Struggling between the facts and fiction
I’m alone but I’m alive
Everyone around me is trying to make a statement
Then there’s me
I’m just trying to survive
– Disarray, Lifehouse
Monday, July 14, 2003
PCPD: Squad Room
Taggert sat down in the chair next to Vinnie and set some files on the desk. “We need to talk, Vinnie.”
“This better not be about my closure rate,” the younger man grumbled as he threw down his pencil. “I closed two cases last week—”
“This is about the open sexual assault cases—including the one you picked up a few weeks ago.” Taggert put a finger on the files. “You haven’t given me any updated reports.’
“No updates to give.” Vinnie reached for his own notepad. “I got Dana Watson, aged 21. Attacked and raped on February 14. No witnesses, Watson can’t give me anything useful, and with no suspect, I can’t put her kit in for testing. May 30, I got Renee Norton, aged 16. Raped near the Angel fountain. My only suspect is her ex-boyfriend, but he’s got an alibi I can’t shake, so Mac shut me down to process the rape kit. And Wendy Morris, July 2. Age 23. Raped and attacked near Martin memorial. No suspects, no kit.”
Taggert grimaced. “And you don’t think these are linked?”
“No, I think the Herald ran a bunch of articles because Watson was attacked, and it gave some people ideas. She’s an intern there.” Vinnie shrugged and stuck a lollipop in his mouth. “What do you want me to do? I got no witnesses, no forensics because of budget cuts, and until Mac lets me do anything with them, I can’t even say they’re linked or not. Welcome to Major Crimes, Tag. This is the shit I live with.”
Taggert wanted to find some fault with Vinnie’s logic but simply couldn’t. “I get it. Look, these cases are dragging down your closure rate. Let me take them off your hands so Mac can come at me. It won’t be the first time we’ve argued about rape kits and budgets.” He pushed himself to his feet. “Leave your case notes on my desk.”
“We talked about this, Tag. I don’t wanna dump my cases on you—I wanna see them through—”
“And you will. But if I’m primary on them, it makes them my problem. And like I said…” He offered a sour smile. “After the bullshit with the Corinthos kidnapping, I got some cards I can play. You don’t want the Herald sniffing out the like crimes and telling us we got a serial rapist on our hands.”
“Yeah, I guess. They are fucking with my closure rate.” Vinnie leaned forward, flipped through some files. He handed three manila folders over. “The kits are down in Evidence, still waiting for someone to give a damn.” He hesitated. “Keep me in the loop, though. I wanna know if we can get these bastards.”
“Thanks, Vinnie.” Taggert took the files and returned to his desk where he began to sort through them and make notes of his own.
GH: Gail Baldwin’s Office
“Let’s talk about homework,” Gail said as she brought the session to a close. “Have you thought about why you didn’t tell Jason about your stress disorder last year?”
“Yeah. I mean, I kind of always knew why I didn’t tell him then. I—” Elizabeth chewed on her bottom lip. “I think back then, I was afraid if I told Jason that I had slept with Zander during an anxiety attack, it would have made the tensions so much worse. He already hated Zander, and I just—I didn’t want to make it worse. Zander didn’t know.”
“You never told him either.”
“No, but it wouldn’t have occurred to me. It was a moment of madness and what came after was just…my desperate attempt to salvage something.” She sighed and leaned back against the sofa. “But I told Jason the other night.”
“Oh? How did it go?”
“Okay, I think. I don’t know. He was upset because I know he blames himself for not seeing something was wrong. And it doesn’t help that it was going on at the same time he was pushing me away, then lying to me about Sonny—he’s been quiet since.”
Gail tilted her head. “Quiet?”
“I can’t…” Elizabeth squinted, trying to articulate the words. “I don’t really know if I can explain it, you know? It’s not like we’re not talking to each other. Until Monica clears me health-wise, we can’t really do anything else. But there’s just this…tension that I don’t understand. I don’t know—he’s been staying at his penthouse again since Courtney moved out, but she’s only across the hall.”
“Are you worried about that?”
