Where’d you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I’m not lookin’ for somebody
With some superhuman gifts
Some fairy-tale bliss
Just something I can turn to
Somebody I can kiss
I want something just like this
– Something Just This, Coldplay and The Chainsmokers
Friday, February 20, 2004
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
As soon as the words left his mouth, Jason wanted to take them back. Elizabeth just stared at him, her eyes wide with stunned hurt. He hadn’t wanted to snap—hadn’t meant to say anything to her just yet. He’d only come home because he’d felt guilty about the stairs and not returning her messages.
That didn’t mean he was ready to talk about any of this.
“I told you I didn’t want to talk about it,” Jason said. “So let me take you upstairs so I can get work done—”
“You might be ready to talk about it, but I’m not. Not that it matters to you. Nothing does, does it?” he continued, more ruthlessly than he’d meant to, but he was so damn tired, and he did not want to do this. Not tonight. Not tomorrow. What difference was it going to make if he told her he understood why she’d lied?
It wouldn’t change anything.
“I don’t—” Her voice faltered, and she stepped back. “I’m sorry. Okay. Okay. I’ll—I’ll go upstairs—”
“Hold on,” Justus said, putting out a hand and stepping between them. “Stay right there, Elizabeth. Give me a second—”
“It’s fine. You have more important—”
Jason closed his eyes in frustration. “That’s not what I meant—”
“You—” Justus put a hand on Jason’s shoulder and stabbed a finger at him. “Stop talking right now. Moron.”
“Justus, it’s okay—” Elizabeth began.
“It’s not,” he told her. He glared at Jason. “You dragged me over here to talk about things that can wait. I’m not your goddamn shield or cover, I’m your lawyer.”
“That’s not—” Jason grimaced. That’s exactly why Justus was there. “Look—”
“No, you look. You have given her exactly eight seconds to explain what the hell is going on, and you and I both know she deserves more than that. Especially since the only reason she lied was because she walked in on Sonny trying to choke me.” Justus released Jason’s shoulder almost with a shove.
“I still shouldn’t have,” Elizabeth said quietly. “I’m sorry—”
“I know why you did it—that’s not why I’m—” Jason closed his eyes. “That’s not why I’m angry.” He exhaled slowly and met Justus’s irritated gaze. “Go home. I’ll take care of this.”
“Really? You’re not going to scream at her again about wanting to die? Because I’ll kick the shit out of you—”
“I didn’t mean that,” Jason said. He focused on Elizabeth, who was staring at the floor. “I didn’t—”
“Good night,” Justus told them. “Don’t call me before nine. I’m going home to my girls.”
He slammed the door behind him. Jason dragged a hand over his face, turning to look back at the doorway. As his gaze returned to Elizabeth, his eyes swept over the desk, and he caught sight of the frame on the desk.
He walked over to it, then looked at the shelf next to the door, then back at the photo—with its one remaining jagged shard of glass.
“It fell last night,” Elizabeth said. She hadn’t moved from the other side of the room, standing in front of the sofa, her arms still protectively wrapped around her middle. “It’s okay. Cody said he’d go out and get me a new frame tomorrow. I just forgot about it today.” She cleared her throat. “Monica came by earlier and checked my levels. They’re at 95. Um, normal, I mean.”
Wordlessly, Jason removed the photo from the broken frame and set it back on the desk, leaving the photo in his hands. “That’s good.”
“We still have the portable oximeter if you want to check for yourself.”
“I don’t need to do that.” He looked up, met her eyes. The six feet that separated them might as well be an ocean. “I said I wasn’t angry you lied. I know why you did it.”
“I still shouldn’t have. You have enough to worry about, you know, and I shouldn’t make things worse.” She bit at her thumbnail. “Um, I guess I’ll go upstairs. So you can get back to work.”
He nearly let her go. She had already put her foot on the bottom step before he spoke again. “Now I’m the one lying.”
Elizabeth blinked, looked back at him, one hand propped on the banister. “What?”
“I am angry.”
