They didn’t have you where I come from
Never knew the best was yet to come
Life began when I saw your face
And I hear your laugh like a serenade
How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough, is forever enough
How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough
Cause I’m never, never giving you up
– Lullaby, The Chicks
Friday, March 5, 2004
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
“Are you sure about this?” Bobbie asked as a guard let Kevin into the penthouse.
“As sure as I can be about anything, Mama.” She smiled hesitantly at Kevin. “Thanks for coming so late. We had to wait until Sonny was—until he was awake.” They’d sedated him after the confrontation with Jason, and he hadn’t stirred until an hour ago. Max and Cody were both standing guard upstairs.
She’d been surprised when Elizabeth’s guard hadn’t returned to the hospital, but maybe he’d figured he could protect Elizabeth better by making sure Sonny stayed away.
“Not a problem,” Kevin said. “You said it was an emergency.”
Luke emerged from the kitchen, sliding his phone into his pocket. “Laura said that Lucas and Felix are taking over for her,” he told Carly. “Morgan’s asleep, and they’ve got Michael watching a movie. He said don’t worry—he’ll take care of them tonight.” He looked at Kevin. “Hey, Doc.”
“Luke,” Kevin said with a nod. He focused on Carly. “What’s the situation? You didn’t say much on the phone.”
“Um, last summer I told you Sonny was having problems.” Kevin nodded. “The hallucinations—they’re back. And what’s—what’s been going on with his violent episodes at the Brownstone—the breaking in, the assault on Lucas and Felix—and then today—he barged in on Elizabeth—” Carly pressed a fist against her stomach, taking a moment to gather her thoughts. “Her guard said she was dizzy and struggling to breathe, but Sonny didn’t seem to notice. He just kept screaming at her—he had to be physically removed.”
Kevin lifted a brow. “And you think this is an indication of a mental illness?”
“Sonny’s had issues for years. He gets into these moods where he’s angry, paranoid—sometimes he loses track of time. He was doing that last summer. The hallucination—um, that was new for me, but Courtney saw them last summer. So did Mama.”
“Jason told me that it wasn’t the first time,” Bobbie said. “Apparently, Sonny has hallucinated Lily off and on through the years, and a long time ago—he saw his mother.”
“Has he consented to talk to me?”
“I’m hoping you’ll sign a commitment paper. I want a 5150.” Carly folded her arms. “Mama said you can do that if you think he’s a danger to himself or others.”
“I can send him to Ferncliffe for up to 72 hours. After that, I’d need two doctors to sign off on a further commitment.” Kevin raised an eyebrow, looked at the trio of them. “Do you think that’s necessary?”
“I think—” Bobbie hesitated, looked at her daughter. “I think we should have called someone months ago when it happened the first time. But Carly was missing, and I left the decision up to Jason. If you don’t agree, Kevin, you can say so. I just—what happened today—what’s been happening—”
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t do it,” Kevin said, holding up a hand. “Carly has mentioned enough during our sessions that I’m sure Sonny would benefit from speaking to someone. And yes, he has acted out violently based on the charges pending against him. In any case, I’ll need to assess him—”
There was a crash from upstairs and raised voices. “Mr. C!” Max shouted. “You gotta—”
“I don’t have to do anything! Where the hell is he? I’ll kill him!” There was more shouting, the sound of someone being thrown against a wall—
Luke shoved Bobbie and Carly behind him as Sonny barreled down the steps, Max and Cody on his heels. Cody dove, tackling Sonny as he reached the door. And still, Sonny fought like a madman.
“Let me go! He tried to—I’m going to kill him! He can’t take what’s mine!”
“Sorry, Mrs. C,” Max said, panting as he and Cody got Sonny on the ground. “We tried—”
“That bitch! She’s next—”
“I’ve heard enough,” Kevin said. He set his briefcase on the coffee table, took out some paperwork as well as a small medical kit. “I’ll give him a sedative, and we’ll get him transported to Ferncliffe tonight.”
Scorpio House: Front Porch
Mac hesitated when he saw Felicia waiting outside his door, swaying gently on the swing he’d installed when she and the girls had lived with him. He paused on the front walk. “Did we have plans?”
