Don’t know where she belongs, where she belongs
She wants to go home, but nobody’s home
It’s where she lies, broken inside
With no place to go, no place to go to dry her eyes.
– Nobody’s Home, Avril Lavigne
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Lucky Spencer closed his arms around Elizabeth’s shoulders and squeezed her tight. “I’m going to miss you guys.” He drew back and reached for Emily’s hand with a broad smile. “But I’m glad Nikolas and I waited to head to London. We might have missed you otherwise, Em, and I would have hated that.”
“Well, I was excited to get the Musketeers together for a few reunions,” Emily replied, her hand on Nikolas’s shoulder. “It won’t be the same without you guys.”
Elizabeth cleared her throat and smiled at her two oldest friends, though their friendships had been difficult over the last year. “It really won’t. I was just getting used to all four of us in the same city again.”
“But it’d be selfish to ask you to stay,” Emily said, her voice almost sharp. Elizabeth frowned at her, but Emily never met her eyes. “You should be with Laura now that she’s getting better. I’m so glad you guys are taking Lesley and Lulu with you. You know she’ll recover so much faster with everyone in the same place.”
As if missing the underlying tension, Nikolas squeezed Emily’s hand. “Well, you’ll be here to take care of each other and carry on our Kelly’s traditions.”
After a few more hugs, the brothers started for the parking lot, leaving Elizabeth and Emily standing alone in the courtyard. Elizabeth looked over at Emily, who was staring after the others, wistfully.
“I’m glad Laura is showing some improvement,” Elizabeth said, breaking the silence. “It’s hard to think of her like that, locked inside her own mind.”
“I know,” Emily murmured. “She was always so wonderful to me, like a second mother.” She folded her arms across her chest and turned towards the doors. “Are you working today?”
“I had the opening shift,” Elizabeth answered. “So I’m done now.” She hesitated. “Do you…want to get some lunch?” Her throat was thick. “I could really use a friend right now.”
“I would,” Emily said, biting her lip, “but I’m meeting Courtney.” She tucked her hair behind her ears. “Do you want to join us? You guys should really start working past—”
“I’m not really in the mood to have this conversation,” Elizabeth replied. She rubbed her eyes. She still had so much to figure out, and she just…she just couldn’t find it in her to tell Emily how much she really needed her right now. She wasn’t sure Emily would hear her.
“All right,” Emily said, shrugging. “Well, I guess I’ll see you later.”
“I guess so.” Elizabeth waited another moment, but finally left the courtyard. She no longer had the patience to pretend she and Emily were as close as ever, when the truth was…Elizabeth had never felt further away from her.
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Emily set her bag down at an empty table to wait for Courtney. She wished Elizabeth had joined them for lunch. She knew Courtney and Elizabeth had been friendly before, and if Elizabeth could just see how much more suited Courtney was for Jason, she’d really start getting past her feelings.
She had no doubt what Elizabeth had wanted to talk about—Emily had thought of the pregnancy news for days, wondering what Elizabeth intended to do. Emily hoped Elizabeth would confide in Ric—he clearly had monetary resources to support a child, and Emily didn’t think her friend was being all that realistic about her options. Maybe Ric wasn’t the love of her life, but Emily thought that entire concept was a fallacy anyway.
No one fell in love forever.
She was tugging her anatomy textbook from her bag when she saw Ric emerge from the back, having come down from his room. He looked annoyed when he sat at the counter, perusing a menu she was sure he’d memorized. She didn’t know what the problem was with the man. He was handsome and charming, and while he seemed to be focused on getting a job connected to Sonny and Carly, Emily didn’t think that was too awful. It meant Ric was ambitious, that he wanted to make money.
Elizabeth could do worse, Emily decided, and to prove to herself that Elizabeth’s happiness and well-being was still a top priority, she grabbed her bag and abandoned her table for the counter. “Hey. I’m not sure we’ve been introduced,” she said.
