Prologue

June 30, 2003

Corinthos Penthouse

Carly Corinthos leaned forward and wagged her finger at her husband. “I’ve got it!” she announced gleefully. “It’ll solve all of our problems!”

Luke Spencer smirked and took the cigar out of his mouth. “This ought to be good.” He leaned against the fireplace and eyed his niece.

They’d been at this for hours—every suggestion was shot down for one reason or another. Elizabeth had been quite adamant, she wanted to stay in Port Charles at all costs.

So immediately, any idea Nikolas Cassadine or Luke had come up with was rejected. Luke wanted her to disappear while Nikolas wanted to barricade her on a Greek island.

It was nearly midnight now and Elizabeth was upstairs in the guest room, fast asleep. Her pregnancy was making her more tired than usual and she’d been sleeping more and more.

Carly’s pregnancy was somehow making her superhuman, which was why she was still up trying to contribute to the conversation despite Sonny’s pleas for her to rest.

“Just marry her off!” Carly declared dramatically.

Jason Morgan frowned. “And how in the world is that supposed to help?” he asked.

Carly shrugged. “She’ll be protected if she gets married to someone in the organization, right?”

Sonny stroked his chin thoughtfully. “I think she may have a point.”

Luke shook his head. “I can’t believe the day came when I’d agree with my psycho niece.”

Carly glared at him. “I resent that.”

Jason shook his head. “I don’t think this is gonna work. Lansing made the families very nervous. He embezzled from three of them and the other two want to kill him on principle. They don’t care if Elizabeth is under our protection. She’s a way to get to him and the baby she’s carrying is an extension of him in their eyes.”

“Look, Lansing and Faith have taken off for parts unknown,” Nikolas spoke up. “And I don’t give a damn about them right now. All I care about is that Elizabeth doesn’t get caught in some stupid mob war.”

“I agree,” Lucky Spencer chimed in.

His father snorted. “You would.”

Lucky glared at Luke. “Look, I thought this was done with. You and Nikolas are never going to agree about Mom’s treatment. I thought we agreed that as long as she’s getting the best treatment—that Elizabeth’s safety was going to take priority over this god damn rivalry.”

“As long as Luke can keep up,” Nikolas smirked.

Luke opened his mouth to reply, but Sonny jumped in. “Hey, I know there’s about twenty years of hatred between your families, but do you think we can concentrate on the matter at hand? The families want an answer.”

“Fuck the families,” Luke announced. “Bunch of inbred idiots.”

Sonny stood. “Look, the three of you are being included in this at Elizabeth’s request. Now, I promised that girl when she came to me that I would protect her. Whether it be from my enemies, from my half-brother or from anything else. I am not going to let anyone get in the way of the promise.”

Lucky shook his head. “All of this damn fighting is getting us nowhere. Let’s get back to the topic. Sonny, just how much protection would she guaranteed if she married someone in the organization?”

Sonny shrugged. “Depends on the person. If it were me, she’d be untouchable. If it were one the of guards, well it would ensure her safety to a certain point.”

“Well, obviously you’re not a possibility,” Luke decided.

“Damn right,” Carly muttered.

“What about Morgan here?”

“No way!” Carly declared, lunging to her feet. “There is no way that twit is going to force herself into Jason’s life again!”

Jason stood slowly. “Carly, just…stop it, okay? You brought the idea up. We’re looking at all the possibilities.”

“What about Courtney, huh?” Carly demanded, crossed her arms and glaring at her best friend. “You know how uncomfortable this whole situation has made her. What would she think if she knew you were considering this?”

“I don’t give a damn about that girl thinks,” Luke cut in. “What I do give a damn about is that girl sleeping upstairs. She’s got nowhere else to turn to. Her grandmother is out of town, her biological family could give two shits about her. The only people she’s got on her side are the six of us and Emily Quartermaine. I’ll be damned if the whims of some jealous little twit—”

“Watch it, Luke, that’s my sister you’re talking about!” Sonny warned.

“So?” Luke scoffed. “I thought she agreed that whatever had to be done would be done. Why are you now worrying about her feelings?”

“Because I doubt Courtney thought Elizabeth marrying Jason was even a remote possibility!” Carly snarled.

“Yeah, like Elizabeth would be jumping through hoops at the idea,” Nikolas retorted. “I can’t think of anything she’d like less. She left this life, remember? She got out.”

