Elizabeth Webber often wondered who she’d murdered in a previous life to deserve the existence she was currently living.
In fact, to deserve this specific moment — Elizabeth Imogene Webber must have been a vicious serial killer.
“I’m really sorry,” Courtney Quartermaine said with a wrinkle of her nose and a flash of sympathy in her baby blue eyes. She set down the tub of dirty dishes on the counter in the kitchen of Kelly’s. “It just happened.”
She’d decided that while closing the diner where they both worked and cleaning things up in the back, that it was time she opened her heart and was honest with Elizabeth. After all — Courtney didn’t want things to be awkward.
Elizabeth narrowed her eyes, turned away from the sink, and studied the other waitress, a woman she’d considered a friend. Not a close friend — but Courtney had been more than an acquaintance. A friendly face.
“Explain it to me again,” Elizabeth said coolly. She folded her arms, leaned against the counter. “Like I’m a five-year-old.”
Courtney winced. “I know you’re upset because you thought you were dating him—”
“Thought?” Elizabeth repeated, with a lift of her brows. Oh, man, was this chick lucky that the butcher block full of knives was across the kitchen. “I thought I was dating him? Yeah, you’re going to need to start at the beginning.”
Courtney bit her lip. “It was just—all that time we spent together, you know? I mean, you know how sweet he is—”
Might be worth making a leap for one of those knives after all.
“And with this stalking thing going on, I really needed to feel safe. Jason makes me feel safe—”
“So does a golden retriever,” Elizabeth bit out, even as she heard her own feelings, her own thoughts echoed back at her. “He was guarding you. Because Sonny wanted him to. You’re married.”
“I know. And that’s why it’s wrong. And why I really didn’t intend for anything to happen—”
Against her better judgment, Elizabeth’s heart began to beat faster, her pulse throbbing in her wrist. “But it did.”
“A few days ago. That’s why I had to tell you. Because I know you were upset after everything that happened,” Courtney said, widening her eyes. “But you have to see now — it’s obvious that Jason was just being nice—”
“Being nice to who?” Elizabeth asked, her voice flat. If Courtney had known her for long, she’d have heard the sound of a woman who was not in the damn mood.
“To you,” Courtney continued. “I mean, you were dating Zander for a while and he hated Zander, so maybe Jason just didn’t want to hurt your feelings. I mean, you know how much he hates hurting people.”
“No, tell me more how Jason Morgan hates to hurt people.” Elizabeth fluttered her lashes. “I’m dying to hear your analysis of the man who works for your brother and that you’ve known for ten minutes. This is fascinating.”
Courtney scowled. “I’m trying to be nice—”
“You’re not very good at it,” Elizabeth retorted, even as Courtney’s words sunk in. She had been sort of seeing Zander for a hot minute in early August, and she did know how much that had hurt Jason.
She’d thought they were past it. She’d thought he’d forgiven her—not that she needed to be forgiven as they weren’t dating.
But—had they been dating at all? Or was Courtney right? Was it all in her head?
“What happened a few days ago?” Elizabeth asked with a sigh. Might as well rip off the bandage and let the air hit the wound.
“He kissed me,” Courtney confessed, her voice small and a bit ashamed. “I don’t know what to do. I love my husband—”
“I am not the one—” Elizabeth put a hand up in front her, then curled it into a fist. “He kissed you. A few days ago,” she repeated.
“Okay.” Elizabeth nodded. “Okay. Well, that’s—that’s just—” She cleared her throat. “Listen. Thank you. For telling me. Good luck with your marriage and your affair. I’ll finish cleaning up. Go home.”
“Oh, no, Elizabeth, let me—”
“Go home, Courtney,” Elizabeth snapped. She whirled around, a box cutter in her hand. “Or I swear to God, I am going to hold you down and cut your fucking blonde hair off!”
Courtney actually squealed, jumped back, hitting the counter in the kitchen. “Elizabeth—”
Elizabeth made a jabbing motion with the knife, and Courtney rushed out of the kitchen, barely stopping to grab her coat and purse before slamming the door behind her, the little bell above it jangling.
“I wonder if I would have done it,” Elizabeth muttered. She tossed the knife aside, put both hands on the counter, then closed her eyes.
He’d kissed Courtney.
