With Elizabeth’s hand in his, Jason walked out of the bedroom and stopped in front of Sonny. “We need a new plan,” he said bluntly.
Sonny frowned, narrowing his eyes. “I thought we agreed—ow!” He glared at Brenda who whacked him in the stomach. “Will you stop hitting me? I already have a busted nose—” He sent Elizabeth an irritated look.
“You’ve deserved every smack,” Brenda retorted.
Sonny’s scowl only deepened when he turned back to Jason. “I thought you wanted her out of this—that you wanted the PCPD to lose the scent. As soon as they get over this—”
“We need a new plan,” Jason repeated. “Elizabeth is coming back to the penthouse. That’s not negotiable—” He glanced at her and the sight of her tremulous smile bolstered him. He focused on Sonny again. “She’s coming home with me, but I don’t—we don’t have to volunteer that we got married in Vegas.”
Sonny narrowed his eyes. “So how we do explain this whole—” He waved his finger in a circle indicating the room. “The two of you came to Vegas and didn’t get married? They’re never going to buy it—”
“They will,” Elizabeth said. “Because—” She sighed. “You’re right, Sonny. The second Taggert or Scott find out that Jason and I got married, they’re not going to believe it’s not related. But—” She met Jason’s eyes. “But if I tell them that I came to Vegas with Jason because he was on business for you so that we could get away from things in Port Charles, that’s not too far from the truth.”
“And the pier?” Sonny retorted. “You’re going to lie—”
“It’s not the first time,” Elizabeth reminded him caustically. “And I don’t even have to lie much. I was walking on the pier after work, heard gunshots, got scared, and ran. I went to see Jason, and you told me he was in Vegas. So I came here to see him. We’re coming back because he’s done and, well, there’s a warrant out for me.” She shrugged. “Some of that is even true.”
Sonny pressed his lips together. “It might work,” he admitted. He rubbed the back of his neck. “All right. We’ll try it. But, uh—” He looked at Jason. “Do you want to call Carly before we get back or wait until we get home?”
“Scared of a tiny blonde,” Brenda sighed. “You hate to see it.”
“After,” Jason definitively. “And she—” He winced, looked at Elizabeth. “We can’t tell her,” he said. “She’ll never keep it to herself.”
With a sigh, Elizabeth shrugged a shoulder. “She’s your friend, not mine. I mean, it’s not like I want to see her head explode.” When Brenda snorted, Elizabeth’s mouth twitched. “Okay, maybe a little.”
Port Charles: Limo
With the time difference, it was nearly nine at night by the time the limo pulled into Harborview Towers — Brenda had attempted to get a car to her cottage, but Sonny had vetoed it. Brenda had sulked and threatened to run away, and they’d bickered the entire drive home.
Elizabeth sat next to Jason, their hands still laced together. She stared at his fingers, wrapped around hers, still not sure how anything in the last twenty-four hours had really happened. Had she really been shot at on the pier? Dragged to Vegas —
Had she really married Jason?
She looked at Jason who was frowning at Sonny and Brenda across the car. “At some point,” she said softly, too softly for the bickering ex-couple to hear her. “We’re going to have to figure this out.”
Jason glanced at her, then nodded. “Yeah. I know.” He drew their hands into his lap, sliding his thumb over the back of her hand. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly. Their eyes met. “For hurting you. Back at the hotel. When I agreed to the first plan.”
“You were trying to keep me safe,” Elizabeth said. She leaned her head against his shoulder, her eyes drifting closed. “I’m used to it.”
“But I shouldn’t do it by making decisions for you. And I’m sorry,” he said again.
“I’m sorry, too,” she murmured. “For running. Won’t do that…” Her voice trailed off, and she slid into sleep.
Harborview Towers: Hallway
Unfortunately for Sonny, Carly was waiting for him in the hallway and her eyes nearly bulged out of her face when the elevators doors open, and Jason stepped out, cradling a sleeping Elizabeth and Brenda trailing after him.