“No. But Anna called.” Felicia tipped her head and patted the area next to her. “She said Scott was going to find you about Capelli, and thought you might need some one to talk to.”
“Nothing to say.” But Mac sat down anyway. “Capelli was a thorn in our side and now he’s gone. They’re doing what I couldn’t—cleaning up the department.”
“I know this has been hard, Mac—”
“I heard on the scanner that a pregnant woman was being rushed into the hospital, coughing up blood.” Mac stared out over the street. “Based on the address called in from 911, it was Elizabeth.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“We did the best we could with the Lansing case,” Mac said slowly. “I think, with hindsight, you can look back and point out where we could have done better, but all in all, we found Carly within a week. Elizabeth had refused all offers to help and she’d chosen to stay. She knew she was being drugged more than just that one night. Taggert and the others can see that as being on them, but at the end of the day — she was an adult and she made her choices.”
Felicia said nothing, and Mac continued. “We had tunnel vision, sure. But after everything that had happened with Alcazar the year before, it just made sense to focus on what we knew.” The swing gently swayed again. “But the rapist case — there’s nothing I can do about that. I screwed it up. Things were going south for us already, I could feel it, you know—” He met her eyes. “The Outback was failing, we weren’t connecting, and the Quartermaines were breathing down our necks. Floyd wanted Baker to go away, and the only hold up was was the rape case. It was a weak case, and I didn’t think we’d get anything in a lab report. I believed her,” Mac murmured. “He’d confessed. So when Floyd wanted it to go away, I did it. I thought it was the right thing to do.”
“I know you did, Mac—”
“I was looking for a reason to make it go away. I should have thought about the crime. Baker had no history of sexual violence. He couldn’t even bring himself to hurt Emily or Elizabeth when he held them hostage. I knew that then, Felicia. I believed her,” he said painfully, “but in the back of my head, I wondered. I put it away, I made it disappear. Because it was easier.”
He closed his eyes. “For months, I’ve been trying to make peace with this. Since Brooke was attacked and I thought about the park. Since her statement came in and it matched Elizabeth’s. But I kept trying to hide it. I tried to keep her case from being reactivated. I should have been the one to leak it, not Scott. He knew it was time to get rid of Floyd, but I knew I’d go with him. And I needed to make it right.”
He scrubbed a hand over his mouth. “Vinnie was one of my guys. For years. We’ll never know how many women he hurt. How many he got away with, how many never reported.” His voice faltered. “Because I chose the easy way out and buried that dress in the archives. All those women were hurt because of me. Brooke is dead because of me.”
“It all leads back to that decision,” Mac insisted. “And now, Elizabeth is fighting for her life. For her child’s life—how much extra stress did she put her on her body because of that case?” He exhaled roughly. “Scott and Taggert—they can dig themselves out of their bad choices. Out of the mistakes. But I can’t. There’s no redemption for me.”
General Hospital: ICU
Shortly after eight that evening, Elizabeth’s final procedure had been completed, and she’d been transferred from recovery to the ICU. Back behind the clear walls that Jason knew she hated.
“The embolization went well,” Monica told him in the hallway as Patrick completed the transfer and spoke quietly to a nurse. “Have you been up to see Cameron?”
“Yeah,” Jason said. He rubbed the back of his neck. “I couldn’t stay—they had to—” He exhaled slowly. “There’s a problem with his lungs.”
She inhaled sharply. “I didn’t get a chance to talk to Kelly after we completed delivery—” Monica turned to face him more directly. “What’s wrong?”
“There’s a leak in his lungs,” Jason said. “I, uh, I haven’t been able to—look into it—the doctor said it was common. It’s some kind of emphysema. He’s on a ventilator and medication to help his lungs develop.” He stared into the hospital room, where Elizabeth lay on her own ventilator. “How much longer will she have to be on the ventilator?”
“Through the night. We stopped the bleeding, but the next few hours are critical—not for her life—” Monica added quickly as Jason whipped his head back to look at her. “But to see if the embolization holds without having another procedure. We want her lungs to begin healing, and they can’t if we have to go back in.”
“But—Patrick said she’d be okay?”