“Oh.” She bit her lip. “Okay. Well, I deserve that—”
“It’s just not the reason I left last night.” He stared down at the photo. Had it only been three weeks ago?
He’d lived a lifetime in those three weeks.
“I can’t do this anymore,” Jason said. He put the photo down and turned fully towards her. “I can’t tiptoe around any of this and not say the things I want to say because I don’t want to hurt you.”
Elizabeth said nothing, only rested a hand protectively over her belly. “I never asked you to do that.”
“No, but you made it clear that you weren’t going to change your mind, which isn’t that different, is it?”
“No. I guess it isn’t when you put it that way.” She stepped off the stair and turned fully towards him. “All right. So what haven’t you said to me?”
Kelly’s: Dante’s Room
Lulu knocked on the slightly open door, lifting her brows as she caught Dante pulling on his uniform shirt over an undershirt. “Don’t you have a locker room for that?”
“I wanted to get in and get out. Easier if I’m already suited up,” Dante said, turning towards her as he buttoned the shirt.
“Are things that bad?” She leaned against the door jamb. Dante didn’t answer her, and she wrinkled her nose. “I can go away if you want—”
“No, it’s not—” He went over to the closet and pulled down a lockbox with his clutch piece and main sidearm. “It’s not you, Lu.”
“I don’t want to poke and prod. I’m just—I don’t know.” She sighed. “I’m worried. You’re staying here, so you don’t have Cruz with you. You’re alone—”
“Are you, though—” Lulu stepped in front of him, and Dante was finally forced to meet her eyes. “You don’t have to answer me on that either, I mean. I just—” She rolled her eyes. “God, this is so high school. Look, let me be blunt, okay?”
“Do you have any other mode?” he asked dryly.
“Apparently, I do, but—” She scowled. “I care about you. I know you’re not an idiot. You’ve checked out my ass, I’ve seen you do it—”
“And your ass is good, too.”
“Why do conversations with you never go the way I expect them to?” he wondered but found himself smiling for the first time in forty-eight hours.
“Part of my charm. I bring up the mutual ass admiring to point out that if all I wanted to do was bite your ass—”
“I could have had you weeks ago.”
He wanted to deny it just to be contrary, but she wasn’t entirely wrong. Dante folded his arms. “Is that you suggesting it now?” he asked. “Because I have to be on duty in twenty minutes. I mean, I can be creative, but—”
Lulu gripped the sides of his shirt and dragged his head down, fastening her mouth over his, scattering his brain, his attention, and practically every cell in his body. He wrapped his arms around her, dragging her closer. They stumbled back, and he had a fleeting thought about tugging her onto the bed—but then Lulu stepped back, breathing hard. “I wasn’t going to do that.”
“I’m not complaining,” he murmured, pressing his lips to the side of her mouth.
“Don’t distract me—hey, watch the hands—” Lulu took another step back. “I’m sorry. You said you could be creative, and I lost my mind.” She cleared her throat. “Um, anyway. What I wanted to say was that I care about you, and it’s not just because I want to jump you. I mean, I want that, too, and we should definitely see each other naked.”
“I just—I needed you to know that, okay? That I care about you. And I want you to be okay. It matters to me. So if me not bringing any of this up is what you need, I can do that. Talking about it—I can do that, too. Whatever works.”
Overwhelmed, undone, Dante stepped towards her and put his hands on her shoulders, then leaned his forehead against hers. “I know. You’ve been doing that for months, Lu. Thank you.”
“Things at work—they’re not great,” he admitted. “I had the one shift yesterday, and it was awkward. My patrol partner called out sick tonight.” His lips flattened into an unhappy line. “Suddenly has the flu.”
Lulu frowned. “But—”
“Lucky’s covering for him, but I don’t know if I can be a cop and stay in Port Charles,” he admitted. “I don’t know if I can be a cop anywhere. Not with this hanging over my head.”
She sighed, dropping her head against his chest. “Well, you’re an amazing cop, so that would be our loss. The world’s loss, really. I’m sorry, Dante. This sucks.”
