Chapter 80

This entry is part 5 of 15 in the series Mad World: Liberty

When you feel all alone
And a loyal friend is hard to find
You’re caught in a one-way street
With the monsters in your head
When hopes and dreams are far away
And you feel like you can’t face the day

Crash and Burn, Lifehouse


Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Lake House: Master Bedroom

Just a few days ago, she’d been able to argue with her husband, raising her voice, insisting she was fine. Today, Elizabeth could barely lift her arm to block out the sunlight streaming through the muster.

The fatigue had settled into her bones, and even though she was lying still, Elizabeth felt almost dead. This morning, her eyes had fluttered open, and that seemed to be all the energy she could manage.

She drew in a breath, wincing when her lungs refused to expand fully, then forced herself into a sitting position. She was pressing shaky fingers to her wrist when Jason came in.

“Hey, I wanted—” he stopped in the doorway, a cup of tea in hand. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m so tired,” she said softly. “Can you check…” She couldn’t even gesture at the drawer, but he understood.

Jason set the tea down, then jerked open the drawer. “Here—” He fit the mask over her face, then wrapped the cuff around her bicep.

She hated this. She hated every inch of this. Why couldn’t it be over? Why did it have to be so hard—She winced as the cuff expanded and squeezed her arm.

He exhaled slowly. “It’s higher than Monday,” he told her, “and you’re nearly at the top end of the range Monica said was normal.” Jason put the cuff back. “Elizabeth—”

“Not right now. Please.” She closed her eyes.

“I know you don’t want to hear this—”

“Jason—”

“It’s twenty-nine weeks now. You’ve given the baby seven more days—”

Even though a piece of her knew he was right, she still couldn’t do it. “I read the complications at all the weeks. It’s not good enough. Maybe I’m just more tired than usual today. Pregnant women get tired—”

“Not tired enough that they can barely open their eyes and with the CTEPH—” Jason cut himself off, his tone so aggravated that she opened her eyes. “I don’t want to argue about this again, but—”

“My blood pressure, my pulse, it’s all normal. I don’t even use the oxygen much. Monica said—”

“Monica wanted you to deliver last week. When we go back, do you really think that’s going to change?” Jason handed her the tea. “I’ll go get you some water and your meds.”

“Do you think I want this?” she asked, putting her hand on his arm, stopping his exit from the room. “Do you think this is how I want to spend the first few weeks of our marriage? To have this conversation over and over again?”

“No.” Jason cleared his throat and repeated it in a more gentle tone. “No, I know you don’t want this. I just—”

“I can’t take a single day from his life to make myself more comfortable. I can’t. You wouldn’t either, you know you wouldn’t.”

“And if the positions were reversed, would you be happy seeing me get sicker?”

She pressed her lips together. “No.” She switched off the oxygen and removed the tubes. “I would hate it, and I’d argue with you, too. But I couldn’t—” She pressed a hand to her belly, feeling a kick against her palm. “I couldn’t protect my baby last year. Even if Faith hadn’t shoved me down the stairs, there’s no telling what might have happened with the pills Ric was feeding me. If he would have stopped at Valium—”

“Elizabeth—” He sank onto the bed. “I know—”

I did that. I married him even though I knew he’d done terrible things, and I put my child at risk—”

“If you’d known about the pills, you wouldn’t have stayed—”

“I lost that baby. I couldn’t protect it—” Her breath faltered. “Please. Please let me protect Cameron for as long as I can.”

Jason drew her against him, tucking her head into the crook of his shoulder. “Promise me one thing.”

“What?”

“When we go to see Monica and Kelly next week, if they still want you to push up the delivery date, you’ll consider it more seriously.”

“I will.” Elizabeth squeezed his hand. “I promise.”

Port Charles Municipal Building: City Attorney’s Office

“I think this is a mistake.”

Alexis wrinkled her nose as she handed the file to the messenger. “Make sure it’s filed by the end of business today,” she told him. “Thank you.”

“Right away, Ms. Davis.”

