns out we don’t have a lot in common.”

“Ha!” Carly barked, her eyes positively lit with glee. “This is literally the best day of my life! Skanky McCall has been booted to the curb, you’ve stopped shopping in the children’s aisle, and you look miserable about it which just—” She kissed her fingertips. “Just puts the cherry on the top.”

“How did I stay married to you for so long?” Sonny demanded.

“No prenup,” Carly offered as she picked up her bag. “And I’m gonna go enjoy the fruits of my labor.” She jabbed a finger at Jason. “Don’t go making any other mistakes, Jason. I like the kid, but I am not about having the mother be a part of my life.”

And with that, Carly left as quickly as she’d arrived, her perfume lingering in her wake. Sonny scowled, looking at Jason. “What’s that last part about?”

“She’s been baby-sitting Cameron these last few days.” Jason sighed and looked back at the paperwork.

“And probably wanted to know if all the gossip was true.” Sonny nodded. “It’s almost comforting sometimes. She’ll never change, and it makes her predictable.” He paused. “Uh, so about Elizabeth—”

“Damn it,” Jason muttered as his pencil tip snapped. He glared at Sonny. “You’re not seriously in here to ask me about my love life, are you?”

“Well,” Sonny said as he sat in the chair Carly had vacated. “I did offer some information about mine.” He hesitated. “But I’m asking because…well, she’s married to a cop. You can imagine it’s…not just idiots at the hospital gossiping. This is the kind of crap that travels in our circles as well.”

Jason grimaced. “I’m not talking to you about it, either.”

“Carly said something about Sam—”

“Sonny—” Jason closed his eyes in frustration. “I’m really not interested in having this conversation—” His phone rang, and man, he was hoping someone needed to be punched.

Jason would like to beat the shit out of someone right now.

But the caller identification screen told him it was Elizabeth, and he stared at her name for a long moment, unsure if he believed what he was seeing. He’d wanted to go to her after that scene with Sam—but he’d remembered how much worse he’d made things by not listening to Elizabeth. So he’d stayed away.

But she was calling him.

“Jase?” Sonny prompted.

Jason finally flipped open the phone and pressed it to his ear. “Hey.”

“Hey. Um, I’m sorry if I called at a bad time—” Just the sound of her voice soothed some of the rough edges of his mood.

“No, no, it’s fine. What’s up?”

“Can—can we talk? Can you come over? I mean, whenever is good for you—”

“Yeah. I’ll be right over.”

“Oh. Oh, really? Okay. Thanks. I’ll—I’ll see you.”

Jason closed the phone and stared at it for a long moment. What could she want to talk about? Did she want to talk about what had happened with Sam? Or the night before? Was she staying with Lucky—

“Is Elizabeth okay?”

Jason blinked, then looked at his partner, who he realized he’d forgotten was in the room at all. “How did—”

“Your voice changes when you talk to her. I always know when you’re talking to her. Or about her.” Sonny tilted his head to the side. “Jase, she’s been through a lot.”

“I know—”

“So whatever she needs, just make sure she gets it. But take care of yourself for a change.” Sonny stood. He slid his hands in his pockets. “I never should have asked you to go to the church.”

Jason shook his head, confused. “Sonny?”

“The wedding,” Sonny clarified. “To Brenda. I should have taken that on myself. It wasn’t fair to you. I’m not going to ask you to clean up any of my messes anymore. I mean, I’m going to try not to. Habits are hard to break.”

“If you’d gone to the church and told her in person, you never would have gone,” Jason said, his voice a bit rough. “You knew that.”

“Yeah. Or maybe I was just a coward. I broke her into little pieces, Jason, by sending you. I humiliated her.” Sonny’s eyes were dark when they met Jason’s. “I have a lot of regrets about Brenda. I should have found a way to stay with her. She was the one, you know.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“I’m just—I don’t know what I’m saying. I guess—I don’t know what’s going on with Elizabeth and you. I never do. You keep all of that pretty close to the chest. But just…don’t walk away today without saying whatever needs to be said. Because the words you don’t say, they’re the ones that haunt you.”

Lucky & Elizabeth’s Apartment: Living Room

Elizabeth must have paced the length of her small living room a thousand times before Jason knocked on her door. Her heart pounding, her pulse racing, Elizabeth stared at the door before swallowing hard and reaching for the doorknob.

This was fair. This was right. And they both needed to clear the air.

But just the sight of Jason and his kind, concerned eyes made her hesitate. Was she really—really—closing the door on even a friendship with him so that she could stay in a marriage with a man that had abused her?

Oh, God, what the hell was she doing? This was a mistake. She should have avoided Jason like the plague. She could have written him a letter.

“Hey, are you okay?” Jason stepped forward, lifted his hand as if to touch her face. But he stopped just short, his hand falling away. Pressure built behind her eyes because God, she wanted to feel his hands on her—

Oh, damn Luke Spencer to hell. If he’d never walked through her door, reminding her of that boy—that perfect boy—who deserved so much better the man he’d grown up to be.

“Elizabeth?”