Monica gestured to the man in question who exited the room, leaving the sliding door partially ajar. “Patrick?”
“Elizabeth is out of danger,” Patrick told Jason. “We took a full history from the guard who brought her in—the worst of the bleeding didn’t start until just before they pulled up to the hospital, and Monica said she didn’t lose consciousness until she arrived. Those are good signs.”
“Should he have waited for EMTs?” Jason asked quietly.
“No,” Patrick said. “EMTs might have been able to intubate her faster, but she wouldn’t have needed it right away. She got to the hospital within ten minutes, and the massive hemoptysis didn’t cause any lasting oxygen deprivation to the brain.”
“We thought it might have, which is why we prioritized Cameron’s delivery,” Monica finished. “But all in all, Jason, we were very lucky. She wasn’t alone, and Cody acted quickly. She was at the hospital by the time the real crisis happened and was treated right away.”
Elizabeth looked so pale, her eyes sunken circles against her skin. A tube was taped to her face to keep the ventilator in place. Another echo of last year.
“Thank you. For taking care of her.” He hesitated. “Can I sit with her now?”
“Go for it,” Patrick said, marking something on the chart. “We’ll be in and out all night keeping our eye on her vitals. Tomorrow, we’ll do more imaging to make sure the bleeding is taken care of, but all in all, she can be discharged when Dr. Lee releases her from her service.”
“Really?” Jason blinked at him, surprised. “I—”
“It looks worse than it is,” Patrick said as Monica breathed her own sigh of relief. “Yeah, coughing up blood is bad, and she lost some blood she couldn’t afford to lose. But the embolization was non-invasive, and a lot of the time we’d do this kind of procedure with an overnight trip.” He set the chart back in the slot by the door. “I’ll come back in a bit.”
“The ventilator is just precautionary,” Monica reminded Jason after Patrick had left. “Why don’t you go sit with Cameron? I’m off, and I can stay with Elizabeth—”
“Edward is with him,” Jason murmured. He looked at Monica, a bit uncomfortable. “He said Grandmother was worried, so he came to the NICU. He’s up there now. And Emily and Nikolas said they’d stay tonight. ”
“I’m surprised you agreed,” Monica said. “I knew—I knew you were getting along better with Edward, but—”
“Elizabeth likes him,” Jason said. “And I wanted to be down here when Elizabeth came back to the room. I told him I’d relieve him when Emily got off her shift and Nikolas came back from getting them dinner.”
“Well, I’ll go check on my grandson anyway.” Monica hugged him. “This was scary,” she murmured as she drew back. “But we got through it, and they’re both going to be okay. We can start thinking about the next step.”
“I just—I’ll feel better in a few hours,” Jason replied. “When Elizabeth wakes up. Or when they tell me Cameron’s strong enough for me to hold.”
“We’ll get there, Jason.”
Monica patted his arm one more time, then walked towards the entrance of the ICU. Jason went into the room, and before he sat down, took the rings out of his pocket. He sat down, picked up Elizabeth’s left hand, and slid them back on her finger.
He turned to find his sister at the door. “Em. I thought you were working a few more hours—”
“My resident took pity on me,” she said. She wandered into the room and stood at the foot of the bed, a heavy sigh. Emily brushed away her tears. “I’m glad it’s over, but I was really hoping I’d never see her in another ICU. Not like this.”
“Yeah.” He looked down at Elizabeth’s hand, at her fingernails. They were unpainted because she couldn’t wear polish in the hospital. It felt wrong to see them look like this—without bright reds or golds or any of her other favorite colors.
“I checked on Cameron before I came down,” Emily told him. “I saw Grandfather. He’s telling him stories about Grandmother and about you growing up.” She tipped her head to the side. “You know—his emphysema—it’s common—”
“Yeah, the doctor said that. But he also told me Cameron might need surgery if it doesn’t heal on its own.”
“He’s a strong little boy.” Emily stood behind him, wrapped her arms around his shoulders to hug him lightly, resting her cheek against his. “Think of everything he’s already lived through. Think about who his mother is. That kid could run the world if he wanted to.”
Jason exhaled slowly. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“Of course I am.” Emily wandered over to the other side of the bed, took the other chair. “I remember coming home last year for your wedding—having breakfast at Kelly’s. Do you remember that day?”