“No.” Elizabeth quickly shook her head. “No. It’s not like last year. I see Jason every day. We have breakfast at Kelly’s a lot—just to touch base. And then we go for a drive on the bike after he’s done work. We drive for hours…it’s been great.”
Gail nodded. “But you think something is bothering him?”
“Yes. I guess so. I mean, I don’t know if I can just make it because of me. I know there’s a lot going on. Sonny and Carly went through absolute hell—”
“Have you asked?”
Elizabeth pressed her lips together, then shook her head. “No. Should I?”
“I don’t know. You know Jason better than anyone.” Gail paused. “But I imagine we should talk about why you’re not asking him. I’m not saying you need to—”
“But there’s something bothering the man I love and I’m holding myself back from asking about it. So that’s probably me expecting the worst, right? Like maybe I think he’s having regrets. He’s—things are back to normal for the most part, and maybe I don’t fit.”
Gail was silent, and Elizabeth sighed. “Yeah. I guess this is me not wanting to rock the boat. I just told him about the crap from last year when I knew he already felt guilty for how I took everything. I guess…maybe I just wanted to coast a little bit. And plus, like I said earlier, Ric got out on bail, so maybe that’s it.”
Her therapist just raised her brows, and Elizabeth bit her lip. “But I should ask him. Or at least really think about why I’m afraid to. Does that mean I don’t believe him when he says he loves me?”
“That’s something we can talk about in a few days.” Gail rose to her feet. “But that’s your homework for this session. Why are you so afraid of change?”
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
Carly scowled down at a furniture catalog and threw it aside. It landed on top of three other catalogs, and the fourth was too slick and heavy. It slid off the sofa and hit the floor, its pages fanning open. She stared down at it, trying to gather the energy to sit up and get it.
She could leave it there. Sonny, the neat freak, wasn’t home to complain about it.
“Here, I’ll get that,” her sister-in-law offered as she came back from the kitchen. Courtney handed Carly the bowl of ice cream she’d gone to fetch and picked up the Wyndham’s catalog. She set it on the coffee table, then reached for the others to set on top. Maybe to avoid a similar avalanche.
Courtney had been relentlessly chipper and helpful since she’d moved in officially the week before, lugging all of her things from Jason’s penthouse and the few odds and ends she’d tucked away in storage after moving out of her loft.
Carly had a dark feeling that this syrupy twit might be closer to the real Courtney than the one that had tried to toughen herself up to be with a mob enforcer. And every time her sister-in-law opened her mouth, Carly wanted to shove her fist down it.
But that wasn’t Courtney’s fault, Carly reminded herself. And the other woman was handling everything better than almost anyone else. Probably because she’d been the least involved. Damn it. It was thoughts like that chipped away at the fledgling friendship they were trying to build.
“I’ve been thinking of finding somewhere else to stay,” Courtney offered as she settled on the other sofa, her own bowl of ice cream perched in one hand. She dug into the mint chocolate chip with the other hand. “I can’t believe Sonny’s a morning person, so I figure he’s been leaving for the warehouse at the crack of dawn to avoid me.”
Carly frowned, both irritated at Courtney’s presumption that Sonny would change his schedule for her, and also because…well, she was probably right. And Carly was frustrated that she couldn’t avoid Courtney until the late afternoon. She’d promised her mother and the doctors she wouldn’t go back to her old work schedule just yet, but man, she couldn’t wait to go back to The Cellar full-time. “A lot of stuff probably got backed up while I was gone,” she reminded Courtney. “Don’t make it about you.”
Courtney pressed her lips together. “Yeah, it’s never about me. That’s been made very clear.” She moved her spoon around the bowl, the metal clanking against the ceramic. “So, Sonny’s always this moody, and you guys always fight this much? It’s not because I’m here?”
