Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out
When you think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face
– Ironic, Alanis Morissette
Monday, March 15, 2004
Ferncliffe: Conference Room
By the time the doctor came in, Carly had nearly convinced herself that this entire meeting was a terrible mistake and that she should leave before Sonny arrived. In fact, she was actually standing up to make a hasty exit when Lainey Winters walked in.
“Mrs. Corinthos?” Lainey said. She extended a hand. “Dr. Lainey Winters. We spoke on the phone last week.”
“Uh, hi.” Carly winced but shook her hand and sat back down. “Listen, I’m not—I’m not comfortable with this. I called Dr. Collins for the commitment, and I’m the contact, I guess, but I’m actually in the middle of a divorce—”
“I did suggest we contact his sister or father in Buffalo.” Lainey took a seat, set a file on the table. “Sonny insisted it was you or it was his business partner—”
“No—” Carly said before Lainey could offer to contact him. “No,” she repeated, a bit more calmly. “No. If you’ve read the file, you know that’s a terrible idea—”
“Yes. The business partner and friend that Sonny threatened to kill—the threat that caused Kevin Collins to sign the papers.” Lainey tapped a pen against the manila folder, leaned forward. “Do you think Sonny would have carried out that threat?”
“I…” Carly hesitated. “I think that after the last few months, it’s difficult to predict what Sonny might do. You know that he locked me in our bedroom—it’s the reason I left in December. That’s in the file, isn’t it?”
“It is.” Lainey pressed her lips together. “Do you know how the commitment process works?” she asked.
“Yeah, you signed the paperwork to keep him up to sixty more days.” Carly studied the other woman. “Wait, is that why I’m here? Are you not keeping him the whole time or something?”
“That hasn’t been decided yet, but an early release is always possible.” Lainey waited a moment. “You seem surprised.”
“Are you kidding?” Carly’s tone became sharper. “He’s broken into my home on two separate occasions, assaulted my brother and his boyfriend—pushed me. He’s also stormed in on a pregnant woman, screamed at her, and a few months ago, he locked me in our bedroom and pushed Elizabeth when she tried to help. It’s not safe to be around him—”
“These are all aspects of his illness that we will be controlling through therapy and possibly medication.” Lainey shook her head. “But I don’t think his threat was serious. The way I understand it — Sonny was seeing his first wife—his deceased wife — which tells me he was in the middle of a delusion—”
Carly clenched her jaw and fought back the urge to scream. “A delusion? A hallucination? Sure. He’s had them before. How is that not something to worry about?”
“Because other than throwing a punch or one push four months ago,” Lainey said slowly, “Sonny hasn’t shown a propensity for violence. Anger, yes. But not violence.” She straightened. “With therapy and medication—”
“Great. He can have all of that, but why not keep him until you’re sure he’s under control?” Carly snapped. “I have a restraining order against him, and he still came to my home! Jason told him not to come into his home—Sonny knew Elizabeth was ill—and he still went over to scream at her—I don’t—” She shoved away from the table. “I don’t understand why I’m here.”
“You’re here because you signed the paperwork and because Sonny has indicated he’d like to keep you informed as to his diagnosis. Based on the major depressive episodes described by you, your mother, and Sonny himself, along with the episodes of heightened, out of control behavior, I am comfortable with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.”
“Bipolar—” Carly frowned, shook her head. “But the hallucinations—”
“Are characteristic of bipolar psychosis. With the anxiety and fear over your kidnapping and the escape of the man responsible, Sonny was particularly susceptible to this. He sees his first wife—who was pregnant when she died, killed in place of Sonny — and his mother, a woman whom he couldn’t protect from an abusive stepfather.”
Carly cleared her throat. “Okay. That…that sounds fine. I just—”
“I’m sure that the last few months have been incredibly stressful,” Lainey said, more gently. “I understand you’ve struggled with your own mental health. I apologize if I sounded as if I wasn’t taking your concerns seriously, but my priority is Sonny, and based on his history, I can see no reason why I should heighten his anxiety by keeping him locked up.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Carly murmured, even if it was terrifying. “You said…you said Sonny wanted to see me.”