“Come in,” Elizabeth said, finally stepping back from the door so he could cross over the threshold. “Sorry, my mind—I’m going in a thousand directions right now.”

“It’s okay.” He waited until she closed the door. “Are you—is this about what happened with Sam yesterday?”

“You—” Her mouth was dry. “You know about that? I didn’t think anyone would actually tell you—Did Sam—”

“She didn’t have to.” Jason sighed. “I’m sorry. Epiphany came to tell me. She was worried about you. I would have called or checked on you, but—but I didn’t…” He looked at her, and she felt his next words down to the tips of her toes. “I didn’t want to be selfish. I haven’t listened to you when you told me what you needed.”

If only she knew what she needed.

“It’s okay. I’m okay. I mean, it was an ugly scene, but it’s over. And—we deserved it. I mean, I deserved it—I just—I didn’t expect it.”

“Elizabeth—”

“I told you this was a mess…” She turned away from him, starting to pace again. “I told you we were going to hurt people—”

“How? We didn’t do anything—”

Elizabeth turned to look at him as the first tear slid down her cheek. “Didn’t we? God, Jason, are you really going to stand there and tell me you didn’t know what we were doing was wrong? And we kissed. Twice—”

“The first time—that’s my fault—”

“It was not. I kissed you. Both times.” Elizabeth glared at him. “Don’t you dare try to protect me from this. I did that. I just—you always stopped it before. And this time I didn’t—” She dragged her hands through her hair. “This isn’t what I wanted to do.”

“Sam and I broke up.”

He delivered that news in a matter of a fact tone that had Elizabeth dropping her hands to her side and just staring at him. Oh man, she’d been counting on him stepping back. Wanting to go back to the status quo. Why didn’t anyone ever do what they were supposed to? “W-What?”

“We weren’t happy even before all this happened. We were fighting over things that had nothing to do with you—but I—” Jason hesitated. “You’re right. We hurt people. And Sam didn’t deserve it. So we broke up.”

“Oh, man.” She bit her lip. “Jason—”

“And no, I didn’t know what we were doing was wrong. Not then.” Jason stepped towards her, and she knew she should step away, but she didn’t want to. Because he was looking at her with that look and she just wanted to hold on to it forever. She loved the way his eyes were soft like this— “Because it felt right. Didn’t it?”

She should say no. She should deny it. But she’d spent too many years pretending. “Yes. Except when it hurt.”

He frowned at that, shook his head. “Elizabeth—”

“Because it’s so silly now. It feels so silly and terrible to talk about what we felt back then—” She forced out the words. “Because if I had just…said something back then, or if you’d just said something—it would be different now. And it hurts that we both walked away knowing—”

“Elizabeth—”

“But we did. And we can’t keep standing here like the last four years didn’t happen—” She took a deep breath. “I’m married.”

His body stilled, the muscle in his jaw clenched, and Elizabeth knew he’d taken her meaning. “You’re staying.”

“I am.”

“After—” He swallowed hard. “After everything that happened.”

“Yes.” Her hands fluttered in front of her—she didn’t know what to do with them. “Um, I know it looks—it looked bad. And it was bad. We had awful fights. And he said terrible things.” Did terrible things. “B-but if I leave him now when he’s already lost his job, how do I live with myself?”

Jason frowned, shook his head slightly as if he didn’t understand her. “Elizabeth—”

“Things are bad enough, you know? But it gets worse if I leave. I just—I promised, Jason. I meant my vows. For better or for worse.”

He exhaled slowly, took a small step back. “Okay.”

“Okay.” Her lip trembled, so she bit hard to stop it. “I just—I thought you should know.”

“Because—”

“Because we crossed a line a-and I just—I’m not staying on that side of the line. I’m going back to the other side. Because—because it’s right. It’s the right thing to do. A-and you know, you and Sam can still—”

“That’s not going to happen.” Jason looked at her for a long time, and she finally broke eye contact, looking away. “You forgot something.”

“I—” Elizabeth frowned. “I did?”

“You forgot to tell me that you love Lucky.”

Her heart simply stopped as she looked at him, at those dark, angry eyes she’d so rarely seen directed at her. “I—”

“Isn’t that how this usually goes?” Jason asked, and she was stunned to hear a thread of bitterness in his words. “You and I have a moment. We almost go forward, and you stop it. You tell me you love Lucky, and I go away.”

“Jason—”

He shook his head. “Never mind—”

“Jason—” Elizabeth started forward, grabbed his arm as he started to turn towards the door. “It’s not like that—”

“No?” Jason raised his brows. “How is it different?” he bit out.

“Because—” She licked her lips. God, she should just leave it at that. She should just let him walk out the door. This was a clean break, and he’d go away angry. He’d stay away.

But she couldn’t. She couldn’t stand it. Because it wasn’t like before, and he didn’t deserve to believe a lie. “Because I didn’t say it.”

“Didn’t—” And then he got it. He turned back towards her fully. “Elizabeth.”

