I’m falling apart, I’m barely breathing
With a broken heart that’s still beating
In the pain, there is healing
In your name I find meaning
So I’m holdin’ on, I’m holdin’ on, I’m holdin’ on
I’m barely holdin’ on to you
– Broken, Lifehouse
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
General Hospital: Kelly Lee’s Office
She couldn’t believe Jason was actually sitting in this office with her, prepared to sit through her doctor’s appointment and watch an ultrasound that would reveal whether Elizabeth was having a boy or a girl, and he was going to do that knowing full well Kelly and Nadine thought he was the father.
What a difference two weeks could make.
They had never really returned to the conversation Francis had interrupted her first day in the penthouse, but Elizabeth didn’t mind. Though they had not discussed their relationship any further than the days after their disastrous meeting at Luke’s, the tension and discomfort had all but vanished. She’d spent the majority of her first two weeks in the penthouse sitting on the couch, reading, sketching or watching mindless daytime television while Jason ferried her from living room to bedroom, and arranged for most of her meals.
They sat in silence much of time, while she read magazines or sketched and he worked on files or read travel books. There had been no recurrence of the interrupted kiss either, but…sometimes she caught him looking at her out of the corner of her eye, and his eyes had that soft, tender look she’d become so accustomed to during the years of their friendship.
She had not taken Nadine’s advice and asked him about tomorrow or spoken about the baby. Somehow, Elizabeth innately understood that these were not subjects that would preserve the peaceful status quo, and having just re-established the old comfort level…she did not want to disturb it.
Which would probably happen after today. She’d told him about her appointment last week, he’d promised to clear his schedule because he needed to start taking a more active interest. But this morning, the tension was back in his shoulders and the longer they sat in this office, her already on the examining table and him in the chair adjacent, the less comfortable he looked.
“Sonny came by this morning,” she said finally. “While you were at the warehouse.”
“Did he need me?” Jason frowned. “I told him I was—”
“No, no, he came to check on me.” Elizabeth clasped her hand over her abdomen. “I think he was inspecting the cabinets for contraband.” Her lips curved. “He thinks I’m Carly’s cookie dealer.”
Jason laughed softly and leaned back, his shoulders relaxing slightly. “Yeah, he’s not sure how she keeps getting them past the door, but I think Bobbie’s giving packages to Michael.”
“It’s almost adorable,” Elizabeth said, “but then he started complaining about my cookie stash and I had to kick him out.” She tossed him an unapologetic smile. “Sorry about that.”
“No, he gets…very…” Jason paused, as if searching for the right word. “Cranky about nutrition. He wants the baby to be safe and this is the one area he thinks he can have complete control over.”
The door opened then, and Nadine and Kelly came in. “Hey, Elizabeth!” Kelly greeted. She stopped and blinked at Jason. “I see we finally have company.”
Nadine grinned and walked around them to start getting a tray together for Kelly. Elizabeth nervously tucked her hair behind her ears. “Jason, this is Dr. Kelly Lee, and I think you’ve seen Nadine in and out of the penthouse the last few weeks.”
“Hello,” Jason nodded briefly. But he looked away, not knowing what to say next.
“Well…” Kelly smiled brightly. “Let’s get some blood drawn and then we’ll check your blood pressure.” As Nadine prepared Elizabeth’s arm for the needle, Kelly continued. “Have you been feeling better? Your blood pressure was high at the last visit.” She glanced down. “I see they weighed you before you changed came in, and you’re finally gaining back the weight you lost during the first trimester. Very good…”
Elizabeth grimaced at the needle prick for her blood tests and then closed her eyes as Nadine fitted the blood pressure pump to her arm. She just wanted this one to be normal. She’d done nothing but rest and her stress level was better, wasn’t it? “I’ve done what you asked,” she assured Kelly as the pressure built. “Jason barely lets me off the sofa to use the bathroom. I told him what you said at the last appointment about the blood pressure, so we talked about it, and I quit my job.”