Carly furrowed her brow. “We’re not fighting.” Were they? “It’s—it’s been hard. Sonny feels guilty for not being the one that found me. For how much pressure Jason put on himself—” She shook her head and sat up, wincing as her back twinged. She felt about a hundred years more pregnant than she had the night she’d been kidnapped. “I know you’re unhappy, Courtney—”
“Unhappy,” Courtney repeated, her mouth pinched as she set her half-eaten bowl on the coffee table. “Look, I get it. I’m selfish. I’m thinking about me after you and Elizabeth were traumatized by Ric. I know that being pissed at her when she literally didn’t do a damn thing to me makes no sense. But it doesn’t change the fact that a month ago, I was planning my wedding.”
Carly exhaled slowly, admitting silently that Courtney maybe had some good reason to be as hurt and put out as she was trying not to act. If Carly was in her position, if she’d been basically jilted at the altar and Sonny had returned to an ex—God, forbid, if Sonny had left her and taken up with Brenda—she probably wouldn’t be handling it well.
“Courtney, I’m sorry if you feel like—”
“I had a brother,” Courtney continued. “And a best friend who seemed liked they cared about me. I had a wonderful man who was planning to share his life with me. Were we perfect? No. Did I know things weren’t all that great—I guess I can see it now. Even admit it. I ignored all the red flags because I thought if we could get married, he would remember how happy I made him when we started.”
“I know Sonny and I—” Carly hesitated. “I know we haven’t been maybe as supportive as I should have been—”
“It’s not even that. I don’t expect you and Sonny to hold my hand. Not after what happened to both of you. I mean, damn it, Carly, you were in the hospital, and I asked you if you’d noticed Jason having an affair while you were being held hostage.” She rolled her eyes. “It was like I was outside of my body, listening to myself ask those questions, and I wanted to hit myself.”
“Well, yeah, that did piss me off,” Carly admitted. “But I can’t say I wouldn’t have had the same thought.”
“The thing is—the thing that I know drives me crazy—maybe Jason and I could have salvaged things if I could have meant it when I said I was sorry I called the PCPD. I know they screwed up the investigation, but—” She shook her head. “I’m not sure I want to live in a world where calling the police makes me the villain.”
Carly dragged herself to her feet, bracing a hand at the small of her back as her muscles protested. “I get it,” she murmured. “To be part of this world, you have to take certain things for granted. It’s one thing to say you get it. It’s another to live it.”
“If Jason and I had stayed together, it just would have been prolonging the inevitable.” Courtney drew her legs up, tucked them under her chin. “I know why Sonny is the way he is. And I know why Jason is loyal to him. I really thought—I thought I got it. I went to Sonny when I was being stalked. Not the police.”
“So, what changed?” Carly asked. “What made you call the PCPD that night? You knew better—”
“I truly believed I thought I was helping. I still think that. But why did I do it myself and not try to talk to Sonny and Jason? Why didn’t I even give them a chance to go to Ric’s—” She met Carly’s gaze, tears shimmering in her blue eyes. “I was so angry at Jason when he was yelling at me. He kept telling me if the police hadn’t shown up, he could have gotten Elizabeth out of there. She’d been drugged. Ric nearly killed her that next day with the drugs—I read about it in the paper. And Sonny could have dragged Ric out of there, forced him to give you up that first night—”
“Courtney…” Carly bit her lip. “You couldn’t have known—”
“But I knew the rules. Maybe I was sabotaging myself. Maybe I knew that they rushed out of there for you, but that Jason was probably already thinking about Elizabeth. She was always there, Carly. I have eyes, I’m not stupid. He didn’t want to marry me. I was willing to keep trying, but do I think we actually would have made it? No. We would have lasted maybe six months. If that. Because Jason is a good man.”
She squeezed her eyes shut. “But she was always there, and he was just waiting for any sign he still had a chance. How do I ignore that he took the first opportunity to put himself back in Elizabeth’s orbit?”
“You made it easier for him by calling the cops and letting them search without a warrant.”
“Not on purpose. I didn’t—I didn’t see it until I heard him—” Courtney bit her lip. “He came home to grab clothes a few times, and one of those times—he was talking to Elizabeth. I could hear how worried he was. And then Sonny had his breakdown…and I just—I couldn’t do it anymore. He broke up with me, and I went to the island. But when I came back, when you were found…”
Courtney laughed through her tears, but the self-loathing was evident. “I decided to try one last time to guilt him back to me. I tried to shame him into loving me. God, how desperate am I, right? I was a rebound. I can say that now. I just wanted to belong somewhere. No one had the time of day for me before I started dating Jason.”
