Song: Bad Karma (Gabbie Hanna)
Skeletons in my closet
I got secrets that’ll shake you to your bones
Carly gingerly made her way down the stairs, bracing one hand on her back and the other clutching the railing for dear life. Everything hurt, and she was so worn out and exhausted. One more week until her due date, and then this terrible pregnancy would be over—
She glanced out into the darkened living room, scowling as she realized she was alone in the penthouse. Jason must have come home late the night before — if he’d come home at all, she realized now. She’d tried to wait up for him, hoping to engage him in conversation, but he’d barely looked at her since she’d come to stay.
This all fell apart if Jason stuck to their agreement and forced her out after the baby was born. She could only stay in Port Charles with her baby if Jason promised to keep the lie going. And she needed to stay in Port Charles. She hadn’t yet finished making Bobbie pay for ruining her life, and now there were other people on her list—
Carly exhaled slowly as she reached the bottom of the stairs. Had Jason come home last night? Oh, God, what if he was still with that stupid bitch? What if Elizabeth had learned of the complaint Carly had filed and gone straight to Jason? Carly grimaced. She should have waited, should have bided her time, but she’d been so angry—so incredibly pissed off that Elizabeth was right there, waiting in the wings to take someone else Carly wanted. First, the bitch had taken Bobbie, and now she wanted Jason?
There was no way in hell Carly was going to let her get away with it—and if ruining Elizabeth’s life brought Bobbie pain, that would just be a bonus.
But she hadn’t calculated on Jason finding out so quickly about the complaint—damn it—
The phone rang across the room, but Carly ignored it, moving towards the kitchen. It continued to ring, the shrill sound echoing in the dark, empty room. Carly reached the entrance as the answering machine clicked on.
Then a voice poured out of the machine, and Carly growled, lurching back around the corner, rushing towards the desk next to the front door, moving faster than she had in weeks because that was Lorraine—
“—hoping you can give me a call back because I think we have something to talk about—”
Carly’s foot snagged on the corner of a table, and she went flying, the room tilting at terrifying angles. Then she slammed her head into the corner of the table and fell onto her back, her head lolling to one side.
It ain’t worth all the drama
Might be easier if I just die alone
After leaving Elizabeth at her apartment, Jason had been in no mood to return to the penthouse and be confronted with the massive disaster he’d invited into his life. He’d returned to the bar, and mercifully, Jake hadn’t said a word when the bar closed, but he hadn’t made a move to leave.
The bartender had locked up, leaving Jason with a few bottles of Rolling Rock and stewing in his own thoughts, angry at himself for how he’d handled everything. Robin had always warned him that his lingering anger and distrust for Quartermaines would eat away at him. That his burning desire to prove himself undamaged to the rest of the world would haunt him. He’d thought she was just feeling guilty for always taking their sides and had dismissed her concerns—
But Robin was right. Jason’s loathing of that family, the miserable memories of the weeks he’d spent in that house still lurking in his mind, the feeling of always being wrong, always being incompetent—it had been simmering, waiting to boil over. Carly had only had to look at him and say the things he thought about himself—
“They think I’m trash,” she’d sobbed, her hands pressed against her face, the words muffled. “That I can’t do anything, that I don’t deserve my baby—they think they can control me and make me do what they want—I’ll never be able to have my son—”
Had Carly somehow suspected how he felt? Had she known how to play him, or had she just gotten lucky? There was truth to her statements. He knew Alan and Monica thought Carly was less than the dirt beneath their feet and that Edward would never want someone like Carly anywhere near his family. Even kind and gentle Lila would think twice at Carly’s brashness and lack of empathy for anyone.
The family would absolutely go after Carly and control that child, and Jason hadn’t thought beyond that. He hadn’t known Carly had been a one-woman wrecking ball through everyone‘s life—only that she’d broken up Bobbie’s marriage and had treated Robin like garbage. That should have been enough. Why hadn’t it been enough?
He stared miserably at the half-empty bottle in his hands. Drinking wouldn’t solve anything. Hadn’t AJ’s history taught him that? He almost understood how his brother had lost himself in the alcohol. There was a comfort in letting everything fall away, letting it feel fuzzy and less important. The destruction he’d created didn’t hurt as much when he couldn’t feel it.
There was a pounding at the front of the bar. Jason lumbered to his feet and crossed the bar, scowling when he saw Francis Corelli, a guard from the Towers, on the other side of the door. He pulled it open, squinting. “What’s going on?”
“We’ve got a problem, boss—” Francis’s face was pale. “Carly fell at the penthouse this morning. She had to be rushed to GH, and the paramedics said the fall triggered labor.”
What goes around comes around
Do unto others and all that other shit
“How did you end up with this?” Patrick wanted to know as he scribbled something in the chart. “I mouthed off to the chief again, so I know why I’m stuck in the ER on Christmas, but who’d you piss off?”
“Some days,” Elizabeth sighed, “it feels like the entire universe. But, actually, I’m on probation.” He scowled at that, and she shrugged a shoulder. “Yeah, again. One of the terms meant being reassigned. So I get to float to all the departments now,” she continued with a sour smile. “And work the trash shifts. They called me in at four this morning.”
After less than three hours of fitful sleep, the scene with Jason at her door still haunted her. Was she right to give up? To walk away from something that had seemed so promising? If the hospital was willing to take Carly’s complaint seriously after everything that had happened, did Elizabeth even want this anymore?
And did she really care about being a nurse? Hadn’t she pursued this career to make her grandparents proud? Gram hadn’t believed in her, but Gramps had. At least until those last few weeks. Had her scandal, the charges — had it triggered that fatal heart attack—
Familiar waves of grief mixed with guilt swept through her, and Elizabeth had to take a deep breath to stop the tears that always seemed to be hovering. “Anyway,” she continued, “I didn’t really have plans today.”
“Still—” Patrick glanced over as another nurse took a scanner report that an unconscious woman was in labor. “The ER on Christmas is depressing as hell—”
“Can’t be any worse than my everyday life,” she muttered as she went to the front doors with her co-worker to be ready for the incoming patient. Her eyes bulged as the familiar guard came in, along with the paramedics rolling Carly in on a stretcher. “Oh my God—” Her eyes darted behind him, expecting to see Jason.