“Good.” Kelly nodded. She frowned. “Well, the blood pressure is down but it’s still more elevated than I might like.” She clucked her tongue and made a notation. “But it’s a vast improvement. Sounds like you’ve been on bed rest for a bit, so maybe you could keep doing it…” She looked over at Jason. “Not complete bed rest. She can climb the stairs, move about, but I’d like to see her spend more time sitting than standing.” She tipped her pen at Elizabeth. “And I am relieved you won’t be waiting on the hypocrites of this town and taking their crap anymore, Liz.”
Elizabeth flushed and looked away, wincing when she saw Jason’s frown. “I’ll continue to rest, I promise, Kelly.” She bit her lip. “We’re doing an ultrasound right? You said I could find out the gender.”
“Yup.” Kelly wheeled the machine over and smiled at her. “Nadine tells me your mommy senses are telling you this is a girl.”
“That’s…what I think, anyway.” Elizabeth shivered as Kelly spread the gel over her abdomen. “I’m not…I’m not showing much yet. Is…that okay?” She saw Jason’s eyes focus on her teeny bump—nothing more than a healthy Thanksgiving dinner might accomplish.
“Yep. You’re a tiny woman and first pregnancies take longer to show. Another month, you’ll wish you still had your waistline.” Kelly placed the ultrasound wand on her skin and tapped a few keys. “And…there’s your baby.” She twisted the screen towards them and started to point. “Here’s the head…the legs…and the arms…” She looked at Jason, and Elizabeth was relieved to see he was looking at the screen. “Sometimes fathers have a hard time finding some of the details, so don’t be afraid to tell me it looks like a blob.”
“No…No, I can…” Jason hesitated. “I can see what you pointed to.” He looked at Elizabeth and then back at the screen. “Do you know if Elizabeth is right…about the gender?”
“This is my favorite part of the job,” Kelly remarked with a smile. She pointed. “And this tells me you’re having a beautiful little girl.” She looked at Elizabeth. “Sometimes, a mom just knows, doesn’t she?”
A tear slid down her cheek, and Elizabeth leaned back against the table, her eyes closed. “I don’t know…I don’t know why I thought it was a girl, I just…” She sighed. “I just did.”
“I knew you were right,” Nadine said, reaching out to squeeze her hand. “I am so ridiculously excited about this, you know, baby girl clothes are so much more fun to shop for.” She blinked. “Not that a boy would have sucked, but I mean, the choices are just so much more prolific.” She literally bounced on her feet. “And just think of all the awesome color schemes for the nursery.”
Elizabeth hesitated and looked at Jason, who hadn’t said a word yet. His face was impassive, impossible to read. It had already been two full months since this business had started and Nadine had reminded her that in four and half months, her daughter was going to need a place to sleep.
She couldn’t keep putting off the conversation about tomorrow. She was a mother now, and just concentrating on today was no longer enough.
General Hospital: Waiting Area
Elizabeth saw her grandmother behind the nurse’s station as she and Jason walked in silence from Kelly’s office to the elevator where her guards were waiting. Audrey looked up and saw them, causing Elizabeth to sigh and wonder if the reprieve her grandmother had promised two months earlier was finally at end. Though Audrey had wanted to speak in person, she’d never contacted Elizabeth to arrange it, and Elizabeth certainly hadn’t been in a hurry to do so.
Audrey approached them, flicking a hesitant glance at Jason. “Darling…would you mind if we talked alone? Just a minute.” She looked at Jason more fully. “I can drive her home afterward if she needs it.”
Elizabeth bit her lip and looked at Jason. “You were meeting Emily for lunch anyway.” She touched his arm. “Cody and Dominic will make sure I get home all right. I’ll see you later.”
“Okay.” But Jason kept his eyes on them until the elevator doors open and he stepped inside.
“Let’s…have a seat.” Audrey put a hand on Elizabeth’s shoulder and directed her towards the waiting area and the sofas. “I…I know I haven’t been in touch since I learned about the baby.”
“I’m not surprised.” Elizabeth sat next to her grandmother. “I was actually relieved, because I had a lot of people yelling at me, so one less made my life much easier.”