When the messenger had left, Alexis turned back to Ned with a sigh. “You’ve said the same thing for days, Ned. You’re not changing my mind—”

“If you step outside of city business to defend Carly in what will be a very bitter divorce fight, people are going to wonder.” Ned leaned against her desk. “I don’t understand why you feel obligated—”

“Carly has suspected the truth about Kristina since the beginning and said nothing.” When Ned rolled his eyes, Alexis scowled. “Don’t dismiss that. Yes, she kept the secret for her own reasons, but she still kept it, Ned. Think about it — Sonny is out there, desperate to protect his kids from the specter of Ric Lansing and God knows what else. Carly could have turned him away from herself at any point.”

Ned frowned. “I don’t understand—”

“If she’d told Sonny about Kristina last fall, Sonny would have focused on me. Do you think you’d be mayor right now? She could have done it while I was suspended last year — would we even have Kristina right now if she had?” Alexis continued. “I don’t care why Carly kept it secret. I care that she did even when it might have helped her to divulge it.” She went over to the window to stare out over the vastness of the Port Charles park.

She’d never look at it the same after the horrors of the previous year. “She protected my daughter. She’s asking me to help her protect her boys. How can I turn away from that?”

“Alexis—”

“And she’s right. The evidence she needs to get Sonny out of her life for good — I would need it for my own custody case. The truth is going to come out one day, Ned,” she said softly. “I’m not arrogant enough to think we can keep it forever. I just—I need more time for Kristina to grow up. To be her own person. We need to protect her until she’s old enough to make her own decisions. Carly’s giving me the fuel to do that. She’s promised to testify in a custody hearing if I need it—”

“And you trust Carly to keep that promise?”

“A year ago, no. But Carly is not the same person she was once, Ned. You know that. You’re closer to the situation than I am,” she told him. “Am I that insane for trusting her?”

Ned stroked his chin. “No,” he said finally. “No, I don’t think so. I just—Kristina’s the only daughter I have left,” he said softly. “Maybe it’s just me being selfish. And scared. If the truth comes out, then I can’t keep her.”

“I will never forget who stood by me when I needed it the most. She will always be yours,” Alexis promised. She straightened the lapels of his suit and met his eyes. “I can’t tell you what Carly and I have talked about, you know that, but I want you to know that I am convinced that she’s going through with this divorce. The only way Sonny will see those boys is if he gets help with that anger. Last week, at the Brownstone? That never would have happened to the Sonny I knew once.”

“What if he gets it together?” Ned demanded roughly. “What if he turns back into that Sonny, and Carly starts to feel guilty about his not knowing?”

“Well, now I have a new thing to worry about,” Alexis admitted. “We’ll cross that bridge if it comes to it. Ned, I wanted my daughter away from the very darkness that Carly is trying to escape. My feeling and history with Carly aside — how could I ever forgive myself if something happened to those boys and I didn’t help?”

“You wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t forgive myself either for talking you out of it.” He kissed her forehead. “What can I do to help?”

“I’m glad you asked.” She smiled brightly at him. “You know how to get in touch with your AJ, don’t you?”

Ned lifted his brows. “The recovering alcoholic and Carly’s ex-husband? That AJ?”

“Yes.” Alexis waited. “We need him to help with the custody petitions. If he’d agree to meet with Carly, that would be great.”

“Oh, sure, piece of cake,” Ned muttered. “I’ll set that up and then go solve world peace.” When Alexis just glared at him, he added, “As long as we’re talking about miracles, why not?”

Brownstone: Lucas & Felix’s Apartment

Lucas dumped his organic chemistry book on the table, then dropped down to the table to dig into his homework. He had a quiz in the next class, and somehow, the professor was already talking about midterms. He wanted to be a doctor, but did he have to master six types of chemistry to get there?

“Hey.” The door behind him opened, and Felix came in, tossing aside his own bag. “You starting organic already?”

“Yeah, we’ll probably be at it until late, so maybe a pizza tonight?” Felix tapped his shoulder, and Lucas dragged his face out of his books to find his boyfriend arching a brow. “What?”

“Nothing. Just wanted to see if it’d work.” Felix curled a hand around Lucas’s neck and drew him into a soft kiss.