But he was nowhere. Carly was unconscious, bleeding from a severe head wound, and in labor all alone. She swallowed, shoved everything else out of her head—and got to work.
Guess I had to learn my lesson
You were one hell of a lesson
Jason pushed through the doors to the emergency room, craning his head to find a familiar face before approaching the front desk. His head was swirling from the lack of rest, the guilt of not being at the penthouse, and worry. He might not be the father or all that fond of Carly, but that didn’t mean he wanted anything to happen to either of them.
Even if getting rid of Carly that way would solve everything—
“Jason—” Bobbie left the treatment area shielded by a curtain, her brown eyes anxious. “You’re here—”
“Is in recovery,” Bobbie confirmed, taking him by the hand and heading towards the elevators. “She hit her head pretty hard, but it’s just a concussion. Unfortunately, the fall triggered labor—”
“It’s only a week before her due date. Things should be fine, though—” Jason frowned at her. “Right?”
“I don’t know all the details,” Bobbie said. “Elizabeth just—”
“She was on call in the ER when they brought her in, so she and Patrick took the case,” Bobbie clarified. “She paged me to make sure someone was here when you got to the ER—Jason, the baby is in the NICU. There’s a problem. You need to get up there because Carly is still unconscious, and decisions need to be made.”
Jason stared at her, dumbfounded. “But—”
“Carly updated her paperwork right after she moved in with you,” Bobbie reminded him. “You’re the father on record, and your son needs you.”
Energy’s in full rotation
Knew I would regret ya
Tony gritted his teeth as he left a patient’s room and stalked to the nurse’s station. Working on Christmas when he could be at home with Lucas. Somehow he and Bobbie had both ended up being scheduled to work today, so his son was celebrating with Luke and Laura instead of his parents.
He tugged another chart out of the pile, then frowned, feeling someone’s eyes on him. He looked over to see Amy Vining. “What do you want?” he demanded, then winced at the harshness of the tone.
“I was wondering if you’d heard,” Amy said gently. “Carly was rushed in today, unconscious and in labor. The baby’s in the NICU—”
“What?” Tony snapped, his heart thudding loudly, almost vibrating up to his ears. “What are you talking about—”
“I don’t know what happened or why,” Amy continued, putting a hand on his arm. “I just know that you still think there’s a chance it’s your son, and I—”
Tony shrugged off her arm, his hands shaking. He turned away from her, blindly wandering the halls until he found himself in front of the hospital’s chapel.
He went inside the quiet room and up to the altar, staring numbly at the candles already lit. He closed his eyes, bowed his head —
“Please don’t take another child from me,” he begged, his voice faltering. “Please. I can’t—please don’t take him from me.”
Payin’ for my past mistakes
You’re bad, bad karma
Elizabeth emerged from Carly’s room, slid her chart back in the door, and went to the nurse’s station. She eyed the elevator. The NICU was just one floor up, and she knew from Bobbie’s page that Jason had arrived and was upstairs.
He must be so worried and confused—dealing with whatever health issues the baby had suffered as well as guilt for not being home when Carly fell.
Not wanting to be involved didn’t stop her from feeling like she already was.
“It’s a damn shame,” Epiphany muttered as she ambled into the hub and dropped off a chart. “How’s Carly?”
“She’s all right,” Elizabeth said. “Recovering from the C-section and concussion. Patrick and I handed her off to Dr. Meadows after getting her stabilized.” She tapped a pen against her palm. “Do you know—I mean—all I heard was that the baby was in distress when he was born—”
“They don’t know anything yet. Something about his breathing. They had to put him on a ventilator,” Epiphany said. She exhaled slowly. “It’s a tragedy. Whatever Carly Roberts has done, I hope and pray that baby isn’t paying for her sins.”
“That wouldn’t be fair, would it?” Elizabeth folded her arms. “I mean, that’s not how God is supposed to work—”
“He works in mysterious ways,” Epiphany reminded her, “and we’re not always privy to his motives. It’s a terrible first day of fatherhood for Jason. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. When my Stanford was sick as a child, I would sit and watch him breathe. Even as a nurse when I knew he was just sick with a cold, I still worried.”
Elizabeth bit her lip, sweeping her eyes over the elevator again. How many people were thinking about that? Worried about Jason stepping into fatherhood with a sick baby and unconscious mother? How was Jason dealing with it?
She closed her eyes, swallowed hard, then opened them to meet Epiphany’s gaze. “I’m assigned to Carly because I was here when she came in, but with everything we’ve been through—with what she might wake up to—”
“You don’t think she’d be happy with you as her nurse,” Epiphany said, nodding in understanding. “You don’t have to explain, honey. I’ll take over.”
Fucking up my reputation
Should’ve seen it coming
He hated the hospital. Hated sitting in a hospital room. His earliest memories were of walls that looked like this, painted a dark color that made him feel like everything was closing in on him.
And that was no different today, twenty-four hours after Baby Boy Roberts came into the world, and Jason realized that he was trapped.
Carly lay in the bed, tears streaking silently down her face. Jason tried to take in what Monica, the hospital’s head cardiologist, was trying to tell them. Her voice was cracking because, of course—she thought it was Jason’s son. Her grandson.
And the boy was her grandson, which made Jason feel even lower. Should AJ be a part of this? Should be this a secret they continued to keep?
“I d-don’t understand,” Carly managed, swiping her at cheeks. “T-The doctors said everything was okay at my last appointment—”
“It’s not a condition we can catch until after the baby is born,” Monica told her. “It’s an extra duct that closes within a few days after birth. However, in rare cases, the duct is too large, and the blood from the aorta mixes with blood in the lungs, and it increases blood pressure in the lungs.”
“Why was he in trouble right away?” Jason wanted to know. “If it’s supposed to take a few days—”
“The cord was wrapped around his neck at birth,” Monica said. “That can happen as the baby moves into position. It forced his lungs to work harder, which meant his blood pressure was too high. So we’ve been able to diagnose him earlier than we might have, which is a blessing in some ways.” She paused. “The baby—we, ah, still don’t have a name?”
Carly just started to cry again, and Jason shook his head. “No,” he said faintly. “No, not yet.”
