You worry about the weather and
Whether or not you should hate
Are you worried about your faith?
Kneel down and obey
You’re happy you’re in love
You need someone to hate
An ordinary girl, an ordinary waist
But ordinary’s just not good enough today
– Superman’s Dead, Our Lady Peace
Friday, December 31, 1999
Elizabeth could really get used to starting her day like this, she thought as she tugged open her studio door and beamed at Jason framed in the doorway, clad in his leather jacket and dark blue jeans. He was so pretty—
“Good morning,” he murmured, then leaned down to kiss her. It might have been meant to be a brief greeting, a brush of their mouths, but Elizabeth decided that she was going to go all in for as long as this lasted—
She wrapped her arms around her neck and pressed her body against his, trying out the move he’d used on her day before—where she gently nibbled at his bottom lip and he opened his mouth—oh, it was just as good as when he’d done it—
Surprised, Jason stumbled back just a step, leaning against the door jamb, tightening his arms around her waist, lifting her off her feet so that their bodies lined up just right—
“Don’t you have to work?” he managed some time later, lifting his head.
“Yeah.” She wrinkled her nose and released her grip, then was pleasantly surprised when he still held her close. “I just missed you.”
“I missed you, too,” Jason said, dipping down to kiss her again. It took maybe another minute before she finally pulled back and he set her back on her feet.
“I gotta go or Tammy’s going to make stay until midnight.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “I don’t know why she’s bothering to stay open — no one is going to Kelly’s on New Year’s Eve.”
“I would if you were working,” Jason said with a grin as she grabbed her purse and locked the door. He narrowed his eyes, some of the amusement fading. “I don’t like that lock.”
“I know. You said so a thousand times when you were staying here.” She shrugged as they started down the hallway. “I asked the landlord and he told me I could change it, but I’d have to pay for it.”
Jason opened his mouth and she stabbed a finger at him. “Don’t you dare offer—”
“I wasn’t—” he stopped. “Okay, I was, but even if this were a safer area—”
“Ugh, you sound like Gram—”
“It’s different now,” he finished and she frowned at him. “Because people know. About us, I mean.”
“Oh.” She hadn’t thought of that angle. She looked back at her door, accepting for the first time that it wasn’t just her lock that wasn’t so great—it was also the door itself with the window. Wasn’t that how Nikolas—and Carly—had known he was there? And her grandmother—
“Okay. You can do what you want to the lock.” Before he could open his mouth. “And the door,” she added.
“Thanks.” He pushed open the door to the alleyway, scowling at the condition of that, too. Was there anything in the studio he didn’t hate, she wondered idly. “I might not be able to get it done for a day or two. The holidays, I mean.”
“That’s okay. I wasn’t going to be able to do anything until I got my tax refund in a few months.” She took the helmet he offered—but then he didn’t release his grip. “What?”
“The security on the whole building is bad,” he told her because apparently he’d sensed his opening.
“Well, you get what you pay for,” she quipped, uncomfortable. “I mean, look, I’m sorry. I wasn’t planning to live here when I rented the place, you know? I was just gonna use it to paint. But it’s cheap and close to work—”
“Yeah, I just—” Jason paused. “Would you stay at my place until I get the lock replaced?” he asked.
“At your—” Her mouth dried up. In the penthouse? Across from Sonny? What did that mean? At his place? What did stay mean? Did it mean the couch or guest room—
“It’s my fault you’re living here,” he continued, completely oblivious to full on anxiety attack he’d triggered. “I just want you to be safe.”
“Well, it’s my grandmother’s for being unreasonable,” Elizabeth managed. She cleared her throat. Hadn’t she told herself she’d be all in? She knew Jason was wildly out of her league, especially in experience. How long would he put up with her being a stupid, scared kid?
“Yeah, that’s fine,'” she finished. “Um, we should get going before I’m late.”
Halfway through her shift, she took a tub of dishes back to the sink, still obsessing over what Jason’s offer had meant.
Would he expect her to share the same room with him? Why wouldn’t he? She’d slept less than a foot from him when he’d been at the studio—sharing a bed was basically the same thing—
And if they were sharing a bed, did that mean Jason thought they’d have sex? Was she ready for that? What if she wasn’t? And what did it even mean to be ready? How did you know you were ready? Was there a memo or like an alert signal from your brain—
“Lizzie, you good?”
Elizabeth broke out of the new spiral of anxiety to blink at DJ staring at her quizzically, the spatula in his hand. “What?”
“You’ve been staring at nothing for a minute. You good?”