There was something really great about being fully out that Lucas could and would never take for granted. Since he and Felix had moved in together a few months ago, it almost felt like he was finally allowed to be normal. To have what other people. To wake up beside someone he loved, who loved him in return. A year ago, he’d been terrified to tell his parents he was gay. Now he and his boyfriend rented an apartment from his mother, and his father had arranged for Felix to get into the nursing program at General Hospital next year.

Life was pretty good right now, except—

“What’s that face about?” Felix asked. He disappeared into the kitchen, then emerged a minute or two later with their usual stash of study fuel — Gatorade and Doritos. He dumped it on the table. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, just thinking about how good things are for me right now. I mean, other than organic chem.” He exhaled slowly. “But then I thought about Michael and how much everything sucks for him.”

“And for your sister.” Felix sat down and flipped open his book, searching for the right chapter. “I’ve never been through a divorce, but I know what it’s like to have your family turn into strangers right in front of you.”

“Felix—” Lucas winced. As wonderful as his parents had been, Felix’s family hadn’t taken it as well. He’d been out to them since high school, but the DuBois had decided to treat it like a phase and kept referring to Lucas as that roommate. “I’m sorry—”

“It’s their loss, not mine. And I got a whole bunch of people who like me just the way I am.” Felix smiled, and though it was genuine, it didn’t light up his face the way it usually did. “I got you, don’t I? And your mom is awesome. And your friends and cousins all decided I’m okay, so I’ve got people. That matters.”

“I think Maxie likes you better than me. She said if we break up, you get her.” Felix laughed, which made Lucas feel a lot better. “Your family will come around.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. I can’t let it get me down. And anyway, we were talking about your sister and her kids—” Felix paused. “You’re making that face again. Should I not call her that?”

“No—” Lucas leaned back. “No, it’s fine. It’s just—when you say it, I keep thinking of BJ. Carly’s not exactly the big sister I had in mind.” He ripped open the Doritos, not interested in pursuing the topic.

“No, but she’s the big sister you’ve got. And you’ve done right by her, so I hope you’re not worried about that.”

“I’m not concerned with her,” Lucas muttered. “I just like her kids.” That wasn’t entirely correct, though, was it? He had been worried about her these last few weeks. The last few months. Since she’d come back in December. She was different from the brash and irritating bitch who had broken up his parents’ marriage or the selfish brat who always sucked up his mother’s attention and energy.

“Lucas?”

“It feels wrong,” he admitted, “to call Carly my sister. Like—” He sighed. “Like I’m betraying my dad. He never really got over BJ. Even for me. I knew he and my mom were having issues before that. They were separated when I was a kid after she died. Then they got back together for a while. Then Carly happened.” His chest tightened. “Dad just walked away from us. He still had visitation and stuff, but he was excited for the kid he thought he was having. His own biological kid. Another chance, he used to say. A fresh start.”

“Oh, man—”

“He didn’t mean it the way I took it back then,” Lucas hurried when Felix winced. “And I’m older now, so I get what he meant. But that kid he wanted so bad was Michael, and he wanted to have that with Carly. So maybe it’s not sitting with me right for her to just be part of the family. He was really messed up after all that. Even worse than BJ. And I always blamed her.”

“Do you think he’d be mad you’re hanging with her and the kids?” Felix asked. “Because Doc Jones doesn’t seem like that kind of guy—”

“No, he’s the best. He’s all the back, you know? He got himself together a few years ago, and it’s been okay since. And we’re closer now than we ever were. I was scared to tell him about you and me, I mean—gay was one thing—but by the time I told everyone—” Lucas shrugged. “I don’t know. We were already kind of serious. It felt like a lot. But Dad barely even blinked. He was happy for me. And he likes you. Don’t think I don’t know exactly how good I have with my family, Felix. I’ll never take that for granted.”

“I know. Do you really think your dad is gonna be mad at you because you’re taking care of your nephews? Because you feel bad about what Carly’s going through? Look, I know the whole back story, so I’m not gonna tell you that you’re wrong to resent her. Or that you have to forgive her. That’s for you to figure out.”

