We grew up way too fast
And now there’s nothing to believe
And reruns all become our history
A tired song keeps playing on a tired radio
And I won’t tell no one your name
And I won’t tell ’em your name
– Name, Goo Goo Dolls
Saturday, June 28, 2003
PCPD: Squad Room
When Elizabeth walked through the double doors of the squad room, Scott was leaning over Taggert’s desk, making notes on a police report. He straightened, cleared his throat, and smoothed his hand down his tie. “Elizabeth—Ah, Mrs. Lansing—”
She stopped, Bobbie and Jason just behind her. Her eyes were red and puffy, and some eyeliner was smudged under her eyes. He could see scratches and dark marks on her arms left bare by the red tank top she wore. “I never changed my name,” Elizabeth said without any emotion.
“Scott,” Bobbie interrupted him as she stepped in front of Elizabeth and jabbed her ex-lover in the chest with her index finger. “I don’t even know where to start with the level of incompetence and outright negligence that I have witnessed—my daughter is missing, and your officers have spent the last week chasing ghosts and gossip—”
“Bobbie—” Scott put his hands on her shoulders. “I’ve already taken the steps to reprimand the officer who leaked the details of this investigation. Mac has put him on suspension—”
“You think that’s enough?” Bobbie demanded, shaking his hands off.
“No,” Scott said honestly. “In fact, Mac and I were just preparing a report to charge the officer with insubordination. He violated direct orders when he leaked that information.”
“Bobbie, Elizabeth—” Mac rose from the desk. “I can’t begin to express our apologies—”
“No, you can’t,” Elizabeth said dully. “So, can I make my statement and sign it? I have to file for an order of protection before Ric makes bail—”
“Oh, he’s not making bail anytime soon,” Scott said darkly. “He can’t be arraigned for another six or seven hours, and I’m asking for a full cash bail.”
“He’ll have trouble getting out if no one brings any cash,” Mac added. “At least until Monday when the bail bonds offices open.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Okay. Let’s just get this over with.”
She followed Taggert into the interrogation room while Bobbie and Jason went to the waiting area. Scott turned his attention to the officer who had joined. “Officer Rodriguez, you were first on scene.”
The rookie blinked at him, then cleared his throat. “Yeah. I—” He ran his hand back and forth through his short dark hair. “Um. I got a call over dispatch that Detective Taggert was on his way to pick Ric up for questioning but that he wanted me to do a welfare check. I was walking towards the house when—I guess it’s a bodyguard, I don’t know—he got out of his car. He was on the phone—I thought I heard something break inside. The next thing I know, the guard was running towards me—I was already at the door, pounding on it—we broke through when we heard screaming—”
He closed his eyes, swallowed. “Um, Miss Webber was—she was near the door, Mr. Lansing behind the sofa—she had a baseball bat and a phone in her hand.”
“She had a bat? Did it look she’d used it?”
“No—she—he was on the other side of the room—I think she’d just gotten to it. I don’t know. He doesn’t have any marks like that. Not like—”
“And she didn’t give a statement at the scene?”
“Not about what happened. Only that he got angry and put his hands on her when he saw the paper. She, ah, accused him of drugging her for months. Apparently, there are medical records that confirm an overdose last week—”
“Jesus Christ.” Scott sank into Taggert’s empty desk chair. “Months,” he repeated. “There are—she can prove it?”
“I guess.” Cruz looked at Mac. “Did we really—I mean—the PCPD—we told the tabloids she was having an affair?”
“It was—it was a mistake,” Mac said faintly. “And not done in the way I instructed it—”
“I don’t—” Cruz shook his head. “Um. I need to—” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “I’m due for a lunch break.”
“Yeah.” Mac waved him away and the rookie quickly disappeared. “He’s been drugging her for months,” he told Scott. “And we not only didn’t arrest him when we suspected him of doing it last week—but put her in danger by leaking a probably false rumor to the papers.”
“What’s this we shit?” Scott muttered, but he bowed his head anyway.
PCPD: Interrogation Room
“Are you going to ask me about an affair?” Elizabeth asked with a sigh once she and Taggert were seated.
