Look at me, my depth perception must be off again
Cause this hurts deeper than I thought it did
It has not healed with time
It just shot down my spine
You look so beautiful tonight
Remind me how you laid us down
And gently smiled before you destroyed my life
— Saliva, Rest in Pieces
Sonny studied his watch and then glanced down the street. He shoved his hands in his dress pockets and rocked back on his heels.
The door to the church opened and Carly walked out, joining him on the front step. “He’s late.”
“Jason’s never late,” Carly said. Her dark eyes searched the street, hoping to hear a car or a motorcycle–something.
“He’s been distracted lately,” Sonny said after a moment. “And how could he have missed Courtney being addicted to hydrocodone? He lives with her. He’s engaged to her. He had to see something.”
“What about us Sonny?” Carly asked softly. “We live on the same floor. I’ve spent every day of the last month with her planning this day. I didn’t see it.” She folded her arms.
“We didn’t know to look for it,” Sonny said defensively.
“I don’t think he’s coming,” Carly remarked. She looked at her husband.
“Yeah. Me either.” He glanced at her. “You want to tell Courtney or should I?”
Elizabeth slid open the lock and pulled her door open to find a tuxedo-clad Jason standing in her hallway.
She immediately bit back her angry words when she saw his blood shot eyes. “Jason?” she asked uncertainly.
“I don’t–” he hesitated and cleared his throat. When he spoke again, his voice was a bit clearer, a little less hoarse. “I don’t want anyone else raising my child.”
She frowned. “What?”
“I don’t want anyone else tucking him in at night and making breakfast for you two in the morning.”
She was missing something here, something important and it was irritating her. “Jason–”
“I don’t want joint custody.” He took a step towards her, bringing his hand to touch her face. He stopped it in mid-air and it fell to his side.
“What do you want?” she asked breathlessly.
“I don’t know how to be any different–to be anyone other than who I am,” he told her.
“I don’t want you to be anyone else.” She took his hand in hers and pulled him inside the studio. “I just want you to be happy.”
“I know,” he said quietly. He rested his forehead against hers and closed his eyes. “I’ve never known that before.”
“What?” she asked, closing her eyes, too.
Without moving his head, he brought his hands up to frame her face. He kissed her gently. “Someone who doesn’t want to change me.”
“This isn’t going to be easy,” she told him.
“I don’t care,” he replied. He kissed her again, his mouth hot and searching. She reached out blindly and shut the door before losing herself in his touch.
“What did you tell her?” Elizabeth asked as Jason maneuvered her to the couch.
“Nothing,” he replied, pulling off his tux jacket. “I never showed up at the church.”
Elizabeth took his jacket from him and tossed it to the floor before moving her small fingers to the white buttons of his shirt. She glanced up at him curiously. “Then what made you change your mind?”
“Emily came by.” Her fingers stilled and she looked straight ahead at the little skin that showed above his collar. “She told me she wasn’t going to let me do it. That I deserved more–that you deserved more.” He touched her face but she still wouldn’t look at him. “She tortured me, actually. Made me remember how it felt to hand Michael to Carly and never look back.” She looked up at him then with tears in her eyes. “And she made realize that every time I gave our child back you after a visit, I would feel the same away.”
Her hands fell from his chest and landed at her sides. She took a step back and shook her head. “I don’t want you to be with me just for the baby.”
“I wasn’t finished,” Jason told her. “And then she talked about you finding someone who deserved you–and marrying him. And I don’t…I love you, Elizabeth. I haven’t done much lately to convince you of that, but it’s true.”
“What happens when Sonny and Carly find out you ditched the wedding?” Elizabeth asked softly. “And when Courtney has a relapse?”
“Do we have to have all the answers right now?” he asked her.
“I’d feel better if we did,” she remarked, folding her arms. “We have a nasty habit of making a commitment and running from it.”
He stepped towards her and gripped her shoulders lightly. “Not this time, Elizabeth.”
She peered up at him, her lashes wet and dark with tears. “I want to believe that,” she whispered.
“Then give me a chance to prove it.”
Courtney slammed the penthouse door shut, cutting off her concerned sister-in-law. She yanked the sweater off her shoulders and slammed it down on the desk.
That lying son of a bitch. He left her. He abandoned her on their wedding day so he could go to that little tramp.
