All that I wanted from you
Was something you’d never do
So let me in
Oh please tonight
Don’t let this end
Cause’ I’m starting to fall
So let me in
– Let Me In, Save Ferris
Thursday, September 18, 2003
Emily pulled her cardigan tighter around her sweater, already missing the heat of summer. Days like this she missed California, where the summer lasted far longer than September, but if she wanted to live near her family, living in upstate New York was the price she had to pay.
She smiled at her breakfast partner, who was absorbed in stirring her tea, and then sipped her hot chocolate. She set the mug down and looked at the other two empty chairs at either end of the table, remembering other meals at Kelly’s. Remembering when the person across from her had been a brunette and also sipping hot chocolate. They’d once split three packets of the stuff between them, overfilling their mugs with whipped cream and sprinkles.
Instead, she sat across from Courtney Matthews who sipped tea.
Her stomach rolled, as often had in the nearly three months since she had spoken to her brother or her best friend. She’d been upset at contributing to Elizabeth’s bed rest, and had decided that her niece or nephew was more important than trading snide remarks with her former best friend. And that regaining her brother’s respect had been more important.
But she’d seen Elizabeth at the hospital for appointments, for lunches with her grandmother and Nadine Crowell. How her pregnancy had advanced, the way the sadness in her eyes had faded—sadness Emily had never really registered. She hadn’t seen her brother nearly as often—occasionally on the docks or here at Kelly’s. He’d never been one to wear his emotions on his sleeve, particularly in public, but he didn’t look as tense or annoyed with the world.
And the more she’d met with Courtney, the more she’d wondered how she’d got it all wrong. She’d listened to Courtney’s bitter rants and realized they didn’t quite match the syrupy version she’d received when she’d come home in March. How Courtney just knew Jason saw her that way, but he’d been such a stand-up guy that he’d broken things off with Elizabeth before he’d ever told her, showed her. That’s why it hurt so much that he’d cheated on her, that he’d lied to her and wouldn’t give her the time of day.
Emily glanced up as the man in question entered the courtyard. Jason glanced at their table, met Emily’s eyes and then looked away. He disappeared into the restaurant. She exhaled slowly. “I miss him,” she murmured.
Courtney tapped the side of her tea cup and nodded. “I’m sorry you guys argued about me—”
“We didn’t,” Emily interrupted. “I mean, not really.” She set her mug down. “He was upset because Elizabeth went on bed rest for a while in June, and he said that the way I was…treating her had been a factor. I…” Emily hesitated, because she didn’t want to make Courtney angry. The blonde had spent the better part of the summer, living on anger and bitterness, but the past few weeks had been different. The weight seemed to have lifted from her shoulders.
“You took my side against Elizabeth,” Courtney said with a guilty smile. “Em, I never meant for that to happen. I know I put you in the middle more than I should have, but…” She leaned back and sighed. “Carly changed her mind about liking me, I guess I was only useful when I was dating Jason.”
“Courtney, you were hurt.” Emily paused. “No matter how my brother and Elizabeth ended their relationship, or even if you were…a rebound, he shouldn’t have cheated on you.” She bit her lip. “But, yeah, I took your side over Elizabeth’s, which…seemed like the right one at the time. You were my friend, too. I mean, Elizabeth and I were close when we were teenagers, but after I had my accident, we drifted apart.” Emily stared at her hands. “We both called and wrote, talked about her coming out to see me, or me coming home once I started UCLA, but it…just never happened. She got busy with life here, I was busy with life in California. And then…” She sucked in a breath. “She called me last summer to tell me she’d slept with my ex-boyfriend. I was so angry with her. I hung up on her, didn’t even let her explain.”
“What was there to explain?” Courtney asked dully. “I knew she and Jason were fighting after that, well not…” She paused. “Not fighting, But there was a distance that hadn’t been there before. He didn’t look at her the way he had before.”
“Yeah, but I guess…” Emily shook her head. “Zander had lived here another year without me, and Elizabeth was one of the few people he knew. Maybe…they got closer. I don’t know. There are a thousand reasons she could have done it, and I never let her tell me even one. I didn’t even know about her and Jason until I came home. But I remembered the year before, when he’d been home the last time, how he’d been so upset because he cared so much about her, and she kept jerking him around…” She closed her eyes. “But maybe I didn’t want to see how sad she’d been, how unhappy she’d been with Lucky for months.”