Ric glanced at her, and she was surprised at the irritation in his eyes. “I know who you are,” he said shortly. He sipped the coffee Penny had just served him. “And I’m not in the mood for any sanctimonious lectures from Jason Morgan’s little sister or Elizabeth’s best friend.”
Elizabeth must have already broken up with him. Emily took a seat and signaled to Penny that she wanted her usual chamomile tea. “I know you and Liz are having some difficulties,” she said, and winced when Ric snorted. Elizabeth really had burned her bridges, but Emily wasn’t deterred. “She’s just…confused right now. It’s been a tough year for her, and I think you’re exactly what she needs.”
Ric set his coffee down and twisted on the stool to fully face her. “Just…what did Elizabeth tell you about us?” he asked.
“She was thinking of breaking up with you,” Emily answered, spooning some sugar into her tea. “I told her that she shouldn’t be too hasty.” She flashed a smile at her friend’s boyfriend. “I know it might not seem like it right now, but Elizabeth is usually warm and generous. She’s just…it’s been a bad year.” She leaned forward, lowering her voice. “And she really needs the support right now, Ric. No woman should have to face something like this alone.”
His dark brow furrowed and Ric tilted his head to the side. “Face what?” he asked softly.
Emily had no intention of telling him outright Elizabeth was pregnant—that was not her place, but she felt a responsibility to Elizabeth to keep her from making a major mistake, so hints were okay. She cleared her throat. “It’s not something I should be telling you, but I would ask Elizabeth.”
She saw the door swing open and Courtney walked in. Reaching down to grab her bag, and picking up her tea with the other hand, Emily smiled again at him. “I’m serious, Ric. It’s important that you don’t let Elizabeth push you away right now.”
She slid into a chair at the table Courtney had set her things on, and smiled. “Hey!”
“Hey.” Courtney eyed Ric at the counter, and her gaze turned wary as he stood and walked past her without a word. “Why were you talking to Ric Lansing?” She lowered herself into the other chair and turned her coffee cup over.
“Just giving him some encouragement.” Emily sipped her tea. “Elizabeth is pushing him away, but I can’t let her do that. She needs to move on, Courtney, you know that.”
“I know…” Courtney grimaced. “And I hope she does, because I like her, which I know she wouldn’t believe. And I get how easy it is to fall in love with Jason.” She smiled now, as if lit from inside from her happiness. “And he is a wonderful friend, so it must be hard for her to lose that, but I wouldn’t…” She shook her head, her smile dimming. “I wouldn’t wish Ric Lansing on my worst enemy, much less someone I like.”
Emily fisted her hand under the table. “What’s wrong with him?” she asked, irritated. “Elizabeth wouldn’t tell me why she was breaking up with him and now you’re saying these things….he manages Carly’s club, he helped get Jason and Brenda acquitted. What’s wrong with him?” she repeated. She was so tired of being on the outside. This was why Elizabeth was irritating now—because she only told Emily what she thought Emily ought to know, and never the full truth.
“I can’t…” Courtney looked up as Penny poured coffee into her cup. “Thanks, Penny.” When the waitress left, she sighed. “I can’t really talk about it, but if my brother told Elizabeth half of what I think he should have, then Elizabeth should have left a vapor trail in her rush to get away.”
Oh, no. “Is he really that bad?” Emily asked, feeling light-headed. What if he was an awful person who would just hurt Elizabeth and drive all those wonderful qualities she missed so much deeper under the surface? “I just…encouraged him to pursue her.”
“Em…” Courtney shook her head. “That’s just…that’s not a good idea. Jason and Sonny want him out of town, and if Elizabeth knows what they know, she’s just going to resist.” She sat back. “And that’s just going to make it worse.”
And Emily had just hinted to Ric Elizabeth was pregnant. Oh, man. Uneasy, Emily looked towards the door and felt nauseous. Maybe she hadn’t read the situation correctly.
“Maybe it’ll be okay,” Emily said softly. “Maybe she can just get rid of him again.”