“What?” Taggert shook his head. “No. I don’t give a shit about that, Elizabeth—pardon my French. I—” He swallowed. Tapped his pencil against his notepad. “I know what you’ve been doing this week. I know you and Morgan have been searching for Carly as hard as I have been. I had no idea that Cap—that anyone in this office thought differently. As soon I as saw that paper—I came to check on you—”
Elizabeth looked down at her arms, at the burgeoning bruise. “If I press—I mean, if this went to court—someone else would ask, wouldn’t they?”
“Probably,” Taggert said after a moment. “But—”
“We’re not—I mean, we’re not having an affair. Not the way the papers say. Jason was engaged until—until I guess yesterday,” she murmured. “But you know we have a history.”
“I just—I wanted to make it clear. Jason was just—he was searching the house. And we’ve been—it’s been a stressful week. And I guess—I don’t—people respond to stress in—” She slid her fingertips lightly over the scratches on her arms left by the scrape of Ric’s nails as he’d grabbed for her. “Emotions ran high. But we never slept together.”
“Okay.” Taggert dipped his head trying to catch her eye. “Even if you were doing what the paper said, he had no right to touch you. To do anything you—can you tell me about the drugs? Can you tell me what’s happened?”
“Yeah.” Elizabeth met his eyes and started her statement.
PCPD: Locker Room
Dante and Lucky were changing for their shift when Cruz came through the doors. He sat down in front of his locker and just stared at it.
The two rookies exchanged looks, got up, and sat on either side of their friend. “I thought you were on guard duty today,” Dante said, touching Cruz’s shoulder.
“I was. Until the paper came out and Ric Lansing went after his wife.” Cruz swallowed hard. “Capelli told the Sun Jason Morgan has been in the house every day for hours, and they printed accusations of an affair—”
“Went after?” Lucky repeated, lunging to his feet. “What the hell are you—is she okay?”
“She—he left some bruises—she got away, got her hands on a bat. I was right there, and I guess she was able to call the guy Morgan has watching her—but—” Cruz looked straight ahead. “Capelli put her in danger. This department did that. We’ve all read the same reports—we knew what was going on. What Lansing was suspected of doing and—Capelli didn’t care. He did it anyway.”
Dante sighed, returned to his locker, and drew out his uniform shirt. “I’ve been on the job for a week, and it makes me sick to go to work. The only time I feel like I’m doing any good are the shifts I watch the Lansing house. Because I know I’m there to look out for the wife and to help find a missing woman.”
“I—” Lucky leaned against the bank of lockers. “I know. When I’m not pulling those shifts—I’m watching your cousin be completely lazy and—worse, he’s an asshole. We caught a sexual assault case earlier this week, and he—” He swallowed hard. “He treated the victim like trash. I thought about going to Mac, but he’s my superior officer and I’ve been on the job for a week.”
“This just isn’t what I thought I was going to do here,” Cruz said after a moment. “Capelli wanted Morgan to go after Lansing. I knew that. I knew he was hoping to scoop them all up. Taggert’s doing what he can, but he’s blinded by them, too. And Carly’s still missing. They have no idea where she is.”
He drew in a deep breath. “I think maybe I should start looking for another station—another city. Maybe Buffalo—or shit, anywhere but here. I feel like every day I’m here, I’m becoming someone else.”
“Yeah, I don’t know if I’m going to last the year,” Dante admitted. “This city—this department—it’s the reason people hate cops.”
PCPD: Waiting Area
Bobbie frowned down at her watch. “Nikolas’s plane is landing soon—” She sighed, rubbed her eyes. “What are we going to do next, Jason?”
“You’re going to pick him up,” Jason said. “I’ll take Elizabeth back to the Towers, and we’ll figure out the next step—” He hesitated. “I want to check on Sonny, Justus is going to meet us there, and I don’t want her to be alone. Not now. I know Baldwin says they’re going to keep Ric until tomorrow, but—”
“I can’t believe any of this.” Bobbie closed her eyes. “I can’t believe we still don’t have any idea what Ric has done with Carly, and I’m having trouble believing that we’re going to find her alive—”
“Hey.” Jason put an arm around her shoulders. “I—I know it’s hard, but I can’t let myself picture anything else.” He swallowed hard. “We’ll…cross that bridge if we have to, but—”
The back door to in the interrogation room opened and Taggert stepped out in front of Elizabeth. “I’ll let you know when we have an arraignment hearing,” he told her. “If he makes bail, I’ll warn you.” He looked at Jason and Bobbie. “I know you’re pissed at the department right now—”
“That is an understatement,” Bobbie retorted.
