July 1, 2003
“You have to what?” Courtney demanded in shrill voice.
Sonny scrubbed an impatient hand over his face. His sister had been waiting with Carly when they’d gotten back from the No Name. Her eyes had narrowed when she’d seen Jason behind Elizabeth, his hand on the small of her back. As soon as Jason had spied his girlfriend, he’d dropped his hand like a red hot coal and stepped away.
Carly had been eager for details of the meeting but from the expressions on the engaged couple’s faces, she had an inkling it hadn’t gone quite as they expected. Apparently, she’d been right.
“We have to live together,” Elizabeth said, softly, answering the enraged woman’s bitter question.
“Live together,” Courtney bit out. “For how long?”
“Until Ric and Faith are dealt with,” Sonny supplied. “The families have agreed to leave Elizabeth and her child alone under the following conditions. The marriage is to appear real, meaning they live together and see no one else. They will have a real ceremony and a reception. Honestly, it’s not as bad as it seems—”
“Not as bad?” Carly cut in. “What do you think would be worse?”
“They could have shot Elizabeth where she stood and killed her,” Sonny snarled, effectively silencing his wife. Elizabeth closed her eyes and shook her head, willing away the image of her standing in front of the families as though she were facing a firing squad.
“I can’t handle this,” Courtney declared. “This cannot happen. Jason, you can’t do this.”
“I’ve already agreed,” Jason told her quietly. “I can’t pull out now.”
“You can and you will. Or we are through,” Courtney announced.
Sonny grabbed his sister’s arm forcefully and jerked her into the hallway. “I need to talk to you for a minute alone.” He slammed the door shut behind them.
Elizabeth eyed Carly warily. “This wasn’t how it was supposed to be,” she told the other woman, fearing their truce had ended.
Carly swallowed hard. “Yeah. I believe that. I’m going to go check on Michael.” She crossed to the stairs and disappeared onto the second floor.
Elizabeth smoothed her hands over her arms and turned away from Jason. “I’m sorry Courtney’s reacting like this,” she said.
He shook his head. “Sonny will talk to her.”
“All right then, I’m going to go upstairs and call Luke,” Elizabeth replied. She hesitated another moment before climbing the stairs slowly and disappearing after Carly.
“Damn it,” Courtney seethed. “I will not stand for this! Jason is my boyfriend!”
“I understand why you’re upset but try and think about someone other than yourself for five seconds, okay?”
Courtney paled. “Sonny, I am your sister. You are not supposed to deliberately try to hurt me—”
“That is not what I’m doing,” Sonny hissed. “I am trying to save someone’s life. Do you remember when you were accused of the accident and Elizabeth cleared your name?”
“Yes,” Courtney muttered.
“And I’m sure that’s not the only thing Elizabeth’s ever done for you.”
“No, it’s not,” Courtney grumbled.
“Now, multiply that by a thousand and you still won’t get how much Elizabeth has helped Jason. She has saved his life more than once and nearly sacrificed her own just as many times. She came to us to save hers. The families would not hesitate to use her to take Ric down if they thought we didn’t care. I will not let an innocent woman die because you’re a petty little brat!”
Courtney stepped back, stung. “Is that how you see me?” she asked softly.
Sonny muttered a curse under his breath and shook his head. “No, it’s not. I know how difficult it’ll be to see them together, but this is the way it has to be done.”
“I can’t do it Sonny,” Courtney whispered. She shook her head. “I just don’t think it’s possible. Even if I skip the wedding, I’ll end up staying here and I will have to see them and I know that I will not be able to handle that.”
“Okay, okay.” Sonny exhaled slowly. “Will Bobbie give you time off from Kelly’s?”
“She’s still got to replace Elizabeth,” Courtney said. “But I heard she was tapping one her nieces for that.”
“Ask her. Tell her the situation. She’ll understand.”
“What exactly am I asking?” Courtney asked her brother. She tilted her head to the side.
“I’m suggesting that you take time off from work and go on a well-deserved vacation,” Sonny said.
“Where and for how long?”
“To the island and until this mess is over. You’re right. You don’t have to deal with this and you shouldn’t have to see your boyfriend marry someone else.”
Courtney shook her head. “I don’t know Sonny. If Jason’s going to marry Elizabeth of all people, I don’t know that I should be leaving right now. I mean, it’s not that I don’t trust him, I do…” she trailed off and thought for a moment, searching for the right words. “Come on, Sonny, you know better than I do. They have this…connection. It’s still there, no matter how much anger or how hurt there is. Look, Jason hasn’t talked to her in months and he’s already stepped up to offer himself as the sacrificial lamb.”
“Do you think he’s still in love with her?” Sonny asked curiously.
“No, I know he loves me. But…you know, no matter how much you move on with someone else, part of you will always belong to someone else. I mean, AJ…” Courtney sighed. “Part of me still loves the man I thought he was. And I know you still love Brenda deeply.”
