And I would let you know
You cannot walk away
Cause there are things to say
And I know that you might
Not see this tonight
But there are things to say
We have life to make
– Things to Say, SafetySuit
Friday, January 9, 2004
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“Every time I see her,” Emily said, smiling even as she changed Cady’s diaper, “her face is changing. She looks so much like you.” She smiled at her friend, relieved to be in the same room as Elizabeth and Nadine.
“Thank you!” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “I asked Jason if he thought she had my eyes and you know what he said to me?”
“She has her own eyes?” Emily suggested, and three of them laughed, because even Nadine knew how literal Jason could be by this point. “Yeah, he’s annoying like that.” She looked down at the eyes in question and smiled. “I was hoping she might have Jason’s eye color, but I think they’re going to be more like yours, Elizabeth.” She handed over the infant.
Elizabeth hesitated and frowned at her. “Why do you think that?”
“Yeah, I read that baby’s eye colors change constantly over their first year.” Nadine leaned over to peer at them. “They’re like…grayish.”
Elizabeth sniffed. “They’re slate-blue,” she said, and Emily rolled her eyes. Trust Elizabeth to be picky over color.
“I say that,” Emily said, “because I don’t know much about genetics, but Jason’s eyes are really light, so if they were going to be that color, they would be already. Eyes change color because of pigment, and it goes without saying that light blue eyes don’t need a lot of pigment.”
“Fair point,” Nadine nodded.
Emily frowned when Elizabeth looked uncomfortable with the turn in conversation. She thought it would be great if Cady had her father’s eyes, because they were Lila’s eyes, but Elizabeth’s were nice, too. At least she knew they were going to be blue…
And then looked at Cady again. At her eyes. Which had been light blue when she’d been born, and now they were darkening.
She cleared her throat. “So, how is it being new parents? Are you and Jason…adjusting well?” When Elizabeth hesitated, Emily sighed, because even though they’d been trying, she knew Elizabeth was apprehensive about sharing anything personal with her. Not that Emily could blame her, since she’d royally screwed up the last time her friend had confided in her. But she had worked through her anger—had even had a long web chat with Lucky to clear the air.
“You don’t have to answer that.” Emily forced a smile on her face. “How long before she rolls over? Or sits up?”
“I…” Elizabeth wrinkled her nose and leaned over to place Cady in her bouncing seat on top of the coffee table. She flicked it on, and the baby began to lightly bounce. “No, it’s okay, Em. If we’re going to be friends again, really friends, we have to start somewhere.”
“Great, because I have been dying to ask.” Nadine popped a handful of popcorn in her mouth. “I’ve been so busy with my sister and then Christmas at the hospital that I haven’t been able to bug you. Last I heard, you kicked Jason out of the delivery room.”
“Yeah, I heard about that through the hospital grapevine, but you know, you’re not the only mom to do that, according to Kelly.” Emily shrugged.”
“Well, to be honest, Em…Jason and I had a lot of rough patches,” Elizabeth said slowly. “When this started, it was just…it was a mess. I mean…” She shifted and cast her eyes away. “You know we hurt a lot of people with how it started.”
“Because of me,” Emily said. “You don’t have to sugarcoat it.”
“I was hoping we wouldn’t,” Nadine murmured and Emily shot her a look. “What? Hey, I’m glad you guys are okay now, which means hopefully you’ll stop shooting me dirty looks in the hallway, but I’m a straight shooter. You were a turd.”
“Don’t…” Elizabeth sighed. “Don’t start. Emily, Nadine has been there for me when you just…wouldn’t be. So she’s annoyed on my behalf, because she was also my OB nurse, and so she knows about my blood pressure problems, which was…part of the reason I moved in with Jason in the first place.” She cast her eyes to Nadine, and Emily nodded. Smack her down, too. “And Nadine, I appreciate it, but Emily and I are doing better.”
“Fair enough.” Nadine sipped her soda.
“Understood,” Emily said.
“Now…like I said, I didn’t move in with Jason for romantic reasons. They were purely practical. He was concerned…about my health. And….we were still tiptoeing around each other. We made things…more difficult than they had to be. So, I made him talk to me about some of the things that went wrong. We started to clear the air. And then…” Her face flushed and she looked away. “We…started to…get closer.”
