He stared at the sheaf of papers he’d been served with that morning. Today was the opening arguments for the trial and he’d been getting ready to attend when the process server had knocked on the door.
It’d been a week since Elizabeth had walked out. She’d come in the next day and cleared some of her things but Ric had still thought it was temporary. He’d never expected her to go to this Robyn Nichols woman and file for divorce.
She’d already signed the papers and it pained him to see her flowery script on every pages. She’d initialed every page and then signed the last few. She wanted no alimony, no settlement. She just wanted the marriage to be over and if he signed these papers, it would be.
He set them aside and rubbed his temple. His blind hatred for Sonny had been running his life for so long that the second he’d had a chance at a different life, he’d gotten scared. Sure, he’d tried for a week or so. He’d buried himself in trying to open a law practice here, in thinking about Elizabeth.
But then the opportunity had presented itself. Scott Baldwin had tracked him down and asked him how it felt to know that his own wife would help set Sonny Corinthos free, the man who’d pushed her and killed their baby. Ric had scoffed at that, Sonny hadn’t done it. Elizabeth believed it and that was enough for him.
But then Scott had told him a little story about his daughter, Karen. About how Sonny had tempted her into drugs and stripping, about why his daughter had ended up a drug addict when she was barely finished high school. Now, a man like that, who’d seduced an impressionable young girl, well a man like that was capable of anything, Scott had mused.
Ric had told him Elizabeth had made her mind up to testify for Sonny and he wasn’t going to be able to change her mind.
And then Scott had posed the question. What if Elizabeth didn’t testify? Sonny would be charged, then. He’d go to trial. His name alone would get him convicted.
Ric refused at first. Elizabeth would testify at trial–the defense lawyer could call her if Scott didn’t. Not if Ric could take her on a nice long honeymoon, Scott had suggested.
It was a tempting idea and at first, Ric thought he might be able to pull it off. He could manipulate the situation and get Elizabeth out of town to miss the trial. And his burning need to make Sonny pay had taken over his life again.
He’d agreed. He’d paid the money Scott had proposed and it was too late to go back then.
And now Elizabeth had walked out on him. The sound of the door shutting echoed in his mind every time he saw something of hers lying around the apartment. She loved him, she’d said, but she couldn’t trust him.
And she was right. She couldn’t. Because he’d never be able to guarantee to let go of his hatred of his half-brother. Not even for Elizabeth. He’d tried, but he’d failed.
Ric studied the papers again before tossing them aside and taking out some paper to make some notes. Elizabeth would get her divorce.
But on his terms.
Robyn Nichols was the picture of perfection that morning. She’d prepared relentlessly for the last week and a half, only taking a few moments to prepare Elizabeth Lansing’s divorce papers.
She’d worked late every night, worked on pretrial motions until her eyes crossed. She’d come so close to getting Scott excused from the case because of his daughter Karen, but at the last moment, the judge had back off and allowed Scott to continue.
She’d prepared witness statement after statement. From Elizabeth as her star witness, to Max Giambetti, the body guard who would testify that his boss had been upset when he left but not enough to do anything to Elizabeth.
Georgie had worked just late as late with every night, but the young girl had always been in the office before Robyn arrived, fresh coffee brewing. Robyn was beginning to think the girl was either inhuman or very goal-oriented. Either way, she didn’t regret hiring her.
Dillon Quartermaine had proved to be persistent presence outside the office. He brought Georgie breakfast, forced her out to lunch and brought dinner. He didn’t leave all day and Robyn had a feeling that until he convinced the girl to at least go out with him once, he wasn’t leaving.
She’d put him to work copying and collating.
She was prepared as she ever going to be.
Carly and Sonny strode down the aisle of the courtroom, Sonny taking his place at defense table while Carly sat behind him. Jason and Courtney entered a few moments later and sat next to Carly.
“Tell me again,” Carly asked leaning forward. “Tell me again that you can do this.”
Robyn sighed and turned towards her client’s wife. “Mrs. Corinthos, I assure you. There’s absolutely no reason why we should lose.”
Carly nodded and sat back. “Okay, okay.”
“She’s just a little nervous,” Sonny told her, keeping his voice low. “With the baby and everything.”
“I understand,” Robyn remarked. She turned and caught sight of Georgie entering the courtroom, Dillon hot on her heels.
“Go home,” Georgie hissed as she approached the table. Dillon just grinned and took a seat in the second row. “I’m sorry, Ms. Nichols, but he totally followed me from my house and he won’t listen to me.”