“And I know I shouldn’t admit liability, but what happened was a goddamn—” Taggert stopped. Shook his head. “We’re still looking for Carly, Bobbie. I’d like to search the house again, Elizabeth. I know we’ve been through it, I know you and Morgan have been through it, but—”
“Go ahead,” Elizabeth said, folding her arms across her chest. “I think Jason is taking me to a lawyer to start the TRO, right?”
“Yeah. Justus is going to meet us, and Bobbie is picking Nikolas up at the airport.”
“Even though Ric is out of the house, I’ll still keep an officer out front.” Taggert hesitated. “If that’s okay.”
“That’s fine.” Elizabeth sighed. “I just want to get out of here.” She crossed to Bobbie and Jason and they started for the doors.
“Morgan, you get any leads on Carly, you let me know,” Taggert told him. “I—I need to try to make this right.”
“You can’t,” Jason said flatly and left.
Harborview Towers: Hallway
Elizabeth and Jason stepped off the elevator, and he touched her elbow. “Justus is waiting at my place,” he told her. “With everything you need. I need to check on Sonny.”
“Right.” Elizabeth rubbed the back of her neck. “Okay. And then…we’re going to meet with Nikolas and figure out something.” Her mouth lifted in a half smile. “Maybe Taggert’s search will find something we missed. Fresh eyes, right? That’s what we’re hoping for.”
“I don’t care who finds Carly, as long as someone does.” Jason’s fingers tightened slightly at her elbow. “I wish you’d…reconsider going to the hospital. Can I call Monica? Ask her to come—”
“I told you,” Elizabeth said, but her tone was gentle. She pressed her hand against his chest, her eyes on his. “Monica gave me a rundown of what I’d be going through for a while. I’ve been irritable, tired, dizzy, nauseous—but I’m halfway through. I can’t think of any way he could have drugged me at all since Saturday. I haven’t eaten or drank anything at the house except water from the tap.”
“I know, but…” Jason shook his head. He covered her hand with his. “I’m just worried.”
“Tell you what—if after we talk to Nikolas, we don’t have anything new to look at—we’ll call Monica. I’ll let her do whatever she wants.” She chewed on her bottom lip. “I don’t want to be someone you worry about.” She broke eye contact. “I mean—I don’t want you to think of someone else you have to take care of—”
“I don’t want you hurt. And I’m sorry,” Jason’s voice lowered a bit as he tipped her chin up so their eyes met again. “But I care about you. And I’m not going to pretend that I don’t. Not anymore.”
“We’ll call Monica if we don’t figure out the next step,” Elizabeth said after a moment as warmth spread through her. “But right now, you need to check on Sonny, and I need to get Ric out of my life.”
Corinthos Penthouse: Guest Bedroom
Sonny was propped up in his bed, clad in a pair of black silk pajamas, his eyes clearer than they had been the day before.
At his side, Max was cleaning up a lunch tray and quietly nodded to Jason as they passed one another.
“You drugged me,” Sonny said simply as Jason stood in front of him. “I woke up about an hour ago with no idea what’s—” He hesitated. “The last thing I remember is yelling at my sister. Max said it’s Saturday…I lost…I lost almost six days.”
“Yeah.” Jason sat on the edge of the bed. “You were talking to Lily.”
Sonny closed his eyes. “I’m useless, aren’t I? I had one job. Keep the police out of our hair so you could find Carly, and you’ve had to deal with everything—”
“You got the ball rolling—Justus pushed off the warrants—there’s a hearing next week, but we’re going to be fine.” Jason scrubbed his hands over his face. “But I think Baldwin is going to cancel the hearing anyway. He’s…the PCPD is going to be lucky to survive this investigation without Mac or Scott losing their jobs.”
Sonny frowned. Sat up more firmly. “What’s going on? What happened?”
“It’s not about Carly. We don’t have—we don’t know where the hell she is, where Ric has her. But the—someone in the PCPD told the tabloids that I’ve been at the house every day and they did this cover story about Elizabeth and me—” Jason grimaced again. “Accusing us—Ric went after her.”