“Yeah. It does.” He tipped her chin up and kissed her again. “But thanks for listening. I need to get to work.”
“I do, too. I’m on break, but Penny’s still salty about the long one I took the other day.” She laced her fingers through his as they went towards his door. “You should take me to a movie on your next day off, and then we can come back here and see each other naked.” She twirled at the doorway just as he winced. “And yes, the movie is required.”
“I wasn’t going to ask,” he muttered but grinned as he followed her out the door.
Lucky & Kelsey’s Apartment: Living Room
“I thought you were off tonight,” Kelsey said as she watched Lucky pack his duffel bag. “What happened?”
“Dante’s partner is out with the flu,” Lucky said. He wrinkled his nose. “I’m sorry. I know we had plans.”
“Ugh, I hate the flu,” Kelsey muttered. She dumped her bag on the table. “Where are you assigned tonight?”
“Dante and I have the Courtland Street beat, so you know, should be quiet.” He offered her another grin, but Kelsey just frowned at him.
“What?” Lucky reached for his coat and put it on. “Nothing—”
“I know your face, Spencer.” She stopped him from zipping up. “What’s wrong?”
Lucky exhaled slowly, then rested his forehead against hers. “Can’t get anything past you, can I?” he murmured.
“No. You can take five minutes to talk to me. You had dinner with your mom. She’s going back to work, isn’t she?”
“It’s not—it’s nothing really. Mom was excited about starting at GH, but we were talking about Carly and Elizabeth—and that led to Sonny, which just leads back to Dante.”
“Oh.” Kelsey stepped back. “Is his partner actually out sick?” she asked. “Or is it the blue flu?”
“I don’t know,” Lucky admitted. “Dante already had problems after he testified, but it was starting to fade away. He’s had some looks, there have been some snickers. But this was the first sign that maybe things aren’t okay.”
“He’s a good cop,” Kelsey said. “I know that doesn’t always mean anything to the rest of those morons, but you and Cruz—you have his back. What about Taggert?”
“Taggert and Anna are on board, but there’s a lot of resentment after all the crap that happened last summer. Cruz got all that press for the kidnapping case, then me and Dante with the Vinnie case—Taggert’s not all that popular these days. They think he’s in Sonny’s pocket.” He zipped up his jacket. “I keep waiting for things to change,” he told her. “But it’s still the same department that railroaded my mom into a breakdown.”
“I’m sorry,” Kelsey murmured. “I wish we could fix it by just keeping our heads down and doing the job, but it feels like we never get a break.”
“Yeah, well, when Dante lost his patrol partner, I figured—he needs someone to have his back out there.”
“He couldn’t ask for better.” She leaned up her toes to kiss him. “I love you. See you tomorrow.”
“Love you, too.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Jason led her over to the sofa. “Sit down. You’ve—I know you’ve had to use the stairs and I’m sorry.”
“You have nothing to apologize for—”
He sat next to her, but still kept a bit of distance from her, staring away from her, towards the coffee table. She felt so cold. He was here. He was listening.
But he wasn’t really here. Was it too late?
“When you first got pregnant, I knew you were going to have the baby the minute you got even a hint that you could,” Jason began and she tensed. “But I—” He met her eyes. “I wanted you to have an abortion. I just didn’t know how to say it.”
“You—” She fisted her hands in her lap.
“I wanted the baby. I want him even more now. Cameron,” he said, and part of her eased hearing their son’s name. “Please don’t think that I don’t love him, and that I didn’t want him.”
“Part of you has thought it for months,” he said gently, and she closed her eyes, nodding. “Because I brought it up first. I made it part of the conversation.”