“And then she turned right around and came back! First by dating that idiot and then by coming to Sonny for protection!” Carly tossed back.

Jason rubbed his hands over his face. “Look, all of this fighting is getting us nowhere. We’ve got to figure this out and we’ve got to do this soon. Elizabeth is our only key to finding Lansing so her leaving Port Charles is out of the concern.”

“Careful,” Lucky sneered. “Wouldn’t want you to choke on that concern of yours.”

Jason paused momentarily to glare at the younger Spencer. “I don’t want anything to happen to her,” he said, patiently. “I want to do what’s best for everyone involved. Lansing threatened her, he threatened the baby and in my book, that would have been reason enough to get rid of him.”

“But you didn’t, did you?” Nikolas accused. “You two idiots sat on this information, letting Elizabeth come and go as she pleased. Well, I guess you learned your damn lesson when she was almost kidnapped, huh?”

“Okay, that’s enough!” Carly announced. She used two fingers and whistled loudly. “Apparently, I’m voice of reason here. Look, I’m not thrilled about the idea, but Elizabeth came to us for protection. Not you three Stooges, but she came to Sonny. She trusts him. That is his niece or nephew she’s pregnant with and you have our word she will be protected.”

“Your word means nothing to me,” Nikolas announced. “If I had my way, Elizabeth would have been in Greece last month.”

“Yeah, well, we all know what she thought of that plan, don’t we?” Carly retorted. “Look, I am exhausted. Is she marrying into the organization or not?”

“I think before we decide that, this needs to be run by Elizabeth,” Lucky interjected. “She needs to approve this. This is her life, her child.”

Luke nodded. “Right. I’ll go wake her.”

“There’s no need. You all woke me up with the arguing,” Elizabeth murmured as she descended down the stairs.

The past month of stress and worry had taken its toll on the petite brunette. Her hair was pulled into a limp pony tail, her eyes sunken, her face more pale than ever. She was dressed in an oversized T-shirt and a pair of sweat pants.

She folded her arms. “So? What’s this about me marrying someone?” she asked softly.

Luke cleared his throat and crossed the room to his surrogate daughter. Winding an arm around her shoulders, he steered towards the couch. “Sit down, darlin’. We got something we need to discuss.”

“Luke, I’m not a child,” she said. She pushed his arm away. “Just tell me what’s going on.”

“The basic summary?” Sonny said. “We think your best bet is to marry someone in the organization.”

Elizabeth didn’t say anything. She just arched her eyebrow and waited.

“We haven’t really nailed down who yet,” Sonny continued hesitantly. “But we agree that someone of Jason’s standing in the organization would be the most ideal.”

Elizabeth sighed and nodded. “This is the best you can do?” she asked.

“The best way to get the families off our back,” Sonny replied. Carly shook her head and crossed her arms. Participating in a scheme to save Elizabeth Webber’s life ought to gain her saint hood or something.

“If I weren’t pregnant,” Elizabeth began, “then I would have taken my chances elsewhere. I would have taken Luke’s offer and disappeared.” She looked down at the ground. “But this isn’t a decision to make just for myself. This is for my baby. And that’s the only thing that matters to me.”

“So, this is okay?” Lucky asked, stepping forward.

“I don’t know,” Elizabeth replied. “Who would I have to marry?”

The room was deadly silent, the tension was thick and palpable. Lucky shuffled his feet and looked away. Nikolas crossed his arms and looked at his feet. Luke stared into the fireplace.

Jason stepped forward. “Me,” he announced. “You’d marry me.”

Carly gaped at him. “What?” she sputtered. “What about Courtney?”

Elizabeth didn’t take her eyes off of Jason and completely ignored Carly. “Are you serious?”

“Hello!” Carly said, waving her arms. “Does the name Courtney ring a bell?”

Jason inhaled slowly and looked at Carly. “She’ll understand. It’s not permanent. It’s temporary.”

“Yeah, okay,” Carly said, rolling her eyes.

Sonny touched her shoulder. “Look this is something that’s up to them, okay? Marriage was your idea.”

“Yeah, well this wasn’t what I had in mind!” Carly screeched. She shrugged off Sonny’s arm and crossed to Elizabeth. “You listen here—”

“Hey, back off,” Nikolas interjected, stepping in. “You are not his keeper. He can make his own damn decisions, he doesn’t need a guard dog. And if you ever speak like that to Elizabeth again, you’ll regret it.”

“Are you threatening me?” Carly demanded.