Logically, it shouldn’t hurt this way. It absolutely shouldn’t. Elizabeth had walked out of the penthouse, tossing some cruel and angry words at him in her wake—then shut him down the one time he’d come after her to talk.
Elizabeth had needed more than twenty-four hours, but instead of just telling him like a grown up that she needed a minute, she’d lashed out and slashed at him.
“Okay. Okay.” She dragged her hands through her hair, took a deep breath. “Okay,” she repeated. “This is—this is good. This is good. I needed this. I needed to know. And now I know. He’s moving on.”
Elizabeth finished stacking the last of the dishes in the dishwasher, shoving it from her mind, desperate to stop thinking about it. To stop wondering exactly when she’d ruined everything — when she’d slept with Zander? When she’d asked him not to hurt Zander?
When she’d left the penthouse? Here, the next day, at Kelly’s?
When had Jason stopped caring—
And when had he started caring about Courtney—
Elizabeth exhaled slowly, looked around the diner. The tables were clear, the chairs neatly stacked. She was done. It was time to go home.
Home to an empty studio with crappy heating.
“You know,” Elizabeth said to no one at all—just a crazy idiot standing in the middle of an empty diner. “It would be nice just once to lose out to anyone other than Courtney.” After years of losing to Sarah, to lose again to another goddamn blonde—
She dragged on her coat, looped her purse over her shoulder and left the diner, clocking the door behind her.
“A fucking blonde,” she muttered as she started towards the waterfront. The air was cold, but Elizabeth didn’t want to go home just yet. Maybe a walk on the docks would clear her mind.
Maybe she hadn’t been just a serial killer in a previous life, Elizabeth thought idly as she stepped down towards Elm Street Pier. Maybe she’d killed bunnies or something. Or puppies.
Yeah, a puppy killer definitely deserved her life.
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
Sonny Corinthos stifled a yawn as he snatched up the phone ringing off the hook in the living room. “Damn it, who the hell—What?” he demanded.
“Sonny—” His wife, Carly, rubbed her eyes from the stairs, as she stepped off the landing. “Tell them to call in the morning—”
Sonny cupped his hand over the phone for a minute, scowling at her. “Go upstairs, Carly. I need to handle this.”
Carly scowled, but he waited until he heard her stomping back up the stairs—then waited for the door to slam.
Sonny turned his attention back to the phone, took a deep breath. “Can you repeat that one more time, Francis? Who the hell is going to Vegas?”
Port Charles Airport: Hangar B
Jason Morgan did not believe in karma. Carly did—Carly believed in all kinds of spiritual crazy stuff. She’d always wanted to read his horoscope — apparently, Jason was a Virgo, whatever the hell that was.
And karma was Carly’s current favorite belief. “You get what you put into the world, Jase,” she’d told him a few months ago just after she’d married Sonny for what was probably the third time—but it might have been the fourth.
It was hard to tell sometimes.
If Carly was right—if you got what you put into the world—
Then Jason was getting exactly what he deserved.
“How much longer do we have to wait?” the brunette at his side snapped as she shifted from one foot to another. “I’m tired, and I just want this over with.”
“I told you. We have to wait until the pilot files the flight plan,” Jason said blandly. He rubbed the back of his neck, and looked towards the private jet. “You getting cold feet?”
Brenda Barrett snorted. “No. That’s not me. I don’t get cold feet. That’s you and your boss.” She folded her arms. “It’s freezing.”
“Then go inside.”
“Hey! You’re supposed to care about my well-being—”
“Not until the paperwork is signed,” he muttered.
“Look, if you’re having second thoughts,” Brenda said with huff, “then have them here. Before we get on a plane and haul our asses to Vegas—”
“I’m not—” Jason shook his head. He was way past second thoughts and onto fifth thoughts. “I’m trying to retrace my steps to figure out how exactly I ended up here. At midnight. With you.”
Brenda pursed her lips. “Well, it started with me coming to your penthouse and threatening to break up Sonny and Carly’s marriage—you really need to work on your priorities by the way. You’re sacrificing your happiness so Carly can be happy. I mean—don’t you have a life?”
“I used to,” Jason said. He rubbed the side of his face. He thought he had one. But there wasn’t anything left for him. Not after the last few weeks. After the last few days. He’d just been minding his own business, standing in the rain, and then Courtney had just—
He had tried to be very nice about the whole thing—and she’d left immediately afterwards. Jason had gone to Sonny, told him very nicely that he had other things that needed to be done and Courtney needed an actual guard.
