The Chapel of Love: Lobby
Sonny pressed the ice pack to his nose, wincing as he watched Brenda examine her nails. “Are you ever going to forgive me?” he asked.
“You’re going to have to be way more specific because your list of crimes is very long,” she said sweetly. She frowned. “This polish is chipped. I need my luggage. It’s in the car—”
“And what the hell are you doing in Vegas?” Sonny demanded, out of patience with her. “I came all the way here and all I’ve gotten so far is a busted nose—”
“That was a thing of beauty,” Brenda started to say, but then the double doors to the chapel opened and Jason stalked in, practically dragging Elizabeth after him.
Sonny thought Elizabeth had told Jason that instead of taking a minute to protect her after what had happened on the pier, Sonny had lied to her. He got to his feet, bracing himself to get another sock to the jaw—
But instead, Jason ignored Sonny and Brenda entirely and walked over to the front desk. “I need a new certificate,” he said, flatly.
Elizabeth’s face drained of color and Sonny saw her muscles bunch. If Jason hadn’t tightened his grip, she might have taken another run for it.
“Wait—what did he just say?” Brenda asked.
“Uh, Mr. Morgan—”
“A new marriage certificate,” Jason repeated. “Now.”
“Uh—” The clerk blinked rapidly, looked over at Sonny and Brenda, looked at Elizabeth. “Okay,” he said slowly. He set a fresh sheet of paper on the desk. “But it’ll cost you double. You were halfway through—”
“Put it on the card—”
“Jason,” Elizabeth hissed.
“Do you want proof or not?” Jason demanded, and Sonny raised his brows at the sharpness in his friend’s tone. He didn’t think Jason had ever spoken to her that way.
Elizabeth narrowed her eyes. “You think this is proof?” She jerked a thumb at Brenda. “Your last fiancée is right over there—”
“Oh, well, fiancée is a strong word,” Brenda said, wrinkling her nose.
“So is wife,” Elizabeth snarled, tossing a dirty look at her. “Stay out of it.”
“I like her,” Brenda decided.
“You could find out where they’re registered later,” Sonny muttered. What the hell was going on—
Jason was ignoring them all as he grabbed a pen and filled out the form, signing his name at the bottom. He shoved the pen at Elizabeth and slid the paper closer to her. “Well?”
Sonny was sure Elizabeth was going to stab Jason in the eye or something else violent from the way that she looked at him. But then she drew in a shaky breath, signed the form.
“Huh,” Brenda said with a nod. “Well, at least this won’t be a wasted trip.”
Elizabeth couldn’t quite decide exactly why she’d signed the form or how she’d ended up in front of the same officiant that had nearly married Jason and Brenda less than thirty minutes earlier.
She almost felt like she was floating above it all and had been since the moment Jason had bit out a declaration of love like he wanted to hit over the head with it.
He never got angry with her.
And when she’d asked for proof—
He’d gone to find a way to prove it.
She married him.
When the officiant declared them husband and wife and told Jason he could kiss his bride, Elizabeth blinked, looked at Jason, wondering what he would do.
He gently pressed on her shoulder so that she was facing him, tipped her head back and kissed her, drawing her against him like he had that night in her studio. Tired of fighting it, tired of pretending, of being angry and sad — Elizabeth kissed him back, threading her fingers through his hair, dragging him closer to her, wishing she could just disappear into him.
She didn’t want to let go, didn’t want the moment to end, because then reality would hit — and he’d realize he’d made a mistake —
Elizabeth didn’t know if she could bear to see that in his eyes. If she never let him go—never opened her eyes —
But then there was a slight coughing from the front of the pew, and Jason drew back. Their eyes met as he slowly stepped back, sliding his hands down the length of her body until they rested at her waist.
She turned to look at Sonny and Brenda in the front row, blinking rapidly.
“Maybe we should go to the hotel,” Sonny said, getting to his feet.
Jason glanced behind them to see the officiant offering them a smile and a reminder to pick up the license out front. When he’d left the room, Jason looked at Sonny, his eyes hard. “Don’t ever lie to Elizabeth again. Especially not about me being hurt.”
