You swore and said we are not
We are not shining stars
This I know
I never said we are
Though I’ve never been through hell like that
I’ve closed enough windows to know you can never look back
– Carry On, fun
Sunday, February 1, 2004
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Elizabeth Morgan studied the pile of luggage stacked at the bottom of the stairs, squinting before turning towards the man sipping his coffee on the sofa. “I think I overpacked.”
Jason Morgan, her husband of exactly sixteen hours and twenty minutes, stared at her for a long time. “I’m not taking any of it back upstairs.”
“Oh. No.” Elizabeth smiled brightly and sat down—wincing slightly as her lungs protested. She had woken that morning feeling better than she had the night before, almost like her old self. She had allowed herself to forget just for a moment why Jason was taking her out of town for two whole weeks despite the insanity going on around them.
“Yeah, I just moved too fast,” she assured him. She reached for her tea, then wrinkled her nose when he kept his hand on her wrist, pressing two fingers against her pulse. “How many times do you think you’ve done that since July?”
He ignored that question. “It’s fine—”
“I told you—I just moved too fast. Sometimes I feel good. And I forget.” Elizabeth paused. “Monica said I might have a lot more good days than bad, remember? And so far, that’s been true. Before yesterday, I hadn’t needed the oxygen all week.”
Jason nodded. “I know,” he admitted, “but she also said that could change if we’re not careful. I hate that you’re dealing with this at all,” he added when she just sighed. “I wish we didn’t have to think about your health all the time—”
“I’m officially in week twenty-eight,” she reminded him. “We only have six more weeks—” Elizabeth scowled. “Don’t make that face, Jason. We talked about this—”
“Is that what we did?” He got to his feet to cross to the desk when the phone rang. “Yeah? Thanks, Wally. Send him up.” Jason turned back to Elizabeth. “Cody is downstairs. He’ll help me pack the car.”
“Don’t change the subject.” Elizabeth got to her feet, folded her arms. “You’re still mad, aren’t you? Kelly wanted me to have the baby next week—” To deliver at twenty-eight weeks with all the added complications and survival rate plummeting to eighty percent— “I don’t want the NICU, Jason—”
Jason said nothing, his lips thinning as he pressed them together. He took a deep breath. “I’m not mad—”
“I’m not,” he insisted. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.”
Elizabeth bit the corner of her thumbnail, studying him. “But you’re thinking it.” When he said nothing, her stomach rolled. “You’re just not saying anything because you don’t want to upset me.”
“I think,” Jason said carefully, “that if you’ve made up your mind, then it doesn’t do us any good to talk about it. Not right now when you’re feeling okay, and Monica says everything is stable. I don’t want the baby in NICU either, Elizabeth. Michael had to have heart surgery when he was born, and I was terrified the entire time. That was before I knew anything about babies or being a father. I—” He hesitated. “I understand why you think it has to be this way.”
“And if it were me—” Jason crossed the room to take her hands in his. “If I were the one who was pregnant, I’d probably be doing the same thing.”
“Okay.” She closed her eyes in relief. “Thank you.”
“But if things change—”
“I know. Emily said the same thing,” Elizabeth said with a sigh, but she smiled and leaned up to kiss him. “I love you.”
“I love you—”
The door behind them burst open, and Jason spun around, instinctively spreading his arms out to protect Elizabeth. “What the—”
“You’re still going on this stupid trip?” Sonny Corinthos demanded, chest heaving, face flushed. “Max told me you’re leaving in thirty minutes—”
Standing behind Jason, Elizabeth could feel his muscles tensing, turning to stone. “You knew I was going—”
“Two weeks?” Sonny cut in. “With Ric back in the country? You don’t give a crap about Carly or my kids anymore? You got your own family, so mine can go to hell?”
“No,” Jason said shortly. “Johnny’s coming up to take over for me. Justus and Bernie are briefed on everything, and Justus has my contact information.” He paused. “I’m not taking my cell phone.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened. “Jason—” she began, but he turned his head and shook it quickly. She closed her mouth.