Her hands were shaking and her neck started to ache. She started searching through the desk for something to take the edge off. She looked around and frowned when she saw the hydrocodone bottle sticking out from underneath the couch. It must have fallen over at some point and no one had seen it.
She practically dashed across the room, her white wedding dress rustling with every step. She fell to her knees and ripped the top off. She swallowed three pills dry and went into the kitchen for a glass of water.
It wasn’t working. The pain wasn’t going away. The shaking wasn’t leaving her body. She took two more. And then two more. She finished off four more before there wasn’t any left in the bottle.
But the pain still wasn’t going away. Enraged, she hurled the bottle across the kitchen before reaching for the half empty water glass and tossing that. It hit the bullet-proof window and shattered, the sound echoing in her mind over and over and over again.
She pressed her hands to her ears, trying to block the sounds out. But she could hear it and somewhere in there was Ric’s voice.
“Take a good look sweetheart because you’re alone, too.”
“He was waiting for my wife.”
“He wants her.”
“He never got over her.”
Courtney screeched, trying to block out his voice but it kept coming and then she heard AJ telling her that she wasn’t Jason’s type–that Jason went for small delicate girls like Robin and Elizabeth. Before long his voice was joined by Lorenzo Alcazar’s telling her that it was her fault she’d lost her baby–that it was her fault she couldn’t have children.
And then there was Jason’s voice. In the beginning telling her that he and Elizabeth worked well when they were alone. Saying that he’d slept with her. That they were friends. That she’d comforted him in the chapel. That she was pregnant.
The voices kept coming, faster and faster. Over and over. She kept screaming to try and shut up them up. She heard someone yelling her name but she couldn’t figure out who and anyway, it didn’t matter because all she could hear were people telling her Jason loved Elizabeth, that he always had and that she’d only been a poor substitute.
She kept screaming even after her voice gave out and she crumpled onto the kitchen, trying to figure out where she was and who was talking to her. She felt someone’s hands on her skin but she didn’t know who.
And just before her mind went dark and blank, she saw Jason in a tuxedo, waiting for Elizabeth the bride at the end of an aisle.
“I think the first thing we should do is find a house,” Jason remarked, pulling the door open for Elizabeth the next morning. She glanced at him over her shoulder as they headed for an empty table.
“Don’t you think that’s a bit much?” she asked. “We could just rent an apartment. Besides, I can’t afford to buy a house.”
He stared at her and she fidgeted under his gaze. “Well, I can’t,” she remarked lamely. She picked up the menu and studied it.
“You don’t have to worry about money,” Jason said. The menu snapped to the table and she glared at him. “I mean, don’t you want what’s best for our child?”
Her retort died on her lips and she narrowed her eyes. “That’s a low blow, Morgan.”
“Look, I know you like to be independent. That’s fine–that’s one of the things I love about you. But you said it yourself–your studio is drafty and too small and my penthouse is out of the question for a number of reasons.”
She glanced down at the table and sighed. “I just don’t feel right letting you do that kind of thing. I have to support myself.”
“I’m not saying you need to quit your job,” Jason told her. “But do you think you could let me take care of you?”
“I don’t like depending on other people,” Elizabeth told him bluntly. “It’s been my experience that as soon as you let yourself trust that they’ll always be there, they disappear.”
He winced. “I know. But this is different.”
“Yeah. Because I’m pregnant,” Elizabeth remarked. She picked the menu up again.
He took it from her. “You have that memorized and you’re just trying to avoid the subject. It’s different because this time we’re different. I know you don’t trust me yet but I’m asking you to try.”
“You’re going to have to give me time,” Elizabeth told him softly. “Because it’s not easy to do that again.”
“Yeah, I know. But this time, I’m not giving you any other options.”
“Oh, Lucky wait,” Emily hissed before her friend reached to open the door. She peered through the window. “Jason’s in there with Elizabeth.”
“I thought he was supposed to get married yesterday,” Lucky remarked curiously. He peeked over her head. “What’re they doing together?”
She saw Elizabeth smile and Emily couldn’t help but let a little sound that sounded like a squeal to her.
“What is going on?” Lucky demanded. “You’re happy, Elizabeth’s happy…what’d I miss?”
“As usual, everything,” Emily sighed. She glanced back in the window. “But this time, you missed my brother finally becoming the man he used to be.”
“The one that beat me up and stole my woman?” Lucky scowled.
Emily glared at him. “I sincerely hope you’re joking.”