“She could have broken up with him,” Courtney said, her mouth tight. “She didn’t have to—”
“No.” Emily smiled, feeling sorrow at how she hadn’t seen Elizabeth. She’d only seen Lucky. For months, she’d only seen her childhood best friend and known he wasn’t the same boy, that he hadn’t come back all the way, and if Elizabeth would just concentrate on him and forget about Jason, maybe Lucky would come back and it would be like it had been before.
“C’mon, Emily. No one has to stay in a relationship that makes them miserable.” Courtney rolled her eyes. “I came along at the tail end of that, and I can’t even understand why she loved him in the first place—”
“You didn’t know them then.” Emily looked away. “I don’t say that to make you upset or point out how far back I go with Elizabeth, but before we thought Lucky died in that fire, I wanted a love like theirs. I know they were young, but…” Emily hesitated. “They’d been so happy together. The way they looked at one another, they were so in sync. I just…” She tilted her head up the sky. “When he came home, I didn’t see that they weren’t those people anymore. He’d been through so much, she’d been dealing with thinking he was dead, but everyone told them they were perfect together, and I know they both felt an obligation to one another to live those dreams again.”
“And we all pressured her when Lucky was having difficulties. We told her to keep trying, that she and Lucky were perfect together.” Emily rubbed the side of her face. “I didn’t see it. I knew she and Jason were close before he left that first time. I used to think…” Emily pressed her lips together. “That if Lucky had been really dead, if he hadn’t left…”
“But Lucky was alive, and Jason left. Emily, I don’t know the point of all this—”
“The point of this is that I…” Emily met the exasperated eyes of her brother’s ex-girlfriend. “I think maybe I blamed her for not trying hard enough. Lucky was my best friend in the whole world, the first one I made here in Port Charles, and I think…maybe I thought she should have tried harder. If she hadn’t been distracted by Jason, she could have…”
“Made Lucky be the way he used to be?” Courtney supplied. “Well, I mean, it’s not like I like her or even know him that well, but…” As if annoyed with herself for taking Elizabeth’s side, she huffed. “Should that have been her job?”
“No…which makes what Nikolas and I did to her so much worse. I wish I could go back, and tell that girl it was okay she didn’t want to be a model, that she had stopped loving Lucky the way she had before the fire, that it was okay that she had feelings for someone else.”
“But that’s not why you’re fighting now,” Courtney told her. “You’re fighting now because of how she hurt your brother. How she wasn’t honest with you.”
“But it’s the same thing as before,” Emily replied. “I’m not asking her how it happened, how she and Jason fell apart, how they came back together, why she slept with Zander. I’m just…judging her for those things. I’m still taking someone else’s side.”
“I guess.” Courtney shrugged a shoulder. “I mean, I get it, Emily, I do. She’s your best friend going back to high school. I only dated Jason a few months. I look at her now, and she’s having a baby, Em. I made it more difficult for her than I had to.” She swirled her spoon in her now cold tea. “I guess I figured I was a rebound for Jason at first. He was for me, but I really thought that changed after a while. I thought…”
“I just want to apologize to her,” Emily murmured. “I don’t expect her to forgive me, or even understand why I did what I did, but I just want her to know that I know what I did was wrong. I mean, I made the situation so much worse, Courtney. I dropped all these hints to Ric, and then Elizabeth couldn’t deal with things the way she wanted to. Instead, she and Jason have to play damage control. You find out from Ric in front of a dozen people. It’s my fault.”
“I could have been nicer to her. I didn’t have to…” Courtney sighed. “I was pretty nasty to her the last time I saw her and Carly here together. I was so angry that she was stealing my best friend after I lost Jason, but Carly wasn’t my best friend. She’s Jason’s best friend, and I forgot that for a long time. I said some really awful things.”
“But it’s not like Jason would let me within a hundred miles of her right now.” Emily put her elbow on the table, and propped her chin on her first. “And I’m sure her guards aren’t supposed to let anyone stress her out, not with the baby due in less than three months.”
“Yeah.” Courtney nodded. “I know the guards don’t like me. Especially Cody. I used to…” Her cheeks flushed. “I used to make him help Elizabeth close up the nights we had the last shift. I knew he wouldn’t let her lift anything heavy, but…” She shrugged. “I shouldn’t have done it. So there’s no way I could get near her to apologize. Not after the last stunt.”
