Part 1

Song: Goodbye, For Now (Gabbie Hanna)


1
Maybe, maybe, maybe
Maybe, maybe, maybe

It was falling apart in front of her eyes, and there was nothing Carly Roberts could do to stop it. She couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t focus on the words Tony Jones was saying, the threats he was making because all she could hear was you’re not good enough, trash, trash no one wants you no one stays—

“I was willing to do whatever it took to get Lucas away from Bobbie when she was married to Stefan Cassadine,” Tony told her with that pompous, condescending tone that made her teeth hurt, “and I’m going to do the same with you. You committed a crime when you stole my custody papers—”

Carly scoffed and rolled her eyes, but he kept going. Steamrolling over everyone just like he always did—pretending he knew best.

“If you make me,” Tony continued, patiently, smugly, as if he had all the answers, as if the ending to this scene was already written, “that’s what I’ll do. Now, I don’t want a street fight—”

It was time Carly ripped that ending to shreds. Tony Jones thought he knew who he was dealing with?

Oh, he hadn’t begun to understand.

“It doesn’t matter,” Carly snapped, and Tony cut off, staring at her with squinted eyes. “It doesn’t matter, okay? Because everyone was right about me. I’m trash, and I’m a liar. I lied to you about my pregnancy.”

She fisted her hands at her side. Couldn’t tell him the truth. Couldn’t tell anyone the truth. AJ had made that clear. If they knew the truth, they’d take the baby. She needed the baby. She needed him, he was the key to everything, to getting revenge, to getting that love she damn well deserved

“What does that mean?” Tony retorted.

“You have no rights to my child,” Carly gritted out, “because it’s not yours. No, really,” she continued when he snorted. “Not legally, morally, and certainly not biologically.”

And at that, Tony’s mouth snapped closed, and he stared at her. Carly tossed back her hair. “What’s the matter? I shock you? You’re surprised your little playmate wasn’t faithful?”

Tony pressed his lips together. “If it’s not my baby, then whose is it?”

Carly said the name almost as soon as he finished speaking because part of her realized she’d been waiting for this moment, waiting for this opportunity, and now it was here—

“Jason.”

2
Maybe we could meet again as strangers

Maybe tonight was the night. Maybe it was time to find out if Jason Morgan’s ass looked as good out of those jeans as it did in them.

Elizabeth Webber turned at her door, lifting her face with a smile as the man in question stepped up behind her. It was the fourth time she’d let him drive her home from the bar, but he’d never made it past the threshold—

It didn’t matter how gorgeous he was or how much she wanted those hands on her—he was still Jason Morgan, and a girl had to think before she went too far. He was the newly minted leader of the Port Charles underground, a criminal with a killer smile and eyes, but secrets lurked everywhere she looked.

And if that wasn’t enough, Elizabeth wasn’t entirely convinced he’d been single long enough to be getting anywhere near her bedroom. And maybe her moral compass was damaged or whatever, but she didn’t want him thinking about the last petite brunette he’d been in love with while in bed with her.

But maybe—

Jason arched a brow at her, his face shadowed, their bodies close enough to brush one another. The door pressed against her back, and all the air seemed to have been sucked out of the hallway—

He’d never ask. Any other guy would. They’d ask for her keys, maybe for coffee or a drink — they’d make the first move. But that wasn’t Jason’s style. It was her apartment, her ride home —

And her decision to make.

Elizabeth opened her mouth to ask him in for a beer but then closed it at the last minute, doubts swarming.

She looked like Robin, didn’t she? Hadn’t people at Jake’s mentioned that more than once? Jason couldn’t have the perfect town sweetheart Robin Scorpio who didn’t want the hassle of the life he’d chosen, so he was settling for second best, less than. An imitation. Robin was going to be a doctor, Elizabeth was barely getting through the nursing program.

She’d never measured up to her brother or sister as far as her family was concerned. Did she really want to invite more of that into her world? What did Jason even know about her? She hung out at the same bar as he did, could kick his ass in pool, and would ride on the back of a motorcycle for hours. Did he even know they’d grown up together before the accident that had stolen his memories? Did he know she knew anything about Robin? That she and the ex-girlfriend were friendly? And what would Robin think of all this? Would she be irritated or angry—did she owe Robin a call before—

Elizabeth gripped the lapels of his leather jacket, her fingers digging into the material. Just ask him, she told herself, but her nerve escaped her. She couldn’t do it. Couldn’t take the risk. Not yet.

She needed more. Something else.

She needed to know it was Elizabeth he wanted and not just a random brunette he could pretend was Robin.

So Elizabeth licked her lips and forced a smile. “Thanks for the ride. I, um, have work tomorrow, so I better—”

Jason stepped back slightly—his body no longer brushing hers, and she felt the air between them, the rush of cold air sliding in. “Sure. Anytime. I’ll see you around—”

“Wait—” Elizabeth reached out as Jason turned to go, her fingers sliding over his sleeve. “Wait,” she repeated. She bit her lip. “Listen.”

“Hey, it’s okay.” Jason turned back to her, and she could see the shadows of his mouth curve into a smile. “It’s just a ride home—”

“No, but—” Elizabeth made a face. “I’m just not that person, okay? I mean, how long have we known each other?”

Jason faced her, his body tense. “What do you mean?”

“I mean—” What the hell did she mean? Oh, God. Just ask the man inside and jump him. Why was this so difficult? Why did she have to think everything to death—

“I mean,” Elizabeth tried again, “that we’ve only really talked a few times. And played pool. And, um—” She squeezed her eyes shut. “Never mind. Never mind.” What if he just wanted sex, and now she was being a dumb girl and thinking they needed more—

She jumped when his finger slid down her cheek and opened her eyes. “Hey. You wanna do something tomorrow?” he asked, his voice low. “Not Jake’s. We’ll take the bike out and go somewhere.”

“Um, I mean, I like Jake’s,” Elizabeth said stupidly, her mind racing. What was he doing? Was he asking her on a date? Did Jason Morgan actually date? What would that even look like? “It’s not Jake’s. It’s just—”

“It’s just we play a few games of pool, have a few drinks, and then I take you home,” Jason finished. He was close to her again. He cupped her chin and lifted her face to his. “I like you.”

I like you.

The words shouldn’t make her knees feel like water, and she shouldn’t be that easy, except—

Elizabeth gripped his jacket again, raised herself on the tips of her toes, and gave into the urge she’d had since high school except Jason Quartermaine had never seemed like sex on a stick, so maybe she shouldn’t keep making that comparison—

She kissed him, plastering her body against his with such force that he nearly took a step back. Then his hands dove into her hair, and he took control, slanting his mouth over hers, licking and nipping until the only thing keeping Elizabeth on her feet was the way he was holding her—

She could be that girl. In fact, if he’d just move one of those hands slightly lower, she could be that girl right here in this hallway because who really cared who saw her as long as—

Jason drew back, his breathing shallow and his chest rising rapidly. Elizabeth clutched his black sweater visible through his open jacket, her fingers sliding over the smooth, muscled skin beneath it—

“Tomorrow,” he said, and she blinked, forcing herself to listen. To focus. “I’ll meet you at Jake’s,” he continued, and she nodded. “We’ll go somewhere else,” Jason promised. “Or not. Whatever you want to do.”

“Okay.” Elizabeth fished her keys from her jacket pocket, her fingers trembling. “Okay,” she repeated. “Tomorrow. Same time as usual.”

“Yeah.” He dipped his head down and captured her mouth again. “Tomorrow.”

3
Start over, get to know each other

Jason barely acknowledged the guys at the security desk as he passed from the parking garage elevator through the lobby, his mind still drifting to Elizabeth and thinking about the next night. It would be Friday, and he knew she didn’t work Saturdays — that was better, he decided, stepping on the elevator and pressing the button for the fifteenth floor of Harborview Towers. For the penthouse he’d been living in since Sonny Corinthos had jilted his fiancée at the altar in September, leaving Jason holding the bag for literally every piece of Sonny’s life.

But for the first time in months, Jason wasn’t thinking about the added pressure he was under, running the territory after barely more than a year in the business. He wasn’t thinking about his former partner and best friend or the woman Sonny had made Jason jilt for him —

He wasn’t even thinking about the sad-eyed Robin who had broken up with him in August and then had left him again only in October, reminding Jason of everything he’d given up for the business.

And it was a relief not to be thinking about any of that. He’d gone to Jake’s one night and caught sight of the sexy brunette in tight jeans running the tables, taking one guy after another at pool, each of them thinking that they couldn’t possibly be beaten by a woman.

And Elizabeth Webber had taken their money with a wicked glint in her eye and smirk that shoved everything else out of Jason’s head. For three weeks, he’d gone back, playing the occasional game with her — and never once thinking about anything other than her.

In fact, Jason’s head was so full of Elizabeth and thinking about the next night, planning where to take her and what to do if she’d agree to come back here—he could spend hours in bed with her, exploring every inch—

He nearly missed the tear-stained, bedraggled woman standing in front of his door. Jason blinked, confused when Carly Roberts stepped out of the shadow, her mascara and eyeliner running in streaks down her cheeks. It had been raining, he remembered now. Or snowing. Something.

He had barely seen Carly over the last few months — what the hell was she doing here?

Carly ran an arm under her nose, sniffling. “You—you have to help me,” she said. “Please—”

“I really don’t,” Jason said, not unkindly but straightforward. Carly didn’t really bother him, but she’d been unkind to Robin, and she was a reminder of who he’d been after the accident. He was different now—

“P-Please. The Quartermaines are going to take everything from me.”

At that name, the name of the family that dogged his every step and still looked at him like an animal who didn’t deserve to breathe, Jason turned. Squinted. “What are you talking about?”

“T-They think I’m t-trash, and they’re—” Carly sucked in a nearly hysterical sob. “They’re going to take my baby from me, and they can do it because I don’t have anything. I’m nothing, and they know it. Please. Please, just listen.”

I’m nothing, and they know it.

Jason grimaced, then slid his key in his lock. “Okay,” he said reluctantly. “Come in, and we’ll talk about it.”

His back was already to Carly, shoving the door open, so he missed the smirk that flitted across Carly’s lips. By the time he turned back to show her inside, it had disappeared, and she was crying again.