“Yes. Are you ready?” Lainey got to her feet. When Carly reluctantly nodded, Lainey opened a door and gestured to someone.
A few minutes later, Sonny walked in. His hair was disheveled, and he looked tired, but his eyes were alert. “You came.”
Carly kept the table between them and got to her feet. “I—Dr. Winters told me about the bipolar diagnosis. I’m glad you know what’s wrong. That you can work on controlling it.”
Sonny nodded and looked at Lainey for a minute before focusing again on Carly. “So you understand now—what happened—and I did what you wanted me to. I got help.”
Carly frowned. “What I wanted—you didn’t—Sonny, I asked you months ago to do this. And I still had to force you into it after you threatened to kill Jason and screamed at Elizabeth while she was struggling to breathe—”
“I’m sorry for all of that. Dr. Winters told me she had the baby. Are they okay?” Sonny asked.
She felt like she was in a Twilight Zone—Sonny was acting like nothing was wrong—as if simply being diagnosed made things better and nothing else would matter. “Yeah. She’s fine. Listen, I need to get going—”
“Wait,” Sonny said as Carly turned to leave. “I wanted to know when I could see the boys.”
Carly scowled, turning back to face Sonny and his doctor. “I don’t know, Sonny, I’m not convinced anything is different. Have you started medication yet?”
“We’re working on therapy first,” Sonny said as Lainey pursed her lips behind him—and Carly understood. Sonny hadn’t agreed to medication.
“You can see the boys when I’m satisfied that you’re no longer a danger to them, yourself, or anyone else. I think I need to understand this diagnosis more before I can make any other decisions.”
“If you’ll excuse me,” Carly said to Lainey. Then she left, not entirely sure what the hell had just happened. Or what she was going to do about it.
Harborview Towers: Hallway
Elizabeth blinked as she stepped out of the elevator and saw the space outside the penthouse door empty. She didn’t realize how much she’d expected Cody to be standing outside the door until he wasn’t there.
“He’s in Puerto Rico with Johnny.”
Elizabeth looked at Jason, cleared her throat. “Does—does he know that you know—that we know?” she asked as Jason unlocked the door and pushed it open. He set down her bag and waited for her to walk in.
“Yeah. Don’t worry about that right now.” Jason eyed her carefully. “Shouldn’t you sit?”
“Yeah.” Elizabeth winced as he took her hand and helped her over to the sofa. “It was interesting being on my feet again, but I’m done with that experiment now.”
She sucked in a sharp breath as she sat down, her abdomen protesting the movement. She frowned as he sat down next to her and pulled her feet into his lap, helping to slip off the sandals she’d worn home from the hospital. “You’re not going back to the hospital?”
“I talked to Emily,” Jason told her. “I’m going to be with you today, to make sure you’re okay here.”
“Is not alone for a second,” Jason reminded her. “Emily made sure of it. She, Alan, and Monica are taking over for both of us today. I’ll go back tomorrow. I don’t want you to be alone here without a guard you trust outside. Marco is a good backup, but it’s not the same.”
“I don’t want you to worry about me,” she told him. She leaned forward, reached for his hand. “How are you doing? I know you’re worried about Carly going to see Sonny.”
Jason exhaled slowly, stared at her hand, then looked up to meet her eyes, then looked away. “I’m not really thinking about that right now,” he admitted. “After what happened to you, after dealing with the Zaccharas—I just—I didn’t have the room.”
Elizabeth nodded. “All right.” She paused. “Cameron and I—we’re both okay. I mean, everyone was right. Delivering Cameron early was better for my health. Even with recovering from the C-section and what happened—I feel better.” When Jason said nothing, she continued, “And Cameron is okay. He’s gaining weight, he’s developing—his doctor said we might be able to bring him home next month.”
“I know all of that—” Jason stopped. Seemed to take her point. “I know that I can think about Sonny now. I just—” He pressed his lips together. “I don’t know what to think.”
