Jason blinked. I either stop you from leaving town or go with you.
He sat back and stared at her, a little stunned. He was a rational, literal man. He believed that Elizabeth truly believed she’d traveled back in time. And hell, he was inclined to believe it. She was still Elizabeth–still the bright, beautiful, sparkling girl she’d been yesterday.
But today she was different. She still had her curly hair, but her eyes–still ocean blue–had lost some innocence, a little bit of their sparkle. She didn’t look as sad as she had when he first met her–she looked a little more miserable, actually. The Elizabeth sitting in front of him might as well have come from three years from now.
But Jason had only admitted to himself that he was attracted to her. For all he knew–three years from now, he was hopelessly in love with her. But if he was, why would he sleep with Sonny’s sister–or anyone else for that matter? This wasn’t like Robin where they couldn’t be together.
He wasn’t sure he was ready for Elizabeth to become such a permanent part of his life. If he left town, it was probably a good idea to do that anyway. He didn’t really want to screw up the future. But to bring her with him? Let her pack up her life, say goodbye to family and friends and come with him?
Elizabeth smirked. “Not an easy decision to make on the spot, huh?” she asked.
He frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Well, you asked me to do it once. Asked me to come with you. Just go away and then you didn’t even have the nerve to tell me how you felt. Told me to see the world. I could do it with you if I wanted to. Not once did you ever open your mouth about how you felt.” Elizabeth shook her head. “I admit an hour before that I want more than a friendship and you ask for everything. It’s not fun to be put on the spot, is it?”
Jason scowled. “That wasn’t fair.”
“Neither was asking me to go with you and never telling me how you felt,” Elizabeth retorted. She shook her head. “I’m sorry. I’m talking to the wrong Jason again.”
He frowned. “If I’m such a jerk, why’d you put up with me for so long?”
“You’re not a jerk!” Elizabeth protested. She pursed her lips. “You’re just confused.”
“You’re sleeping with Sonny’s sister,” Elizabeth reminded him. “You don’t want to tell anyone, much less Sonny. And since you’re married to Brenda, who’s under suspicion for murder…” Elizabeth stopped. “You know what? I really should stop telling you what’s going to happen.” She sighed. “And I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, too. I’ve hurt you probably worse than you ever hurt me.”
“I doubt that,” Jason replied.
Elizabeth sighed and looked away. “Yeah, well, I’m hoping I can change that because you are the last person I ever wanted to hurt.”
He reached out and took her hand. “Same goes for me. I’m sorry for whatever pain I might have caused,” Jason told her, sincerely.
“Once again, it’s not your fault,” Elizabeth murmured. She sighed. “I really think that you leaving next month is the big thing I was sent here to change. I think you need to leave. I’m not sure what happened, you know…we never talked about it. You just said something happened and you needed to figure out how to live through it.”
“The reason I went to the boxcar that night…” Jason began. He looked down at her hand in his. Tightened his grip. “I had a meeting that night…Sonny was supposed to go, but I went instead. I was shot and I went to the penthouse to get help.”
Elizabeth frowned at him. “But then, why did you…” She stopped. Understanding dawned in her eyes. “That’s when it happened.”
“He was just sitting on the couch,” Jason said quietly, looking down. “He wouldn’t look at me.” He met her eyes. “And then Carly came down the stairs. Wearing his shirt.”
“Oh, Jason,” Elizabeth murmured. She brought her other hand up to touch his face. “That must have been so…”
“I’m not in love with her,” Jason told her. “I think I convinced myself that I was, but I…it was more of the idea. You know…with Michael.”
“A family,” Elizabeth supplied.
“Right,” Jason agreed. “It’s just…I don’t understand what makes her do the things she does sometimes. I think I understand her…I think I know her and she does something like this. But Carly’s always doing stupid things. I’m pretty much used to the backwards way she thinks. But…” Jason stopped and looked away.
“But?” Elizabeth prompted.
“Sonny,” Jason said softly. “He was my best friend. I know he was trying to prove to me what kind of person Carly is…but that…that’s not the way to go about it, you know?”
“I know,” Elizabeth replied. “And sometimes, it’s that kind of act…it’s hard to forget. Hard to forgive. But…you did it,” she said. She squeezed his hand. “If it’s any consolation…you, Sonny and Carly…you all get past this.”
“Really?” Jason asked, a tinge of disbelief in his voice. “But you said they get married. I assume Michael lives with them. I’m still friends with them?”
“Yeah,” Elizabeth confirmed. “I don’t get why…but I never asked. Your friendship with Carly, mostly…it’s something I don’t understand and I really don’t want to either. It works for you. She asks for something, you deliver.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Which is probably why you married Brenda. I know Carly had to be feeling insecure about her marriage with Brenda back. Sonny certainly seemed to be bending over backwards to help her.”
“Let me get this straight…Carly, the woman who has slept with my best friend…married AJ in some weird way to get Michael and come back to me…I marry Brenda Barrett to so she’s out of Sonny’s way?” Jason asked, skeptically.
“Yeah, it does seem a little strange, huh?” Elizabeth shrugged. “I told you, Jason. You’re not the same three years from now. You know you love to let people live their own lives and you’re all about doing what you want when you want…but you’re not like that anymore.”
He exhaled slowly and looked down. “So, I turn my life over to Sonny and Carly.”
“In essence, yeah,” Elizabeth agreed. “You’re all about the job. You don’t have the time to call me and tell me you’re alive–you use your job as an excuse for everything.” Elizabeth smirked. “Like why you watched Courtney strip.”
“I did what?” Jason asked, jerking his eyes back up to meet hers. “I go to a strip club?”
“Apparently,” Elizabeth replied. “I don’t really know. I overheard AJ accusing you of doing it. I asked you and you told me it was business. Then I saw the lipstick.” She frowned. “You know, I never did find out if that was Brenda or Courtney’s lipstick on your neck.”
“I’ve never set foot in a strip club,” Jason said, ignoring the rest of her comment. “I don’t get why I would want to.”
“Man, I miss you,” Elizabeth murmured, shaking her head.
“The future sounds pretty…” Jason hesitated, looking for the right word. “Sounds kind of bleak.”
“Yeah, it does,” Elizabeth agreed. “Man, I have a whole list of things I’m doing differently. First of all, I’m gonna punch Lucky the first time he tells me to be with Nikolas.” She started ticking the things off on her fingers. “I am saying no to the rave and I am not letting Emily within five feet of Juan Santiago, that’s for damn sure. Let’s see…Gia Campbell is gonna get cold-cocked when she tries to blackmail me.” Elizabeth grinned. “I’m going to rip her little braids out, and then–”
“Whoa, whoa,” Jason said, chuckling. “Calm down. First things, first.” He took a deep breath. “Were you serious about the coming with me thing?”
Elizabeth frowned. “That depends. Why?”
“I think…” he shrugged a little. “I think we could both use a vacation. We can go as friends,” Jason continued. “And then…well, who really knows?” He held out his free hand. “So?”
“I am not screwing this up again,” Elizabeth said firmly, placing her hand in his. “I am so in.”
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