“All right.” Monica frowned but didn’t comment on it further. “We have the baby on a ventilator to stabilize his oxygen levels, and we’re monitoring him for a few days to make sure the duct closes on its own. We have several treatment options available to us,” she added, “but we want to be careful we avoid endocarditis, an infection in the heart—”
“Oh, God—” Carly moaned.
“We can treat with medication, catheter—and if we need to—surgery.” Monica grimaced. “The risk is small, but it’s also not nothing. I promise you—” She flicked her eyes to Jason. “We’re doing everything we can.”
Is it my imagination
Or bad, bad karma?
AJ pushed open the door to the hospital chapel, hesitating when he saw Tony sitting in the front pew. He should leave the man alone and go somewhere else, but—
Tony twisted on the seat, his eyes narrowing in anger. “What the hell do you want—”
“The same as you,” AJ said, his mind made up. He let the door swing closed behind him and sat on the other side of the aisle, but also in the front pew. “To say a prayer for the baby.”
“He’s my son—”
“I know you want that to be true,” AJ said gently, reminding himself how hurt and angry he’d been to learn the woman he thought was a friend had set out to destroy his life to keep her secrets. Carly had targeted Tony and broken up his marriage, lied to him for months about the baby—was still lying to him. And Tony had already lost a child.
“Maybe Carly’s lying to us all. Maybe everyone is,” AJ murmured. He looked forward at the altar. “Wouldn’t be the first time. I was drunk, Tony, the night I slept with her. It doesn’t make me a good person, but you were stone cold sober when you began your affair—”
Tony closed his eyes, color leeching from his face, and he, too, faced the front of the altar. “Don’t you think I know that? Don’t you think I wish I could blame the alcohol—”
“Blaming the alcohol makes it too easy to give myself a break.” AJ clasped his hands loosely in his lap. “I chose to take the drink. Whatever happens after that, even if I don’t remember, is on me. Just as your choice is on you.”
“The baby—” Tony closed his eyes. “He should be okay. I read the charts. The risks are low, but—”
“But they exist. And I think we’re all wondering if maybe that baby is paying for the sins of his parents.” AJ’s mouth quirked up into a half-smirk. “God knows, we all have enough to go around.”
“Jason’s a smokescreen,” Tony bit out. “I don’t care what anyone says. He’s lying for her—”
“Why would he do that?” AJ wanted to know. “What does he have against you?” Jason wouldn’t cover up Carly’s secret if Tony were the father—
But he might if he knew AJ was. AJ was a Quartermaine, and the family had already made threats. And God knew Jason had a right to suspect AJ would be a terrible father. Maybe it was as simple as that, but AJ had thought they were closer than that. Not exactly friendly, but at least civil.
“I’m getting a court order for a paternity test,” AJ said. “I’m sure you have one in the works—”
“One way or another, we’ll get to the bottom of this—”
Tony jerked himself to his feet, lumbering over AJ, his eyes bloodshot and laced with fury. “And when I have my son, I’ll make sure that bitch never gets anywhere near him! This is all on her—”
He stormed out of the chapel before AJ could say anything. Tony was wrong — this wasn’t all on Carly. They’d all played a part—
But AJ couldn’t help but agree with the irate doctor. As soon as paternity was established, they’d all be better off if Carly just disappeared.
Bad, bad karma
Elizabeth fought the urge to seek Jason out for nearly three days. Finally, her curiosity, her worry, and her regrets won out, so she went up to the NICU floor around the time visiting hours ended.
Jason exited through the security door, shoving a yellow protective gown into a nearby trashcan, then turned—stopping when he saw her. “Elizabeth.”
“Um, hey.” She folded her arms. “I was hoping you had a minute to talk.”
Elizabeth glanced past him to Leyla Mir, doing a terrible job pretending she wasn’t listening. “Come with me.” She went down a hallway. Jason followed. She looked around to see if anyone was watching before opening the door to a supply closet. “I don’t want anyone to see us.”
“You think someone is going to report back to Carly?” Jason asked, but he followed her inside.
“How’s the baby?” Elizabeth said.
“He’s, uh—” Jason rubbed the back of his neck and looked away. “Managing. Surgery is looking more likely,” he admitted. “But we’re hoping it can be avoided.”
“And Carly?” Elizabeth asked reluctantly. She folded her arms. “Is she—”
“She’s fine,” Jason muttered. He shook his head. “I don’t know. I was going to force her out when the baby came. I told her if she didn’t take the baby and go, I’d tell everyone but—”
Her stomach clenched. “But?”
“He’s so small. And he’s—he didn’t ask for this.” Jason exhaled slowly. “I want her to stop hurting people.” Their eyes met. “I don’t want her to hurt you anymore—but she was crying when they told her the baby might need surgery—”
Elizabeth’s throat felt tight as she thought of how hard that news must have hit. She didn’t want to think of Carly as a person, a mother, going through the worst thing a parent could face. “And it goes without saying that dragging paternity and all of this into that baby’s life right now—I mean, I guess it’s not an argument you want to have—”
“I want this to stop,” Jason told her. “I want—I want Robin to know I didn’t do this to her, and I want Carly out of my life.” He reached for Elizabeth’s hands, and, reluctantly, she let him. “I want to be where we were two weeks ago. The night I kissed you.”
“I don’t—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I guess maybe that’s why all of this hurt so much,” she said softly, searching his gaze, looking for answers, looking for something that would explain to her what had happened. “I thought we were going somewhere. Not that I was looking for forever or promises, but I just—”
“I’m sorry,” Jason told her. He released one of her hands to touch her face, tuck a piece of hair behind her ears, his fingertips trailing down her jaw. “I didn’t—I didn’t think it through. She begged me to protect her from the Quartermaines, and they—I just—I saw red. I didn’t think it’d get this complicated.”
“But it is.” Elizabeth sighed. “You’re not forcing her to tell the truth yet, are you?”
“If you need me to—if that would change your mind—”
“I don’t want you to do it because I asked you to. If you think waiting a few more days until you know what’s going to happen to the baby—” She paused. “You need to be able to live with this, Jason. Is that what you want to do?”