“I’m sorry that it had to happen the way it did—for him to keep losing control like that, but I am glad that Carly finally did something about it.” Elizabeth hesitated. “Did you guys not talk about an involuntary commitment before?”
“It never seemed like a choice,” Jason admitted. “And we didn’t—” He paused. “We didn’t know about Lily. Carly said that it sounded like he’s seen her off and on for months. Between that and what happened with you and at the Brownstone—she was just afraid of what might happen next.”
“With me? Sonny never—” Elizabeth squinted. “Jason, Sonny never put his hands on me. Not like back in December. He came in to complain, but I was already having issues—Cody and Max got him out pretty quick—” She made a face. “Did Cody make it sound worse—”
“No, he pretty much said the same thing, but—” Jason stopped talking abruptly and cleared his throat. “Listen, do you want to be upstairs? Laying down? We have the television up there—”
Any other day, Elizabeth might have pushed him, but she was still tired, and resting in their comfortable bed sounded much nicer than laying on the sofa. So she let the subject drop. “Yeah, but you’re gonna have to carry me.”
Relieved, Jason got to his feet and lifted her into his arms. When they passed the half open door to Cameron’s nursery across from theirs, she put her hand on the door frame to stop him from crossing into the bedroom.
“What’s wrong?” Jason asked.
“Nothing—I just—” Elizabeth looked at him. “I just wish he were home with us now. This is—” Her throat felt tight. “I just—he’s not with me anymore, and in the hospital, I knew we were in the same building. It’s just…It’s just hitting me now.”
Jason lowered her down on her side of the bed then sat next to her. “I’m sorry. I know—I know part of the reason you didn’t want to deliver early was having to leave him behind in the NICU when you were released.”
“I just didn’t want him to have to fight so hard.” Elizabeth traced Jason’s palm with her fingertips. “Not having him here now just reminds me that he’s not strong enough yet. I know—God, I know we were lucky. That I was able to have him at all, you know? I just—” A tear slid down her cheek. “I just want to be his mom, and I don’t feel like I can yet. I can’t even see him—I couldn’t keep him healthy before, and I’m useless now—” Elizabeth squeezed her eyes shut. “I’m sorry. I keep doing this—”
“A few minutes ago, downstairs, you reminded me that Cameron is healthy,” Jason told her, smoothing her hair off her forehead. “That he’s gaining weight, and he’s already doing better than the doctors expected.”
“I know, but—”
“It is not your fault that you had to deliver early,” Jason reminded her. “In fact, you did everything you could to give him more time. You were ready to sacrifice your own health to give him that time.” He paused, brushed some tears from her cheek. “You fought for him every day since the moment you found out you were pregnant.” He paused. “Have you…have you thought about talking to Gail?”
“I really—I thought I was managing it okay, but—”
“Being away from Cameron for the first time like this—this is going to be hard,” Jason said. “It’s hard for me,” he admitted. “I want to be with him, too. But I can go back tomorrow. Kelly wants you to rest for a few days. Let me call Gail. Have her come over tomorrow.”
“I’ll make a deal with you,” Elizabeth said. She squeezed his hand. “I’ll call Gail, but you have to go to the hospital for at least one turn with Cameron tonight—”
“I’ll call Nikolas. He’ll come over and hang out. You know he feels guilty for being late that day,” Elizabeth said. “I won’t be alone. It will make me feel better if I know you’re with Cameron, at least for a little while.”
Jason sighed, then smiled at her. “All right. I’ll get your phone, and you can make the calls.” He leaned down to kiss her forehead. “And then you’re going to rest.”
Taggert frowned when he saw Portia waiting for him in the courtyard, her hands in her coat pockets. “Hey—it’s chilly out. Why didn’t you wait inside for me?” he asked when he stepped up to her. He kissed her lightly.
“Because I can’t stay.” Portia grimaced. “I have to be at the store, but I couldn’t—I know you’re working the second shift, and I didn’t want—”
“Portia.” Taggert lifted her chin, so their eyes met. “What’s going on?”