Carly pressed her lips together, nodded. Admitted the truth of that to herself. “I pushed you two together. I did that because I don’t like Elizabeth, and I wanted him away from her.” She hesitated. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done anything.”
“Yeah, well, it doesn’t matter. Because things are back the way they should be. He’s with her, and I’m…nowhere. I need to do something, try something else. I just—” Courtney shrugged. “I just don’t know what.”
PCPD: Commissioner’s Office
Mac scrubbed his hands over his face. “This…I do not need today, Taggert. We just…” He shook his head, looked down at the report the lieutenant had prepared for him. The irrefutable evidence that something terrible was lurking in Port Charles Park. “We just started digging ourselves out of the media sink hole, and you’re telling me that there’s a serial rapist and we missed it for months.”
“I don’t know if I can say Vinnie missed it on purpose. He’s not great at details,” Taggert admitted as he paced the length of the office. “But there’s enough time between the Watson and Norton attacks that maybe I could buy not seeing it then. And I looked at the case file. He’s right — the Norton case had a suspect, but there was an alibi. I’m not sure anyone would have made the link for sure until Morris on July 2.”
Mac rubbed the back of his neck. “Okay. Well, we’ve made the link. And I can see you’ve taken over all three cases. What do you need from me?”
“I want to send all three out to forensics, to see if I can get an official link. I also want to release a statement to the public, warning them to be careful in the park after dark. It’s just lucky the Herald hasn’t printed the story yet. I asked them to hold it until I could get all the details. They agreed, but I’ve got maybe a week.”
“The time between attacks is getting shorter,” Mac pointed out as he took another look at the timeline. “Watson on February 14, Norton three and a half months later. Then Morris five weeks later. You’re not getting much of a cooling off time.”
Something rolled in the pit of his stomach. Park. Fountain. He opened the folder and looked at the trio of photographs of the victims. Brunettes. Teens. Early twenties.
Just a coincidence, he told himself. He forced away the thought. He was just thinking about the Webber case because of the threat of a lawsuit against the city and his argument with Floyd a few days ago about it. Baker was guilty, he’d confessed. Mac had done what he’d done to make sure he’d gone to prison. End of story.
“Yeah, but I don’t want the papers to have it first,” Taggert told him. “If you can get the mayor to sign off a press release, and the city council to approve some overtime—we can get the story in the papers in a few days.”
“You want the mayor to approve a press release about a serial rapist in an election year?” Mac raised his brows. “Yeah, well, that’s probably not going to happen. Who else knows about the case in the squad room? Who do you have working it?”
“All of my division,” Taggert told him. “I have Rodriguez and Falconieri running down security footage and possible witnesses from around the park. I haven’t pulled Spencer in officially yet, but I’m sure he’s aware of it. Vinnie—these were his cases. And probably Beaudry. He was the responding patrol officer to Watson and Norton.”
“Okay.” Mac shook his head. “I can submit a budget request, Taggert, but I’ll be honest. The city council isn’t all that happy with the PCPD, not after the Lansing case. Some of them are probably going to be running on criminal justice reform. I’ll try to use that as leverage, but you know how they are when we ask for money.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I get it. Well, we’ll do what we can. I know the mayor might say no, Mac, but we need to ask. If nothing else,” Taggert said as he took back his files. “We need to cover our own asses. Because if this blows up in our faces—”
“Floyd will make sure it blows back on us. Yeah, I’m familiar. I’ll ask for both, but we’ll have to come up with a Plan B if we don’t get one or both.”
Condo: Living Room
After eating takeout from Eli’s, Elizabeth rose to take the dishes to the kitchen while Jason discarded the trash into the garbage can underneath one of her counters.