“I didn’t say it. And I didn’t forget. This isn’t like before, Jason. It’s not. Because back then, I was still in denial. I still told myself every day that you were just my friend, and that Lucky was my forever. I couldn’t see a future that was different. And I thought if I said it enough, it would be true.”

She lifted her chin. “But it wasn’t true. And maybe it hasn’t been true for a long time. I just—I can’t let you think that I’m not—that I don’t understand what I’m doing.”

“Then why are you doing it?” he demanded. “If it’s not true—”

“Because I have to. Because I have to know if—” Her voice faltered. “Because it’s the right thing to do—”

“Damn the right thing—” Jason bit out the words as he slashed his hand through the air. “Stop worrying about the right thing to do! What do you want—” He curled his hand into a fist. “I am done arguing with you about Lucky Spencer. I’ve learned my lesson—”

“Jason—don’t go like this—”

“What did you expect?” Jason growled. “That I would be happy about you staying with someone you don’t love because you made a promise a lifetime ago to a boy that doesn’t exist anymore?”

“I—” Elizabeth pressed her hands to her face. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I can’t seem to make anyone happy. I can’t do anything right. I’m sorry—”

“No—don’t—” She heard him sigh as he stepped back towards her. When he spoke again, his voice was soft, quiet. “Don’t be sorry. I don’t want you sorry.”

She opened her eyes at those familiar words. Her resolve nearly crumbled. How did they always seem to find themselves back here? “Jason—”

“I just—” He took her face in his, covering her hands with his own, tilting her head back, so their eyes met again. “I just—”

“If you ask me, I’ll answer you,” Elizabeth said, her voice raw. “Ask me.”

He closed his eyes as if in pain, then slowly shook his head. He leaned down, rested her forehead against hers. “If I have to ask, then you’re not ready to offer it. And I—” He pressed his lips to hers, and she kissed him greedily, hungrily, sliding her fingers in his hair, drawing him tightly to her.

She just wanted one more memory, one more taste—

Jason gently pushed her back after a long moment, but not far. He kissed her eyelids gently, then slowly released her face, stepping away from her. “I don’t want you sorry,” Jason told her. “I just want you to be happy. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

“Jason—”

“Will this make you happy?”

She didn’t know what had changed in the last few minutes—she had nearly given up. Had nearly given in.

But now, now she knew she was making the right choice for her. It would be easy to give in to him, to offer the words that would be true for both of them. She saw that now—she didn’t know how she ever could have denied the way he felt. The way she felt.

It didn’t change anything. It didn’t change the fact that she had to stay for now. That she had to try one more time to save the boy who’d never let her give in to the demons. She needed to know for sure if he was gone. And if she left now, if she abandoned him when he might need her the most—she’d never be able to forgive herself.

She didn’t need one more regret on her conscience. And she already knew she could live with the regret of not having Jason.

She’d been doing it for years.

She opened her eyes to look at him. ““I don’t know. But I have to do it.”

“Okay.” He exhaled slowly. “Okay.” He fisted his hands at his side. “And you need me to stay away. To actually do it this time.”

“Y-Yes.” She folded her arms tightly, her chest aching. “I don’t want it, but it has to be—”

“Okay,” Jason said again. “But if you need me…” He hesitated, shook his head as if it irritated with himself. “If you need me.”

“I know how to find you.”

“I’ll—” Jason looked at her for a long moment. “I’ll see you later.”

“See you later.”

Then he left, and Elizabeth locked the door behind him.

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Comments

  • I loved this chapter. Beautifully written. Thanks for dropping the entire story today…. even though I’m not getting any work done.

    According to Michelle on June 12, 2020
  • This was beautifully written and such a gut punch but also such a needed conversation for them.

    According to Laura on June 12, 2020
  • I have to agree with Michelle because I’m not getting anything done today. This chapter is so good. I’m an emotional mess. I keep telling myself to stop reading it but I can’t. I should be mad at you, Melissa, because I’m not getting anything done but this story is so good that I have to finish it.

    According to arcoiris0502 on June 12, 2020
  • that hurt a lot

    I don’t always feel sorry for Jason but this time I did.

    According to PAMELA HEDSTROM on June 12, 2020
  • Hopefully Jason understood and bless Emily and her talk with Elizabeth.

    According to Carla P on June 12, 2020
  • You said everything that is liason, every nuance, every heart wrenching moment. I was so cruel to Jadon last chapter, I mean he needed to hear it but total devastation poor guy. Such a wonderful story, thank you

    According to Sandra on June 13, 2020
  • Beautifully written, but I feel badly for Jason, she always chooses Lucky.

    According to nanci on June 13, 2020
  • Elizabeth Imogene Webber is a gigantic butthead.

    That is all! LOL!

    But man do I love Liason angst. I love that they fight, but Jason ALWAYS respects her and her feeings, even if he hates them.

    According to Tania on June 13, 2020
  • I love the two of them together but they can be so frustrating. Lucky is an ass and why she puts up with someone who hurt her for a man most women would go for in a heartbeat. Sometimes I wonder about Elizabeth. It would have been better if she just left town.

    According to Carolyn Grandchamp on June 14, 2020