Sonny grimaced, putting a hand up. “Just—just don’t. We’ll—”
“Don’t tell me—what is she doing here?” Carly hissed as Brenda unlocked Jason’s door and he carried Elizabeth in. “Damn it, Sonny — what the hell is going on—”
“Are you always like this?” Brenda asked. She folded her arms. “You know, I think I liked my life better when I never had to see you. When I died, you were locked up in the loony bin. Why did they let you out?”
Carly hissed and took a step forward. Sonny stepped between the two of them, holding his hands up as he faced Carly. “Carly—”
Jason stepped back out of the penthouse, scrubbing a hand down his face. “Carly, go home,” he said, flatly. “We’ll talk in the morning. Brenda is staying in my guest room because she’s not safe at the cottage—”
“Don’t tell me to go home—you don’t get to give me orders—”
“I do when I’ve barely slept in the last three days,” Jason cut in. He took a short breath. “Carly. I’m tired. You can yell at Sonny in your penthouse. Go do that. He deserves it.”
Sonny tossed his friend a beleaguered look, but clearly he hadn’t been forgiven for dragging Elizabeth across the country on a lie then asking them to pretend to be broken up for a few more weeks.
“Good night, Carly,” Jason said. He took Brenda’s elbow and swung her into the penthouse. For once, the brunette didn’t argue with him.
“And why is the muffin back!” Carly threw up her hands as she whirled around and stalked back into the penthouse. “I was so close to getting him to date Courtney—”
“You weren’t even remotely in the ball park,” Sonny said, exhausted. “I’m going to sleep—”
“Oh, hell no. You’re going to tell me where you disappeared to last night, how Brenda ended up there—why didn’t return my phone calls—” Carly broke off abruptly as Sonny walked past her and started up the stairs. “I’m not done talking to you—”
“I’ll start listening again in the morning.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Jason winced at the sight of Brenda’s bags next to the sofa, a harsh reminder of her visit the day before and how close he’d come to making such a terrible decision. “I’m going to bed,” he said, walking over to the sofa to pick up Elizabeth where he’d left her.
“She’s really out, huh?” Brenda asked conversationally as she walked up the stairs behind them, one of her bags over her shoulder. “You’d think she’d wake up with that harpy—”
“Brenda—” Jason turned at the top of the stairs. “Pick a room and leave me alone.”
“You know,” Brenda said, putting her hands on her hips. “You could be nicer to me. I did you a favor.” She nodded at the sleeping woman in his arms. “You think you’d be waking up to married to her tomorrow if I hadn’t started this—”
Jason started to reply, then nodded. “You’re right. In a way that is barely related to you, I—” He looked down at Elizabeth, who shifted a little in her sleep, burrowing her face deeper into his shoulder. “I have everything I want.”
Startled, Brenda just stared at him. “Wait. Really?”
“So tomorrow, when we’ve all had a chance to sleep, we’re going to figure out how to get you what you want,” Jason promised her. “So—pick a room.”
“All right.” She waited until he was nearly down the end of the hall. “I’m glad, Jase. That we didn’t go through with it. It would have been really stupid.”
“Yeah, it would have. Good night, Brenda.”
Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom
Elizabeth moaned slightly as a beam of sunlight hit her eyes. She rolled over and buried her face in the soft pillow beneath her cheek. “Five more minutes,” she murmured. “I’ll go to school later.”
A light laugh broke through her hazy mind, and Elizabeth opened her eyes. She rolled over to find Jason leaning up on his elbow, laying stretched out next to her on his bed.
She jackknifed into a sitting position, blinking around the room. “Wait. We’re—how long—” She cleared her throat, scrubbing her hands down her face. “I barely remember getting off the plane.”
“Yeah, you fell sleep not long after we left the airport,” Jason told her. He tipped his head to the side. “It’s almost eight.”
Elizabeth winced. “Oh, man, Mike is gonna kill me. I think I was supposed to open—” She hesitated. “Wait, what day is it?”
