It’s down to this
I’ve got to make this life make sense
Can anyone tell what I’ve done
I miss the life
I miss the colors of the world
Can anyone tell where I am?
– Away From The Sun, 3 Doors Down
Saturday, May 24, 2003
Kelly’s: Dining Room
It was one of those unlucky days of the week when Penny’s school schedule forced Bobbie to schedule Courtney and Elizabeth on the quiet morning shift. Elizabeth was surprised by how the two of them had managed to co-exist for the last month. Of all the people who had raged and insulted her this last month, Courtney had been the only not to say anything to her face. Elizabeth would have preferred her anger—the quiet desperation the blonde utilized to pretend that nothing had changed made her guilt so much sharper.
But there were moments when Elizabeth felt completely in sync with Courtney, and it was standing behind the counter as a new pot of coffee brewed while Courtney organized a few receipts that they felt…almost united. The stares and whispers of their patrons were impossible to ignore, and Elizabeth could feel the heat of those eyes on her eye as she kept her eyes down.
“I hate them all,” Courtney hissed. “Look at them, watching us, hoping like hell I’ll go for your hair or something. It’s disgusting. They have nothing better to do than comment on our lives.” She flicked her blue eyes to Elizabeth, and Elizabeth was unsurprised at the anger burning there. “I hate you and I hate Jason for what you did to me. If he wanted to be with you, he should have just left me instead of cheating, and maybe you think I deserved having it done to me because I know you think I went after him last fall—”
“Courtney, no,” Elizabeth said softly. “No, it’s not—”
“But I’ll be damned if my private life is going to be on display,” Courtney cut in. “So this…” She gestured at the space between them. “This is a neutral zone. We’re going to do our jobs and confuse the shit out of everyone else. But outside this restaurant, Elizabeth, I want you to cross the street when you see me and I hope like I hell I’ve found a better job once your bastard begins to show.”
She grabbed a pot of the now finished coffee and went onto the floor to serve. Elizabeth sighed and rubbed her eyes. When the front door of Kelly’s opened to reveal Nadine coming in with a smile for her, she felt her own mouth curving into a matching one. Since meeting her a few days earlier, she and Nadine had gone out to lunch twice. Francis had been nervous about escorting Elizabeth to Eli’s both times because it was inherently insecure, but Elizabeth had craved the normalcy.
“Good morning,” Nadine all but sang out as she sat down. “Green tea if it’s available.” Elizabeth flipped her mug over and poured it, setting a tea bag next to it. “Do you have a break coming soon? I have to head to work in a half hour.”
“I’m due for fifteen minutes soon, but…” Elizabeth hesitated. “It’s just me and Courtney today, and I always hate asking her. It’s…hard enough.”
“Oh, the other woman,” Nadine murmured. She flicked her eyes to the doors where the blonde had disappeared into the kitchen. “Well, yeah, I figure.”
“But I’m entitled to one and she literally just declared this restaurant a neutral zone.” Elizabeth glanced over as Courtney reappeared and joined them behind the counter. “It’s slow. So I’m going to take my fifteen.”
Elizabeth poured herself a cup of tea and gestured towards the courtyard. “Let’s go outside. It’s gorgeous out.”
“Sure thing.” As they walked out of the restaurant, Elizabeth saw Francis out of the corner of her eye, standing up and following them.
As they sat down at one of the empty tables, Nadine watched Francis head to the courtyard entrance to take his position. “You know, you don’t have to worry about me being uncomfortable with your guards.”
Elizabeth sighed and stirred sugar into her tea. “I’m lucky that Jason assigned me familiar faces, and it’s not so bad. But I know people look at me weird—”
“No, seriously.” Nadine hesitated. “Look, the reason I stopped by this morning is because I heard from my jerk ex-boyfriend, and I realized this might be something we can totally bond over.” She met Elizabeth’s eyes. “Have you ever heard of Anthony Zacchara?”
Elizabeth blinked and tilted her head. She tried to keep up on the people in Jason’s world, always worried for his safety, but the name was only vaguely familiar. “Somewhat, but not really.”