“Remember Valentine’s Day?” she asked.
He furrowed his brow. “Of course.”
“Nothing, except um…” She drew her hand out of her pocket, and he automatically looked down—and his brain froze.
He saw the white stick in her hand and couldn’t process any more than that.
“I know we’ve only been dating a few months, and this—well, this is crazy, but—” Portia licked her lips, her eyes searching his. “Say something.”
“Can’t,” he admitted, still staring at the pregnancy test. “I, uh, think my brain exploded.”
She huffed. “It’s not like I planned this either, but—” Portia hesitated, putting the test back into her pocket as if to force him to look at her again. “I don’t think I’m mad.”
“I’m not—” Taggert exhaled sharply, still trying to clear his dazed thoughts. “I’m not either. I just—” He cleared his throat. “I don’t know what I am. I’m not mad. Or even—just—I don’t know. I wasn’t—I’m surprised,” he decided finally. “That’s about all I got.”
“Same.” She let her head drop against his chest. “I didn’t plan on babies this soon. But I also didn’t plan on you.”
“Same.” He kissed the top of her head. “But plans change.”
“Yeah.” She smiled at him, some of the anxiety fading from her eyes. “Plans change. I—I wanna let this settle, you know? Talk to my sister. I want the baby. I just—I don’t know what happens after that.”
“Yeah, I should—I should sit with this, too,” he said.” He kissed her again. “But you need to go to work. And I should—I should do something. I don’t know what.” Taggert laughed, nerves dancing beneath his humor. “I’m sure there’s something. But—we’ll talk.”
“Yes. Tomorrow? Dinner?”
“Yes.” Taggert caught her arm as Portia started to leave. “Hey—I meant what I said on Valentine’s Day. I love you.”
She grinned. “I love you, too.”
General Hospital: Waiting Area
Jason frowned when he stepped off the elevator and found Carly waiting for him in front of the NICU entrance. “Hey. What are you doing here?”
“I stopped by the penthouse, and Elizabeth said you were on your way here. I was hoping to catch you before you went in.” Carly folded her arms. “How’s Cameron? I thought you were going to stay home with Elizabeth today—”
“She wanted one of us to be with Cameron every day, so she convinced me to come back—he’s fine,” Jason added. “What happened at Ferncliffe?”
“The doctor has given him a diagnosis,” she told him. “Um, she says it’s bipolar disorder. I—I think I remember reading about that once, and I’m going to see Kevin about it, but basically—it’s like—his brain chemistry messes with his moods or something. When they’re low, they’re really low, or when they’re high—they’re really high.”
Jason squinted. “It sounds familiar. It used to be called manic-depressive disorder, I think.” Sometimes strange pieces of medical knowledge filtered through his brain—he didn’t always understand it. “But the hallucinations—”
“Bipolar psychosis. Happens during the depressive episodes, she said.” Carly picked at the edge of the chair. “But with medication and therapy, I think she said things would be okay again.”
“Okay.” Jason didn’t really know what to do with any of that—with the idea that there could be a fix of any kind for what was wrong with Sonny.
“I don’t think they’re going to keep him the entire time, but they don’t have a release date yet. She doesn’t think he’s a danger to anyone else.” Carly wrinkled her nose. “I don’t think he’s agreeing to medication, but I also—Jason, I thought if he got help—if we knew what was wrong, I don’t know, I think I thought I’d feel better.”
“But you don’t.”
“No. Do you?” Carly asked, lifting her brows. “I mean, they have to let him out at some point. He’ll be home and across the hall again. Am I supposed to drop the charges? Are Taggert or Ned? Are you supposed to let him come back to work?”
“I—” Jason exhaled slowly. “I don’t think—I don’t know about any of that.” He’d tried to choke Sonny less than a week ago. How could they ever go back to what had worked before? It was impossible.