Audrey nodded and twisted her hands together. “Which is precisely why I did not contact you after saying we would speak in person. I wasn’t sure what I would say or how to react in a way that would not hurt you or make you unhappy.” She paused. “You’ve lived in Port Charles for so long, and yet I don’t believe I’ve seen you stay happy for more than a few brief moments. You were so combative with your sister…” Her grandmother sighed. “And then you were…raped. You were happy with Lucky for a while, but then we thought he was dead.” She reached out to Elizabeth and took her hand. “And then you met Jason. And I don’t…altogether know the details, but you’d come in from seeing him or taking a ride on his bike, and you…”
Elizabeth blinked in surprise as her grandmother’s voice broke. “Gram…”
“Let me say this, Elizabeth. Please.” She squeezed Elizabeth’s hands. “You were lit up from inside. You were so happy, and after all the sorrow and the terrible events, that should have been enough for me, but I was just…so scared for you. I knew you might be in danger, but instead of talking to you rationally, instead of realizing you were an adult, I treated you like a child.” She reached out and tucked Elizabeth’s hair behind her ear. “And pushed you away.”
“I…always understood why people said what they did about Jason, why you, and Lt. Taggart told me I shouldn’t be friends with him,” Elizabeth said hesitantly. “And Gram, I’d be in denial if I said being with him, being friends with him…didn’t come without risks, but…the worst thing that ever happened to me…happened without him. I had my life torn apart because I walked in the park one night. Just being alive can be a risk. No one is ever safe all the time.”
“I know, I know.” Audrey sighed. “And I saw how sad you were when he left town, but I was just relieved. And when Lucky turned out to be alive, I thought you’d be happy again. But even though you told us you were, and even though you smiled like you were…you never lit up again the way you had when you were dating Lucky that first time or…seeing Jason.”
“I wanted to be happy,” Elizabeth told her. “I knew I should be. I had my miracle, and I tried so hard to go back to that dream, to that perfect memory of who Lucky and I were before the fire.” She looked down at her lap. “But he wasn’t the same boy, and I was…”
“In love with someone else,” Audrey concluded, her eyes filled with sorrow. “Which we could all forget when Jason didn’t live in Port Charles. I was so scared when he moved back last summer, because I knew…I knew you were finally going to let yourself be with him…”
“I thought I had gotten my wish when you moved out in the fall, because this time you were fighting with him. You were upset, and you were hurt, but you were angry, too. I thought…” Audrey pursed her lips. “I thought you had seen him for who I thought he was, and you were done with him. And you started dating Ric who seemed so nice…” She paused. “But like with Lucky, you were only pretending. You haven’t been truly happy for more than few weeks, a few days, since Jason left town three years ago.”
A tear slid down Elizabeth’s cheek as she acknowledged the truth in that. “Pathetic, I know, all things considered.”
“So when I found out you were having a child, but it was with Jason, the man I’ve been trying to keep you from all this time…I realized that I could continue to contribute to your unhappiness,” Audrey said, “or I could support you. I wish I could have realized this sooner, because I know how difficult these last few months have been when they should have been the happiest.”
“Are you saying…” Elizabeth’s heart was pounding. She loved Nadine, but the nurse had only been in her life for a month. She’d lost Emily, Lucky and Nikolas were out of town, Jason was still hesitant at times…but Audrey…her grandmother had always been her rock. “Are you saying that you accept my choices?”
“I do,” Audrey nodded. “They are not the ones I would make, but it is not my life to live.” She put her hand under Elizabeth’s chin and tilted her granddaughter’s head up. “I just want you to light up again. I want to see you happy, and if having Jason Morgan in your life, and having a child with him is what it takes, then yes, I will not only accept it. I will support it.” Her lip curved up in a smile. “I’ll worry, but that’s just my job.”
Elizabeth leaned forward and wrapped her grandmother in a tight embrace. “You have no idea how much that means to me or how much I need you.”
“I love you so much, Elizabeth, even when you drive me insane.” Audrey leaned back to kiss Elizabeth’s cheek. “And maybe…because of it. You remind me so much of myself, you know. I was a hell raiser when I came here to annoy my sister, Lucille. I made bad choices, I walked away from people I loved, I drove your grandfather out of his mind before we both realized we were being stupid and avoiding the inevitable.”
“So what you’re saying,” Elizabeth said with a sly smirk, “is that you were me and Aunt Lucille was Sarah.”