Sonny winced, then he gasped in pain as Brenda whacked him hard in the ribs. “Damn it—” he grunted. “What the hell—”
“You dragged that poor girl all the way here and she thought he was hurt the whole time—I hope your nose heals crooked,” Brenda said. She whacked him one more time with the back of her hand.
“We’ll meet you at the hotel,” Jason told Sonny. “We’re taking the limo. You can drive there with Brenda.”
He took Elizabeth’s hand and led her out of the chapel.
Brenda scowled after him, planting her hands on her hips. “I think he thinks that’s a punishment. You’re lucky I didn’t marry you!” she called after them. “I would have made you miserable!”
She huffed, looked back at Sonny. “Well, let’s go. I need food and sleep. And a new plan because my best idea just walked out of the room married to someone else.”
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: Owner’s Suite
Jason shoved the door open and waited for Elizabeth to walk in front of him. She had been silent during the short ride to the hotel that Sonny controlled in downtown Vegas, and Jason hadn’t known how to start the conversation.
Elizabeth walked over to the large floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the Strip, folding her arms across her chest. The sun was just beginning to rise in the west, peeking out over the horizon in the distance. Jason closed the door, took a deep breath. “Elizabeth—”
“If you’re sorry already,” she said softly, “can you just…wait to say it?” She looked at him. “Just a little longer.”
“I’m not sorry,” Jason said roughly. He crossed over to her. He reached out to touch her, but faltered, let his hand drop down. “I don’t really—I’m not sorry,” he repeated. “But I thought you might be.”
“I’m not really sure what I’m feeling,” Elizabeth admitted. “This is—” She laughed slightly, nerves making the sound shaky and fragile. “This is not exactly what I thought would happen last night when I left Kelly’s.”
“Me either,” Jason said. He framed her face in his hands, leaned his forehead against hers. “I missed you,” he murmured.
“I missed you, too.” She slid her arms around his waist and they stood there for a long moment, just letting the silence around them settle.
“Let’s get some sleep,” Jason suggested. “And we’ll—we’ll figure everything else out later.”
Deciding to go to sleep had been the easy part — the location of said sleep was more complicated. Jason had walked Elizabeth into the large master bedroom with the palatial king-sized bed. He’d hesitated as they both looked at the bed — then he’d started to say something about leaving the other room in the suite for Brenda, and he’d take the sofa —
Elizabeth had nearly let him walk out, but at least second—she’d twisted her fingers in the cotton fabric of his shirt, holding him back.
He’d gone temporarily insane and now they were married — she still couldn’t quite wrap her mind around any of that — but maybe it was her turn to take a risk.
“I’m really tired,” she told him. Jason turned to her, drawing his brows together in a bewildered frown. “And that bed is huge. If you’re on the sofa when Brenda and Sonny get here, you won’t get any sleep at all.”
He searched her eyes. “Elizabeth—”
“Let’s just go to sleep. You look so tired, Jason, and that sofa isn’t big enough.” Her fingers still holding his shirt, she drew back over the threshold of the room. With her free hand, she pushed it lightly until it closed.
“Like you said — neither of us expected this to be happening. I trust you.” At least in this she did.
Elizabeth gently pushed his leather jacket off his shoulders, and it hit the marble tile of the floor. “I think we can share the bed. We used to sleep in the studio, didn’t we?”
“Yeah.” Jason cleared his throat. He brushed his fingers against her jaw. “Yeah, okay.”
He’d given her his t-shirt to sleep in, and while she changed in the bathroom, he had pulled the light blocking curtains over the window. She knew he could sleep through anything, and had done it for her.
They climbed into the bed, on opposite sides. She’d stared at the ceiling for a long time once he’d switched off the lamp, listening to him breathe. She’d dreamed of this once. Not precisely this — in her dreams, he had always been holding her — just laying in the dark, listening to him breathe.
She’d done that in the studio during the few short weeks they’d shared that pace, and it had been calming then. Reassuring. He was alive, and she’d saved him the way he’d saved her.
Now, it was strange to listen to him breathing, listening to the way it slowed and relaxed as he slid into sleep, and she was still trying to understand exactly she’d ended up as Jason’s wife when she followed him into slumber.
Jason opened his eyes, blinking just once as his eyes adjusted to the dim light of the room. He took in the silk sheets beneath him, the top sheet covering — then turned his head slightly find out that he hadn’t hallucinated the last twelve hours.
