Elizabeth blinked. “What about the baby?”
Jason glanced away. He’d wanted to broach the topic that both Laura and Sonny had talked to him about. The more he thought about it—the more appealing the idea of really being a father to Elizabeth’s child became.
But instead, he just cleared his throat and said, “I wanted to tell you that anything you need for the nursery—just let me know, okay?”
“You’re okay with it?” she asked. “I hadn’t really thought about using one of the rooms but Carly—she had a point. I don’t want to go into labor and not have a place to put her when she comes home.”
“Right,” Jason agreed. “And anything you buy…you can move if that becomes the case.”
“Yeah.” Elizabeth twisted her hands. “So you’re going to the island?” she asked.
“I have to tell Courtney about the adoption in person,” Jason told her. “I can’t tell her over the phone.”
“Of course. When do you think you’ll go?”
“As soon as possible, I guess.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Are you okay? Is there anything that you need?”
Need. She was an obligation. Elizabeth shook her head. “I’m kind of tired—I’m going to go take a nap.”
July 26, 2003
Dara Jensen’s Office
“Okay, here are the first set of forms,” Dara said setting a stack of papers in front of Elizabeth at the table in her office. “This is the petition to strip Ric of his parental rights.”
“It asks for reasons,” Elizabeth told Jason. “What should I put?”
“The truth,” Jason answered. “He threatened your life and the life of your child.” He looked at Dara. “That should be enough for the courts, right?”
“Well, as long as Ric doesn’t show up, the judge doesn’t have a reason not to believe Elizabeth. We will have to show that we tried to locate Ric and inform him of this decision. Do you have any idea where he is?”
“No and I’d die happy if I never knew,” Elizabeth retorted.
Dara glanced at Jason who sighed. “The last any of our contacts heard was that he and Faith Roscoe were in London. They’ve left that country and we think they’re in Europe somewhere.”
“Well, we’ll send it to his last known address and he’ll have six weeks to contest it. If he doesn’t, the judge will probably grant the petition. I assume there are witnesses to his attempted abduction last month?”
Elizabeth hesitated and nodded. “I was closing Kelly’s and someone grabbed me when I was leaving the courtyard. My guard had been knocked out and I had—” she took a deep breath. “I had a can of mace in my purse. I sprayed it in his eyes and ran then. The Towers are only a few blocks from Kelly’s.”
“The guard is named Max Giambetti,” Jason informed Dara. “He’s available for questioning but he can’t tell you much more.”
“Well I don’t know that we’ll have to worry about it anyway. If Ric doesn’t contest it, the petition will go through.”
“And the adoption?” Elizabeth asked as she filled in her name and other required information on the petition.
“Well, there’s two things we can work with. One—if you are in a marriage when the child is born, the man you married to becomes legally responsible whether the child is biologically his.”
Jason shook his head. “That won’t be enough,” he told Elizabeth softly. Raising his voice, he went on. “We’d rather go through the actual process.”
“Well, as soon as Ric’s rights are terminated, we can start that. Since you’re both willing, all you’d have to do is talk to a social worker. I have a friend—she’s coming down this morning actually to do the preliminary work. If she recommends you,” she told Jason, “you should have it finalized in a matter of weeks.”
“What are the chances that she doesn’t recommend me?” Jason asked.
“Well…you have quite an arrest record,” Dara sighed. “And even though your conviction for Luis Alcazar’s murder was overturned, it might carry some weight. Plus you have a certain reputation—”
“But there’s nothing concrete,” Elizabeth interrupted. “There’s no proof that he’s ever done anything illegal. All the arrests in the world can’t matter if there’s no convictions and his reputation shouldn’t even come into play.”
Dara smiled thinly. “I was about to explain all the reasons you will get the recommendation. Elizabeth is obviously very vocal in your behalf and we can give Lauren—the social worker—a list of references. Emily Quartermaine, Nikolas Cassadine, Audrey Hardy—”
“My grandmother is out of the country and even if she were here, she wouldn’t testify for Jason,” Elizabeth informed Dara. She glanced at her hands. “She’s not very supportive of my decision to marry Jason so I doubt she’d support the adoption.”
