July 24, 2003
Elizabeth was leaning against his desk and had the phone pressed to her ear when Jason came home that night. “Gram, please just—this is the third time I’ve called and you’re still not letting me explain.”
“What’s there to explain?” Audrey said shortly. “You broke up with a Harvard lawyer and married into the mob. Explanation finished.”
“That’s not how it happened,” Elizabeth sighed.
“He’s a common thug Elizabeth—”
“Gram, stop calling him that!” Elizabeth cut in. “You might not like him but he’s my husband and that means the insults stop!”
“Elizabeth, you have done some incredibly irresponsible things in your life but trading in Ric Lansing for Jason Morgan was above and beyond the most idiotic—”
“You know nothing about Ric Lansing or the hell he wreaked on my life,” Elizabeth cried. “How can you stand there and make judgments when you know nothing that’s going on?”
“Are you pregnant, Elizabeth? Is that you married him?” Audrey demanded.
“Yes, I am pregnant but that has nothing to do—”
“Oh…you’re giving that criminal a child,” Audrey moaned. “Another criminal, just like him.”
“Oh, that is the end of it…that is it!” Elizabeth slammed her hand down on the desk. “That little criminal will be your great-grandchild and how dare you—”
In a flash, Jason yanked the phone from Elizabeth, alarmed at where the argument was going—the red in Elizabeth’s cheeks and her heavy breathing. “Just take deep breaths, okay?” he directed.
“Jason give me the phone,” Elizabeth seethed.
Instead, he pressed the receiver to his ear. “Mrs. Hardy?” he asked politely.
Audrey coughed. “Mr. Morgan.”
“Elizabeth is pregnant—and the last thing she needs to be get into argument after argument with you. You either respect her and her decisions or you don’t. She won’t beg you for the love you’re supposed to give unconditionally. Goodbye.” He hung up the phone. “Don’t call her again. It only gets you upset and you don’t need that right now.”
She glared at him. “Who do you think you are?” Elizabeth demanded. “You can’t tell me—”
“I’m not telling you this to control you,” Jason told her softly. “The more you argue with your grandmother, the more upset and hurt you’re going to get.”
“She called my baby a criminal,” Elizabeth pressed her lips together, her voice shaky. “Not even born yet and she’s labeling her. As if the father’s occupation or personality has anything to do with the baby—” she closed her eyes. “Oh, God, what if it does?”
“Hey, this child will never know Ric Lansing, there is no way that could ever happen, okay?” Jason assured her.
“Are you sure?” Elizabeth asked him. “I mean—we don’t even know where he is or what he’s planning.”
“If Ric so much as makes a move towards you or anyone else, we’ll know. Elizabeth, I promised I would keep you safe. Don’t you trust me?”
“You I trust,” Elizabeth sighed. “Ric—it just doesn’t make any sense for him to have disappeared like this or that no one can find him. What if…what if they never find him?” she asked. “What if we’re just…stuck here until like six years down the road when he decides it’s safe to come after us?” she demanded.
“It’s not going to be that long,” Jason remarked firmly.
“But how do you know?” she pressed.
There was a knock on the door that saved Jason from answering. He turned and pulled it open, revealing Sonny and Carly.
“Hey, we need to talk,” Sonny told him. “Carly came over to—” he glanced at his wife. “Why did you follow me?”
“It’s business,” Carly said, stone-faced. She pushed past Jason and stopped in front of Elizabeth. “We need to talk.”
“Oh really?” Elizabeth remarked. “You sound just like your husband.”
“Good, because I’m been practicing.” She turned back to the confused men. “You guys can have the downstairs, we call upstairs.” She started for the stairs and with a small shake of her head, Elizabeth followed.
Sonny closed the door and cleared his throat. “I might be overstepping here but I think I have to do something about this.”
“Something about what? Did one of the families come up with something?” Jason asked, crossing his arms.
“No, this is about this situation and how the two of you are handling it,” Sonny told him. “You both seem to be operating under the assumption that is a temporary situation.”
Jason frowned. “This is temporary.”
“Temporary in the sense that neither of you want to be married to the other for the next fifty years, yeah,” Sonny agreed. “But it’s not a matter of weeks or just two months. Elizabeth could very be living here for a year or two.”
Jason shifted. “Okay, yeah?”
“In a year, the baby will be here, living in this penthouse with you as the legal father. Jason—this is why I argued against adoption. I know you—I know that’s not going to be easy on you.”