“Is—” Sonny shoved the blankets aside and hauled himself out of bed. “She’s okay, or you wouldn’t be here—did you—”
“Taggert wasn’t part of it. He saw the story and was already on his way to the house. She got herself away from him—got to the phone, called Cody—we all kind of got there at once. Ric’s been arrested—Elizabeth isn’t going to have to lie to him anymore—”
“Well, I guess that’s something,” Sonny murmured. He rubbed his chest. “Where is she? Is she okay—did he hurt her? I mean—”
“She’s—managing. She’s at my place meeting with Justus.” Jason hesitated. “Bobbie called in Nikolas Cassadine. He was the only person she could think of that might…be able to…I don’t know…we just needed someone else. Someone who hasn’t been living with this for a week. I, ah, sent Michael to the island with Courtney yesterday.”
Sonny eyed him for a long moment, then nodded. “Let me get dressed. I’ll be over, and we’ll see if we can’t do something. I need…I need to do something. I need to help, Jason. I think leaving the search to you is what drove me the over edge. I have to feel like I’m doing something to protect Carly.”
Jason nodded. “I’ll see you over there.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Justus was sliding a folder into his briefcase and closing it when Jason opened the door. Elizabeth looked worn out—as if she’d been up for days. Jason wasn’t satisfied with waiting to call Monica—he had to convince her to talk to someone first.
“Hey, is Sonny okay?” Elizabeth got to her feet. She closed her eyes, swayed just a little, and put her hand on the arm of the sofa to steady herself.
“He’s on his way over. He’s a lot better.” Jason looked at Justus. “Do you think they’ll give her the TRO?”
“I’m on my way to file it,” Justus said. He glanced at Elizabeth who sighed.
“And he’s filing a notice of legal separation. I wanted him to start divorce proceedings,” Elizabeth said. “But Justus thinks I should find someone who specializes in family law.” She folded arms. “I really just want it over with.”
“I think you’ve got a good case for an annulment,” Justus told her. “And since you don’t want anything—you might be happier in the long run without a divorce on your record.”
“Yeah, I guess I’ll talk over my options after we find Carly.”
“I’d better go file these so that the order can go into effect before Ric gets released. Call me if you need anything, Jase.” Justus touched his shoulder as he passed him, then left.
“Aren’t you tired of asking me that yet?” Elizabeth asked dully. She sat back down, put a hand to her head. “Um…could I have some water? I haven’t—” She swallowed hard. “I didn’t really get a chance to eat anything this morning, and I need some aspirin.”
“You should eat something,” Jason said. “Let me—”
“We can grab something on the way to the house—”
“Stop being so damn stubborn,” he cut in, throwing his hands in the air. “You look like you’re about to pass out, Elizabeth—”
“Have you eaten today?” she demanded. Her face flushed, she got to her feet—too quickly—because she stumbled and nearly pitched forward over the coffee table. Jason caught her, wrapping his arms around her waist and putting her back on her feet.
He didn’t release her right away, and she let her head fall back against his chest, slumping slightly. “You’re not taking care of yourself either,” she murmured. “We’re both pushing too hard.” His hands were splayed against her abdomen, and she covered them with her own. “You, me—Sonny, Bobbie.” She turned, sliding her hands up his chest. “Did you eat today? Yesterday?”
“I—” Jason hesitated. Shook his head. “I can’t really remember.”
“Okay.” She nodded and then pulled away from him. She walked across to the penthouse door, opened it. At Jason’s door, Cody was there along with Milo. “Hey. I haven’t eaten—and I know Bobbie hasn’t. I’m afraid it might take too long for delivery, but—”
“I’ll go get some things from Kelly’s,” Cody said, as if eager to for way to help. “Some sandwiches. I’ll go right now.” He hesitated. “Don’t go back to the house without me.”
“Thanks, Cody.” She started to close the door but then Sonny rounded the corner from his penthouse. “Hey.” She stepped forward, embraced him. “How are you doing?”
“Surviving,” Sonny said. He hugged her back, and they both went into the penthouse, closing the door behind him. “How about you?”
“I think surviving is a strong word,” Elizabeth sighed. She sat back on the sofa and took the water Jason had gotten for her while she was at the door. He also handed her a bottle of Tylenol. “Thanks.”
“We’re waiting on Nikolas and Bobbie?” Sonny said. “We really don’t—” He grimaced. “No leads?”
“Just the house,” Elizabeth started to say, but Milo knocked on the door, then opened it. Bobbie stepped through, followed by Nikolas Cassadine.