“Well, that’s a setback since she’s a very well respected member of the community,” Dara sighed.
“Laura Spencer would probably be a good reference,” Jason suggested. “She and Elizabeth are close and she supports her.”
“Yes, Laura—Bobbie Spencer, too. Does that help?” Elizabeth asked.
“Yes. They’re very respectable. However—I can’t keep Lauren from asking probing questions about you or your relationship with anyone in your life,” Dara told Jason. “Including your business relationship with Sonny or your marriage—or the fact that until very shortly before your marriage, you were dating someone else.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Elizabeth demanded.
“Well, the reason you are adopting her child is because you are married and you intend to raise the child, correct?” Dara asked.
Jason hesitated. “Well, yeah. I intend to provide for Elizabeth and the baby,” he answered.
Though he hadn’t exactly answered the question, Dara nodded. “So in Lauren’s mind, she’s going to want to know how stable your marriage is. How you could go from one woman to another in a matter of days.”
Elizabeth sighed and closed her eyes. “I knew this was a bad idea,” she murmured.
Dara frowned. “What’s that?”
“Elizabeth was originally apprehensive about going through this,” Jason admitted. “And I don’t think either of us realized just how…intrusive it would be. I assumed that because the mother supported it and we were married…”
“Ten years ago, it would have been. But everything is more difficult. Best interest of the child and all that,” Dara said. “I don’t recommend you lie to Lauren, but if you have to fudge a few details…elaborate in other instances. Really—if she does any kind of background check, she’ll learn that the two of you have been involved in some way for about four years now. You could just say that you’d been off and on and during an off period, you dated someone else before deciding to commit to Elizabeth.”
Jason nodded. “That works.” He took Elizabeth’s hand in hers. “It’s really okay. I can handle it.”
“Well, if you’re finished that form, I can file the petition and I’ll bring Lauren in while I do that, okay?”
“You won’t be here during the interview?” Elizabeth asked, concerned.
“I’ll only be gone a little while,” Dara assured her. “Don’t worry—Lauren’s a professional.”
She exited and a few moments later, a tall willowy woman with blonde hair tightly pulled into a ponytail entered. She sat across from the couple and set a few files down. “I’m Lauren Anderson,” she introduced herself. “You are Jason and Elizabeth Morgan?”
“Yes,” Jason answered shortly.
“When Dara called me yesterday, I immediately went to a contact at the PCPD and pulled both your files—what they’d release to me,” she flashed a white smile. “As well as going through various newspaper archives at the library, so in addition to what I already knew, those things and what Dara’s told me, I’m pretty well-versed in both of your lives.”
“I have a police file?” Elizabeth asked surprised.
“Well…yes,” Lauren shifted uncomfortably. “It mostly contains information about your rape—about the jail break you and Lucky Spencer orchestrated for Luke Spencer last fall, your car accident last year, etc. Nothing spectacular.” She glanced at Jason. “As for you, Mr. Morgan, you have a very long arrest record.” She laughed. “No convictions of course.”
“Of course,” Jason confirmed.
“However, a family court judge will probably want to know why you’d been brought in so often,” Lauren told them.
“Family court?” Elizabeth repeated. “I didn’t know we’d have to have a hearing—”
“Well, it’s really a formality that gets waived in most cases. However, I do think you’ll have to attend one sometime next month. It’ll be the final step.” She shifted a folder aside. “Okay, so how long have you known each other?”
“We met through his sister,” Elizabeth answered—as always being the talkative one. “Emily Bowen-Quartermaine. She and I attended high school together and we’ve been best friends ever since. Also my ex-boyfriend worked for Jason at one time.”
“Lucky Spencer?” Lauren asked. “Who was believed dead in a fire in a building that you owned, Mr. Morgan?” she asked him.
“That fire was caused by Helena Cassadine and she had Lucky kidnapped,” Elizabeth quickly explained. “Jason had nothing to do with it.”