“I think—” Lucas pressed his lips together, then met Felix’s eyes. “Maybe it’s bothering me because I already did. I don’t resent her anymore. How can I? I keep seeing her face from last week—her husband pushing her around, terrorizing her and her kids—I was so angry at him for coming after her when she clearly couldn’t deal with it—” He sighed. “I didn’t want her to be my sister, man, but I think maybe she is, and I don’t know if that’s okay.”

“Talk to your dad,” Felix suggested. “And if it feels like he’s not okay with it, well, then you can work with that.”

“Maybe.” Lucas picked up his pencil. “Until then, let’s try not to fail that quiz tomorrow.”

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Portia Robinson wrinkled her nose and set aside the newspaper. “You’d think they’d run out of things to write about.” She sipped her coffee. “A whole week of this, and they still got nothing new to say.”

Taggert glanced at the story she’d been reading, analyzing the PCPD’s refusal to press charges against Sonny for the Brownstone. “They know why we didn’t arrest him.”

“Yeah, but following the law and listening to victims doesn’t sell papers.” Portia snorted. “Vultures. I get that he’s the local godfather, but aren’t they tired of him yet?”

“Sonny Corinthos has been selling papers in this city longer than I’ve lived here.” Taggert picked up the story and scanned the particulars. “Yeah, I’m not surprised. They think we’re weak after last year.”

“Mikki said a few things,” Portia said. “You guys got some bad press with the kidnapping and park rapist cases.”

“Yeah, they were my cases.” Taggert sighed, grimacing when he saw his transfer mentioned. “The Lansing case is how I ended up in Major Crimes. Burnt out on Corinthos and his crap. Now, he’s shoving his face into my squad all over again.”

She lifted a brow. “But Jason Morgan works for him, and you went to the wedding.”

“Under extreme duress. I told you that then. I went for the bride.”

“Right, right, the papers talked about her being the center of all that last year.” She tipped her head. “Why didn’t you force Carly or Felix to file charges? You could have. She wanted a report for her divorce lawyer. Charges could have been part of it.”

“A year ago—” Taggert squinted. “A year ago, I would have. I wouldn’t have cared what Carly needed—I would have just seen the cuffs slapping on Corinthos for something I could prove. But then…” He shook his head, picked up his coffee.

“Then what?”

“Then Lansing happened. And I focused on Corinthos. I thought there was a mob tie, and I wasted time following that lead. I didn’t see Capelli and Mac behind my back, thinking Elizabeth was involved. They planted a story about Elizabeth and Morgan—he’d been going to the house  all week. Searching for Carly, mostly. But he was worried about Elizabeth being around Lansing. They made it seem like it was an affair.”

“Well, six months later, they’re married with a baby on the way—”

“It wasn’t that simple,” Taggert argued, “and either way—we had a guy accused of kidnapping a pregnant woman, and we suspected him of drugging his wife to hide it. We don’t hand him more ammunition—” He stared down at his half-eaten breakfast. “Lansing attacked Elizabeth. I got there, and there were scratches and bruises—and this was before we knew he was dosing her with birth control pills that nearly killed her.”

“Marcus.” Portia reached across the table to squeeze his hand. “You don’t blame yourself, do you?”

“No. No, not all the way. But I could have done a better job. I could have done better by Elizabeth—and Carly. They were what mattered. Focusing on Corinthos—it was turning me into those cops I hated growing up. The ones that would frisk you just for walking down the street—” He stopped. “This is ancient history, Portia. No point in getting into it.”

“It’s your history, and that means it matters.” But she smiled at him. “Hopefully, someone will come along and give the Herald something to write about so we can all move on from Sonny Corinthos.”

Quartermaine Estate: Family Room

“Grandfather,” Ned said, strolling into the room later that evening. “Just the man I was looking for.”

“Whatever your mother says, I didn’t do it,” Edward said immediately, making a face. He looked at Lila. “I didn’t.”

Ned scowled. “What’s that supposed to mean? What are the two of you up to?”

“Nothing, nothing—”

“Edward,” Lila said, a warning clear in her tone. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing.” Edward smiled brightly. “You said you were looking for me? What’s on your mind? How can I help?”