“Well, he lives and works out of Crimson Pointe,” Nadine explained, referring to a small town outside of New York City. “But his son Johnny lives in Manhattan.” She bit her lip. “We dated for almost a year.”
Elizabeth raised her eyebrows in surprise. “I wouldn’t have guessed.”
“I’m not proud of it, but Johnny was never involved in his father’s business. At least, not when we met.” Nadine flushed and looked away. “He was an investor in a medical clinic I was working at, and he flirted with me. He has a great smile, and he’s wickedly charming.” She closed her eyes. “And things were amazing for six months.”
“And then?” Elizabeth prompted.
“And then, his father had a stroke,” Nadine continued. “And Johnny’s sister and his dad’s lawyer kept trying to get him involved. Johnny was torn because he thought he had a duty to keep his sister out of things, but he still didn’t really want to do anything.”
“But he did,” Elizabeth guessed and Nadine nodded. “Is that why you broke up?”
“I wish, because at least I could have walked away with some good memories, but Johnny never does anything in half-measures.” She blew out an exasperated breath. “I guess he figured I wasn’t going to stick around, or maybe he was tired of me. It’s hard to know why because the lousy bastard never says anything. He just…he wouldn’t call for days at a time, and he stopped talking to me about a future. I hadn’t even really broached anything, but we’d…discussed moving in together.” Nadine sipped her tea. “And that all just stopped. He stopped being this amazing man and turned into this complete asshole who didn’t call, didn’t come over, but got angry every time I asked him why he was pulling away. I couldn’t deal with it anymore, so I broke up with him and found a new job.”
“Nadine, I’m so sorry.” Elizabeth reached over and squeezed her hand. “That must have been so difficult. I know what it’s like to be with someone who is absolutely incredible one day, and the next, it’s like you never knew him at all.”
“Anyway, he called me which pissed me off because I really didn’t want him to know where I was.” She huffed. “He told me I left some CDs at his place and did I want them. I told him he could throw them out a window, himself along with them.” She shook her head. “I was just so annoyed, and then I realized that I hadn’t mentioned I was connected to the Zaccharas, even a little, which I know enough about this world to understand that if I’m not upfront with it, it may come up later and you’ll wonder why I never said anything.”
“I appreciate it, Nadine, I really do.” Elizabeth smiled. “Honesty is great, and you’re right, if I didn’t know it now, I might have been upset later simply because…” She stared down at her hands. “I’ve learned the hard way to wonder about people and their motives.”
“You know, Elizabeth, I get we’ve known each other for five minutes,” Nadine said hesitantly, “but you really can talk to me.”
“I would if I thought it make a difference to talk about it, but trust me, Nadine,” Elizabeth leaned back in her chair and sighed, “verbalizing the crappy choices I’ve made only makes me feel worse about them, so it’s better if I just…don’t. For now.”
“No problem.” Nadine checked her watch. “I better get to the hospital and you better get in before the other woman comes out here.”
“Technically, I think I’m supposed to be other woman,” Elizabeth said, with a smile she wouldn’t have expected. Nadine shrugged.
“Yeah, but who cares about technicalities?” Her breezy smile and light hug before she left gave Elizabeth the strength to head back and complete the last four hours of her shift.
General Hospital: Monica Quartermaine’s Office
Monica smiled brightly when she opened her door and let Jason enter. “I didn’t believe Margo when she told me you were out here, but here you are.” She gestured to the sofa. “Sit, sit. Tell me what brings you around the hospital.”
Jason sighed, but did so because this visit was going to be difficult enough without making it more complicated. “I wanted to talk to you and hope that you could talk to the family for me.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I know you and Alan have…” He didn’t want to say harassed or bothered, but he was sure the characterization wasn’t too far off. “I guess you heard that Elizabeth and I are…that is, we’re…” He exhaled shortly, hoping she would take his difficulty as not liking to speak to the Quartermaines about his personal life rather the difficulty in saying these words out loud. “That she’s pregnant.”