“Of course not. So…you met while you were still in high school?” Lauren asked. She raised an eyebrow. “What’s the age difference?”
“I’m twenty-one,” Elizabeth answered, “and Jason’s twenty-eight right?” she glanced at him.
“Right,” he agreed.
“Seven years,” Lauren murmured, making a notation. “Did your relationship start while you were in school?”
Elizabeth frowned. “No. We didn’t become friends until I had graduated high school.”
“And when did your romantic relationship begin?” Lauren inquired. She checked her notes. “I have some information that you lived together during the winter of 1999 and 2000?”
“Yes,” Jason confirmed. He took a deep breath. “We…were attracted to each other at that point but I felt that she was too young and I was leaving town due to other personal reasons.”
“But you did have a romantic relationship at that point?” Lauren inquired.
“Yes,” Jason lied. “We were off and on again until early this summer when we decided to get married.”
“How off and on again?” Lauren asked.
“On again in the late summer of 2000,” Elizabeth answered. “And then in spring of 2001. And then not again until the summer of 2002.”
“And then you were off again until this summer?” Lauren asked.
“From October until June yes,” Elizabeth answered.
Lauren set her pen down. “So, why’d you decide to get married? After all this time?”
“Why does anyone get married?” Elizabeth asked shortly. “I don’t see what all of this has to do with Jason adopting my baby.”
“I want to be sure that your child be raised in a loving and stable home,” Lauren replied. “And since I have reports that Jason was dating another woman and you’re pregnant with someone else’s child, you can see why I’d wonder.”
“Ric was a mistake. A very short and regrettable mistake,” Elizabeth retorted. “He’s not a part of my life. He won’t be a part of my life.”
“And your other woman?” Lauren asked.
Jason’s mouth tightened at the implication that he’d been cheating on anyone. “I dated Courtney Matthews for a few months before we broke up in early June,” he said.
“And your reason for ending that relationship?”
Jason shifted uncomfortably and glanced at Elizabeth. “She wasn’t Elizabeth,” he answered finally. “I decided that I had to—had to make a commitment to Elizabeth.”
“Uh huh. What business are you in, Mr. Morgan?”
“I’m the co-owner of Corinthos and Morgan Coffee,” Jason answered.
“And Mrs. Morgan?”
“I worked at Kelly’s until last month. I quit because of the pregnancy,” Elizabeth answered.
“Do you plan on returning to work after you give birth?”
“I hadn’t decided,” Elizabeth said. “It would have to depend on a number of factors.”
“But if you decided to stay at home and just raise the baby—you can afford it, right?” Lauren asked Jason.
“If Elizabeth doesn’t want to work, she doesn’t have to, no. I make plenty of money.”
“Mr. Morgan, you seem to be in the habit of claiming children who aren’t yours biologically. Do you not want children of your own?” Lauren asked.
“That’s out of line,” Elizabeth snapped. “Jason raised Michael when no one else could. And that has nothing to do with my child.”
“I do want a family, yes,” Jason answered. “Michael’s mother was going through a tough time when he was born and she was scared the biological father would take him away from her so she asked me to look after him. I did it, I don’t regret it and I would do it again.”
“Uh huh. So you and Elizabeth plan on having other children?” Lauren asked.
“Of course,” Elizabeth answered, following Jason’s lead. Besides—Lauren hadn’t asked if they wanted children with each other.
“And you would still treat the adopted child like your own?” Lauren asked Jason skeptically.
“The child is part of Elizabeth,” Jason answered. “It’d be ridiculous to assume that because I had a biological child, I wouldn’t still love Elizabeth’s child the same way. Once you love someone, you don’t take it back because someone else comes along.”
“All right,” Lauren nodded. “Fair enough.” She made a few notes. “I’ll need to come by and see your home. I also need to talk to a few people. Family members, business partners.”
“What family members?” Elizabeth asked with trepidation.
“Well, I have here that you are related to Audrey Hardy, head of the Nurses’s Department at General Hospital. All other relatives live out of state or country. Mr. Morgan has a rather large family—his parents, his grandparents—”
“I’m not a member of the Quartermaine family,” Jason cut in shortly. “Emily and Lila are the only ones I get along with. Sometimes Monica and rarely Alan. I really would appreciate if you left them out of it.”