“Thursday,” Jason said. “I’m sure Mike will understand—”
“Yeah, but Penny won’t. She’s the only other waitress Mike trusts to open—” Elizabeth flopped back on the bed. “Oh well. We were supposed to open three hours ago, so I guess there’s no point in getting irritated. I’ll just have to make it up to her.” She bit her lip, and looked at him, all that gorgeous golden skin in the sunlight. She grinned. “Hey.”
“Hey,” he replied. He leaned down to kiss her lightly, just a brush of his mouth against hers. She sighed dreamily, tracing his cheekbone with her fingertips. “I need clothes,” she murmured.
“You left a few things here,” Jason said. He twirled a piece of her hair around his finger. “We’ll get your things from the studio.” He paused. “If you want.”
“There’s no point in me coming back here if I don’t have clothes.” Her smile deepened. “I mean, I guess we could stay naked the whole time, but I don’t think Sonny would appreciate it.”
“Hey, I have clothes,” Jason said with another grin. He leaned down to kiss her bare shoulders. “You can wear my shirts.”
“Hmm—the idea has merit but—” She sighed as his mouth trailed across her collarbone. “Do we have to get up?”
“No—” Jason began, then winced as something pounded below them. He let his forehead drop to her chest. “That’s the door.”
“We could ignore it,” Elizabeth suggested, helpfully. “I mean, the PCPD can’t just come in without a warrant, but—”
She frowned when she heard voices. “Jason — is that—”
With a scowl, Jason sat up. “Yeah, that’s Brenda and Carly.” He rubbed his cheek. “I told Carly I’d talk to her in the morning. I guess I should be relieved she didn’t come over at dawn.”
“It’s the little things,” Elizabeth said, forcing a smile. “Are my things still in the guest room? I didn’t know what I left—”
“Uh, a dress, I think. And some—” He scratched his neck. “Some jeans. They were in the laundry room,” he mumbled. “And they’re—” He nodded at the closet. “They’re in there.”
“In—” Elizabeth frowned at him. “In your closet? Why?”
“I—” Jason’s cheeks were a bit red as he took a deep breath. “I meant to give them to you, but then I—” He paused. “Then I thought you’d come back for them. And then—” He shook his head. “I cleaned out the guest room,” he muttered, “so that Brenda could use it. Before we went to Vegas.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth bit her lip, staring at the comforter. “She was going to stay in there—”
“She is—” Jason winced. “She’s there now or at least that’s where I think she ended up. You fell asleep in the car, I guess you didn’t hear—”
Elizabeth absorbed the fact that Jason had cleaned what little she’d left behind from the room where she’d slept so that he could park the woman he’d nearly married. And then that woman had slept there anyway last night.
She wasn’t really sure how she felt about it.
“It’s okay,” she said finally. “I have something I can wear,” she said. “I’ll get the jeans, and if Brenda’s here, maybe she can loan me a shirt. It’s too cold for the dress.” She pushed the comforter aside and slid out of bed. “I’ll get a shower while you go deal with Brenda and Carly.”
“Can’t I just stay up here?” Jason asked, with a wince. Her mood lightened and she leaned forward to kiss him.
“We’ll have plenty of time for showers,” she promised him. “But only if Carly and Brenda aren’t here.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Jason thought he should be relieved that Carly and Brenda hadn’t come to blows in the time they’d been alone downstairs. Brenda was lounging on the sofa, paging through a magazine as Carly glowered near the door.
“Uh, when I said the morning,” Jason told Carly, “I mean I would come to see you when I was ready—”
“You went to Vegas,” Carly said, jabbing a finger in his chest. “And I saw that bitch’s luggage—why the hell did you take her to Vegas, Jase? And don’t give me the bullshit story Sonny’s trying to feed me. You and Brenda went there first. Sonny and Elizabeth followed. How dumb do you think I am?”
