Elizabeth arrived before anyone else to find the main part of the club empty. She stood in the entryway, staring over the bleak space. She’d been in here a handful of times in her life. The night Nikolas was shot, when she and Lucky had hid out here during their time on the run together, the night she saw Jason and told him she didn’t want to know anything about his life.
She figured that Luke was in his office and headed back there. The door was partly open and Luke was sitting at his desk, his feet propped up on his desk, a picture frame in his hands.
Elizabeth knocked on the door lightly. “Luke?”
Luke looked up and set the frame back on his desk. “Hey, darlin’. You’re early.”
“Yeah, I couldn’t stay in that penthouse any longer.” Elizabeth sat across from him and sighed. “Thinking about Laura again?” she asked knowingly.
Luke smiled sadly. “You know me too well. Yeah, I was thinking of my angel.” His eyes trained on her photograph. “She would have had a ball with this, you know? My girl loved a project and an adventure.”
“You know when Lucky was always in awe of the two of you,” Elizabeth confided. “You guys set the example for him. And for me. I know I could never settle for anything less than what I’ve seen you two share.”
“You shouldn’t,” Luke advised her. “You and the Cowboy were good together. I’m sorry it didn’t work out.”
“Yeah…we just grew apart,” Elizabeth said. She looked down at the pile of wedding materials in her hands. “Have you ever done something you know is bad for you…but good for your kids?”
Luke nodded. “The night I told Lucky about Laura and me twenty years ago.” He sighed. “It hurt to tell him that story, to watch me fall from the pedestal he’d always had me on. But I knew he needed to know. If for nothing else but peace of mind. He needed to know and I told him.” He eyed her. “Second thoughts?”
“Yeah,” she admitted. “Second thoughts. Third. Fourth. I don’t know, Luke. Is this really a good idea? Should I really do this?”
He set his feet on the ground and leaned forward to look her more closely. “Honey, are you still in love with Morgan?”
Elizabeth hesitated and looked down. “Wouldn’t that be stupid,” she murmured.
Luke sighed. “Aww, kid. Maybe we should look for another solution. You can’t be married to someone who doesn’t love you back. That’s not a healthy situation.”
She sighed. “It’s late now, Luke. I mean, even if I wanted to stop it, I couldn’t. The families have agreed. Besides, I know that Jason will treat me well. He doesn’t know how to be any different.”
Luke nodded. “Okay. Let’s say that you get married. This situation lasts longer than you think. You’re due in what…early January?”
“What happens when you begin to show?” Luke asked. “When you feel that baby begin to move and he’s the only one there when it happens? When you have doctor’s appointments and he takes you to them. What happens when he gets attached to your child?”
Elizabeth looked away. “You have a good point. Jason’s a good man. I know what an incredible father he’ll be and I know how much it hurt when he lost Michael. I don’t want to be another Carly for him. I’ll have to take every precaution to keep him from getting attached.”
“And how are you going to do that?” Luke asked.
“I won’t talk to him about it. I’ll get a guard to take me to the doctor. I’ll just keep that part of my life private,” Elizabeth replied.
Luke sighed. “I don’t know that it’ll be that easy, honey.”
Elizabeth opened her mouth to reply when the door opened behind them. “Hey,” Lucky greeted. “Sorry we’re late. Nikolas was late picking me up.”
Nikolas snorted. “Like you couldn’t have walked.”
Elizabeth stood and hugged the two brothers. “Thanks for coming. Did you see Emily out there?”
“Nope. She’s not here yet,” Lucky replied. “Hey, Dad, you got any food in this joint?”
Luke grinned. “The kind you call for. You go order us some pizzas, okay Cowboy? The three of us will set something up in the main room.”
As they walked down the hall towards the bar, Nikolas pulled handed Luke a folder. “Laura’s latest progress report. The new medication is working.”
Luke’s grin became genuine. “So, they’re saying there’s more hope?”
Nikolas nodded. He pulled out a chair for Elizabeth before taking a seat for himself at one of the empty tables. “They’re saying if things continue as well as they’ve been going, she might start recognizing people. One of the doctors recommended moving her closer to us. Like Ferncliffe.”
“That would be wonderful,” Elizabeth smiled. “You could visit her so much more easily.”
Lucky sat down next to his father. “It’s about time some good things started happening to this family,” he said firmly. “We are so overdue.”
Emily entered the club then, her arms full of magazines. “Sorry I’m late,” she said as she plopped down in the last empty chair. “Did we start yet?”
“Nope,” Elizabeth replied. “We were just talking about the good news.”
“My mother is improving,” Nikolas told her. “We’re thinking of moving her to Ferncliffe.”