4
Make another first impression
Cause it turns out I don’t know you that well

Elizabeth reported for work the next morning, almost floating into the staff locker room. She was too absorbed in her own plans, her own dreams, and her own thoughts to notice the whispers. Drama was always happening at General Hospital, and Elizabeth had had enough of it the year before. So she made it her business to stay out of it.

So it made sense that she didn’t hear any details until she floated to the nurse’s station, looking for her charts, and came across Bobbie Jones. She smiled brightly at the redheaded nurse. “Good morning.”

“Someone’s in a good mood,” Bobbie teased, but then Elizabeth saw that her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“What’s wrong?” Elizabeth asked immediately. More than just one of her supervising nurses, Bobbie Jones was family. Her parents had asked Bobbie to stand as godmother when Elizabeth was born. Bobbie had been more of a mother to her than Elizabeth’s own. “Are you all right?”

“Nothing that I can help,” Bobbie said, reaching for another form. “Tony and Carly had a fight in his office last night, and even though the doors were closed—”

“The whole hospital seems to find out everything,” Elizabeth said, with a grimace. “Yeah, I know all about that.”

“I know, sweetheart. It’s just—” Bobbie shook her head, then smiled absently when Brenda Barrett emerged from the elevators. “Brenda. What brings you by?”

“Oh, you know Lucy.” Brenda shrugged a shoulder. “The Nurse’s Ball is in six months, so she’s sending me to start begging people to participate. She thinks we’ll avoid some of those disasters if we prepare earlier.”

Those disasters often included Lucy ending up on stage in her underwear, so Elizabeth understood the woman’s desire to keep things under control for the ball’s fifth year.

“I hope I can put you both down for doing something on stage,” Brenda said, leaning forward. “Bobbie, you practically run this place—”

“Brenda—”

“And Elizabeth!” Brenda beamed at her. “Your grandparents founded General Hospital, your parents worked here, and you’re third-generation—”

Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. She’d managed to avoid participating in the ball since her grandmother had died a few years earlier. Unfortunately, both her grandparents were gone now—she was the last Webber/Hardy left in Port Charles. And it was nice to see Brenda perked up since that terrible wedding in September—Elizabeth had heard rumors Brenda had really been struggling—

“I guess. As long as you don’t make me sing. People have been tortured enough,” Elizabeth replied.

“Excellent—” Brenda’s smile widened. “Amy! What about you?”

“Me, what?” Amy Vining wanted to know, stepping up to the counter and dumping a pile of charts in front of Bobbie. “Bobbie, I just heard, and I am so sorry. We should have known how terrible he was after what he did to poor Brenda—”

“What are you talking about?” Brenda asked. “Who did what to me?”

“You haven’t heard?” Amy’s eyes widened, and Elizabeth had to admit—the blonde had patented that mixture of glee and concern when sharing gossip. “Jason Morgan is the father of Carly Roberts’ baby!”

Elizabeth dropped the pen she held, her eyes widening even as Brenda scowled. “What? That has to be a lie!”

“Of course, she’s lying,” Bobbie insisted. “Everyone knows Carly lies—”

“Well, we thought she was until Rachel saw Carly at the Towers this morning. Rachel lives on the lower floors,” Amy reminded Bobbie, whose face had paled. “Looks like she had some bags and boxes with her. Carly must be moving in.”

Elizabeth’s chest tightened, and she shook her head. “But—”

“But it’s not possible,” Brenda insisted, Elizabeth’s reaction swallowed up by hers. “Carly got pregnant in April, and Jason was still dating Robin—”

“Brenda—” Bobbie said with a wince.

“No, no, he promised her that was over!” Brenda continued. “Okay? Because he was stupid after the accident. We all know that, and he didn’t get it—but he promised Robin he wouldn’t cheat on her again.”

“Cheat on her again?” Elizabeth repeated numbly. What? How—

“We don’t know—”

“She’s sure she saw—” Brenda closed her mouth as the elevator behind them opened, and Carly stepped out, her hand on her belly. And a man in a dark suit behind her. The blonde raised an eyebrow at the four of them, then turned to say something to the man with her. She locked eyes with Elizabeth for a moment, then lifted her nose in the air and sauntered down the hall.

Elizabeth’s stomach pitched. She knew that man. The first time Jason had driven her home, he’d had someone take her car. The man had knocked on her door and dropped off her keys—

And now that same man was trailing after Carly—

Jason was involved with Carly Roberts. Was now living with her.

Well, hell.

5
Maybe we could fall in love again

AJ Quartermaine quietly closed the front door behind him and started for the back library, where he was sure to find his grandmother at this time of day. He really wanted the comfort of Lila’s presence, the one member of the family that still thought he had something to offer the world.

The last few weeks had been like a nightmare as he’d learned the truth about his supposed relapse and the depths to which Carly would go to hurt him and hide the truth. He’d been stung by her betrayal, so sure that they’d were closer than that.

He’d been her friend, had confided in her, and she’d used it against him. Used his fear of relapse to cover up her own misdeeds, and as if it wasn’t enough that she’d been lying to AJ and drugging him, she’d been lying to Tony.

He wasn’t convinced that Jason was truly the father of Carly’s child, but he knew enough that his baby brother wasn’t much of a liar. AJ thought maybe Carly was using Jason, too, playing on Jason’s loneliness since breaking up with Robin. There was a slim chance that Jason might be the father, but AJ knew the truth. Carly had done too much to keep their night hidden, had gone to terrible lengths to drive him out of town—

“What are we going to do?”

AJ heard his mother’s anguished voice as he passed the family room and paused just outside the ajar door.

“Monica—”

“I thought with Sonny out of the picture, we might have a chance of getting him out of that life,” his mother continued. “But if it’s true, if Carly Roberts is having his baby—”

“We can make her go away,” Alan Quartermaine assured his wife. “We have the money. We have the power. Father is already working on it. And then Jason will need us. He’ll need you. Alone with a baby—if we can get Carly out of the picture—”

AJ scowled. Jason might be a son of a bitch covering for Carly, but he wasn’t helpless. And once he filed those paternity papers, everyone would know Carly had been lying to more than just Tony. Even if that baby wasn’t his, he was going make Carly regret everything she’d done to him.

And if it was—he’d be damned if he’d let his family steamroll him like they planned to do to Jason. He was done being the whipping boy of the Quartermaines. It was time everyone started taking him seriously.

6
But, maybe this time, we’ll end up as friends

Jason didn’t work at the hospital, and he mostly kept to himself, so he had no way of knowing that Carly’s announcement to Tony had spread like wildfire. Or that Carly had taken a guard to parade around the hospital like a trophy.

He thought he’d agreed to do Carly a favor that would last a few weeks, and then it would be forgotten when she left town as she’d promised.

Before meeting Elizabeth at Jake’s that night, Jason had gone to Luke’s to check the books. When he had finished, he emerged from the office and found Brenda sitting at the bar. Her long legs were elegantly crossed, and a martini grasped between her fingers. She met Jason’s eyes, sipped her drink, and raised a slim eyebrow.

Then smirked.

The hair on the back of Jason’s neck stood up. The supermodel hadn’t offered an ounce of kindness in months. Not since that terrible September day when she had waited at the end of the aisle in her wedding gown, and he’d had to tell her about Sonny.

To see her smiling at him now—

“I heard the most interesting news at the hospital today,” Brenda said. She set down the martini glass, then leaned forward, her brown eyes sparkling with malice, her voice cold enough to freeze boiling lava.

Warily, Jason folded his arms, keeping his own expression blank. He said nothing.

She leaned forward. “I guess congratulations are in order.” She paused. “Daddy.”

He narrowed his eyes. There was something else here. She had an angle she was going to play—

“At first, I argued there must be a mistake,” Brenda continued, “because despite what you did to me, that wasn’t who you were. Then Carly showed up at the hospital with a guard.” Brenda stared at him with disdain. “She’s living with you, isn’t she?”

He still said nothing.

She tilted her head. “Carly is due in a few weeks. How could you be the father, Jason, when Carly got pregnant in April?”

His stomach dropped, and now it was harder to maintain his blank expression. Because now he understood why she was here.

Brenda leaned back, sipped her martini. “Naturally, Robin was devastated.”

Jason closed his eyes.

“Why would you do that?” he asked roughly. “She’s in Paris. This has nothing to do with her.”

“Nothing?” Brenda repeated. “Did I miss something, Jason? Did I confuse the timeline? When did you and Robin break up? When she did finally get sick and tired of waiting for you to die?”

“What does that—” Jason grimaced. August. They’d officially broken up in August. How long had Carly been pregnant? Damn it—

“August,” Brenda said. “Which, according to my calendar, comes after April.” She finished the last of her martini, popping the olive between her lips. “Did you really think no one would do the math, Jason? Did you think that you could get away with this? No one cares about you, Jason,” she reminded him. “But people love Robin.” She shrugged. “If it wasn’t me, it would have been Mac or Felicia.”

Jason exhaled slowly. “You think you did Robin a favor,” he told her quietly. “You think you were doing the right thing. But you hurt her to get back at me. I never meant to hurt you, Brenda.”

Her eyes glittered. “Don’t you dare—”

He exhaled slowly. “Congratulations. That makes you just as selfish as the man who left you at the altar and made me pick up the pieces.”

He stalked out of the bar, digging his keys out of his jacket. He had to call Elizabeth.

7
But if we keep trying in this moment
I know it’ll surely be the end

Bobbie braced herself for the uncomfortable confrontation she was about to have, then pulled open the front door to the Brownstone. “I meant what I said on the phone, Tony—”

“And I told you,” Tony said, his teeth clenched, “that I have a right to see my son. We have a custody agreement—”

“You could force me,” Bobbie told him. She nodded at the phone that sat on a table in the foyer, pulling the door open slightly as if to offer him its use. “Go ahead. Call the police. Taggert still has a place upstairs. You want to tell him that you’re going to force Lucas to go with you today?”

Tony pressed his lips together. “You have no right to keep me from my son—”

“Lucas has spent the last year being teased and laughed at in school,” Bobbie cut in ruthlessly. “Today, he came home crying because he was talking about how excited he was for a little brother, and someone laughed at him. Told him he wasn’t getting anything.”

Tony flinched, closed his eyes. “Don’t you think I’m dealing with enough?”