“Don’t answer that,” Jason said to Brenda, not even turning around. He heard Brenda grumbling in the background. “In fact — can you loan Elizabeth something to wear until we get her things?”
“I wanna watch the show,” Brenda complained, but she crossed over to a suitcase, and unzipped it.
“Jason,” Carly began but Jason turned back to her, irritated beyond belief. How many times had he been alone with Elizabeth when Carly had called—
“It’s none of your business why I was in Vegas,” Jason said shortly. “All you need to know is Elizabeth is living here. Don’t make that face—”
“And don’t start. I’ve got enough problems without you adding to them.”
“Hey, you wanna get dirty with the muffin—” Carly held up her hands. “Listen, we all need to make mistakes. But you know the PCPD came by yesterday looking for her. Zander—” She hesitated. “Zander’s dead, Jase. And they think Elizabeth knows something.”
“I know that—”
“So please tell me,” Carly began, “that you didn’t do anything stupid—”
The front door opened behind them as Sonny came in, and Jason winced as he saw Taggert and Scott right behind him.
“—like marry Elizabeth in Vegas—” Carly’s words were spoken nearly at the same time the men walked in and Sonny just closed his eyes. Carly turned at the intrusion, saw Sonny’s face and the men with him. “Oh, damn it, Jason!” she swore.
“That’s an excellent question, Anger Boy,” Taggert drawled as he leaned against the door frame. “Care to answer it?”
He needed to change the locks on the penthouse. If he’d had another set of locks, he’d still be upstairs with Elizabeth where everything made sense. Instead, Jason was standing in his living room, glaring at a stricken Carly while Baldwin and Taggert awaited his answer to Carly’s question.
Why the hell had Sonny—
“Well?” Baldwin demanded, shoving the detective aside. “You marry the witness against you, Morgan, or what? Is that why Elizabeth didn’t show up for work today? You dragged her to Vegas?”
“If you have any questions for me, you can talk to my lawyer,” Jason said flatly. “And I don’t have one right now, so unless you’re arresting me—”
“Oh, we’re not here for you, Anger Boy,” Taggert sneered. “We got a material witness order for Elizabeth so we’re bringing her in—”
“What’s the criminal proceeding?” Brenda asked as she joined Jason’s side. “I thought you could only get them if there was a pending proceeding and you wanted to make sure she was available. So what’s the case? Who’s the bad guy?”
“Brenda,” Taggert said with an impatient sigh, “this doesn’t concern you—”
“Unless—” Scott gestured at the set of suitcases by the stairs that Brenda had been pawing through. “Unless Mrs. Corinthos here is wrong and the blushing bridal brunette is not Elizabeth Webber. Maybe we got the wrong idea—”
“What’s going on?”
Jason kept his expression blank as they all turned towards the staircase and Elizabeth stepped off the bottom stair. She’d taken the shower, so her hair was damp, already curling at the ends, and she’d put on the purple summer dress she’d left behind. She’d probably gotten impatient waiting for Brenda.
“So you are here,” Scott said, narrowing his eyes, looking at the luggage, then Brenda, then Elizabeth again. “You know polygamy ain’t legal in New York.”
“Polygamy?” she repeated.
“Carly here let your good news slip,” Scott continued, “but we were debating the actual identity of the bride since Brenda looks like she’s all moved in. Or maybe you’re just a really understanding type of wife. I mean, you practically look alike—”
“Elizabeth, we got an order to bring you down to the PCPD,” Taggert interrupted as Elizabeth just stared at the DA with wide eyes. “So—”
“Am I under arrest?” She folded her arms. “Because I need to call a lawyer—”
“No, we got questions and we want to make sure you answer them—”
“I don’t understand. How do you get a material witness order if you don’t even know the witness has any material?” Carly demanded. “You haven’t talked to her—”
“Carly,” Sonny hissed. “You’ve done enough.”