“Maybe I could get near her at the hospital,” Emily mused. “The security is relatively tight there, my dad has insisted on it after the crap that’s happened there over the last few years, so they don’t always follow her around. Usually, there’s one at the elevator and one at the stairwell that’s between the waiting area and her doctor’s office.” With her free hand, she tapped her fingers restlessly against the table. “I don’t even know if I should bother before the baby is born. Maybe until I can’t cause her more stress.”
“Well, Em, you have to do what’s right for you,” Courtney said. She popped a piece of strawberry from her fruit plate in her mouth and watched as Jason, now with a cup of coffee, exited Kelly’s, glanced at their table again, and then left the courtyard. “That’s all we can do, really, you know. Follow our instincts.”
“Lucky used to say you should be true to yourself,” Emily murmured. “I think it’s good advice.”
“Exactly.” Courtney nodded. “And after this crappy summer, that’s the big change I’m going to make.” She lifted her tea and finished it one gulp, even though it had to be ice cold at this point. “I’m not going to sit around and wallow anymore. I’m going to start being true to myself again.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“It’s just for a few hours.” Elizabeth sighed, already exhausted by this argument. For two weeks, Jason had asked her to stay inside, for visitors to come to her. He hadn’t been specific, but she knew he felt her security had been threatened in some way—that Ric and Faith had been toying with them all summer, hoping for an opportunity to take Elizabeth. They were desperate, Jason told her, and he knew she was safe as long as she was in this building.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes and stepped towards the balcony, looking out over the harbor, wishing she was out there. In the last four months, she had spent more time in this penthouse than she had outside it and she was starting to chafe. Jason had tried to make it comfortable here, clearing out a space for her to paint, but she wanted her studio, she wanted to go to Kelly’s to have lunch with her grandmother. He got to go have coffee there every morning, why couldn’t she just…be outside for an hour? She glared at the evidence of his own visit, sitting empty on the coffee table.
“This is one of the reasons I pushed away,” he said quietly. She frowned now and looked at him. “Because of times like this, when your safety had to take priority over your happiness.”
She bit her lip and flicked her eyes back to the outside world. “Jason—”
“You already have to be escorted everywhere by two guards,” he interrupted, his voice rough. “You can’t paint where you want to, you can’t go out and do things when you want. I knew—”
“Just…stop…” She held up a hand, hoping he would stop talking about how this argument was justification for always pushing her away. “I might be frustrated, but it’s not like I don’t get it, okay? I do. And I’ll suck it up. But…” She rubbed the side of her head. “I just want you to let me be frustrated without pushing me away. The guards don’t bother me, being driven around doesn’t either— it’s not like I was a great driver anyway. The studio is just a room, and…” Well, the third point had some merit. “My grandmother will just have to learn to be comfortable visiting here.”
He shook his head. “You don’t—”
“Jason, it isn’t always like this,” Elizabeth said. “I know this. I remember when Sonny and Carly got married that first time. There were threats, yeah, you came home to take care of something that ended up with the warehouse burning down, but Carly went about her business at Deception, annoying me. I remember when you were dating Robin, because Emily was my friend. Robin had a guard, but she had a life and friends.”
“The threat right now is different,” Elizabeth said simply. “I don’t know the details, and I don’t want to know them, but I know you think Ric and Faith are trying to distract you in one area, hoping that it will lead you to loosen my security a bit. That means this particular threat is aimed at me. So I’ll vent, and I’ll stomp my foot. But…” She lowered herself onto the sofa next to him. “At the end of the day, my life, my daughter’s life is more important to me than going to Kelly’s for lunch.”
Jason exhaled and he looked away. She wondered if he was just trying to think of something to counter her argument. “It won’t be like this,” he finally said. “You’ll have one guard. You’ll…be able to get a job if you want. Come and go. But this might happen again—”
“And we’ll probably get annoyed with each other then.” She hesitated. “Jason, you are important enough to me to make sacrifices. What we have is important enough for me to take that risk. Are you ever going to accept that I’m exactly where I want to be?”
“I do, most of the time.” He pressed the heel of his hand to his forehead. “I just…there’s so much I can’t control—”
“Which is why we take precautions. Why you guys have this placed locked up tighter than Fort Knox. Nadine jokes she’s sure the next time she shows up, they’ll strip search her. Jason…” Normally, she would have straddled him to force him to look at her, to meet her eyes, but she’d woken up this week, and for the first time, felt seven months pregnant. She settled for taking his hand in hers and lacing their fingers together. “Sometimes the way you talk…it makes me think you don’t see us learning how to make this work.”