Monica smiled, almost sheepishly. “We have. And I know that we might have come on too strong with Elizabeth. We just…” She spread her hands out. “We like her so much, Jason, and I was so sorry when things didn’t work out for you two last summer.”
He closed his eyes and hoped for the strength to get through this, to say words that weren’t true and some that he wouldn’t mind if they were, and not have it all seem like a jumbled mess. “I know….but…it’s not…” He paused. “We’re not really together right now. I mean, we’re not…”
“Jason, it’s okay, you don’t have to explain yourself to me.” Monica hesitantly reached out and covered one of his hands with hers. “You and Elizabeth will figure this out for yourselves.”
“I…it just came at a difficult time and it’s not the way I would have wanted to do it,” he said, knowing those words, at least, were the honest truth. “I hurt Courtney when I didn’t want to, and I haven’t been as supportive to Elizabeth as I should have been.”
He knew she was wondering why he was telling her these things, but Jason knew that his mother would immediately tell Alan, and somehow it would travel the hospital grapevine that Elizabeth had his support and that he knew her child to be his. “And maybe you heard some rumors—”
“I don’t pay attention to rumors like that,” Monica shook her head firmly. “The ones accusing Elizabeth of picking the richer man. I know her better than that, and I know you better than that. So don’t you worry about that. I told Amy Vining so myself, and I saw Carly complaining about how people were badmouthing you to Bobbie.”
Jason closed his eyes, annoyed Carly had helped despite his best efforts. She was right, he was going to have to do more to act like the father of this child, but he just…
He knew that he was going to find Ric and deal with him. And when Elizabeth was safe, she could take her baby and herself and walk out of his life again. He couldn’t imagine why she’d stay now when she never had before.
“Thank you.” Jason hesitated. “And if you could talk to Emily. She’s been very angry at Elizabeth, and it upsets her that her best friend is treating her that way.”
“I can try, Jason, but…” Monica sighed. “Emily’s stubborn and she may not listen.” She took a chance and rested her hand on his shoulder. “I’m sure Courtney is very nice, but can I say again how much I really do like Elizabeth. I know it’s wrong, but I like that she’s separate from Sonny.”
Jason blinked at her and shook his head. “I don’t—”
“Robin was close to Stone and Sonny,” Monica said slowly, “and Carly ended up with Sonny. Courtney is Sonny’s sister, so the women you’ve been involved with seriously up until now have always been…connected to Sonny.” Jason tensed, but Monica continued. “I just…I like that Elizabeth is something—someone—separate. That you met her away from Sonny, and she’s yours in a way that no one else has been.”
Jason exhaled slowly and looked away. Monica was right of course—Elizabeth was only connected to Sonny now because of him. Because he had cared for her, and Ric Lansing had utilized those emotions to gain leverage against his half-brother. Was that why he and Elizabeth had never worked outside the studio, outside their own world? Because she was so separate from everyone else in his life that he’d been unable to find a balance?
“I’m sorry, Jason, I don’t always know when to shut up and stop pushing,” Monica said, her face stricken. “I just want you to be happy.”
“I know.” Jason squeezed her hand on top of his. “I’m trying to be. I just wanted you to know what was going on.”
“Thank you.” Monica smiled but wagged a finger at him. “Now you take care of Elizabeth and see that her blood pressure stays down.” When he only looked at her blankly, her cheeks flushed. “I may have…asked your father to keep track of Elizabeth’s charts. Just to…” She cleared her throat. “Her blood pressure was elevated at the last two visits. If Dr. Lee sees it again next month, she may put Elizabeth on bed rest.”
“I’ll make sure she takes care of herself,” Jason said, worried and filled with guilt that he had avoided Elizabeth for so long. He stood. “But if you could stop looking up Elizabeth’s chart, I’d appreciate it.”
“Right, of course.” Monica stood, embarrassed. “I just…I’m concerned. I have one grandchild I’m unlikely to know, I suppose I just…wanted…” She trailed off.