“He asked me to see the boys. Already,” Carly said when Jason frowned at her. “He thinks that this is a game changer. Like knowing what it is makes everything that happened not his fault.”
“He thinks none of it matters because he’s sick. Is he right?” Carly pressed her hands to her eyes. “I don’t know,” she repeated. “All those things still happened. He still locked me in my room. He still broke into the house, screaming at me—he went after Ned and Alexis because of Kristina—and everything with Elizabeth, God, Jason, how do we just forget it all?”
“I don’t know if we can,” Jason said slowly. “I can’t—if I’d known he was sick—” But Jason had known. He’d known Sonny had problems—he’d always compensated for them. Had always sacrificed for them.
“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to dump all of this on you, but—”
“But you’re right. If he’s not going to take medication—nothing is going to change when he comes home. He’ll just have something new to blame.”
“Yeah. I just—you have so much to worry about right now with taking over, and then, of course, Cameron and Elizabeth. I—I don’t know what I thought was going to happen,” she admitted. “I told you I would take care of it—”
“You did,” Jason assured her. He looked away. “I needed to be at the hospital with my family. And with Sonny gone these last few days, I could take care of everything else. But it was never a permanent solution.”
“I’m just scared that you’re right. Nothing is going to change, and it’ll just be worse,” Carly said hesitantly. “I mean—Ric’s dead. Sonny was managing okay before Ric went missing. That’s—maybe we’ll get a break.”
“I’m still staying in charge,” Jason said painfully. “Because too many people know about Sonny’s problems. And—” He looked at her. “You still want a divorce, don’t you?”
Carly pressed her lips together, looked at him, then nodded. “Yeah. I do.”
“Then I guess we’ll see where we are when it’s time for him to come home.” He took her hand in his, squeezed it. “Take care of you and the boys first. That’s what matters.”
“I will. As long as you promise you’ll take care of yourself and your family first. We can’t fix Sonny, Jason. Let’s just make sure we don’t lose anyone else.”
Dante set the order on the shelf and hit the bell. “Chili’s up,” he called to Penny.
Behind him perched on a stool, Lulu frowned at her algebra quiz. “I really thought I understood this.”
Dante sighed and started cleaning the stove. They were slow now, but he wanted to be ready for the early dinner rush when the shift changed on the waterfront. “You know, some people might call you a stalker.”
“And other people will just remember that I work here, too,” Lulu replied with a smirk. “Plus — you helped me study for this, so this—” She pointed at the large red 53 scrawled across her paper. “This is your fault.”
“I can’t work miracles,” he grunted. He tossed the rag in the sink, then washed his hands. “You worked this morning?”
“Yeah, I opened before I had to go to math class.” Lulu huffed. “Should have stayed home.” She tucked the quiz back in the bag, then hopped off the counter. “Why?”
“Bobbie or Carly usually stop in.” He hesitated. “I was wondering if you’d heard anything about Sonny. It’s not that I want to know—”
“They haven’t said anything, but Lucas did say Sonny’s been hallucinating his dead wife for months but hid that fact from literally everyone until he couldn’t anymore. Which he couldn’t after what happened with Elizabeth. Makes sense. Another pregnant woman who almost died because of him.”
Lulu wrinkled her nose when Dante looked away. “Don’t tell me you’re getting all worked up about blood again. Sonny had a shitty childhood. My dad told me once. He had a super abusive stepfather who killed his mother. The guy used to lock him in the closet. Sonny’s problems are earned. Not bred.”
“Maybe. You don’t know that. Mental illness can be genetic,” Dante muttered as he dried his hands.
Lulu stared at him for a long moment. “Then I guess you’re better off not taking me to that movie, huh?”
Dante frowned at her, turning back to face her. “What?”
“Don’t be stupid. I know you’re avoiding being free at night because I’ll bug you about the date—”
Dante scowled, but Lulu continued. “But if you’re all hung up on shit like genetics, you probably think I’ll end up like my mother—”
“Lu—no—” Dante winced. “That’s not what I meant—”
“Why not?” Lulu offered with a shrug that looked more forced than casual. “She had a breakdown. Was catatonic for months. She’ll be in therapy for the rest of her life. And you know, my brother has had his own issues with the brainwashing. Maybe there’s something in our blood—”
“Don’t be stupid,” Dante said. “There’s nothing wrong with you.”