Still suspicious, Ned took a seat and decided to let it go. He could spend his entire life chasing his grandfather and his shenanigans, but he only had so much time. “I’m going to New Orleans this weekend.”

“New Orleans? Oh, to see AJ?” Lila beamed. “How is he? He hasn’t called in a few days.”

“Reprobate,” Edward muttered. “Has he screwed something up? I haven’t looked into—”

“On the contrary.” Ned was already exhausted by the extremes in the conversation. Lila would always believe the best about everyone, while Edward thought people were rotten, dirty bastards. How they’d managed to sustain a marriage lasting more than a half-century was beyond him— “The latest reports suggest AJ is managing well. Profits are up twenty percent. Being away from this family suits him,” he added dryly.

Edward narrowed his eyes. “If he’s doing well, then why are you going?”

There was no way Ned would mention Carly was considering letting AJ back into Michael’s life. If Edward sniffed that out, Carly would change her mind so fast that their heads would be spinning. “I’ve mostly left ELQ to the managers and Mother. But she’s concentrating on New York, and you’re semi-retired.”

“I’d like to see him actually retired,” Lila said, glancing at her husband. “Is ELQ faltering?”

“No, but it’s not as strong as it could be with a full-time CEO here in Port Charles. I’m flying down to feel AJ out. He may say no,” Ned said quickly as Edward opened his mouth. “But I wanted to see how he’d feel about it. I think he’s ready, Grandfather, and I think he’s owed this chance.”

“Owed,” Edward muttered but then sighed when he saw Lila’s face. Maybe he thought the same as Ned. Their beloved Lila was fading, and so much of the family had scattered over the years. She’d perk up with more of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to enjoy. “All right. Put out the feelers. Let me know what you think.”

Kelly’s: Diner

“Hey, Lu,” Carly said. She set down her purse and took a seat at the table. “Mama said she wanted me to pick up her receipts and paperwork.”

“Oh, okay, I’ll get it together for you,” Lulu replied. “You want your usual?”

Carly nodded as she took out her phone and saw that Alexis had left a voicemail. She listened, taking a deep breath when she learned Ned had arranged for a trip to New Orleans to meet with AJ.

She glanced up when a shadow fell over her table and frowned slightly. “Uh, hey. Laura.”

Laura offered Carly a smile. “Lulu’s finishing up her shift in a bit, so I came to pick her up. You mind if I sit down?”

“Uh, okay.” Carly’s frown only deepened as the other woman sat down. “Are you..um, you okay? Did you need something?”

“Well, I saw you sitting here, and it occurred to me that you and I don’t know each other very well.”

“Uh…” Her brain felt like it was on the fritz. “No. We, ah, don’t.”

Laura’s smile deepened. “And you can’t imagine why I care.”

“No.” A little relieved that Laura had said so, Carly nodded, “No, I honestly can’t. I mean, I know Mama and Luke are close, but—”

“Bobbie’s always been an excellent aunt to my children, including Nikolas. I’d like to do the same with her kids.” Laura hesitated. “I wanted to tell you that I was thinking about what you’ve been through.”

Carly hesitated. “Look, Laura—”

“Last year, I spent most of my time sitting in a chair, unable to get outside of my own head,” Laura told her. “I’d been through so many terrible things that I’d kept pressing down and pushing away. When I came home, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let that happen again. That’d I deal with things head on.”

Carly tilted her head, studied Laura for a long moment. “What was it like? Being locked inside your head? Do you remember any of it?”

“Not really,” Laura admitted. “But every once in a while, I’d come out of it, and I’d be scared. I didn’t know where I was, what was going on—and for a while, by the time I was starting to get oriented, I’d fade out again. It was months before I could stay awake longer than an hour. But  I made it back home.”

“I…that happened to me a little last summer,” Carly murmured. “After I was rescued. I’d see Michael—my little boy—and I’d remember that last night—when he’d been there, trying to stop Ric from—just looking at him brought back the terror, and I’d—” She took a deep breath. “I’d disappear.”

“I’m so sorry,” Laura said softly. “Are you doing better?”