“I am now,” Lucky assured her. “Anyway, what does that have to do with Elizabeth? Are they back together?”
“I hope so,” Emily replied.
“What?” a voice from behind them demanded.
They turned and Emily and Lucky exchanged troubled glances. “Hey, Carly,” Emily greeted. “How are you feeling?”
“Fat,” Carly retorted. She folded her arms tightly and glared at them. “Now I want you to explain what I just heard.” She peered past him and her eyes narrowed. “Never mind. I think I knowexactly what’s going on.”
“Jason, I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Elizabeth told him again. She started cutting up her scrambled eggs. “I mean, we should just–”
“I hope you’re happy.”
Carly’s voice cut in directly and silenced the entire diner. Jason didn’t even look up at her–he just clenched his fist around his coffee cup.
“Because of what you did yesterday, you have destroyed Courtney’s life,” Carly went on, her voice scathing and angry.
“Carly,” Elizabeth said softly, “maybe this isn’t a good time–”
“Shut up, you little tramp,” Carly bit out. “Because of you,” she said, looking back at Jason, “Courtney went back to the penthouse and she took more pills. You couldn’t even throw them away. You left them out and she took the entire bottle. She’s in a coma, Jason.”
He snapped his head up to look at her then, surprise etched on his face. “What?”
“That’s right, a coma. And the doctors think she’ll have irreversible brain damage if she ever wakes up.”
“That’s not fair to blame it on him,” Elizabeth interjected coldly. “She chose to take them.”
“And he knew what would happen if he left her,” Carly snapped back. “He knew she was emotionally vulnerable. And he abandoned her for you.” She tilted her head to the side. “What exactly is it that you have that she doesn’t? I’m just not seeing the attraction.”
Before Elizabeth could even think of a retort, Emily burst into the diner, having propped the door open to hear every single word that the hateful shrew spoke.
“You self-righteous little bitch,” Emily spat. “You just can’t handle the fact that my brother is happy can you? Because you know Elizabeth won’t put up with him being at your every beck and call. Because she won’t let him spend his entire life being your second husband.”
“You little brat–”
“You ruined Jason’s life more times than I count and now you’re trying to guilt him into spending the rest of his life at that little twit’s bedside.” Emily glared at the blonde. “I’ve got news for you, you whore, he’s not your lapdog, he’s not Sonny’s slave and I will be damned if I see him waste his life with that stupid idiot. Courtney chose to take those painkillers–she chose to take them again last night. She knew that there was a possibility Jason would walk out on the wedding and she set herself up to it. No one here but that little slut is to blame.”
By the time Emily was done her tirade, her face was red and her chest was heaving.
“Are you going to let her talk to me like that?” Carly asked Jason stunned.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Lucky said, jumping in. “You just ripped him apart in front of the entire diner and now you want him to defend you?”
Carly huffed. “I have to get back to the hospital. I don’t have the time to deal with this.” She stalked out of the diner.
Elizabeth reached across the table and squeezed Jason’s free hand. “Jason–”
“I have to go,” he said quickly. He stood up, his chair scraping against the floor. “I need to get out of here.”
Elizabeth’s eyes stung with tears. “Jason, wait–”
He brushed past his sister and Lucky and left the diner before anyone could say another word.
Elizabeth’s hands started to shake and she closed her eyes. She could hear Emily speaking and felt Lucky crouch in front of her, but it was all in the background.
She’d believed him again. Even though she’d told him she didn’t and she’d sworn not to, she believed him when he said he was sticking around.
She opened her eyes and managed a weak smile. “I’m okay,” she assured them both. “I just needed a second.”
“Elizabeth,” Emily began.
“No, really, I’m fine,” Elizabeth told her. “Besides, this is my fault. It’s the third time I’ve done this to myself. I have to stop believing him when he tells me he’s sticking around or that he loves me.”
“I see that I’m lost again,” Lucky remarked. “Anyone want to fill me in and I’ll pay for breakfast?”
Before Carly reached Courtney’s hospital room, she went into labor and by the time Jason got the hospital, Sonny and Carly were in the delivery room. So Courtney’s room was empty.
She was paler than usual and the room was silent, excluding the various beeps and clicking on the machines she was hooked up to.
He stood next to her bed and sighed. “It’d be so easy,” he murmured. “It’d be all too easy to give into the guilt and sit here, waiting for you to wake up.”