“No, you’re right. Mental illness can be genetic. I mean, I’ve read the studies. I know how it works.” She folded her arms, lifted a brow to glare at him. “So if you’re going to hook up with someone, probably shouldn’t be someone else with damaged blood—”
Dante grabbed her arm, jerked her forward, and cut off her words with a kiss that was more aggressive and angry than he meant it to be, but he just wanted her to stop saying stupid shit.
The sound of a bell broke them apart as they both sprang back, panting slightly. They turned to look at Penny standing in the window, a bored expression on her face.
“I need a BLT,” she said. “If you’re not busy.”
“Coming right up,” Dante managed. Penny smirked, then left. He looked back at Lulu. “There is nothing with you,” he repeated. “Nothing.”
“You sound sure.”
“Well, then let me say the same to you.” She jabbed a finger in his chest. “There is nothing wrong with you, either, Dante. In fact…” Lulu lifted a brow and smirked. “From where I’m standing, there’s a hell of a lot right. Which I’d like to confirm if you’re done being dumb.”
He couldn’t help it—he grinned and kissed her again, drawing it out just long enough until she almost stumbled when he drew back.
Lulu licked her lips, then grinned. “All right. Sounds good. Now—get back to work before Penny tells on us.”
Quartermaine Mansion: Foyer
Carly didn’t go home after her visit with Jason at the hospital. Instead, she drove out to Harborview Road and turned up the winding drive of the Quartermaine estate. She knew from her mother that AJ was still in Port Charles, but he’d done as she’d asked and given her space.
They’d talked briefly the week before when Carly had learned Ferncliffe was keeping Sonny, but she hadn’t gone into details, and AJ hadn’t asked for any. Now, she thought he’d earned the right to be part of the next step, whatever it was.
It was always nerve-wracking to return to the mansion, and she’d rarely done so since that last terrible day. Since she’d fallen down the stairs and lost her second son. He’d be nearly four, Carly mused as she waited for AJ to meet her. What would he have been like? What would they have named him?
Would everything be different if that precious baby had lived?
“I’m sorry, I should have asked Alice to have you wait somewhere else.”
Carly turned. AJ stepped out of the back hallway that led to the study. She realized she’d been standing in front of the stairs, just staring at them.
“It’s all right.” She took another deep breath. “It’s all right,” she repeated. “It’s just a house. They’re just stairs.” She folded her arms. “But maybe we could—”
“Yeah, the front room is open—” AJ gestured towards the open double doors, and Carly followed him. “I was going to leave you a message. I’m going back to New Orleans tomorrow, but I have to come back in a month for a meeting—”
“I went to Ferncliffe today,” she blurted out, and he stopped. Just stared at her. “To meet with Sonny and his doctor. He wanted me to come. It was me or Jason, and it can’t be Jason.”
AJ swallowed hard. “Are you here because you’re not going to file the petition—”
“No. I’m here to tell you that we’re moving forward like we planned.” That much, at least, was true. “The timeline has changed, though.”
“You—” AJ’s hands fell to his side. “I don’t understand. You met with Sonny’s doctor—”
“He has bipolar disorder,” Carly told him. “And he won’t take medication. He thinks—” Her eyes burned, and she struggled to force out the words. “He’s acting like labeling what’s wrong with him fixes things. He asked to see the boys, and I can’t—” She broke off, shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. I’m still filing for divorce. I’m still going for custody. He’ll never get it. Even if he starts medication and changes his mind, I know that he doesn’t get it.”