Jason hesitated, then located the memory. “Yes. You were mad at me.”
“For lots of reasons,” Emily admitted. “But mostly, I was worried. She looked so unhappy, so unhealthy—all the signs were there. I still wish sometimes that I had dragged her with me to California, but I’m glad she stayed, and that she worked with you to find Carly.”
Jason nodded after a long moment. “I am, too. Not that she got sick, but—” He looked at his sister. “It changed everything.”
“Whenever I have that image of her—that day at Kelly’s—I also remember another day. The day Vinnie was sentenced.” Emily smiled at her brother. “I was so proud of her. I mean, she kicked ass at that press conference, don’t get me wrong. But to stand in front of the man who’d done so much evil—and to wipe the floor with him—she looked so strong. Thank you.”
“She did all the work to get there,” Jason said with a shake of his head. “I didn’t—”
“But you were behind her. She felt strong enough to do whatever needed to be done because she knew—she knew she wasn’t alone. Elizabeth hadn’t been able to trust that in so many years, but you gave her that back. She knew you’d be there. Just like you’re here now.” Emily hesitated. “Do you know what I mean?”
“Yeah.” Jason looked at Elizabeth’s face, wished her eyes were open so she could see their son. So that he’d know she was okay. “She did the same thing for me.”
Emily tilted her head. “Yeah?”
“That week. I wanted her to go. To be safe. But she stayed for me. For Carly. Sonny was—” He grimaced. “Sonny was useless, and Bobbie—she was there—but Elizabeth never stopped trusting me. And she made me believe we’d find Carly. I never gave up. Because she didn’t.”
“Speaking of Sonny…” Emily bit her lip. “I didn’t—what happened?”
“It’s done,” Jason said simply. “I can’t trust him. I can’t trust him with his own family, much less mine. I don’t trust him, and neither do any of the men who work for us.”
“Ah.” Emily sighed. “So…you’re in charge again.”
“Yeah. It’s the only way I can be sure my family is protected. Carly said she’ll deal with Sonny.” Jason kissed Elizabeth’s hand and looked at Emily. “Can you stay with her for a while? I have to meet with Justus and Bernie, and I want to stop in with Cameron first. It can’t wait,” he added when she wrinkled her nose.
“No, I guess not. Yeah, I’ll be here.”
Zacchara Estate: Study
Trevor paced the study, tossing occasional glares at the phone that wasn’t ringing, and swore under his breath. Across the room, sprawled at his desk, Anthony wasn’t any happier.
Their contact inside the Corinthos organization had been scheduled to make contact three hours ago. He’d never called and now wasn’t returning their phone calls—in fact, the last one had been blocked.
“This was your plan,” Anthony reminded him as he got to his feet and started to prowl the room. “You thought we should make the best of things.”
“And it worked,” Trevor said, his teeth clenched. “We rattled them—”
“Did we? Because if the fucking mole isn’t in contact with us now, then who knows what’s going on?”
“Maybe Morgan caught on to him,” Trevor suggested. “Maybe he’s lying low.”
“Or,” came another voice from the doorway, “he was never working for you.”
They both turned to look at the woman lounging in the doorway, dressed in a skintight dress the color of blood. She examined her nails, painted an identical shade of red. She looked at them and smirked, tossing back her raven-colored hair.
“Who the hell asked you, Claudia?” Anthony growled at his oldest child.
Claudia straightened and sauntered into the room. “No one. Which is why you’re in this mess. Your mole? Your guy on the inside? If you’d done the slightest bit of research—” She sighed. “You would have known why he’s not calling you now.”
“She’s just bluffing,” Trevor muttered, leveling a malevolent gaze. “She doesn’t know anything—”
Claudia shrugged, unbothered. “Fine. Then don’t believe me. But it’s not a coincidence that your mole decided to go dark when Jason Morgan cut ties with Sonny Corinthos.”
Anthony scowled at his daughter. “How the hell do you know what’s going on? Who’s talking to you?”
Claudia ignored the question. “That’s what he wanted all along. Now Jason’s in charge.” She grinned at her father and his lawyer. “And you’re all going to pay for being stupid.” She sauntered out of the room as slowly as she’d entered.
