Close your eyes, give me your hand
Do you feel my heart beating?
Do you understand? Do you feel the same?
Am I only dreaming?
Or is this burning an eternal flame?
– Eternal Flame, The Bangles
Tuesday, January 4, 2000
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“I really think you should have your own lawyer look this over,” Alexis said with a grimace. She set the prenuptial agreement in front of Elizabeth, then looked at Jason. “I can have someone here in an hour—”
“You’ve spent the last day trying to convince me to take half of Jason’s assets,” Elizabeth muttered. She grabbed a pen and started scribbling her initials wherever Alexis had tagged the paperwork. “How is my own attorney going to do better?”
Alexis pursed her lips. “I suppose that’s true, but still—”
“If I didn’t trust you or Jason, then I wouldn’t be doing this at all.” Elizabeth finished with by signing her name on the last page, then handing the pen to Jason. “You got what you wanted. I’m stuck with half your income while we’re married.”
“Stuck with,” Alexis repeated, as if that phrase didn’t suggest they were referring possibly millions of dollars.
“Don’t forget, I get half your tips,” Jason said with a half smile. He initialed the paperwork and signed it. “Make sure you keep track.”
“Oh, don’t worry.”
Jason handed Alexis the contract. “Do we need to sign anything else?”
“Not before the ceremony, but there will be a few things after,” Alexis told them. “Name change, forms to put you on the accounts—Don’t make that face. We agreed,” she told Elizabeth. “But it can wait.” She paused. “There’s a chance the DA will subpoena the paperwork,” she admitted. “To prove that Elizabeth was paid for testimony.”
“The fact that Elizabeth is taking very little,” Alexis continued, “and that there’s not a massive settlement for dissolution is going to work in our factor. I thought it over,” she added. “Elizabeth might have been refusing for good reasons, but no DA is ever going to think you’re being paid off.”
“Well, that’s good news, right?” Elizabeth asked Jason who was frowning at his lawyer.
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Now.” Alexis arched a brow. “You had better go ahead and head over to Sonny’s. He wanted to go to the church and talk over security with Father Coates.” When Jason’s scowl deepened, she said, “I’ll get Elizabeth there in time. We have an hour.”
“I need to call Emily,” Elizabeth reminded him. “I made sure to wait until she was at orientation so it’ll be a message, but if you want to help explain this to her—”
“I’m going,” Jason said, with a shake of his head. “She’s just going to yell at us both for doing it without her.” He kissed Elizabeth’s cheek, then left the penthouse.
Her cheeks flaming, Elizabeth turned to Alexis. “Um, thanks. For putting a spin on this prenup thing that makes it look like it works for us. He’s still a little frustrated, I think.”
“It will help us in the long run,” Alexis assured her. “I was thinking like your attorney yesterday, but the point of all of this is to make the marriage look real.” She filed the paperwork in her bag. “I have to run over to Sonny’s and grab a few things, so you leave your message and I’ll be right back.”
The lawyer left before Elizabeth could ask what Alexis needed to grab or why she was coming back. Telling herself that she’d learn the truth soon enough, she dismissed it and turned to the phone.
Time to tell her best friend Elizabeth would be her sister-in-law in about two hours. Hallmark should really make cards for this kind of thing.
Quartermaine Mansion: Family Room
Carly sipped her tea and flipped through the Port Charles Sun, enjoying the tabloid and ignoring the Quartermaine family around her. She hated these morning breakfasts where everyone pretended they were one happy family.
Well, maybe they were but they certainly didn’t include Carly in that family. If it wasn’t for their money—
She barely registered Edward coming in, rubbing his hands together with a grin. He went over to the table pour himself a cup of coffee.
“Why are you smiling like that?” Alan asked suspiciously. “Did you take candy from a baby or something?”
“Edward,” Lila began, her eyes squinting. “Have you done something?”
“I am hurt, my dear,” Edward said, his eyes continuing to twinkle. “I come bearing good news to this family and all I get is scorn.” He sniffed. “Maybe I’ll keep my secrets to myself.”
“This never bodes well,” AJ muttered, turning away from feeding Michael to focus on the rest of the family. “Grandfather—”
“What secrets?” Monica demanded. “Edward, so help me God—”
“All right, all right. You’ve pulled it out of me.” Edward set down his cup of coffee and his grin deepened. “I had a call from City Hall this morning. Some paperwork was filed yesterday that is going to make this family very happy, indeed.”
“Will you stop being cryptic?” Ned retorted. “What—”
“Jason is getting married. Today.”
The room exploded in noise, but Carly felt it pass over her like a wave. Everything inside her froze, her fingers tightening around the handle of her tea cup.