Not that he’d ever been one for dreams or hallucinations. There had just been that one time — last year — when he’d picked up Elizabeth’s gloves and for a moment—she’d been in the room with him. Smiling at him.
Then she’d been gone, and Jason decided he was just fine not be able to picture things.
She was laying in the bed next to him, her face turned towards him, her body twisted on its side. He could only dimly make out her features as light seeped around the edges of the heavy blackout fabric covering the window.
He’d come to Vegas to marry Brenda Barrett, and instead —
Instead, Elizabeth had shown up and, in a fit of temper and insanity—he’d decided that marrying her would be proof that he loved her.
He exhaled slowly, turning his face to the ceiling. What had he been thinking? And why had she agreed?
He’d never really pictured himself getting married before. Robin had mentioned it a few times, and he’d always thought they’d get married one day because it was something she wanted. But that was a life time ago.
Do you want proof or not?
He flinched, hearing his own angry words echoing in his brain as Elizabeth had looked at him with wide, confused eyes when he’d demanded a new marriage certificate. He didn’t have any practice with marriage proposals, but that probably wasn’t a good one.
She’d married him anyway.
Jason turned back to her, only half-surprised to find her eyes open, staring back at him. “Hey,” he said softly.
“Hey,” she replied. She slowly sat up, the sheet pooling at her waist. His shirt was too big for her and listed to one side, baring her shoulder. “What time is it?”
“Just before eight,” Jason told her. He sat up, but neither of them made a move to leave the bed.
If they got of bed—if they faced the day—
This was real.
And he was almost sure that she’d take it back. That the craziness would have sunk in and she’d want to run away.
And he wasn’t sure if he’d blame her. He hadn’t proposed to her, had shoved the certificate at her—and married her in the chapel, with the same officiant where he’d nearly married another woman.
She should be running from the suite screaming.
Instead, Elizabeth rubbed the heel of her hand against her chest and looked at him. “You should sleep longer,” she told him. “You—you said you hadn’t slept in two days—three hours isn’t really enough—”
“I’m fine,” Jason said with a shake of his head. “But you worked yesterday—”
At the mention of her job, Elizabeth’s face dimmed and she looked away. “Yeah, I did. Um, I don’t—” She drew her bottom lip between her teeth and bit down. “We said we’d figure it out when we woke up.” Elizabeth met his eyes again. “Any idea how to start that?”
“No.” And he felt a bit lighter when she laughed at him— a genuine laugh of amusement.
“Me, either.” She exhaled on a shorter laugh. “This is insane. I’ve never done anything as crazy as this, and I’ve faked my death.”
“Marrying me is crazier than taking poison?” Jason asked skeptically. “Should I be insulted?”
“Oh, that—” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “That was nothing compared to this. All I did was drink some wine. Nikolas and Sonny did everything else. Actually, it was a relief,” she admitted. “I woke up on the island and didn’t have to go home until it was over. This—” She gestured at the space between them. “This is definitely crazier.”
She still didn’t look sad or upset, so Jason decided not to take crazy as a bad thing. She wasn’t asking for an annulment. Or a divorce.
And she was still in bed.
Elizabeth bit her lip, looked at him, and he had a feeling if he could see her face in full light, her cheeks would be flaming red. “Do you wanna know something really weird?”
“What?” Jason slid closer. Just an inch. Well, maybe three inches.
“I really thought we’d both wake up, look at each other, and — I don’t know—we’d trip over each other to apologize. Or call it a mistake. Or, I don’t know, something. I thought I’d wake up and…regret it.”
Her soft confession took his breath away, and everything inside him tightened. “And you don’t?”
He shook his head. He wasn’t going to let her deflect. Not again. “I asked you first.”
“No,” she said finally. “I’m—I’m not sure this was a good idea, but as insane as it sounds, I don’t really regret it either.”
“Really?” Elizabeth tipped her head to the side. “Not even a little?”
“No.” Jason slid closer again, leaving less than a foot of space between them. He cupped her cheek with his hand, and she leaned into it. “Not even a little.”