He hesitated, looking at their fingers and then met her eyes, but she was annoyed that his faced was closed. “I’m just being realistic,” he said finally. “That it might not.”
She sighed and sat back, letting his hand slide from hers. “What if my grandmother and I promised to eat inside the restaurant? You know that Bobbie doesn’t mind if you put a guy on the exit and the entrance.”
“Yeah, I guess that’ll work.” She was exhausted from constantly having to be the one to make the step forward. He wanted her to stay, but he hadn’t been lying when he said he didn’t know how make to her want to, and she was beginning to think he didn’t expect her to. If she thought his hesitation to trust in them was something she could fix, she’d try to…but she just didn’t think it was. Particularly since he couldn’t bring himself to answer her hesitant questions about the future.
She was foolishly pinning her hopes on things changing when Cady was born, because she knew he’d have to be in the delivery room with her. He would hold her, and she really wanted to believe he would look at this baby he had watched come into this world and love her for who she was in her own right, and forget that she was biologically Ric Lansing’s daughter.
But even though they had now acknowledged the baby, had begun to decorate a nursery, she still didn’t feel any sense of…connection to the future. To the idea that they would be a family. If he didn’t look at Cady with the love her daughter deserved, how could she stay? So maybe he was right have that hesitation, because until she knew he would accept her daughter, she couldn’t tell him she loved him. She didn’t want to say those words, and have him look at her with those beautiful eyes and say them back, knowing she couldn’t trust them.
If he didn’t love Cady, then he couldn’t love Cady’s mother.
Elizabeth sighed. “I’ll call my grandmother to let her know I’ll be there soon.” She leaned over and kissed him. “Thanks.”
As she disappeared up the stairs, there was a knock on the door and Francis pushed open. “Hey, Jase. Mrs. C wants to speak to Miss Webber.”
Carly slowly came in, not nearly as mobile in her eighth month of pregnancy. “Man, this sucks. I don’t remember being this miserable with Michael.”
Jason stood to take her hand and lower her to the armchair. “You were too busy making sure AJ was out of the picture, that I was agreeing to help you and that Tony was far away from you.”
“Hmm…yeah, I was distracted.” She glanced around. “Where’s the Muffin?”
“Getting ready for lunch with her grandmother.”
“She gets to go out?” Carly pouted. “Lucky brat.” She sighed. “But even if I wanted to go out, I don’t know where I’d go. I’m fat, Jason. And this is your fault.”
He heard Elizabeth laugh as she came down the stairs. “Carly, how do you figure Jason got you in this mess?”
“He convinced me to marry Sonny,” Carly grumbled. “Ipso facto, that makes it his fault.”
Elizabeth frowned, with a good natured smile. “Ipso facto? When did you learn Latin?”
“I get very, bored Muffin. I read a list of Latin terms on the Internet and for funsies, I memorized them.” Carly groaned and let her head fall back. “That’s where I am in this pregnancy, Jason. I am so bored I’m learning crap.”
“Well, that’s a cause for alarm.” Elizabeth leaned in and kissed Jason on the cheek. “I’ll be back from lunch in a few hours.”
“Be careful,” Jason called after her as she pulled open the door. Carly twisted slightly in her chair and frowned.
“Well, frick, I didn’t even get to ask her if she finished the sketch for Morgan’s nursery. I want to paint his name on the wall, and she said she’d work on something arty for me.” She pursed her lip. “Well…now that I’ve docked myself here, I’m going to annoy you for at least ten minutes to make this trip worth it.”
Jason sighed and sat on the sofa. “Nothing new there, Carly.”
“Did Muffin show you the colors she picked out for Cady’s room?” Carly asked.
“Are you ever going to stop calling her that?” Jason asked, ignoring her. “She has a name, Carly.”
“Bah. She likes it, I think. It’s our thing.” She narrowed her eyes. “I thought you guys settled things, that you were on the same page about the baby.”
“I’m still not having is conversation with you,” Jason told her. He barely wanted to have this conversation with himself much less Carly, but she was, as she’d put it, docked in his living room and it wasn’t as though he could physically kick her out.
