Elizabeth touched her heart charm and looked out the tinted windows of the car taking them back to the penthouses. She and Jason were sitting alone in the completely silent car while Sonny and Carly followed them in a matching limo. She didn’t see the point in continuing the charade of a true wedding but she was past the point of arguing.
The only thing she wanted to do was sit out the last six months of her pregnancy in the relative solitude of the penthouse.
“Sonny and I have to meet with the families when we get back so you and Carly will be alone on the floor,” Jason broke the silence.
Elizabeth opened her mouth to ask why but quickly closed it again. “Okay.”
“We have to deal with Tagliatti’s behavior,” Jason explained. “And…Sonny received word that the families wish to renegotiate.”
Her head snapped around and she stared at him. “Why?” she demanded. “What else could they possibly want?”
Sonny had told him not to pull any punches with his explanation—to tell Elizabeth the entire truth. So Jason told her. “We think it’s about the pregnancy. They’re still worried Ric will get to the baby and they don’t want another Ric on their hands.”
Elizabeth pressed her lips firmly together. “How am I supposed to assure them that it won’t happen?” she asked. She twisted her hands in her lap.
“I don’t know,” Jason said honestly. He put his arm on the back of the seat and twisted to look at her. “Elizabeth, I’m not going to let anything happen to you. Or your child. I promise.”
“That’s not really a promise you can make is it?” Elizabeth asked softly. There was neither anger nor accusation in her voice, but he still winced.
“No, it’s not,” Jason allowed. “I’m going to do my best then. We have more allies than the families do—more friends in the syndicate. That works in our favor.”
“Okay.” She glanced up at him. “I believe you.” She hesitated. “Sonny doesn’t want me to come this time?”
Jason shook his head. “He doesn’t think it’ll be safe.”
She nodded, wanting to tell him to be careful but she thought that might be a little too personal—too close, so she opted to stay silent.
The car pulled to a stop and a guard pulled open the back door. Jason stepped out first and then helped Elizabeth out.
“Congratulations, Mr. Morgan,” the guard said formally. He was new and probably not aware that the wedding had been just for show. “Mrs. Morgan,” he nodded.
“I’ll take you upstairs and make sure you’re settled in,” Jason told her, ignoring the guard. He put a hand on the small of her back and started to steer her towards the stairs.
“You don’t have to,” Elizabeth told him. Sonny and Carly joined them. “I mean…if you need to get to the meeting as soon as possible.”
“If you’re okay with that,” Sonny told Carly, “we’ll just have one of the guards take you up. Actually…” he snapped his fingers and a dark-haired man joined them. “Elizabeth, this is Andrew. He’ll be on your door when you’re in the penthouse and he’ll be your main guard.”
Elizabeth crossed her arms tightly. “Okay.”
“Andrew, take them upstairs,” Sonny directed. “Johnny will take care of Mrs. Corinthos and Mrs. Morgan is your responsibility from now on.”
“He doesn’t have to call me that does he?” Elizabeth asked. “I mean…Elizabeth will be fine.”
“Elizabeth, don’t argue.” Sonny looked at Andrew. “You have your instructions.”
Carly shook her head. “Let’s just go, okay?” She took Elizabeth’s arm and they went towards the elevator, Andrew trailing behind them.
“Let’s get this over with,” Sonny told Jason as they headed towards Sonny’s limo.
Sonny strode into the restaurant and headed right for the private room where the heads of the families were already gathered. He took his usual seat with Jason stationed behind him. “I do not appreciate being summoned here like this,” he snarled. He glared at Tagliatti. “What the hell was all of that about here earlier?”
Tagliatti smirked. “Just proving once and for all who is in charge here. It is only out of respect for peace that we do not challenge your rights to the territory. And it is only because customarily women are not considered in business that we are willing to negotiate Elizabeth Webber’s well-being.”
“That’s Elizabeth Morgan,” Sonny corrected coldly. “And that name is as good as mine in this syndicate. For whatever reasons, she is now Jason’s wife and is as deserving of your respect as my own wife.”
“Fine.” Daniel Vega leaned forwardly. “We are still not sure about this pregnancy. You cannot offer us any assurance that Ric Lansing will not get to the child or to Elizabeth before the child is born.”
“Elizabeth is under lock and key,” Sonny reported. “She is protected by the best guards in the business, and has quit her job. She leaves the penthouse now only for doctor’s appointments and other minor things. She is never out of the guard’s sight and is always in a public place.”
“Things happen.” Michael Hernandez folded his hands and peered at Sonny. “Ric is still legally the child’s father. He has rights.”