“I think that you need to put Lucas first—”

“That’s rich coming from you—”

“I never claimed not to make mistakes,” she said gently. “And I’ve hurt my son, too. We both have. Right now, he’s upstairs crying because he’s lost another sibling. You weren’t the only one hoping for a new start, Tony. Lucas lost BJ, too. His older sister. And now he’s lost his chance to be—”

“We don’t know anything yet—”

“I know that even if Carly’s child is yours, she’s not going to stop fighting to keep you out. Are you really going to force Lucas to face this today when you’ll both be facing it for months? I’m asking you to give him time—”

Tony fisted his hands at his side, and Bobbie tightened her hand around the doorknob. Would he really call the police and force her to surrender Lucas? Would he really drag Lucas out of the house kicking and screaming, if necessary?

Finally, he exhaled and closed his eyes. “She’s taken everything from me, Bobbie. And now she’s taking the only child I have left.”

“Tony—”

“He can have his time,” Tony cut in. “One way or another, I’ll make this go away.”

8
So I’ll say goodbye for now
I don’t know for how long

Jason gritted his teeth when he heard Elizabeth’s answering machine pick up again, and he hung up again without leaving a message. He wanted to tell her the deal with Carly before anyone else could. He’d been trying to reach her since he’d returned from Luke’s—

She was at the hospital, surrounded by people who likely already knew. It would be a minor miracle if she didn’t already know. If Elizabeth had heard this from someone else, she’d jump to all kinds of conclusions—but he was sure—he was positive if he had a chance to make her understand—

He could go to the hospital, but that might make things worse. People would be looking at him, and the Quartermaines were always there—

He dialed her number again, and this time, when her machine picked up, Jason left a message. “It’s Jason. I need you to call me as soon as you get this, okay? I need to talk to you.” He reeled off his home line and the cell phone he’d recently begun to carry everywhere. “Please.”

And that was the best he could do. He would calmly explain that Carly was being threatened by people he loathed, and it was just for a few weeks. After that, it would all be over, and it would be like it never happened at all. It didn’t have to matter.

Elizabeth was a good person, and he knew she was kind. Maybe she’d even feel sorry for Carly. But she needed to know the truth, and he needed to know she believed in him.

9
But the time has come
That we don’t get along
So goodbye for now

Elizabeth emerged from the bedroom, tugging down the hem of her sweater and moving towards the blinking light on her answering machine. She’d finished her shift in a fog, numbly completing the tasks and rounds she’d been assigned—

Jason was the father of Carly’s baby and cared enough about the viper to let a guard follow her around. Had he always known there was a possibility? Had Carly lied to him, too? And what about the other rumors that were flying around about AJ?

For six months, Elizabeth had been able to live in a Carly-free world as long as she tread lightly and avoided certain places and people. She’d worked so hard to put all of that behind her, but now—

Elizabeth pressed the blinking light, tensing as Jason’s voice flooded the room, low and urgent. Worried.

It’s Jason. I need you to call me as soon as you get this, okay? I need to talk to you. Please.

She let the message play until the end, then pressed replay, hesitating on that final word. That pause just before he’d said please. Had he really not known?

It shouldn’t matter, she reminded herself. Absolutely shouldn’t. She and Jason had only begun to consider the potential of dating—and barely even that, she acknowledged. What did they really have? Jake’s? Pool? A bit of heat, she admitted. A lot of heat. But she’d listened to Brenda tell Bobbie all the gory details of what Robin had confided the year before —

Jason had shared all those things with Carly, too.

What did she really know about him other than he picked up women in bars and cheated on town sweethearts?

Elizabeth played the message a third time, then deleted it.

Even if it wasn’t Carly, any woman would hesitate with the information she now possessed.

But it was Carly — and that made all the difference. Whatever she and Jason might have had was over. She exhaled slowly — she should make her point and stay home tonight. Surely, Jason would understand if she just didn’t show.

But maybe he wouldn’t. After the accident, she knew he sometimes had trouble with those kinds of cues. Did she owe it to him to explain herself? Would he seek her out if she didn’t show?

Now she was overthinking again, just like she always did. She went to Jake’s on Friday nights. If she didn’t go tonight, she was letting Carly win again.

And she was done letting Carly control any piece of her life.

10
I’m tired of feeling like the bad guy
And you’re tired of making me cry

Elizabeth smirked as she counted out the twenties Zander Smith had just slapped down on the pool table. “I don’t know why you thought you thought you had a chance,” she said, folding the bills in half and sliding them into the back pockets of her jeans.

Zander glared at her, snagging his beer from the edge of the table. “You’re just a goddamn shark. Pretending you barely played in college–”

“Is that how I described it?” Elizabeth asked the man slouched against the wall. “I thought I was pretty clear—”

“Your college team won nationals, and you were MVP,” Patrick Drake, an intern from General Hospital,  replied with a jerk of a shoulder. “His fault for not asking for more details.”

“Ah, fuck you.” Sour, the man slunk off towards the bar to order another drink.

Elizabeth snorted, then started to chalk up her cue. “You wanna take me on?” she asked Patrick.

“Not even a little bit,” he said pleasantly. “You kicked my ass the first time. Unlike Smith, I don’t make the same mistake twice.”

“Spoilsport,” she muttered. Most of Jake’s regulars had played and lost to her at least once, and very few came for a second round. She’d been able to almost pay off her car hanging at the bar over the last year—

“Good, Morgan’s here to stop your reign of terror,” Patrick said. Startled, she jerked up and missed her shot, the cue ball slapping uselessly against the felt walls of the table. She turned to the darkened hall that led to the entrance, wincing when his familiar form entered the bar.

“You’re just in time,” Patrick said to Jason, tossing a cue at him. “She’s already murdered the new guy, and Smith was dumb enough to play her again.” He picked up his whiskey. “I need a refill. You want something?” he asked Jason.

“I’ll get it,” Jason told him, and Patrick nodded, sauntering off to the bar. Elizabeth wrinkled her nose as her sort of friend left her mostly alone with the man she was trying to avoid.

“I didn’t think I’d see you here tonight,” Elizabeth said, meeting his eyes briefly. Then, she glanced away, sliding around him to reset the table.

“We made plans, didn’t we?” Jason said, narrowing his eyes. His fingers curled tightly around the stick. “Didn’t we?” he repeated when she didn’t say anything.

Now that she had the chance to shake him loose, she found she didn’t really know how to do it. Maybe she should just be casual about it. He couldn’t be that invested, after all. Maybe he’d be mad he wasted time, but there had to be a thousand other women who could look past Carly and Robin—

“What do you mean?” she asked. She hooked her thumbs in the belt loops of her jeans. “I just didn’t think you’d make it. You’ve got a lot on your mind.” When he took a step towards her, she stepped back, and his eyes darkened. “Look—”

“You heard,” Jason said with a grimace. “I wanted to tell you first—I didn’t realize it would spread so fast—”

He stepped towards her again, but this time she held her ground. She tilted her head up to meet his eyes, the light blue almost black in the shadows of the bar. Their bodies brushed against one another, and shivers slid down her spine.

“Look, it’s nothing personal,” she managed, licking her lips. “It’s just I made a rule a long time ago that I was going to stay as far away from Carly Roberts as I could—”

“What does she have to do with this?” Jason demanded. “I don’t want to be with—”

“She’s the mother of your child—”

He hissed, then looked up at the ceiling. “Goddamn it.”

“She’s a terrible person—”

“But I’m not her—”

“She’s living with you, isn’t she?” she said. “I mean, look, it’s great that you’re stepping up and all that, but you’re about to be connected to her for next eighteen years, if not longer. There’s no way in hell I’m getting on that roller coaster—”

He gritted his teeth, tossed the pool cue on the table, and wrapped his fingers around her wrist. “Come with me.”

“Hey, hands off—” She slapped at his chest, and he released her immediately. “We flirted a few times, but you don’t get to drag me anywhere—”

“That’s not—” Jason took a deep breath, dipped his head. When he looked back up and met her gaze, he looked more his old self — like the sweet, sexy, frustrating guy she’d been flirting with all these nights, not the angry, irritated jackass who had clearly come to the bar to grab at her ass. “Let me explain,” he said finally. “Please, Elizabeth.”

Damn. She really was weak, wasn’t she? All he’d had to do was say please, and her name—dropping his voice a whole octave like that should be a crime, she thought bitterly. “All right. Fine. Explain. If you can.”

11
We could try this at another time
But I think that we could both use some space

Even as he grabbed a set of keys from Jake, the bartender and owner, he had a sinking feeling that no matter what he told her, she’d still look at him like he was something she’d scraped off her shoe.

Why did everyone give a damn about who the father of Carly’s kid was? Why did Brenda have to go and tell Robin? Why was Elizabeth acting like it changed everything?

“I hope you’re not getting any ideas,” Elizabeth muttered as he unlocked the door to one of the run-down rooms over the bar. There wasn’t much to the room—just a plain double bed with a squeaky mattress, some dingy nightstands, and a dresser that was missing a drawer.

“No, I just—” He closed the door. “Look, it’s not what you think.”

“You don’t owe me any explanations.” She jerked a shoulder. “We’re not dating. I mean, maybe we almost—” Elizabeth arched a brow. “You don’t owe me anything,” she repeated. “But I sure as hell hope Robin kicks your ass when she finds out.”

Jason closed his eyes. Damn it. “You know Robin.” Of course, she did. She worked at the hospital, didn’t she? That goddamn building.

“Uh, yeah—” Elizabeth started to roll her eyes, then cleared her throat. “Right, look, you hate talking about things before your accident, so I didn’t say anything. We all grew up together here, Jason. Robin and I went to high school together. We lost touch when I went to college in Boulder.” She folded her arms. “I moved home for the nursing program—I think you’d just gotten out of the hospital. You and I didn’t really have a reason to reconnect after your accident,” she continued, “but Robin and I were always friendly.”