Jason was getting married.
God damn it.
“Did you know about this?” AJ hissed to her, jerking her out of her shock. “You didn’t go get a quickie divorce or anything—”
“No, of course not!” Carly’s eyes widened. “I had no idea.” And if she could get out of this marriage with a goddamn Dominican divorce, she would have done it already. Stupid prenuptial agreements and custody agreements.
“Who could Jason be marrying?” Ned said, furrowing his brow as the conversation filtered back in for Carly. “The only gossip I’ve heard is—” He blinked. “Wait.”
“I like Elizabeth Webber nearly as much as Robin Scorpio,” Edward declared. “A good girl from a well-established family. She’s very sweet.”
“And she and Emily are already like sisters,” Monica said, her eyes lighting up. “Oh, that’s wonderful.”
“Isn’t she awfully young?” Alan said, with some skepticism.
“Eighteen,” Edward offered with a shrug. “No younger than my Lila was when she first married.” No one in the room reminded Edward that his Lila had been eighteen when she’d married her first husband, Crane Tolliver, who had ended up not signing the divorce papers leading Lila to live in accidental bigamy for most of her life.
“True, but—” Alan sighed. “Well, I would have preferred Robin, but you’re right. Elizabeth is a lovely young woman. He could have done worse.”
Carly bristled when some eyes fell on her. Absolute jackasses. They could judge her all they wanted —
She was going to stop this stupid wedding from happening. No way Jason was going to try to call her bluff and make her look like a crazy woman.
He was going to pay for this.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“So, Emily, I wish you were here,” Elizabeth said, “but I promise you, when you come home for Spring Break, we’ll have a party or whatever you want. I love you. Please don’t be mad. Jason and I—” She closed her eyes. “We just couldn’t wait. And hey, like you said, at least it’s not Carly.”
She set the phone back on the receiver, then turned as Alexis bustled in, a few dark garment bags over one arm. “What’s that?” Elizabeth asked.
“Sonny wanted you to have a few choices,” Alexis said as she set the bags on the sofa. “It’s not like you planned to get married, so he just didn’t want you to have to settle for something nice in your closet.”
She had been planning just to grab one of the dresses she’d carted over when she’d packed up her studio, but — “Wait—”
“We couldn’t go shopping,” Alexis told her, “because then someone might have known and we’d lose the element of surprise—” She paused. “I’m sorry. I know this is happening really fast, but—”
“But if we want this to look real—” Elizabeth touched one of the zippers. “The bride should look like a bride.”
“Are you all right?” Alexis asked, tipping her head to the side. “You can stop—”
“No, no—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “It’s just—you know, I wasn’t like all the little girls who grew up dreaming about their wedding day. I mean, I never even thought I’d get married.” Never thought anyone would stop looking at Sarah long enough to want Elizabeth. “But then I had dreams last year. After Lucky died. Of what our life would have been.”
She took a deep breath. “I didn’t know that I had an idea of what my wedding day would look like until then, and it always started with the perfect dress. And getting ready with Emily and maybe my grandmother.”
Elizabeth met Alexis’s compassionate gaze. “It’s stupid. The only reason this all feels weird is that Jason and I aren’t just friends, you know? We’re…I guess we’re dating. And now we’re getting married. And we’ll still be dating, only there will be all this legal stuff in the background—it’s just—it’s a lot. Every time I think I have a handle on it what I’m doing, it feels like I get reminded all over again.”
“You don’t have to use a single one of these dresses,” Alexis told her. “If you want to save the idea of a wedding dress for the day when you mean the vows—”
“But that’s the problem, isn’t it?” Elizabeth slowly drew down on the zipper to pull out one of the dresses. “When Jason and I repeat those vows later, I think we’re both going to mean some of them. That’s what makes it harder, I think. Because a part of this is real—just not the most important part.”
“The forever part.”
“Yeah.” Elizabeth set the first dress aside to unzip the next garment bag. “What if it could have been real in a year or two but we’re ruining it because we’re doing this now?”
“I suppose you have to ask yourself if it what you’re doing is worth the risk,” Alexis said. “You can still say no.”
“It just leaves Carly with all the power,” Elizabeth murmured. “She’ll find a way to make Jason’s life a living hell, and the people around him. I can help him stop her.” She returned the dresses to the garment bags. “I should try them on first. Will you—” She bit her lip. “Will you help me?”
“Of course,” Alexis promised. “Whatever you need.”
St. Timothy’s Church: Anteroom
Jason felt like he was coming out of his skin, avoiding Sonny as he paced the small room outside of the chapel.