“I don’t blame you for it—”
“But you also haven’t forgiven me for it, either. I know that. Every step of the way, when you’ve had a health issue with this pregnancy, you’ve worried that I’ll do something that puts the baby at risk because he doesn’t matter to me—”
“No—no!” She shook her head. “No, that’s not it. Please. No, I promise you—” Elizabeth reached for his hands. “I promise you that I never once thought that. I’ve always understood where you stand on this. Jason—I was terrified when Monica told me I was pregnant because part of me immediately assumed that it wasn’t possible. And even when it was—” She cleared her throat. “I thought about it, you know. About having the abortion. Because I’d nearly died, and I’d worked so hard to get healthy again. I knew I wasn’t all the way there. And I felt guilty because we’d just talked about having kids—”
“I was ashamed,” she said softly. “Because I was angry when I found out. I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t—I didn’t—I mean, I wanted the baby. I want our child, but I also didn’t. You know?”
“I do.” He shifted towards her, closer, and she almost wept from the relief. Because Jason was finally here. Looking at her the way she’d needed him to. “I wanted it a year from now. Two years. Not then.”
“I wanted us to have a minute,” she whispered. “Just some time. We never get to have any time. I know that sounds stupid, but we just seem to lurch from crisis to crisis, and we never even got to date.” Her voice broke. “I’m sorry. That’s insane to say—”
“And I got pregnant, so everyone started looking at us to get married—and I love being married to you. I love you, I do—”
“You wanted more time,” Jason said. He touched her face, cupping her cheek and using the pad of his thumb to swipe at her tears. “We didn’t plan it this way.”
“No.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “But that doesn’t mean I’m not happy with how things turned out. I love you. I love being your wife, and most of our wedding day was absolutely perfect. Outside maybe an hour of it, you know? And I love our baby.” She pulled his hand over her belly and smiled as Cameron kicked. “I love him. And I know you love him, too.”
“I do,” Jason told her. “None of this is his fault, and I don’t resent him. I don’t want him to struggle in the NICU either. I don’t want any of those complications. Which is why when Monica said your vitals were stable enough to wait, I was relieved. And I was grateful that you wanted to wait.”
“You were?” Elizabeth blinked at him. “But—”
“But I was…” He paused. “I was terrified,” he said finally. “I am scared every minute that I will walk out that door, and that will be it. I left you in that house, Elizabeth, and you—you died.”
“I left you to go with Taggert to the prison, and that bastard broke in—” Jason shook his head.
“It’s been months of this,” Elizabeth said. She covered his hand cupping her cheek with her own and pulled it away so she could snuggle into his side, and for the first time in days—in weeks, really—feel like they were back in sync. “Since the day I overdosed at the studio, Jason. You’ve been scared I’ll die this time, and I’ve been afraid you’re right. I do care if I die—”
“I never should have said that—” he said. He pressed his lips to the top of her head. “I’m so sorry—”
“I’ve been pushing you away, making it hard for you to talk to me. I just—I know how much you’re taking on. How much worse it made things for us to go away as long as we did, but you did that for me. I just wanted to protect you. I didn’t do it right—”
“I need you to understand something—” Jason drew away from her briefly to frame her face in his hands. “You need to listen to me when I say this because I need you to believe me. You are not an item on my list—”
“I know that—”
“No, I don’t think you do. Everything else—everyone else—they don’t matter.”
“If something happens to you or Cameron—” His eyes burned into hers. “All of it can go to hell. You are the goddamn list. You are the center of it. But you have to let me put you first. I can’t do it alone.”
Elizabeth wrapped her arms around his neck and held him tight. “That’s why I lied,” she murmured. “Because I was trying to put you first. I’m terrible at it, but I’ll do better, okay? I just—I couldn’t hit you with this. I couldn’t. I love you so much and I didn’t want that look in your eyes. I know I did it wrong, but I did it because I know this is how you feel. I know how much you love me. I just need you to believe that I love you that much, too.”
He rested his forehead against hers. “I do.” Their lips found each other, and Elizabeth could have sobbed from the relief of feeling him against her, his mouth on her skin—this was home, and this was all she’d ever wanted.
Ward House: Master Bedroom
Tamika set aside the book she’d been reading as Justus came in that night. “Baby, you look so tired—” She started to push the covers aside, but he stopped her by sitting down next to her, perched on the edge of the bed. “I’ve been worried about you.”