“And why aren’t you going upstairs?” Sonny demanded. “We’re talking business—”
Elizabeth bit her lip, then picked up her lukewarm tea. “Uh, I can go into the kitchen, but—”
“Not good enough—”
“Not your business,” Jason interrupted. “And I didn’t ask you to come over, Sonny. Elizabeth isn’t going upstairs.”
Not when one of Monica’s most important recommendations was to climb the stairs only once a day. Elizabeth didn’t want to waste her energy here at the penthouse when she was feeling good enough to reclaim her wedding night.
But none of that was Sonny’s business since she knew Jason hadn’t told him about the CTEPH diagnosis, so Elizabeth wasn’t going to argue.
“I’ll go into the kitchen,” she repeated.
“How the hell can you leave without your cell phone?” Sonny’s voice echoed as she went into the kitchen, but she’d only just set the cup in the microwave when the door slammed.
A minute later, Jason came in, his mouth pinched. “I’m not taking my cell phone,” he said flatly. “And neither are you. I have a burner phone. Bobbie, Justus, and Monica have the number. That’s it.”
Elizabeth nodded. “Okay.” She waited a beat. “Jason, I understand why you’re insisting on two weeks, but I don’t know why your phone has to be an argument. Take it—”
“No. If Sonny can call me, he’ll be doing it every day,” Jason told her. “And if I don’t answer, he’ll call you. The whole point is to get you away from this for two weeks. I’ll check in with Justus. You’ll check in with Bobbie and Monica. You can call Emily, too,” he added.
Remembering how tired he’d looked the day he’d told her about this trip—knowing that she was already giving him enough to worry about, Elizabeth nodded. “Okay. If you think that’s the best way to handle it, we’ll do it. I just—” She chewed on her bottom lip. “I guess I’m worried about who Sonny’s going to yell at if we’re not here.”
“I know,” he admitted. “But I asked Luke to look in on Carly and Bobbie. I hope that’s enough.”
Spencer House: Living Room
Luke Spencer intended to make sure that he would be enough to protect his sister and niece from the hostile and angry man he’d seen at the wedding.
No one in Port Charles had known Sonny Corinthos longer than Luke. He knew exactly what Sonny was capable of when thwarted from what he wanted for too long. Luke wasn’t about to let that be unleashed on his sister if he could stop it.
“I don’t understand,” Laura began, sitting down with a cup of tea in hand. “How exactly did Sonny end up locking Carly in the bedroom?”
“No one wanted to get into the gritty details, and I don’t really know what Caroline was up to this summer. I know about the kidnapping because of what Lucky and Kelsey have said,” he added. “But Sonny and I haven’t been close in years.”
“I know, and I’m sorry for it in some ways,” Laura admitted. “We broke over the garage fire, and it wasn’t even his fault.” She hesitated. “But Jason was your friend, too. He asked you for help.”
“He did—” Luke glanced over at the light knock, smiling when his sister came in. “Hey there, Barbara Jean. What brings you to our humble abode today?”
“Oh, Lulu left a few things in the car last night when Lucas dropped her off.” Bobbie set down a pair of shoes and a jacket. “I volunteered to drop them off.”
“Good. I was gonna make my way to your place, but this saves me the trip. You want some coffee?” Luke got to his feet, but Bobbie shook her head.
“No, and I’m sure I know why you were coming over, but Luke, it’s not my place—”
“Morgan asked me to look out for Carly while he’s gone,” Luke declared. “I haven’t been all that great at taking care of you these last few years—”
“I don’t need you—” Bobbie began hotly.
“But with Morgan taking Elizabeth out of town, that’s two less people for Sonny to scream at.
“Bobbie,” Laura began gently, “we just want to help. Would it hurt for Luke to know a few things? Just so he can be ready? Jason wouldn’t have asked him if he didn’t think it was necessary.”
“I’m sure he did that out of guilt.” Bobbie made a face. “He’s taking Elizabeth away for two weeks, and I think only a few people have the number. Something’s wrong,” she muttered, “but he won’t tell us.”
“The baby?” Laura asked. She rose to her feet. “Is this about last summer? Lucky said Elizabeth had been ill—”
“Never-ending complications from the birth control pills Ric Lansing repeatedly shoved down her throat,” Bobbie said bitterly. “First it was the embolism, then a heart attack, and now—I don’t know what it is now,” she continued, “but I’m sure it’s related. I know Sonny’s been a problem.” She hesitated. “Carly had difficulty recovering from the panic room. Mentally, I mean.”