Her chest rose and fell almost mechanically and he knew that one of these machines was breathing for her.
“I’m sorry that what I did caused you to take those pills and a few months ago, I would have let myself take that route. I would have sat here waiting for you to wake up and when you did, I would have stood by you without batting an eye.”
He sighed and glanced towards the door. “But this is a different time in my life and as cruel as it sounds, Elizabeth’s waiting for me. I probably already hurt her by leaving like that and it’s going to take a long time before she trusts me again. But she will.”
He exhaled slowly. “I hope…I hope you wake up and that the doctors are wrong. But I can’t make this my life anymore. It’s not fair…not to me, not to Elizabeth, our child…and in the long run, it wouldn’t have been fair to you.”
He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead before leaving the room as quietly as he came.
Lucky kicked at her heater. “You stupid son of a bitch,” he muttered. “Work!”
“You so need to get the heating fixed in here,” Emily remarked, shivering. She yanked a comforter from it’s place on a shelf behind the couch. She spread it over the two of them.
“It’s next on my list, Em,” Elizabeth told her friend dryly. She sighed and rested her head against the back of the couch. “How’s the battle coming, Captain?”
Lucky grunted and gave the heater another sharp kick. It rumbled and finally kicked in. “I am the king!” he cheered.
Emily laughed. “Yeah, yeah.” She sighed. “He does love you.”
“Emily, I don’t really want to hear that right now, okay?” Elizabeth asked softly. “Thanks for making Lucky fix my heater.”
“No problem. But come next month…if you’re still here, I want you to come stay with Zander and me at the cottage, okay?”
“I’ll think about it, Em,” Elizabeth told her.
“Okay, this place is starting to warm up,” Lucky told her. He looked at Emily. “I promised Zander I’d have you home by noon.”
Emily wrinkled her nose. “He’s such a dictator,” she joked. She came out from underneath the comforter. “You look tired–get some sleep. We’ll all go out for diner tomorrow, okay?”
“Sure.” She hugged them goodbye and then snuggled into her couch to take a long nap.
Fifteen minutes later, she became conscious of someone staring at her. She slowly opened her eyes to see Jason crouched in front of her. She jackknifed into a seated position and stared at him. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“I’m sorry for leaving Kelly’s like that earlier.” He straightened and sat down next to her. “I had a bad reaction to Carly’s news and it wasn’t fair to you.”
“I thought…” she looked away. “I thought her guilt trip had worked.”
“Yeah, I know.” He reached out and took one of her hands in his. “I went to the hospital to see Courtney. To say goodbye.”
She frowned. “I hope you didn’t run into Carly or Sonny.”
Jason shook his head. “She went into labor, so I was able to avoid them both.” He sighed. “I’m sorry that I did it the way I did. I know I could have handled it better.”
“It’s okay,” Elizabeth shrugged.
“It’s not okay,” he told her firmly. He kicked off his boots and pulled the comforter over them both, gathering her against his chest. She tucked her head under chin. “I made you doubt me again and I don’t like knowing that. I want you to trust me.”
“It’s hard,” she said, softly. She closed her eyes. “Every time I think I do…something else happens.”
“What happened at the hospital?” Elizabeth asked after a moment.
“She wasn’t awake, if that’s what you mean.” He hesitated. “She was hooked up to all these machines and I think one of them is breathing for her.”
“I’m so sorry,” she said softly, squeezing his hand. “That must have been hard.”
“It would have easy to give into the guilt trip and that bothers me. I never used to do what people wanted me to do–I mean, I’d clean up Carly’s messes and take care of business for Sonny but it never seemed to interfere with anything before. Robin never really minded a-and she and I were apart for so long that I got too used to that being my life. And when you walked away, it was all I had left.”
“I won’t apologize for that,” she told him quietly.
“I’m not asking you too. But I threw myself into work and then Courtney happened…it all feels like a blur to me, Elizabeth. Sometimes I couldn’t even distinguish one day from the other.”
She sighed. “We’re just too stubborn for our own good,” she murmured. “Because I felt the same way.”
“Well…it took us long enough to get here but we’re finally on the same page again. What do you want to do now?”
“Right now, I just want to sleep,” Elizabeth told him. She yawned. “I’m so tired.”
“Sleep I can handle.”