“You’re damn right I am.”

“Wait, wait,” Elizabeth said, waving her arms. “Let’s just take a step back here and calm down, okay? I haven’t agreed to anything.” She looked at Sonny. “How long do I have to decide?” she asked.

Sonny rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, the sooner we deal with this, the better. The families are gonna wanna negotiate this further and we need to be ready in case there’s retaliation from Ric or Faith.”

“Can you give me until tomorrow night?” Elizabeth requested. “I’ll have an answer then.”

Sonny nodded. “Yeah, tomorrow night.” He glanced at Jason. “You might want to spend tomorrow getting Courtney ready for this possibility.”

Carly snorted. “This is so damned ridiculous.”

“Come on. You need to get to sleep,” Sonny directed, steering Carly towards the stairs.

Lucky hugged Elizabeth. “Meet me and Nik at Kelly’s tomorrow for breakfast?” he suggested. “We’ll call Em.”

Elizabeth nodded. “Yeah, sure.”

“See ya,” Nikolas said, hugging her and kissing her on the forehead. The brothers exited the penthouse. Luke sighed.

“Okay, well, call me if you need me. If this goes through, I wanna hear all the details about this so-called deal, understand?” Luke told her.

Elizabeth nodded. “You’ll be the first one I call.”

“Good. Night.”

After Luke was gone, she and Jason were alone in the room. She shifted. “I’m going to go back to sleep.”

“Elizabeth, wait a second,” he said. “Look, if this makes you uncomfortable in any way—”

“I think I’m the one who should be saying that,” Elizabeth replied. “You’re the one who’d be sacrificing for this. You’re the one that’s got to tell the woman you love you might have to marry someone else. I appreciate you being willing to do this, Jason, but I just…” she sighed and looked away. “I don’t know if I could handle it, that’s all. So I just…I need to think about it further, okay?”

Jason nodded. “Yeah, okay. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See ya,” Elizabeth echoed as she watched him leave.

Kelly’s: The Next Morning

“I don’t know,” Emily Quartermaine began. “This whole thing sounds…off. To me, at least. How will you marrying Jason help anything?”

Elizabeth stirred her hot chocolate absently. “I’m not sure really. I think there’s something about the level of respect. Sonny and Jason were really more concerned about the families’ threat against me rather than Ric. I guess if I were married into the organization…the families would be obligated to leave me alone.”

Nikolas shook his head. “I just don’t understand the code there. They’ll respect you to your face, but plot your death behind your back.”

Emily ignored Nikolas and concentrated on Elizabeth. “Gut instinct. Is this a solution you could see yourself handling?”

Elizabeth shrugged. “A year ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated. I would have said yes. But now…there’s so much…distance between us. We’ve barely talked in months and I can’t tell you the last civil conversation we had.”

“So, you agree that marrying Jason would be a bad idea,” Lucky decided.

“No, I didn’t say that,” Elizabeth said. “Logically, I know that it’s the safe solution. But…”

“Emotionally,” Nikolas prompted. “Emotionally, it’s not.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s the best way to put it,” Elizabeth replied. “Emotionally, I don’t know that I’d be able to survive it.”

“Has Jason said anything to Courtney?” Emily asked.

“He’s supposed to do that today,” Elizabeth replied. “I’m being selfish, I guess. I shouldn’t be thinking about what’s best for me. I should be thinking about my child and what’s best for her…or him.”

Emily nodded. “Well, then I guess you’ve made your decision,” she said quietly.

“I guess I have.”

Morgan Penthouse

Courtney eyed her boyfriend skeptically. “Are you serious?” she asked. “You want me to be okay with you marrying your ex-girlfriend?”

Jason sighed and shifted on the couch. “Courtney, it’d be like it was with Brenda more or less. Name only. I don’t even think she’d have to set foot in the penthouse.”

Courtney shook her head. “No…I don’t think I could be comfortable with this.”

“You agreed you’d help in any way possible,” Jason reminded her.

“Yeah…but I never dreamed it’d be like this,” Courtney sighed. “I thought…I don’t know what I thought. But this was not even something I thought of in my wildest nightmares.”

Jason rubbed his temple. “I love you,” he assured her. “But I gave Sonny my word that I would do this for him. He feels guilty that Ric even came to town at all. He’s depending on my help.”

Courtney sighed. “Okay. Okay. But I want it on the record that I’m not happy with this.”

Comments

No comments yet