“I swear to God, Jason Morgan, if you screw this up after I’ve gone to the trouble of working the Muffin into my life, I will never let you hear the end of it,” Carly snarled. She pointed her index finger at him. “Do you understand me? I bonded with the woman. She’s designing my nursery. I helped her with the colors for hers. I bought her freaking baby clothes. I did everything you and Sonny wanted me to do, and—”
“Carly, it’s okay if you like Elizabeth. Most people do,” Jason interrupted, ignoring the purpose of her rant and just enjoying Carly’s annoyance. “It’s not a bad thing to make a friend.”
“Oh, piss off.” Carly narrowed her eyes. “Oh, no, Jason. I see what you did there. Trying to lull me into a sense of security by insulting me so I won’t notice you’re avoiding me again. Damn it, Jason, are you going to make me say it straight out? Again? How many times do I have to tell you that the only person screwing your relationship up this time is you?” She scowled. “And you know I hate to take her side, but frick it, I don’t have a choice—”
“Do you want me to help you up?” Jason said blandly. Carly’s scowl only intensified, and then he was mildly horrified to see her eyes were almost glossy. “Carly—”
“You think I’m stupid? That I don’t get it?” She dug her elbows into the armchair, trying to hoist herself to her feet. Reflexively, Jason hauled her up. “You want the Muffin to stay, but you’re pretty sure she won’t. Which means you’ll watch another mother take another child you love away from you.”
Because he was annoyed to discover Carly did, in fact, get it, he just shook his head. “I told you, Carly—”
“You have to have this conversation with someone, Jason.” Carly braced a hand at her back. “Because if you don’t, you’re going to get exactly what you deserve. No mother should ever feel like her child is a burden or obligation. After everything I put you through with Michael, you never made me once feel like you regretted it. You hated what I did, what Robin did, but I know you. You’d do it all over again.”
Jason swallowed hard. “Carly—”
“So why do I rate that kind of consideration, but the woman you’re stupid about doesn’t?” Tears were sliding out of Carly’s eyes, and she swiped angrily at them. “You see what happens? I’m crying over goddamn Elizabeth Muffin Webber.” She started across the room, but turned at the door. “You deserve everything you get if you keep making her feel like her baby isn’t good enough. And if I’m wrong, and it’s not because of Michael, but because of Ric Lansing, well, then…” She huffed. “You don’t deserve her anyway. Which only pisses me off more.”
She opened the door, stepped gingerly out into the hallway, and then slammed it behind her.
Corinthos-Morgan Coffee Warehouse: Sonny’s Office
Sonny Corinthos had a pisser of a headache brewing and the reason for it stood in his office, clutching his laptop to his chest with one hand, a sheaf of papers in the other, and a goddamn beanie cap on his head. He knew he wasn’t a good person, but what had he ever done to deserve Damien Spinelli?
“So, Mr. Sir, as I had previously stated, the shell companies were quite well hidden, and it was only through the talent of the Jackal that I was able to—”
Sonny cut off the rambling young man with a hand and looked at Jason. “Long story short. I read Spinelli’s report. I read it five times. I still don’t understand this bullshit. He doesn’t listen to me when I tell him to speak English. I’m hoping you’ll scare him.”
Jason, who looked worn out, rubbed his eyes and turned his best lethal glare on Spinelli. The other man gulped and cleared his throat. “Yes, Stone Cold, sir. The shell companies that were receiving the siphoned funds from the casinos were very complicated, and I managed to track them back to the Lansing family out of Crimson Pointe.”
Sonny had the sudden urge to slam his head into the desk. Fucking Lansing family. Fucking Crimson Pointe. Fucking Anthony goddamn Zacchara. He was a crazy son of a bitch and made Sonny look like the poster child for mental health. “So it was Trevor Lansing, and therefore, Zacchara.”
“Not necessarily, Mr. Sir,” Spinelli bobbed his head. “The Lansing holdings are enormously diverse and therefore I am still untangling which member of the family owns what. Several of the shell companies appeared to go right to Richard Lansing, while one or two of them passed through Trevor Lansing’s hands before being transferred first to one Anthony Zacchara, then back to Richard Lansing. I cannot say at this time who makes the final decisions.”
Jason folded her arms and scowled. “Will you be able to at some point? You’re supposed to be good at this.”