“I don’t know if I’d go that far,” Audrey mused. “Lucille never did sleep with my boyfriend.” As if realizing what she’d said, her cheeks flushed and they broke into laughter. When that had subsided, Audrey laced her fingers through Elizabeth’s. “Now, tell me everything I need to know about my brand-new great-grandchild.”
Jason would never be able to sit in this courtyard, in the hastily replaced chairs that Bobbie had just sighed and accepted…and not remember that Elizabeth had nearly been kidnapped. Since that day, he had not allowed her out of the penthouse without him. If she went to the store, he went with her. Even the double guards didn’t seem to be enough. If he couldn’t see her, then he didn’t know for sure she was safe.
He hated leaving her alone at the hospital even though he knew her afternoon guards, Cody and Dominic, would see her home safely—and he knew Cody would give his life before allowing Elizabeth to be hurt. He’d hoped to bring Elizabeth here for lunch, to show a united front to his sister so that Emily might stop…whatever she was doing to mess with Elizabeth’s head, but he had seen the expression on Audrey Hardy’s face and hoped she was going to offer Elizabeth the support she wanted.
He found his sister flipping through a journal and sipping iced tea. “Hey, Em.”
“Hey, stranger.” Emily stood and hugged her brother. “I’m glad you called.” She flicked her eyes around him. “You said you might bring Elizabeth.”
They sat down and Jason leaned back in his chair. “No…her grandmother wanted to talk to her at the hospital, so she told me to go ahead.” Jason hesitated, but knowing this conversation would be painful, but knowing that honesty was best. Though talking to Elizabeth when she first moved in had been difficult—it had been for the best. All the ugliness was in the open to deal with even if they hadn’t yet.
Sometimes it just good to know where a person stood.
“I know you and Elizabeth haven’t been getting along much,” Jason said after a moment. “I’m sorry if…I’ve contributed to it—”
“You haven’t,” Emily said swiftly. “It’s…It’s been building for months. You know, we used to be close.” She closed her journal and stared down at the cover. “But that came later, after she was…attacked. You didn’t know who she used to be, Jase. When she first moved to town, everyone called her Lizzie—”
“She hates that,” Jason said, but he saw that his sister ignored that.
“And Lizzie Webber was a hardcore bitch,” Emily told him. “If not for her rape and for Lucky, Lizzie would have grown up and made Carly look tame.”
Jason blinked and shook his head. “That’s…Emily, you know that’s not true. I knew Elizabeth a little before. You were friends with her, so I…kept an eye out. She was there the night Nikolas Cassadine was shot at Luke’s club, with her sister. And I remember she stole Ruby Anderson’s invitation to Sonny and Brenda’s wedding.”
“And she also tried to trick Nikolas and Sarah into thinking the other one wanted to have sex, and she framed Sarah for cheating—”
Jason held up a hand, still bewildered by his sister’s tirade. “Elizabeth was a teenager when she did those things. You…weren’t exactly innocent either—”
“You just don’t get it. I thought Elizabeth grew up. I thought she cared about other people, but…” Emily pursed her lips. “But clearly I was wrong. I remember the way she played you and Lucky against each other. If you hadn’t left town, it just would have continued. And then she slept with my boyfriend—”
Jason did not want to talk about Zander Smith or last summer. It was painful enough to watch Elizabeth rip herself apart over the mistake when he hadn’t held it against her nearly as much as she seemed to think. It had been agonizing to see them, to know that she had done that, but he knew it hadn’t meant anything to her, and she was so upset over hurting him that it no longer stung the way it once had.
But Emily hadn’t been here, and he didn’t understand why she was holding something against Elizabeth like this. “Emily, that doesn’t…you were still friends when you came home in March. Why did you suddenly turn on her when she got pregnant?”
“Seriously?” Emily raised an eyebrow. “Courtney’s my friend, too, Jase. Elizabeth told me she was pregnant and decided not to tell me it was your kid, and then freaked out on me when I dropped hints to Ric.”
Jason clenched his jaw, and tried to remember his sister was not in possession of all the information…but if not for Emily, none of this would have happened. “Yeah. I can see why Elizabeth might have kept you out of the loop about it if this is the way you’ve been treating her.”