Emily grimaced. “Got it. Sexy sexy good times with my brother. You can save those details for Nadine.”
“Because how else shall I live vicariously through her?” Nadine sighed, dreamily. “They’re good details, though, Em. You might want to try sitting through them. There’s a great pool table story—”
“Anyway.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “We weren’t talking about what was next. How we were going to deal with Cady…he was always so uncomfortable when we talked about her. I just…thought he might not love her as much as he could because of how it started.”
Emily opened her mouth, because really what nonsense, and then she closed it. Because she got it. She understood it all. Cady’s eyes were darkening, would probably end up being brown by the end of the year. And Elizabeth had quit her job and moved in with Jason for safety reasons.
And then someone had tried to kidnap her.
She squared her shoulders. “Well, I guess you’ve worked it out mostly, then.”
“It was touch and go for a while, and I think Jason thought I was going to leave him after she was born. So he took a trip to Puerto Rico right before she was due.” Elizabeth changed the speed on the seat from fast to slow. “I knew he had to go, that it had to be Sonny or Jason, and Carly would have cut Sonny if he’d disappeared five seconds after Morgan was born when he’d been gone for weeks last summer.”
“Still,” Emily said, “it must have hurt for you to think he would miss his daughter’s birth.”
“And that’s why I threw him out of the delivery room. But I guess the way I did it, or whatever Carly babbled at him afterwards, did the trick. We’re not perfect yet,” Elizabeth added. “But it’s been great this last month. You know what a wonderful father he was to Michael, Em.”
“I do. And any thoughts Jason might have had about how Cady got here, it’s clear he doesn’t see her that way now.” Emily tucked her hair behind her ears. “Right?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth confirmed. “I mean…there’s still some things up in the air. We both still have trust issues, but we’re making a conscious effort to talk about them now, and not just assume.” This last past she addressed to Nadine, and Emily tried not to feel left out as it was clear that she was receiving the glossed over version and Nadine had been privy to the details.
She could not be angry that Elizabeth had found someone she was close to, someone to take on the role of best friend and confidant. As Jason’s sister and Elizabeth’s best friend, it should have been her. And it was her own fault it hadn’t been.
“Well, hello, it’s all I’ve been saying since day one.” Nadine looked to Emily. “Months, I tell you. Months, I spent telling her just to talk to him. I almost talked to him myself.”
“Ha, that I would have liked to see.” Emily smiled, and reminded herself again, she had no one to blame but herself for being on the outside looking in. She looked at Elizabeth. “So you’re going to be okay?”
“All things considered…” Elizabeth’s mouth curved into a smile as she looked at her daughter. “I’m going to be great.”
The door opened then, and Jason entered. He stopped, seeing the living room full of women. “Ah…” He cleared his throat. “I can come back.”
Elizabeth laughed and rolled her eyes. “Like you don’t live here. Nadine has a shift in a half hour anyway, and it’s time for Cady to go down for a nap.” She unstrapped her daughter from the seat. She and Nadine said their goodbyes, and with minutes, Emily was alone with her brother.
Elizabeth had forgiven her much more easily than her brother, and with what Emily had realized during this visit, she wasn’t sure why either of them were even speaking to her. It was clear that Cady was not Jason’s biological daughter, which meant she had set Ric on Elizabeth all those months ago, when she’d been trying to prove something to herself. She had put Elizabeth and her child in danger, and Jason had spent months cleaning up the mess.
Sure, it had worked out in some ways. Even she could see that Jason was happier with Elizabeth than he’d been with Courtney—she couldn’t understand why she’d ever felt differently. And Elizabeth was certainly happier. Cady couldn’t do better for a father.
But at the end of the day, Emily had been the reason for it. Emily was the reason her best friend and her child were probably still in danger.
She hesitated and looked at Jason. “You know that I love you, right?”
Jason sighed and lowered himself onto the sofa. “Yeah. I know that.”