“I do…I do kind of wish one thing had been different.” Elizabeth opened her eyes, met his. “I wish we hadn’t been so tired when we got back to the hotel.”
Jason lifted his brows as she covered his hand with her own, then kissed his palm. “Are you tired now?” he murmured.
Elizabeth grinned at him, and he felt his mouth curve up in response. She hadn’t smiled at him like that in a long time. “Not even a little bit.”
She was still smiling when he cupped the back of her neck and dragged her him, crushing his mouth against hers, not giving her a chance to change her mind.
She pressed herself against him, wrapping her legs around his waist as they rolled over on the bed, nipping each other’s lips, both struggling to take control. When her fingers slid beneath the fabric of his briefs, Jason grabbed her hands and pressed them back against the bed. She arched her brows. “No?”
“Not yet,” he said, leaning down to kiss her neck, trailing his mouth down her collarbone. He released her hands so his own could slide down her body, push his shirt higher on her hips—
“Not fair—” she moaned.
He started to laugh—
Then there was a knock on the door. “Jase? You up? We got stuff to go over—”
Jason felt Elizabeth tense beneath him, like a bucket of cold water had been thrown over her. “Elizabeth—”
She closed her eyes. “You should go,” she said, flatly. “It might be important.”
It might be. But it also might be bullshit. Like it had been nearly every time Sonny or Carly had called him last summer and dragged him away from her.
And if Jason got out of this bed right now—
Elizabeth would start regretting everything.
“I was going to say,” he said, “the door isn’t locked. And Sonny doesn’t know how to mind his own business. Don’t move.”
“I mean it.” He kissed her, hard, tangling his hands in her hair, hoping she could taste his frustration, impatience, and desire. “Don’t move.”
“Not a muscle,” she managed as he rolled away from her.
On the other side of the door, Sonny was about to knock again when there was a CLICK sound. He stared at the door for a minute, frowning until he realized what he’d heard —
The bolt sliding home.
Locking the door.
“He—” Sonny turned to find Brenda, freshly showered and sipping a cup of a tea like she’d had a full eight hours of sleep and a morning at a spa rather than less than three hours of sleep.
Probably came from sleeping in a luxurious bed and not a crappy sofa. He rolled his neck. He’d be feeling this for weeks. He was not as young as he used to be. “He locked it.”
“Yes, he did.” Brenda saluted him with the cup. “He just got married three hours ago, Sonny. Let the boy off the leash.”
Sonny scowled. “But—”
“You know, when they come up for air,” Brenda continued, ignoring him, “I’ve decided that I’m not even going to ask him to thank me.”
“I mean, yes, it was close,” she said, “but if I hadn’t dragged him to Vegas, he wouldn’t be knocking boots with his new wife. Whatever they were fighting about — seems like they’ve taken care of it.”
“I’m the reason she’s here,” Sonny said, irritated, stomping away from the door and all thoughts about what might be happening on the other side. “I get some credit.”
“Uh, I didn’t lie to him. You lied to her.” Brenda pointed at herself. “Winner.”
It was nearly three hours—three hours—before the bedroom door unlocked, and Brenda was perusing the room service menu for lunch while Sonny was scowling at the list of voice mail messages from Carly who was not taking his silence kindly.
She was going to be seriously unhappy when they finally got home tonight.
Jason stepped out of the room, dressed again in the jeans and t-shirt he’d worn the night before. He walked over to the table where Brenda was sitting and sat down as if he hadn’t ignored Sonny for the last three hours —
A minute later, Elizabeth—flushed and avoiding everyone’s eyes—followed him out. She glanced at Jason for a minute, bit her lip, then sat down, reaching for a bottle of water from the basket in the middle of the table.
Sonny wanted to say something cutting and obnoxious, but since he’d just barely gotten away without being pummeled by Jason for his lies to Elizabeth — and both of them seemed in a good enough mood that he might end up being forgiven —
Well, he decided to just let it go.
“Uh, I woke up to a voice mail this morning,” Sonny said to them. “From our guy at the PCPD.”
Jason frowned, glanced at Brenda and Elizabeth as if confused why Sonny was saying anything in front of them. “Sonny—”
“We can go,” Elizabeth offered. “Um, maybe downstairs—”
“No, this is—” Sonny took a deep breath, met Elizabeth’s eyes. “The PCPD is looking for you. With a material witness order.”