“I’m sorry. I called—”
“I know. But I feel better when you’re here.” Tamika rubbed his arm, her fingers sliding over the fabric of his suit. “Did you look in on Kimi?”
“Yeah. I tucked her in and kissed her. I’ll be home tomorrow to make up for being gone—”
“It’s all right. Get out of that suit and come to bed. I’ll give you a massage,” she said with a wicked smile. His answering smile was more sober. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing. I just—” He leaned over to kiss her forehead. “It just strikes me sometimes how lucky I am to have you, Mikki. I’ve been watching Jason worry over Elizabeth and both of them worrying over that baby—if anything happened to you or Kimi, I’d be lost.”
“Same goes for me.” She squeezed his arm. “Get in bed, and we’ll talk about it.”
“If I get in bed, we’re not going to talk.”
“Don’t threaten me with a good time,” she laughed, and he grinned, leaning over to dance his fingers over her ribcage. Tamika exploded into giggles until he swallowed her laughter with his lips.
Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom
Elizabeth’s eyes drifted open, then she snuggled more firmly into Jason’s arms, tightening her arm over his waist, and pillowing her head on his chest. Then frowned, realizing that his breathing had changed.
Elizabeth leaned up on her elbow, frowning at him in the darkness. “Are you still awake?”
“Yeah, sorry.” Jason gently pulled so she’d lay back down, but she was already reaching for the light on the table next to her. The room brightened to a soft glow.
“What’s wrong? Did you get a call—”
“No—” Jason sighed and sat up. “I just haven’t been able to sleep, but you—”
“I’m fine. I mean, I’m always tired, and I’ll take a nap later—” She hitched the sheet under her arms. “You said you hadn’t slept in days—”
“Don’t apologize—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I’m making it sound like you’re doing something wrong. I know you don’t usually need a lot of sleep, but it’s—” She reached over to the table and squinted at the clock. “It’s barely four.”
Jason laid back, clasping his hands under his head and staring up the ceiling. “I was thinking about Sonny.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “I didn’t—I saw on the news that he didn’t make bail.” She turned, laying on her side as she faced him. “It must be hard for him to be locked up.”
“I didn’t want him in there. I got him bail the first time.”
“Then he punched the mayor.”
Elizabeth was quiet for a long moment. “You said that I haven’t made it easy for you to talk to me—”
“I know that’s true. But you haven’t talked to me either,” she pointed out. He turned his head to meet her eyes. “I’m glad Justus is there for you, but he’s also—he’s in the middle of this. And he doesn’t know Sonny the way I do. I wouldn’t ask about the business, but this isn’t the same thing. Things got worse after we came home, didn’t they?”
“Yeah.” He looked back at the ceiling. “The only reason things are holding together is that you’re pregnant,” he admitted. “Tommy—you remember Tommy, right?” he asked.
“Yeah, from the wedding. He runs the clubs.”
“He’s been around a long time. Before Sonny. He worked for the Jeromes, then Frank Smith—” Jason paused. “He has a lot of power, and the only reason he didn’t take over instead of Sonny was he didn’t want the pressure. It’s hard being at the top.”
“I know. I’ve seen how it’s changed Sonny.”
“Tommy told me before the wedding that there are people who are tired of waiting for Sonny to get his act together. There hasn’t been a grab for power because I asked him for time.”
“Because of me,” Elizabeth said softly. “Because of the baby.”
“I had to tell him you weren’t okay,” he admitted in a low, pained voice. “I hated using you that way—using Cameron—”
“It’s not using me, Jason. It’s being honest.”
“I don’t like it,” he said stubbornly, and she decided not to press the point.
“Are you running out of time? Did this Sonny stuff yesterday make things worse?”
“I don’t know.”
“What—I mean, what do they want you to do that you’re not already doing? I mean, aren’t things still running fine—I don’t know anything, but it feels like things are fine—”
“They are. And they’re not.” Jason sat up, drawing his legs up and wrapping his arms around them. “All those Ric sightings, Elizabeth—I don’t think they’re real.”
“You’ve said that before. How do you know? What does that mean?” She pulled herself up, then sat back against the headboard.