The security was just as it should be, and he and Sonny were dressed in tuxedos. There was a church with a priest. Everything was going according to plan. In maybe a half hour, Jason would be married. To Elizabeth.
To protect them all from Carly.
Every time Jason thought he had a handle on what was going to happen — something threw him off. Alexis telling them that the prenuptial agreement would help them if the PCPD investigated the marriage, then Elizabeth reminding him that Emily still had to be told—would his sister be angry at them? Would she understand? Would Elizabeth want her to know the truth?
Then he’d gone to Sonny’s where his partner had shoved him into a new tuxedo that reminded him, uncomfortably, of the one he’d worn the last time he’d dressed for a wedding.
The day Sonny had jilted Brenda and left Jason to do the dirty work. That wedding had ended in disaster—
Jason rolled his shoulders. He was fine. This was all fine. Elizabeth was right. This protected them all without sacrificing either of their freedoms or life in Port Charles.
“Maybe you should go inside,” Sonny suggested. He checked her watch. “Alexis and Elizabeth will be here any minute, and you don’t want to see her before the ceremony—”
“I do,” Jason insisted. He wanted just one more chance to make sure she was okay with this—that she wasn’t just doing this to protect him. It didn’t matter that she’d pushed him for this option — he wanted her to be doing this because she was comfortable with it.
The door to anteroom opened then, and some snowflakes swirled in along with the winter breeze. Alexis grimaced as she pushed open the door more firmly, ushering Elizabeth inside.
Elizabeth was wearing a long white coat, her hair tucked up underneath a white knit hat, some snowflakes clinging to the curls that escaped it. Their eyes met and he couldn’t look away for a long moment.
“Sorry if we’re a little late,” Alexis said, unbuttoning her coat. “Thanks,” she said as Sonny helped her out of it. “Traffic was getting a little dicey. It’s snowing harder than we thought it would.”
“It’s fine,” Sonny said. He hung up Alexis’s coat. He jabbed Jason in the ribs. “We should go inside so Elizabeth can take off her coat.”
“It’s no big deal.” Elizabeth reached for the top button.
“It is,” Sonny insisted. “We’re doing everything by the book. In fact—” He looked at Jason. “Why don’t you give her the flowers, and we’ll go tell Father Coates we’re just about ready?”
“Flowers?” Elizabeth said with a blink of her eyes. “Oh, but—”
Jason went over to the bouquet that he and Sonny had picked up on the way over. “I hope it’s okay,” he said as he held it out to her. “I wasn’t sure what to get, but—”
He’d remembered her talking about the white roses Lucky had given her the year before, and how sad roses made her feel, so he’d told the florist anything but roses. He wasn’t entirely sure what kind of flowers were included—but he knew they weren’t roses.
“I like tulips,” Elizabeth assured him, breathing in the scent of the pink, yellow, and red tulips. “Thanks.” She bit her lip, looking down at the bouquet for a long moment, before glancing at Alexis.
“All right, that’s settled. We’ll get you out of the coat and hat, and we’ll get this done.” Alexis eyed Sonny who nodded.
Sonny clapped a hand on Jason’s shoulder. “Let’s go.”
“Yeah, I—” Jason looked at Elizabeth one more time, but she was smiling now, handing the bouquet to Alexis for safekeeping. She drew the hat from her head, carefully letting the rest of her hair cascade down her neck. “Yeah, let’s go,” he told Sonny.
If either of them had any second thoughts, the chance had passed to say anything.
St. Timothy’s: Courtyard
Carly cursed as she hurried up to the front doors of the church. She hadn’t been able to do much more than learn that the church was closed between eleven and twelve that day for a private ceremony, and then it had been impossible to get out of the house—
If she missed her chance to stop all of this—
“Excuse me,” a guard stopped her just as she approached front door. “You can’t go in there.”
Carly started to growl at him, but then recognized the guard as someone she’d known during the short time she’d lived with Jason. “Dougie. It’s nice to see a familiar face.”
“I’m not here to make trouble,” Carly said. She spread her hands out. “You can frisk me and everything. I’m just here to give my good wishes to the groom.”
Dougie glanced at his partner who shrugged, then he looked back at Carly. “You’re just going to attend the wedding?” he asked skeptically.
“Of course. I’m a married woman, Dougie. What trouble can I cause now?”
He still looked skeptical, but he stepped back. He was there to guard against threats, not tiny blondes.
Men, she snorted as she continued up the walk. Always underestimating women.
She shoved inside the anteroom, then strode to the chapel doors—throwing them open just as Father Coates completed the ceremony—
Giving Carly a front row seat to Jason and Elizabeth’s first kiss as husband and wife.