“I’ll ask Elizabeth to keep you informed of any changes,” Jason said, because he didn’t know what else to say. There was little chance Sonny or Carly would ever allow Michael to know the Quartermaines Jason actually liked, and this child…
This child was unlikely to be in his life long enough to matter.
No Name Restaurant: Back Room
Sonny leaned back in his chair, knowing that Johnny and Milo were behind him. He hated meeting the representatives from the other Families on the East Coast, but he’d promised Jason that he’d do whatever it took to keep Elizabeth safe.
He glanced at Sammy Tagliatti, from Philadelphia, whom he loathed for his lack of respect to Carly the previous fall and to the other men, whom he rarely saw. Anthony Zacchara, who controlled most of lower New York, Hector Ruiz from Miami and Daniel Vega from Boston. In fact, now that Sonny reflected upon it—he hated all these men. Ruthless bastards willing to do anything to survive with little consideration for collateral damage.
“Well, Corinthos, I suppose you’re finally deigning to confirm the rumors we’ve been hearing for almost a month,” Daniel Vega remarked, sipping from a tumbler of Scotch.
“I am,” Sonny nodded. He looked to Anthony Zacchara, and the man standing behind him. “But since this is the first time we’ve met since last fall, we should congratulate Zacchara on his recovery.”
Anthony Zacchara scowled. “Like you give a damn—”
“And ask why his lawyer’s son slithered into my town without mentioning his connection you or to my mother.” Sonny looked at Trevor Lansing, who blanched slightly. “Or were we going to pretend that the man who embezzled from Vega and Ruiz wasn’t connected to you?”
Both men eyed the older man with mixtures of suspicion and loathing. “Were you behind this attack?” Ruiz snarled. Sonny smirked, knowing that Ruiz had two of the most lethal and dangerous sons in the business.
“No,” Trevor said immediately and Anthony glared at him, as if for daring to speak. “I’m sorry, Anthony, but I gotta tell them Richard and I don’t speak. We’ve had no contact since he graduated law school.” He smoothed a hand down his tie and met Sonny’s eyes. “And I know what we’re here to discuss. I have no objections.”
“We’ll be keeping our eye on you,” Tagliatti murmured. “But, Corinthos, where is Jason Morgan? Should he not be here to relate the happy news?”
“Jason’s busy protecting his family,” Sonny said carelessly. “Ric Lansing came after his ex-girlfriend because of the connection, he came after my wife to gain leverage. We’re just lucky Elizabeth saw through his act.”
“Did she?” Ruiz murmured, raising an eyebrow. “I have heard stories to the contrary.”
“It’s true that like the rest of us,” Sonny stressed, “Elizabeth was initially taken in by Lansing. But she was upset and hurt. She and Jason had broken up. They both made mistakes, but they have worked out their differences, mostly because Jason learned Ric was targeting the woman he loves and put aside what broke them apart.” He raised an eyebrow. “They’re having a child and Ric has threatened that child because he’s angry Elizabeth threw him over and went back to Jason.”
“Does that sound like the son you raised?” Tagliatti demanded of Trevor. “Would he go after a woman just because she left him?”
Trevor arched an eyebrow. “Richard isn’t known for subtlety. He hates Corinthos because his mother chose him rather than my son to raise. He blames him for her death.” His eyes hardened. “As do I.”
“But why should we waste our resources looking for this man?” Vega cut in. “It’s over a woman. A paltry thing, really. If she was reckless enough to get involved with him, shouldn’t she deserve everything she gets—”
He was glad he’d told Jason he would handle this alone because it was likely Jason would have found it difficult not to react to such a response. “This woman,” Sonny repeated, “has been nothing but loyal to me and Jason for years. When Moreno’s men shot Jason, she kept him alive. When Sorel put a bomb in her apartment, she did not go to the police with what she knew. When I needed Jason in town to investigate a traitor that was disrupting our profits,” he said to Tagliatti and Zacchara, whose territories were often intertwined with his own, “Elizabeth hid him in her apartment without a word to anyone. She has been kidnapped by Roscoe’s men, shot at by Alcazar’s goons and now, because she made the mistake of trusting a man that the rest of you trusted as well, you think I should leave her to the dogs?”