Emily grinned. “That’s incredible. I’m so happy for you guys.”
“I guess we’d better get started,” Luke said. “While I’ve got some good thoughts in me. I, uh, didn’t plan either of my weddings, so I’m kind of hoping you women know where to start.”
“The easiest place to begin is a date,” Emily said. She pulled the wedding planner out of her bag. “Now, using Jason and Sonny’s name, I’m sure we can get any date we want at the church, so Elizabeth, what did you have in mind?”
“Well, as soon as possible.” Elizabeth frowned. “Today’s July 2. How long would it take to get all the details done?”
“About two weeks, three,” Emily answered. “If we work quickly. How’s July 21?”
“Fine with me,” Elizabeth told her. “But I guess I’d need to check with Sonny and Jason about that.”
“Well, we’ll work this that in mind. Okay, wedding party.” Emily looked at Elizabeth. “Your side?”
“Well, obviously you’ll be my maid of honor,” Elizabeth replied. “I already asked Luke to give me away and for Lulu to be the flower girl. I don’t really need bridesmaids do I?”
“I don’t think so. I doubt Jason will have ushers, so there’s no point. I suppose Sonny is the best man?”
“That’s what I figured.”
“Why are we here again?” Lucky asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Moral support,” Emily said.
“And to pay for the pizzas,” Elizabeth chimed in. Her stomach rumbled. “I’d say the kid’s hungry so they’d better get here soon.”
“Okay, we need to talk about outfits. Jason and Sonny, tuxes. Michael’s gonna be the ring bearer I figure, so he’ll need one too,” Emily continued, making things in the planner. “You’ll need a dress. White, I guess. Veil?”
Elizabeth shook her head. “Nah. Let’s not make this more traditional then it’s gotta be.”
“Good idea. I mean, they want a real wedding but there’s no reason to pretend this is anything more than a marriage of convenience,” Emily said.
Nikolas frowned. “That’s kind of a cynical outlook. Why can’t we just call it a marriage of necessity? Convenience makes it sound like Elizabeth did something wrong.”
Emily arched her eyebrows. “Didn’t she?”
“Excuse me?” Elizabeth asked, surprised. “What is going on?”
Luke shifted uncomfortably. “Ladies…”
“You did stay with Ric even after my brother warned you not to,” Emily reminded her.
“So you’re saying this is all my fault?” Elizabeth demanded.
“Emily, that’s pretty harsh,” Lucky cut in. “And let’s face it, Jason’s got as much credibility with Elizabeth as Helena Cassadine’s got with me. He lied to her and treated her like shit. Why should she have listened to him?”
“But she’s going to trust him with her life and her child’s?” Emily asked skeptically.
“The situation has changed,” Elizabeth said, defensively. “People make mistakes, Emily. You of all people should know that.”
Emily sighed. “Elizabeth—”
Elizabeth stood abruptly. “You know what, Emily? Go to hell. I’d rather Courtney help me plan this than you.” She stalked out of the club, her head held high.
She didn’t start crying until she was back in her room at the penthouse.
“That was the most selfish display I’ve ever seen,” Luke declared. He stood and leveled a nasty glare at Emily. “I don’t have the time for childish things. I’ll be in the back.”
“I don’t have to take this kind of abuse,” Emily snapped when he was gone. “Tell Elizabeth if she wants to apologize, I’ll be at home.” She swept up her things and left.
“Well,” Lucky sighed. “That was productive.”
“Yeah,” Nikolas agreed. “You want to take the pizzas and go back to Wyndemere? I got an advance copy of the Terminator movie. We can watch it in the movie theater.”
“Works for me,” Lucky replied cheerfully.
The Penthouse: Elizabeth’s Room
“I don’t need Emily anyway,” Elizabeth muttered. She wiped her eyes and reached for her notebook. “A wedding is simple. I don’t need anyone’s help.”
Carly knocked on the open door. “Johnny told me you were home early. Did it go okay?”
Elizabeth shook her head. “We barely got through the wedding party arrangements before Emily let me know exactly what she thinks of me.”
Carly frowned. “What?”
“Yep. Apparently, I’m being selfish and this entire situation is my fault,” Elizabeth remarked stiffly. She saw Emily’s name marked as maid of honor and crossed it off violently. “I wanted Ric to end up being a rapist and a kidnapper. I wanted to be pregnant with that demon’s child. I was the idiot who didn’t trust Jason and now have no reason to try and pretend I do.”
“Sounds like a productive afternoon,” Carly murmured. She crossed her arms. “So, what did you accomplish?”