“You hate to see it,” she sighed as she pulled the door shut. “You really do.”
General Hospital: NICU
Jason hesitated when he arrived at Cameron’s room, surprised to find Alan sitting next to the incubator, reading a book out loud, his voice slightly muffled by the mask he wore.
Alan must have heard his footsteps. He looked up, his eyes crinkled with delight, which was quickly replaced wariness. “Jason. Father had to take care of something with the hospital board, so I took over. I hope that’s all right—”
“Uh, yeah, of course.” Jason tugged at the collar of the yellow gown he’d been asked to wear over his clothes. “How is he?” He stepped into the room, looked down at Cameron. At the tiny little boy on a ventilator.
Before yesterday, Jason had mostly thought of the NICU in abstract terms. He’d read all the available material, understood that Cameron would survive with few complications, and that had been enough for him. He hadn’t been able to picture what it would be like to see their son on a ventilator with a miniature tube that matched his mother’s.
Now Jason understood Elizabeth’s desire to delay this moment—to give Cameron a better chance. He might not have developed the emphysema if he’d been delivered at thirty-five weeks.
“Responding well to his treatment,” Alan reported. “And getting stronger by the hour. Have you seen his doctor?”
“No, not yet—”
“Mr. Morgan!” the bright, cheerful voice of Nadine Crowell, the nurse assigned to Cameron, was almost like a stab of an icepick in his brain. Jason turned to find the blonde behind him. “I’m so glad you came up. I was just coming to tell Dr. Quartermaine that Cameron’s latest test results came in, and we can start skin to skin.”
Jason blinked. “Already? I hadn’t—” His voice was tight. “Elizabeth—she should—”
“She won’t be able to come up for a day or two,” Alan murmured. He set the book aside and got to his feet. “And you know how important kangaroo care is.”
“Didn’t Marcie at the front desk tell you? That’s why we asked you to shower before you came in to visit,” Nadine told him as she directed him to take a seat. “Right now, Cameron can only be outside of the incubator for two, maybe three minutes.”
“What about the ventilator?”
“We’ll be very careful, Daddy,” Nadine promised him. “Now, uh…” Her cheeks flushed. “You need to take your shirt off. We, uh, take the skin part very seriously. I’ll just—” She moved over to Cameron to busy herself getting him ready.
Jason didn’t even think twice. He took off the yellow gown and his blue t-shirt, handing both to his father.
“Ready?” Nadine asked. “I want to be very quick so we can maximize his skin time.”
With a quick, practiced hand, in less than ten seconds, Jason was holding his son for the first time, the tiny ventilator detached for the moment. Cameron barely weighed four pounds, but at eighteen inches, he stretched across most of Jason’s torso. Nadine covered the baby with a blanket, then stepped back, beaming. “I want to give you some time alone, but I’ll be back in two minutes.”
“I can go—” Alan started, but Jason looked at him, shook his head.
“No, you can—you can stay. If—” Jason hesitantly touched Cameron’s head, felt the flutter of his heart against his own. “This—Elizabeth didn’t want him to go through this.” He met his father’s eyes. “I was angry with her for risking her life.”
“You’re not anymore?”
“No. I—” He looked over at the incubator. “It’s hard to see him like this,” he admitted. “Everyone keeps telling me how strong he is and how much he’ll fight, but I—” Jason closed his eyes, took a deep breath. “I wish he didn’t have to.”
“We always want our children to struggle less than we did,” Alan murmured. “We try to arrange the world so it can’t hurt them. The Quartermaines have a terrible track record at this, mind you, but it’s why my father wanted me to go into business. He couldn’t help me with medicine. He didn’t know anything about that. And why I was so relieved you wanted to be a doctor. Because I could—I could smooth the way. Take care of you.”
Jason looked up at him. “But you couldn’t do that after the accident.”
“No. And every time I tried to take care of AJ, I only made it worse. My children apparently do better without me.” Alan’s expression was wry. “But that’s a good thing. No one pushes around a Quartermaine. Or a Morgan, for that matter,” he added.