Sonny had looked at him suspiciously, but had agreed. And then Jason had found Brenda in his penthouse. Sitting on his sofa, looking at the yellow knitted blanket Elizabeth had left behind.
What was the point of worrying about his future? The only woman he was interested in wanted to set him on fire, and maybe if he weren’t single, Courtney Quartermaine would stay away from him. And Carly would be happy.
An unhappy Carly was a destroyer of worlds, which Jason knew all too well. No, this was for the best.
“Jason, I’m serious.” Brenda’s tone had shifted to something less bitchy, and more quiet. “You don’t remember this, but we were friends before your accident. And we were almost friends before you—” She cleared her throat and looked away.
Before he’d humiliated her at the altar for Sonny. “Brenda—”
“Do not do this if you’re having second thoughts. I wouldn’t really mess up Sonny’s marriage. Not on purpose,” she added. “I just—” Her voice sounded tight. “I don’t want to be alone when it gets bad. And I know Robin would take care of me. Or the Quartermaines. But they love me. I don’t want them to have to make decisions. I know why this is a good idea for me. But I need to know I’m not hurting you.”
Jason hesitated, looked away, towards the doorway of the hangar—towards the flickering lights of downtown Port Charles, where the waterfront lay beyond it. He wondered where Elizabeth was right now. Was she at her studio? Closing Kelly’s? Was she painting?
Wherever she was, she’d left him. Again. And this time, Jason hadn’t seen any hint that she’d change her mind.
“You’re not hurting me, Brenda. And I want to help you,” Jason told her. Because that much, at least, wasn’t a lie. “Let me go check on the flight plan. See how much longer it’ll be.”
At some point, Elizabeth lost track of where she was walking — she’d only meant to walk along Elm Street Pier where it merged onto Bannister’s Wharf, but then she’d looked up and realized—
“Pier 52,” she muttered. The Corinthos-Morgan warehouse loomed at the end of the pier, construction cranes scattered around the parking lot as they worked to rebuild after the explosion in August.
Elizabeth idly touched her arm where a faint scar still rested. She’d thought of that night as a turning point. Standing outside the burning building, watching Jason and Zander fight—Zander with a gun—
The sound of the shot—the searing pain in her arm—
The way Jason had looked at her—asked her about Italy—she’d thought for a minute that she hadn’t broken everything between them.
But maybe Courtney was right. Maybe Elizabeth had finally burnt the final bridge with Zander, and Jason was just too kind to tell her. Had ignored her all those weeks in the penthouse, hoping she’d get the message.
No. No, that wasn’t fair. She sighed, and started to turn back, intending to head back up the pier, to Elm Street, and to her studio. It was stupid to be wandering out here this late in the dark, after midnight—
“What the hell were you thinking?”
The angry voices startled Elizabeth out of her maudlin wallowing, and she turned — but the voice wasn’t talking to her. Footsteps were getting closer, and without thinking, Elizabeth ducked behind a a pallet stacked with boxes and metal barrels.
“You had one job!” a man snarled—Elizabeth frowned—she knew that voice. Why did she know that voice?
“You were to keep your eyes on my property, and now she’s gone!”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Alcazar—” And that one sounded familiar, too, but—
Oh….fuck. Elizabeth closed her eyes. Walked right into a scene between Luis Alcazar and a flunky.
What was worse than a puppy killer? Because surely—
A gunshot echoed in the night, and Elizabeth heard a thud and a cry — Then another shot—this one sounded closer — and the man’s cry stopped abruptly.
Elizabeth shoved a fist in her mouth, choking back the sound that wanted to leap from her throat. Oh, damn, damn, damn —
She started to inch backwards — she knew a back way to the waterfront, one that would take longer — but was hidden —
Just as Elizabeth was a few feet from safety, from freedom — she tripped over a nail jutting out from a board and hit the ground with a crash, her arm slapping against a building on the way down.
“Who’s there?” Alcazar demanded. “Who is that? Morgan?”
Elizabeth didn’t stop, didn’t even think. She leapt to her feet, turned, and ran for the shorter route to safety—even as Alcazar shot after her, bullets hitting the corrugated metal just inches from her head.