After her session with Gail earlier that day, she’d returned to her place to sort through her art materials—to play with some colored pencils and sketching, trying to get her groove back. A few hours later, Jason had come by with dinner—and they’d talked about their days.
But she still hadn’t asked him what was bothering him. And she couldn’t really figure out why she was holding back.
She walked over to the windows overlooking the harbor and wrapped her arms around her torso. Jason came up behind her, and she leaned back into his embrace, his arms encircling her shoulders. “You okay?”
“I think that’s supposed to be my question.” She turned around in his arms and peered up at him. “You don’t talk to me.”
Jason’s brow furrowed and he stepped back, his hands falling to his sides. “Elizabeth—”
“I mean, you talk to me, but you don’t—” She bit her lip. “It’s always me starting the conversation. You don’t tell me what’s going on.”
“I tell you—” He shook his head. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“Something has been bothering you for a few days, but I haven’t asked you. And you know why? Because I know you won’t tell me.” Her eyes burned. Because, God, now she knew. “It’s fine for me to pour my heart out to you, to open up—but you don’t do the same. Unless I make you. Do you have any idea how exhausting that is?”
Jason pressed his lips together. “You know there are things—”
“No.” She sliced a hand through the air. “No. You don’t get to say that. You don’t get to ever use that again. Because that’s not the kind of thing that bothers you. You don’t bring that home with you. Whatever is going on is personal.”
He hesitated—for just a second—before shaking his head. “I don’t know what you want me to say—”
“I just—” She bowed her head. “I guess there’s nothing to say. You say you love me. You make me think it’s true. But this can’t work unless you talk to me. I know something is going on—”
“And I’m supposed to tell you every single thought I have?” Jason asked with some skepticism. “I’m not allowed to keep anything to myself?”
Everything inside her sunk because she’d seen this coming. “Last year—”
“I don’t want to talk about last year anymore,” Jason cut in with a flash in his eyes. “We both messed up. We both made mistakes. Stop bringing that into this—”
Elizabeth sucked in a sharp breath. “Fine. Never mind. Forget I asked.” She skirted around him and sat down in her armchair, picked the sketchpad and a pencil up from the small table next to it and tried to pick up on the sketch she’d begun before his arrival.
“Don’t tell me another thing I can’t do.” She squeezed the pencil hard. “Don’t ask what’s wrong. Don’t talk about last year. Don’t do this. What do you want me to do, Jason? I know something is bothering you, but I guess I’ll just ignore it. That’s what you want me to do, isn’t it? So, fine. The door’s over there. You know the way out.”
Jason exhaled slowly and then sat on the edge of the coffee table in front of her. “I’m sorry. You’re right.”
“Just once,” she murmured. “I’d like you to come to me without having to feel like I’ve forced you to say anything.” She met his eyes. “I’m tired of always being open. Always taking the first step. Because now, even if you tell me, it’ll be because I’m angry. Because you don’t want me to walk away again. Not because you genuinely want to tell me.”
He dipped his head. “I’ve gotten used to keeping things to myself. Not even telling Sonny. Even before everything—in the last few months with Robin, everything I said or did made her angry. Made her sad. I couldn’t say anything right, so I stopped saying anything at all. And with Carly, it never mattered what I felt. What I said. She did what she wanted.”
“I’m not Robin, and I’m sure as hell not Carly.” Elizabeth drew her knees up to her chest. “I know we both have issues—baggage. We not only hurt each other, but we’ve been hurt by other people. We’ve hurt them. I don’t expect to fix everything that’s wrong with me in a few weeks. And maybe it’s not fair to expect more from you than I do myself—”
“But you do open up,” he cut in with a heavy sigh. He rubbed his eyes. “And I don’t. If I had been more honest with you last year, if I had told you how much I loved you, how much better you made my life—I never said it. I know that. If I had—”
“You never used to think about ifs.”
“I never used to lie either,” he muttered. “Look, something is…bothering me. And I can’t tell you. It’s just—it’s not about the business. I just—I can’t tell you.”
“Okay,” Elizabeth said slowly. “Will you tell me when you can?”