“I hope so.” Courtney picked up her tea spoon and tapped it restlessly against her mug. “Because my brother and Jason are going to feel obligated to help since they blame themselves for Ric.” She pressed her lips together. “And the last thing I want is Elizabeth to get involved with Jason again in anyway.”
“Well, it’s not like it would matter,” Emily said. “You said they were never really together, that you and Jason were falling in love when Elizabeth thought they were together. Jason wasn’t really interested.” And she wanted Elizabeth to have access to protection if Ric was as awful as people seemed to think.
Courtney shifted and looked away. “I may have…glossed over a few things,” she admitted. “I know he cared for her, but I didn’t get the impression they were actually dating. He never said anything to me about it and we were together enough, I would have known. And you know, I made Jason promise I wasn’t a rebound.” She placed her hand flat on the table. “It’s just better if…Jason doesn’t think Elizabeth needs help. I don’t…want to take any chances.”
“Right.” Emily frowned, troubled by Courtney’s explanation of the facts and wondering how much of what she thought had happened last summer and last fall was actually true.
Corinthos & Morgan Warehouse: Jason’s Office
The numbers on the ledgers were beginning to blur together as Jason struggled to keep his focus. Three days since he’d warned Ric to get out of town, and the scum was still in his room at Kelly’s as if nothing had changed. He really thought being Sonny’s half-brother offered him protection. Sonny didn’t want him evicted because it was easier to keep an eye on him this way, but Jason just wanted to shove him in the harbor with weights on his feet. He wanted the disgusting son of a bitch to sink to the bottom struggling to breath for what he had done to Carly, to Elizabeth.
He wasn’t a man who could picture things that well, but he would never forget the hitch in Carly’s breath, the tears on her cheeks as she promised Sonny she hadn’t slept with Ric for revenge, that she honestly didn’t remember anything and that her skin felt dirty for just having been in bed with him. Carly was his best friend, for all her faults, and just for that scene alone, he wanted to dismember Ric Lansing.
But the look in Elizabeth’s eyes last Friday, as she sat on her knees, her arms wrapped around her torso as if that action alone could hold her together. She had refused to meet his eyes as he’d crouched in front of her, and pulled her to her feet. Not until the last moment, making him wish he could go against Sonny’s orders. She was wrecked, as if nothing could put her back together. She hadn’t looked that way since they’d first met and now he was powerless to do anything about it.
He closed the books and reached for his phone when it lit up. Francis. “Morgan,” he said, clenching his free hand into a fist. “Is Elizabeth okay?”
“Uh…” Elizabeth’s guard sounded hesitant. “You told me not to intervene with Lansing unless he put a hand on her, but he’s tracked her down on the Elm Street Pier, and Jason, you’re gonna wanna get down here.”
Jason was already on his feet, heading for the doors. “Is he threatening her? I’m at the warehouse, I can be there in just a few minutes.”
“He’s not…but it’s not good. And it’s going to get worse. Get here fast.”
“If he lays a finger on her, throw him in the harbor. Sonny’s orders be damned.”
Elm Street Pier
Jason found Francis standing at the top of the stairs, watching the scene below intently. As he stepped up, he heard Elizabeth choking something out, the tone and the words themselves making him clench his fists even more. As he prepared to step in, Francis held out an arm.
“Just wait,” he murmured. “Miss Webber might have a plan and you know how angry she gets when you help and she doesn’t want it.”
“Ric, I am not pregnant. I don’t know where—”
“You’re telling me Emily lied to me? That’s bullshit, and you know it—”
Jason pushed Francis away, so he could have his own view, to see how close Ric was to Elizabeth. If she was pregnant, this situation had become much more dangerous.
Ric had Elizabeth cornered the edge of the harbor. She had backed up so much that any further step would send her into the still icy water. Her face was contorted in apprehension and wariness…but not fear. Not yet. “Ric, I am not having your child—”
“I told myself that I would never let my children grow up without me, that after what my mother did,” Ric snarled, “I would never let myself be separated.” He reached for her arm, and Jason tensed, ready to leap over the railing if he needed. “You aren’t keeping me out of this—”
“I’m not pregnant.” Now Elizabeth sounded desperate. “Please. I don’t know what Emily told you—”
“I got your records from the hospital!”