“I don’t know what Tony or AJ are going to do, but yeah. It’s what I want to do,” Jason confessed. “Not for Carly, but—”
“But for that baby that didn’t ask for any of this.”
“Will—” Jason hesitated. “Will you give me another chance?” he asked. “After all of this? I know what you said before, but you’re here. Does that mean you changed your mind—”
“I—” Elizabeth slowly drew her hand out of his and stepped back. His hand fell away from her face. “I don’t know,” she said finally. “I want to. I just—I guess I’m not ready to make any decisions until we know what’s going to happen with Carly.”
Jason studied her for a long moment, then looked away. “A few days ago, you told me that if I wasn’t important enough to you to drop Carly, then we didn’t have anything else to say to each other.”
“If I’m not important enough to give me a second chance when I’m doing everything I can to make this go away without making it worse,” Jason said, startling her, “then maybe you’re right. Maybe we don’t have anything else to say to each other.”
“I didn’t lie about Carly to hurt you. I’m sorry it did,” he added, “but I didn’t know you and Carly had issues, and you didn’t tell me how bad it was. When you did, I told you I’d send her away that night. You told me to wait. You told me you didn’t want anything to do with me as long as Carly was in the picture. Did you change your mind?” he asked again.
“No—yes—” She squeezed her eyes shut. “I want to. I just don’t know if I can—”
“What else do you want from me? What am I supposed to do?” Frustrated, he spread his hands out at his side. “Elizabeth—”
“I don’t know,” she said finally. “But as long as Carly’s in the mix, Jason, I’m not making any promises. I can’t. I’m sorry. You’re going to have to decide if that’s enough.”
He exhaled slowly. “It’s not,” he said. He reached for the handle, then turned back. “If you don’t want to be mixed up in this, you should stay away. Carly’s going to be distracted, so maybe it’ll be enough for her to leave you alone.”
Then he left, and Elizabeth was alone. Her breath hitched, and she pressed a fist to her mouth. He was right, of course. He hadn’t come looking for her. She’d told him she couldn’t do it, and he had a right to be angry that she was sending mixed signals.
Was she going to live her whole life fearing what Carly might do? Running from anyone or anything that might put her in Carly’s path? Was she really going to let Carly win?
Bad, bad karma
Lorraine edged into Carly’s room, casting one more look up and down the hall to be sure that no one saw her go inside.
Carly narrowed her eyes. “What the hell are you—”
“I’m here,” Lorraine said, approaching the bed with narrowed eyes, “to get what I’m owed. You’re still here on Jason’s dime, and he’s hanging around playing Daddy, so he must have decided to keep you. So it’s time—”
“It’s not that simple,” Carly snapped, fisting her hands in the hospital blankets. “He hasn’t agreed to anything yet. And he probably won’t push until we know about the baby—”
“Doesn’t change my situation,” Lorraine retorted, her eyes flashing. “Any day now, GH could find out why I got fired from Mercy. You either pay up, or I’m going to offer what I know to the first guy who opens his checkbook—”
“Damn it, Lorraine, I need more time!”
“I’ve given you enough time!” Frustrated, angry tears stung at Lorraine’s eyes. “I’ve given you everything and helped you every time you asked for something! And what I have got to show for it, huh? Nothing! My career is on the line—my entire life—I could be arrested for screwing with records!”
“You’re out of time, Carly. The hospital is releasing you on January 1. You have until then to get me enough money to start over somewhere else. You miss that payment—” Lorraine hissed, “and I’ll make you sorry you ever asked me for help.”
I recognize what you’re doin’
Wasn’t long ago that I was just like you
Brenda slapped a hand over the phone, and Robin snatched her hand back, making a face at her best friend. “What?”
“I know what you’re doing,” Brenda said, plucking the phone cord out of the base, grabbing the receiver, carrying it over to the fireplace. She whirled around, clutching the blue piece of plastic to her breasts. “And I know what you’re thinking.”
“You do not,” Robin muttered, drawing her knees up to her chest, staring at the fire burning behind Brenda.
“You were going to call him.”
“Was to—” Brenda plopped back down on the end of her sofa, scowling at her best friend. ” You’ve been thinking about it ever since Felicia told us.”
“I just—” Robin wrinkled her nose. “I don’t think it’s a terrible idea just to leave a message and let him know I’m thinking about him—”
“You want to leave a message for your ex-boyfriend because his kid is sick — a kid conceived while the two of you were together. Jason’s got friends for that—”
“Robin. This is how it starts,” Brenda stressed. “You reached out because you’re kind, and Jason will make you somehow forgive him, and then you’re playing stepmother to Carly’s kid. You hate her. And you—”
“Jason and I aren’t getting back together. We’re not. That ship has sailed,” Robin insisted. “He’s dating again, and I told you there might be someone in Paris—”
“If I reach out to Jason,” Robin said, “it’ll be because I am kind and because that baby didn’t ask for Carly to be his mother. No kid would ever want that. And Jason and I were friends first. I’d like to be civil with him—”
“He doesn’t deserve it,” Brenda muttered, but she handed Robin the phone. “He doesn’t.”
“Maybe not.” Robin plugged the phone base in but didn’t make the call. “I have to live in this town after I come home this summer,” she reminded Brenda. “And Felicia said the baby is supposed to recover. If I don’t find a way to make peace with this, it’ll just eat away at me. I don’t want it.”
“Maybe we’ll get lucky, and Carly will take her kid and disappear,” Brenda said brightly. “That would solve all our problems, wouldn’t it?”
“I don’t think we’re going to get that lucky. Carly is the kind of woman who hangs out forever, destroying everything she touches.”
Did a little self-improvement
But it seems you’re still rotten to your roots
AJ saw Jason emerge from Carly’s hospital room and made his move. He approached his brother, hands shoved in the pockets of his pants. “You gotta minute?”
Jason nodded—his expression wary. “Why?”
“This needs to end,” AJ said. He rocked back and forth. “And don’t ask me what I’m talking about. We both know you’re lying. Whether it’s because you just hate me or you hate the family—”
Jason just stared at him, but AJ liked to think there was a twitch in his cheek. “Are you done?”