He scrubbed his hands over his face. “I didn’t know that,” he muttered. “I know you just said that but—”

“It’s fine. I’m sure it sucks to have this kind of thing pop up—” She shook her head. “Anyway. All I’m saying is that it’s one of the reasons I’m cutting this off before it gets complicated. It’s not just about Carly. It’s mostly because of her,” she continued, “but I don’t sleep around. And I’m not about to start anything with a guy who’d cheat on Robin after—”

“I didn’t—” Jason snapped, then closed his mouth when she frowned at him. “What’s your problem with Carly? You don’t even know her—”

“You really don’t pay attention to anything outside your little bubble, do you?” she asked coolly. “Carly and I enrolled in the nursing program together, and she’s hated me almost since the first day I met her. I don’t know why. Maybe because Robin and I were friendly, and she hated Robin. She tried to get me kicked out of the program. Repeatedly. She’s not a pleasant person to be around, but hey, maybe she’s good in bed.”

Elizabeth started past him, towards the door, but he flattened his hand against the thin wood, holding it closed. “I want to go,” she said.

“No, look, you didn’t give me a chance—” He grimaced as she turned to glare at him, her dark blue eyes flashing. They were close again, pressed against each other, and she shifted, trying to edge away.

He was going to have to tell her the truth. There was no way out of this. If he kept it from her, she’d always see him as the asshole who’d slept around on a woman he’d loved and respected.

And he was going to have to call Robin with the truth and hope she’d understand, he realized. He might have been able to ignore it for a few weeks, but Elizabeth, standing in front of him with a mixture of hurt and disgust, made him think of how Robin must be feeling.

He couldn’t stand for either of them to think he was this person. He wasn’t. And if it meant he had to break his agreement with Carly to keep it a complete secret, then fine.

“It’s not true,” he said finally. “About Carly, I mean.”

Elizabeth’s eyes narrowed into slits. “What about her? That she’s a terrible, nasty bitch? What, you think because she’s pregnant—”

“No, I mean, it’s not true about Carly and me. It’s not my baby.”

Elizabeth closed her mouth, drawing her brows together in confusion. “What are you talking about—”

“Carly panicked.” Sensing that Elizabeth might not make a run for it, Jason stepped back, his hand sliding away from the door. “She overheard Tony making custody arrangements. He’s threatening to take the baby from her. Cut her out of everything.”

“Good for him,” Elizabeth muttered. “Why is that your problem?”

“It wouldn’t be,” Jason admitted, his chest tightening, “if Tony was the baby’s father. You can’t tell anyone. I promised her I wouldn’t.”

“Tony’s not the father? Oh, God. Of course, he’s not.” Elizabeth scoffed. “Well, he deserves the humiliation for what he did to Bobbie, but—”

“AJ is,” Jason cut in. “And he knows there’s a possibility. He told her he’d take the baby from her, too. And with the Quartermaines behind him, she’ll never see the baby again. I know she’s done terrible things,” he continued, “but that’s not why they’ll do it.”

Elizabeth pressed her lips together, then folded her arms. “They’ll do it because the baby’s a Quartermaine, and she’s not.”

“They’ll take that baby from Carly and raise it to be just like AJ. Or Tracy. Or Ned. Lying, backstabbing—”

“They also raised Jason Quartermaine,” she said gently. “And he wasn’t any of those things.”

“No, but he was dumb enough to get into a car and get his brains bashed in,” Jason retorted. “Carly’s not a good person, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have any power. They’ll run over her, and she’ll never be able to stop it.”

“Okay,” she drawled, “but if AJ knows there’s a possibility, and Tony’s already demanding a paternity test, how is this supposed to go—”

“Carly just needs time,” Jason said, relieved she was hearing him out. If Elizabeth could accept and understand, Robin would, too. They wouldn’t think he was a terrible person. “After the baby is born, she’s going to leave—”

“She’s definitely not going to do that,” Elizabeth muttered, and Jason frowned at her. “You really think she’s going to walk away? You said she panicked, Jason. You’re giving her time to think of another way to screw with people.”

“No, I told her I’d help her disappear—”

“She’s going to use this time to figure out how to use you,” Elizabeth interrupted. “And how to manipulate AJ. She’s got both of you on the hook now with Tony as a backup. She’s panicking, but she’ll recover.” She narrowed her eyes. “She always does, and she’s got millions of dollars in motivation.”

“But—”

“I’m glad it’s not your kid,” Elizabeth continued, “and thank you for trusting me. I won’t tell anyone,” she promised, “but it doesn’t change anything for me.”

Jason blinked. He hadn’t expected that. “I didn’t cheat on Robin,” he said because maybe he hadn’t made that clear. “And Carly is only going to be around for a few weeks—”

“If Carly so much as guesses that you and I know each other.” She wiggled her fingers. “She will make me pay for it. Even if you backed out now, she’d want to know why. I don’t need that in my life. I’m sorry. Carly nearly ruined my life last year. She only forgot about me because we’re not around each other anymore. I’m not giving her the chance to come after me again.”

“I won’t let her—”

Elizabeth leaned up, brushed her lips lightly across his, and it felt like a goodbye—he couldn’t let that happen—Jason tugged her closer, sliding an arm around her waist, drawing against him, deepening the kiss, pouring every bit of frustration and desire he could—he couldn’t let her just walk away—

She pressed both her hands against his chest, pushing gently, and he let her go, reluctantly. His hands slid away from her, over her hips, his thumbs brushing the bare skin between her sweater and jeans. She shivered. “Don’t go,” he murmured, dipping his head one more time. But she blocked him, placing her hand over his mouth.

“Your first mistake is thinking you can control Carly. I’m sorry. I really am. But I can’t do this again.”

Jason frowned, opened his mouth to ask what the hell Carly had done to her, but she’d reached behind her and opened the door. He stepped back, swallowing hard.

“Good luck,” Elizabeth told him, wistfully, looking over her shoulder. “You’ll need it.”

12
For a few weeks, months, maybe a year
I could work on myself, you focus on your career

Lorraine Miller sipped the cheapest beer Luke’s had to offer and studied the man whose name was emblazoned on the sign out front. A girl had to plan for the future, and Lorraine knew hers was up in the air.

Mercy had fired her after finding out that she’d played around with some files, but she’d been able to land another job at General Hospital due to a nursing shortage. Eventually, once the holidays were over, word would begin to spread. There were plenty of people who knew why she’d been fired—it was insane to think no one at GH would find out—

And that would be the end.

Lorraine wasn’t about to find herself on the outside looking in. She needed to get out of Port Charles and head somewhere else that didn’t know about her. That couldn’t torpedo her career. She’d made the mistake of trusting Carly, and now her life was in the gutter.

But you needed money to start over somewhere else, and Lorraine was completely tapped. Carly had managed a few meager payments, but she hadn’t been able to tap Tony Jones for much, but Lorraine had set her eyes on bigger fish.

Luke Spencer might be interested in making Carly’s secrets go away. After all, wasn’t he keeping one of the most damaging? But he also had a reputation that sent chills down her spine, so maybe she should save Luke as a last resort.

There were babydaddys on the hook, and maybe now Carly had access to the millions in Jason Morgan’s accounts. Yeah— Lorraine finished the last of her beer. She had options, and it was time Carly understood that.

Either Carly would pay Lorraine to keep her mouth shut, or her secrets were going on the auction block.

13
It’s kinda scary, the futures so unclear

Tony gritted his teeth as he saw a familiar figure turn a corner and walk towards him, towards the bank of elevators.

Carly had one hand at the small of her back and the other cradling the bump of her belly as she turned to talk to the man following her. One of the goons that Jason Morgan had given her. He hadn’t waited long to make his mark, Tony thought sourly, as his ex-fiancée slowed her approach.

He’d been sloppy—he’d let her catch him making plans to sue for custody. A few more weeks, the baby would have been born, and he could have been rid of her. But, for now, wherever Carly went, the baby went with her.

“Tony,” Carly said coolly. She tilted her head. “Are you following me?”

“Hardly,” he snorted. “Some of us have jobs.” He snatched up the patient’s chart and stepped out of the nurse’s station. He glared at the guard for a long moment before fastening his gaze on her. “Don’t think Jason and his money can stop me. I’ve already filed paperwork. I will have my son—”

“I told you,” Carly retorted, “he’s not yours—”

“A lie,” Tony scoffed. “It took me long enough to see you,” he said, “but now I know who you are—”

“Do you?” Her lips curved into a smirk. He wondered again at how deftly she’d hidden this part of her. How had he missed it? He’d seen only what he’d wanted.

He’d seen another chance, another dream, another try at love. He should have known. That had disappeared the day Tania was killed in the car accident and crushed when God had taken BJ from him.

He’d been blinded by grief and desperation, but now his eyes were clear, and all he saw was her malevolence.

“What made you the way you are?” he found himself asking softly. “I was good to you—”

“You suffocated me,” Carly bit out. “I was never good enough for you, but I don’t have to settle anymore—”

“You don’t have to—” With dazed laughter, Tony shook his head. “Okay. Sure. Jason might be covering for you now, but when that baby is born—”

“You think I’m lying about being with him?” Carly asked. She stepped closer, her eyes darkening as her smirk deepened. “I’ve been with him more than once. Dozens of times. He couldn’t get enough of me—”

“Shut up—”

“Being with him was the only way I could stomach your disgusting hands on me,” Carly snarled. “Every time you breathed on me, I closed my eyes and pretended you were him—”

Tony hissed, tightening his hands around the chart in his hands. “I wish to God I had never met you. We’ll get the paternity test, and we’ll see what’s true.”

“Yeah, I guess we will.” Carly tossed her hair over her shoulder and sauntered away. The guard flashed Tony a look that looked almost like a mixture of embarrassment and apology, but then he was gone.

This was what she’d reduced him to—quarreling in the halls like a degenerate, having goons feeling sorry for him—

Carly Roberts had humiliated him for the last time.

14
But you’re not the man I need you to be

Elizabeth tossed a five down on the counter, picked up her coffee, turning to make a hasty exit, only to run directly into Brenda. “I’m sorry—”

“No, no, it’s okay—” Brenda held up her hands. “I wasn’t paying attention. It’s been an irritating couple of days,” she muttered. She stepped up to the counter and slid onto one of the stools. “I feel like I haven’t slept since Friday.”

Elizabeth nodded sympathetically. “Lucy running you ragged for the ball?”

“Well, yeah, but—” Brenda snapped open a menu. “I’m feeling torn,” she muttered. “Guilty even.” She twisted and looked at Elizabeth. “Look, if you found out your best friend was being cheated on, you’d tell her, wouldn’t you?”