Robyn smirked. “I feel like I should be paying him salary now. Don’t worry about it. I’ve got everything I need for right now. Go sit next to your boyfriend.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Georgie said, irritated but she went and sat next to Dillon. “I hate you.”
“You love me.”
She folded her arms tightly and decided to give him the silent treatment. He was making it real difficult for her to turn him down.
“Hey, that’s the husband, isn’t it?” Dillon asked, nudging her arm.
“I’m not talking to you.”
“No, seriously. He’s talking to Robyn.”
Georgie focused on her boss and watched as Ric Lansing handed Robyn some papers. “What’s he doing?”
“I believe we already established this. He’s talking to Robyn.”
“That’s Ms. Nichols and don’t be an idiot. I mean what’s he giving her?” Georgie craned her neck. “She’s representing his wife in the divorce.”
“Yeah, that’s right. Wasn’t he supposed to be served today?”
She eyed him. “How’d you know that?”
“I practically work there now, remember?”
“Because you won’t leave!”
Dillon was about to reply when Ric Lansing passed him and strode out of the court room. “I hope he doesn’t give his wife a hard time about this divorce thing.”
“I feel so bad for her you know?” Georgie sighed. “Losing her baby, her marriage crumbling, it must suck.”
“Well, it just teaches you to seize every opportunity,” Dillon decided. Georgie glared at him.
“Don’t think I don’t know that wasn’t a veiled hint,” she muttered.
“If you didn’t get the hidden meaning, then you wouldn’t have been as smart as everyone gives you credit for.”
Lucky was escorting Elizabeth past a group of reporters when she saw Ric heading her way. She blanched and pulled Lucky into a corner to avoid her soon to be ex-husband. “He was served today.”
“I know. But you’ll have to talk to him sometime,” Lucky told her.
“I know. But it shouldn’t have to be today,” Elizabeth replied. Much to her chagrin, Ric spotted her anyway.
“Elizabeth, can we speak for moment?” he asked.
“Go ahead,” Elizabeth said, folding her arms tightly.
Ric eyed Lucky for a moment before looking back at his wife. “Alone?”
She sighed. “Okay. Five minutes.” She followed Ric down the hall. Lucky watched them intently until someone tapped on his shoulder.
He turned and frowned when he saw an attractive brunette dressed in a tank top and jeans. “I’m sorry. Do we know each other?”
“Jessica Mitchell,” she said briskly, extending her hand. “I’m taking over the trial for Lily Bueller.”
He frowned. “Lily Bueller as in Port Charles Herald Lily Bueller?”
“That would be her. She’s going on maternity leave and I was–” Jessica broke off abruptly as Lucky turned and started to walk away. “Wait a second. Will you just listen to me a moment?”
He spun around. “I’ve had to it up to here with reporters dogging Elizabeth. She’s not some freak on display, she’s a human being who’s suffered a loss–”
“I know that and that’s why I wanted to speak with you,” Jessica interrupted. “I don’t agree with the Herald‘s position. I don’t think Sonny Corinthos pushed her and I would like the opportunity to interview Mrs. Lansing.”
“You don’t honestly think that’s going to work, do you?” he scoffed.
“I’m not lying,” Jessica said, irritated. “Look, I’m going to write the story I want to write anyway, so it doesn’t matter to me if I interview her or not. I just thought the article would look better with a quote from her.”
“Yeah, you reporters rarely give a damn about the truth, right?” Lucky bit out.
“Whoa, where is this hostility coming from?” she demanded. “I think I’ve been very polite and cordial. I’m agreeing with her position on the events. I just thought she’d like the opportunity to tell her side.”
“She told her side to Lily Bueller and that wench just twisted her words,” Lucky retorted. “Why should she trust you?”
“Because I am not Lily Bueller and I don’t appreciate being treated like I have a disease because I’m a journalist.” Jessica flipped her dark hair over her shoulder and glared at him. “You had your chance. I’ll just try and track down Mrs. Lansing by myself.”
“You do that,” Lucky replied. He noticed Summer arriving over her shoulder and pushed past her to go meet his girlfriend.
At the other end of the hallway, Ric was explaining the reason for his presence at the courtroom.
“I dropped off a list of objections I have to the divorce papers with your lawyer,” he admitted.
“What possible objection could you have?” Elizabeth demanded. “All I’m asking is that you sign the papers. I don’t want the apartment, money, anything from you. I just want you to leave me alone!”