“Material witness order?” Elizabeth shook her head as Jason scowled. “What’s that?”
“It’s faster than an arrest warrant,” Brenda said, almost cheerfully. “The cops want to haul you in, but warrants need evidence and judges and stuff like that. I’ve had a few of them.”
“Arrested—” Jason began as Elizabeth just wrinkled her nose.
“Oh, my God, don’t tell me she’s pressing charges.” With a roll of her eyes. “I didn’t get anywhere near her with the box cutter, and it’s not like I was really going to cut all her damn hair off.”
Jason broke off in mid sentence as he stared at her. “What?”
“I don’t even think the box cutter would have worked,” Elizabeth continued with a shrug. “And, in my defense, I told Courtney to shut up.”
Sonny hesitated. “Uh—”
“Courtney? The cheap blonde? No, I don’t think a box cutter would work—”
“Elizabeth,” Jason began.
“As interested as I am in why you threatened my sister with a knife,” Sonny said, slowly, drawing all their attention, “and believe me—we’ll circle back to that—the PCPD wants to talk to you about last night. On the pier.”
“Pier?” Jason repeated.
“I thought you said your guys didn’t find anything,” Elizabeth said, focusing on Sonny. “You said that before we were even in the air—”
“I know. But what was true at one in the morning—” Sonny shook his head. “It wasn’t true at five. They found a body.”
Elizabeth’s face paled. “A body—”
“And you were seen on security footage running from the pier,” he said with a wince. “Around the same time the gunshots were reported.”
“What the hell is going on—” Jason got to his feet, looking at Elizabeth. “Elizabeth—”
“There’s more, isn’t there?” Elizabeth slowly stood up, keeping her eyes on Sonny. “What’s the rest of it? The PCPD wouldn’t be coming after me with a material witness order otherwise.”
“The body was Zander Smith,” Sonny said with a sigh. “You were seen running from the scene of his murder. So, yeah, they kind of want to talk to you.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Zander’s dead.”
“And—” She opened her eyes, looked at Jason. “Oh, God.”
“What—” Then Sonny saw it hit Jason at the same time, his cheeks losing a bit of color. “They think I did it.”
“And that Elizabeth saw something.”
“Which means this, uh, marriage thing—” Sonny wrinkled his nose. “Which was impetuous and funny about an hour ago now looks like a cover-up.”
Brenda prided herself on being observant. She didn’t care that most people thought she was self-absorbed to the point of narcissism because she knew the truth. She understood people.
And right know, she understood that Sonny Corinthos was a jackass who couldn’t read a room. The minute he’d called Jason and Elizabeth’s marriage impetuous and funny, Elizabeth’s face drained of color, all life left cheeks, and she stared down at her lap.
Five minutes earlier, this same woman had been sparkling with irritation, with amusement, even happiness—and now all of that emotion had blinked out of existence.
Because Sonny had called her marriage impetuous and funny—and Jason hadn’t said a word in response.
“But it’s not,” Brenda said, hoping to bring the conversation and give Jason an opportunity to speak up. But her ex-fiancé (she was going to love calling him that for the rest of her life though she’d probably wait until Elizabeth thought it was funny because Brenda’s almost marriage was impetuous and funny—why couldn’t Sonny see there was a damn difference—idiot) was just frowning at Sonny.
“I don’t understand,” Jason said slowly. “What happened last night?” He looked at Elizabeth, his light brows drawn together in confusion. “How did—why were you on the pier?”
“I didn’t want to go home after work,” Elizabeth muttered, staring at hands like they had the answers to all of life’s questions. And Brenda wondered if Elizabeth’s reluctance to go home had anything to do with the beach blonde bimbo Barbie she’d threatened with the box cutter—
“But the pier—why the hell did Marco let you—”
Sonny frowned. “Marco wasn’t with her last night. He’s been guarding Courtney—”
“No, he isn’t,” Jason argued. “He’s been Elizabeth’s guard since the shooting at the hospital—” He looked at Elizabeth. “Where—”
“I—” Elizabeth finally looked up with a squint of her eyes, a little impatient. “Jason, I haven’t had a guard since I left the penthouse.”