“Yeah, of course—” Elizabeth paused, her eyes widening. Friday. “Wait, Brenda—did you call Robin?”

“Yes, and now you’re making the same face Jason did.” Brenda huffed. “I didn’t want her to hear it from someone else, okay? Mac and Felicia were thinking about it, and didn’t you consider it?”

“No,” Elizabeth said, exhaling slowly. She’d been concentrating on her own pain, tortured at the thought of the one guy who’d held her interest for longer than a minute being tangled up in Carly’s exploits. Maybe she’d have thought about it later, but— “What did you do, leave the hospital and immediately call her?”

“I bet you think I’m a terrible person,” Brenda muttered. “I wasn’t trying to hurt Robin, I wasn’t. I don’t care what Jason says—”

“What does Jason say?”

“That I did it to get back at him, but I didn’t—” she huffed. “I mean—”

“If you didn’t do it to slap at Jason,” Elizabeth said slowly, “then how does he know you did it? Did Robin tell him?”

Brenda made a face, looked down at the counter. “Okay, so this is where I sound like the bad guy.”

Elizabeth sat on the stool next to her. “You told him. You went to see him and told him Robin knew.”

“Yes.” Brenda met her eyes. “So maybe I did that part to hurt him, but I promise it’s not why I told Robin—”

“Maybe not. I know you love her.”

“And so what if I did hurt him?” Brenda demanded. “You know Carly. You and Robin are friends. Jason deserves it.”

Maybe that was true, too. Even if Jason was lying to protect Carly’s secret, it still meant the world thought Jason had cheated on Robin. It must be humiliating—

“It’d be one thing if Jason hooked up with someone else while Robin was away at school,” Brenda continued. “I mean, long-distance is tough, right? And it’s part of why they broke up. But to do it with Carly after everything Robin has already been through?” She shook her head. “Jason deserves it. He does. He deserves to have his life ruined by that bitch—”

“I don’t know if anyone deserves this.” Elizabeth gripped her coffee more tightly. “Is Robin okay?”

“Yeah. I mean, no, but she’s managing, I guess. Maybe I shouldn’t have told her,” Brenda said after a moment. “Mac and Felicia probably could have been talked into not saying anything, and no one else really knows how to get in touch with her, right? I mean, except you, and why would you even care? You and Jason barely know each other.”

Elizabeth hesitated, then sipped her coffee. Brenda narrowed her eyes. “Or maybe you do know each other. Didn’t you say you’d basically paid off your car playing pool this year?”

“Jason and I didn’t really run into each other at Jake’s,” Elizabeth said carefully. “Until my schedule changed and I started hanging out there on weekends.” And she knew for sure Carly hadn’t been back to the bar in months—Patrick had helped her out there. “We’ve played a few games.”

Brenda studied her, then shook her head. “That’s not everything.”

“It almost is,” Elizabeth assured her. “After Thanksgiving, we might have—I mean, there was potential,” she admitted. “But it never went anywhere. And now it won’t.” It couldn’t.

“Yeah, I guess not. Jason probably shit himself when Carly showed up at his place to tell him she’d been lying to Tony.” Brenda snorted. “As soon as she told him, he must have known any chance with you was over.”

“He didn’t—” Elizabeth sighed. “He doesn’t really know what happened with her. And he still doesn’t know the details.” She didn’t want him to feel worse than he probably already did, and what was the point? Jason was tied up with Carly now. If he backed out, Carly would wonder why.

And she’d come gunning for Elizabeth all over again. No, thanks.

“I’m sorry, Elizabeth. The Jason I thought I knew—” Brenda shook her head. “I can accept that what happened in September wasn’t his fault, as much as I want to make it his, but this? This isn’t the man I knew.”

“People can surprise you,” Elizabeth said faintly. “I need to get going. I’ll see you around.”

15
So I’ll say goodbye for now
I don’t know for how long

Carly had nearly made it out of the hospital when she spied a familiar redhead walking down the hall. Intending to swoop in and get in some jabs, Carly ducked into an empty patient room, closing the door to give her the element of surprise.

Before Bobbie passed the room, however, Carly heard another voice. She edged the door open slightly, then clenched her jaw.

Elizabeth Webber. Of course.

“Hey, sweetheart.” Bobbie touched the younger woman’s arm gently. “How’s it going? You look tired.”

“I’m fine.” Elizabeth paused. “How’s Lucas?”

“Better than he was on Friday,” Bobbie said. “He actually refused to go for his weekend with Tony,” she continued, “but he’s come around to feeling sad for his father.”

“Oh, good. Lucas has such a sweetheart,” the younger woman continued. Carly rolled her eyes. God, could she be more fake? “I knew he’d realize that they’ve both been hurt. I do feel bad for Tony. I tried not to,” she added, “considering what you’ve been through, but—”

“I know. I just hope this is the last drama Carly will cause for all of us. Once this baby is here and we all know the truth, she’ll be around the hospital less.”

“I doubt it,” the brunette muttered. “She’s like a cockroach.”

Carly narrowed her eyes. Fucking bitch. She’d loathed Elizabeth Webber from day one. Carly had arrived at her first day of the nursing program, looking forward to spending more time with Bobbie so she could really dig the knife in when Carly destroyed her life—

But no, stupid, little Lizzie Webber was there, with her dumb doe eyes and history with Bobbie. She was a fucking hospital legacy thanks to her grandparents and Bobbie’s goddaughter—

Carly’s biological mother fawned all over the wench like she was important. More proof that Bobbie Jones was a terrible mother. She couldn’t even recognize her own daughter standing right in front of her.

“That might be true,” Bobbie agreed, “but she can’t hurt you anymore. She flunked out of the program—”

Elizabeth was right to worry about Carly — she hadn’t forgotten the reason she’d been kicked out of the nursing program, and somehow she’d make Elizabeth pay.

“Maybe, but—” Elizabeth paused. “This whole thing—with Jason—”

“Jason’s made several terrible choices since the accident,” Bobbie said bluntly, “but this is the worst.” There was a pause. “You seem more upset I am about all of this, darling. What’s wrong?

“Jason and I—we were—well, we’ve been flirting, I guess—” Elizabeth sighed. “We were supposed to have our first date on Friday, but I told him I couldn’t. I just can’t go through with this.”

Jason had almost started dating Elizabeth Webber?

Maybe Carly would have to deal with the bitch sooner rather than later.

16
But the time has come
That we don’t get along
So goodbye for now

Lorraine shifted uncomfortably, keeping one eye on the security desk and another on the elevators from the parking garage. She’d already been waiting too long in the lobby of Harborview Towers. The hulking men behind the desk had been watching her since the moment she entered.

But she was running out of time and patience. She’d gone to the wall for her old friend, and she was going to get what she deserved.

Finally, the doors slid open, and Carly emerged, fat and waddling with her advanced pregnancy. Lorraine darted forward, her heart pounding so hard she could feel it against her chest.

As her hand closed around Carly’s wrist, Lorraine saw the men behind the desk standing up, tensing. “Tell them I’m a friend,” she hissed to Carly, who glared at her.

“It’s fine,” Carly told him, not taking her eyes off Lorraine. “I know her. What are you doing here?” she hissed.

“You know why I’m here. How long do you think before GH finds out I was fired from Mercy?”

“That’s not my problem—”

“I got fired for tampering with records, Caroline,” Lorraine growled. Carly narrowed her eyes at the use of her real name. “Records I changed for you.”

“I paid you—”

“That was before I lost my job. It’s only a matter of time before someone slips up and gossips. GH will find out, and I’ll be fired for lying.” If GH hadn’t been desperately trying to fill a nursing shortage, Lorraine might not have been hired in the first place.

“I’m sorry, but this isn’t—”

“You got this new cushy setup and three guys on the hook,” Lorraine retorted. “At least two of them have serious money. You’re going to make it worth my while to keep my mouth shut.”

“Tony knows the baby isn’t his, so why should I care?”

“That’s not the only secret I’m keeping,” Lorraine purred. “Don’t forget. I know who you are. I know why you’re here. What would Carly think?”

“Carly thinks you’re a bitch—”

Carly would be horrified that you used her this way,” Lorraine cut in. “Charlotte Roberts was a better person than us both, and you’re the reason she’s dead.”

“Shut up—”

“Does the new baby daddy know who Caroline Benson is? Why you came here to seduce Tony Jones?”

Carly flicked her eyes towards the elevators that led to the upper penthouse levels, then met Lorraine’s eyes. “Yes.”

“You’re lying. You think I’m an idiot, but I’ve been spent days trying to find out what your secrets are worth. Jason Morgan likes Bobbie Jones.” Lorraine’s lips curved into a wicked smile. “What would he think about you coming here to hurt her? Would he keep your secret then? Is that a chance you want to take?”

“What do you want?” Carly growled.

“I want you to make me an offer to shut up and go away,” Lorraine said pleasantly. ” I’m on borrowed time, Caroline, and you’re going to make sure I don’t get screwed, or else I’m going to make you wish you’d never met me.”

“I already do.” Carly yanked her arm out of Lorraine’s grip and stalked away.

17
There’s so much to say
But we’re so damn different

Still seething from the confrontation, Carly closed the penthouse door behind her. She couldn’t run the risk that Lorraine would reveal her true identity. She’d made too many enemies.

Even if Jason decided to keep helping her (and that was a big if since she’d already promised she wasn’t keeping any more secrets), she’d used someone’s information to file taxes, to gain employment. Plenty of people might use that against her.

And more important, Carly wasn’t done getting even. Getting justice. She had a list of people that needed to pay, and Bobbie Jones was at the top. She had to keep Lorraine quiet, but where the hell was she going to get the money—

She turned as she heard footsteps. Jason emerged from the kitchen, tensing when he saw her. Carly waited for him to say something, to ask about her doctor’s appointment, to show some interest.

But he just stared at her, then turned away, heading for the table by the window. “You’re not even going to say hello?” she demanded, wincing when she heard the anger in her voice. She took a deep breath. “What crime did I commit while I was gone?”

“I told you I’d keep your secret,” Jason said flatly. He turned to face her, scrutinizing her. “Until the baby was born. The second you and the baby are healthy enough to leave Port Charles, you’re getting out.”