“Most of the time. I’m okay with Michael now. I worked on that in therapy. I, uh, was diagnosed with acute stress disorder,” Carly clarified. “But—” She met Laura’s eyes again, and this time—didn’t see a stranger. “You know about December. What he put me through.”

“I do.”

A tear slid down her cheek. “When Sonny came to the Brownstone, I was so scared that it was happening again,” she admitted. “That it would be just like before, and this time I wouldn’t be able to stop it, and it would be starting all over again—and that I’d look at my son and—”

Laura slid a napkin across the table. “I have those moments, too. For all the work I put in, for all the support my family gave me, I’m terrified that I’ll lose myself again. And that next time, they won’t be able to bring me back.”

“That’s why I can’t go back,” Carly told Laura. “Sonny wants me to stay locked up until Ric is caught, but I can’t—I can’t. I can’t be locked away. Even for my own safety. Because it’ll just happen all over again. I have to protect myself.”

Laura nodded. “If you ever need to talk to someone, I’m here. I’ve been where you are, Carly. And I don’t want either of us to go back.”

“You lost months—” Carly shook her head. “It’s not the same. I wasn’t as bad—”

“It started small for me,” Laura replied. “I was still lucid, still talking. Even if I wasn’t always sure where I was, Luke or one of my children—they could look at me, and I’d be okay. I could snap out of it. Until the day I couldn’t. Until the horror of what I’d done—” She swallowed hard. “Until it broke me.”

Carly blinked back the tears. Oh, God, Laura really did understand. “I, um, I’m okay, but I appreciate—if—” She took a deep breath. “If I need someone, I’ll let you know.”

“You do that.” Laura squeezed her hand, and for a moment, Carly didn’t feel quite so alone.

Harborview Towers: Hallway

Max threw up his hands when he saw Luke step off the elevator. “Oh, come on, how’d you get past security?”

Luke smirked, though he didn’t feel very amused at the moment. “You know better than that, Giambetti.” He’d been around Sonny and the organization since the man had clawed to the top nearly a decade ago.

He knew more about Sonny’s rise to power than anyone else still living in Port Charles. There would always be a man or two left that owed a favor to Luke Spencer.

“I open the door for you, I’m gonna b sleeping with the fishes,” Max muttered, but he knocked on the door. “Yo, Mr. C?”

The door jerked open, and Sonny narrowed his eyes at his former partner. “What the hell do you want?” he demanded.

“Is that any way to talk to an old friend?” Luke said with a lift of his brows, “or are you still sore that I shoved you out of the club?”

Sonny scowled, dragged a hand through his disheveled hair, then stalked back into the penthouse. He left the door open, which Luke decided to treat as an open invitation. “And you were worried,” he said, lightly smacking Max in the abdomen. The guard winced, and Luke followed Sonny into the living room.

“If you’re here because you’re having issues with the club,” Sonny said, pouring himself a bourbon, “then you’re barking up the wrong tree. Tommy handles all of that.”

“Tommy’s still around?” Luke said. “I’d have thought you’d get tired of his pompous arrogance.” Sonny smirked, and Luke felt a bit of a relief. There was the old friend he’d known once. “No, that’s good to know, though. Haven’t been many issues since you shoved out Roscoe last year. Thanks for that, by the way. Bastard came around a few times trying to get protection.” He snorted. “Maybe he thought I’d gone soft.”

“Yeah, well, Roscoe was handled, and—” Sonny made a face. “Other than Alcazar and Lansing, things are good.”

“Yeah, like I said, no issues down where I am on the waterfront.”

“If it’s not about the club, why are you here? You wanted out of all of this.”

“I did, and I still do. You know the kid decided to go straight, and I was a crappy enough father when he was growing up — I owe it to him to keep my nose clean.” Luke shifted. “Hell of a thing, my kid a cop.”

“Lucky always had a sense of right and wrong,” Sonny murmured. “Thought he’d end up like Jason, but a cop doesn’t feel that far off.”

“Not a bad point. Cowboy is why I’m here. About his visit.”

“Don’t think I don’t know how he got upstairs,” Sonny said sourly. He sipped his bourbon. “Not many of the old guard left.”