Ruiz sat back in his chair and nodded. “Loyal women are hard to find,” he admitted. He glanced at Zacchara, who had notoriously shot his own wife during one his rages. “And sometimes, harder to keep since they expect so much of you.” He cleared his throat. “Ric Lansing stole much money from me, and for this, I would like to see him roasted over a pit of coals, but I also do not like what I hear about threatening a pregnant woman. It’s…uncouth. I’ve had to reprimand my own sons when they’ve strayed from honorable actions.”
“I hate Ric Lansing as much as the rest of you,” Vega said. “I don’t care much for this woman and looking for him in order to protect her doesn’t appeal much to me. Her protection is not my concern. However, I find Faith Roscoe to be a boil on humanity. If she is working with him, then I think it’s for the good of the business that we exterminate them both.”
“I don’t much enjoy things that cut into my profits,” Tagliatti said. “And there’s no doubt Lansing and Roscoe did so.” He flicked his dark eyes to Zacchara, the last of the four men. “But will Zacchara agree to hunt down his lawyer’s son?”
“I got no problem with hunting down scum, but Ric Lansing ain’t come for me and mine,” Anthony snarled. “He didn’t take money from me and I got no sympathy for women who curl up to dangerous men and then cry about it later.”
Sonny tensed, but he knew Anthony Zacchara well enough to know what to say. “But, perhaps, as a sign of good faith that you weren’t involved in his plans,” he said softly. “You might consider offering your help. Your resources.”
Anthony narrowed his eyes. “I’m always one to preserve the peace,” he replied with a malicious smile. “Sure. You got my vote.”
“Well, that settles it.” Vega tossed back the rest of his Scotch. “Ric Lansing and Faith Roscoe are to be executed upon sight.”
Elizabeth Webber’s Studio
There was a knock on her door before Cody opened it. “Jason’s here to see you, Miss Webber.” Elizabeth frowned and looked at him oddly. She hadn’t had many visitors since this debacle began, but none of the guards had ever announced anyone. “Do you want him to come in?” His face was impassive, but there was a slight clenching in his jaw and suddenly she realized what was going on.
Jason had been by exactly twice since putting twenty-four protection on her, and the guards had had to take her to the doctor’s appointments and everywhere else. Elizabeth had embarrassed Cody last week by crying on the way home, showing off the sonogram of her child that was now framed on the table. Francis looked annoyed every time someone said something to her, and she knew he’d started the routine of coming into Kelly’s during her shift rather than being in the courtyard.
They were protecting her from being hurt, and clearly, they perceived Jason as a threat. Touched, but disturbed at the same time, Elizabeth set down the sketchbooks she had been stowing in a carton and shoved a stand of hair behind her ear. “Cody, Jason can come in any time he wants.” A smile tugged at her lips. “But thanks for checking.”
Jason was scowling slightly as Cody finally moved from the doorway and let him in. “I have had enough of this,” he muttered.
“Sorry…” Elizabeth dipped her chin, embarrassed. “Cody…he saw me crying last week after my appointment and I guess…” She shrugged. “You know, they don’t understand…” She bit her lip. “I had my first ultrasound and I had no one to show it to except my doctor and my nurse, so when Cody asked how my appointment went, I was just…” She stopped, realizing he looked irritated. “I’m sorry, that’s not why you’re here. Did something happen? I don’t…I don’t want to keep you.”
“I came to apologize,” Jason said, but her heart sank. She suspected that Sonny had said something after the medical history fiasco or maybe one of her guards had let their own annoyance slip.
“No, Jason…” Elizabeth stepped forward. “Please. I-I know that there are some people who might…I’m sure Sonny said something about you not…” Feeling awkward, she wrapped her arms around herself. “I never told anyone I expected you to be involved, and I am so sorry if anyone—”
“That’s not…” Jason rested his hands at his waist, looked down and took a deep breath. “Yeah, Sonny and Carly don’t think I’m doing enough, and I can’t get a read on whether Carly actually knows or just suspects, but she read me the riot act.”