Left the penthouse? Brenda filed that away for later. So much for no one being back in Port Charles who’d mind if he got married.
“I—” Sonny cleared his throat. “When you told me on the plane,” he said to Elizabeth a bit painfully, “that Marco had taken you to work while you were there, I didn’t—I didn’t make the connection—”
“What connection? I don’t—I don’t have a guard,” Elizabeth said. She looked back and forth between Jason and Sonny, and Brenda was surprised to see fury flash in Jason’s blue eyes—fury directed at Sonny.
She leaned back, crossed her legs, and smirked. “Oh, I see. Jason thought you had a guard this entire time, and it looks like Sonny reassigned him.” Brenda just lifted her brows when both men turned to scowl at her. “Or did I get it wrong?”
“When did you reassign Marco?” Jason bit out, shoving himself to his feet. “Didn’t he tell you—”
“He told me that—” Sonny winced, rubbing his temple. “He told he was working on something, but I—I told him I’d take care of it—I never—I forgot—”
“Damn it, Sonny—”
“Wait—” Elizabeth looked at Jason, her eyes wide. “You thought I had a guard this whole time?”
“Of course I did! You were living with me, Elizabeth! You think Alcazar didn’t know that? I didn’t—” Some of the anger drained out of him and he sat back down, his head in his hands. “I didn’t ask Marco. He’s not there to spy on you, so I figured—no report was good news. That you were okay.”
Brenda saw Elizabeth’s hand tremble as she lifted it, nearly reaching out to Jason, but it fell into her lap at the last minute. Oh, man, they were both idiots. “I think we’re getting off topic,” she murmured. “Elizabeth didn’t have a guard. Jason can smack Sonny around about it later—”
“Right,” Elizabeth said slowly, focusing on Brenda, then flicking a quick, confused glance at Jason who wasn’t looking at her. “Um, I was just gonna walk on Bannister’s Wharf, but I wasn’t paying attention—”
Jason muttered something under his breath Brenda couldn’t make out, but whatever it was had Elizabeth narrowing her eyes into slits. “I’d just been told something that made me feel very violent,” she said, her jaw clenched.
The boxcutter. Brenda nodded. “Fair enough. We’ve all been there.”
“I realized where I was, but before I could get out of there, I heard voices. I thought they both sounded familiar, but one of them was more quiet—Alcazar was louder,” Elizabeth said. “I’d heard him at Kelly’s with Roy, so I knew what he sounded like. He was angry with someone—I didn’t see either of them. I ducked behind some boxes. Then—” Elizabeth rubbed her wrist, restless. “I heard a gunshot. Something dropped to the docks. I tried to get out of there without being heard, but I tripped—” She paused. “Alcazar thought it was you,” she murmured to Jason who looked at her. “And he shot at me. That’s why there’s footage of me running away from the pier.”
“Could it have been Zander you overheard with Alcazar?” Sonny asked.
“I—” Elizabeth bit her bottom lip. “Maybe. Now that I think about it—Alcazar was really angry—the guy had lost sight of his property—” Her face paled as she focused on Brenda. “And he said she’s gone. I think—”
“This would have been around the time you and Jason started this whole jaunt to Vegas,” Sonny said dryly. “So whoever Alcazar had watching you, Jason was able to lose him long enough for you to get to the airport.”
“But—if that was Zander—” Elizabeth sighed. “That means he got his memory back and went back to work for Alcazar. I just saw him two days ago,” she muttered. “He didn’t say anything about his memory being back—”
“Of course not. You’re more useful to him in the dark,” Sonny said. Elizabeth scowled at him as Jason winced.
“Yeah, that’s how you like your women, too,” Elizabeth retorted. “Out of the loop, walking around like idiots.”
“Elizabeth—” Jason began.
“It doesn’t matter. Look, can’t I just tell the PCPD what I saw?” Elizabeth asked.
“No, because you’re not credible,” Sonny said. “The PCPD knows you’d lie for Jason. You’ve done it before.”
“Funny you remember that now,” Elizabeth said, acid dripping from her words. Well, at least that cleared something up — Elizabeth had been left out of the whole Sonny not being dead secret, too, and she was still pissed about it.