Emily opened her mouth, “Jason…you don’t understand. She kept…saying things and giving me partial truths and I just…” She shook her head. “I wanted what was best for her. I wanted her to move on. If she had done that, then she wouldn’t have thrown herself at you and got pregnant—”
“First of all,” Jason cut in, leaning forward and pitching his voice low. “I don’t appreciate you telling Elizabeth I didn’t care about her last fall when she was living with me. I don’t appreciate you telling her that I was already seeing Courtney before Elizabeth left. Do you have any idea of the damage you caused?”
Emily leaned back in her chair and pressed her lips together in a mutinous line. “You just don’t understand, Jase. I was trying to protect you—”
“I do not need you to protect me from anyone, least of all Elizabeth. You were not here.” He stood. “I’m not in the mood for lunch. I wanted you to back off Elizabeth because you guys have been through so much. I remember how upset you were when you told me about Tom Baker and the photography studio, how scared she was when she realized who he was. I remember when we thought Lucky was dead, and how the two of you consoled each other. I remember that Elizabeth helped you hide a dead body for months. It might be convenient for you to forget all of that because Elizabeth made a mistake—that she was honest with you about, I might add—but I don’t get it. The stuff you’re holding on to? It’s nonsense.”
“Jase…” Emily got to her feet, wary. “I just… I love you so much—”
“Robin used to tell me that, too,” he said. “But the kind of love she had for me, the kind you clearly have…neither one of you seems to think I can handle my own life. That I can make my own decisions. Elizabeth is pregnant and between you and the rest of this self-righteous town, you had her blood pressure so high she needed bed rest. Do you get that, Emily?” Jason said, raising his voice for the first time. “So that you could feel the satisfaction of protecting me from her, you put her health and the baby at risk.”
“I…” Emily closed her mouth, looking worried. “I didn’t…think about that—”
“No, I didn’t think you did. I don’t give a damn what you or anyone says about me, but I do care that what you say to Elizabeth or about her. So if you love me as much as you say you do, you’ll knock it off.” He stepped towards his sister. “I love you, Emily, but I don’t like you very much right now.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Elizabeth walked into the penthouse, and smiled over her shoulder at Cody, carrying her bags. They’d left Dominic downstairs in the parking garage because she was planning to be in for the rest of the night, which meant Cody could go on the door until Marco’s shift began. “I can carry those—”
“And have Jason catch me?” Cody snored. “Not on your life, Eliz—” He stopped when he saw Jason on the sofa with ledgers in his hands. He coughed. “Miss Webber.” He set her bags on the desk. “All clear, Jason. I’ll be on the door if you need me.”
“Thanks,” Jason stood and crossed to join her at the desk as Cody left. “Where’d you go after the hospital?”
“Gram asked me to lunch at the Grille,” Elizabeth said, tugging out some of the books. “And then she wanted to go shopping. I thought she meant for baby stuff, but my grandmother is nothing if not practical.” She held up a cooking book. “Beginner’s cookbooks because apparently, babies can’t subsist on brownies and takeout.”
She saw Jason smile at that, but was disappointed that his shoulders were tense. Still, she forged on. “So, she bought me some of these and then dragged me into the aisle of baby books so I could apparently clean them out on name books.” She unpacked the rest of her purchases, tucked the gift receipt in her jeans pocket and threw out the plastic bags from the store. “I was just so relieved she’s being supportive, I couldn’t argue.”
Jason took her books from her and led her over the couch. “Jason, I can carry the books. They’re not even that heavy. Kelly said I don’t need strict—”
He waited for her to sit before handing them back. “Is it worth having an argument you’re not going to win?”
“No,” Elizabeth sighed and flipped through the first pages of one of the cookbooks. “How…how did lunch with Emily go?”