Sonny paced outside his sister’s hospital room. He’d had a long day and night–but finally Carly had brought their son into the world. John Michael Corinthos was as perfect as he could be and both mother and baby were resting peacefully.
That left Sonny to try and fix his crumbling family. Courtney was in a coma and Jason…he wasn’t quite sure where Jason was. Carly had gone to find him, but had gone into labor and they hadn’t had a chance to talk about it since.
He pulled out his cell phone and dialed the number of Brenda’s cottage.
“‘Ello?” Zander said.
“Zander, this is Sonny, is Emily there?” Sonny requested.
“Yeah, hold on.” He heard Zander call to his wife in the background. “She’s coming.”
“Sonny?” Emily said.
“Hey…have you seen Jason?”
Immediately, Emily’s voice turned cold. “Why?”
Sonny frowned. “Well…Courtney’s here in a coma and her fiancé hasn’t shown up. I’m worried. His cell phone is off.”
“You don’t know,” Emily stated plainly. “Oh. Well, Jason isn’t available right now, so I’ll ask him to get in touch when I see him.”
“Now you know how hearing that feels,” Emily said before hanging up.
Sonny flipped his cell phone shut and sighed.
Emily looked at Zander and shook her head. “He has no idea that Jason left Courtney for Elizabeth.”
“I thought you said he left the diner like a bat out of hell to get to the hospital,” Zander said, wrapping his arms around her waist.
Emily shook her head, distracted. “No. He left the diner and we assumed he went to the hospital. But Sonny hasn’t seen him since before the wedding.”
“Well maybe he needed some time by himself to process it all,” Zander remarked.
“Do you think he went back to Elizabeth?” Emily asked thoughtfully.
“He better have or else me and Lucky are going to have to kill him.” He rested his chin on her shoulder. “She was scared about telling him, you know. Afraid of his reaction.”
“He wants a family,” Emily said knowingly. “And I can’t think of anyone more suited to be the mother of his children. Elizabeth loves him. Despite everything, despite this last year, she really loves him. And he loves her. So why can’t they get it together?”
“Well, they kind of have to now don’t they?” Zander asked. “Elizabeth is going to have his child whether he went back to her or not. They’re kind of forced to get it together.”
“Couldn’t have happened to more deserving people,” Emily joked.
“I’m not doing it.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes, exasperated. “Could you give us a few minutes?” she asked the realtor before pulling Jason onto the porch. ” What is your problem?” she asked.
“It’s too far out of town,” Jason told her. “It’s in a bad area–”
“You used to live three houses down with Robin,” Elizabeth told him pointedly. “It’s close to Emily and Zander and it’s something I can afford to help pay for.”
“You’re not using your money,” he said out of habit. He rolled his shoulders. His entire body felt tense. For the past week, they hadn’t any run-ins with Carly or Sonny and things seemed to be going well between them.
So, naturally, he felt like something bad was going to happen.
“Look, what’s really wrong?” she asked softly. “Are you having second thoughts about doing this?”
“No,” Jason said firmly. “I want us to build a life together…and if a cottage so close to Emily is what you want…then that’s what we’ll do.”
“If you don’t like it–”
“I’m just not thrilled about living so close to Zander,” Jason told her.
“Are you sure that’s it?” Elizabeth asked, suspiciously.
“Yeah.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a checkbook. “This is for you.”
She frowned at him and opened it to see a stack of checks in hers and Jason’s names. “What is this?”
“They’re checks drawn on our joint account. You can write a check for the house,” Jason told her.
“But we don’t have a joint account.”
“Yes, we do. I opened it yesterday.”
“It’s not a joint account if it’s all your money,” Elizabeth remarked crossly.
“Look, what am I going to do with it?” he asked softly. “It just sits in the bank gaining interest. I never use it. Why shouldn’t you reap one of the very few benefits my job allows?”
“Because I didn’t earn it.”
“Neither did I, not really,” Jason told her. “Look, can we argue about this later? I have to go talk to Sonny about the job anyway.”
“That’s what’s bothering you, isn’t it?” Elizabeth asked. “Why do you have to look for him? He hasn’t come looking for you.”
“I just want to get this over with so it’s not hanging over our heads.” He kissed her forehead. “Go to Emily’s when you’re done here and I’ll pick you up there.”
“Okay,” Elizabeth sighed.