Jason turned and went towards the couch. “I’m—I’m aware of that fact and I know that if Elizabeth has the baby while we’re still married—that it’ll be difficult for me not to want to help—to be a part of his life. Especially in the first few months when the baby won’t be sleeping through the night and Elizabeth will be tired from being up with him all night.”
He pressed the heel of his hand to his forehead. “Laura Spencer came by the warehouse today to talk to me about this very thing. And she asked me why I just didn’t ask Elizabeth to be the baby’s father.”
“Laura loves Elizabeth very much and I think it’s been very good for her to have her back. She has a point Jason. You will be in Elizabeth’s life for at least the next year or so. Certainly during this entire pregnancy and the first part of the baby’s life. Why not just make it easier on both of you—”
“Because this shouldn’t be about making it easy on me or Elizabeth. This should be about that child and what’s best for him,” Jason interrupted. “Yes, it would be easier if I were the full-time father and yes, that’s something I’ve thought about—something I could definitely see myself doing. But there are other factors here, Sonny.”
“Like?” Sonny prompted.
“Courtney, for one,” Jason told him. “She doesn’t even know about the adoption yet and you know she’s thinking this will be over in a few weeks. There’s also Elizabeth—who didn’t even want my name on the birth certificate. What makes you think she’ll want me to be in the baby’s life beyond that?”
“Elizabeth didn’t want to give her child a father in name only,” Sonny reminded him. “As for Courtney, there’s a lot of things you haven’t mentioned to her.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jason demanded.
“It means that you haven’t told her about the wedding—about that little kiss Tagliatti orchestrated, have you?” Sonny asked pointedly.
Carly pushed open the door and strolled in, Elizabeth behind her. “Yes, I think this will do nicely,” she nodded.
“For?” Elizabeth asked.
“The nursery,” Carly said absently. She moved towards the windows to look at the view of the park. “I was looking at some books to decorate my nursery and I came across this adorable pale yellow room trimmed in pale green and I just thought it would be a good color scheme for this room.”
“Carly, I’m not…we’re not doing a nursery here,” Elizabeth told her. “There’s no point—”
“You don’t want to be prepared?” Carly asked, arching an eyebrow. “Say in five to six months when you’re still here, still married to Jason—you don’t want to go into labor and not have a place for the baby to sleep.”
“Well, that’s a good point.” Elizabeth touched her abdomen. “Yellow and green, you said?”
“Pale. Those are really good neutral colors since you don’t know if the baby’s a boy or a girl.” Carly shrugged. “I’m doing my nursery in blue because I know this is a boy,” she told her. “Sometimes…you just know.”
“I want a girl,” Elizabeth confessed. “A little girl named Laura.”
“Laura, huh?” Carly nodded. “So you got the gut feeling about the girl? That’s cool. Laura Morgan,” she tested it.
Elizabeth looked at her oddly. “She won’t be a Morgan forever.”
Carly snorted. “Yeah, okay. Elizabeth, were you even at the wedding?”
Knowing exactly where the blonde was going with this, “That was a mistake,” Elizabeth explained. “It hasn’t happened since and it’s not going to happen again.”
“Uh huh.” Carly shrugged. “Even so, she’ll always be considered Jason Morgan’s daughter. Whether or not she has your last name.”
“But everyone knows she’s not biologically his,” Elizabeth said faintly.
“Doesn’t matter. Michael isn’t Sonny’s biological child but he’s his son. Even when we weren’t together for that year and even though it’s only been the last few years—all people need to know is that you are married to him, you are pregnant and he is the legal father.”
“I—” Elizabeth just shook her head, unable to find the words.
“Does that bother you?” Carly demanded. “To know that Jason—a criminal, a man with no heart, no conscience—will be considered the—”
“Don’t you ever say those things about him,” Elizabeth broke in sharply. She stalked towards her. “Even to prove a point—even to get a rise—don’t you ever say those things about him. Those words don’t even belong in the same sentence as Jason—in the same universe, do you understand?”
Carly blinked. “Okay, if you’re in love with him, why not just let him have the kid? Be a family or whatever?”
“I’m not—” Elizabeth shook her head again. “That’s not it at all.”
“I get it…” Carly smiled thinly. “You’re afraid that living the illusion of a happy family will hurt too much when this is over and he goes back to Courtney. That if you let Jason play daddy, you won’t want to let him go when the time comes.”
“You should know better than anyone how much Jason loves children, how unfair it would be to let him be the father to a child that isn’t his.”
“Yeah, it would be unfair and what I did to him…it will haunt me forever.” She pressed a hand to her chest, covering her heart. “It tears me up inside sometimes, Elizabeth, because no matter how good a father Sonny is or how much he loves Michael, I know I broke Jason’s heart when I concocted that plan all those years ago. I know what it cost him because I see it every day when he looks at Michael.”