“Sonny, can you just shut up?” Jason demanded. “You’re not helping—”
“So if I can’t tell the PCPD what I saw,” Elizabeth said, cutting off Sonny’s bewildered reply, “what do I do?”
“Honestly?” Sonny shrugged, leaned back, and studied the two of them. “The best option for all of us is to pretend this Vegas trip never happened. Or at least that you never came here,” he told Elizabeth.
Elizabeth blinked at him. “Wait, what?”
“We go back to Port Charles,” Sonny said. “Liz goes back to her life, Jason goes back to his. Their breakup was well-known. People commented on it—”
“Oh, you are a lot dumber than you used to be,” Brenda breathed as Elizabeth closed her eyes and Jason winced.
“We can prove Jason was in Vegas,” Sonny continued ignoring her. “We can prove he was at the airport, and I’m betting—based on when you got to the Towers—that the plane had just taken off when the shots were fired.”
Sonny looked at Brenda. “You can alibi him, and I can give a statement about the flight taking off because I was tracking it, trying to charter another plane. I stalled you at the airport—”
“I knew something was off,” Brenda said.
“But Elizabeth, you just went home. And if Jason’s not a suspect, they’re not going to care about you,” he told her. “You guys lay low, just keep acting like you’ve been acting for the last few weeks, and this won’t be an issue.”
Except Elizabeth had come to Vegas, and Jason had practically marched her to the altar. Brenda watched Jason and Elizabeth absorb Sonny’s plan. “You mean,” she said, deciding to help them when Jason kept his mouth closed, “pretend they never got married.”
Or spent the morning locked in suite’s master bedroom.
“Yes,” Sonny said. “I think it’s the best way to get Jason clear of this as quickly as possible. Then we can get back to focusing on Alcazar.”
Jason opened his mouth, looked at Elizabeth who was staring at her hands, then sighed. “It keeps you out of it, too,” he said softly.
Brenda closed her eyes. Absolute idiot.
“Okay.” Elizabeth’s lips trembled slightly, but she pressed them together, then nodded. “Okay, Sonny. You should—you should probably make sure I get separate transportation home from the airport or something. I can’t be dropped off in the limo or anything.”
“Right, I’ll call Benny—” Sonny got to his feet. “We’ll work out everything else—” He stopped when Elizabeth shoved away from the table and disappeared into the master bedroom. “On the plane,” he finished.
Jason exhaled slowly, looked at Sonny. “She came to you at the Towers after she was shot at—”
“She came to you,” Brenda corrected Jason quietly. She turned back to her other ex-fiancé. “Didn’t she, Sonny? She was nearly killed, and came looking for Jason. And you patted her head, told her Jason was on the brink of death, loaded her on the plane because, obviously, you knew he’d never go through with marrying me if she was anywhere near it.”
Sonny slid his hands into his pockets. “You’re making it sound more calculated than it was—”
“No, I think I’ve got it right. And now, because you don’t want Jason to be distracted by someone else when he should be dealing with Luis, you want her to pretend that the last twelve hours didn’t happen. Which, in case you forgot, includes her getting married to Jason.”
“I—” Sonny looked at Jason. “You see it the way I do. She’s safer this way—”
“As safe as she was without the guard I assigned her,” Jason bit out. He got to his feet. “The only reason I’m doing this is because I don’t want the PCPD harassing her—”
“That isn’t your decision,” Brenda said bluntly. He turned his attention to her, frowning. “I don’t know the history, Jase, but Sonny seems to think Elizabeth has had run ins with the cops about you before. And she’s clearly still standing. I swear—” She took a deep breath. “I swear to God, if you leave her standing in the rain, I will never, ever forgive you.”
And with that, Brenda stalked into the other bedroom, slamming the door.
Sonny scowled after her. “What the hell crawled up her ass—” He turned when he heard another door, catching Jason just as he followed Elizabeth.
“How the hell did I end up as the bad guy?” Sonny muttered.
Jason closed the door behind him, Brenda’s words echoing in his head.
If you leave her standing in the rain… The way Sonny had left her, walking away over and over again, leaving Brenda to doubt how he felt about her—leaving her to wonder what she’d done wrong—
Jason was a literal man, but even he understood the connection Brenda had been trying to make.