Elizabeth bit her lip, looked at Jason hesitantly, and he knew she was regretting the decision to come downstairs. He hated this. Hated her being in the middle of all of this, and hated even more than it was his friend that tipped Baldwin and Taggert off about their marriage. They hadn’t even really figured any of it out yet, and now—
“Where have you been for the last forty-eight hours?” Taggert asked. “You didn’t show up for work, and night before last, you were seen running from Pier 52 after gunshots were fired. You didn’t call to report them—”
“It’s Port Charles,” Elizabeth said, walking forward, glancing at Brenda who was next to Jason. The older brunette stepped back, but Elizabeth remained several feet from him, and he just wanted to reach out, take her hand, pull her close to him and make them stop asking questions. “Someone is always shooting at someone.”
Taggert lifted his brows. “I went to see you at your studio when we got the footage. It was almost three in the morning. You weren’t there—”
“No, I wasn’t. I flew to Las Vegas that night with Sonny.” Elizabeth twisted a silver ring on her right hand. “Jason was already there, and we were meeting him.”
“You closed at Kelly’s at midnight. You went to Vegas after that?” Taggert said. “What the hell is in Vegas?”
“We have a hotel on the Strip,” Sonny interjected. “The Cosmopolitan. We checked in around five AM Vegas time. You can call the hotel.” He flashed a dimpled smile. “We just got back last night—”
“Short trip,” Scott said. He focused on Elizabeth. “Marriages are public record, Elizabeth. All I gotta do is call the registrar in Vegas—”
“Yes,” Elizabeth said, making a face. “We got married that night when I got to Vegas. I’m sorry if I didn’t send you an invitation, but you know, you’re not exactly high on my list, Mr. Baldwin.” She flicked her eyes over Taggert’s. “You either, for that matter. ”
“You got shot at on the pier,” Taggert said slowly, “then ran to Harborview Towers, hopped a plane with Sonny, and got married to Jason. I’m supposed to think it’s a coincidence that Zander Smith showed up dead the same day?”
“I can’t tell you what to think,” Elizabeth told him. “All I can tell you is that getting married to Jason had absolutely nothing to do with Zander or what happened on the pier.” She met Taggert’s gaze head on, and Jason knew that she’d phrased the response deliberately so that every word was the truth.
“Wait—” Scott held up a hand. “Morgan was already in Vegas?” His head snapped to Jason who just stared at him blandly. “When did you get there?”
“You can talk to my lawyer,” Jason said. “Elizabeth already told you. Our marriage doesn’t have anything to do with what happened in Port Charles.”
“I doubt that. We can subpoena flight records,” Scott reminded him. “Passenger lists. Car rentals. If you were in Vegas at the time of death—” He shrugged. “Then we can let this go.” He glanced at Elizabeth. “Unless Miss Webber—I’m sorry—Mrs. Morgan—” he said with such venom that Elizabeth nearly flinched. “Unless Mrs. Morgan wants to tell us what the hell she was doing on Pier 52 after midnight? Maybe getting rid of an old boyfriend to clear the way—”
Elizabeth’s mouth dropped as Jason clenched his jaw. “Lawyer,” he repeated. “Get out.”
“Is that it, Elizabeth? Wanted to make sure Smith couldn’t mess up a good thing? Got tired of playing them off one on another—”
Elizabeth put an arm out just Jason started to step forward, blocking him from committing assault. “If you expect me to answer any other questions,” she said, icily, “then you should get an arrest warrant. Do I need to call my lawyer?”
“Do you have a lawyer?” Taggert asked with interest. He gestured at Jason and Sonny. “Their lawyer quit after her sister got blown up because of them—”
“I’ll get a lawyer within the hour,” she retorted. “And I’ll press charges for violating my constitutional rights and for trespassing. We’ve told you to leave. Twice.”
“We’ll be in touch.”
Scott closed the door behind him as Elizabeth let her head drop down, her shoulders slumping. Jason looked at Sonny, who nodded.
“Carly,” he began.
“Wait—” The blonde frowned as her husband took her arm. “No, we need to fix this—why the hell did you get married? What is going on?”