“Losing that little boy nearly destroyed him and I refuse to put him through that again,” Elizabeth said softly.
“Why would you have to?” Carly demanded. “The only man who wants your baby is Ric and I don’t see you giving in to him.”
“You never saw yourself giving in to AJ.”
Carly exhaled slowly. “Point taken. But I thought AJ would take Michael from me. Ric can’t take Laura from you. Jason would die before that happens. Everyone knows that Ric is the biological father. You’re not hiding that. Elizabeth, the only person that would ever take her from him…is you.”
“Jason’s only married to me because there was no other option. He’s adopting this child because there is no other option. He doesn’t want to be the actual father. He doesn’t want to be in the delivery room when she’s born, rock her to sleep after she wakes up in the middle of the night—he doesn’t want my daughter so why do we have to have this conversation?” Elizabeth asked, her voice trembling.
“I know that’s not your brain talking, Elizabeth, that’s your fear, so I’m going to let it slide. I don’t like you. We have never gotten along.”
“Then what are you doing here?”
“I’m looking out for Jason,” Carly retorted. “I know him better than he thinks. He thinks he’s in love with Courtney. But he agreed to marry you—knowing it could go on indefinitely. He agreed to adopt your child—agreed to let you move in here and play house. Agreed to send the woman he supposedly loves a thousand miles away while he shacks up with his ex-girlfriend.”
Carly stepped towards her. “And he kissed his ex-girlfriend on their wedding day. A kiss that was not faked, was not planned and was not appropriate given his commitment to Courtney. I know Jason. He never got over you, Elizabeth and it is completely clear to me that you never got over him.”
“None of that matters,” Elizabeth remarked softly. “It just doesn’t.”
“I don’t have anyone right now, Courtney’s gone and my mother has her own life. I don’t have a female friend and I never particularly wanted one until I had Courtney in my life. I miss her, and I miss having someone to talk to—someone who’d sneak me junk food,” Carly admitted.
“What’s your point?” she asked.
“My point is that your own best friend isn’t speaking to you because she can’t take her own head out of her ass long enough to realize that is not about her. It’s not about her petty problems or jealousies. It’s about you and keeping you and your baby safe. I went through my first pregnancy terrified and alone. I don’t see why you should, too.”
Elizabeth hesitated. “It would be nice if we didn’t fight as much,” she told Carly. “And—I would like to have someone close that I could talk about…the baby and stuff with.”
Carly nodded. “And in return I get potato chips,” she said firmly.
“And you’ll think about what I said…about Jason and Laura?” Carly prompted.
“Okay,” Elizabeth agreed reluctantly.
Jason cleared his throat. “What about it?” he asked.
Sonny shook his head. “Never mind. No point in forcing something you’re not ready to deal with. Uh, if you want, we get you to the island in the next few days. So you can tell Courtney about the adoption in person.”
“Yeah.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “Okay. Sounds good.”
“What sounds good?” Carly asked, making her way down the steps with Elizabeth in tow. She kissed Sonny’s cheek.
“I’m going to arrange for Jason to visit Courtney,” Sonny admitted. “To talk to her about the adoption.”
Elizabeth shifted and took a deep breath. “Did you call Dara about that?” she asked Jason.
“Yeah, we need to go down there. Sign some paperwork. There’s some social worker that I need to talk to,” he told her. “Tomorrow good?”
“It’ll have to be in the morning,” Carly announced. “We’re getting lunch and going shopping after that.”
Sonny raised his eyebrows. “Was that what the business was about?” he asked.
“I suggested that she might start thinking about decorating the spare room for Laura,” Carly said. She shrugged. “Paint some murals on the walls or something right?”
“Right,” Elizabeth agreed. She flicked her eyes up to Jason. “If it’s okay with you, I mean.”
“Yeah, sure, good idea,” Jason nodded. “Listen, I have to make some calls, so…”
“Yeah, we’re going,” Carly told him. She took Sonny’s arm. “Let’s go.”
When they had left, Elizabeth took a deep breath and forced herself to relax. It wouldn’t do any good to be nervous and tense around him all the time. “I think I’m going to go sketch upstairs. Let you make your calls—”
“I don’t have to make any calls,” Jason caught her elbow as she turned away. “I just said that to get rid of Sonny and Carly.”
“Okay…well, then did you want something?” she asked him.
“Yeah…to talk to you,” he replied. He hesitated. “About the baby.”