Nikolas looked a bit hesitant, no doubt because she and Nikolas hadn’t really been close for a long time—and of course, Nikolas had never been a big fan of Sonny and Jason.
“Nikolas. Hey.” Elizabeth started to get up again, but he waved at her to remain seated.
“Bobbie said you’ve been ill, so don’t get up for me—” He flicked his eyes to Sonny, then Jason, before looking back to Elizabeth. “Apparently, you need some insight into crazy lunatics, and God knows, my family has them in spades.”
“I was just about to tell Sonny what we’ve been doing,” Jason said. He sat on the sofa, next to Elizabeth, which made Nikolas tilt his head slightly, but he said nothing.
Sonny dragged out the desk chair, Bobbie sat in the arm chair, and Nikolas remained standing. Quickly, Jason told him what had gone on during the last week.
“So, you’re convinced the house has to have some sort of role to play,” Nikolas said. “Because Faith Roscoe said Ric was obsessed with the right kind of house?”
“The timeline, too,” Elizabeth said. She turned, tucking a leg underneath her body. “I came home last Friday around six, and I think—” She bit her lip. “No, I know—Ric had poured me a glass of champagne. I drank it, and I don’t really remember anything after that until I woke up. It was just…just seven. I remember looking at a clock upstairs.”
“Carly went missing about fifteen minutes before seven,” Jason said. “He wouldn’t have had time to take her anywhere else.”
“I called around then,” Nikolas said, squinting his eyes. “I had spoken to Bobbie earlier—just before five, I think. You hadn’t left for the church yet,” he told Bobbie. “And you gave me the number. No one answered.”
“I think that’s because I was passed out and Ric was gone.” She looked at Jason. “You were going to check the time of that call—”
“Six fifty,” Jason said. “Ric wasn’t there.”
“The timing seems too tight,” Nikolas agreed. “I agree with you on that. As someone who has…” He coughed. “A bit of experience with moving people around who are not…”
“He means when I faked my death and he had to move my body so that Sonny could arrange to pick me up and get me to safety,” Elizabeth said dryly. “It’s time consuming.”
“It took forever,” Nikolas agreed. “And you weren’t six months pregnant.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “But the PCPD searched that night.”
“And Jason and I searched that house a thousand times. We’ve put cameras in Ric’s bedroom, in his study—on the stairs—” Elizabeth shook his head. “A GPS on his car—Jason’s had people following him, I’m sure the cops have. The PCPD has been outside the house since that night. There’s no way Ric brought her to the house and then moved her.”
“So, she’s either in the house or she was never there.” Nikolas pursed his lips. “Have you spoken to the real estate agent who sold the house?”
Jason blinked, and Elizabeth stared at Nikolas for a long time. How…Jason closed his eyes. “The real estate agent would know what Ric was looking for,” he muttered, irritated with himself
“Seems to me there’s a hidden room in the house,” Nikolas continued. “One of those…” He gestured with his hand. “Panic rooms. We have three of them at Wyndemere. Uncle put them in after the first time Grandmother…descended upon us. One in each wing. They’re hidden with the structure of the house—tucked in some dead space or something. Usually a remote to open them or a button somewhere. They’re supposed to be for safety—a phone line, supplies. Sometimes there are cameras.”
Jason pressed his lips together and scowled. Of course.
“Why didn’t we think of that?” Elizabeth demanded of him. “Of course—”
“Neither of you have slept or eaten the way you should have,” Bobbie muttered. “And I guess—of course—”
“Fresh eyes,” Nikolas said easily. “And my family is certifiably insane. It’s easier for me to find the crazy.” He nodded. “So, what do we do—”
“Wait, wouldn’t you have seen a hidden room on the security footage?” Sonny demanded. “You’ve had cameras in place since Sunday—”
“Not in the living room.” Jason said. “We just put those in yesterday, and Stan and Spinelli have hours of footage to go through. They’re also doing other tech stuff—background on Ric, financial records, trying to stay ahead of the cops—” He shook his head. “And the living room makes sense—”
“Because that first night, Ric sent me upstairs. He wanted me to take a shower. He was irritated—he said I was done faster than he thought—” Elizabeth rubbed her mouth. “He came upstairs just after I—you said there are cameras?”
“So, he could monitor where you were,” Nikolas said. “Probably a camera out front.”
Bobbie got to her feet. “Well, we’ll just tear the damn house apart,” she said, starting for the door. Sonny reached out, stopped her. “What?”