“Of course. You don’t simply bounce back from that,” Laura said. “Sonny hasn’t been supportive?”
“He was until it interfered with what he wanted. Carly saw Kevin for a while to get a handle on it,” Bobbie said. “She was doing fine until Ric jumped bail. Then, Sonny lost his goddamn mind and never got it back. When she tried to leave him, he locked her in the bedroom.”
“Christ, that master bedroom doesn’t have windows. I’ll never understand why Sonny chose it with what he went through.” Luke grimaced. “How did she get out?”
“Carly was screaming so loud Jason and Elizabeth heard her. It’s part of the reason Sonny has taken so much out on Elizabeth,” Bobbie added. “He knows—” She paused. “Ric was alive to jump bail because Elizabeth and Carly wanted to testify against him. Jason supported them, but Sonny never did. He blames Elizabeth.”
“Of course he does,” Laura muttered. She folded her arms. “No wonder Jason wanted Elizabeth away from all of this. Luke, you said there’s some evidence this Ric Lansing is back in the country?”
“Some. Morgan isn’t really sure. He wouldn’t leave Carly if he thought there was a serious threat.” Luke slid his hands into his pockets. “If another one of these sightings comes along while Morgan’s gone, Sonny will head straight for Carly.”
“Jason put security at the Brownstone, and we have the guards. I don’t know what you think you can do about this, Luke, but I appreciate the thought.” She checked her watch. “I have to head in for a shift.”
Laura went to the window to watch as Bobbie returned to her car. “I don’t like this,” she declared, looking back to her husband. “It might not be enough to keep an eye on Carly.”
“I was thinking the same. I’ll try to talk some sense into Sonny if I can.” Luke paused. “Don’t be too worried about Elizabeth. You know Morgan has that covered.”
“She went through so much for us,” Laura murmured. “For Lucky, for Nikolas. I should been there more—”
“But you’re right. Jason can be trusted to take care of her. I feel terrible for Carly. Being trapped in that room—” She paused. “It must have felt like being locked up in her own mind. I know what that’s like. How terrible that her own husband did that to her.”
Luke swallowed hard, looking away. He knew Laura didn’t blame him for her problems, but he sure as hell did. A lifetime of trauma, the doctors had said.
He’d inflicted some of that trauma, and he hadn’t done much to help with the rest of it. He would spend the rest of his life making amends for things that could never be forgiven.
Seneca Falls, New York
Lake House: Living Room
“That is the absolute last set of steps I want to tackle today,” Elizabeth said with a sigh. She touched her belly, absently rubbing it as she walked off the last of the cramp in her leg from sitting in the SUV.
“I’ll finish bringing in the luggage.” Jason kissed her and started to pull away, but she fisted her hand in his shirt to keep him close. “You okay?” he murmured. He brushed his knuckles down her cheek.
“Better than. It’s so beautiful here, and I’m glad we decided to get out of Port Charles for a while.” She kissed him again. “Go bring in our stuff, then get the blood pressure cuff. You’ll feel better if we take care of that. I’ll call Monica and let her know we got here.”
He handed her the burner phone. “You okay to walk around, or do you want to sit?”
“No, I want to stretch.”
She watched him as he left the cabin and headed through the thin crunchy layer of snow to their SUV. Elizabeth then wandered over to the large picture window overlooking Lake Seneca.
“Elizabeth, is everything okay?” Monica demanded. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to alarm you.” Elizabeth turned as the door opened, ushering in a gale of wind. Jason set down two of her suitcases, then went back for the last two — she had three, and of course, he only had one.
“I wanted to let you know Jason and I got to the lake all right. He’s getting our things from the car, but I didn’t want you to worry.”
“Oh.” Monica sighed. “I’m sorry. I’ll try not to act like an insane person when you call—”
“A few more weeks of this, and we can all stop assuming the worst,” Elizabeth told her. “Jason is going to take my blood pressure when he’s done, but I’m sure I’m fine. He stopped about a half-hour ago so I could stretch my legs. I didn’t sit for long.”