“And…I know what I did…all the things I did, but especially telling Ric Elizabeth was pregnant was wrong. I mean, I only hinted to him, but I made it clear. And I know…that made everything so much more difficult.”
Even if she’d only doubted before, the way Jason’s eyes snapped to hers told her everything she needed to know. And she was heartbroken because it was clear that it was probably something Elizabeth would have told her, if they’d been friends.
“Because you and Elizabeth didn’t get to handle this the way you wanted to,” Emily cut in swiftly. “I mean, you guys probably had a plan how to break the news, and I just…ruined it. And then I treated Liz like crap for weeks. I didn’t even think about what it might be doing to her health until you…until that day at Kelly’s. And I felt so stupid, because I’m a med student. I should have. I made everything worse.”
“It’s over now, Emily.” Jason shrugged. “It was up to Elizabeth to forgive you—”
“And for some reason, she has, but I know…you haven’t.” Jason didn’t look at her, and she sighed. “It’s okay. You shouldn’t. I know now how ridiculous I was, how stupid I was to assume I knew better than you what you needed. I look at you now, with Elizabeth and with Cady, and I see the way it should have been ages ago. Would have been if I’d been a better friend and stopped pressuring her to fix Lucky and follow her heart. So, you have my promise now, Jason. I have learned my lesson. From now on, you have my unwavering support.”
She stood and leaned over to kiss his cheek. “You are my brother, and I just want you to be happy. And Elizabeth is my oldest friend, so that’s what I want for her. Lucky for me, I don’t have to worry anymore, because you going to make each other happy.” She drew on her jacket and wrapped her scarf around her. “Let Liz know I had to go—”
Jason got to his feet and wrapped her in a tight hug. “I love you, too, Em.” He drew back and with a half-smile that she knew meant she was forgiven. “Just…don’t do it again.”
Morgan Penthouse: Nursery
Elizabeth was standing over Cady’s crib when she felt Jason standing in the doorway. She glanced at him. “Did you and Em talk? I tried not to make it obvious.”
“I figured when Nadine looked surprised to learn she was leaving.” But he didn’t look annoyed, only…contemplative. He joined her, and they watched their daughter sleep.
Elizabeth’s hand froze as she leaned down to stroke Cady’s back. She raised her eyes to Jason. “W-What?”
“I don’t…know how she guessed it,” Jason continued. “But the way she was talking…about having created this mess. If she believed the lie, she wouldn’t have been so forceful about it. She kept saying she’d made it worse.”
She sighed. “I thought she might have suspected. Nadine and I haven’t really had a chance to get together since she came back from New York, with Cady and Christmas, so she asked me how you and I were doing. She’d heard the rumors about the delivery room.” She looked at him, her heart aching. “I am so sorry I did that to you. For one thing, you missed her being born. And secondly, I know if too many people talked, it might have created problems.”
“I don’t…I don’t care about any of that.” Jason shook his head. “You…did what you had to do get through that moment, and you and I were…not talking. We were both protecting ourselves.”
Still. “Anyway,” Elizabeth continued. “I tried to give Em the cliff notes version on why that happened, how us not talking snowballed until I kicked you out. But while Nadine could swallow a story about me not thinking you were interested in your own child, Emily actually knows us. Which means she knows how you felt about Michael, and she also knows that I know it, too. So…she just looked at me.”
“I don’t think she’ll say anything,” he said after a moment. “Because she was there when you were almost kidnapped. And it looks like you guys cleared the air as to why you were fighting in the first place. Honestly…I don’t think Emily would have said anything all summer, even when you weren’t talking. There’d be no point.”
“I don’t think she’ll say anything, either.” Elizabeth rested her head against his shoulder. “I shouldn’t stand in here while she’s sleeping. I know it might wake her up.”
“And yet you do it all the time,” he said, voice teasing.
“I just…don’t like her being out of my sight,” she sighed. “I can see for myself that she’s safe.”
He wrapped an arm around her waist and tucked her into her side. “I know you’re still scared.”