She only had one thought. One person who she knew she could trust.
She ran up the pier, up to Elm Street, then instead of taking the turn towards her studio, she turned towards the large building a few blocks away.
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
Sonny scowled into the phone, rubbed his forehead. “I’m not asking you to shoot the fucking plane out of the sky! Just keep them at the airport in Vegas as long as you can—” He glanced at the clock on the desk. It was a quarter after midnight. If they could hold Jason at the airport for just fifteen more minutes — Sonny could be in the air by one.
He’d be less than a half hour behind them —
Why the hell were Jason and Brenda going to Las Vegas? Who went to Vegas in the middle of the night with no word to the people in their lives?
Idiots. That’s who.
And there was only one reason to sneak away to Vegas without a word.
Sonny didn’t know which one of them he was going to kill first —
He yanked open the door to find Max standing there. “Call down to the garage,” he started, but then the elevator doors opened, and Elizabeth practically fell out of them as she turned the corner towards Jason’s penthouse —
“Elizabeth?” Sonny said, stepping out into the hallway. “He’s not there—”
Elizabeth whirled around to face him, her eyes wide, her pupils tiny pinpricks. “What? Why? Where—” She pressed a hand to her chest, took a deep breath. “I need—I need help.”
“I gathered that if you’re storming the penthouse at midnight,” Sonny said. He squinted. But maybe the universe was giving him a break. If Sonny couldn’t talk Jason and Brenda out of this madness—
Jason would never do this if Elizabeth was in the room.
“Max, call down to the garage,” he said, looking at the guard. “Get a limo ready. Elizabeth and I are heading to the airport.”
“Uh, okay, Boss. Do you need me to grab luggage—”
“No, I can get what I need on the ground,” Sonny said. He turned back to Elizabeth whose face was stark white. “You can tell me what happened on the way to the airport.”
“The airport?” Elizabeth shook her head. “What? Why? What’s going on—”
Sonny pressed the button for the elevator, then ushered her on board. “Jason’s in trouble and he needs you.”
“He—” Elizabeth stared at him, blankly as the doors closed. “What? Is he hurt? Did—” She swallowed. “Did he ask for me?”
Sonny didn’t even think. “Yes,” he said, because if he didn’t lie, she might not go with him.
And he needed to stop whatever was happening in Vegas.
“Oh,” Elizabeth said shakily. “I didn’t—okay. Okay, well, you should send someone down to Pier 52. There might be a body.”
Sonny closed his eyes. “What happened?” he asked.
Airplane: Jason & Brenda
Somewhere over the Midwest, Jason took out his phone and adjusted the time zone to Vegas time and noticed three missed calls from Sonny. He turned off the phone, looked at Brenda was curled up on a sofa on the other side of the plane. “Sonny called.”
Brenda frowned, looked at him. “Why? Is there a chance he knows—”
“No,” Jason said after a moment. But maybe someone at the airport had called about Jason taking the private jet. They should have flown commercial but Jason didn’t want their names showing up on a flight list.
The whole point of this was to make Brenda safe and he didn’t want Alcazar tracking her movements.
“So what have you been up to lately?” Brenda asked. She folded her arms, then unfolded them and laid them at her side.
“Nothing,” Jason said shortly.
“Friendly as ever,” she muttered. “I guess if you had a life you wouldn’t be marrying me.” She glared at him. “So no one other than Sonny is going to be mad about this?”
Jason hesitated. Oh, man, he really hadn’t thought that far ahead. What if he was wrong—what if he went back to Port Charles, legally married to another woman, and Elizabeth—
“Jason, if you’re having second thoughts—”
“No,” Jason said finally. “It’s too late.”
Airplane: Sonny & Elizabeth
Elizabeth looked at her watch, then twisted the band back and forth on her wrist. “Where are we going?” she asked Sonny.
“Why were you down at Pier 52?” Sonny asked, once again declining to answer any of her questions. He’d thrown her into a limo, they’d boarded a jet waiting at the airport, and he’d spent the first hour of the flight in another room of the plane, on the phone with someone.
“I was just walking,” Elizabeth said. “I didn’t want to go home yet.” She rubbed the cheek. “I wasn’t paying attention—”
“Why didn’t you have a guard?” Sonny said with a growl. “Damn it. Don’t tell me Jason let you go back to the penthouse without a guard? You were living there for six weeks. You think Alcazar doesn’t know about you?”