He winced as her words hit him and looked away. “I understand that. And you’ll get the divorce if that’s what you want. But on my terms–”
“Everything about us has always been on your terms,” Elizabeth interrupted heatedly. “Why can’t it be my way for once?”
“Just talk to Ms. Nichols,” Ric pleaded. “Look over the changes I suggested before you decide.”
“I’ve already decided!” Elizabeth said exasperated. “I just want this entire situation over with already!”
“And it will be,” Ric shot back. “You just need to give me a chance to make this right–”
“You can’t make this right! What do I have to make you see that?” Elizabeth bit out angrily. “All you had to do was let go of this stupid vendetta with Sonny and we would have been fine!”
“I know that,” Ric hissed back. “You think I don’t hate myself for even accepting a meeting with Scott Baldwin?”
“Why?” she pleaded. “Why did you sacrifice us just to get back at Sonny?” Her eyes filled with tears. “Why wasn’t I enough?”
“I don’t know,” Ric confessed. “I know that I will never get past this thing with Sonny if I stay in Port Charles.” He stepped closer. “Come with me, Elizabeth. We can start over. Somewhere else.”
She closed her eyes. Part of her wanted to give in. She did love him after all. It wasn’t as though her feelings had vanished when she’d walked out. But the reason for her leaving still existed. She still didn’t trust him.
She took a much needed step back and shook her head. “I can’t, Ric. My life is here. And yours isn’t. It’s that simple.”
He nodded and looked away, down the hall where Lucky was standing with Summer, glaring at him. “Okay,” Ric replied. “Just…talk to your lawyer before you decide, okay?”
“Okay,” Elizabeth agreed. She sighed. “They’re starting opening arguments. I need to go.” She started to walk away.
“Elizabeth,” Ric called. She turned halfway to look at him. “I love you. You know that right?”
She sighed and looked at her feet. “Yeah. I know that.” She didn’t say anything else, just finished walking to Lucky and Summer. They disappeared into the courtroom.
Carly watched Elizabeth enter the courtroom and sit near the back, Lucky and Summer on either side of her. After another moment, Emily and Nikolas entered, sliding into seats next to Lucky.
“Ric’s not with her,” Carly said suddenly. Jason twisted in his seat and frowned when he realized his friend was right.
“That’s strange,” Courtney mused. “You’d think he’d jump at the chance to see Sonny go to jail.”
“He’s probably out, fabricating more evidence against Sonny,” Carly muttered.
“Maybe he’s not here because he doesn’t want to be around his wife,” Robyn muttered under her breath. Sonny frowned and leaned towards her.
“What does that mean?”
“What?” Robyn asked startled. “What does what mean?”
“Why wouldn’t Ric want to be around Elizabeth?” Sonny asked, his voice carrying behind him to the trio.
“Maybe he finally woke up and saw what a naïve little brat she is,” Courtney suggested.
“Maybe he’s a little upset because she walked out on him and is suing him for divorce,” Robyn shot back, irritating with the blonde’s know-all attitude. Stupid twit couldn’t find her way out of a paper box if her idiot fiancé showed her how.
Courtney widened her eyes. “What?”
“Nothing,” Robyn said quickly. She turned. “We’re getting ready to start, so let’s concentrate on the matter at hand, okay?”
Back of the Courtroom
Elizabeth frowned. “Jessica Mitchell. I seem to remember an editorial by her a few weeks ago. About the Nurse’s Ball and how it being canceled two years in a row was a travesty.”
“I remember that article,” Emily said. “She seemed like a really witty and intelligent writer. Maybe you should talk to her, Elizabeth.”
“I don’t think so,” Lucky said stubbornly. “They don’t care about the truth. They just want to sell papers.”
“Be that as it may, she did say she thought Sonny didn’t do it,” Elizabeth reminded him. “That’s got to count for something.”
“Maybe,” Lucky said grudgingly, “but–”
“Lucky do you trust anyone?” Summer joked. “Maybe this reporter will write a good story.”
“What do you think Nikolas?” Elizabeth asked, knowing he’d at least pretend to be reasonable.
“I think you should do whatever it is you think is right,” Nikolas said easily.
Elizabeth smiled. “Good. I’m going to talk to her.”
Lucky snorted and shook his head. “No good can come from this.”
“Please rise for the Honorable Judge Stevenson. The State of New York versus Michael Corinthos, Jr. will begin momentarily.”
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