“Let’s approach this carefully, Bobbie—”
“Carefully? Carly’s been in a goddamn panic room for over a week, and Ric hasn’t been in there today to bring her food—”
“Jason and I have searched every inch of that house, Bobbie. I never saw anything that looked like it might be a button.” Elizabeth got to her feet, and Jason followed suit, bracing a hand at the small of her back when she swayed slightly.
“I think that Bobbie and I should meet with the real estate agent,” Nikolas suggested. “We can hopefully confirm the existence of the room and even get its location.” He nodded at Sonny. “I think you may want to go where this security footage is.”
Sonny narrowed his eyes almost as if he wanted to question how the hell Nikolas had ended up in charge—but honestly—no one in the room could argue. Within ten minutes of his arrival, Nikolas had given all of them a sense of hope. He was the only one who could claim to be well-rested and clear-headed.
He hadn’t been living in hell for the last eight days.
“We can go back to the house,” Elizabeth told Jason. “We can start looking for any empty space and someone should be there if anyone gets a location. The sooner the better.”
“We’re going to eat first,” Jason said firmly. He looked at Bobbie who opened her mouth to argue. “Bobbie, you were here this morning—we’ve been at the station all day—and Elizabeth is going to fall over. The only way she’ll eat is if we eat, too.”
Bobbie sighed, but Cody opened the door then. He handed them the takeout bags, and Bobbie quickly distributed the food. “You can stay here,” she said, a container in her hands. “But I’ll eat on the go.”
“We can eat at the house,” Elizabeth said, and this time, Jason didn’t argue. They all felt so close to finding Carly—a sense of optimism that they hadn’t felt since the day she’d gone missing.
Today was the day.
Lansing Home: Living Room
Elizabeth had managed to eat a few bites of the burger Cody had brought, and Jason had to settle for that—she’d also watched him like a hawk to make sure he ate as well.
Finally, he agreed to start searching.
“I was hoping Nikolas would have called already,” Elizabeth murmured as they started with the wall against the door. Jason was looking under the desk and umbrella stand while Elizabeth ran her fingers over the door frame. “He can be charming when he wants to be.”
“I don’t know why I didn’t think of the real estate agent,” Jason muttered. “We’ve been saying all along the house was the key—”
“Because we thought Ric had some sort of paperwork or clue here,” Elizabeth argued. She scowled as she moved onto the bookcase. “Not that the house itself was important. You said Faith Roscoe told you that yesterday.”
“Last night really,” Jason admitted. He hesitated. “She was working with Ned and Ric.”
“The whole time?” Elizabeth stopped, looked at him. “Since—since November?” She sighed, looked back at the bookcase, sliding her fingers behind it. She knelt and felt along the baseboards. “They were sleeping together, weren’t they?”
“Yes. At some point. I don’t know when or if it stopped.”
He watched her carefully. “You don’t seem surprised.”
“I guess not. She…always gave me the creeps. She was always around, you know? And…she came by the hospital after I fell.” Elizabeth looked up. Met his eyes. “She pushed me, didn’t she? Because I was pregnant, and Ric had married me.”
“Yeah, I kind of figured.” Elizabeth stood and moved to the other side of the bookcase, momentarily slipping out of view. “Well, she can have him.”
“You don’t have to worry about her anymore,” Jason said before he could think it through. Elizabeth stepped back and looked him, tilting her head. “Ever.”
She bit her lip. “Did—Did she help Ric with Carly?”
“No. Carly wasn’t part of the plan. Ned told me Ric stopped returning phone calls around the time everything happened at Martha’s Vineyard. He didn’t know Ric was Sonny’s…” Jason shook his head. “She wouldn’t have helped him.”
“No, I guess not.” Elizabeth licked her lips and squinted a bit, almost as if she wanted to ask but didn’t. “Okay. I don’t have to worry about her. One less thing.”
She returned her attention to the wall that ran towards the stairwell, sighing. “I know there has to be something here.” When she knelt again to feel along the baseboards on that side, she slipped and fell against the wall. “Damn it. I can’t keep my head—” She pressed her hand to her head. “Is the air conditioner on? Did we turn it off?”
Jason strode over to her and helped her to her feet. He guided her over to the sofa. “You feel warm,” he murmured, pressing the back of his hand to her cheeks. “Is that one of the side effects Monica mentioned?”