“I know you’re taking this seriously, so—” Monica hesitated. “Try not to think about it as much over the next few weeks. You’re away from the usual stressors. Just concentrate on each other and that baby.”
“That’s the plan.” She smiled as Jason set down the last of their bags. “Here’s Jason—” She held out the phone.
“Hey. Yeah, the view is—” He looked at Elizabeth. “I guess it’s okay. There’s a lake.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes as she started to walk around again. She kicked off her shoes, sinking her toes into the plush carpet. Jason and Monica talked another minute or two before he handed the phone back.
“Thank you for suggesting we call her. She still sounds happy when I do,” Jason admitted.
She wound her arm through his, laying her head against his shoulder. “You’re not just letting the Quartermaines in because of me, are you?”
“Not just because of you, no.” Jason kissed the top of her head. “We’ve been through a lot since the summer. It just feels different.” He frowned, looked down at her. “Why?”
“I just don’t want you to do things to make me happy, that’s all. I’m glad you’re doing better with them. They’ve been so kind to me these last few months.”
“Which makes me think better of them,” Jason told her. “Elizabeth—” He frowned, turning to face her fully. “What’s the problem?”
“Nothing, it’s just—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “We both know there’s a chance—a small one— that I—” She looked away. “Well, that something might happen to me. Even if we do everything right.”
“And with everything that’s going on with Sonny, I just want—I want to make sure you have people you can depend on. Who put you first. Carly might try, but she’s going through a lot—”
“I really don’t want to talk about this—”
“I know you don’t, but that’s why—” She scowled as Jason pulled away from her, went back to the luggage. “Jason—”
“I should put these away and take your blood pressure.” He looked back at her, met her eyes. “I’m sorry. I know you want to talk about what might happen. We will. I just—” He stopped, looked down at the ground, and said nothing else.
“We’ll talk about it some other time,” she said softly, not wanting to push it. Not today. “Let’s get unpacked and get some dinner. I’m starving.”
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Lulu Spencer tied on her apron and wrinkled her nose. “I don’t know why you think I’m going to be any good at planning a surprise party for Georgie,” she told Maxie Jones. “You usually hate my ideas.”
“That’s because your ideas are uncultured trash,” Maxie said with a bright smile. “But that’s okay. I’m the ideas person here.” She pointed at Lulu. “You’re the grunt work.”
Lulu rolled her eyes and went to check the coffee. “You’re just overcompensating because we were mean to Georgie for like three weeks.”
“Three months, but no, that’s not it.” Maxie rested her chin on her fist. “I just need to see how much your dad would charge to rent out Luke’s for the night. You know, because that’s where she was born.”
“Really?” At a table nearby, Cruz Rodriguez’s ears perked up. “Georgie was born at Luke’s?”
“How’d that happen?” Dante Falconieri wanted to know.
“Mom went into labor earlier than she thought and didn’t get to the hospital in time. I thought it might be fun to celebrate her birthday where it began. So, Lu, I need you find out how much your dad will charge me and then get it cut in half because I’m a college student with zero cash.”
“Oh, so this is me doing a favor for you.” Lulu folded her arms. “The last time I did that, I ended up in jail.”
“You’re being dramatic.” Maxie looked at Dante and Cruz. “We didn’t even get booked, and they only thought we were hookers until they saw my ID and realized Mac was my dad. You thought it was funny at the time,” she reminded Lulu.
“Not the point—”
“But you’ll do it, right?” Maxie batted her eyelashes. “My best friend in the whole wide world—”
“Maxie, your best friend is Lucas. You told me that the last time we had a fight—”
“Oh my God, do you remember everything? Ugh. Fine, I’ll do it myself.” Maxie huffed and went over to join Dante and Cruz at their table. Lulu just snorted and went into the kitchen. “So—”
“You want me to ask Lucky to rent the club to you at little to no cost,” Dante said.
“I like a man who doesn’t need directions.” Maxie beamed at him. “Yes. Will you?”
“I can ask, but, uh, you know Lu is going to do it, right? She’s just screwing with you.”