“We’re going home,” Sonny told her, “so you can do all the yelling I ignored last night.” When they were gone, Jason turned to Brenda who put her hands up.
“I already told you I wanted to be anywhere else,” she reminded him.
“I need to get my things from the studio,” Elizabeth said to Jason. She tucked her hair behind her ears. “I can do that on my own if you can get a guard—”
“No.” He shook his head, then went over the closet to get his jacket and tossed her the one she’d worn in Vegas. “No, I want to get that done.” Jason looked at Brenda. “Don’t go anywhere. We still need to figure this out.”
“Always nice to be an item on the list,” Brenda said with a roll of her eyes, but Jason was already ignoring her and steering Elizabeth towards the door.
They didn’t talk on the ride over—Jason took her on the bike with a guard following in one of their SUVs so she’d have a way to get her things to the penthouse. The guard waited downstairs while she led him upstairs, unlocking the door and shoving it open.
She’d only been gone a few days, but already the studio felt like another lifetime. Elizabeth sat on the arm of the sofa and looked at Jason. “Do you think they’re really going to come after me for this?”
“No,” Jason said, but he didn’t sound nearly as sure as she’d hope he would. “No,” he repeated. “They wanted to piss me off, make me mad enough to give them something. Taggert still thinks I did this—”
“I don’t know, Scott sounded like he was halfway to a motive for me,” Elizabeth admitted. She stared down at her chipped nail polish. “I mean, you think he couldn’t sell it to a jury?”
“Imagine me, some kind of femme fatale,” she said, trying hard to force a smile on her face. “Got a rich lover on the hook, but I gotta make the last guy get out of the picture—”
“Hey—” Jason pulled Elizabeth up to her feet and into his arms. She pressed her face against his leather jacket. “We both know that’s not what happened.”
“No, it’s actually worse,” she admitted. Elizabeth tipped her head back to look at him. “And you said it yourself. Zander made himself your enemy, and I—I didn’t do what I should have. He didn’t matter to me. Not really. We weren’t even friends, and I only—” She sighed, sliding one of her fingers down the smooth material of his jacket. “I just went to see him in the hospital, and then Lucky was there, telling me what I couldn’t do—I wasn’t going to ask Zander to stay until that happened—”
“And then I came over and told you the same thing,” Jason said, with a slight wince. “I’m sorry—”
“It still doesn’t change what I did later.” Elizabeth stepped back, that false smile still on her face. “Maybe it was partly just being scared of being alone. Of not trusting that you and I were going to go anywhere. I don’t know.”
“You made a mistake—”
“And you forgave me because that’s what you do.” Elizabeth bit her lip as she picked up the suitcase she’d brought home from the penthouse two weeks earlier and flipped it open. “And I just run away. Isn’t that what you said?”
Jason came up behind her, drawing her against his chest, wrapping an arm around her waist. “That night—in Vegas—I didn’t mean it—I was just—I was angry,” he admitted. “At you, at Sonny, myself for letting it get so crazy—”
“You meant it.” Elizabeth turned. “You’re right. You forgive me, and I just go on to the next terrible thing. And the one time that you mess up, I didn’t even—” She bit her lip. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I should have let you explain. Or just accepted it and forgiven you like you do for me.”
“Let’s just get this stuff and go. I didn’t even really unpack from when I moved out,” she told him. “You have so much to do, to worry about—”
“It can wait,” Jason insisted. He gently pressed her shoulder so that she faced him again. He traced his fingertips down her jawline, waiting for her to meet his eyes. “I know there’s a lot going on,” he began. “And we’re not—we’re not okay yet. You and me. We can’t fix everything with screaming at each other on the street and getting married five minutes later.”
She dipped her gaze down, her chest tightening. “I know,” she said in a painful whisper. “I wish we could just pretend the rest of it isn’t there.”