Spinelli drew himself up, indignant. “I will have you know that the Jackal is unsurpassed in cyberspace, but I cannot create records or databases that simply do not exist. I have to hack into Swiss bank accounts and offshore Caymans to pinpoint the exact withdrawer of the finds. This is not a point and click operation.” He coughed. “Sir. I should know by the end of the week. I humbly apologize for the—”
“Ah, stop talking or I’m going to shoot you,” Sonny muttered, covering his face with his hands. “Go away. Drink all the orange soda you can get your hands on and come back and tell me if which son of a bitch is gunning for me.”
“I will accede to your wishes, Mr. Sir.” Spinelli looked at Jason. “Stone Cold, sir.” And with that, the computer hacker had disappeared out of the office.
“I think Stan was fucking with me when he put me in touch with this bastard,” Sonny all but moaned. “Because, sure, he knows what he’s doing, but I’ll end up murdering him in the process.” He stabbed a finger at Jason. “And you’re gonna testify on my behalf, Jase. You’re going to tell them I was provoked.”
“He didn’t give us much to work with,” Jason sighed, lowering himself into a chair. “But it’s something to keep in mind. None of the Families have been as helpful as we’d hoped they’d be, but the Zaccharas even less.”
“Trevor doesn’t like me because of my mother.” Sonny rubbed his bottom lip. “Tell you what—knowing the connection between my mother and Lansing helps me understand why Zacchara’s always been a pain in my ass. Always more difficult than it needs to be with negotiations. Bastard’s been after me for years.”
“But he’s been content to stick it to you in small ways,” Jason pointed out. “He apparently gets more satisfaction from needling you rather than going after you the way Ric apparently did.”
“True.” Sonny sighed. “Still no closer to tracking that bastard down. I’d be a lot happier if I could watch him sink to the bottom of the harbor.” Suddenly he felt every inch of his nearly forty years. “If I had just let you kill him after what we found out about Carly, Elizabeth wouldn’t be going through this. She must be going insane, stuck in that penthouse.”
“She negotiated her way into lunch with her grandmother today,” Jason admitted. “For two hours. I got a call from Dominic before I came in that she was home. But yeah, she’s starting to get antsy.”
“She good otherwise?” Sonny asked. “Health wise?”
“Fine,” Jason said, and Sonny was surprised by the edge in his tone.
“You sure? You don’t sound like she’s fine.” Sonny crossed to the mini bar and poured himself some water. “Carly wants to drag her out for baby furniture this week. I want them to sit in the penthouse with a computer so they can order online—”
“Why can’t either of you just drop it?” Jason demanded. “I get it. Neither one of you think I’m doing anything right. I’m a complete failure. I don’t need you two to double team me.”
Sonny blinked, his water in his hand. “Ah…I’m not sure what you mean, Jase. It’s called conversation.”
“You think I don’t know what the situation is?” Jason dug the heel of his hand into his eye. “I live with it every day. I know I messed this up, just like I did last year. I get it. I do not want you or Carly shoving it in my face—”
“Um.” Sonny turned his head slightly, trying to understand what was going on here. Clearly, Jason was having a bit of temper tantrum. He didn’t even know that was possible. “I’m sorry?” he offered.
“Whatever.” Jason grabbed a stack of files. “I’m going home.”
“Okay,” Sonny drawled and watched his best friend all but stomp out of the room. Well, what the hell crawled up his ass and died?
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
“Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop.”
Sonny grinned and dug his thumb into the arch of his wife’s foot. “Rough day?”
“Boring day.” Carly tilted her head back against the arm of the sofa, her feet in Sonny’s lap. She closed her eyes. “I went to Jason’s to nag the Muffin, but she was being granted parole for a few hours. I yelled at Jason and came home to buy more clothes. Sonny, you never should have shown me how to shop online. It’s going to be a problem.”
“We’ll have to build another closet,” Sonny mused. He continued his massage. “What’d you yell at Jason about? He seemed tense.”
“You know how you told me to stay out of it?” Carly said with a sigh. “I hate to say this, maybe you were right. I thought I was helping. I didn’t do anything. There were no tapes, no wires, no outside forces. I just…told Jason he was making Elizabeth miserable about her pregnancy. And when I saw her setting up a nursery, I thought he’d heard me. That I was getting through to him, but I don’t know, Sonny.” She leaned up on her elbows to meet his eyes. “I think I’ve nagged him too much, and he’s digging in his heels.”