The first flicker of fear licked at her throat. Everything hinged on convincing Jason to change his mind, to keep her and the baby around longer. She’d hoped to talk him into getting revenge on the Quartermaines, fueling the flames of hate. And Jason was a good person. He might even like the baby and want him.

And then when Carly was back in shape, when she looked good, she’d remind him how good they were together, and she’d finally have the power to destroy the people who had used and thrown her away.

It was a solid plan—but it all fell apart if Jason hated her. What rotten luck for him to be screwing around with another woman who hated Carly, too.

What was it about pasty little brunettes?

“I know people are being terrible,” Carly said slowly, “and I’m sorry. I didn’t think you’d get a lot of crap. People don’t usually blame the man—”

“They do when he was dating someone else,” Jason muttered. He dragged a hand down his face, then took a deep breath. “I was with Robin when the baby was conceived. I’d forgotten that.”

Carly perked up. The memory of Robin was already fading, and whatever was happening with the Webber bitch was probably new. Jason was probably just horny and mad that he’d been cut off. She could work with that.

“I’m sorry—” she began, but Jason continued speaking.

“I forgot when you got pregnant,” he added and her mood darkened. “I wasn’t thinking about you until you showed up here.” He shook his head. “The damage is done for now, and people are too mad to listen to me. I’ll figure it out how to fix it when you’re gone.”

That didn’t sound so good. If he had another woman waiting the wings that didn’t have Carly’s baggage, it was going to be harder to seduce him. Carly pursed her lips. Maybe Elizabeth Webber was going to have get out of the picture sooner than Carly had planned.

18
Fought through the pain
Didn’t make a difference

Elizabeth waited impatiently for the elevator doors to slide open, eager to complete her paperwork and get out of the hospital. She would head to Jake’s, find someone to challenge in pool, and drink her cares away.

She stepped off the elevator and grunted as someone turned the corner at the wrong moment and slammed into her.

“Hey, watch where you’re going—Oh.” Lorraine wrinkled her nose. “It’s you.”

“Yeah, it’s me.” Elizabeth folded her arms. “What are you doing around GH?” she asked. “I thought you worked at Mercy.”

” Unfortunately, things didn’t work out there. I just started here last week. ” Lorraine shifted from one foot to the other. “You must be nearly ready to graduate,” she said, forcing a polite smile. “Heading back to Denver?”

It was Boulder, but that didn’t matter. “I have to things to do,” Elizabeth said, not interested in bantering with the irritating brunette.

“Oh, look, don’t be that way,” Lorraine said, grabbing Elizabeth’s arms. “I know we didn’t really vibe when I was in the program, but that was a year ago—”

“Not long enough. How’s Carly?” Elizabeth said pointedly. Lorraine had been as thick as thieves with Carly, graduating the nursing program not long after Elizabeth and Carly had begun. Any friend of Carly Roberts was no one that Elizabeth was interested in knowing.

“The bane of my existence. I don’t know how I forgot what she was like,” the other woman muttered. “She was a pain in the ass in high school, too, but I let myself forget it.”

“High school?” Elizabeth squinted. “I thought you guys met in college—”

Lorraine blinked. “Right. That’s what I said.”

It wasn’t, but Elizabeth really did not give a flying shit. “Whatever.”

“Wait, you didn’t let me finish—”

“And I’m not going to—”

“But I’m on your side now,” Lorraine said. “We both hate Carly. Don’t you want to get even?”

“No, I really just want to forget she ever existed—” But the universe just refused to let Elizabeth have that fantasy. “And you weren’t just her friend, Lorraine. You nearly got me kicked out, too. You forged that letter—”

“Yeah, but that’s because Carly lied about you! That’s what she always does, you know? She lies.”

Elizabeth hesitated. Did Lorraine know about Carly’s newest antics? “Yeah, I know. But you helped her.”

“I know, and it’s got me nothing to show for it,” Lorraine muttered. She folded her arms with a huff. “Is she even grateful? No! She knocks down one person and heads right for the next. I feel sorry for the guy that she’s shacked up with now. He has no idea what he’s in for.”

“He has some idea,” Elizabeth said without thinking, and Lorraine perked up.

“You know him? Can you help me get in touch? I know he’d want some dirt—”

“I am not getting involved,” Elizabeth said with a shake of her head. She turned and started for the nurse’s station. Lorraine followed her. “And you shouldn’t either. If you’ve seen how horrible she is, then you should stay away.”

“I can’t.”

“Lorraine—” Elizabeth sighed and looked back at her one more time. “Look, don’t get in the middle of this with Jason and Carly. And all the other people involved. I’m serious. If Carly finds out you’re turning on her, she’ll just make your life miserable. Just look at what she did to me last year.”

“Yeah, I’m surprised she had time to go after you considering she was seducing that guy away from his family. You know, she’d never tell me why she hated you,” Lorraine continued, “but, man, she wanted to do some real damage.”

“Well, she did. I ended up arrested and nearly kicked out of the program, and thanks to her, my grandfather’s last memory of me—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “The last thing my grandfather thought about me was that I was a spoiled brat, trading on the family name to get myself out of trouble. Do you have any idea what that’s like?”

“I’m sorry,” Lorraine said, and this time she sounded almost sincere. “Carly has a way of making sure you want to be on her side. I thought it was better to work with her than against her. But that’s what I’m trying to fix now, okay? I’m going to find a way to make her pay.”

“Good for you. Just leave me out of it.”

19
Drives me insane how you’re so indifferent
And I don’t wanna waste your time

Lorraine was going to be a problem, Carly thought darkly, as she watched her former friend walk away from Elizabeth. She’d come to the hospital to see if she could help the administration get rid of Lorraine sooner and had found the two talking intently, both looking irritated.

The only person Lorraine and Elizabeth had in common was Carly. The last thing Carly needed was Lorraine to tell Elizabeth about Tony and AJ. If Elizabeth suspected Jason wasn’t this baby’s father, she’d scream it from the heavens to get rid of Carly and keep Jason for herself.

Carly waited for Lorraine to get on the elevator before taking action. Then, she stalked over to the nurse’s station.

“You look so tired, Lizzie,” Carly said with a sweet smile, fluttering her lashes. “It’s a shame that you can’t take more time off to get a life.”

Elizabeth reached for a pen and started scrawling something on the papers in front of her. And said nothing.

Carly narrowed her eyes. Little bitch was going to try to pretend she wasn’t there? Ignore her? Not when Carly knew exactly how to get a rise from her.

Knowing how to press someone’s buttons and get their attention was a talent that Carly enjoyed wielding like a weapon.

“But maybe you’re trying to make up for lost time,” Carly continued. “Not that it matters since Grandpa isn’t here to impress anymore.”

Elizabeth’s fingers tightened around her pen, and a muscle in her cheek twitched. Still, the bitch said nothing.

“Your grandmother never thought much of you. At least that’s what everyone says. You barely made it out of high school, and everyone thought you’d flunk out of college—wasn’t Grandpa Steve the only person you had left in the world who believed in you?”

Still nothing.

Nearly growling with the frustration, Carly leaned forward. “Be careful, Lizzie. If you don’t stay away from what’s mine, then I’ll make sure you don’t even have this pathetic job to fill your empty life.”

Elizabeth looked at her then, arching a brow. “I knew if I was quiet long enough, you’d get to the point,” she said in a flat tone.

“Stay away from Jason,” Carly hissed. “He’s mine—”

“Then you should probably tell him that, and not me.” Elizabeth snorted, reaching for another folder. “He gave me the impression that he couldn’t wait to run away as far as he could from you—”

Because Carly knew that was the goddamn truth, at least for the minute, it only made her blood boil hotter. She slapped her hand over the form Elizabeth was filling out, forcing the brunette to look at her. “If you don’t, I’ll make you pay.”

Elizabeth’s eyes remained cool. “With what? You couldn’t get me kicked out of the nursing program, and as you just said, it’s not like I have any family left who cares. You can’t hurt me, Carly. There’s no one left who will listen to you.”

“Really? What about Jason?” Carly said. “Did you tell him your little sob story about what you think I did to you?”

Elizabeth’s lips thinned, but she said nothing.

“Oh, you did?” Delighted, Carly perked up. “And he either didn’t believe you or didn’t care, did he? Maybe you’re not the threat I thought you were.” She straightened, reassured. Jason was still hers for the taking—

“I didn’t tell him the details,” Elizabeth said quietly. “Just that you and I have a history, and I’m not interested in being around you. I just have to wait until he’s done with you. We both know it won’t be long.” Her lips curved in a smile. “After all, if he were yours to keep, you wouldn’t be standing here threatening me.”

Carly opened her mouth, but Elizabeth picked up the folders and walked away. Goddamn bitch. She’d have to give her a taste of her own medicine and remind her that no one crossed Carly Roberts.

20
Love’s got nothing to do with this

Jason hated General Hospital. Every time he was here, he remembered the long recovery after he’d emerged from the coma, the few follow up appointments he’d bothered with, and of course, the time he’d been at the hospital when he’d been shot and Sonny had fired him —

This place held nothing but bad memories, and the last thing he wanted was to be in these halls, but he didn’t have a choice.

He’d done nothing but hurt people that mattered to him, and the other night, the way Elizabeth had looked at him—it brought back that look on Robin’s face when she’d learned he’d slept with Carly.

He had walked away from Carly then. He’d known how terrible she was, how she used people —

Why had he let her back in? And how was he going to get rid of her without making things worse for Elizabeth? Elizabeth was right. If he backed out now, Carly would wonder why. She’d find out about Elizabeth, and whatever mysterious history Carly and Elizabeth shared would make that worse.

Before he could get rid of Carly, he needed help understanding what the hell he’d walked into and how to prevent anyone else from getting hurt.

He stepped up to the nurse’s station. “Uh, Bobbie Jones is supposed to be working today,” he said hesitantly to the nurse on duty. “Can you page her?”

“Sure, give me a second.”

“Thanks.”

He turned towards the waiting area and stopped when he saw a very familiar face turning the corner.

“I thought you were in Paris,” he said without thinking.

Robin Scorpio pursed her lips and folded her arms. “Yeah, well, I didn’t see much point in giving you my travel plans.” She shrugged. “After Brenda called me last week, I mean—”

“I—” Jason shoved his hands into his pockets. “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you are. Well, congratulations,” she said sourly. “I’m sure we can stay out of each other’s way when I start my internship next year.”