“You and I both know that’s my son up in there in the NICU,” AJ said roughly, his throat tight. “And I have the right—”
“It’s always about you,” Jason retorted. “Isn’t it? What you deserve. What you’re entitled to. That’s all you worry about—”
“Damn it—” AJ bit off the angry retort. “I know you might be worried about what I might do. That I might start drinking again—”
“That’s none of my business—”
“You think the baby will be the next life I destroy—”
Jason pressed his lips together, looked down at his feet, and AJ exhaled slowly. “I just want to be a good father—and we both know Carly will be the world’s worst mother. You’re protecting her for some reason, but all Carly knows is how to use people. Don’t be someone else she uses, Jase. You don’t need this crap. Carly is my problem—”
“Carly is everyone’s problem,” Jason said quietly. “You want the truth? Get a blood test. That’s the only way out of this.” He pushed past AJ and disappeared around the corner.
What goes around comes around
Do unto others and all that other shit
Jason passed the waiting area on the maternity floor, ignoring the sounds of Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve and the people crowded around, patients and hospital staff both. They were making resolutions and talking about what they wanted to change.
Jason had never understood the idea of making resolutions. Why wait until the last day of the year to make a change? Why not just do it in the moment?
Then again, wasn’t Jason on his way to make his own resolution? Wasn’t he trying to make his own change?
It had been a week since the baby, still unnamed, had been born and rushed to the NICU. Four days since he and Elizabeth had stood in a supply closet, a line drawn clearly between them with Carly’s name on it, and neither of them willing to cross it. Maybe they didn’t know how, he thought. Elizabeth had the right to want Carly out of her life—but was he so wrong to want her to give him a sign that she’d wait for him to fix this?
He shoved that out of his head and headed down the hallway to Carly’s hospital room. She’d been recovering from a concussion and the C-section, but she was going home in the morning. The baby had had a successful surgery to correct his heart condition, and he’d be able to go home in a week, maybe two.
Jason was out of time to make Carly live up to her end of the bargain. Where she was going next, it wasn’t going to be his problem anymore. He’d done everything and footed the hospital bills in addition.
He wanted to be done.
He shoved the door open, unsurprised to see Carly sitting on the sofa under the windows, watching the same New Year’s Eve special.
“I thought you were going to Luke’s tonight,” she said, dropping her feet to the ground. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m going later,” he said. “After we’re done here.” And after he went to the NICU to say goodbye to the baby he’d been watching over for the last few weeks. The kid wasn’t his son, but he was Jason’s nephew, and he’d become used to spending time with him. But after tonight, the only way to be around the baby would be to keep Carly in his life.
And Jason wasn’t interested.
Carly narrowed her eyes. “That sounds ominous—”
“Because it is. I did everything I said I would,” Jason said flatly. “The baby is born. We know he’ll be okay. When you’re released tomorrow, you’re going to a room at the Port Charles Hotel. I’ve paid for it,” he added. “You’ll stay until he’s released. Then I’m putting the two of you on a plane. I don’t care where you go, but you’re getting out of Port Charles. Just like you promised.”
Carly studied him for a long moment, then rose to her feet, wincing and setting a hand at her middle. “No. I’m not going anywhere—”
“I’m not giving you a choice—”
“If you think I’m done in Port Charles, then you’re wrong. I have things left to do.” Carly tossed her hair over her shoulder and folded her arms. “Now you have two choices. You can pick me up tomorrow and take me home to the penthouse where my son and I will be living—”
“Or I will make sure the complaint I filed against your precious little Elizabeth isn’t the last grenade I throw at her,” Carly cut in. He stared at her and her lips curved into a malicious smile. “She’s probably filled your head with all my terrible, awful deeds, but she deserved everything I’ve ever done to her and more.”
“If you protect me and my son and make sure whatever blood test AJ and Tony throw at me name you as the father, I’ll let Elizabeth live her life in peace.”
“What else can you do to her?” Jason demanded. “She’s already on probation, and she hasn’t been near you to give you a reason to file another complaint—”
“Oh, there are ways to make sure she loses this job,” Carly said with an indifferent shrug. “And she might think there’s nothing left I can take from her, but there’s always something. And when I’m done ruining her life, I’ll circle back to Robin. So I guess—” She raised her brows. “The real question is—are you willing to risk crossing me?”
But you’re caught up in the cycle
I broke myself out of the cycle
Elizabeth emerged from a patient room and slid her chart into the slot on the door. Out of the corner of her eye, she spied a familiar face.
A face not assigned to this floor.
Suspicious, Elizabeth caught Lorraine just as she turned into the hallway where Carly’s room could be found. “What are you doing on this floor?” she demanded.
Lorraine hissed, jerking her arm from Elizabeth’s grasp. “None of your business—”
“It is my business. These are my patients—”
“This week,” the other woman sneered. “Next week, where are they sending you, huh? Little floater who can’t be trusted to stay anywhere. You’re the hospital charity case, Lizzie. They can’t kick you because of your grandparents—”
Elizabeth stepped back, a chill sliding down her back. “We’re back to insulting me, which means you made up with Carly.”
“Oh, don’t pretend you give a damn—”
“I don’t. I know that just last week, you wanted me to help you beat her. And now you’re back to this.” Elizabeth folded her arms. “Whatever Carly promised you, it won’t stop her from turning on you when it’s convenient—”
“Don’t act like you know anything,” Lorraine retorted. “Because you don’t—” She stalked in the opposite direction, and Elizabeth looked after her, troubled, wondering what Carly was planning next.
Energy’s in full rotation
Knew I would regret ya
AJ didn’t bother to knock. He knew Carly was alone—had watched her room for almost a half hour — no one ever stayed longer than ten minutes — and he didn’t want an audience for this.
He pushed the door open and found the woman in question, pacing the floor, biting at the nail on her thumb. “You look concerned,” he said, leaning against the door frame.