Maxie glanced back at the kitchen with slitted eyes. “Yeah, but she’s unpredictable. I need some reassurance.”
“She’s going to do it because it’s for Georgie, and she really does feel bad.” Dante picked up his coffee. “But, yeah, I’ll drop a word in with Lucky on it, too.”
“You’re the best.” Maxie pursed her lips. “When’s your birthday? I need to put it on the calendar so we can celebrate accordingly.”
“I think that might be the most terrifying thing you’ve ever said to me,” Dante said. “It’s April. But that’s all you’re getting.”
“See, now it’s a challenge.” Maxie looked at Cruz. “What about you? When’s yours? I can already bet Dante doesn’t like big parties—”
“But you—” Maxie pursed her lips. “You’re a mystery.”
“A mystery?” Cruz echoed. “How do you figure?”
“Well, you’re around and we like you but you never, ever talk about yourself. And before you say anything—” Maxie said, throwing Dante a warning glance. “I sometimes shut up about myself long enough to listen to other people.”
“This is why I like you,” Dante told her. “You handle both parts of the conversation.”
“Part of my charm.” Maxie preened, but then focused on Cruz again. “So, spill. When’s the birthday? How do you celebrate it? What did your family do back home—wait where are you from again?”
“It’s in June, and I don’t do much,” Cruz said. He cleared his throat. “We don’t need to acknowledge it.”
“Oh, but—” Maxie started but Dante kicked her lightly under the table and she frowned at him. “Okay, fine. Two mysteries to solve. You just wait until April, Dante Falconieri.” She flashed him a smile. “Now, for Georgie’s party — should I put you down for a plus one or are we going to stop pretending you’re not just biding your time until you ask out my best friend?”
“Lucas isn’t my type,” Dante said.
“Ha. I have a class or I would stay to annoy you more.” She stabbed a finger at Cruz. “Don’t think this is over. When I adopt people into my circle, they never get out.”
“Like a hostage situation?”
“Exactly.” Maxie got to her feet and went back to the counter for her coat and bag. “Stockholm Syndrome. Eventually, you all stop fighting it.” She flounced off, and they watched her go.
“She’s going to know my entire life history in about eight minutes, isn’t she?” Cruz asked, furrowing his brows. “Maybe she should be a cop.” Shrugging it off, he turned back to Dante. “Didn’t Lucky already give you the green light on Lu?”
“I didn’t need—” Dante hesitated. “He did, I think. But—”
“Then what’s the problem? You’re not getting any younger.”
“Nothing.” Dante glanced over at the counter where Lulu had emerged, coffee carafe in hand. “Nothing. Just—biding my time.”
“You keep biding that time and she’ll be off the market.”
“First, she’s not a car, and second—” Dante studied Cruz. “You thinking about putting in a bid?”
“Oh, hell no.” Cruz wiggled his shoulders. “Definitely not my type. But you should go for it. Put us all out of our misery.”
He did like Lu—not just because she was hot, but she’d been a good friend to him and knew she’d taken some heat from Dillon over it. He wasn’t going to think about Sonny Corinthos being his father anymore. Only a handful of people knew, and Dante wanted to keep it that way.
Maybe it was time to start looking forward—and why not with Lulu Spencer?
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
When the knock came, Sonny barely looked up from the sofa, nursing a tumbler of bourbon. “Who is it?” he demanded.
“Uh, it’s Mr. Corbin,” the guard offered. Sonny frowned at that, twisting on the sofa to see his father walking in.
“Mike,” Sonny said, narrowing his eyes. “What do you want?” Probably here to ask for money or help from a bookie. “I thought you were in Buffalo.”
“Came in for the wedding,” Mike said. He tipped his head. “I saw you yesterday, but you didn’t stay at the reception long.”
Sonny snorted. “No point,” he muttered.
“Uh huh. It was nice to be invited.” Mike sat on the arm of the chair next to the sofa. “I thought Elizabeth looked beautiful.”
“You’re not even mad that he was supposed to be marrying my sister six months ago?”