Nadine stepped back in, her expression filled with regret. “I’m so sorry, but—”
“It’s okay. I know it can’t be long for now—” Jason touched Cameron’s head one more time, then Nadine lifted him and had him settled back in his bed, the ventilator reattached. “Thank you,” he said as he took the shirt his father handed him. “How often—”
“Right now, we can probably manage two minutes every few hours,” Nadine said. “As his lungs improve, within a week, maybe ten minutes. He’s doing well,” she assured him. “A tough kid.”
Jason put back on the gown and sat back in the chair, looking at Cameron as his tiny chest rose and fell. “Thank you for sitting with him. Emily—” He looked at Alan. “Emily was putting together a schedule. Because I don’t want him to be alone, and I can’t—”
“You can’t be here every second. She said something about it.”
“If you—” He thought of his father’s words and how terrible things had been after the accident. Would he have handled things any better if Cameron had come home one day and not known him? Had been an angry stranger? “If you or Edward want to be…let Emily know.”
Alan swallowed hard, his eyes a bit damp. “I’ll do that. Thank you.” Alan touched the incubator lightly. “He’s beautiful, Jason. And I’m so happy Elizabeth made it through. This—this is the start of something better. For all of you.”
Port Charles Municipal Building: Mayor’s Office
Lois peeked around the partially open door. “Hey. Did you hear from the hospital? How’s Elizabeth?”
Ned gestured for her to come in and she closed the door. “Yeah. Yeah. Uh, I just got off the phone with Monica. Elizabeth and Cameron are in the clear, at least for now. It’s the best they could have hoped for at this point.”
Lois shook her head, sitting down. “What day,” she murmured. “Capelli’s gone, Sonny’s in Ferncliffe, and poor Elizabeth is back in the hospital.” She met Ned’s eyes. “I don’t know how to feel about any of it. Sonny’s so far from the man I knew once.”
“He’s not even the man I knew,” Ned said. He leaned against his desk, folding his arms. “Alexis, I think, is a little relieved even though she doesn’t want to say anything. This just helps her future custody case against him. But I definitely feel for Carly, having to be the one to call for the commitment.” He scrubbed a hand down his cheek. “Capelli resigning was a relief, too. I was worried he’d fight it, but Anna said she never even had to bring up Elizabeth.”
“Thank God for small miracles.” Lois stood. “I’m glad there’s some improvement at the department, and Capelli being gone, I’m sure that’ll help. But I guess I thought I’d feel more closure. It doesn’t fix anything, does it? Lucky still got shot.”
“And Dante still quit. I doubt he’ll change his mind this fast.” Ned went around to the other side of his desk. “You should check in on him,” he told her. “See how he’s doing.”
“Maybe. I’ll call Liv and see what she wants to do.” Lois went to the door, then turned back. “Do you want to grab some dinner or something?”
“No, there’s still some work to be done.”
“All right. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She closed the door, leaving the office dimly lit only by the light on his desk.
Ned picked up the photograph of Brooke that he always kept nearby, taking in the lines of her face, the sly smile and spark in her eyes. Nothing would bring back his little girl. All he could do was protect someone else’s children and hope it would be enough to help him sleep at night.
Corinthos Penthouse: Master Bedroom
“Are you ready to go?”
Carly turned back to look at her mother. “What?”
“We’re all cleaned up here.” Bobbie stepped inside the room, looked around. “And I grabbed Elizabeth’s bag so we can drop it at the hospital on the way home.”
“Oh. Sorry. I got distracted. I haven’t—” Carly looked back at the room. “I asked Sonny once why we used this room as the master. There are no windows—that didn’t use to bother me, but he hates small spaces. Feeling confined.”
“What did he say?”
“He moved into this room after Lily died,” Carly said. She folded her arms. “He told me it was because of the memories in the other room. Between Brenda and Lily—he wanted a new start. But I think he was punishing himself. He’s never forgiven himself for surviving when they didn’t.”
“I suppose that’s why he sees Lily when he hallucinates.”
“He sees his mother, too,” Carly murmured. She wandered over to the closet, sliding her hands over the silk shirts. “He blames himself for Deke beating her to death.”
