Chapter One

July 1, 2003

Corinthos Penthouse

“You told him it would be okay?” Carly demanded. She tossed aside another baby name book and rolled her eyes. “Great.”

Courtney sighed. “Well, what was I supposed to do? Play the raging bitch and tell him it’s over if he does? You know that wouldn’t have gone over well.”

“You should have argued more,” Carly accused.

“Yeah, well you should have kept your damn mouth shut about marriage,” Courtney snipped. “It doesn’t really make a difference. Jason told me it will be in name only. She probably won’t even set foot in the penthouse.”

“That’s true,” Carly nodded. “It’ll be okay, I guess. I mean, Jason’s obviously over the little twit.” Her face lit up. “And when this is done, maybe we can convince Sonny to send her to the island.”

“Yeah, like I’d get that lucky,” Courtney grumbled.

Morgan Penthouse

Jason looked up from some paperwork when Elizabeth knocked on the already open front door. “Hey.”

“Hey.” She rubbed the back of her neck. “Are you busy or do you have a minute?”

“It’s fine, come on in.”

Elizabeth only stepped inside a few feet. She made it no further than his desk. “I…I…made my decision,” she said softly. “I thought it be for the best to tell you as soon as I made it so you could tell Sonny and work out the details with the families.”

“Okay,” Jason said.

“I think…that for my child, the best decision would be to do this,” Elizabeth told him. “If this were just me…I never would have even hesitated. In fact, I would have been on the first plane to Greece last month, but I am pregnant and no matter I go, I’m a target. I know this, I’ve come to terms with this.”

“You’ll have to be present at the meeting,” Jason informed her. “Sonny wants a show of strength. That we’re not backing away from the threat.”

“Sonny said they’ll want to negotiate the details,” Elizabeth said. “What does that mean?”

“The families…” Jason hesitated, thinking about how and what to tell her. “The families are…well, they’re petty. And sometimes getting them to agree to the simplest of things is a chore.”

“So what kind of details will be negotiated? Where? When? How?” Elizabeth asked.

“More than likely.” Jason paused. “I know this isn’t the ideal solution, but—”

“It’s fine,” Elizabeth interrupted. “I…I’m a little tired. I’m going to go take a nap.” She turned and left the apartment abruptly.

Jason stared after her for a moment before picking up the phone and calling Sonny at the warehouse.

Corinthos Penthouse

Courtney and Carly watched in silence as Elizabeth opened the door and crossed the room to the stairs. She did so without a word and when she had disappeared from view, Courtney took a deep shuddering breath.

“Why do I suddenly have the feeling that entire world has shifted on its axis and it won’t be the same again?” Courtney asked her sister-in-law.

“Because I think Elizabeth is about to be the next Mrs. Jason Morgan,” Carly murmured.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Courtney said, stricken. She shook her head. “I mean, what kind of ceremony will they have to have? Will they have to go to Vegas? Will it be in a real church—”

“Don’t get yourself worked thinking about this,” Carly said immediately. “This will be just like his marriage to Brenda. Even less real, I promise.”

Elizabeth’s Room

“Gram? It’s me.”

“Oh, my dear, Elizabeth, how are you?” Audrey Hardy asked warmly.

“I…I’m fine. How’s France?” Elizabeth asked softly. “Are you having a good time?”

“Oh, it’s lovely dear. I do wish you would have been able to join me on this vacation.”

“Next time, Gram,” Elizabeth replied. “There’s something I have to tell you.”

“What is it darling?” Audrey asked, sounding alarmed. “Is something wrong? Are you all right?”

“Well, I guess I’m fine. I’m…I’m getting married, Gram,” Elizabeth told her. She held her breath and waited.

There was silence for a moment on her Gram’s side of the line. “I thought you’d broken up with that lawyer.”

“I did, Gram,” Elizabeth replied. “But it’s not him. It’s…I’m…I’m marrying Jason.”

“Oh, Elizabeth,” Audrey sighed. “I really thought you’d gotten that out of your system.”

Elizabeth’s eyes filled with tears and she looked towards the ceiling. “Gram, I don’t expect you to understand, but—”

“I don’t. I thought you were finished with Jason Morgan and the whole lot of them. I’m very disappointed. What were you thinking, accepting a marriage proposal from that thug?”

“He’s not a thug, Gram,” Elizabeth whispered brokenly. “Please, just let me explain.”
Hallway

Carly was headed for the bathroom when she heard a voice inside Elizabeth’s room. The door was ajar and she stepped closer to listen.

“Gram, please just let me explain. I promise it’s not as bad—no, this isn’t about rebelling against you. I’m…” She heard Elizabeth’s voice break. “Gram, stop calling him a thug. If you can’t speak about this rationally—Gram, please just let me explain…hello? Gram? Hello?”

Carly bit her lip when she heard Elizabeth start to cry. How horrible it must be for her own family to reject her. Carly had never liked Audrey Hardy—it had always felt like the nurse was judging her.

She pushed the door open, startling Elizabeth who hung up the phone and started wiping her eyes. “Did you need something?”