“But it’s so much worse now, Jason,” she confessed. “Before, I carried her inside of me. I could protect her. And now, she’s her own person. If they got past me—”
“They’re not going to—”
“But they could. I’m not saying it wouldn’t take a catastrophe. I know if they got to me, it’s because they’ve gone around you and Sonny…which is no minor feat…” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “But I find myself and looking at her and imagining the worst case scenarios. I just want to protect her.”
“I know. We’re doing everything we can—”
“What is he waiting for?” The words burst out of her in a harsh whisper, and Jason led her away from the crib and into the hallway. She kept herself together until they were in their bedroom and then she just couldn’t. “Why doesn’t he just come for her? Why doesn’t he go after you? Or Sonny? What is the point of all this, Jason? What is he doing? It’s been almost a year!”
He dipped his head and drew in a deep breath. “I know. I want him to come at me, so I can end this, and it makes Sonny nervous that Ric’s just…circling. He didn’t show this level of patience last year.” He drew her close and she pressed her face into the warmth and comfort of his shirt. “We think he just can’t get to you. You rarely leave the penthouse, especially not since Cady was born. I’m always with you when you do. When you do go out without me, you take two guards for you and one for Cady.”
She huffed. “So you’ve done such a good job of protecting us that we’ve drawn it out this long.” She tilted her head back and smiled wryly at him. “It sounds insane. But…no, I guess you’re right. I don’t go anywhere alone, which I used to find restricting, but after I woke up in the hospital, Nadine across the hall from me recuperating from a bruised back…I don’t care if I ever leave this penthouse if it means our daughter is safe.”
“He’s been more patient than I would have thought possible.” His hand smoothed up and down her back. “Especially working with Faith Roscoe. She’s more hotheaded than that, or we thought so. But I’m getting tired of it, too, Elizabeth. I don’t want you to live like this. I don’t want Cady’s first months to be like this. I mean, it’s winter now and it’s not like she’d be out much anyway.”
“But I want to take her for walks in the spring,” Elizabeth murmured. “I want us to have a normal life. Well…as normal as it can get anyway. With just one guard.”
She drew back again, letting some space fill in between their bodies. “I’m not blaming you for not finding him. You know that, right?”
He rubbed the edge of his eyebrow. “I’m blaming me for letting him walk away that day on the docks. For not realizing Sonny would eventually overlook the brother thing. I had my hands wrapped around his neck…” He trailed off. “I shouldn’t…talk like that in front of you.”
“Oh…for…” Elizabeth sighed and rolled her eyes. “Jason, do you honestly think I’m unaware of what you do for a living? Or do you prefer to think I am?”
“I…” He hesitated. “I don’t know the answer to that.”
She pulled away from him and sat on the edge of the bed. “I mean, it’s not like I want specifics or…” She waved her hand. “Itineraries of your daily activities, but please give me some credit.”
Jason just stood in front of her, blinking at her. Well, maybe they did need to have this conversation. “You remember when you said you didn’t want my face to change?”
He exhaled slowly, and looked away but offered a short nod.
“Well, all summer, you and Sonny have hunted down Ric and Faith. You toss around words like deal with and handle, but Carly and I both know what they mean. And the reasons I walked away from you that October?” She shrugged. “Those were about trust. About the way you treated me. Made me feel like I didn’t matter. Not because of your job.”
“Maybe you would prefer it if I pretended I didn’t know better.” Elizabeth tilted her head to the side. “Would it make you feel better if I thought you imported coffee beans?”
He sat next to her on the bed, and shook his head. “No. But that’s not same thing as wanting you to know what I am.”
“What you are?” she echoed. “Jason, in a perfect mafia world, you wouldn’t have to…” She shrugged. “Enforce anything. You and Sonny could just break all the gaming and smuggling laws you want. Or whatever laws get broke when you do what you do. I’ve never really thought about it, honestly.”
“A perfect mafia world?” And she was surprised to see a smile ghost across his lips. “Elizabeth.”
“Jason, I know why Sonny got in this business. He didn’t have power growing up, so he went out and took it. You…didn’t have a future. Direction. Nothing else really to live for. So Sonny gave you something. He gave you a code, maybe. Or…” She reached into his lap and took his hand in hers. “It’s not as if either of you sat down and decided to enjoy a life of violence. It’s a byproduct of the other stuff, and it’s not something either of you relish.”