“We decided the date which isn’t really set until I ask Sonny or Jason,” Elizabeth muttered. “I told Emily she’d be my maid of honor, but there’s no way in hell that’s happening now. Lulu’s the flower girl and Luke’s giving me away, but other than that, nothing.”
Carly stared at the obviously upset young woman and sighed. She entered the room and sat on the bed, deciding to take pity on her. “Okay. What’s the date?”
Elizabeth frowned. “July 21.”
“Hmm…doesn’t give us a lot of time,” Carly murmured. She reached for Elizabeth’s notebook. “Michael’s a good idea for a ring bearer. I’ll have to see if his tux from the wedding last summer still fits, but it probably won’t. I figure Sonny’s gonna be the best man. He will be now, you can be sure of that. Here give me your pen.”
Elizabeth handed it to the pregnant blonde with a mystified look on her face. “Okay.”
“Let’s see. It’s a summer wedding, so go for simple. Lilies are a good flower. Lilies and roses. They’ll be easy to get. We can decorate the church in white. You got any religious affiliation to any church?”
“Not really,” Elizabeth murmured.
“Queen of Angels will work then,” Carly decided, marking it. “We’ve got a good relationship with Father Coates. I’ll talk to Sonny about security. I know a good place to look for dresses. You got any specifications?”
“Why are you doing this?” Elizabeth blurted out finally.
Carly sighed. “Because it’s gonna happen whether I help or not. And it’s obvious none of your friends give a damn about you, and you are completely clueless, so it’s up to me to help you out. Dresses?”
“I’m not clueless,” Elizabeth said defensively.
“Elizabeth, don’t argue with me. We’ve got two weeks to pull off a respectable mob wedding and we’re both pregnant.” Carly stood. “Let’s go. You eat yet?”
“No,” Elizabeth said, standing warily. “Why?”
“Because we’ll stop at Kelly’s on our way to the bridal boutique. We’ll go to the church after that and hit the florist.”
Elizabeth followed Carly mutely into the hall and down the steps. “Okay.”
“Once we pick out your dress, we can get Lulu’s match,” Carly told her. “And we’ll have to force Jason to go to a fitting. I’ll get Michael and Sonny on it.”
“Okay,” Elizabeth agreed again. Carly started looking around the living room for her purse and didn’t see her husband or Jason emerge from the kitchen.
“We’ll make a stop at the jeweler’s too. I know Jason’s ring size, so we’re good that way. Who’s gonna be your maid of honor if Emily won’t?”
“I don’t know,” Elizabeth replied.
“We’ll have to decide that before we order your dress.” Carly got on her hands and knees on the floor and started reaching under the couch. “I know it’s here somewhere,” she muttered. “I saw the note about the veil. It’s too hot to have one, so it’s a good idea you guys vetoed it. You get a simple white dress and just wear your hair up. Do something with curls,” she advised. She fished the red purse out and started to stand. “What am I missing?”
“I have no idea,” Elizabeth replied.
“Reception!” Carly announced triumphantly. She turned and saw her husband and best friend looking at her oddly. “What?”
“What are the two of you doing?” Sonny asked curiously.
“Planning a wedding,” Carly remarked. “What does it look like? How’s July 21?”
“It’s fine,” Sonny replied. “I thought Emily was helping.”
Elizabeth crossed her arms and looked down. “I’m not speaking to Emily right now.”
“Okay,” Sonny replied. He shot Jason a curious look. “Where are you going?”
“To the bridal boutique to start looking for a dress,” Carly told him. “Well, we’re going to Kelly’s first for lunch. And then the boutique. And then the florist. And then the jeweler.”
“The jeweler?” Jason echoed.
“Uh, yeah , for the wedding rings.” Carly rolled her eyes. “Honestly. Sonny, Michael’s going to do the ring thing, so you need to take him to get fitted for a new tux. Take Jason with you. I’m sure he needs one.”
“I’m not wearing a tux,” Jason replied, stiffly.
“Yes you are,” Carly retorted. “Those idiots want a real wedding and I’ll be damned if you and the muffin make me look bad. You are getting a tux, you are wearing a stupid ring and you ,” she said, whirling to look at Elizabeth. “You are going to deal with having a pregnant matron of honor, you got that?”
Elizabeth arched her eyebrows. “Oh, really?”
“Yes. Let’s go. We’ve got a lot to do and I need to eat.”
Carly marched out of the penthouse and Elizabeth followed, shaking her head.
“When Carly gets going, she really gets going,” Sonny remarked. “And what’s the deal with Emily? I thought she was supposed to be supporting Elizabeth.”