She started to walk past him, but he touched her elbow gently. “Wait, can you give me—”

“No, I really can’t.” Robin jerked away from him. “After October, I knew we were both going our separate ways. It’s for the best,” she added. “We want different things, okay? You have this life, and I have mine. I was okay with that, and I thought you were, too.”

“I—” Jason hesitated. “I was. I am,” he corrected. They’d agreed in August and then argued again in October before coming to the exact same realization. Then he’d met Elizabeth, who didn’t seem to give a crap what he did for a living. He’d always love Robin, but she was right. They didn’t want the same things.

“But this isn’t that. This isn’t you moving on two months later, which I can live with, because, God, I left in August. You get to have a life, Jason. I wanted you to be happy and find someone who could accept you. You deserved it—I thought you did. Anyway. But this—” Her voice faltered. “This is humiliating,” she said through clenched teeth. “Why didn’t you tell me when it happened? I wasn’t even in Port Charles, you know? I could have—I could have lived with it, maybe. I don’t know—” She put up her hands before he could open his mouth.

“No, this was the reason we broke up,” she said. “I was never here, and we wanted different things. You just should have told me.”

He wanted to tell her now, to tell everyone, but his concern about Elizabeth was real, and it went without saying that Carly could just as quickly shift her fury to Robin. What would she do if she knew Robin or Elizabeth knew the truth?

He’d hurt them enough. “I’m sorry,” he said. “But I understand if you don’t forgive me.”

Robin frowned, then narrowed her eyes, searching his. “What’s going on?” she asked suspiciously. “You’re acting weird.”

“I just—I hate that this is happening.”

“Yeah, but—” Robin shook her head. “No, I’m not getting involved. I have to go.” She turned on her heel and walked away. Jason sighed, then went back to the nurse’s station to wait for Bobbie.

21
Love’s not enough to go through with this

Carly grimaced, bracing a hand at the small of her back as she lumbered towards Kelly’s courtyard, stopping when she heard a familiar voice.

“Come on, Liz, there’s nothing you can do to help?”

Carly peeked around the corner of the building, scowling when she saw AJ standing near Elizabeth. Why was that bitch everywhere she looked lately?

Elizabeth stood outside the door, a brown paper bag under her arm. “No. I’m not getting involved. And you should stay away as long as you can—”

“That’s not possible. I know it’s my baby—”

Carly growled. She needed to find a way to keep AJ from getting that court order. If she couldn’t bring Jason around by the time the baby was born, she was going to have to seriously consider disappearing. If they wrested control of this baby from her before Carly could get herself some power behind her—she was screwed.

“It’s not my business,” Elizabeth said, and Carly nodded. Damn right. Sounded like she’d learned her lesson.

“I know that, but Mom said you and Carly clashed in the program. After the tests come back, I might need help in a custody battle.” AJ put out a hand to stop Elizabeth from walking away. “Aren’t you tired of her constantly getting away with all this damage? What she did to you? To Bobbie and Tony? To me?”

Elizabeth hesitated. “I’m aware of what she’s done to everyone,” she said, and Carly’s ears twitched at the way the other woman said everyone. If Elizabeth knew there was a possibility that Jason wasn’t the baby’s father—what if Jason had told her? This was bad. This was so bad.

No. No, of course, she didn’t know, Carly reassured herself. If Elizabeth knew, she’d have told someone. Everyone. Her secret was still safe.

For now.

“Just think about it,” AJ told her. “Please. I know I haven’t always been the best person, but I’ve been trying. I am—”

“AJ, what happens if you are the father?” Elizabeth asked. “You know that your family will jump at the first chance they can to point to the drinking—”

“I’m in AA again, and it’ll stick this time. It did last time,” AJ reminded her, and Carly felt that familiar twinge of regret. She really hadn’t wanted to hurt AJ—he had been the closest thing to a friend. He hadn’t been so great in bed, and she didn’t really care much about him, but she hadn’t enjoyed making him think he’d relapsed.

“I’ll think about it,” Elizabeth said, finally. “But I really don’t want to be involved if you can help it. I’ve had enough of Carly Roberts.”

“We all have,” AJ promised.

Carly watched as Elizabeth finally left the courtyard and gritted her teeth. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she demanded, stalking out from her corner.

AJ turned, frowning at her entrance. “Where did you come from?”

“You think you and that bitch are going to take my baby from me—”

“And how do you plan to stop me?” AJ asked pleasantly, his smile stopping Carly in her tracks. “The only worth you have to anyone is that baby. As soon as you’re separated from him, you’ll be dragged into court by everyone involved. If I’m not the father—” He paused, arching a brow, “even though we both know I am.”

She bared her teeth. “The hell you are—”

“If I’m not,” he repeated, “if it’s Tony or Jason, it doesn’t matter to me. What you did to me—” He stepped closer to her, and Carly instinctively stepped back, setting a hand over her belly. “I will make sure that you will never touch this baby or have a chance to hurt anyone else again. You’ve done enough damage, Carly. There’s no one in Port Charles willing to help you anymore. You’ve burned all the bridges.”

Carly opened her mouth, but AJ turned his back and walked away before she could manage a response.

22
Love alone won’t make our problems go away
So I’m sorry but I’ve gotta say

Robin couldn’t quite get the conversation with Jason out of her head, and it continued to linger even after she finished meeting with Alan—who could barely look her in the eye. Something didn’t feel right.

Jason had promised her he was done with Carly, and she’d understood how the affair had happened. She’d forgiven it—they weren’t even really dating when it had started, and she knew he’d been telling the truth about it being over.

If Brenda hadn’t told her about the baby, then Robin would have thought it was just another lie. It had to be true—Carly was living with him, after all. Why would Jason put Robin through this if it wasn’t true?

“I’m sorry,” Brenda said as soon as Robin sat down across from her at Kelly’s. “I shouldn’t have called you.”

“Brenda—” Robin wrinkled her nose, reaching for the menu. “You knew I was coming home for Christmas, and you just wanted to warn me—”

“That’s what I said to you, and what I told myself, but—” Brenda sighed and leaned back against the chair. “It’s not why I did it.”

Robin frowned at her. “What are you talking about?”

“I called you, I told you, and then I ran right over to Luke’s because I knew Jason would be picking up the books. I made sure that you knew, and that he knew that you knew. And I made sure I was the one to tell him. I did it to hurt him.” Brenda’s eyes were damp with tears. “Jason told me it was a bitchy thing to do, but I didn’t listen to him. I enjoyed telling him, Robin, twisting the knife.”

“Because of Sonny and the wedding.”

“Yeah.” Brenda’s voice faltered. “Because of how hard it’s been since. I had a nervous break down a few weeks ago, Robin. And Jason’s here. I can scream at him, you know? I was trying to hold it in mostly, but then I broke down, and then—well—I just—I wanted to him to hurt the way I was.”

“Jason didn’t—”

“Didn’t mean to hurt me,” Brenda managed. She smiled, pressing fingertips to the corners of her eyes to dab at her tears. “Yeah. I know. I’m the one that walked down the aisle. I’m the one that forced him to tell me in front of the world. He would have rather done it in private. I just—” Her voice broke on a sob. “I just believed in him so much. In Sonny. In how much I thought he loved me.”

“I know.”

“But he’s not here to scream at. He’s not here to humiliate and hurt. Jason is. And he’s complete shit for what he did to you. For hurting you this way, but I made myself part of it. I hurt you to get back at him. And I’m sorry.”

Robin reached across the table and squeezed Brenda’s hand. “It’s all right. I’m glad you told me when you did. I’m glad I had time to think about it. It’s rough—people are looking at me, and I’m trying not to think about it—but I’m glad I knew. I forgive you.”

“That’s because you’re nicer than me,” Brenda said with a sigh. “Well, at least now, I have a good reason to hate him. And not just because of what he did to you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh.” Brenda grimaced. “I mean, it doesn’t matter. Elizabeth said they were sort of—well, they weren’t dating, but maybe thinking about it?” She shrugged. “She said Jason didn’t know Carly had basically tortured her, but how could he not have known? You helped Elizabeth get out all that trouble last year.”

“I don’t think I ever—” Robin struggled to focus. Jason had been seeing someone else? He’d started a new relationship? With Elizabeth? “I don’t think I ever told him much. Jason wasn’t interested in the hospital, and I helped Elizabeth, yeah, but not a lot.”

“That’s why I’m glad you guys ended up breaking up,” Brenda pointed out. “You want to be a doctor, and he can’t be bothered to listen to you talk about your job which matters so much to you—”

“It wasn’t like that. He was just—there was a lot going on, and I—” Robin shook her head. “You’re looking for reasons to hate him, Bren, and this just isn’t one of them, okay? What he did to me, yeah. That’s a reason, I guess. And I’m sorry to hear Elizabeth was mixed up in this.”

“Weird, huh, to think they were almost dating, huh?” Brenda asked. “I think back to high school. You both had such a crush on Jason Quartermaine.” She sipped her water. “And then you both ended up catching Jason Morgan’s eye.”

“Yeah, strange.”

“And Carly poisoned the well for both of you,” Brenda said. Her eyes darkened. “I hate her for what she did to you. And I just know that something isn’t right about all of this. I wish someone would get rid of her. For good.”

23
I gotta say goodbye for now
I don’t know for how long

Elizabeth was overjoyed not to work the Christmas Eve party. Surrounded by happy people celebrating the holiday season made her want to vomit most of the time, but especially this year—

She’d always loved Christmas growing up with her grandparents, and she’d attended the Christmas Eve party every year until she’d left for college. First, as a child listening attentively to her beloved grandfather reading out loud to the children in the hospital, then as a teenager volunteering as an elf to pass out gifts and lead the kids in carols—

Then she’d come back from college. Her grandmother had died at Christmas, their last argument echoing in Elizabeth’s head every time she saw a Christmas tree. Audrey’s doubt that Elizabeth would be able to complete the program convinced that she didn’t have what it took to be a nurse—

Then her grandfather had died, and Alan Quartermaine had taken over reading to the children—

She had spent all her favors to get out of the hospital this year. She wanted to get a bottle of wine at the liquor store and curl up on her sofa away from anyone trying to spread any Christmas cheer—

Then Epiphany Johnson, the nursing program director, flagged her down just as Elizabeth pressed the button for the elevator.