“But enough.” Luke slipped his hands into his pockets. “I know you and Morgan are having your issues these days—”

“I don’t want to talk about it—”

“I get it, but I can’t have you coming over and harassing Barbara Jean—”

“I’m not,” Sonny bit out. “I’m talking to my wife—”

“Seems to me there’s a whole lot of talking going on and not a lot of listening.” Luke cleared his throat. “You really think Jason would take off for no reason and leave Carly and the kids if he thought this Lansing guy was a real threat?”

“Are you asking me about the business?” Sonny demanded. “You wanted to be out of it—”

“You know better than that, Corinthos,” Luke said softly. “As long as people that matter to me are tied up in it, I’ll never be out. Caroline is my niece—”

“Since when do you give a damn about that—”

“I’ve been distracted the last few years, Sonny, and you damn well know it. First, you took off and left the business to a kid who wasn’t ready to handle it, and then Lucky—” Luke’s chest tightened. “I had some issues there. And things fell apart with Laura. The Cassadines took my boy. By the time I looked up, you and I were too far apart. It didn’t matter that the fire wasn’t on you. I shoved you out of the club because that’s what Laura needed. But I never blamed you and Morgan.”

“It could have been us,” Sonny murmured. “We were going after Moreno to take back the clubs and the old territory Jason had sold off—” Suddenly, his old friend looked weary. “You’re right. I shouldn’t have left. He was too young to handle it, and he ran. Gave away everything I built.”

“He didn’t think he had a choice. Sonny—this Carly thing—you’re holding on too tight, and you’re choking her—”

“Don’t you think I know that?” Sonny growled, whirling to face Luke. “Don’t you think I—” He curled his hand into a fist. “But I have to protect her. I didn’t before. I let that bastard keep breathing because he came from my mother. He has her eyes. I couldn’t—I couldn’t kill him. Not then.”

“Sonny—”

“He’s still out there—” Sonny flung his hand out towards the penthouse windows overlooking downtown of Port Charles. “Still planning to come back and take everything—”

“The thing is, Sonny,” Luke said, waiting for the other man to meet his eyes, “when you feel threatened, you do terrible things—”

“I didn’t mean to lock her in the room like that—” Sonny began, his cheeks flushing, but Luke shook his head.

“I’m not talking about Carly and the bedroom a few months ago. I’m talking old and ancient business. I know you, Sonny, better than anyone else. You need to get this shit under control, let Carly live her damn life, and you need to fix things with Jason. He didn’t want the business seven years ago. He still doesn’t want the power. But that doesn’t mean he won’t take it if he has to. This time, he can handle it. Don’t push him, Sonny.”

Sonny stared down into his bourbon. “You didn’t want to be involved,” he said flatly. “Let’s keep it that way.”

He’d gotten as far as he could, so Luke nodded. “Fair enough. But you know where to find me if you need anything.”

Lake House: Master Bedroom

“You know what I’m going to miss when this is over?” Elizabeth asked as Jason lifted her dinner tray from her lap. “Being waited on hand and foot. A girl could get used to this.”

He managed a smile for her because he knew that was what she wanted, but he didn’t feel it. Could Elizabeth see how pale she was? How the circles under her eyes deepened every day? He stayed awake, listening to her breathe. He’d done that countless times since her embolism last summer, but now—

Now he was afraid to sleep at all, terrified she’d leave him in the middle of the night, and he’d wake—

“Jason?”

He cleared his throat, then turned back to her, careful to keep his worries hidden. What good would it do to upset her? She wasn’t going to change her mind, and he didn’t want to cause more stress with arguments that would only go in circles like this week. Nothing had changed. “I’m going to check my messages.”

“Oh, okay. Let me know if Emily or Bobbie left any.”

He carried the tray out into the kitchen and cleaned up from dinner before reaching for the burner phone. There were only two messages. One from Justus, letting him know he had a bad feeling about the divorce, but nothing specific. The second was Monica, checking in on Elizabeth and her health.