Elizabeth sighed and started to rake her hands through hair, tugging out the messy ponytail. “This is a disaster.” For want of something to do so she didn’t have to look at him, she continued to pack up her sketchbooks, books and other miscellaneous papers. “I don’t know what we’re supposed to do about other people, how to manage their expectations.”
“You told me when we started this that I wasn’t thinking this through, and I…you were right.” Elizabeth blinked and turned to look at him. He scratched the back of his neck. “I didn’t think any further than protecting you, and I thought this would be the best way—”
“We can still change our minds,” she said softly. She stared down at the magazine in her hands, wondering why she wasn’t just tossing it away. “Maybe Ric and Faith are cutting their losses. You can—”
“Elizabeth, we just have…” He was quiet for a long moment. “We have to figure out how to do this without…complicating things.”
Logically she understood that the heart was a muscle, and that emotions came from the brain, but Elizabeth could feel the weight settle on her chest, could literally feel the ache spreading to her limbs. “You mean how to make people think you’re the father of my child without actually having to be the father of my child.” She closed her eyes and willed the tears to stay away. How could she not be out of tears? Why couldn’t she be one of those women who had problems with tear production?
“I…” When Jason’s voice faltered, she looked up and sighed. He looked helpless, as if he hadn’t wanted to say that but that it had been exactly what he meant.
“Jason,” Elizabeth said, turning back towards him. “The only way this is going to work is if we’re honest with each other. We have to lie to the rest of the world, we shouldn’t lie to each other. I can’t…” She paused, swallowing hard. “I can’t blame you if you don’t actually want to be involved, but if we were still friends, you’d be…” Elizabeth shrugged. “I don’t know, friends ask about health and how doctor’s appointments went and sometimes they go. For support.” When he said nothing to that, she bit her lip. “Or you just ask if I’m alive and once a year, we have lunch. I can’t help you with this, Jason, if you don’t talk to me.”
“I’m sorry, you’re right.” Jason lowered himself to the sofa. “I just…I don’t know how to do this. I know that Monica and Alan have been…overly interested in your case, so I talked to Monica about backing off.”
“Jason…” Elizabeth sighed. Trust Jason to warn away the only people remotely interested in her pregnancy, even if it was for the wrong reasons. “They weren’t really bothering me. They just…want to be connected to you.” She hesitated. “But I understand that you don’t want them to led on about a possible grandchild, so—”
“I told Monica that if they left you alone and stopped looking up your records, you’d be more likely to tell her what’s going on,” Jason interrupted.
“Oh my God.” Elizabeth sat next to him on the couch. “Jason, are you listening to yourself? You just promised your mother that I would keep her informed about a child you’re not raising!” She covered her face with her hands. “This is insane, Jason. It’s always been insane. And we cannot keep this up. We can’t.”
“We have to—”
She snapped her head up. “No, then I can’t. Do you understand this is so much worse than it was that December people thought we were sleeping together?” She dug the heels of her hands into her eyes. “We are lying to everyone, and it’s just not going to work, because we don’t know how this is going to play out. Jason, what if we never find Ric?”
“That’s…” Jason shook his head. “We can’t think like that—”
“I have to think like that.” Elizabeth felt like wrapping her hands around his throat because he just wasn’t getting it. “Jason, I need you to listen to me. I am pregnant. No matter who people think the father of this child is, I am having one. She is going to be here in six months. Do you get that? I am dodging your ex-girlfriend, your sister, your parents, and your best friends who are all judging me, all making my life a living hell in their own special ways. I am trying like hell to keep my head on straight, and you are making this impossible.”