Carly jerked up her hand and glared at him. “Get out—”
“Not until I serve you with this—” He tossed the papers on the bed, and she scowled at them. “That’s a court order for a paternity test. Get it done by January 2, Carly, or the court will do it for you—”
She snatched the packet up, then scowled at him. “This isn’t just a blood test order—”
“No, I’m sure you already know what custody papers look like. I hear Tony served you earlier today.” AJ shoved his hands in his pockets. “Time’s up, Caroline. When that test proves the baby is mine, I have everything I need to make sure I get custody—”
“I don’t have proof you drugged me,” AJ said, and Carly quieted. “But you’ve done enough over the last few weeks to prove that you’ll interfere with custody. If you’re lucky, a judge might give you supervised visitation—”
Carly crumpled the papers in her hand. “You’re so damned arrogant, but I’m ready for you. And I’m ready for Tony—” Her voice cracked, but her face florid with fury. “No one is taking my baby from me! Do you hear me?”
“The baby you care so much about you haven’t even bothered to name him,” AJ mocked. “That’ll look good for the judge, huh, Carly? Worried I’m going to take your meal ticket away?”
“We’ll see.” AJ sauntered out, smirking as he heard something crash against the wall behind him.
Payin’ for my past mistakes
You’re bad, bad karma
Elizabeth grimaced at the order to head up to the NICU and drop off some paperwork. That was the last place she wanted to be, and she was only grateful she wouldn’t have to go into the ward itself, only the nurse’s station outside.
“Hey, Leyla,” she said. “I brought up the schedule changes for next week—”
“Oh, wonderful,” Leyla said with a roll of eyes. “They’re going to float me to the emergency room, Bobbie already warned me. What the bloody hell do I know about emergency medicine?” She took the schedule.
The ward doors opened, and Jason stepped out, tossing the protective gown he’d been wearing into the disposal basket and stripping off the gloves. Their eyes met. “I’ll talk to you later, Leyla,” she told the nurse.
He shoved his hands into his jeans. “Hey.”
“I was dropping off some paperwork—” Elizabeth glanced behind him. “How’s—um—does he have a name yet?”
“No,” Jason admitted. “Do you have a minute?”
“Yeah. Sure.” Elizabeth gestured to the outer doors of the unit, glaring at Leyla over her shoulder as the other woman looked irritated to be cut out of possible gossip. “Why hasn’t Carly named him yet?”
“I don’t—I don’t know. I didn’t ask.” Jason followed her into the same supply closet as before. “I’m sorry. I know you said you didn’t want to be involved—”
“It’s not—” Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “It’s not that I don’t want to—I just—Carly’s unpredictable, and I don’t want that in my life. It was hard enough to get her to forget about me the first time—”
“I get it, I do. And I’m going to make sure she can’t hurt you anymore. That’s why I needed to talk to you,” Jason told her.
Elizabeth frowned. “What—”
“She gave me an ultimatum. I keep the secret, or she goes after you,” he said, and Elizabeth stared at him. “And Robin. Until I can figure out something else, I have to let her stay. I can’t afford to call her bluff.”
Couldn’t afford to give Carly motive to go after Elizabeth and Robin—the truth of what Jason was planning to do hit her hard. He was sacrificing himself. She couldn’t let him—
“Jason—” Elizabeth shook her head. “Don’t—don’t do this. Don’t let Carly win—” But hadn’t she pushed him to this? Hadn’t she made it clear that keeping Carly out of her life was what she wanted? Wasn’t Jason just trying to do what she asked? Protecting her—and Robin—from the mistakes he’d made?
“It’s not—” He hesitated. “I did this. I let her lie and get away with it. I have to make sure no one else gets hurt.”
“But you can’t—that’s not how Carly works, okay? She’s made my life miserable almost since I met her. At first, she just made comments and tried to undermine me. She made sure any mistake I made was amplified and always questioned everything I did. And then she was hiding paperwork on my patient’s charts—” She rubbed a fist over her heart. “My grandmother always said I wouldn’t make it out of the program. I wasn’t like Steven or Sarah. My grandfather—he still believed in me—but every time something happened, I could see him starting to doubt me.”
“But that’s what she does. She hits you where you’re the weakest—in ways you didn’t even think she could.” Elizabeth lifted her chin. “We can’t let her win, Jason. If she sticks around, she’ll just find new ways to hurt and use you. If it’s not through me or Robin, it’ll be through that baby. You’re a good person—you’ll fall in love with that baby if you’re acting like his father, and she’ll never let you go.”
He closed her eyes, and she knew he’d already started that slow slide. Knew he’d spent nearly every waking moment with the little boy in the NICU.
“I don’t know another way out of this,” he confessed in a low, pained voice. “I just—I wish I’d listened to you, but it wouldn’t have made a difference. It was already too late.” He cleared his throat. “I didn’t—I didn’t tell you so you’d feel sorry for me. I just—I wanted to tell you that you were right to steer clear of this, and I’m going to make sure you and Robin aren’t going to be in the middle anymore.”
He reached out, skimmed the back of his fingers down her cheek. “I’m sorry. I wish we could go back to Jake’s and pretend none of this ever happened.”
“I—” Elizabeth’s beeper at her waist buzzed. She winced. “No. No. I’m not going to let you sacrifice your life to save me some grief. And Robin wouldn’t want it either if you asked her. You made a mistake, Jason, but you shouldn’t have to pay for it forever.”
She leaned up on her toes, gripping his shirt in her hands, and kissed him. Jason’s hands fisted in her scrub top, pulling her tight against him—then the beeper at her side buzzed again.
“I have to—” She drew away, then kissed him again, swaying a little as she settled back on her feet. “I have to go. My shift will be over at midnight. Will you meet me here?”
“Okay.” Jason cupped her chin. “If you’re sure.”
“I’m not sure of anything, but I’m not going to stand on the sidelines anymore. There’s no way in hell I’m going to let Carly win. Not again.”
Fucking up my reputation
Should’ve seen it coming
Tony scowled when he saw AJ at the elevators on the maternity floor. He stalked towards him, his jaw clenched. “What are you doing here?” he demanded.
AJ raised his brow. “The same reason you are,” he said. “I just gave Carly the court order for a paternity test.”
He hated this—hated every minute of it. “You have no right—I told you I would handle this—”
“And I told you that I would help you if it turned out the baby was yours. I would hope you’d do the same for me. You might hate me right now,” AJ told him, and Tony narrowed his eyes. “But we both hate Carly more for what she’s done. The only way to get this over with is to work together to make sure she pays. She has until January 2 to conduct a paternity test on the baby, or the court will do it for her.”