“We were happy, you know. I mean really happy. Last year, before the kidnapping. I think about that a lot. He was so kind after I told him what Ric had done to me that night at the club. I was scared he’d throw me out, but he believed me. Believed I hadn’t wanted it.”
“Sonny was capable of great empathy and kindness once,” Bobbie said after a long moment. “But—”
“But something broke in him when Ric kidnapped me. Another pregnant wife. We should have done more. Jason and I. Months ago. Years ago. We knew something wasn’t right, and we knew he’d gone over a line last year. We thought we could drag him back. We thought we were enough.” Carly closed her eyes. “How arrogant we were.”
“You’d always been enough before, Carly, and you did what you thought was best—”
“Maybe. Maybe. But I locked him up, too, Mama. Tonight, I signed the papers that put him in a room that he can’t leave.”
“You did it to protect him—”
“For the first time, I can really understand what he must have felt in some way, you know?” Carly shook her head. “To think that the best way to protect someone you love is to lock them up.”
“This is different—”
“You just—you see a thousand ways you could have changed things. Chosen a different path.” Carly looked around the room one more time. “Did we have to end up here? Did Jason have to nearly lose everything? Did I have to lose my husband? Was this inevitable?”
“I don’t know, baby.” Bobbie took her hand, squeezed it. “Maybe it wasn’t. I wanted him to get help last year, Carly. I wasn’t able to convince him. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. This might not be enough, either. But all we can do is put one foot in front of the other and hope for the best.”
“I should have let him kill Ric when he wanted to. That might have solved it. I could live without testifying and seeing him rot.” She swiped at her eyes. “Elizabeth would have been fine. And Sonny would be here with us. The way he was.”
“Maybe. But maybe something would have happened next year. Or five years from now. Carly—”
“I did the best I could, Mama. I know that. But it wasn’t enough, and I don’t know if I’ll forgive myself for what happened here tonight. If Elizabeth or that baby doesn’t make it—God, I’ll never be able to look at Jason again—”
“You think he doesn’t feel the same? He did more to enable Sonny than anyone else. He kept hoping and praying that something would change. And look what happened, Carly. This isn’t just on you. It’s not on me. It’s not even all on Jason. It’s on all of us. We all made choices that brought us here. We can’t change them. We can only move forward.”
Portia’s Apartment: Kitchen
She heard the door open, then close so she turned the sauce on the stove down to simmer and stepped towards the arch that looked into her living room. Marcus stood there, his arms limply at his side, his face creased with exhaustion and frustration.
“Hey.” She slid her arms around his waist. “I won’t ask how your day was.”
Marcus dropped his head against hers, and she just closed her eyes, wishing she could absorb the tension that held his body so tight. “We barely got Capelli out of the building before we heard about Corinthos, Ferncliffe, and Elizabeth. I sent a few officers to make sure they could get him out—Christ.” He rubbed her shoulders. Stepped back. “I tried to call the hospital about Elizabeth, but they won’t say anything—”
“I called my sister,” Portia offered. “I knew Justus would keep Mikki in the loop, so—Elizabeth and the baby are okay.”
His shoulders slumped and he closed his eyes. “Okay?” Marcus echoed. “You sure?”
“Yes. She didn’t have all the details yet, but Elizabeth is in the ICU and is in stable condition. The baby’s—that’s different. I mean, he’s in the NICU but Mikki said they were expecting that. You don’t have to worry about them. You will anyway, I know that.”
“Thank you.” He kissed her, lingering. “For finding out. For being here when I needed you.”
“Always.” Portia framed his face. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Morgan & Corinthos Coffee House: Office
Jason closed the door behind him as Justus and Bernie got to their feet. “Hey. What’s so important?”
“I’m sorry to drag you away from the hospital. I just—I didn’t think we should do this there.” Justus cleared his throat, looked at Bernie. “First, I talked to Jordan. She said Sonny got a message on his phone at the PCPD and charged out. She went after him but lost him when she tried to follow. She was afraid she’d be fired if we found out she lost track of him that quickly, so she didn’t say anything.”
“And she didn’t think that would get her fired?” Jason demanded. “Damn it—”
“Sonny’s not an easy client.” Justus took out a phone. “Carly brought me this. Sonny got a voicemail the morning he was released. It was from Frankie Gambino in Manhattan.”