“I’m glad I caught you,” Epiphany began briskly.

“I’m not working—” Elizabeth began, sure that she was about to be screwed over. If they even tried to make her take a shift, she would absolutely riot—

“I’m afraid that’s not the problem. We need to head to the conference room.” Epiphany’s expression was grim. “Your union rep is already there.”

Elizabeth stared at her, then swallowed hard. The last time she’d heard those words, her life had nearly been destroyed.

She’d dared Carly to find something else to take away from her. She should have known better.

24
But the time has come
That we don’t get along
So goodbye for now

Elizabeth stalked up to the bar, a scowl stretched across the face. She slapped down a twenty and said to the bartender, “How much vodka will this buy?”

Jake, the pretty curly-haired blonde bartender, raised a brow and bent down under the bar. She came up with a bottle of Grey Goose. “I’ll toss in the extra fifteen if you tell me what crawled up your ass and died.”

“Sold.”

Jake poured them each a shot, and Elizabeth tossed back the alcohol, feeling the burn slide down her throat. “I’m on probation,” she said. “Again.”

Jake pursed her lips, refilled the shot glass, then drank her own. “Not after everything that happened last year.”

“I don’t know how the hell that bitch managed it,” Elizabeth muttered. “Who would even listen to her?” She drank the second shot.

Jake refilled it without a word. “Sorry about it, kid. The hospital is lucky to have you.”

“What does it even matter now?” Elizabeth said, staring into the glass. Her grandfather was gone and had died thinking Elizabeth was a failure, just like her grandmother had. Neither of her parents had thought she’d amount to anything. Wasn’t that why they’d dumped her on her grandparents basically at birth?

Maybe they were right. Maybe she was nothing.

She felt someone sit next to her, and she turned her head, ready to politely ask them to slide down another stool.

Except it was Jason sitting next to her, and he looked concerned. “Oh, hell no.” Elizabeth grabbed the vodka from Jake, her empty glass, and started across the room.

“Elizabeth, can you just let me—”

“Absolutely not—” She whirled around, only to find that he’d followed her. Her chest bumped into his, and she almost lost her balance, the three quick vodka shots already swirling in her empty stomach. He caught her with an arm around her waist, drawing her against him. Her cheeks flushed, heat spreading all over.

“I should have slept with you,” she muttered. Elizabeth shoved him away, then continued across the bar to find a dark corner where Carly’s spies (she had to have them, how had she known about her and Jason in the first place?) might not see her. “At least then I’d have that to comfort me in the unemployment line.”

She ignored the shot glass and took a long pull from the bottle itself. Jason dragged a chair out and sat down. “Bobbie called me—”

“I hope Carly didn’t overhear that,” Elizabeth said darkly. She poured the vodka into her glass and shoved it at him. “If I drink this entire bottle by myself, I might actually die.”

Jason ignored the shot glass. “She said you’d been written up because of Carly. I don’t understand—”

“Don’t you?”  Elizabeth met his eyes, miserable. “I told you. I told you that this would happen. If we had kept going, she was going to make me pay for it. I told you—”

“I know, but—”

“I said she tried to get me kicked out of the program. You didn’t listen to me. How did she know about me? There’s not even anything to know—we flirted, you know. There was some pool and some—” Well, he’d driven her home a few times, and there were those kisses— “Did you tell her?”

“No, can you just let—”

“My grandfather was the only one who never looked at me that way,” Elizabeth said, ignoring him now. Her throat tightened, and her eyes burned. “Never looked at me with that Oh, Lizzie look. But then he did, and he died not believing in me, and it was all her fault.” She took another pull from the vodka, her head beginning to swim.

She just wanted it to go away.

“Elizabeth—” Jason reached for the bottle and took it from her. “Bobbie said you’d been put on probation. I’m sorry—”

“There’s no point in trying to fix this. None. Carly just makes up her mind to destroy someone, and that’s it. She’s single-minded. Last time, she framed me for stealing drugs from the hospital. I got caught red-handed, did you know that? She left a full cart out, and I was putting it back, and I don’t understand—I don’t know how it happened, but everyone believed her, and no one believed me, not even Gramps.”

She put her head in her hands. “I told you I couldn’t do it. That I needed to get Carly out of my life, and you didn’t hear me.”

“I didn’t—” Jason exhaled slowly. “I didn’t realize how bad it was.”

She looked at him, her vision a bit blurred. “So now you do. But you already knew what she was. You knew she’d played with Tony Jones — he’s not perfect, but she went after him, and she humiliated Bobbie. And you know what she did to Robin. So how could you give her another chance?”

“It’s not her—” Jason fisted his hands. “I’m not doing it for her.”

“The kid, right.” Elizabeth snorted. “The kid who’s somehow better off with Carly Roberts than in the Quartermaine Mansion, suffocated by people who just want to control him. She’s using the baby as a meal ticket, Jason. How is she any better?”

“She’s not—”

“Then what’s the point?” Elizabeth shoved her chair back. “Why are you even doing this? She made this bed. Let her fix it.”

“I told her. As soon as the baby is here—”

“She’s not going to do it,” Elizabeth said. She looked around for her purse and coat, then saw Jake holding them up at the bar. “She’s going to keep using you.”

“Not if I don’t let her—”

“How many more people does she have to hurt, Jason, before you get it?” She dragged a hand through her hair, her stomach rolling. “You can’t save her. You can’t fix her. No one can. I feel sorry for that baby. The best thing that could happen if is Carly just disappeared.”

She started towards the bar, and Jason followed her. “Don’t—forget I existed,” she told him. “It’s the only way she’ll leave me alone.” And even then—

“But—”

“If I’m not important enough to you to drop Carly right now, then we have nothing else to discuss.” She lifted her chin, her eyes burning into him. “And I know I’m not because Robin wasn’t enough for you to slam the door in her face when Carly asked for help.”

“I’ll tell her tonight,” Jason said roughly, signaling to Jake to put down the phone where the bartender was likely calling for a cab. “I will. I’ll go right to the penthouse and tell her she has to leave tonight.”

Elizabeth blinked, then wobbled. Jason put his hands on her shoulders to keep her upright. “Wait, what?”

“I’ll tell her she has to go.”

“I—” There was a catch. She narrowed her eyes. “It’s Christmas Eve. So you’ll kick her out on Christmas Eve?”

“If that’s what you need me to do—”

“It’s not—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “It’s not about what I need because she’ll just destroy me harder now—”

“Then what—”

“I don’t know. It’s complicated now!” She threw up her hands. “I didn’t expect you to agree with me!”

“Okay—”

“You can’t kick her out now,” Elizabeth muttered. She folded her arms. “She’ll just come at me harder, and she’ll do something to hurt you. So we have—” Her stomach lurched, and her head was spinning.

“Let me—” He grabbed her purse and coat. “Let me take you home.”

“Okay.” Exhausted, her head swimming, and confused, Elizabeth leaned against Jason, and they left Jake’s together.

25
But the time has come
That we don’t get along
So goodbye for now

Jason put his arm around Elizabeth’s waist as he helped her up the second set of stairs, bracing her when she swayed slightly.

Everything was wrong. Everything was a mess, and it was all his fault. Robin hated him and thought he was the scum of the Earth, and Elizabeth—the woman he’d thought might be his future—hated him now, too. Why hadn’t he turned Carly away that night?

Why had he let the way he felt about the Quartermaines get in the way—

“I need my keys,” Elizabeth said, the slurred tone fading away, leaving only exhaustion. She leaned against the wall next to her door, her eyes closed. The hallway was as dimly lit as it had been a week earlier—

How much had changed since they’d walked down this hall only seven days ago—

Jason dug inside a pocket in her purse, pulling out the keys and handing them to her. “I’m going to make this right—”

“You can’t.” Elizabeth straightened, and he wished he could see her. Wished her face wasn’t hidden by the shadows so he could see her eyes. He never wondered where he stood as long as he could see them—

“I told you, I’ll tell her to go—”

“And if you do that, she’ll be angry at you. She’ll make it her life’s work to destroy you, and then she’ll blame me. Or maybe she’ll blame Robin. I saw her yesterday. I know she’s home. Carly will think you got cold feet because of that.”

Jason swallowed hard, then tried again. “She’s just a person, Elizabeth. I have power, too—”

“In your world.” Elizabeth pushed her door open, then turned around to face him. “Carly doesn’t come from that world, Jason, and she doesn’t live by those rules. And unless you’re prepared to actually make her disappear—”

He flinched, but she continued, “Then I don’t know what you think you can change. Whatever we might have had—it was over the minute Carly went to you for help. Even if you’d said no, she’d have blamed me for it.”

“That’s not—”

“It’s how Carly operates. She decided to hate Bobbie for no reason at all, and she destroyed Bobbie’s life. And while she was doing that, she found time to repeatedly humiliate Robin, and I guess maybe she went after me because Bobbie cares about me. Or because Robin and I are friends. I don’t know.” Elizabeth sighed. “I’m sorry. I wish it could be different—”

“It can be. We can’t let her win—”

“I can’t do it again.” Her eyes burned. “I can’t. The program is all I have left. If I lose this, there’s nothing here for me, okay? I can’t fight her. I don’t have it in me. I’m sorry. I’m sorry if that makes me weak or a coward. I’m tired of losing, and that’s all I’ve done since Carly put me on the list of people she hates. I hope you get out of this. I hope she lets you go. But I’m not part of it. Not anymore.”

Jason didn’t know what he could say, but he didn’t want to give up. There had to be something he could do or say—

Then a clock somewhere in her apartment began to chime. Once, twice, three times—it continued to chime. Midnight.

Elizabeth smiled sadly, then leaned up to kiss him, fisting her hand in his shirt. He put his hands at her hips, dragging her against him, trying to hold on to any piece of her that he’d let him touch—

“Merry Christmas,” She murmured against his lips, then stepped back. “Goodbye.”

Then she went inside.

So I’ll say goodbye for—

Comments

  • Carly needs to pay for what she is doing to Liz and the others. I hope someone comes and supports Liz and gets her back into the program. Thanks for the story.

    According to Shelly Wendy Samuel on April 1, 2022