“Sometimes we will,” he told her, tipping her chin up again until she looked at him. “And sometimes we won’t. Right now, I just want us to promise each other something. I don’t want you to run away again when you get scared.”
“And I don’t want you to let me go because you think I’m better off.” Elizabeth gripped the sides of his jacket, leaned up to press her lips against his. “You were right,” she whispered against his mouth.
“When?” he replied, his breath hot against her cheek as his lips traced a line to the pulse point in her neck.
“Sonny told you were hurt, and I would have gone to the ends of the Earth to get to you,” she said softly. He drew back, their eyes holding. “I do love you.”
“I love you, too. I just wish I hadn’t shouted it at you the first time I said it,” Jason said with regret in his eyes.
“I’m glad you did,” Elizabeth said. “It was actually—” She bit her lip, then grinned at him, a more genuine one that she could feel down to the tips of her toes. “Once I got past the whole being screamed at part, I think it was kind of hot.”
He laughed, leaned his forehead against hers, tugging her closer. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” Elizabeth pressed her mouth to his collarbone. “So let’s get my stuff, go home and deal with Brenda so we can be alone.”
“That sounds like a great idea.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
The last thing Jason wanted to see when he opened the door to the penthouse an hour later was people sitting on the sofa. He knew Brenda would be lurking, but why the hell were Sonny and Benny with her—
Elizabeth wrinkled her nose as she walked in behind him, setting a duffel bag on the desk. Jason put down her suitcases—he’d been strangely relieved when she hadn’t just put things back into the single bag she’d brought with her in September. The majority of her clothes were now in his penthouse.
And Brenda’s luggage was still at the base of the stairs, a glaring reminder of how close he’d come to ruining everything.
“I’ll go upstairs,” Elizabeth began, but Brenda shook her head.
“Oh, no, if this trio of morons is going to be deciding how the hell to save my life, I am not going to be the only woman in the room.” Brenda sprang up. “Look, I know we got off the wrong foot when I almost married your husband—”
Jason scowled at her, but Brenda kept going, “But in a very strange way, I’m like a fairy godmother, you know? Because if I hadn’t dragged him to Vegas, Sonny wouldn’t have dragged you there either, and now I’d be married to him.”
Elizabeth squinted. “Wasn’t that the plan?”
“Yes, and I think we can all agree marrying this—” Brenda flicked her eyes at him, frowning. “Well, some people like him but it would have been a terrible mistake. Tell her, Jason—”
“Huge mistake,” Jason muttered.
“Elizabeth, maybe you should go upstairs—” Sonny said. “Brenda’s just upset with the plan we came up with—”
“Upset?” Brenda whirled around, her dark eyes flashing dangerously. “Upset? Listen, Don Corleone, just because one time in my life, I was dumb enough—” Her hands were shaking, Jason noticed, and reluctantly he looked at Elizabeth.
“This is going to sound really insane, and I am so sorry,” he began.
“But Brenda could use someone in the room without testosterone,” Elizabeth finished. Her smile was thin, but he didn’t think it was disappointed. “I understand. Brenda—”
The other woman turned back to her. “They want to send me away. Lock me up, just like Luis. I can’t lose my life again—”
“I don’t want to lock you up,” Sonny said. “I would never do that to you.” He exhaled slowly. “I suggested the island,” he told Jason. “With guards to keep Alcazar from finding her—”
“But why can’t we talk about options that keep me in Port Charles? I don’t—” Brenda closed her eyes. “I just want some control,” she said after a moment. “It’s been four years, Sonny. And I wasn’t allowed to do anything. I couldn’t contact my friends. My family. I don’t know how much time I have left before—”
“I don’t understand,” Elizabeth said, “and maybe I’m not allowed to ask this, but, um, can’t you just…” She made a wave with her hands, looking at Jason. “You know.”
Jason paused. “That’s on the table, too,” he said.
“We’ve talked about this,” Sonny said, with a warning look. “He’s protected by the government—you wanna bring down more heat?”