“I don’t know if any of the sightings were ever real,” Jason admitted. “Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Colombia—no one outside of the business has ever seen him.”
Elizabeth absorbed that information. “Which means Ric vanished the night he went missing, and you still don’t know where he is. That’s…not comforting.”
“No. I mean, some of it could be real,” he admitted. “But it’s always coming through us. Through someone who works in the business.” He twisted to look at her. “Interpol, the FBI, the PCPD—the police in Crimson Pointe—no one else but us. That’s not right.”
“When you put it that way, I guess it’s not.” Troubled, Elizabeth twisted her wedding ring on her finger. “What does it mean, then, for all these people to be passing fake information?”
“I wasn’t sure until this last one. Baltimore,” he clarified. “That’s pretty close. The one while we were gone? In Atlanta? Both times someone reached out and called Sonny personally.”
Elizabeth furrowed her brow. “Wait. That’s—that’s not how this is done.”
“No. No, it isn’t. You can’t call the heads of the organization personally. That’s the whole point of having people like me and Bernie and Justus—Johnny and Tommy and Francis. It makes it harder to tie one person to another.” Jason dragged a hand down his face. “But Sonny is getting the call, and he’s getting it first now.”
“God, that’s why he went to the Brownstone.” The ramifications of that hit Elizabeth like a freight truck. “They must know that you kept those other ones from him. The ones from the wedding, right? What was it, Miami and—”
“Puerto Rico. I didn’t mean to keep Puerto Rico from him,” he added. “It just—it slipped through the cracks. The news came in while we were dealing with the tests—” he shook his head. “I was going to tell him about Miami, but I wanted to wait until we were out of town.”
“But that means—”
“It means someone inside is working with Lansing. Or whoever is putting this together,” Jason added. “It could be the Zaccharas. It could be the Gambinos or Big Bobby—anyone of them wouldn’t mind seeing Sonny crash and burn.”
“Someone knows that you and Sonny are arguing about handling all of this and then using Sonny’s instability to make that wedge worse,” Elizabeth murmured. A traitor. Someone Jason trusted. “Are there so many people who could do that?”
“There’s enough. Sonny’s issues aren’t exactly a well-kept secret,” Jason admitted. “And everyone knows there’s been division over handling Ric.”
“I’m so sorry,” she murmured. “I never—I should have seen that letting him live—”
“No one could have,” Jason assured her. He laid back down, propping himself up on his elbow. “Neither you nor Carly could have predicted how bad this could get—”
“But Sonny knew letting him live would make him weak—”
“No. That’s not what did it. Don’t blame yourself for this—”
“I’m not. I just—” She sighed. “I’m thinking of all the ways you’ve put me first since all of this started, and letting Ric live is at the top of the list—you did that for me—and for Carly—and it’s given all of us nothing but grief.”
“It was what you needed to be okay, and I stand by that decision. Sonny decided to make this an issue. At every step of the way,” Jason told her, “Sonny made sure everyone knew he was angry about this. This is on Sonny. Not you and Carly.”
“All right.” Elizabeth accepted that. “What happens next? I mean, with Sonny in lockup and all these sightings? Can I ask that?”
“I don’t know. I know what Tommy and the others want. The only way to keep him from causing a war—” Jason laid back down and looked at the ceiling again. He didn’t finish his statement. He didn’t have to.
Tommy wanted Sonny gone. And that wasn’t something Jason was going to be able to deliver. It was out of the question. Even Elizabeth could see that.
She couldn’t fix any of this—couldn’t do anything other than be a sounding board for him, and she hoped that would be enough.
But there was something she could do. Something that could give him some peace, at least in one area.
“I talked to Gail today—well, yesterday now.”
Jason blinked, then twisted his head to look at her. “Right. I’m sorry—I didn’t—”
“It’s okay.” She slid closer to him, and he put an arm around her shoulders to curl her into his side. “We talked about why I was waiting and how scared I’ve been. I just—it’s not difficult, you know. I’m not really okay after the miscarriage. I’m not sure it’s ever something I’ll be able to forgive myself for.”