Jason got to his feet and if she thought he was irritated before, now he was simply angry. “I’m making this impossible? Are you serious, Elizabeth? I have done nothing but look for Ric for the last month. I’ve barely slept!” He jabbed a finger at her. “I didn’t get us in this situation—”
“The hell you didn’t!” Elizabeth launched up, her ears ringing. “You decided I needed rescuing and told him I was having your child. This was your goddamned idea. I begged you to tell people the truth! I told you this wouldn’t work and you kept telling me you wouldn’t end up hating me!” Her voice broke on the last word, but she struggled to continue. “And you’re so angry at me because I got myself pregnant by a psychotic freak that you can barely stand to look at me!”
“That’s not…” Frustrated, he groaned and slid his hands into his hair, actually pulling at it. “Damn it, Elizabeth.”
“Well, I’m sorry, but I am drowning here. Everyone is angry at me, I get it. Everyone blames me. Well, I can’t change what happened. I don’t know what you want me to do. You won’t tell anyone the truth, and then you’re angry that people don’t think you’re stepping up.” She clenched her fists in front him. “And I am begging you to tell me what you want to do, because you’re not listening to me. Do you want to tell people the truth or do you just want to tell them that the baby is a mistake?” Tears slid down her cheeks. “You wouldn’t even be lying, because you do think that. You think my baby is a mistake, that maybe I’m too stupid to be a mother, that I don’t deserve to have a child—”
She stopped when he reached out and covered her clenched hands with his. “Just…just stop.” Jason lowered his head and took a deep breath. “You’re right. This isn’t going to work if we’re not honest with each other.”
“Okay.” Elizabeth nodded, taking a shaky breath.
“And Monica told me that your blood pressure has been high, that your doctor will want to put you on bed rest if it doesn’t come down, so let’s just…” He gently pushed her to sit down. “Let’s just stop arguing.”
“Okay.” Everything inside her ached, because she knew he was only being nice now because she’d been crying, because he was worried about her health. “Please, Jason, let’s just tell the truth, and try—”
“If Ric thinks this is my child, he may want to come after you as revenge, but he won’t be ruthless about it, not the way he would if he thought it was his own.” Jason hesitated. “He’d be relentless if he knew the truth, and that’s not a risk I’m willing to take. Are you?”
“No,” Elizabeth admitted.
“Okay. So we have to…we have to figure a way forward.” He stared at their joined hands. “I do not think your child is a mistake, Elizabeth, and I am so sorry if for one minute, you think I am blaming you in this situation, okay?” He tilted her chin up to look at him. “We have been so worried about protecting you and keeping this lie that we haven’t…you haven’t even been allowed to be happy. To think about becoming a mother.”
“My nurse asked me if I was excited last week and I started to cry,” she confessed. “Because it was the first time anyone had asked, and I hadn’t…I hadn’t thought about it until then.” She took a deep breath. “I wish that this were happening any other way, but I want…I want my child.” She felt her lips curve and looked away. “I want this baby so much, so if you tell me that this is the best way to keep her safe, I’ll agree.”
Jason let their hands fall away and he was quiet for a moment. “Sonny has already told the Families that this is my child, and gained their cooperation in hunting Ric and Faith down, so at this point…”
“We can’t change our minds,” Elizabeth murmured. “Because he lied to them.” She sighed. “Okay, well, there’s an argument I can’t dismiss. Sonny went to bat for me, we’ll have to make this work.”
“Let’s just…” Jason hesitated. “Let’s just take it one day at a time. I’ll go to some doctor’s appointments, and we’ll have lunch together in public a couple of times. You can tell Monica what’s going on, and I’ll try to keep Emily from arguing with you in public. Can that….can that be enough for now?”
The weight on her chest only grew heavier. If they had still been friends, truly friends, she would not have had to convince Jason to offer this type of support. He would have seen her struggling alone and done what he could to alleviate the stress. If he’d known being alone at the appointments would be difficult, he would have volunteered. He would met her for coffee without looking as though his arm was twisted.
She didn’t think he was going through all this trouble due to a sense of obligation or pity, but she also knew that they were never going to truly be friends again, and somehow, the loss of that was so much more difficult than accepting that they were never going to be together romantically.
But he looked so tired that Elizabeth finally nodded. “I think that will help the rumors,” she replied quietly. “One day at a time.”