“You got any other ideas?” Jason demanded. “Brenda shouldn’t be so desperate to get her life back that she suggested marrying me for protection.”
“Well, that, and your sparkling personality,” the woman in question muttered.
“I thought it was about your—” Sonny hesitated. “I thought you wanted someone to take care of you at the end,” he said finally as Benny looked away.
“I can do that with a power of attorney,” Brenda said. “It’s a side benefit. But I thought I might have a better chance of surviving if Jason was standing in front of me. I never said it made sense, Sonny. I said I was desperate.” As an afterthought, she shrugged to Jason. “No offense.”
“If the man Elizabeth overheard on the pier was someone watching Brenda, Alcazar isn’t giving up,” Jason said. “He’s not going to let Brenda go. It doesn’t matter where she goes, where we send her—”
“Sonny—” Brenda turned her attention on her former fiancé. “If I thought I could get away with it, if there was any other way—I’d do it myself. I just want to live again.”
Sonny held her eyes for a long time, then nodded. “All right,” he said finally. “But that’s where the two of you are out of it,” he said to her, before looking at Elizabeth.
“Don’t wanna be in it in the first place,” Elizabeth grumbled, “but Alcazar keeps shooting at me.”
Sonny and Benny left then with plans for Jason to head over to the warehouse later that evening to work. Brenda went up to her room, waiting for Jason to deliver her luggage.
Elizabeth followed her, busying herself with her own unpacking, still not entirely sure how she’d gone from listening to Courtney tell her about her future romance with Jason to married to him and back in the penthouse.
A smile flitted on her lips as she closed a drawer in the bureau. She couldn’t wait to go to work the next morning. She and Courtney were working the opening shift.
“I don’t know how long I’ll be gone tonight,” Jason said. He closed the bedroom door behind him, looking at her with a hesitant expression. “And I don’t know if I can call to tell you.”
“Okay.” Elizabeth sat on the edge of the bed. “Thank you.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t—” He sat next to her, drew her hand into his lap, playing with her fingers. “That I wasn’t around when you were here last. Every time I looked at you—” Their eyes met. “I was lying to you. And I hated it.”
“I know you can’t tell me everything,” she said. “And I don’t want to know. But I also need to know when you can’t say something. Like right now—I would have been worried if you left and didn’t come back tonight. I’ll still worry,” she added, “but not the same way.”
“It’s been a while since where I was mattered to someone,” he admitted. “I’ll do better this time.”
“I’ll do better, too,” she assured him. “I wasn’t fair before, and I’m sorry.” Elizabeth frowned as he reached for her left hand, his fingers sliding over her ring finger.
“Do you want a ring?” he asked after a long moment. “I can get one.”
Elizabeth pressed her lips together, considering the question. She should say yes. They were married. It was real and within a few days, everyone would know. Everyone would look at her hand and ask questions.
“I don’t know,” she said finally. “I know—I’m not sorry that we did it—that you dragged me into the chapel to win an argument—” Elizabeth smiled when he winced. “And it’s not like I’m telling you that I want undo it. I’m here. And I want to make this work. I just—”
She waited, trying to find the right words, hoping she wasn’t hurting him by being honest. He didn’t look upset—only curious. He tipped his head, encouraging her to finish.
“We got married on a whim,” she said. “We didn’t plan it. That’s not—it’s not how I want to make promises to you, Jason. You know? So, no, right now, I don’t want a ring.” She leaned forward to kiss him lightly, hoping it could take the sting out of her words.
His hand, strong and warm, touched her neck, his long fingers tilting her chin to the side to deepen the kiss. “You deserve more than Vegas,” Jason murmured.
“We both do, but I’m still glad we did it.” Elizabeth’s eyes drifted close as his mouth moved down her jaw. “Did you lock the door?”
“Yes,” Jason confirmed.
“Then if you don’t know when you’ll be home—” Elizabeth scooted back on the bed towards the headboard and grinned at him. “We should make the most of it.”