“I’m thrilled that you guys are gonna live down the street,” Emily said, hugging her friend tightly. She took Zander’s hand in hers and squeezed it. “We can have dinners together and–”
“I think we’re hoping for a little much considering your brother isn’t all that fond of me,” Zander interrupted with a grimace. “And believe me, the feeling is entirely mutual.”
Elizabeth sat down on the couch and sighed. “I’m not sure getting a place together is for the best.”
Emily frowned and sat down. “What are you talking about?”
“She’s come to her senses?” Zander prompted, sitting on the arm of the couch. Emily socked him in the shin. “Ow!”
“Because Jason put my name on his bank account and expects me to let him pay for everything,” Elizabeth muttered.
“Well, he’s got a lot of money. It makes sense that he wants to provide for his family.” Emily smiled. “And, thank God, that family is you and your child.”
“He’s going overboard with all of this so that I will trust him and believe in him. I mean, he’s doing absolutely anything he can think of.” Elizabeth sighed. “He spends every day with me, all we do is talk about this last year and the problems we’ve had. He drives me to work, he picks me up, he stops in on my breaks. And now he’s overcompensating by buying a house so quickly. It’s like if we can get a normal life, he thinks that’ll make it all better and it can’t.”
“He’s made some major life changes this last week–he just needs time to adjust to it all.”
“He went to see Sonny about his job,” Elizabeth told her softly. “Does Sonny know that Jason left Courtney for me?”
“Yeah, but he doesn’t know you’re pregnant,” Emily replied.
“What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall during that conversation,” Zander remarked.
“You are so not helping. Go outside and water the flowers or something,” Emily told him, irritated.
“Yes, ma’am,” Zander saluted. He stood and disappeared into the back of the house.
“Look, I think it’s time you make a leap of faith,” Emily told her best friend. “I don’t in any way condone half of Jason’s decisions these last few months but he’s trying to make up for them now. He wants you to trust him.”
“It’s all happening so fast,” Elizabeth murmured. “Two weeks ago–a week ago, he was going to marry Courtney and now we’re buying a house. I just…I can’t deal with this.”
“Well, maybe he is overcompensating. Maybe he thinks if he gets this house and you two move in together–it’ll go a long way towards earning your trust again.”
“I think I’m going to talk to him when he gets here,” Elizabeth said firmly. “He’s got to understand that all the actions in the world aren’t going to help–I just need time.”
“You’re late,” Sonny said quietly. He stood up from his chair and faced his best friend. “I knew you’d come to your senses.”
Jason sighed heavily. “No, I haven’t.”
Sonny frowned. “Excuse me?”
“I came to talk to you about the job.” Jason shook his head. “I’m not leaving Elizabeth.”
“I don’t understand,” Sonny said. “A week ago, you were going to marry my sister. And suddenly you leave her for your old girlfriend? And you think that’s just okay?”
Jason exhaled slowly. “I don’t expect you to understand–but I wish you did. I love Elizabeth. Much like the way you love Brenda, except while you see her as your poison and want to stay as far away as possible, I love Elizabeth and I want to be with her.”
“Then what the hell was this past year about?” Sonny demanded. “Asking my sister to marry you, telling her you loved her.”
“I cared about her, I told myself I loved her and that marrying her was the right decision and right up until a week and a half ago, I was going to do that.”
“So what the hell changed your mind?” he barked.
“Elizabeth told me she was pregnant,” Jason replied shortly. “And I would rather be with her and raise a family than to spend the rest of my life taking care of yours.”
“Pregnant,” Sonny repeated. “I take it that you believe the child is yours.”
“I know it is,” Jason snapped, harshly.
“Which means you cheated on my sister,” Sonny said quietly. “When?”
“Early October,” Jason said without shame. “I love her, but I went back to Courtney out of guilt. But I can’t do that anymore.”
“Then are are you here now?”
“My job,” Jason remarked.
“You don’t have a job if you’re going to betray my family,” Sonny said shortly.
“That’s fine. I guess I just needed it said out loud,” Jason told her. “Goodbye.”
“I hate you!” Elizabeth screeched.
Jason frowned. “Excuse me?”
“She doesn’t mean it,” Emily assured him. She glanced at her best friend, sweating and breathing heavily. “I don’t think she means it.”
“Does it hurt that much?” Jason asked curiously, pushing Elizabeth’s damp hair off her forehead. She glared at him.
“You’re never touching me again.”
“She doesn’t mean that either,” Emily said hurriedly.