“Don’t try to reason with me. You can’t. And neither can Jason or anyone else—” Carly threw up her hands when AJ took a step towards her. “I know who Sonny is, and he’s still the man who refused to let me leave the penthouse and fired the nanny and hated that I worked and loved my job and none of that had anything to do with his mental illness—” All of the pent up emotion she’d bottled up and forced away because Jason didn’t need her to fall apart was bubbling up, and she didn’t know how to get rid of it anymore. “I’m never going back, and neither are my boys. I’m getting them out.”
“You need to take a breath,” AJ said. He took her arm and propelled her towards the sofa. “Sit down. I’ll get you some water or something—”
“I’m fine, okay? Don’t—” Carly scowled when he walked away. He returned a few moments later, a glass in his hand. “Don’t tell me what I need, okay? I can handle myself.”
“I didn’t say you couldn’t.” He set the glass down, shoved his hands in his pocket. “I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on. Bipolar disorder can be treated and controlled, Carly. He could be the guy you married again—”
“But I’m not the woman who married him, and that should matter, damn it—” She lunged to her feet. “Stop this! You’re getting what you want, aren’t you? I’m going to sign on the dotted line, and I’m giving you—”
“That’s the problem—” AJ said quietly, and she closed her mouth. “You still think of Michael as something you can give and take. I’m an alcoholic, Carly. It’s not that different from bipolar disorder. I can control it by going to meetings and staying on top of my triggers, but I will always be an alcoholic.” He held her eyes. “What stops you in two or three years from deciding I’m not good enough for Michael again just like you did before? Like you’re doing with Sonny now?”
Carly sank back onto the sofa. Tears slid down her cheek, and her hands trembled in her lap. “Oh, God. Oh, God. What am I doing?” Her shoulders started to shake, and she buried her face in her hands.
She felt the sofa dip next to her as AJ sat down. “I’m sure as hell not on Sonny’s side here. I’m just—I can’t do this dance again in a few years, Carly. And you can’t want this for the boys either.”
“I don’t.” He handed her a tissue, and she blew her nose. “I don’t,” she repeated. “And you’re right. I still see Michael as mine. It’s not like it was before, with Jason and Sonny. I used him to get myself where I wanted to be. Even before he was born, I used him.”
“I used him, too,” AJ offered when Carly didn’t continue. “I used him to get you into this house and demand respect and responsibilities from my family. I used him to get ELQ.”
“Don’t be nice to me. I can’t stand it right now.” Carly rose to her feet. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. Morgan’s just a baby. He doesn’t even know Sonny. He’s barely six months old. And Michael—I meant what I said before. He’s scared of Sonny. But you’re not wrong. It can be controlled.”
“You found out today,” AJ said, also standing. “You should give yourself some more time to figure things out—”
“No.” Carly faced him. “Whatever Sonny’s relationship with Michael is going to look like one day, that’s not something I can solve tonight. But I was wrong to take him from you. And you didn’t give him up fairly.”
“I’m asking Alexis to wait on filing my divorce papers until Sonny is out of Ferncliffe and we can see where we are,” Carly told him. “He deserves the chance to get better without that hanging over him. But I never should have let Sonny adopt Michael. I’ll file that petition, AJ. Because it’s the right thing to do.”
“Thank you. For giving me this chance to make it right. For forcing me to take this step. You’re right. This isn’t something I should do to take Michael away from Sonny. This isn’t revenge.” Something unfurled in her abdomen, and she felt lighter now. “I’m not the woman who married him anymore, and I’m not the version of myself who used Michael like a meal ticket. I don’t want to be.”
“No, you’re really not,” AJ said, offering her a half smile. “I’m not who I used to be either. It’ll be interesting to find out who we are now.”
Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom
Jason spent almost a half hour holding Cameron that night, deciding Elizabeth had been right. Their son deserved to have one of them as often as they could manage it, and if she wasn’t able to be here for a while, it would have to be him. He wanted it to be him.
When he came home that night, it was just after eight, and Nikolas was throwing away takeout containers in the kitchen. Jason walked him out, then went upstairs, hoping Elizabeth was asleep.
She was not.
She was propped up against the pillows, wrinkling her nose at the television. “Hey. You’re back.”