“We can petition the court to have those taken away,” Sonny replied. “Ric would have to appear in court to argue against it and then you’d have what you’d want. Ric back in Port Charles.”
“And if he just lets the petition go through, his rights are taken away.” Hernandez nodded. “Okay.”
“We are not men who depend on the court system to do our dirty work,” Thomas Caracas cut in. “Your organization and the men in it are only obligated to protect Elizabeth Morgan because of her new status as Jason’s wife. The child would mean nothing to them. There are men in any of our organizations that could turn against us and work with Ric Lansing to get to the child.”
“What do you propose I do?” Sonny demanded harshly. “Go to that girl that I’ve promised to protect and tell her she needs to abort her baby because you’re scared someone will turn on you and work for Lansing?”
“No one wants another Ric Lansing running around,” John O’Reilly snapped. “And we have no assurance that one day the girl won’t go back to him. Nothing other than her word. And then she gives him the child and how are we supposed to fight against that?”
“She’s not going to go back to him,” Sonny argued. “And of course you’re obligated to protect her child.”
“As long as it’s inside of her,” O’Reilly pointed out. “Once it’s born, it’s a separate person and as far as I’m concerned, open season.”
Jason clenched his fists at his side as he listened to these petty men talk about Elizabeth and her child like they were pieces of property. He’d promised her that no harm would come to her child and damn it, for once in his life, he wanted to keep a promise to her.
“If I adopt the child, you can’t touch it,” Jason blurted out. The room went silent and Sonny twisted in his seat to gape at his friend. He took a deep breath. “If I adopt her child and put my name on the birth certificate, the child will receive the same respect and protection as a child of my own blood, right?”
“Right,” Vega said slowly. “And hearing that Jason Morgan is claiming his child might be the motivation Lansing needs to take some kind of action.”
“We’d need to talk to Elizabeth about this first,” Sonny said quickly. “She needs to be okay with this.”
“Meet us here tomorrow at eight,” Tagliatti instructed them. He smiled. “I knew we’d come up with something.”
“Jason, this is a mistake.”
Jason shook his head. “They’re not going to take her child from her and they’re not going to hurt it either. Sonny, we promised her we’d protect her at any cost.”
“You haven’t thought this through,” Sonny argued. “Yes, it would solve our immediate problems but you will be the child’s father for the rest of its life. Your name will always be on that certificate.”
“It’s on Michael’s,” Jason pointed quietly. “You’ve adopted him but my name is still there. The Quartermaines never changed it. It’s a piece of paper. It means nothing.”
“And if Elizabeth never changes it? What will happen when this child knocks on your door one day and asks why you were never there?” Sonny asked pointedly.
“I don’t…” Jason exhaled slowly. “Sonny, there was nothing else we could do. You heard them. They were about five seconds from putting a hit on a child that hasn’t even been born. I promised her…I promised her I wouldn’t let anything happen to her or the baby.”
“Jason, we talked about this a few weeks ago,” Sonny pressed. “It was going to be hard enough to stay detached from this pregnancy living with her but now that child be legally yours. In everyone’s eyes, you will be the father. You can’t do this.”
Jason shook his head. “Sonny, there’s no other way. Can you honestly think of anything else that’s going to work?”
“And you know that these men would kill a child if they thought it might threaten them in the future,” Jason reminded him. “And look, Elizabeth has to agree to this anyway and you and I both know that’s not going to be an easy sell.”
“Jason, I just don’t know if this is a good idea—”
“Sonny, I promised Elizabeth that I would protect her and for once, I’d like to keep a promise to her.”
His words ended the discussion and Sonny sat back, hoping Elizabeth would be able to talk some reason into him.
Elizabeth had changed out of her wedding gown and taken a shower by the time they returned. She was in a pair of sweats and sitting on the couch with an expectant, almost fearful look on her face.
“How did it go?”
Jason looked to Sonny who shook his head. “This was your idea.”
Jason sighed. “Fine. Then you go home and I’ll do this. You’re just going to argue with me anyway.”
“Whatever. Good night, Elizabeth.” Sonny exited and Elizabeth stood.
“Jason, what’s going on?” she asked softly, wrapping her arms around her middle.
“There weren’t a lot of options,” Jason began carefully. “Because, quite frankly, the families are petty and they had almost made up their mind before I suggested that…” He rubbed the back of his neck. “What it kind of boils down to, Elizabeth, is that you are protected because we’re married but your child is still legally Ric’s and therefore…”
“Not under your protection,” Elizabeth finished. “We can petition to have his rights revoked, I mean he’s wanted by the police and—”
“We suggested that but unless it brings Ric back to Port Charles, it’s not good enough for them. They also don’t trust that you won’t go back to him, taking the child with you.”