“I don’t really remember,” she admitted. “There was a huge list, and I—she wanted to give me pamphlets, but I didn’t—”
“Want Ric to see them,” Jason muttered. He pulled out his phone. “I’m calling Monica.”
“Jason—” Elizabeth put a hand over his to stop him from dialing. “She said all they could do is give me more pills to deal with those symptoms, and I don’t want them. I don’t want any pills—” She bit off her irritation. “I get that you’re worried, but this is my life, and I don’t need you to take care of me.”
“Someone has to—”
“Oh, and that’s you?” Elizabeth jerked to her feet and slapped his hands away when he tried to steady her. “It’s been more than six months, Jason, since you gave a damn. I know you feel guilty Ric went after me because of you, but I can take care of myself. I’m doing fine—”
“I never stopped—” Jason stood, irritated. “You’re the one who left me.”
“Because you lied!” She threw her hands up in the air, clenched her jaw. “And don’t act like you spent a lot of time missing me. You were screwing Courtney by Christmas—” She stopped, closed her eyes, and put her hands up. “I am not doing this. I am not someone you need to save, Jason. I got myself into this mess, I’m going to get myself out of it—”
Jason swallowed. “I can explain about Courtney,” he said, even though he didn’t know what he’d even say. “It wasn’t—it wasn’t what you think—”
“You mean you didn’t fall in love with her when you were with her all the time?” Elizabeth arched her brows with a smirk. “Because you know, Jason, I don’t know what I’m supposed to think. You were either guarding Brenda—who you married—or Courtney—who you almost married. But me—I’m the one who got kidnapped and shot at—you ignored me for weeks and let me think your best friend was dead. So please—tell me what you think I think happened.”
He hesitated. “When you say it like that, it sounds bad,” he admitted. It sounded…terrible. Calculating. “And maybe I can’t explain it.”
“It doesn’t matter. Not right now.” She pressed her hands to her eyes. “We’re not going to re-litigate this. We already agreed we hurt each other a lot last summer. Between Zander and Courtney, I don’t think either one of us has any room to talk. It’s—it’s over. It happened. I know you care about me. I care about you. Let’s just—we’ll find Carly and—” She sighed and looked at him. “I can’t think about what happens after that, Jason. I really can’t.”
“Elizabeth—” His phone rang, and he yanked it out. “Yeah?”
“Jason, we’ve found the real estate agent,” Bobbie sighed. “He confirmed that Ric wanted a house with a panic room, but he refuses to tell us where. Nikolas thought you might…come and …”
“Threaten him?” Jason supplied.
“Give me the address, we’ll be right there.” When she did so, he slid the phone back in his pocket. “Nikolas needs me to threaten the real estate agent. There’s a panic room—but he won’t tell us.”
“Then you have to go. I’ll stay here,” Elizabeth said. When Jason opened his mouth, she lifted her chin in that stubborn expression he hated. “We agreed. Someone had to be here if we got the location. Sonny could call, too. The faster we find Carly, the sooner this is over.”
“I—” Jason shook his head. “I don’t want you alone—” He grimaced. “It’s not that I—”
“I don’t want to be alone either,” Elizabeth said. “So, you can tell Cody to come in and keep me company, and hell, let the cop in. I saw him at the curb when we got here. They can help me keep looking.” When he still didn’t look convinced, she sighed and cross the room to him. She put her hands on either side of his face. “Carly comes first. We both agreed. And…now we know. There’s a panic room in this house. I am not going to let her be alone. If there are cameras, then she has watched us search for her for days. I’m not leaving her.”
“I—” Jason wrapped his hands around hers and brought her fingertips to his mouth, kissing them gently. “Okay. I know you’re right. I just—the last time I let you out of my sight—”
“I get it.” She stood on the tips of her toes and brushed her lips against his. “Go find out where this panic room so we can bring Carly home.”
He sighed and kissed her again. “I don’t care what happened last year,” he told her. “I care about now.”
“We’ll figure it out,” she promised. He finally released her hands and started for the door. “You scare the crap out of that guy and call me. I want to be able to give you the phone and let you talk to Carly. Got it? And send in my…” She wiggled her hand. “My entourage, I guess. Might as well put them to work.”
He opened the door. “We’re going to find her today,” he told her. “This is the first time I’ve actually felt like that was true.”