“I think Jason will straighten this out without our help,” Sonny said. “He managed to get this far—”
“But he didn’t, Sonny.” Carly huffed and laid back down, staring at the ceiling as Sonny’s fingers stilled on her ankle. “Elizabeth told me that she’s brought up all the changes. That the day after she moved in, she’s the one that insisted they start dealing with their garbage. That she’s always the one to bring up the future. And he caught her going through baby clothes she was stashing in the closet, so she figured he felt guilty.”
Sonny paused. “Elizabeth is confiding in you a lot.”
“Bite me, bastard. I’m not thrilled about it either, but this is my life now. I figured Jason was going to keep her this time. She’s having a baby, he loves babies, he…” Her nose wrinkled. “He…loves her, I guess. If we can use that word. They’re sleeping together. So I figured I should…not chase her away. It never kept her away, so it was just a waste of energy. So I gave her a chance, and I just…” Damn hormones, because she felt tears burning in her eyes again. “I see how I felt when I was pregnant with Michael. When I was pregnant with our first son. Desperate. Trying to make a better life for myself, making mistakes everywhere I turned. I was so sure that you didn’t want the baby, or that you wanted it with anyone but me.”
“You sympathize with her,” Sonny said. She scowled at him, opening her eyes and raising her head. “It’s not a horrible thing, Carly. You found yourself pregnant with my child, when we hated one another, when I used you to make a point to Jason. I know…” He hesitated. “I know you doubted going through with it.”
“I did,” Carly sighed. “But I was never sorry that I had. And I know Elizabeth must have thought about not doing it either, but…” She squeezed her eyes shut. “Sonny, what if we’re wrong and the reason Jason isn’t talking about a future with Elizabeth and the baby isn’t because of Michael.”
“You think it’s because of Ric?” Sonny said. He sighed, absently tracing circles on her ankle. “I’ve wondered. I love Michael as my own son, and I know Jason did. Still does, I’m sure. But maybe it’s harder when you look at the woman you love having a child that was conceived with a man you loathe during a period of time you were separated. Do you think he thinks the baby is a mistake?”
“I want to say no,” Carly said softly. “I want to believe that Jason still holds true to what he used to say. A baby is a person. He doesn’t belong to anyone, but himself. He used to say that he wanted to protect Michael from the Quartermaines until he was old enough to make his own choices, until Michael could decide to have AJ for himself. I remember how perfect he was with Michael, how much he loved this little boy that wasn’t his, that he always knew wasn’t biologically his. I’ve known children who weren’t loved as well by their actual parents the way Jason loved Michael. So…how can you think he wouldn’t feel that way about Elizabeth’s child?”
“I’m not saying it has to make sense,” Sonny sighed. “I’m saying that maybe Jason doesn’t even understand it. I think it’s more about not wanting to lose another child. I don’t think he believes he and Elizabeth are going to last.”
“But why?” Carly again leaned up on her elbows. “Believe me, I’ve tried to get rid of her, but she keeps popping back up, so I figure she wants to be in it for the long haul. I see the way she talks about him, you know, and I get it. I see them working, so why can’t he?”
“I wish I knew,” Sonny said. “But Carly, it’s not our job to fix their problems. To make them go away.”
“Why not?” Carly demanded. “Jason always fixes mine. Why shouldn’t it be my job to do it for him? I just want him to be happy, you know. Because I hurt him so much, and I can’t ever make that go away. I can’t ever take back letting him fall in love with Michael, with running to the Quartermaines and calling him a kidnapper, with marrying AJ…sleeping with you. I can’t take those things back, so I have to give him something else to make up for it. I have make sure he’s happy.”
“I tried, I really. I thought Courtney would work. She seemed…well, I don’t know. She seemed okay, and I could put up with her. I figured that would be good, if I could tolerate the woman in his life so he’d stay my friend. Elizabeth never liked me, so maybe he would have distanced himself from me if she’d stayed, but Courtney was your sister. She couldn’t take Jason away. So I thought they’d work and I pressured them both. But she wasn’t right for him.”
“No, she wasn’t, but Carly—”
“I know it’s selfish, but I want him to be happy so I can forgive myself for everything I did to him. You get it, right? If he’s happy, then I didn’t break him for good.”
“Carly, you didn’t break Jason—”
“No?” Carly demanded. “Then explain to me why he has everything he wants in his reach and he’s doing everything he can to destroy it? If that’s not someone I broke, I don’t know what is.”