“No, and neither are you, Michael.” Mike waited for Sonny to look at him. “I always had my doubts about Jason and Courtney, and this worked out for the best. Your sister’s doing well in Buffalo, not that you care. She’s dating again, too.” He paused. “I noticed some tension with you and Jason. Everything okay?”
“Don’t act like you care—”
“I’ve done my best to make you see that I do,” Mike cut in. “And I thought we’d come further than this. I don’t know what happened while I was in Buffalo, but you—” He paused. “What happened with Carly? Why are you and Jason at each other’s throats?”
“Mike—” Sonny got to his feet, ready to toss him a scathing set down. Over his father’s shoulders, he saw his mother and Lily. Adela. The woman Mike had abandoned to Deke Woods, and Lily, the woman who had died instead of Sonny. He closed his eyes.
They weren’t there. They weren’t real.
“Oh, mijo.” He felt his mother’s hand on his shoulder. Her light, gentle touch. “He’s your father.”
“No, he’s not,” Sonny retorted.
“That’s right,” Lily said with a tilt of her head. “He was there the night you killed me and our son. He’s the reason you didn’t join us. He stopped you. You should have died with us.”
Sonny blinked, then looked around. Lily and Adela were gone. They hadn’t been there, he reminded himself.
They were dead.
Women who had died instead of him.
“Michael?” Mike repeated. “What’s going on—”
“Nothing.” Feeling a bit shaky, but more in the moment, Sonny took a deep breath. “Nothing,” he repeated. “Jason and I aren’t seeing eye to eye on handling Ric Lansing. Carly—” Another woman who was gone because of him. Not dead. Just gone. Couldn’t protect her if he couldn’t see her—couldn’t keep her safe if she wasn’t in the room why couldn’t she just see that why was everything a fight why did she make everything so hard—
“Michael,” Mike said sharply, and again Sonny snapped back.
“Carly took Jason’s side,” Sonny finished. “Thanks for stopping by, Mike. But I didn’t need you when I was a kid, and I don’t need you now.”
“Max.” Sonny raised his voice until the guard opened the door. “See him out.”
And with that, Sonny went upstairs, putting his father out of his mind once again.
The Cellar: Bar
Carly Corinthos narrowed her eyes at the whiskey inventory behind the bar, then glanced at her list. “Hey, Frankie, we’re missing a bottle of Jim Beam. Can you do another count in the stock room?”
“Sure thing, Mrs. C.” She heard the bartender leave, then turned at the footsteps near the entrance.
“Hey there, Caroline.” Luke ambled over and sat at the counter. “Taking a look at my competition.” He glanced around, nodding. “Looks good in here.”
“We’re hardly competition,” Carly said but smiled at the thought. “My place is a bit more….”
“Sophisticated,” Luke offered. “I know it. And we do live music. Still, you did nice for yourself. Barbara Jean said you were going to buy back into Club 101.”
“Signing the papers next week. Starting my own empire.” Carly pursed her lips. “Is this a social call, Luke, or—”
“I can be friendly,” Luke said a bit defensively. “I’m a proud, adoring uncle—” When she just lifted a brow, he sighed. “Yeah, okay. I know Morgan’s out of town—”
“He asked me to look in on you and my sister. After what I saw yesterday, I think it can’t hurt to have another body in on this. Especially since I think we both know he’s got a whole lot on his plate right now.”
Carly considered that, then nodded. “Yeah. I guess you’re right. I don’t mean to keep adding to it. I know that’s hard to believe because that’s all I’ve ever done—” She tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “I guess it’s just my lot in life to be someone people have to clean up after.”
“How do you figure that, darlin’?” Luke asked. “The way Barbara Jean tells it, you were clipping along just fine last year. You and Sonny were happy, expecting that baby. The club launched successfully. Did you ask for Ric Lansing to shove you into a panic room for a week?”
Carly closed her eyes. “No. But—”
“So we wanna blame anyone, we can blame him. Or we can blame Sonny for shoving you into another locked room.” He paused. “Your mother gave me some of the background. I’m not asking for details, Caroline. I’m just—I’m just trying to help. Morgan’s not here to turn to.”