“Yeah, I will.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “We’re going to have to skip the ride tonight. I have somewhere to be—that I can’t tell you about.”
“Fair enough. I love you, Jason. I don’t mind if we have to work at this,” she murmured. “Just…I don’t want to do it by myself.”
“You won’t.” He rose, and then drew her to her feet so he could cradle her face in his hands. “I love you, Elizabeth. I’m not always good at showing it or even telling you, but I promise you that it’s true.”
“I know it is.” She pressed her lips to his in a soft kiss. “I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow for breakfast.”
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Brooke grumbled and leaned over a table, scrubbing at a milkshake stain. “God, I hate kids,” she muttered. She glanced over to find Lucas Jones with their last table of customers, a group of college kids from PCU. She could tell that Lucas knew them from the way they were talking and laughing.
Lucas had the easy job tonight—she was on bus duty to learn the value of the dishes she kept breaking, Bobbie had told her.
She hated this job even if it did keep her busy. She just wanted to be in her room, writing her music but there was no money in that. Not yet. And she’d promised her father she’d try.
She glanced back over at the group and squinted when she saw one of the guys touch Lucas’s arm.
Well, well. She was a woman of the world, and she knew that look. She smiled but returned to her cleaning. One more table and then they could close. Man, she really wanted to get out of here and get off her feet.
When the college kids had left, Lucas joined her behind the counter as they started cleaning up and preparing for closing.
Brooke slid a look at him from under her eyelashes before returning to her receipts. “You know the worst thing about my Ma grounding me the entire month before she shipped me up here?”
Lucas snorted, as if expecting some sort of spoiled rich girl anecdote. “No. What’s the worst thing? They take away your Porsche?”
Brooke rolled her eyes. “No, I couldn’t hang out with my friends at Pride Week. You know that Brooklyn does the best parade.”
Lucas froze, staring straight ahead. “You…go to Pride Week.”
“Yeah, I’m not really sure when I figured it out,” Brooke said with a shrug. “I think it was the Spice Girls, you know? They were just really pretty, and I couldn’t get into the boy bands the way my friends did. But then I met this one chick at a club—that I wasn’t supposed to be in, but hey, when in Brooklyn—and we got drunk.” Brooke shot him a wicked grin. “Girls know what girls want better, you know?”
“Brooke.” Lucas exhaled slowly. “Listen. Are you—”
“You’re not out to your family yet, are you?” Brooke asked. “Me either. I think my dad would probably be all right, and Ma—maybe. But man, the rest of the Cerullos are die-hard Catholics.” She shrugged. “So not interested in being told I’m going to hell.”
Lucas bit his lip. “No, I’m not out. I’ve been seeing that—one of those guys—for a few weeks. We’ve been fighting about—” He looked at her. “His name is Felix.”
“I know, I saw. He’s cute.” Brooke leaned against the counter. “You worried about not only telling your ma you like boys, but that you also like black boys?”
“No,” Lucas said forcefully. “No, she’s not like that. It’s not—” He grimaced. “I’m not sure I really understand. I know my family would be supportive. I know Maxie and Georgie would be great. And God, Lu would probably invite Felix over for dinner. And Mom would be good.”
“And yet.” Lucas smiled weakly at her. “You get it. The world sucks. Just because I think the people I love would be okay…it doesn’t mean…it doesn’t mean that they will be.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “I’m not sure I’m ready to know for sure.”
“Me either,” Brooke said with a nod. “I can’t ever take it back once I go public. But ignorance is bliss, ya know? What’s the community like here? Is there one?”
“A small one, but not much for anyone under twenty-one.” Lucas put the money into the deposit bag and slid it into the safe in the kitchen. “You were such a bitch when you got here.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not a nice person,” Brooke said with a careless shrug. “And I didn’t like feeling like I didn’t have a choice. Plus, I was seeing this one girl, Rosa, and she’s not into long-distance so…” She pursed her lips. “I could have crashed with friends in Brooklyn, you know. But I thought my ma didn’t want me around anymore.”
“Do you still think that?”