“Yes. Yeah. Um, I’m great.” She forced a smile. She was good. She was absolutely perfect. She had managed to snag the attention of a kind, decent guy who knew how to listen and filled out a pair of jeans better than anyone else in the universe—
She squared her shoulders. “I’m fine,” she repeated. With that mantra firmly affixed, she left the kitchen, then stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Emily sitting at the counter.
“Hey.” Emily offered her a weak smile. “I was hoping we could talk.”
“Talk or yell?” Elizabeth said, walking behind the counter. She reached for the kettle of boiling water and filled Emily’s cup. She set Emily’s preferred tea bags down next to it. “The last time—”
“The last time I was still kind of, um, adjusting. I didn’t—I don’t know—I wasn’t ready to hear you and my brother were a thing.” Emily tossed some sugar into her tea, then stared at the steeping liquid. “I guess I always figured you’d tell me when you were ready to move on. Or, um, you know, take that step.”
“What step—” Elizabeth wrinkled her nose.
“You know. Nikolas said you were sleeping together, and I know you were, like, scared of that—”
Elizabeth hesitated. “Does that still bother you? The idea of me and Jason—”
“No, no, once I calmed down and, like, thought about it, it makes sense, you know?” Emily brightened. “You’re better than Carly, of course. And I knew Jason listened to you. I knew you were friends. I just didn’t realize you were friends.”
“Oh, well, that part is new. Nikolas—he just—he was irritating me,” Elizabeth admitted. “And you know how I am. I kind of—I lied to him. Jason and I—it’s happening, but that, uh, hasn’t happened.”
“Oh. Okay. I mean, you were right. It’s not my business, but I just—” Emily paused. “I don’t know. I guess it wasn’t so much I was thinking about your sex life,” she continued, her cheeks flaming, “but that I wanted to know you were okay. And, like, being able to do that—it means you’re okay. Not that you weren’t okay—”
“I know what you mean.” And because Elizabeth could see the concern and hope in Emily’s eyes, she sighed. “For a long time, even with Lucky, I didn’t think I could. I’m still—” She twisted a napkin. “I’m still not sure if I can. Or if I’m ready to find out.”
“Oh.” Emily furrowed her brow. “Well, that’s okay, too. You said it was new with Jason, and, like, if it can’t be Lucky who would have been good, I mean—shoot—” She scrubbed her hands over her face. “This is ridiculous. We are adults,” she told Elizabeth. “We can talk about sex.”
“I wish Lucky was alive,” Emily continued, “and we both know he would have taken care of you and been as patient as you needed him to be. But since it can’t be him—” She took a deep breath. “Oh man, sometimes it just hits me, you know?”
“Yeah. It still hits me, too, Em. I wish he could be here. Sometimes I still think he’ll walk through the door. But I can’t—”
“You can’t put your life on hold. And it has been almost a year,” Emily continued. “Lucky would be the first person to tell you that he wanted to you be happy. He’d never want you to mope around. He liked Jason, too. Plus, I know Jason will be just as patient as you need him to be. I overheard Robin talking to Brenda how kind he was to her—she had a lot of anxiety with everything because of the HIV.”
Elizabeth hadn’t thought about any of that. “I’ve been kind of worried about it,” she admitted. “I mean, it’s not that I don’t want to. Because I do. He’s—well, I know he’s your brother—”
“I can be objective,” Emily assured her. “You think he’s hot. He is.”
“And I’m not thinking about what—I’m not thinking about anything else when he kisses me,” Elizabeth admitted. “I’m just—I’m scared that I’ll have a flash or I’ll freak out, and it’ll mess things up.”
“You should talk to him. You know he’d understand.”
“Absolutely. Why wouldn’t he?”
And of course, once Emily said that, Elizabeth knew she was right. She was the only one putting all the pressure onto things. Jason would never want her to do anything she wasn’t ready for.
“Thanks, Em. I’m glad you’re with me on this.”
“Well, like I said, I’m ready for him to be done with Carly, and you’re my favorite person in the world. Why wouldn’t I want the best for my brother?” Emily beamed at her. “Thank you for not being Carly.”
“Uh, you’re welcome?”
Elm Street Pier
Jason scowled when he saw Carly waiting for him on the bench when he stepped up from Bannister’s Wharf.
“Don’t walk away—” Carly called as he turned to do exactly that. “You have to listen to me—”
“I don’t have to do any damn thing—”
“You sure about that?”
And there was something in her tone that made the hair on his neck stand up. Jason slowly turned to face the blonde and walked towards her. “Fine. Say what you want to say, and then I’m going.”