“You don’t think your family would give you a favorable review?” Lauren asked with an amused smile.
“My grandmother is out of the country and she certainly wouldn’t give Jason a favorable response,” Elizabeth muttered.
“Why’s that?” Lauren asked, interested.
“She doesn’t like Jason. She refused to attend the wedding,” Elizabeth admitted. “And we’ve argued about it repeatedly.”
“Well, sometimes family just sucks,” Lauren nodded. “Okay, so I’ve got Emily Quartermaine, Lila Quartermaine, Sonny Corinthos, Carly Corinthos—”
“Laura Spencer and Bobbie Spencer are like family to me,” Elizabeth volunteered. “We’ve been close for years.”
Lauren wrote their names down. “At this time, I’m not inclined to recommend Jason for adoption,” she informed them.
Elizabeth blinked. “Excuse me?”
“To be quite honest, Mrs. Morgan, your answers are stilted and when you don’t hesitate and try to come up with a good one, they sound rehearsed. I don’t believe the two of you have a stable home and I myself have heard rumors that this marriage was only performed because Elizabeth was being threatened by a group of men known as the Five Families,” Lauren reported. “As you can plainly see, I have no interest in allowing a child to grow up in that environment when it’s common knowledge you plan to be divorced in a year.”
Jason tensed. “Should you really be making this decision based on groundless rumors and gossip?” he asked in a quiet tone.
“You don’t intimidate me, Mr. Morgan,” Lauren said coolly. She stood and gathered the various files in her arms. “Everyone knows what you are. You are a criminal, unfit to even look at a child, much less raise one—”
“How dare you?” Elizabeth snapped, lunging out of her seat. “How dare you sit in judgment on a situation you know nothing about? You’ve met Jason for all of ten minutes and you think that qualifies you to say something like that?”
“Your defense is quite lovely, Mrs. Morgan, but it’s a little late to be showing any kind of emotion towards your husband. I’m sorry but I’m also making a note that you yourself should be investigated as to your fitness as a mother.”
Elizabeth paled considerably. “Are you serious?”
“You have no income, no way of supporting yourself save for a part-time job at a diner.”
“She’s married,” Jason retorted, rising to his feet. “She doesn’t work because she’s pregnant.”
“And when you are finally prosecuted for your vast crimes?” Lauren asked sharply. “When you go to jail and your assets are seized? How does she live then?”
“You cannot make this kind of decision based on cruel and malicious rumors,” Elizabeth spat out. “Go ahead. Make your recommendation. Do you think I’m scared of you? I know I’ll be a good mother and I know Jason is a good father and how dare you try and tell me differently. You say that because your intrusive and rude questions didn’t elicit answers that made you happy that means our marriage is fake? That we don’t care about each other?” Elizabeth raged.
Alarmed at how red she was getting and the sound of her breathing, Jason reached out and touched her shoulder. “Hey, deep breaths—it’s not worth it—”
“Did you hear what she said?” she asked him. “She says not only are you unfit but just because I married you and no longer work, I am too. Well, I’m not letting her get—” she broke off suddenly and gripped the table. “I don’t—I don’t feel so well,” she said softly.
Jason braced his arm around her waist and slowly helped her to sit down. “Are you okay? Are you in any pain?” he asked quickly.
Her breathing was coming more quickly now and she was gasping. “I can’t—I can’t breathe.”
“Okay, I’m taking you to the hospital,” he said immediately.
“Should I call an ambulance?” Lauren asked softly.
Jason glared at her. “You just sit in that chair and keep your mouth shut.” He hooked his arm under Elizabeth’s knees, swinging her into his arms.
As he reached the door, Dara entered. “Jesus, what’s going on?” she asked stepping aside so Jason could move out of the room.
“Ask your friend,” Jason said shortly before moving towards the elevators.
Dara trained her eyes on the shaken Lauren. “What the hell did you say to her?”