They weren’t supposed to go back to Port Charles until Monday morning. Four more days. For the first time, he thought that maybe Elizabeth was right. Maybe they should go home early. Her condition wasn’t getting much better here, despite the constant rest and lack of stress, and if staying away only created more stress for them when they returned—

Jason needed to talk to Carly again before she filed. Sonny would be even more distracted from the job, and while Jason knew that Justus was doing his best to hold things together—

Jason put the phone on the charger and went back to the bedroom. Elizabeth had switched on one of her reality shows, the audio down low. “What is it tonight?” he asked.

“Oh, it’s just a rerun of that new Donald Trump one where he fires people.” She wrinkled her nose. “He’s a terrible person, did you know that?”

“Yeah.” Jason climbed into bed next to her. “We had some run-ins with him, actually. Sonny has an interest in a few of the casinos in Atlantic City.” He squinted at the screen. “Why does he fire people?”

“For being bad at business or something. It’s not one I like, but it’s on, and sometimes that’s enough. He’s an idiot, though. Always firing people for stupid reasons. I hope it gets canceled.” She rested her head against his shoulder. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“You hate my shows, and you always make me feel like you’re interested when you ask questions. Don’t think I don’t notice.”

“I like when you explain things to me.” He reached for her hand, drawing it into his lap. “Justus has a bad feeling about the divorce and custody coming up.” Jason felt Elizabeth tense next to him. “And he’s probably right.”

“We could—”

“We might have to,” he said, anticipating what she was going to say.

“We almost made it two weeks, though. That’s good.”

“Justus said he’d call me when he finds out more. Right now, he just has a feeling.” He paused. “I’m going to tell Sonny about the CTEPH when we get back. He needs to know that he can’t come over and start fights anymore.”

“Okay. Em already knows, so I’ll tell Bobbie. And Nikolas,” she added. “You’ll tell Carly? She’ll want to hear it from you.”

“Yeah.” He waited a minute. “Are you okay with everyone knowing?”

“They already know something isn’t right, don’t they? Nikolas and Bobbie knew I was having tests. I’m sure Carly noticed something was up with you. I wanted the wedding be about us, and it was.”

Except for her run-in with Sonny and the crisis it had brought on. Jason grimaced. “It might not change anything with Sonny. He knew what Carly was dealing with, and he’s still acting the same way. I need you to do everything you can to avoid Sonny until you check in for delivery.”

“I will—”

“I mean it. If he comes in, you go upstairs. I’ll take you up and down otherwise, so save your one trip for him.”

“I promise,” Elizabeth stressed. “I know I haven’t always been good about that, but I really will try this time. I don’t feel up to a fight with him anyway.”

“Okay.” Jason wished they lived somewhere else, but it was too late in her pregnancy to go somewhere else. The Towers was secure—even more so since Vinnie Esposito had wiled his way into getting Elizabeth alone.

He’d have to find a way to keep Sonny from making things worse. Somehow.

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Comments

  • Wonderful update. Saw a glimpse of the old Sonny but I have a feeling his rock bottom is going to be putting Elizabeth in a precarious situation. I so get why she is going for as long as she can but, it won’t help if Cameron were to not have a mother. If Luke can still get into towers, does that mean Ric would too? Liked the talk with Lucas and Felix and Ned and Alexis and a nice Lila sighting. I hope you find a resolution to your neck pain/TMJ and tinnitus. I am lucky to not have had to deal with TMJ or bad neck pain but have lived with Tinnitus since I was teen, so I get where are coming from there.

    According to nanci on May 4, 2022
  • What a wonderful update

    According to Nicole Barnes on May 4, 2022
  • Thanks for the update. Liz’s suffering breaks my heart, and Carly needs to dump Sonny and move on.

    According to Shelly Samuel on May 4, 2022
  • I’m so worried about Elizabeth and her health. She’s trying so hard to protect their baby. Taggert was very open. I hope AJ does help Carly. Alexis made some very good points. Laura gets Carly and I felt bad for Lucas. There was a glimpse of the old Sonny and Luke tried his best but he needs more help. I just hope that Jason can control him. It’s so tough for them both.

    According to arcoiris0502 on May 4, 2022