“Yeah, women say crazy things when they’re in labor,” Lucky said helpfully.
“How–would–you know?” Elizabeth grunted.
“I watch TV,” Lucky said defensively.
“Okay, it’s time to clear the room for everyone except the parents,” Dr. Meadows announced. “Scoot!”
Emily squeezed Elizabeth’s hand. “Good luck, honey.”
“Yeah, let’s hope this kid looks like you,” Lucky told her. Catching Jason’s dark glare, he hastily kissed her on the forehead and left the room with Emily on his heels.
“Okay, are you ready for this baby, Ms. Webber?”
“Will the pain stop when it’s out?” Elizabeth demanded.
Dr. Meadows laughed. “It should.”
“Then let’s do this.”
Almost two hours later, Jason exited the delivery room with a tiny pink bundle clutched in his arms.
“It’s a girl,” he said softly.
Emily leapt up from her seat, followed by Zander, Lucky, Nikolas and Audrey as they all tried to crowd around him.
“How’s Elizabeth?” Audrey asked, cooing over her great-granddaughter. “She’s so beautiful.”
“Elizabeth’s fine. She was born almost a half hour ago but we’ve just been sitting in there staring at her.” Jason met his sister’s eyes. “She’s beautiful isn’t she? She’s perfect.”
“Oh, Jason, she’s so small,” Emily breathed.
“We named her Emma,” Jason told her. “Emma Audrey Webber Morgan.”
“Such a long name for such a small little girl,” Nikolas said, almost amused.
“Mr. Morgan, we have take her to the nursery,” the maternity nurse remarked, reaching for his daughter. Jason reluctantly placed Emma into her arms.
“Oh, Jason, I can’t believe she’s finally here!” Emily cried, throwing her arms around her brother. She laughed. “I’m an aunt!”
“Is Elizabeth up for visitors?” Audrey asked.
“She was kind of drowsy when I left but I know she wanted to see you,” Jason said.
“Darling, how do you feel?” Audrey asked.
“Kind of numb,” Elizabeth replied, sleepily. “They gave me an epidural so I don’t really feel anything.
“Your daughter is absolutely beautiful,” Audrey told her, squeezing her granddaughter’s hands. “I’m so proud of you.”
“Are you?” Elizabeth asked softly.
“Of course. You just gave me a beautiful great-granddaughter. You live in a beautiful home, you’re a successful artist with your own wall at the art gallery. You’ve bloomed over the last eight months and you’ve been so happy, darling.”
“You don’t know how much it means to hear those words from you,” Elizabeth whispered. “You don’t even care that Jason is her father?”
“Oh…well, you’ve forced me to get to know him as who he is, and not the man I’ve read about. And Jason Morgan, the mechanic, is a wonderful man who loves you very much.”
Elizabeth smiled faintly. “Yeah, it took a while but I believe that too.”
The door opened then and Jason peeked in. “Hey…”
Elizabeth’s smile widened and she reached out a hand. “Hey, Emma in the nursery?”
Jason nodded and sat on her next to the bed, her hand held tightly in his. “They’ll bring her to your room once you’re moved to a more permanent one.”
Audrey smiled. “I’ll leave you two alone.” She kissed Elizabeth’s forehead and surprised both of them when she hugged Jason. “I’ll be in the hallway with the rest of them. They’re already arguing about godparents.”
“We already decided that and they know it,” Elizabeth said, highly amused. “It’s Zander and Emily.” She smiled at Jason. “Lucky and Nik can be godparents for the next kid. They’ll think it’s great.”
“So Lucky can be the godmother,” Elizabeth joked.
Audrey left laughing.
“The next kid?” Jason asked with a smile. “Do you think you’ll be ready for that any time soon?”
Elizabeth snorted. “Ask me when the drugs wear off.” Her thumb stroked a little circle on his hand. “I’m sorry for the stuff I said during labor. I don’t hate you.”
“Yeah, Emily mentioned you didn’t mean it.”
“You remember that thing we talked about last week?” she asked softly, meeting his eyes.
“Yeah, the one you said you needed more time to think about?”
“I don’t think I need any more time.” She smiled. “I love you, Jason. And my answer is yes.”
He leaned forward and captured her lips in a gentle kiss. “I promise that I will never make you doubt me again.”
“I’m going to hold you to that,” she whispered, kissing him again.