Tony growled. “It’s my baby—”
“You can keep telling yourself that, but the blood test will finish this.” AJ grimaced, pressing the buttons. “I’m not looking forward to fighting Carly for the next eighteen years, but I guess it’s a price I’ll have to pay.”
Tony shook his head. “I’ll pay her off—she’ll lose interest—”
AJ snorted. “Not bloody likely,” he said sourly. “You don’t have enough money to keep her away forever,” he reminded Tony, “and Carly will just bleed me dry if I try that. I have to find a way to prove in court that she shouldn’t be in the kid’s life at all.”
He stepped onto the elevator, and Tony turned back towards the patient rooms, thinking about the future AJ had painted, dealing with Carly, and battling her every day—
If only there was another way.
Is it my imagination
Or bad, bad karma?
Carly just wanted everyone to leave her the hell alone tonight—AJ and Tony had come by with their court orders and angry eyes, and Jason had pulled that bullshit by thinking he could get around her—and goddamn Lorraine was in her face again—
“What’s it going to be?” Lorraine demanded. “I want my money—”
“Shut up,” Carly hissed. She stalked towards the brunette, jabbing her finger at her. “Shut the hell up, do you understand? If you keep threatening me, I’ll make sure GH finds out and the rest of the world, too!”
Lorraine slapped her hard, and Carly’s face snapped to the side. She shoved Lorraine. “Yeah, you forgot this works both ways, didn’t you, you fucking bitch?” Carly snarled. “I have the power, remember? I know everything—”
“And I know everything about you.” Lorraine jerked open the door. “You call me when you remember who the hell can do more damage. I’ll lose my job—what do you have on the line?”
She stalked out, and Carly scowled, dragging her hands through her hair. A moment later, Jason came in, closing the door behind him. “Did you come to tell me you’re taking the deal?” Carly demanded. She’d make sure access to his accounts was part of the negotiations—damn it, she needed Lorraine to go away—
“No,” Jason said shortly, and Carly gaped at him. “Whatever you think you can do to Elizabeth, Robin, or anyone else—I can handle it. And so can they. You need to go, Carly.”
“That—” Carly’s heart began to pound. “This not the plan, okay?”
“You either tell AJ the truth tomorrow morning, or I’m going to do it for you.”
“What? Wait—” Carly went for Jason’s arm as he started to leave. “Wait—”
Jason jerked out of her grasp, pushing Carly away from him. “Get off me—”
“No, let me disappear—” She could always come back—she could fight another day—
“That’s off the table,” Jason retorted. “You had your chance to keep our deal, and you screwed me over. The only thing left is who tells AJ. Me or you. And if it’s me, I won’t be nice about it.”
He left then, and Carly stared at him, her face pale. Oh, damn, damn, damn—she’d overplayed every hand, and now there was no one left to turn to—Oh, damn it—
If Jason thought she would let him get away with this—if she was going down, she was going to take him with her. One way or another.
You have a hunger for disaster
But you’ll never get your fill
“Planning a quiet night at home?” Ruby Anderson, the owner of Kelly’s diner, asked Robin, setting the takeout bag on the counter.
“Yeah, Brenda and I are just gonna stay at the cottage and watch the ball drop.” Robin flashed a smile. “Thanks for the last minute order.”
“You got in just in time,” Ruby said. “Have a good night—oh, AJ—did you need something?”
Robin turned to find Jason’s brother behind her. “AJ. Hey.”
“Hey,” AJ said shortly. “Ruby, you got any chili left?”
“I can put something together,” the older woman said, disappearing into the back.
Robin managed a smile for her childhood friend. “Haven’t run into you since I came back. So, um, how are things?”
“Please.” AJ perched on the stool, staring darkly at her. “You know exactly how things are. What I don’t understand is why you aren’t forcing Jason to tell the truth—”
Robin squinted. “What do you mean?”
“Do you really think Jason cheated on you?” AJ demanded. He tugged out his wallet and pulled out a twenty. “After everything you’ve been through?”
“What I think is irrelevant,” Robin said carefully. “She’s living with him, and he’s taking care of the baby—”
“Which only begs the question—” AJ exchanged the cash for the bag Ruby handed him. “What the hell does Carly have on Jason to force him to go through with this?”
“Wait, do you think Carly’s blackmailing—”
“Jason doesn’t like me,” AJ said shortly, “but he doesn’t hate me enough to destroy his entire life. So I know he’s lying about the baby for another reason.”
“Maybe he’s not—”
“All I know is Carly’s up to something, and I’m going to find out what the hell is going on.” He slid off the stool. “Happy New Year, Robin.”
If by bringing someone down
You thought that you’d feel better
Bobbie checked her watch again. Almost eleven—
“He’s not coming.” Felicia offered the bowl of popcorn. “And Lucas is having fun with his cousins. He barely notices his father forgot to pick him up—”
“That should bother me.” She sunk down on the sofa, watching the television as the screen flashed to the ball that wouldn’t drop for another hour. “Lucas should miss his father more—”
“Tony has dropped out of everything since things exploded with Carly,” Felicia said. “Thanks—” she said as Mac came in from the kitchen and handed them both a glass of wine. “He’ll get himself together once the blood tests come back—”
“And when he finds out that baby isn’t his?” Bobbie wanted to know.
“It’ll be the best thing for all of you. It would mean Carly was completely out of your life,” Mac said, settling into a chair with a beer. “Don’t you want that?”
“More than anything, but I just—” Bobbie sighed and leaned back against the cushions. “I just wish he’d called and said he wouldn’t be here. I had him paged at the hospital, and nothing. He’s not answering the phone at the apartment, either.” She looked out into the dark, inky night with the snow falling softly. “I wonder where he is and if he’s okay.”
Then why are you so unhappy still?
Energy’s in full rotation
Carly paced her room, watching the door warily. Any minute now and the ax would drop. Jason would get a taste of what she’d do to the precious bitch if he didn’t stop this crap — she’d promise to take it all back if he just—
The phone on the nightstand rang. She jerked the receiver up to her ear. “Hello? What do you—” She narrowed her eyes. “So you want to make a deal, huh? No more threats? Okay. Okay. We can talk. Where do you—okay. I’ll be there in—” she checked her watch. How long would it take her to toss on some clothes? “I’ll be there in fifteen.”