“Something I’ve learned about pregnancy is that your emotions are always right on the surface,” Carly said quietly. She sat on the bed next to the other woman. “Sometimes the slightest thing can set it off. Last week, Sonny got me nut brownies instead of fudge brownies and I was crying for three hours.”

“You’re very lucky, you know,” Elizabeth said softly. “Your mother loves you unconditionally.”

“Yeah, my mom is great,” Carly agreed. “Always there when I need her.” She hesitated. “She loves you, too. She’s always thought of you as part of the family.”

“I love Bobbie,” Elizabeth replied. She looked towards the ceiling. “She’s done so much for me since…well…since I became friends with Lucky. And I’ve always appreciated the surrogate family I’ve found here.”

“But?” Carly prompted.

“Is it so hard for my biological family to just accept me for who I am?” Elizabeth asked. She wiped her eyes. “Why is every decision I make a rebellion against them? Why is it so hard for them to accept that I’m twenty-one years old? I have my own life, now. I support myself.”

Carly shrugged. “You just got dealt a bad hand, I guess. At least you’ve got this group of people that love you.”

“Why are you being so nice to me?” Elizabeth asked.

“Because you were nice to me when I needed it,” Carly replied. “When Sonny faked his death, and Jason wasn’t around, you were nice anyway. You weren’t seeking to gain points or rate their approval. You were just nice. And that meant a lot to me at the time.”

Elizabeth nodded. “Okay. That sounds reasonable.”

“Don’t tell anyone,” Carly warned. “They find out I’m being reasonable and I’ll never hear the end of it.”

Elizabeth laughed then. “Yeah, can’t have that.” She looked the blonde. “I told Jason that I…I agreed to marry him.”

“Yeah, Courtney and I figured that,” Carly replied. “Look, we’ll never be the best of friends. But for the next few weeks, maybe months…we should call a truce.”

“I agree,” Elizabeth said. She took a deep cleansing breath. “Oh, well. Gram has disowned me before. Once this marriage is over, I’ll be able to explain this to her.”

Sonny knocked on her bedroom door. “Hey, everything okay here?”

Carly glanced up at him and nodded. “Yeah. Princess and I were just discussing mood swings.”

Sonny grimaced. “Sounds like fun. Uh, I came home when Jason called me. He tells me that you’ve agreed.”

“Yeah,” Elizabeth reported. “He told me that you want me at this meeting.”

“I think it’s for the best, yes,” Sonny replied. “I called the families. It’s at six tonight. Be ready.”

“I will.”

Sonny left the room then, leaving the door open. Elizabeth closed her eyes and took another deep breath. “Here we go.”

No Name

“Okay, when we go in there, don’t speak unless spoken to,” Sonny directed Elizabeth. “They don’t take kindly to women speaking out of turn here. Reminds them too much of Faith. You are the direct opposite of Faith and we want to show them that.”

Elizabeth looked down at the white cotton dress he’d instructed her to wear. “Is that what this is for? Because Faith always wore black?”

Sonny grinned. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.” He glanced at Jason. “I’m fully expecting them to demand stupid shit so that they don’t have a reason to agree to this. Which means we have to be prepared to bend on a lot of topics.”

“Like what?” Elizabeth questioned. “What kind of topics?”

“Well, where the wedding would be held, I suppose. How long the marriage would have to last. You get the idea, right?”

Elizabeth nodded. “Okay.” She sighed and looked away.

“Sonny, give us a moment, okay?” Jason asked him as he steered Elizabeth a few feet away. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine, Jason. I just want this over with,” Elizabeth replied. She crossed her arms stiffly.

“It’s just…I know you feel about people telling you what to do.”

“I hate it,” Elizabeth admitted. “But I…it’s not just me I have to worry about anymore. My baby is all that is important to me and I will do whatever I have to do to ensure her safety.”

“Okay.” He and Elizabeth headed back to Sonny. “Let’s do this.”

The representatives of the families were seated around the long table in one of the back rooms of the restaurant.

Sammy Tagliatti stood. “Mr. Corinthos, Mr. Morgan, welcome.” The smile fell from his face as Elizabeth stepped into view. “Ms. Webber,” he greeted stiffly. He flicked his gaze to Sonny. “What is she doing here?”

“Well,” Sonny said amiably, “I thought since this was her life we were discussing, she should be present.”

“Very well,” Tagliatti said. He took his seat. “You said you have a deal.”

“Ms. Webber is very important to me,” Sonny began. He pulled out the last remaining empty seat and sat, leaving Jason and Elizabeth standing behind him. “I want her safety ensured.”

“And you understand why we perceive her as a threat,” Michael Hernandez spoke up. He leaned forward and stubbed out his cigar. “Ric Lansing embezzled a lot of money from me and I want him to pay.”

Elizabeth stiffened and she clenched her fists at her side. The implication was clear. They couldn’t find Ric, they’d settle for her.

Sonny shrugged. “He tried to kill me, raped my wife and he tried to kidnap a girl I consider a sister. I want him to pay as well. But Ms. Webber is pregnant and I think she should be afforded special consideration.”

“And I want to know what assurance we have that the kid isn’t the next Ric Lansing or Faith Roscoe,” Hernandez shot back.