“You’re right,” Sonny agreed. “I think Jason still loves Elizabeth very much. But there’s a difference between being in love and just loving someone.”
“I know. I know that he’s in love with me and that Elizabeth is in his past. But, she was his present for so long…how can I really compete?” Courtney asked, her voice aching for reassurance.
“Go to the island,” Sonny encouraged. “I’ve got a little cottage just off the beach, it’d be perfect for you. I’ll even see if I can smuggle Jason down there occasionally. I’ll visit. I just think you need some time away from this.”
“Let me think about this all right?” Courtney asked. She kissed her brother on the cheek. “Thanks, Sonny.” She pushed past him and headed for the other penthouse.
Jason was waiting for him when Sonny reentered the living room. He looked at him expectantly. “Is Courtney okay?”
“She’s fine. We talked and I understand what’s bothering her. I suggested sending her to the island while this is going on.”
Jason frowned. “We don’t know how long this will be, Sonny. It could be weeks, months, as long as a year.”
“I understand that. But the alternative is letting my sister stay here and watch you be married to your ex-girlfriend.”
“Sonny, you know that Elizabeth and I—”
“Still care for each other?” Sonny supplied. “Are still friends? Yeah, I know that. Trouble is, so does Courtney. And she understands that the two of you have history. She’s not begrudging that. I just don’t think she should be here to watch it.”
Jason sighed. “Okay. If Courtney is okay with it, then all right.”
“All right.” Sonny shifted. “Johnny and Francis are in England. How’s that lead they have?”
Jason shook his head. “Didn’t pan out the way we expected. But Johnny found a store owner who remembers Lansing. Said he overheard something about them sticking around Europe for a little while.”
“They’re keeping a low profile,” Sonny said. “Makes sense. There’s a lot of heat on them right now. Their best bet is to stay out of sight for a while. Tell you what, makes my life easier. I can concentrate on everything else.”
“Hey, Luke,” Elizabeth greeted. She cradled the phone between her shoulder and her head, keeping her hands free as she unzipped her dress and slipped some sweat pants and a tank top.
“Hey, darlin. How’d the meeting go?”
She sighed. “Okay, I guess. They agreed.”
Luke leaned back in his chair at the club, focusing on a picture of his wife Laura. “Doesn’t sound good. What kind of negotiation tactics did they use?”
“It was kind of surprising, really,” Elizabeth admitted as she hung up the dress in the closet and shut it. “For a bunch of cold blooded killers, they sure are strict about marriage.”
“Yeah, their priorities are little twisted.”
“I’ll say. One of them wanted to lock me in a room until the baby was born.” Elizabeth sighed. “God, Luke, they’re so determined to make Ric pay they don’t care who it is.”
“I will say this about Jason and Sonny. Idiotic as they may be, they’ve got some shred of decency. So?”
“Well, what it boils down to is that Jason and I have to look married. Apparently, a fake marriage offends their morals,” Elizabeth said sarcastically.
“Never let it be said that hypocrisy is dead. So, looking married…” Luke trailed off. “Real wedding I suppose?”
“Yeah. Complete with a reception,” Elizabeth said with mock cheerfulness. “We also have to live together and he can’t see Courtney.”
“Hey, there’s a silver lining on an every cloud,” Luke replied, affably.
Elizabeth laughed then and sank onto the bed. “Oh, Luke.”
“Well, listen, you know if there’s anything you need, I’m there for you.”
“Actually,” Elizabeth bit her lip. “There is something I’d like. This is my wedding, I guess. And I don’t know much about planning a mob wedding so I’m just going to go with my instincts, you know?”
“Could…could you walk me down the aisle?” Elizabeth asked softly. “And let Lulu be my flower girl?”
“Aw, darlin’, I’d be honored. And of course my little princess can be the flower girl.” Luke scratched his head. “I know this is tough, kid. But you’re a strong girl. You can get through this.”
“I don’t know if I can,” Elizabeth admitted. Her eyes filled with tears and she glanced towards the ceiling. “I called my grandmother and she disowned me. I don’t have anyone, Luke. No family.”
“How can you say that?” Luke demanded. “What about me? Cowboy, the demon’s spawn? Emily? Don’t we count?”
“Of course you count,” Elizabeth assured him. “It’s just…I’ve always had this unconditional support from you guys and it just makes me remember all the more that my own family can’t be bothered.”
“Your family is just as stupid as the five families,” Luke decided. “Listen, come to the club tomorrow. You bring Emily, I’ll supply Lucky and the spawn. We’ll start planning this here wedding.”
“I don’t know,” Elizabeth hesitated. “Isn’t there stuff I should run by Sonny and Jason? Shouldn’t…I don’t know…shit, Luke, I don’t know what I’m doing here.”
“No one knows what they’re doing here, darlin’, but we just try and muddle through life the best we can.”