“And that makes it okay for you?” Jason asked. “How—”
“It doesn’t need to be okay for me. I don’t have to go out and do what you do.” She leaned her head against his shoulder. “Jason, at the end of the day, I love you. And I’ll tell you that as often as you need to hear it until you believe that I see who you are. The good, the bad. I know your virtues and I know your flaws. And the only thing that I don’t like…” He raised his head at that and met hers. “I don’t like that sometimes you think it’s more important for the other person to be happy than it is for you. You don’t reach out for what you want enough.”
“It’s not always there for me to have,” he said quietly. “So reaching out for nothing…”
“But if you don’t reach out, it won’t be there.” She sighed. “Jason, I was making plans to move out while you were in Puerto Rico. I hadn’t spoken to Sonny, but I thought…there must be another apartment in this building that we could make as secure as the penthouse. Because you just…wouldn’t look me in the eye and tell me that you were unsure of your role in my daughter’s life. Instead, you spent months avoiding the question, to the point that I thought you couldn’t love her because her Ric’s blood ran through her veins.”
“I never cared about that.” He shook his head. “But…I knew you were thinking it. Even before you said it that day in the nursery. Carly warned me for months. Sonny did, too. But I just didn’t…I don’t know. I would tell myself to stop it, to go to your appointments and be involved, but I just couldn’t…do it.”
“I don’t want you to think this was all your fault, though.” Elizabeth nudged his side. “Because it’s not like I spoke up either. We’d spent months avoiding each other’s existence, trying to pretend we could move on. I hated every minute you were with Courtney, but I kept telling myself maybe she gave you what you needed. Maybe she could make you happier than I could, and I really thought….that would be enough for me.”
“With Courtney…it was just…” He took a deep breath and looked at her. “I cared about her. I won’t lie and say I didn’t. But I didn’t at first. And never the way she needed me to. At first, it was just…you were gone, and she was there. I kept…hearing your words about being Sonny’s enforcer and that was all…I wanted to make that go away…”
“I am so sorry I said those things to you,” she murmured. “I…lash out when I’m angry, but I shouldn’t have done that. And I shouldn’t have frozen you out when you came to see me the next day.”
“Knowing what I know now…and even what I knew then, I knew how upset you were. But it just…kept spiraling out of control. Because Alcazar was still out there, and Sonny was still…insisting I guard Courtney, and I didn’t want to rock the boat with him, because he was still in difficult place. And then you went off with Lucky.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Yeah. It was just to get my mind off things. I thought I’d head out of town for a while, figure things out. Get my head clear, get away and maybe I’d be less upset when I came home.” Elizabeth sighed. “But when I came back…you were married to Brenda. And I just…I felt like I didn’t even know you anymore. And I was…almost sure something was happening with Courtney. So…I was angry. And then…” She looked away, looked at their joined hands. “Ric was there.”
“Because of me,” he said tightly, but she shook her head.
“He approached me because of you, but I was lonely. A-and I wasn’t feeling particularly good about myself. You know…maybe if Courtney had just…been a brunette.” She huffed. “Another dumb blonde. Story of my life.”
He frowned, shaking his head. “What?”
“All my life, guys went for Sarah first,” Elizabeth clarified. “Even when I moved to town, Lucky wanted Sarah. He got over her, and we connected. But you know, in the end…he slept with her. And then you and Courtney, and Ric and Faith.” She grimaced. “Why can’t there be more redheads? Anyway. So, there I was, in my eyes, left for another blonde, feeling like I could never quite measure up, and Ric…had apparently done some really good research.” She rolled her eyes, feeling stupid all over again.
“Elizabeth, he was a con artist,” Jason told her. “He snowed Carly. He snowed Hector Ruiz and Daniel Vega, and without going into details, to say that they’re not exactly gullible would be an understatement. It was my fault Ric went after you, and it was my fault you were in a position to feel vulnerable.”