“Simple,” Sonny replied. “The deal is that Elizabeth Webber marries Jason Morgan, my second-in-command.”

Tagliatti smirked. “Therefore making her untouchable. Very smart Corinthos.”

Elizabeth let out a relieved breath. This was going to work. It had to work.

“A fake marriage?” Daniel Vega scoffed. “I can’t agree to that. Marriage is a sacred undertaking. It’s common knowledge Morgan’s been seeing your sister, Corinthos.”

“Yes,” Sonny replied. “Jason has been dating my sister, Danny. But this is a negotiable deal. We’re open for suggestions.”

“I’ve got a suggestion,” John O’Reilly remarked. “Let’s just lock her somewhere and wait for Lansing to come and get her. He’s obviously not through with her.”

Elizabeth made a whimpering sound and took a step back. Jason steadied her with a hand on the small of her back.

“Okay, John. Say I decide to renege my decision to forget that nasty little deal where you tried to blackmail my wife into running drugs through my territory,” Sonny said. “Say I want you to pay. You want me to grab Gracie and lock her in a room while she’s pregnant?”

O’Reilly narrowed his eyes. “That’s a low blow and completely irrelevant.”

“I don’t think so,” Sonny replied smoothly. “You want to lock up the fiancée of my second-in-command.”

“The fake fiancée,” Vega interjected. “Look, locking up a pregnant woman—or anyone woman is out of the question. I would never agree to that either.”

Tagliatti sighed. “This is getting us nowhere. Danny, you hate the idea of a fake marriage. Fine. We can solve that.” He looked at the couple. “Condition number one. The two of you live together through the tenure of the marriage. Condition number two, Morgan doesn’t see his girlfriend on the side. That work for you Danny?”

“Yeah sure,” Vega remarked. “What do you say Corinthos?”

Sonny shrugged. “What do you think about that, Jason?”

“It’s fine,” Jason replied stiffly. “Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth nodded mutely, careful not to speak. They obviously loathed the very sight of her and she was going to heed Sonny’s advice. Seen and not heard.

“Okay, that’s agreed. What else?” Sonny said, folding his hands.

“I want assurance this kid is safe from the influence of Lansing and Faith,” O’Reilly demanded. “How do I know she ain’t gonna turn this kid over to him?”

“I’d rather drink poison,” Elizabeth blurted out.

Sonny closed his eyes and sighed. “Elizabeth, I thought we agreed…”

“No, no,” O’Reilly said, waving his arm away. “This is the mother of the child. I want to hear from her.”

“I hate Ric Lansing with every fiber of my being,” Elizabeth bit out. “He threatened my life, he threatened to kill to my child. He tried to kidnap me two weeks ago. How could you think I would willingly turn my child over to him?”

O’Reilly had the decency to sit back and look away. “Okay. Not willingly. I apologize.”

“You want protection for her through this marriage, then this marriage has to last until Lansing and Faith are dealt with,” Hernandez dictated. “Weeks, months, years. I don’t care. She is a target and she is what will bring him back to Port Charles.”

“That’s fine,” Sonny agreed. “Anything else?”

“I’m not convinced Lansing won’t just kidnap the child,” O’Reilly said, shaking his head. “What do you have to say to that, Ms. Webber?”

Elizabeth hesitated. She glanced up at Jason and then back at the well-dressed gray-haired man who’d posted the question. “That’s a question that terrifies me,” she confessed. “If Ric were ever within five hundred feet of my child…I think I would probably kill him.”

“Well, that works me for me,” Tagliatti agreed. “When will this wedding be held?”

“As soon as we can contact the justice of the peace,” Sonny replied.

“No good,” Vega decided. “You must have a church wedding.”

Elizabeth inhaled sharply. “A church wedding?”

“Elizabeth, let me handle this,” Sonny directed. “A church wedding is out of the question. Once they’re divorced, neither of them would be able to marry in the church again.”

“Get an annulment,” Thomas Caracas spoke up finally. “Morgan’s got experience with that.”

“That’s fine. Jason, Elizabeth?”

“Fine,” Jason replied, shortly.

“That’s fine,” Elizabeth agreed.

“I expect an invitation to a wedding ceremony and a reception,” Tagliatti announced.

“Of course,” Sonny agreed. “Is that it?”

“I believe that’s it for now. We’ll let you know if there any other details to work out.”

Sonny stood. “We’ll be leaving then.” He gestured for Jason and Elizabeth to lead the way out of the restaurant.

Once they were outside, Elizabeth leaned against the brick wall and closed her eyes. “They probably would have shot me if given the chance,” she whispered painfully.

“I doubt that,” Sonny said. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders to steady her as they walked towards the car. “Are you okay? I should have insisted that you sit.”

“It was so hard to sit there and let dictate the way I’m going to live my life,” Elizabeth told him. “I hate being told what to do, I despise and loathe it.”

“It’ll be okay,” Sonny assured her.

“Yeah, well, at least I’m not the one who has to tell Carly and Courtney the details of this deal,” Elizabeth said as Johnny opened the door to the limo.

Jason sighed and followed her in. He almost wished he could convince Sonny to tell Courtney. He did not relish this responsibility.

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