“I don’t know. I think being a parent is probably more complicated than that. Like my parents love me and all, but maybe I’m just a reminder of a time in their life they’d rather forget.” Brooke sighed. “Anyway. You want to dish about boys, you come to me. And when I want to talk about girls—” Her eyes brightened. “Oh, hey, you can be my beard.”
“Can guys be beards?” Lucas asked as they moved through the kitchen towards the back door. He flipped out the kitchen light. “Is that even a thing?”
“Hey, the rules are what we make them.” She flashed him a smile before they separated at their cars in the parking lot.
“Hey, Brooke—Dillon’s dragging us to this movie festival tomorrow—” He called from his car as he opened the door. “You can be my date.”
“Wouldn’t miss it.”
The room was windowless and austere with cement walls, a plain rickety wooden table, and a single light bulb swinging from the ceiling.
When Jason’s contact escorted the man inside the room, he wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The man who entered was thin and nearly bald. He wore a blue shirt, his pants in a much darker shade of the same color. Tom Baker seemed to have aged thirty years in the five years since Jason had last visited him.
His dark, beady eyes were terrified as the guard shoved him down in the chair opposite of Jason’s, so Jason assumed the man remembered the last time he had been there.
“I don’t want no trouble!” Baker threw up his hands, the handcuffs binding his wrists shining in the dull light.
“That’s why I’m here,” Jason said simply. He set the letter in front of him, still crumbled into a ball. “You sent a letter to Elizabeth Webber. What did I say the last time we spoke?”
“I didn’t go near her,” Baker sputtered. “I just…I wanted to make it clear that I—” He looked back around, but the guard has closed the door. They were alone. What little color had filled his cheeks drained. “You gonna kill me for a letter?”
“You tell me the truth,” Jason said evenly, “and I’m not laying a hand on you. Elizabeth…” He hated saying her name to this asshole, but some things were necessary. He leaned forward slightly. “You put yourself back in her head. You swear you’ll stay away from her and make me believe it…just maybe you make it back to your cell. Maybe you even get parole.”
Baker swallowed. “I’m up for parole and this time I’ll get it. My sentence is almost done, they’re overcrowded. But I get out, I’m not stupid. You’re waiting for me. I read the papers. You’re in Port Charles. I saw…I saw what happened last month. You and her are together again so I figure it’s in your head. And your sister—I mean, I just…I didn’t do it. I lied,” Baker said, his voice still shaking. “I just…I lied. She said something, and I ran with it to keep control.”
Jason knew his face didn’t change, that he didn’t move a single muscle, but this…this he hadn’t seen coming. Hadn’t even expected something like this.
And shit, he almost believed that this little piss ant didn’t have the courage or balls to rape anyone. He had committed his crimes in secret—blackmail was a passive crime, and when Baker had been confronted—he’d panicked instead of running.
“But I didn’t. That’s not me. I—” Baker closed his mouth. “It’s not important what happened. You just need to know it wasn’t me. So, we can just leave it all alone. Elizabeth was such a nice girl—”
“You don’t get to say her name,” Jason cut in. “Just shut up, Baker. The only reason you even made it to trial is because my sister wanted to be strong. And the only reason you’re walking away today is because you’re not worth the trouble. Not now.” He put the letter back in his pocket, then stood. “No more letters. She’s not going to go after your parole, and neither is anyone else involved. You’ll walk out of here and you’ll walk away. You come near her, I’m not going to be so nice.”
“But you believe me, right?” Baker demanded. “I didn’t do it.”
Jason said nothing as he exited the door to find the guard leaning against the adjacent wall. “Thanks,” he murmured as he passed him a handful of cash.
It disappeared into the guard’s pocket and he flashed a grin. “Anytime. I appreciate you not killing him. That shit is hell on the paperwork.”
Jason just shrugged and melted down the hallway towards the exit and his bike. Sonny had been right. He should have sent someone else to send this message. Should have known Baker would pretend it wasn’t him. But now the son of a bitch was in his head now, and he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to keep this visit from Elizabeth after all.