Elizabeth stared him, then squinted. “I—I don’t—I didn’t—” She chewed on her lip. “I don’t know,” she said. “I had Marco when I was living there. He took me to Kelly’s and back.” But he hadn’t gone with her when she’d left.
“Just lucky Alcazar didn’t grab you before this for leverage,” Sonny muttered. “After all the crap Jason did to get you out that damn crypt—he probably would have sold me out to get you back.”
“I—” Elizabeth’s eyes bulged. “What are you talking about? I don’t—” She shook her head. “No. I don’t matter like that. Jason said I didn’t—” She looked away, out the window. “He said it wasn’t about me,” she said softly.
“Well, then you misunderstood,” Sonny bit out. “Clearly.”
If Jason was asking for her—then she must have. Just as that lifted her spirits for a moment, they plummeted. “How hurt is he, Sonny?” Elizabeth asked. She looked at him, met his eyes. “Was he shot? Is—is he going—is that we had to come in the middle of the night like this? Where are we going?”
“I’ll answer everything when we get there,” Sonny said. “Just—just trust me. Everything will be fine if everyone just trusts me.”
McCarran International Airport: Car Rentals
Brenda scowled, looked at her watch. “It’s two AM. How can there not be a single car available in all of Las Vegas?” she demanded.
Jason rubbed his eyes, looked at the woman he was going to marry shortly, and glared. “It might be two AM, but it’s six AM in Port Charles, which means I’ve been awake for forty-eight hours.”
“Well, that would be your problem, not mine. Get some sleep like a normal human,” she shot back. She looked at the clerk who snapped to attention when she slapped a hand on the counter. “I want a car. Now. I don’t care how old it is, how crappy—”
“Perhaps a taxi—”
Jason dragged his hands over his face. This was such a mistake. At every single step of this trip, they’d been delayed. First, the flight plan had taken forever, then they had had to circle the airport for twenty minutes before they were cleared to land—
And now—now they couldn’t even rent a car.
Jason hated being driven around. He hated taxis. Hated not knowing his driver. You couldn’t trust them—
He exhaled slowly, looked at the clerk. “I want a car. Now,” he said, in a flat tone. This time, the clerk swallowed and nodded.
“I can see if we can move another reservation around,” he said in a weak voice. He started furiously typing on his computer.
“Finally, using your powers for good,” Brenda said. She wrinkled her nose. “Can you come with me the next time I go shopping? I could use a discount since all my money was given to charity after I died—”
“Brenda—” Jason bit off the harsh words he’d been out to say, knowing that she tended to ramble when she got nervous. Which only reminded him of Elizabeth— “Look, it’s the middle of the night. Do you want to check into a hotel and get a few hours of sleep—”
“No. Not yet. After.” Brenda stared ahead at the bland gray walls of the car rental department. “Let’s get this over with.” She flicked a glance at him, and he could see the nerves in her eyes.
It was one thing to suggest this in his penthouse in Port Charles. It was another to have actually flown across the country to Las Vegas and be literally one stop away from getting married.
Something that had made some sort of sense almost eight hours earlier —
“Alright,” Jason said. Probably for the best — if they stopped now, they might not go through with it at all.
Limo: Route 15
Elizabeth stared at out the dim windows at the blinking and glittering lights of the Las Vegas strip, her suspicions and worry mixing into a strange sense of dread. When she’d first seen the bright lights as they’d prepared to land, she’d looked at Sonny, demanding to know why they were in Vegas.
Why was Jason in Vegas?
But Sonny had just shrugged. “Business.” Which meant Elizabeth was supposed to shut up and let it go.
And she tried to. Reminded herself that she’d seen The Godfather—she knew that Vegas was a mob town underneath the glitz and glamor. It wasn’t a stretch that Sonny had business out here — that Jason would be doing something for him here.
But Sonny was acting strangely—irritated with Jason—irritated with Elizabeth—as if whatever Jason had done — it was pissing him off.
And if he was angry at Jason—why had he brought Elizabeth? If she hadn’t shown up at the penthouse at the same time he was leaving—
Would he have called or picked her up?
Then the limo pulled into a parking lot for a large building with a blinking light over top — A Chapel of Love — 24 Hour Weddings!