“I would never go back to him—he tried to kill me!” Elizabeth cried, her voice shaking. Her hands were trembling and he became alarmed. He stepped forward and took her hands in his.
“Sit down. Take some deep breaths.” He kneeled in front of her. “I know you wouldn’t.”
“Jason, please don’t let them kill my baby,” she whispered faintly. Tears streaked down her cheeks. “I’ll do anything, please—”
“They won’t,” he said firmly. “Please just—-try and calm down.” He licked his lips and took a deep breath. “The only thing that I could think of—the only thing that they would have no choice but to respect…”
“What is it?” Elizabeth asked. “I’ll do it, anything,” she told him, desperate for an answer.
“The only option is that I adopt your child,” he said.
“I can’t…” She stood and shook her head violently. “No. That’s…I can’t do that.” She moved away from him and stared out the window. “Jason, I can’t let you do that.”
He rose slowly and closed his eyes. “I know we haven’t gotten along this past year but—”
“That has nothing to do with this,” she cut in quickly. Elizabeth turned to him. “Jason, I can’t let you put your name on that birth certificate and tell the world you’re my child’s father. That’s…that’s so unfair to you.”
“I decide what’s fair for me,” Jason said shortly. “This was my idea. I’m aware of the—”
“I don’t think you are.” She pushed her hair out of her face. “Jason, I can’t give my child a father in name only. I can’t do that and I can’t ask you for more. And that’s all I’m going to say so you’d better come up with another option. Because this is not going to happen.”
She rounded the couch and moved up the stairs, the discussion clearly over.
Quartermaine Mansion: Gardens
“Emily, darling, the wedding was just beautiful,” Lila reported as she sipped her tea. “I’m sorry you weren’t feeling well.”
Emily rolled her eyes. “Grandmother, you and I both know I only said that to avoid going. Elizabeth and I aren’t getting along and I thought it would be better if I didn’t go.”
“Your best friend marries your brother and you miss it because of a fight?” Lila asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Grandmother, I know you’re not being naïve. Jason and Elizabeth are only getting married to protect her from that horrid man, Ric Lansing. They’re not in love with each other. And good thing, too because all she’s done is hurt him,” Emily remarked fiercely.
“Emily, love, I think you’re being just a little harsh on Elizabeth. I was at the wedding and stayed for part of the reception. I saw the way they care for one another and shouldn’t that be what matters?”
“You saw what they wanted you to see,” Emily said carefully. “I don’t deny that Jason cares about her but he’s with Courtney, Grandmother, and she loves him, too. Shouldn’t her feelings matter?”
“Of course. I’m just sorry you’re taking her side over Elizabeth’s. After all the two of you have been through…” Lila trailed off. “It’s just disappointing that’s all.”
Emily stood abruptly. “I’m going to bed. Good night, Grandmother.”
She closed the door softly behind her and leaned her back against it. She’d been so terrified for a moment that she’d say yes to Jason’s idea that she knew that she had to get out of there.
The past two months felt almost like a blur to her. She crossed the room to stand in front of the mirror and turned to her side. Her pregnancy still wasn’t showing beyond some slight changes in her hips and breasts.
She’d found out about the baby before she’d known the truth about Ric and truth be told, she’d been thrilled. Up until that point, Ric Lansing had been everything she wanted in a man. He’d been honest, attentive, loving…everything Jason hadn’t been.
She’d walked into his apartment and Faith had been there. He was naked, with a sheet clutched around his waist and the viperous blonde had been lounging nude on the black leather couch that Elizabeth had made love to Ric on.
She couldn’t even register that scene fully before Ric pulled her into the bedroom and hurriedly tried to explain as he pulled on some jeans. She wasn’t really paying attention—all she knew is that yet another man had chosen a blonde instead of her.
She’d been so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t realize Ric was growing angry—angry that Elizabeth didn’t understand or that she wasn’t’ forgiving him. At that point, it hadn’t even occurred to her that Faith Roscoe was Sonny’s enemy and that he’d been working for Sonny, so something was definitely fishy there.
But Ric was angry and he was desperate and he started to threaten her. Told her that he’d kill her if she told Sonny.
That had gotten her attention and she’d looked at him—looked at this man who’d she rushed over to tell about the life they’d created and she couldn’t even imagine how she’d deluded herself into thinking she was in love with him. He was what Faith Roscoe had told her months ago—Jason in a more expensive suit.
Without the death threats of course.