“Ah…” Jason sighed and looked at the ceiling. “Not as well as I would have hoped. I wanted to reason with her, but that didn’t work, so I decided to take a page from Carly—”
“Oh…that cannot be good—”
“—and guilt her into being nicer to you,” he finished. “I told her that the way she’s been acting contributed to your forced bed rest. Which isn’t entirely true, because you didn’t go on the bed rest until after…” Jason shook his head. “But it’s true enough. She looked upset after that, so maybe she’ll knock it off.” He leaned back against the couch and looked at her. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry, too,” Elizabeth murmured. “But you know…she loves you, Jason, and as much as you hate it, she wants to protect you from being hurt.” When his mouth tightened, she held up a hand. “I get it, that’s annoying to you because you think it means she doesn’t trust you to make your own decisions. But…” She shrugged and looked down at her book. “She just thinks she’s helping. Maybe…it’ll just…get better on its own.”
“You mean just ignore the problem and hope it goes away?” Jason asked, his eyebrows raised.
“It’s my patented life technique that almost never works, but…” Elizabeth hesitated. “She’s angry at me because of last summer. Zander’s not in town right now to mitigate her anger, and she thinks he left town because of me, but we both know he headed out after last fall because his dad showed up. She thinks I’m going to hurt you.” Staring down at instructions for cooking an omelet, Elizabeth bit her lip. “It’s not like she doesn’t have some history on her side.”
“Elizabeth, what’s between us is no one else’s business,” Jason began.
“Come on, that’s just not true.” She closed the book and leaned forward to set them on the table. “Jason, she’s your sister and until the last year, she was my best friend. She had a front row seat. Yes, we both know that I didn’t…mean to hurt you, that you weren’t angry at me, but she wasn’t there when we talked about these things. She thinks I’m the reason you left town last year, but you…” She paused. “I think you were already on your way out. I don’t…I don’t think I made you go.”
“No.” But he waited a moment. “I would have stayed a little longer, but after you…after that day in the park, I just moved up my departure.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth shook her head. “Anyway. I think Emily just needs…time. Maybe she and I will never be that close again, but I don’t know…” She twisted her fingers together and remembered that she wasn’t going to avoid talking about tomorrow anymore. “I guess….if the situation were what she thinks it is, I’d say that she’d learn to get past it because she knows how much you love Michael, and that having a child would be something you wanted. Except….” She took a deep breath and met his eyes, disconcerted that they seemed to be closed off to her. “That’s not…necessarily the situation we’re in.”
She hoped he would take the bait, hoped that he would say something, even if it was just to say they’d be in each other’s lives after this was over.
But he didn’t. Instead, he rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with Emily. Maybe you’re right, and she just needs time.”
Fine. She was going to have to be the brave one. Again. “Jason, what’s…going to happen after…Ric is dealt with?” she asked softly. “You told me we couldn’t change our minds because the Families are involved now. Won’t they be angry if they found out you…that we lied to them?”
“I…” Jason paused. “I guess I hadn’t really thought about it that way. I’ve been so focused on taking care of Ric and Faith…I guess I figured if they were out of the picture, the Families won’t care about this situation.”
Elizabeth arched an eyebrow. “You think they won’t care that you and Sonny asked them to use their resources on this child’s behalf after lying to them about the father?”
He closed his eyes. “You know there are things I can’t talk about—”
“Oh, God, Jason, that’s such a god damn cop out.” She got to her feet, her body tense. “You said that to me last fall, standing in this room. You told me there were things I couldn’t be told. Well, it wasn’t true then and it’s not true now. I am not asking for trade secrets or what you do when you go the warehouse or what you and Sonny talk about. I am talking about something that affects us personally, our possible safety. If the Families knew I was having Ric Lansing’s child, and that you and Sonny lied about it, even after Ric and Faith are dead, is that going to be an issue for you down the line?”
Jason blew out a slow breath before also rising to his feet. “I don’t know. I—Sonny wanted to involve them, I just said what I said to get Ric out of town. It wasn’t supposed to be this complicated.”
“Complicated.” Elizabeth closed her eyes. She was getting the picture. “Jason, I have been telling you from the start that we have to be honest with each other, but you’re just not getting it. So maybe it’s time I stop being vague. People think I’m having your child. And I’m not talking about your mother, my grandmother, our friends. I’m talking about men who see families as a target, as a point of weakness. I remember when Carly was dealing with them when Sonny was…gone…and they were harassing her, using what they thought was her grief and your weakness to push drugs through Port Charles. These are not men who are going to forgive a lie.”