Elizabeth looked at Sonny. “I’m not going in there until you tell me what the hell is going on,” she said. She folded her arms. “You have dragged me across the country, refused to tell me if Jason is alive or dead—and now—now we’re in Vegas at one of these stupid wedding chapels—”
“Jason’s—he’s hiding. Okay?” Sonny snapped. He shoved the door open. “You know better. We have work with what we’ve got. He got himself here, and now he needs us to get him somewhere safe.”
She bit her lip, and there was just enough truth in that statement that she slid across the leather seat and stepped out of the car. If she went inside, at least Sonny would be out of time — if she didn’t find out what the hell was going on after all this —
“Fine. But this is the last place I’m going. I want answers.”
“You’ll have them,” Sonny promised. “I’m doing this for all of us.”
“Let’s just go.”
The Chapel of Love: Main Chapel
This was stupid. This was the dumbest thing Jason had ever done, and he had done a lot of idiotic things since he’d woken up in the hospital six years earlier.
He was standing next to a woman that he barely even tolerated on a good day, preparing to legally marry her and take care of her until whatever disease eating her brain killed her —
He was marrying another woman, and the longer he thought about it, the more Jason thought this was probably not the best way to convince Elizabeth that he was sorry about the lying. And maybe he should be doing that instead.
But this was a runaway train, and Jason turned to look at Brenda, to start their vows. Her face was pale as well.
They both knew this was stupid, but neither of them were going to admit it first.
“Are you ready for your vows?” The officiant asked Jason. He checked the paper. “Uh, Jason, do you promise to take Brenda to be your wedded wife, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish—”
This was insane—Jason opened his mouth to interrupt him, to stop this because there was no way in hell he was going to promise to do any of that —
But then the double doors at the end of the room were thrown open. Jason and Brenda both turned to look at the same time Sonny strode through the doors, his face florid with fury — but Jason didn’t see him. Barely registered his presence—
He only saw Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was just behind Sonny, her eyes taking in the room, the garish decorations, the empty pews—before finally looking at him. At the woman next to him.
Elizabeth stared at Jason, blinking rapidly because at some point, the nightmare would dissolve and she’d wake up.
Sonny had dragged her across the country to stop a wedding.
To stop Jason’s wedding.
Jason’s wedding to Brenda.
She tore her eyes away from Jason’s startled gaze to look at Sonny. “You son of bitch,” Elizabeth bit out. Sonny looked at her, frowning.
“Uh, that’s him, not me — he’s the one marrying—”
She didn’t let him finish. Instead, she curled her hand into a fist and let it fly.
Sonny grunted, falling back, holding his hands over his nose, spurting blood.
Then Elizabeth spun on her heel and fled. She dimly heard someone—Jason—calling her name—
But she just ran.
“Damn it,” Sonny winced, barely even noticing as Jason ran past him after Elizabeth. He turned to Brenda who was sauntering down the aisle. She planted a hand on her hip and glared.
“Two questions,” she snarled. “One, who the hell was that? And two, why the hell do you only show up at my weddings when you’re trying to stop them?”
The Chapel of Love: Parking Lot
Elizabeth might have had a head start, but Jason’s legs were longer and he did more running than she did — he caught up just as she passed the Fountains at the Bellagio, darting in front of her so he could stop her in her tracks.
Elizabeth scowled and nearly managed to adjust at the last minute to run past him, but he snagged her elbow and dragged her back.
“Would you just stop!” he snapped. He grimaced when he realized he was almost digging into her forearm with his fingers. He forced himself to gentle his hold and guide her back in front of him. “Just—just let me explain—”
“Explain?” Elizabeth yanked her arm away from him, cradling it against her chest, her eyes shadowed, almost hidden from him even as the bright lights of the Strip washed over them. “There’s nothing to explain! I am done humiliating myself—I’m getting a cab, I’m going back to Port Charles, and then I am never going to speak to either one of you again—”
“Why—” Jason hissed as she turned sharply and started towards the street. He should just let her go.
She was always walking away from him.
Never giving him a chance to explain.
Never believing him even when he did—
After nearly forty-eight hours without sleep, after hours spent in Brenda’s vexing company—Jason finally snapped.
“Why do you always do this?” he called after her, his tone scathing. “Why did you even come?”