Realized dawned, and Jason closed his eyes. “A Ric sighting,” he said. “And no one called us?”
“Not this time. It seems like they decided not to bother with letting us in on it—this was designed to send Sonny over the edge.” Justus set the phone down. “Only Sonny.”
“It’s exactly what we thought. Someone is exploiting the problems we’re having,” Bernie said. “And the list can’t be that long,” he continued. “How many people even knew Sonny was getting out today?”
“We don’t have to wonder,” Justus said. Both men looked at him. “I had a visit last night.”
Jason clenched his fists at his side. “From who?”
“It’s not important,” Justus began. Bernie blinked at him as Jason scowled. “It’s not. He was approached by Trevor back around Christmas. They wanted to create some tension between you and Sonny. They were hoping it would make things unstable here—make the organization ripe for a takeover.”
“The plan was to push Sonny over the edge. Anthony and Trevor don’t know—or never realized how much you were already in control,” Justus continued. “Because you ran things the way Sonny would, for the most part, it was assumed that even though Sonny was unstable, he was still in charge.”
“We figured that. So tell me who the hell turned on my family—”
“He didn’t turn on you, Jason. He turned on Sonny,” Justus told him quietly. “You knew there was unrest. Men who were unhappy. Most of them signed up with Tommy, but this guy didn’t. He didn’t seek out the opportunity, it came to him. And he never knew how sick Elizabeth was. The important thing is that we were right. All the sightings of Ric—even those in South America—they were all planted.”
Jason narrowed his eyes. “All of them?”
“Anthony and Trevor never confirmed it, but according to my source, Ric is dead. And has been since November. Remember—it’s not like his ankle bracelet left the estate. It simply cut out.”
“Dead,” Jason repeated. He exhaled slowly. “We thought that might be the case, but—is he sure? How can you trust him? Who the hell is it, Justus?”
“I won’t tell you that. And I trust him because he’s loyal to you—”
“He can’t be loyal to me if he did this—” Jason scowled. “This isn’t your decision to make—I have a right to know—”
“Maybe. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to tell you. Not now. We need to neutralize the Zaccharas first. Our guy stopped communicating with him as soon as you took over publicly. That’s all he wanted.”
“Fuck—” Jason swore. He dragged his hands through his hair. “That’s not how this works, Justus—”
“We agreed when I took this job, I wouldn’t be a pushover. You wanted me to be honest with you.” Justus lifted his chin. “I know what you’ll do. And it’s the wrong decision.”
Jason glared at him for a long moment, then stalked across the room, fighting back his frustration. “I need to get back to the hospital. But I’ll go to Crimson Pointe and settle this once and for all.”
He stabbed a finger at Justus. “When I come back, I want a name. Or this time, I’ll be the one firing you.”
“You’ll have my resignation first.”
Jason and Justus stared at each other for a long moment before Jason left, slamming the door behind him.
Bernie, who had remained silent throughout the exchange, looked at Justus with sad eyes. “Who is it?” he murmured.
“I won’t tell you either,” Justus told him. “But just know—he’ll never forgive himself for what happened yesterday. He never knew how sick she was.” He hesitated. “He would have walked through fire for her, Bernie. And for Jason. When I say this man is loyal to the right people—I mean it.”
“Ah.” Bernie nodded. “Cody or Marco?” he asked. When Justus just stared at him, saying nothing, Bernie sighed. “I thought so. If someone wanted to damage Jason and Sonny, there were easier and more direct ways. This person—they only wanted to break Sonny.” He shook his head. “I won’t tell him either, Justus.”
“You agree with me?”
“I think that we were never going to survive with Sonny in charge. Jason had to step up, and he was never going to do it. No matter what he said about putting him on a plane—” Bernie shrugged. “We’re better off. I’m sorry Elizabeth had to suffer, but that’s on Jason as well. He could have done more to protect her. He could have protected us all sooner. He chose not to.”
“That’s—” Justus shook his head. “That’s not what this is about.”
“We’ve all been warning him. Jason refused to listen. Now—” Bernie gestured towards the window as if pointing to the waterfront. “Look where we are.”