She’d backed away slowly, intent on getting the hell out of there and going straight for Sonny. It had never occurred to not to go to Sonny. Ric was threatening her life—he was obviously up to something and Elizabeth had always had an ingrained sense of loyalty when it came to Sonny and Jason.
She’d turned and made a quick dash for the door. He’d grabbed the strap of her purse but she’d let it go in her haste to get out of there. She’d made it to the elevator and it wasn’t until then that she realized the results of her pregnancy test were in the purse.
She’d gone straight to Sonny’s for protection and he’d taken her in immediately after seeing her disheveled and crying in her hallway, despite Carly and later Courtney’s protests. Jason and Sonny had never once questioned her honesty—they’d already been suspicious of Ric and Elizabeth only confirmed them.
Without meaning to, she’d blurted out that she was pregnant, that by now Ric surely knew about it and that he’d threatened to kill her.
It was all Sonny had needed to hear. He told her that she was staying with him until further notice. At that point, Sonny hadn’t even known Ric was his half-brother—that Elizabeth was carrying his niece or nephew. He’d taken her in anyway.
Sonny Corinthos had protected her every step of the way since that day in May when she’d come to him but for the first time, she wondered if maybe Luke or Nikolas’s plan to spirit her out of town would have been a better route to take.
There was a soft knock on the door and Elizabeth sank into one of the soft couches Carly had convinced her to put in the room. “Come in,” she sighed.
Jason opened the door. He was still dressed in the tuxedo from the wedding but both the jacket and the bow tie were long gone and the top few buttons of the shirt were undone, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. “Elizabeth—”
“Jason, it means a lot to me that you’d even offer to do this but I can’t,” she interrupted. She brought her knees up to her chest and picked at the red nail polish on her toes.
“Elizabeth, I have gone over this a thousand times in my head,” he began. “I can’t…There is nothing else that we can do that would absolutely ensure the baby’s safety and I promised you that I wouldn’t let anything happen to her.”
“Jason, I don’t…” She tilted her face up to the ceiling. “I can’t do this. This isn’t about me. This is about the baby. I can’t put your name down and go through all of the paperwork to make you the father and not…” her eyes teared and her voice was thick. “I know you, Jason and I don’t think you could just put your name down on a piece of paper and go through all of the paper work and then just walk away.”
He looked away, shoving his hands in his pockets. “What do you want from me?” she asked. “I can’t give you what you want. I can’t be the father either. I just…there is nothing else I can think of.”
Elizabeth nodded miserably. “Yeah. I’m getting that idea. So why don’t we just petition to have Ric’s rights revoked and hope that will make the families feel better?”
“Fine. I’ll have Sonny contact a lawyer.” He hesitated. “Good night, Elizabeth.”
He closed the door behind him and Elizabeth reached for the phone.
“Luke?” Elizabeth fastened her free hand around the necklace Laura had given her. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
Luke set his beer on the coffee table and leaned back to put his arm around a sleeping Laura. “Naw, the wife just conked out a little while ago. What’s up? You sound upset.”
“Luke, I don’t think I can do this,” she whispered. “This is just getting out of control.”
“Honey, what happened?” Luke asked. “Did Morgan—?”
“No, it’s nothing like that.” Elizabeth sucked in a deep breath. “Jason and Sonny meant with the families. They had to renegotiate the deal.”
Luke sighed. “Aw, man. What happened?”
“They’re still concerned about the pregnancy—that Ric will get to the child.” She wiped away from tears. “And having his rights revoked wasn’t good enough for them so Jason…for whatever reason…he offered to adopt the baby.”
Luke was silent for a moment. “And obviously this isn’t a good idea.”
“Of course not,” Elizabeth protested. “My child gains a father in name only. How can I do that to her?”
“What’s really bothering you?” Luke asked.
Elizabeth shrugged even though he couldn’t see her. “Because just for a moment, I wanted the baby to be his and I wanted him to want the same thing and I realized how ridiculous that sounded. I can’t have Jason claim my child legally. That’s something that will go on forever.”
“Well, what if you get married again later?” Luke pointed out. “You could have the adoption rescinded and your husband—”
“I’m not going to trade fathers around like Carly did with Michael,” Elizabeth snapped. “She went through three men before she married Sonny and I won’t do that.”
“Okay, okay,” Luke said, trying to keep her calm. “Talk to Jason again in the morning. Try to find a way to explain this to him. He’s a good man—he’ll understand.”
Elizabeth nodded. “Okay. I’ll talk to him tomorrow. Thanks, Luke.”
“No problem, darling. Good night.”