“We’ll see about that.” Carly folded her arms. “I was at my mother’s and Taggert was complaining to her about you and the little brat—”
“I wouldn’t if you want to keep the angel out of the slammer.”
His shoulders tensed. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I know she’s your alibi for the night Moreno died,” Carly retorted. “I know everyone thinks the two of you were shacked up in her crappy studio. I wonder if Taggert would be interested in finding out you were recovering from a gun shot wound.” She tapped her chin. “Now, correct me if I’m wrong, if Elizabeth helped hide you while you recovered, that makes her part of it right? What’s the word—”
Jason stared at her for a long moment, then shook his head. “You’re not going to say anything. Bobbie could get in trouble, too—”
“Don’t you think that would give me more credibility?” Carly said coolly. “I must be telling the truth if I’m willing to incriminate my own mother. What will Taggert say if I told him Elizabeth was hiding you and my mother helped?”
“Bobbie could lose her license—”
“She could. It would be a shame,” Carly continued. “She’s a great nurse, and the hospital is lucky to have her—”
“What do you want?” Jason bit out. Carly was right — if she told the PCPD that Elizabeth was involved, they’d drag Bobbie in for questioning ,too. Elizabeth’s grandmother might think more closely about how Jason had looked when she’d seen him—Nikolas would probably back all of it up—Carly going to the police might trigger a domino effect that would lead directly back to Jason.
“I need to get out of town,” Carly said. “I need to get out of my marriage. You’re going to take me and Michael, and we’re all going to leave.”
“I’ll get you out,” he told her. “But I’m not going anywhere—”
“No, that’s the deal. You go with us.” She sauntered towards him, softening her eyes. “Michael misses you. We both miss you—”
“I’m not yours to miss, and he’s not—” Saying the words still twisted at him. “Michael’s not my son. I’m not leaving town, Carly—”
“You’re staying for that simpering little nothing—”
“I’m not leaving town with you,” Jason retorted. “I wouldn’t go to the end of the block with you. Not ever again.”
“You’re never going to forgive me—”
“I’ve put up with a lot from you,” he cut in sharply. “More than I should have. You had me arrested last year, Carly. You treated Robin like garbage. I let that go—”
“You loved me—you said you did!”
“I was wrong. You married my brother and had me arrested for kidnapping,” he repeated. “And then you slept with my best friend because you saw me with someone else? And if that wasn’t enough—you’re threatening Bobbie and Elizabeth with arrests for saving my life—”
Carly pressed her lips together. “I did all of that because I’m miserable! Okay? I just—you need to help me, Jason. Please. Please. I love you. You know you love me. Give me one more chance—”
“You’ve had all the chances. Don’t go after Bobbie or Elizabeth. You’ll regret it.”
He left her standing on the pier, his hands nearly shaking with rage—and worry. If the only way to get Carly to back off from her threats was to leave town with her—
What the hell was he going to do?
Corinthos-Morgan Warehouse: Office
“You know, if you’re going to do the books for this place,” Alexis Davis began amicably as she put down her briefcase on the rickety table, “you should get a room that doesn’t look like it could double as solitary confinement.”
Jason frowned at his lawyer. “Why? All I need is a table, a chair, and some lights.” He shook his head and went back to the ledgers. “Sonny has an office. People are always trying to make appointments.”
“Yes, that’s how you stay legit,” Alexis began, then shook her head. Trying to make Jason even slightly more corporate to support the image of the warehouse as a legal business was never going to work. “I was able to get that search warrant quashed, by the way. It was clearly fishing.”
“But,” Alexis continued, “it would be simpler if you could alibi yourself for the night Moreno went missing. They can’t pinpoint an actual time of death, only that the body was in the harbor for a few weeks.” She tilted her head. “Elizabeth—”
Jason leaned back. “She can alibi me for a few hours,” he said slowly, “and I know that if she phrased her answer just right and they didn’t follow up, it would hold. The problem is she wasn’t with me the whole night.”
Alexis wrinkled her nose, then gingerly perched on the edge of a chair that looked like it had been dragged up from storage. “I was afraid of that.”
“There’s—” Jason grimaced. “There’s more. I got shot that night.” He stared at his lawyer, waiting for her to ask the question.
Alexis pursed her lips. “Okay.”
“Elizabeth found me the next morning. I stayed at her place while I was recovering, and Bobbie looked in on me.” Jason rolled the pencil between his fingers, feeling the ridges against his skin. “How much trouble would they be in if someone told the PCPD that?”