Elizabeth halted, nearly six feet from him, her shoulders snapping straight. She turned slowly, lifting her chin, her fists clenched at her side.
“Are you really going to get mad at me right now? I—” She scowled, stalked back. Elizabeth jabbed a finger in chest, the tip of her index finger poking just below his collar bone. “You want to know why I came to Vegas? Why I showed up at your wedding to another woman like a bad romantic comedy?”
Jason narrowed his eyes. “Yeah—I want to know. If you’re not even going to let me explain—”
“I came,” she bit out with a depth of bitterness that he’d never heard from her before, “because Sonny told me you were hurt.”
Jason’s mouth closed. He stared at her. “What?”
“He told me that you were hurt. That you needed—” Elizabeth closed her eyes, squeezing them shut as if it could protect her. “You needed me. Worse. He told you’d asked for me.”
He was going to murder Sonny.
And he was going to enjoy it.
Jason drew in a sharp breath. “Elizabeth—”
“And like the clearly stupid girl that I am—” Elizabeth opened her eyes, tears spilling over her lashes, sliding down her cheeks. Her voice broke. “I didn’t argue. Not until we landed in Vegas, and I realized that none of it made sense. He brought me here because he wanted to stop you from getting married. And he knew if he’d told me the truth, I never would have gotten on the plane.”
“It’s not what it looks like—”
“Really?” Elizabeth sneered. “Because it looked like you were marrying Brenda Barrett. How is there any way to explain that? How many times do you have to lie to me before I finally get it—”
“I have never lied to you—” Jason wanted to drag the words back even as they flew out of his mouth. Once he could have claimed that.
“For someone who prides himself on honesty,” Elizabeth retorted, “you’re really racking up the lies—”
“I tried to tell you that there things I couldn’t tell you—”
“No!” She sliced her hand through the air, the word exploding out of her like a bullet. “No! That is absolutely not going to work. No! Here are the things you can’t tell me—things I would never ask — what did you do at work today? When will you be home? Where did you go?”
“You do not get to lie to me about the death of your best friend!” Elizabeth shook her head. “No. No, I’m not doing this—” She turned away again.
“You’re the only one who gets to make mistakes?” Jason demanded as he followed her towards the street. “How many times have you lied to me?”
Her eyes widened, and she whirled back around. “I—”
“How many times have you done things that anyone else would find unforgivable?” he continued, the rage boiling in his chest. “You knew Zander had betrayed Sonny. That he was my enemy, Elizabeth, and what did you do?”
“You took him into your home. You—” He broke off as Elizabeth stared at him. “You slept with him. You asked me to leave him alone—”
“I thought you—” She swallowed hard, her lip trembling. “I thought you forgave me—”
“Because that’s what I do. I forgive you. Because, damn it, I love you!”
The words hung between them as she closed her eyes and Jason winced. That was not—that not the way that should have happened.
“I don’t believe you,” Elizabeth said softly. She cleared her throat, opened her eyes to meet his. “Because someone who loves me wouldn’t do the things you’ve done—”
“You sat in your penthouse, you looked me in the eye, and you told me that you wanted to be with me. That you wanted to try—and you lied. And then you kissed Courtney—”
“And you were just marrying another woman—” Elizabeth gestured wildly at the Chapel of Love a hundred yards behind them.
Jason clenched his jaw. “And you came across the country because you thought I was hurt. What does that say about you? You love me, too, Elizabeth—”
“No, I don’t—” she snapped. “Don’t tell me how I feel—”
“Then don’t tell me how I feel,” he threw back at her.
“How the hell am I supposed to believe you?” Elizabeth threw up her hands. “What have you done except lie to me for weeks—”
If he could just convince her—if they could just get past this minute—he could explain everything about Brenda—and he’d fix that crap about Courtney — but she looked ready to bolt at any minute—
She’d flown across the country with little more than Sonny’s word because she thought he needed her.
Well, he did. Even though he wanted to shake her until her teeth rattled. She was so damn stubborn—
“You want proof?” Jason scowled, his mind racing. He dragged a hand through his hair, stared at the wedding chapel for a long moment, then looked back at Elizabeth. “I can prove it.”
“I’d like to see you try—”
“Come with me,” Jason said, grabbing her hand, then all but dragged her back towards the chapel.
If she wanted proof—
He’d make her see that he wasn’t lying if it was the last thing he did.