“I appreciate it, Luke, I do. But I don’t know what you can offer at this point—”
His cell phone buzzed in his pocket, and Luke drew it out. “Well, let’s find out. Hey, Mike. How did it go?” He listened for a long moment, then nodded. “Yeah, I didn’t think it would work, but it was worth a shot. Thanks, man. I’ll keep you in the loop.”
“Mike? What did you have him do?”
Luke set the phone on the bar. “Just drop in on Sonny. He has a better excuse than I do,” he added, “since me and Sonny ain’t exactly copacetic these days.”
“Copacetic, huh?” Carly sighed. “Sonny isn’t going to tell Mike anything.”
“Didn’t go there for intel. Don’t need it. Just wanted to get a sense of Sonny’s mood since he blew up at the wedding, and I know he wasn’t thrilled about Morgan going AWOL for two weeks.” Luke paused. “He’s drinking, and Mike couldn’t tell if he was drunk or just drifting. You know what I’m saying, don’t you?”
Carly didn’t want to feel bad. Didn’t want to worry about him. “You’ve seen him in those moods before, I guess.”
“A time or two, yeah. But he’s gotten worse over the years. Losing Lily and that baby, then Brenda. Jilting her, her dying—don’t make no difference she’s not dead, you hear me? Then I cut him out, blaming him for that fire.”
“We lost our baby,” Carly murmured.
“Exactly. He’s getting worse. He’s pushing everyone away. I’ve seen him do it before.” Luke scratched his temple. “Trouble is we can’t force him to get help, so all we can do is minimize the collateral damage. He’ll hit rock bottom at some point.” He got to his feet. “I just don’t want his rock bottom to include my sister, you, those kids, or Elizabeth. So, you got my number. Call me if you need it.”
Lake House: Bedroom
Elizabeth sat on the edge of the bed to kick off her shoes, then looked down at her hands. At the wedding ring nestled next to the ruby engagement ring. It was just a simple plain gold band, similar to the wider one she’d slid on his finger the day before.
“You all right?”
She glanced up to find her husband walking into the room, setting the burner phone on the dresser. “Yeah, I was just looking at my ring.”
Jason hesitated. “It’s all right, isn’t it? Emily said—”
“It’s perfect.” She rose to her feet and crossed the room to him, sliding her arms around his waist. “I love that my engagement ring is what I see first.”
“Why?” Jason asked, his hands gently trailing up and down her back.
“Because, other than the leather jacket you got me that first Christmas,” she said, “that glass was the first present you ever gave me. And I—” She sighed, rested her head against his chest. “I broke it.”
“I know. You told me.” They stood there, swaying, nearly dancing to nothing more than the sound of their own breathing. “It’s all right.”
“It’s not. I knew you were telling the truth even when I said you were lying. You picked that ruby because I told you how sorry I was for not believing you. For breaking it.”
“I didn’t even buy that glass for you,” Jason reminded her. His cheek rested on top of her head—she could feel his breath rustling her hair. “I gave it to you because I had it, and I thought you’d like it. You don’t have to feel sorry about breaking it. I never blamed you.”
“I loved that shade of crimson,” Elizabeth murmured. She held out her hand, wiggling her fingers so that the ruby caught the dim light in the room. “The way it caught in the light and sparkled. I remember the day you gave it to me. When we stood at the window.”
“I remember that, too.” He closed his hand over hers and brought it to his mouth. “I wanted to kiss you that day. When you looked at me.”
“I wanted you to kiss me, too. Which scared the hell out of me,” she admitted. She drew back so that their eyes met. “So many times I wish you would have just done it, but now, I know why you didn’t, and it makes me love you more.”
“Yeah?” With his free hand, he tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, trailing his fingers down her jaw.
“It needed to be my decision, and I think you wanted it to be mine. You needed that from me, and I couldn’t do it. Not then. I wasn’t ready. You always found a way to put me first.”
She shook her head. “We’re not going to do that, not tonight. I’m not even blaming myself for not being ready. I just wanted to tell you that I knew what you were doing and that I love you for it.”
“I love you, too.” He dipped his head down to brush his mouth against hers. Her hand fisted in his shirt. “We should go to bed.”
“We should, but first—” Elizabeth kissed him again, nipping at his lips as she drew back, then smiled at him. “I want my wedding night.”