“Well,” Alexis drawled slowly, “that would depend. You’re not required seek to medical assistance. If Bobbie gave you medical help—” She paused. “Did it include any medication?”
“Not from her,” Jason said.
“But from someone,” Alexis continued. “Did Elizabeth give you medication? Does anyone know that?”
“I—” Jason frowned over the question. “I don’t know if anyone other than Sonny knew.” Did Carly? She might have. “Maybe.”
“That’s likely where the problem would come,” Alexis told him. “If anyone gave you pain pills and the PCPD could somehow prove it enough to file charges — they could be in trouble. Elizabeth could be charged with distribution of a narcotic. They wouldn’t even have to tie you to Moreno’s death,” she added. “If someone knew Elizabeth was doling out pain meds—” She stopped. “Maybe we should stop speaking in hypotheticals, Jason, and you tell me what’s going on. I’m your lawyer. I can be Elizabeth’s lawyer if she needs one, at least until there’s a conflict of interest—”
“Carly knows I was shot,” Jason said. “Sonny gave Elizabeth the medication I needed. I only took the antibiotics after the first day. But, yeah, she got me some pain meds. She flushed them when I refused to use any.”
Alexis absorbed that information for a long moment. “Carly knows you were shot, and from what you’ve asked, I imagine she also knew Bobbie and Elizabeth were involved. She might not make the connection with the drugs, Jason, but I assure you — if she goes to Taggert, he will. He’s already trying to tie Elizabeth to this any way he can to force her statement.”
Jason sighed. And if Carly had the chance to throw Elizabeth under the bus— “Her statement would be enough to force Elizabeth on the record, wouldn’t it?”
“It might,” Alexis admitted. “Again, a gunshot wound around the time Moreno was presumed to be murdered—that doesn’t look great for you. It’s circumstantial, but it’s enough to pull Elizabeth and Bobbie in for questioning. If the cops can threaten either of them with an accessory charge, particularly if they make this drug connection — I don’t know, Jason. It would depend on the evidence. I could probably get it dismissed eventually, but I wouldn’t be able to represent you and them.”
He’d been afraid of that. “Carly is threatening to turn them in,” he admitted. “If I don’t help her disappear with Michael and get out of the marriage.” He paused. “I told her I’d do that—but she wants me to go with her.”
“Of course she does,” Alexis muttered. “Jason—” She hesitated. “The rumors about you and Elizabeth—are they true?”
Jason frowned at her. “What? About the party? What Nikolas said? Why does that matter?”
“I’m certainly not interested in your love life,” Alexis said dryly, “nor am I helping you to circumvent the law. I just wanted to point out that you need to shake Carly’s credibility and prevent any situation where Elizabeth could be forced to testify against you. Taggert doesn’t want her. He wants you and Sonny.”
Jason squinted. “I don’t understand—”
“The entire town knows that Carly is a jealous shrew,” Alexis reminded him. “You make this look like it’s revenge for you moving on with another woman—it’ll take her down a notch. And if Elizabeth wasn’t in a position to testify against you because of, I don’t know, some sort of confidentiality—”
“There’s several types of confidentiality,” Alexis continued. “Priest, doctor, and, well—spousal.”
Jason just stared at her. “Alexis—”
“It’s tricky to assert privilege regarding actions,” Alexis continued, “but generally lawyers try to avoid calling spouses to the stand because if it’s not voluntary, then the spouse can sabotage the case by offering material that was confidential—”
“Just— Jason put up a hand. “Listen—”
“It would work both ways,” Alexis continued, “because then if you were asked if Elizabeth gave you narcotics, you could—”
“This is—” Jason took a deep breath. “That’s—” He paused. “That’s your best advice?”
“I’m not advising you to do anything that circumvents the legal execution of the law,” Alexis said blandly. “I’m merely stating the ways in which you could protect one another under current legislation. Now, there are some challenges to privilege, but it usually gets tied up in appeals and goes for years — it’s messy,” she repeated. “And it mostly gets avoided by just not asking the spouse to testify if they’re the only witness.”
“Don’t thank me. I didn’t do anything. Remember — I gave you zero advice. We just chatted about the law.” She got to her feet. “Right?”
“Right.” He watched Alexis go, then sat back in his chair, thinking over the conversation. He hadn’t thought twice about Elizabeth getting supplies from Sonny — he had only taken two doses of the pain pills on the first day when it had been unbearable, but those kinds of charges—even the accusation could follow them both. Bobbie’s career would be done.
He scrubbed his hands over his face. He’d have to find another way to deal with Carly.