“Jason, you do not get take responsibility for everything. Let me own up to my own mistakes. There were signs Ric wasn’t telling the truth. I would catch him in lies. He could never explain why he had to work for Sonny. But…h-he was charming. And he made time for me. And he told me how much he cared about me. He gave me all the words that I wanted from you and never got. But that’s my fault. For thinking that words matter more than actions.” She shook her head. “Anyway. None of this is really the point. What I was trying to say before we got…off on the topic of…well…I was trying to say that you don’t reach out for what you want, but I’m afraid to rock the boat.”
“So…when you were talking about how we were only living in the moment,” Jason said, slowly, “you didn’t see it…us…as temporary. But that we were just…ignoring the next step.”
“Yeah. I mean, we were just…working things out. Jason, we’ve barely dated. In fact…” She laughed slightly. “We dated more before we were involved, so I guess if we count all those rides and the pool playing, and the hot chocolate on the docks…anyway, we skipped all the stuff in between. We’d barely been together and I was living with you. I was afraid that if we talked about Cady in anything other than an abstract concept that needed to be protected from Ric, you would…look at me like I was insane for suggesting that five minutes after we’re together, I’d like you to help raise my daughter. Be her father.”
“I…wanted her to be mine,” Jason admitted. “And maybe that was part of the problem. I didn’t care that Ric was her biological father. I still don’t. He and Sonny share the same blood, and it doesn’t bother me. I just…” He paused. “I would think about her, and know that it was my fault she wasn’t. That if I had just…shown you how much I loved you. If I had told you the truth, or…just shipped Zander off to a damn safe house with a guard…that she could have been mine. And maybe that bothered me more than I’d like.”
“Well, that’s natural.” When he just sighed, she nudged him again with her shoulder. “It is. I don’t regret having her. I love her exactly as she is, but I’d be a liar if I didn’t wish she were yours. I know you don’t like to do that, the what-ifs, but I can’t stop sometimes. So, Jason, she’s not your blood. But you know how it is with Sonny and Carly? Blood doesn’t make a family. They’re your family, it’s why Carly decided to…” She raised her eyebrows. “I don’t know…look after me. Sometimes, you get to choose your family. And I want to choose mine. I want to choose you for me and for Cady.”
“And I want that,” Jason said, his voice low but fervent. “I want to choose you and Cady to be my family. I love you, Elizabeth. I can’t…take back all those times I should have said it and didn’t, but I can say it from now on.”
“I love you, too.” She leaned forward and kissed him with all the love and passion inside her, wrapping her arms around his neck. He deepened the kiss, nipping at her lower lip so she parted them.
He pressed her back into the mattress and she started to lose herself in the moment, before remembering that, unfortunately…she’d given birth the month before. “Jason,” she murmured as his lips trailed down her throat. “As much as I’d like to see this happen…”
His breath was hot on her neck, and he drew back slightly. “You can’t, though.”
“Nope.” She grinned, dancing her fingers up his chest. “At least two more weeks. I go back and see Kelly, then. Maybe she’ll give me the green light.”
He dropped his head against her chest, and she giggled a little, knowing exactly how he felt. She wanted to be close to him, to feel him inside her, knowing that for the first time in years, they had no secrets. No fears. They had done what seemed all those months ago to be impossible…they’d been honest and now they couldn’t even celebrate.
“I should go talk to Sonny.” He rose to his feet, and drew her up with him. “Because you’re right. We need to figure out what Ric’s plan is. I don’t want to put our lives on hold anymore.” He kissed her again, and she almost forgot her doctor’s medical advice.
“I love you,” she murmured against his lips. “And I love that I can say that to you. I never thought we’d get back here. I thought we’d missed our chance.”
Cady’s cry came over the monitor and broke their kiss. She sighed and wiggled her shoulders. “Well, then I guess it’s a good thing we couldn’t do more, because it sounds like Cady’s ready to be fed.” She brushed another kiss against his lips. “You go talk to Sonny, and find something for dinner. I’ll go feed our daughter.”
She glanced over her shoulder to find him smiling at her, and was ridiculously relieved that Carly had talked her out of moving out while he was in Puerto Rico. She might have missed this moment, and she was done wasting time.