“I don’t know,” Jason replied. “She seemed okay with it when we told her. I don’t know what happened.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Anyway, I wanted to let you know that Courtney agreed to go to the island, so if Carly’s going to be helping with the arrangements, then maybe Courtney should go as soon as possible.”
“Yeah,” Sonny agreed. “That sounds like a good idea.” He eyed his best friend. “How do you really feel about all this, Jason?”
“What do you mean?” Jason asked. He shoved his hands into his pockets. “What does it matter?”
“I don’t want you to feel like you’re being forced into this,” Sonny explained. “Like the families said, there’s no telling when this will be over. Elizabeth could have the baby by that time.”
“I know,” Jason remarked. “I’m prepared for that.”
“Are you?” Sonny asked. “Well, if I were you, I’d be careful about this whole pregnancy thing. It’s real easy to get attached to a child—you know that better than anyone.”
“Don’t worry,” Jason assured him. “I plan on staying completely objective to the pregnancy. I mean, if she needs anything, I’ll do it. But I’m not going to go out of my way.”
“That’s good,” Sonny replied. He shook his head. “I just don’t understand. Emily was so…upset when Elizabeth found out about Ric. She was here day and night. She’s been going to all the doctor’s appointments. She helped her move in. What’s changed?”
“I don’t know,” Jason said. “But I’m going to find out.”
Quartermaine Mansion: Emily’s Bedroom
Emily slammed her magazines on the desk and glared at the bride on front cover. Why couldn’t anyone see her point of view? Was it so difficult for people to see Elizabeth wasn’t perfect?
She crossed her arms and started to pace. She’d been home for a few months and already she was embroiled in another crazy plot. First it’d been her blackmailer, then the dead cop, and then Zander, and now Elizabeth’s shotgun wedding to Emily’s brother. It was ridiculous.
Emily scowled as she sat on her bed, remembering a conversation she’d had with Gia Campbell shortly after she’d come home.
“You know, I’m surprised Zander’s still single,” Emily remarked gratefully. “It’s been almost two years since I’ve been home.”
Gia shrugged. “Well, he hasn’t been single the whole time,” she said. She sipped her soda. “There was a brief thing with Carly last year and of course you know about Elizabeth.”
Emily frowned. “What?”
“They dated briefly last summer.” Gia shrugged. “I don’t know why since Elizabeth was hung up on your brother. But then she went to Zander for about a month. Of course before we knew it, she’d broken it off with him and moved in with Jason.”
Emily frowned. “How do you know all this?”
“Everyone knew,” Gia replied. “Zander and Liz were kidnapped together and then he accidentally shot her in front of your brother. Guess that ended it. She bounces back pretty quickly, huh? From Lucky to Jason to Zander to Jason to Ric…”
“To Jason again,” Emily finished out loud, the memory fading from her mind. She and Gia had never been close, but she’d made the effort when she’d gotten home before Gia had joined her brother in Oregon.
Elizabeth was a good person, Emily knew that. But she could hurt people. And she wasn’t going to hurt her brother again.
A knock on her window startled her and she turned to see Jason pushing through. He entered her room and frowned at her. “What’s going on?”
“What do you mean?” Emily asked innocently as she moved to her desk to fiddle with the magazines.
“Why did Elizabeth say you weren’t helping with the wedding anymore and why is Carly now the matron of honor?”
“We had a fight,” Emily murmured. “It’s not that big of a deal.”
Emily turned and smiled brightly at her brother. “I promise, Jase. It was just a fight. All girls have them from time to time. It’s nothing to worry about. I’ll even go apologize if you want.”
“She’s out with Carly,” Jason told her. “What was the fight about?”
“Look, I just don’t want to see either of you hurt, okay?” Emily admitted. “And I’m afraid that’s all this marriage nonsense is going to do.”
“We both know it’s not real,” Jason said slowly. “How could we be hurt?”
“Because you both still care about each other,” Emily reminded him. “And when feelings are involved, it’s always sticky. And what about Courtney? She can’t be happy about any of this?”
“She’s not,” Jason replied. He rubbed the back of his neck. “She’s going to the island until it’s all over.”
“You’re just shipping her off while you play house with Elizabeth?” Emily asked, irritated. “Who taught you how to treat women?”
Jason pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. “Look, it hurts Courtney to see this. So she’s leaving. It’s for her sanity, not for me. I want you to knock off fighting with Elizabeth. She’s under enough stress as it is and extra doesn’t help, got it?”
“I don’t work for you,” Emily retorted. “I don’t take orders.”
“Damn it, Emily—”
“I have to go meet Zander,” Emily cut in before Jason could yell at her again. She pushed past him and left her room.