Elizabeth was sitting on the bed, staring down at her hands. At her fingers. She was twisting a small silver ring she wore on her right hand, and he found himself wondering if they should have stopped somewhere so he could buy her a wedding ring.
It’d be something small, that wouldn’t get in the way when she painted or sketched—
“Are we leaving for the airport?” Elizabeth said, her voice empty. He knew that tone—he’d heard it before. When she’d talked about modeling and the dreams Lucky had wanted for them —
“I don’t know,” Jason said. He glanced past her, at the bed and the sheets that were still strewn across the bed. They’d spent hours in that bed earlier—he’d learned every inch of her body and he finally learned how she tasted when she laughed—
She didn’t even look like the same woman.
“I agreed to Sonny’s plan because I don’t want you in the middle of this,” Jason began. “But—”
“Same old story.” Elizabeth got to her feet and walked over to the window, yanking back the blackout curtain, sunlight streaming into the room. Jason blinked, stepped out of a direct beam. “Fine. Whatever.”
“When are we leaving?” Elizabeth interrupted. She folded her arms. “I’m tired, and I want to sleep on the way home.”
“But it’s not my decision to make,” Jason finished. “If we go back and tell everyone that we got married, the PCPD won’t care that I have an alibi. They’ll still think we got married because of what happened to Zander. Alcazar will come after you harder because he’ll know you came to us.”
“And Carly will make my life a living hell, my grandmother will be disappointed like she always is, and everyone will look at me, wondering what I was thinking,” Elizabeth said. “What’s your point?”
“My point is that since you’re the one that has to deal with all of that,” Jason said, “then you should be the one to decide if it’s what you want.”
Elizabeth frowned at him, then took a few steps forward, finally pulling herself out of the sunlight that had blocked her face from his view. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that it’s going to be harder for you this way, but if you don’t want to go with Sonny’s plan, we won’t.”
“If I want?” Elizabeth snorted. “You’ve never cared what I wanted—”
“That’s not true—”
“No, you’re right. You don’t care about it when it looks like I want you,” she said. “Because every single time I’ve given you the signal I want more, you run as fast as you can in the other direction.” She held up a finger. “And yeah, I’ve done it, too. But this is different. Because when I ran, it was because I was scared of getting hurt. When you run, it’s because you pretend the danger is too much for me.”
“I pretend—” Jason sighed, then dipped his head. “Yeah,” he admitted. “I know.”
“And I’m really tired, Jason. I can live with you pushing me away because I’ve hurt you. I wouldn’t blame you. God knows, I’ve dragged you through the mud and run over you a few times—” Her voice faltered. “I deserve to be pushed away for that—”
“Hey—” He strode forward, took her hands in his, drawing them away from her waist. “No—”
“But when you tell me it’s too dangerous when Sonny gets to have a wife and you hang around with Carly and Michael and you nearly marry another woman, and kiss Courtney—” A tear spilled down her cheek. “It starts to feel like it’s me you don’t want—”
“I didn’t kiss Courtney—” He paused. “Is that what she told you?” When Elizabeth just wrinkled her nose, looked away. “Is that why you threatened her with a boxcutter?”
“No,” Elizabeth muttered. “I did that because she wouldn’t stop talking. I just wanted her to stop talking about how I’d been wrong, and how you’d fallen in love with her while you were guarding her—I just wanted her to shut up and go away—”
“She was wrong—she kissed me,” Jason told Elizabeth. “Half the reason I agreed to Brenda’s insane plan was to get Courtney stop—” He shook his head. “Never mind. That’s not—I don’t want you to get hurt. But if you’re willing to take that risk, then—”
“I’ve always been willing,” Elizabeth reminded him. “You’re the one that keeps changing his mind.”
“Then I’ll tell Sonny we need a new plan.” Jason grasped her chin in his fingers, lifting her eyes to meet his. “And you’ll come home with me. If that’s where you want to be.”
“Yes.” With her free hand, Elizabeth fisted her hand in his shirt. “Is that where you want me?”
“It’s where I always wanted you.” Jason cut off anything else she had to say with a kiss, and if Sonny hadn’t banged on the door a minute later, telling them the plane would be ready in fifteen minutes, they might have gone back to bed.