“Yeah.” Jason crossed over to kiss her briefly. “Did you get some sleep?”
“Mmm, yeah, Nikolas brought me Eli’s for dinner. I’m glad my appetite is back. I was definitely in the mood for some ribs and a milkshake.” Elizabeth’s eyes followed him as he walked over to his dresser, stripping off his t-shirt. “I miss that, too,” she said with a sigh.
Jason looked over his shoulder and found himself grinning when he saw her smile. “I should get you ribs more often if it puts you in such a good mood,” he teased. He removed a pair of sweat pants and finished changing.
“How was Cam?” Elizabeth asked when Jason stretched out next to her, his back against the headboard. “How long did you get to hold him?”
“Thirty minutes,” Jason reported with another smile. “And I got to bathe him again.”
“Ugh. I always seem to miss his baths,” Elizabeth sighed, rolling onto her back again. She muted the television. “Did Carly find you?”
“Uh, yeah.” Jason exhaled slowly. “Can we talk about it tomorrow?” he found himself asking. He looked over at her. “I just…I just want to sit here with you, watch whatever you’re watching, and not worry about any of it.”
“Well, I was watching Fear Factor,” Elizabeth admitted. “But then the guy started to eat live snails, so I noped right out of there.”
“Live snails?” Jason repeated. “Why?”
“I can’t even make myself try the dead fancy ones.” Elizabeth shuddered and picked up the remote, flicking through the channels. “You sure you don’t want to be in charge of the remote?”
“No.” Jason shook his head. “Whatever you want to watch is fine.” She found some reality show with crazy brides threatening their relatives over appetizers, and Jason relaxed, enjoying the sound of her giggling like a maniac.
Everything else could wait.
Manhattan, New York
Hôtel Plaza Athénée: Luxury Suite
Ric emerged from the bathroom, a towel slung around his hips. “When is your brother heading to Port Charles?”
“Should already be there. I know Daddy wanted to wait until the last possible minute.” Claudia smirked. “He’s scared shitless of Morgan but doesn’t want to show it. He does not like knowing that someone got that close without being detected.”
“Yeah, Morgan’s good for something.” Ric disappeared into the dressing room. “Better if he had just killed Anthony on the spot like he was supposed to.”
“Yeah, I guess that was a little surprising, but maybe he didn’t wanna bring attention to himself with wifey in the hospital.” Claudia examined her nails. “This makes it more fun.”
“For you,” Ric muttered. He buttoned his silk shirt. “I’ve been waiting for months—who knew it would take those idiots so long to figure out your father was behind everything?”
“Who thought they’d believe you were dead so easily?” Claudia shrugged. “It was just like you said. They’re reactive, even with Sonny locked up in the loony bin. Everyone knows Jason’s only taking control because someone has to. When your heart’s not in the business, you’re not as ruthless as you need to be. It’s his Achilles heel. He has to be forced into things.”
That was certainly true. Ric considered the situation as he ran a comb through his hair. He’d enjoyed the high life, living in five-star hotels for the last six months, but he was nearly ready for the final stage of his revenge.
He just needed one last piece.
“Do we know how long the baby will be in the hospital?”
“Hard to say. My contact is kaput. I’ve got the feelers out for someone else, and Daddy’s definitely looking for guys on the inside again with John being in the line of fire. The kid was born too early. Bound to have lots of problems. Morgan will be distracted, especially since I think the wife isn’t healthy yet.”
Ric grimaced. He hadn’t realized that the birth control pills would have such long-lasting consequences. He never should have bothered with them. He hadn’t wanted to kill Elizabeth. Not then. He’d still believed in her. In their future.
He might even let her live if she was properly apologetic for betraying him, but she was going to give him the family she’d promised him whether she wanted to or not.
“I want some more eyes and ears, too. Get someone else inside,” Ric told her. “Sonny hasn’t paid nearly enough, and I still want your father blamed. Jason thinks I’m dead now. Let’s have some fun with that.”