“I…I get it.” Jason pressed the heel of his hand to his forehead. “I get that you don’t want your child in danger—”
“Jason, that’s not it.” Do not stamp your foot. She pressed her lips together and then tried again. “My child is in danger whether you’re her father or Ric is her father. You told me that they hated Ric and I’m sure they hate Faith Roscoe because she’s a woman. Do you think that we can just stop this when Ric and Faith are gone? Do you think that it’s going to be that easy? After putting guards on me, doubling them, putting me back in this penthouse?”
She jabbed a finger at him. “This is what happens all the time. You think it’s enough to walk away from me, as if people are just going to forget who I am. You walked away from me that first time, and it sure didn’t stop Sorel from badgering me or approaching me when you were gone. I was kidnapped because people saw us together, because they knew about our history.” She gestured toward the door. “You let me walk out of here last fall without a word, and didn’t seem to notice I was dating a psycho until he used Carly. It didn’t occur to you he was trying to use me to get to you.”
“Are…” Jason shook his head, irritated. “Are you actually blaming me for Ric, for getting you kidnapped? You told me you didn’t—”
“Sometimes I just want to scream,” Elizabeth muttered. She dragged her fingers through her hair and dipped her chin to the floor. “No. I am not blaming you for those things. But I do blame you for thinking that walking away is all it takes. You honestly think that after Ric and Faith are gone, I can just walk out this door, lose the guards and not have a problem. Is that what you’re hoping for?” she demanded. “That I’ll walk out of your life for good this time?”
“Why not?” Jason retorted. “You’ve never stayed before.”
“That…” Elizabeth fisted her hands at her side, her voice thick. “That is not fair. You left first, Jason. I begged you to stay, but you left anyway. And let’s talk about that day in April, where I finally have the courage to tell you I have feelings for you, that I care about you in a way I shouldn’t considering I was dating Lucky. And then you asked me to go. To leave with you.” When she saw him huff, she held out a hand as in protest. “But wait…that’s not true. You said I should go with you, or maybe not with you. It didn’t matter. Yeah, I was really supposed to walk away from my life on a maybe you’d be with me. How should I have trusted you?”
“Fine. I shouldn’t have asked you to leave with me. It was too soon and unfair. That’s clear,” Jason bit out. “But you walked out that door nine months ago and you never looked back—”
“All summer…” Elizabeth forced herself to take a deep breath. “You walked away from me. You took phone calls from Carly and left me for her. Every time she called, you were out the door. Do not tell me each and every one of those calls was an emergency you had to handle right there. I knew you cared about me, maybe you wanted to sleep with me, but I knew I didn’t rate above Sonny and Carly. And then you went and proved it—”
“I told you that Sonny and I were having issues—”
“I might actually scream this time.” Elizabeth stalked towards the kitchen. “I cannot keep saying the same things over and over again—”
Jason rounded the sofa and grabbed her elbow. “Damn it, Elizabeth, I told you I was sorry about not telling you about Sonny, about not coming home, not calling—”
“Now. Now you’ve explained it.” She yanked her arm away. “You have the nerve to stand there and tell me that I’ve never stayed before…well, Jason…you’ve never given me a reason to.”
Her heart pounding, she continued. “Even now, you’re doing everything you can to shove me out the door faster. Every time I bring up my child, you get this haunted look in your eyes, this trapped look, and I know what’s going to happen. Even after Ric and Faith are out of the picture, you’re going to look like that. Because you can’t let yourself for one minute forget that this baby is Ric’s. So don’t worry, Jason. The next time I walk out that door, it will be for good.”
She turned again, to go upstairs or to the kitchen, she was never sure, but Jason grabbed both her arms and whirled back to face him. She opened her mouth to protest, but he covered with his, all his anger and frustration pouring into her like a volcanic eruption. Startled, Elizabeth tried to draw back, but he just tightened his grip, almost as if he thought she had meant she was leaving right now.
Well, hell. She kissed him back, letting her own frustration and desire through. This time…she wasn’t stopping unless the building collapsed.