“But that baby is gone.” She cleared her throat even as the pain jabbed again, slicing through her. “I never got the chance to do more than dream about her. I think she would have been a girl, and I would have loved her no matter what.”
“I know you would have.”
“But she’s gone. And Cameron is here. He needs to be the child I think about. And he deserves to have us both. I don’t want you to raise him alone.”
“I’m sorry. I never should have—”
“My oxygen levels are normal again, but we’re going to keep a close eye on them. I’ll hit thirty-two weeks on March 3. As long as my vitals stay stable, I’ll check in that Friday. Monica’s already cleared the schedule.”
Jason’s hand tightened for a moment around her shoulder. “And she says it’s okay to wait that long?”
“Yes. As long as my levels don’t dip,” she reminded him. “She’s still checking daily, and if they drop even a point, I’m inducing.”
“Are you sure—”
“This is a good compromise. It’s not what I wanted, but I’ve done my best, and I have to be realistic,” she said, smiling slightly. “I know if anything happens, we’ll be able to face it together.” She rested her chin on his chest so that she could look at him. “I had a really big day today. I went and toured the NICU and met the nurse there that will probably work on Cameron’s case. She was really nice, and I made an appointment with a neonatologist so we could talk to him. Did you know that we can hold him in the NICU?”
“Yeah. There’s something called kangaroo care. Preemies do really well with skin touching, and you can do that, too. Plus, we can wash him and care for him. We can be together doing that and maybe even stay overnight. He won’t be at home, but—”
“You were going to tell me that when I got home,” Jason interrupted. “Weren’t you?”
“You don’t have to apologize—”
“I do.” He sat up again, taking her by the shoulders. “I should have talked to you. I shouldn’t have lost my temper—”
“I am the one person in the world you should be able to lose your temper with,” she told him. “Did you think we were never going to fight?”
“I don’t like to fight with you.” He leaned forward to brush his lips against hers.
“Me either, but I’m glad we did. We’ve talked more about what’s going on tonight than we have in weeks. Maybe months. I feel like we’ve just been trying so hard to protect each other we’re doing the opposite.” Elizabeth laid a hand on his cheek. “I plan to spend the rest of my life with you. Tonight wasn’t the first fight, and it won’t be the last. I just want you to remember that I love you, and I’ll remember that you love me, and we’ll get through whatever else life throws at us.”
Courtland Street: Alley
The night was crawling towards dawn when Lucky pulled the patrol car to a stop. He grimaced as he switched off the engine and peered down the dark alley. “Do you see anything?”
“No.” Dante craned his neck, then rolled down the window slightly. “No. But we should check it out.” He sighed. “Another day, another drug dealer.”
“Yeah, well, what are you going to do? There are too many Escobars to arrest them all,” Lucky muttered as he checked his gun. “Call for backup. Just in case,” he said.
“Okay.” Dante raised his radio and called in. “Unit 84, Code 8 at Courtland and Van Ess. Repeat, Code 8, Courtland and Van Ess.”
They got out of the car, and both of them pulled their guns, holding them low. They waited a minute, hoping to hear back from the radio that backup was being radioed for. Finally, they heard the dispatcher put up the call.
“Okay, let’s head in.”
“Cover me,” Lucky muttered as they approached the mouth of the alley. “I’ll do a sweep. He glanced back to make sure Dante was behind him, then started down the alley carefully.
He was maybe halfway when Lucky heard footsteps—he turned slightly—
Gunshots ripped through the air as fire dug into Lucky’s shoulder. He grunted and slid to the ground. Footsteps rushed away, clattering down the alley. He heard Dante give chase as Lucky tried to haul himself to a sitting position.
“Dispatch, Unit—” He swallowed hard as ice spread through his chest. “Unit 84. Code 30. Officer down. Emergency—”
“Spencer, Spencer—” Dante came back and dropped to his knees. “Where the hell is the backup? Shit, shit, you got hit—”
Then Lucky’s head lolled to the side, and he passed out.