“Yeah….yeah, I know.” Elizabeth sighed. “Thanks, Luke. Noon?”
“Hell, no. Make it two.”
Luke placed the receiver back in the cradle and sat forward to peer at Laura’s face again. Laura would be glad he’d set aside his anger and bitterness towards her Cassadine son and was working with him to help Elizabeth. Laura always had a soft spot for the girl.
In fact…Luke’s eyes lit up as he remembered the velvet box Laura had hidden in their closet, just waiting for Elizabeth’s birthday. It’d be a perfect wedding gift for the girl he considered a daughter.
July 2, 2003
Elizabeth sighed and pushed her plate away the next morning at breakfast. “Sonny, there’s something I have to ask you.”
“Well, I’m meeting Luke and the others at the club today,” Elizabeth reported, shoving her hair behind her ears. “We’re going…well…plan the ceremony, I guess I should say. And I just wanted to know if there’s anything I need to know. Like is this different from a normal wedding?” Elizabeth flushed. “I mean, I know it’s obviously different—”
Carly cut the flustered girl off with a grimace. “Security. You have to plan for security. With the five families in attendance, you’re going to need a lot.” She leaned forward. “Does it bother you if they don’t blend in?”
“No,” Elizabeth managed to say. “They’re there to do their jobs, what does it matter how they look? As long as they’re comfortable.”
“Good.” Carly thought. “Way I figure it, you’ll need someone at the door to check invitations. Possibly two. Once you guys decide where the ceremony will be, you can figure out how many guards you’ll to patrol the perimeter—”
As Carly went on, Sonny sat back and smiled at his wife, proud of her for stepping forward with the knowledge Elizabeth needed.
“Carly,” Elizabeth interrupted. She smiled. “Would you come with me? I mean, you’ve planned a few of these weddings and you…you’ll be able to help with the guest list and all.”
Carly hesitated. “I don’t know. I was supposed to help Courtney with packing.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth nodded. “Okay, I understand.” She shoved her chair back and stood. “I need to go get ready.” She disappeared upstairs.
Sonny eyed Carly. “Courtney hasn’t decided whether or not she’s going. You don’t need to help her pack.”
“Just leave it alone,” Carly advised. She stood. “Just leave it alone.”
Quartermaine Mansion: Emily’s Room
Emily combed her brush through her hair before securing it into a ponytail. She grabbed the bridal magazines and the wedding planner she’d nabbed from the mall the other day and was halfway out of her room when Zander came through the window.
“Hey,” she greeted. “I was just heading out.”
“Sorry,” Zander apologized. “Where you going?”
“To help Elizabeth plan her wedding,” Emily said. “I don’t know why we’re going all out, but apparently, the families want a real wedding and Elizabeth is going to bend over backwards to do it, I guess.”
Zander frowned. “You don’t sound happy about this.”
“I want Elizabeth to be okay,” Emily told him. She sat on her bed. “I hate that this is happening, but I honestly feel like everyone’s just…protecting her. They’re so busy assuring that none of this is her fault…they’re not letting her take any of the blame.”
Zander frowned. “What does Elizabeth need to be blamed for?” he asked with almost an edge to his words.
“It’s not like my brother didn’t warn her about Ric. And Elizabeth admitted to me herself she had suspicions Ric was up to something. But she stayed with anyway, Zander. All I’m saying is that Elizabeth is not a saint. She needs to take credit for her part in this.”
Zander shook his head. “Emily—”
“Oh, don’t look at me like that,” Emily sighed. “I love her to death, but I see her for who she is, okay? She has a tendency to be selfish.”
“Is that what you think she’s doing?” Zander asked incredulously. “She’s marrying herself off to your idiot brother to save her baby, not herself. I honestly worry that Elizabeth wouldn’t give a damn otherwise.”
“Oh, don’t you champion her, too,” Emily scoffed. “Elizabeth made the decision to marry Jason with both her eyes open. It’s not like she doesn’t know exactly what she’s doing. She knows that Jason’s over her and I know she won’t use this as an opportunity to get him back.”
“Of course not. Your brother is head over heels for the stripper,” Zander joked. “I doubt Courtney would let Elizabeth close enough to Jason to make a difference.”
“Jason really loves Courtney, I know that. But you know, he still has a soft spot for Elizabeth. I don’t want him to confuse that for anything more.”
“Look, I’m not trying to be a bitch. I just want everyone to keep a realistic outlook here. Elizabeth and Jason aren’t living a fairy tale. If they’re lucky, they’ll come out of this with a friendship. But I just think this is going to end badly. For everyone.”
“What happened to my optimistic dreamer?” Zander said, laughing and kissing her on the cheek.
“She grew up,” Emily murmured. She gathered the magazines and planner back into her arms and stood. “She grew up and realized her little fairy tale world crumbled while she was away.”