And in that second, Jason saw Elizabeth’s expression freeze. It was the truth. She was pregnant. His heart stopped.
“How did…” Her voice faltered, and she glanced behind her, as if gauging the water’s proximity. She turned back and sighed, looking annoyed. “You’re lying.”
“You’re not as smart as you think you are.” Ric grabbed her arm. “If you think you’re keeping me from my child—”
“It’s not your child! You’re not the father!” Elizabeth cried, trying to jerk away from him, but she stumbled and almost slipped in. The time to stop watching this was over, and Jason started to move forward.
“Oh, the hell it’s not. Who else could it be?” Ric demanded.
If Jason could have had another moment to really think about his next actions, about the repercussions, then maybe he wouldn’t have done it. But there were only seconds, and so Jason made his decision.
He stormed down the steps, and grabbed Ric’s free hand, twisting it behind his back. “Who do you think?” he growled. “Let her go.”
Ric released Elizabeth and Jason sent him flying backwards. Francis placed a foot on his chest to keep Ric planted on the ground. His face impassive, he looked at Jason. “What should I do to him?”
“Hold him there a second.” Jason turned to Elizabeth, who was staring at him like she’d never seen him before. “Elizabeth. Are you all right?”
“I…” Her throat worked, but she never said anything else. She just stared at him.
“I don’t believe you,” Ric grunted. “You’re lying to protect her.”
“Let him up,” Jason told Francis. When the bastard was standing again, Jason started for him, his heart pounding. Ric had to believe this. He had to believe Elizabeth was not having his child. He needed to leave town and get the hell away from Elizabeth. He would if there was no child to hold him here. “I don’t lie. It’s my baby. Why do you think she didn’t tell you?” He glanced back at Elizabeth, meeting her eyes. Play along. They’d figure out the next step later, but in this moment, she had to play along.
“I’ve…” Elizabeth swallowed. “I’ve known for a few weeks,” she admitted. “Before what happened at Kelly’s and on the docks last week.” She forced herself to look at Ric. “And back then I thought you were a good guy, so I—I didn’t know how to tell you, and Jason and I—” She looked back at him and he nodded slightly. “We d-didn’t know how to handle it. It’s…not an easy situation.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “And I felt guilty.” Her face hardened, as if she remembered now why it had to happen this way. “And now I just feel sick I ever let you touch me.”
“You goddamn whore!” Ric started forward, but Jason had him by the throat and against the pillar of the docks.
“Keep doing this, Lansing. By all means,” he growled. He wanted Lansing to come at him, wanted to have an excuse to wipe him from the Earth. Sonny wouldn’t quibble with self-defense. “Keep coming at me, the people I love and I’ll forget I work for Sonny.”
“Jason,” Elizabeth said, her hand soft on his shoulder. “You have to let him go. Anyone could see here.” She was right, but it felt so good to have his hand around this bastard’s throat that he squeezed hard once more before releasing him.
“Get out of town, Lansing. Because I don’t know how much Sonny is going to be able to protect you if you go after Elizabeth again.”
Ric glared at them and then looked at Elizabeth with such hatred that Jason stepped in front of her. “You think this is over?” He chucked, the sound harsh and twisted. “You have no idea what I’m capable of.”
He disappeared into the shadows of the docks, his footsteps fading away. Finally, Jason squared his shoulders and looked at Elizabeth.
“Jason.” Elizabeth wrapped one hand around her waist, and then other fisted at her mouth, tears sliding down her cheeks. “What…”
“Not here.” He looked at Francis. “We’re going to the penthouse. Follow, make sure Lansing doesn’t.” He took Elizabeth’s elbow and steered her towards the steps.
“Jason,” Elizabeth said, turning to him at the top of the stairs. Her face was white, her eyes large and still full of fear. “What have we done?”