Knew I would regret ya
Payin’ for my past mistakes
“Hey, look who’s eager to be off shift,” Patrick teased as Elizabeth edged around a row of lockers and went to the next aisle. “Any plans?”
“Not really—” Elizabeth opened her locker, grabbing the breath mints. She was going on rounds and wouldn’t be able to get back here before meeting Jason— “I’m not off for another hour.”
“Oh, sucks to be you.” Patrick jerked a sweater over his head. “I’m gonna head to Luke’s. Supposed to be good music, and you’ll know the place will be open until dawn tonight. Come by—”
“I would, but—” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “I’m meeting Jason.”
“Jason Morgan.” Patrick arched a skeptical brow. “I thought you cut things off after the news hit—”
“I did. But—”
“And didn’t she just file a complaint against you? That’s why you’re floating—”
“Bad idea,” Patrick advised, dragging a brush through his dark hair and arranging it to look careless and casual. “You barely got out of the last round with your job—”
“Patrick, do you think I don’t remember any of this?” she demanded, putting a hand on her hip. “I know what I’m doing—”
“Just reminding you to be on your guard.”
“I will. Have a good time at Luke’s.”
Elizabeth left the locker room and headed to the nurse’s station. She slowed her steps when she saw Epiphany standing there, a folder in her hands and a look in her eye.
“What?” Elizabeth asked warily.
“You’ve had another complaint filed against you,” Epiphany told her, handing the folder. “I’ve left a message for Bobbie. We’re going to pull all our favors—”
“Carly—” Elizabeth stared at the paperwork, her vision blurring slightly before raising her gaze back to her supervisor. “I haven’t even—”
“I know. It’s bullshit. It’ll be dismissed just like all the others, but—”
“But.” Elizabeth gritted her teeth. Well, Jason must have done something, or Carly was just lobbing a warning shot to make sure they knew what she was capable of.
It was time for Carly to lose, and Elizabeth couldn’t wait to put the bitch in the ground.
You’re bad, bad karma
Fucking up my reputation
Monica wound her way through the crowds in the Renaissance Room, forcing herself to smile every time someone wished her a Happy New Year.
She hadn’t wanted to come to this stupid party, but Alan had insisted, and now—
“Finally.” She tugged on her husband’s arm, dragging him away from a board member he’d been talking to.
“Monica, I was just talking to Amanda about funding for the pediatric program—”
“You can do it later. AJ promised us he’d stay home tonight,” Monica reminded Alan. “He didn’t want to be tempted by going to any of the parties and being around alcohol—”
“Is he here?” Alan craned his neck, looking around.
“No—but I called the house. Reginald said AJ left a few hours ago, and he hasn’t seen or heard from him since. Alan, what if he’s out drinking?” Monica wanted to know.
“We’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it,” Alan assured her. “Come on. Let’s see if we can get the Barringtons to increase their annual donation.”
Should’ve seen it coming
Is it my imagination
Jason was already waiting for her when Elizabeth arrived at the supply closet just before midnight. She’d passed by some of the staff at the nurse’s station, watching the New Year’s special. She checked her watch. Five minutes to midnight.
Jason was leaning against the door, his hands tucked in his jeans. She exhaled slowly. “Hey—”
“Hey.” He straightened. “What’s wrong?”
“Did you—Did you tell Carly you weren’t going to go along with her plan?” Elizabeth asked.
Jason’s face tensed. “What happened?”
“She filed a new complaint against me. I’ll take that as a yes,” she said when Jason muttered something and looked away. “What did you say to her?”
“I told her she could tell AJ herself or I would, and I gave her until tomorrow morning.” Jason shook his head. “I’m sorry. I should have waited—”
“Carly was always going to make you pay for giving her an ultimatum, whether you waited and we talked about how to do it.” Elizabeth shrugged. “You just forced her hand early. Will you tell AJ?”
“I’ll have to. She’s going after you—” Jason pressed his lips together. “I’m sorry. But telling AJ means he’ll drag her into court, and hopefully, she’ll be too busy—”
“Oh, Carly will make time. But I don’t care.”
Jason stared at her, and in the silence, she heard the excitement down the hall as the clock ticked one minute closer. 11:59. Down the hall, someone started a countdown from sixty began as the ball began its descent in Times Square. “59, 58, 57—”
“You don’t care.”
“I don’t care,” Elizabeth repeated. “Carly can come after my job, fine. She’s done that once, and I beat her. I meant what I said earlier.”
“I’m done letting Carly win. So instead of walking away—” Elizabeth pulled the supply closet open and took Jason by the hand. “I’m going to go after what I want, and I’m not waiting another minute.”
Or bad, bad karma?
Jason followed Elizabeth into the supply closet, a bit surprised, bewildered, and turned on as hell by the glint in her eyes and the smirk on her lips. Just like the first night he’d met her at Jake’s—
She reached past him, her body brushing his, and he heard the lock tumble into place behind him. Then Elizabeth arched a brow, gently pushing him against the door.
She stepped back, crossing her arms and reaching for the hem of her shirt. She dragged it off, revealing a thin camisole underneath and the strap of a purple bra sliding down one shoulder.
Jason grinned, then reached for her, crushing her against him and devouring her mouth with his. He’d wanted to get his hands on her for weeks, and if she was going to give him another chance—
She pulled his shirt over his head, tossing it aside. “Come back here,” she murmured against his mouth. “Behind the shelves. In case anyone comes in—we can hide.” Elizabeth giggled as he lifted her in his arms.
Then he stumbled.
“Oof—” Elizabeth fell to the floor. “Well, that wasn’t very graceful—What the hell—what’s wet—” Her words stumbled to a stop as she rolled to her side and caught sight of what Jason was staring at, his eyes wide.
Carly was lying on her back, her head turned towards them, her eyes wide open and glassy. Blood had pulled beneath her head from the gaping slash in her neck.
Elizabeth raised her hands, staring at the streaks of red on them.
Then started to scream.
“Happy New Year!”
Bad, bad karma