But if you asked me to
I just might change my mind
And let you in my life, forever
If you asked me to
I just might give my heart
And stay here in your arms forever
If you asked me to
– If You Asked Me To, Celine Dion
Friday, January 14, 2000
Morgan Penthouse: Bathroom
Jason knocked lightly on the ajar door, then smiled faintly when he pushed it open. Elizabeth was still soaking in the bubble bath. Her head was turned to the side, cushioned by another folded towel, her eyes closed, the steam of the water flushing her pale skin. The tendrils of curls that had escaped from the pile she’d gathered on top were damp, clinging to her cheeks. She’d scrubbed her face clean before she’d gotten in the bath, no traces left of the terrible night she’d had, save for the bandaged feet, propped up at the end of the bathtub on a pile of towels.
He could breathe a little easier. She was safe, tucked away where nothing could hurt her. Everything else could wait.
Jason knelt next to the tub. “Hey,” he murmured, brushing the back of his knuckles down her cheek. “You awake?”
“Barely.” Elizabeth’s eyes fluttered and she turned her head back, smiling at him. “How long was I out?”
“Not long. You wanna soak longer, or—”
“No. I’m going to end up wrinkled like a prune.” Elizabeth’s nose scrunched up as she tried to sit up but remembered her feet which needed to stay dry. “Ugh.”
“I got it.” Jason found a plush bath towel in a cabinet and within a few minutes, he’d lifted her from the water and deposited her on the bed. He crossed to the dresser. “What do you want to sleep in?”
“One of your shirts?” she asked hesitantly. He turned back to her, and Elizabeth smiled ruefully. “They’re comfortable.”
He liked her in his shirts, so there was no argument from him. He grabbed a blue one from a drawer.
“Um, are things okay?” Elizabeth asked, tugging it over her head. Jason didn’t answer at first, disappearing into the bathroom to dump the used towels in the laundry hamper and drain the tub.
When he returned to the bedroom, she’d scooted back against the headboard, the comforter folded back. “They’re okay for tonight,” Jason said finally. He didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Didn’t want to tell her how much of the terror she’d experienced was his fault.
It burned, like acid searing holes inside him. It could have been so much worse—so much more tragic—what if the man driving had shot and killed them both—what if there had been a bomb—what if Elizabeth had ended up like Lily?
He’d been stupid. Foolish. His anger had clouded his judgment, and Jason had thought he was better than that. He’d learned to harness his emotions. To turn them off and focus. Then Sorel had cut into the dance and put his hands on Elizabeth—
He’d just wanted her out of there. Nothing else had mattered. And that mistake had nearly cost him everything that did.
“We can talk about it tomorrow,” Elizabeth offered. “I mean, we don’t have to at all. I don’t know what I’m supposed to ask or not. I mean—” She bit her lip. “I was part of it tonight, but I know I can’t know everything. I don’t want to—”
Jason crawled into bed next to her, having changed into a pair of sweats. “Hey.” He tugged her into his arms, and she snuggled next to him, tucking her head under his chin. “You can ask whatever you want whenever you want. I might not always be able to answer, but you get to ask, Elizabeth. And this—this isn’t normal. It won’t be. I promise.” He wouldn’t let it be.
“I just don’t want to think about it anymore tonight.” She was safe, the worst of her injuries were the cuts on her feet, and he still had a nagging headache, but he’d escaped a concussion. They’d been lucky.
No thanks to him.
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
Sonny slammed the door shut behind him, stalking over to the minibar to pour himself another tumbler of bourbon. He tossed back the first, then a second—then finally just reached for the bottle. But when he lifted it to his lips, his hand tightened.
They’d limped out of an alley, bedraggled and bruised. Jason with blood trickling down his cheek, his tie gone, his dress shirt dirty and ripped —
Elizabeth bleeding from scratches on her arms, her legs, her feet destroyed, her dress in tatters. Her eyes swollen from crying, hair limply hanging around her face, tear-stained mascara tracks down her cheeks—
Sonny threw the bottle across the room, the smash against the fireplace oddly satisfying. And he liked it so much that he swept the rest of the liquor from the bar, sending it crashing to the ground in jagged shards of glass.
He’d nearly gotten them both killed, and for what? So Sonny could beg for more respect from people who would never give it? He’d sacrificed what little trust Jason had had left for him for this?
The magnitude of his failure burned him, leaving a sour taste in his mouth. He’d worked so hard to salvage their friendship after that terrible night—and Sonny had thrown it all away.
Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom
Elizabeth woke with a start, her heart pounding as she sat straight up and looked around, struggling to get her bearings in a pitch-black room — her eyes refusing to adjust—
“Hey. Hey.” Jason switched on the light on his side of the bed, and she could finally see where she was —
Safe. At home. Jason’s arms around her.
“Hey,” he murmured against her ear. “We’re okay.”
She turned to him, touching the skin just beneath the beneath the cut he’d refused to bandage. “We’re okay,” Elizabeth repeated. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I just—” She winced, moving her feet. “I thought it was the park.”
Jason didn’t say anything, just held her tighter, his warmth surrounding her, easing the burn in her lungs as she’d fought to breathe.
“I didn’t know if I’d be able to get you out of sight.” She squeezed her eyes closed, fought down the panic that wanted to bubble up, the sobs that she’d never unleashed earlier. “You fell and you weren’t moving, and they were behind us—” She sucked in a breath, but she couldn’t hold it back anymore. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize. Don’t—” Jason swore, tugged her across his lap so he could hold her closer. He looped one of her arms over his shoulder. He smoothed her hair back. “Don’t. You have nothing to apologize for.”
“I need to be stronger than this. I need to be able to handle it. I can. I promised I’d be able to—”
“You were strong.” Jason kept stroking her hair. “I still don’t know how you did it. Your feet—how far you ran—how fast—”
“I had to.” Miserably, she swiped her eyes. “I just—I was so scared. I got you down the hill, but I didn’t know if they’d be able to see us. I just—I laid on top of you, and I kept hoping, I kept praying that they wouldn’t see you because I could still run but you couldn’t—”
“If that ever happens again—” He grimaced. “You need to run. Do you understand? You leave me and you run—”
“Don’t—” She swallowed the first words she wanted to say. Don’t be stupid. “Would you leave me?” she demanded, angry that he’d even suggested it.
“It’s not. If I were unconscious with men chasing us, you’d never leave me behind. You’d carry me as long as you could, and then you’d find a way to protect me. I-I thought maybe I could keep running and distract them, but I was scared to get separated — ” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I wouldn’t leave you. Don’t ask me to do that.”
“Elizabeth.” Jason just looked at her, a bit dumbfounded, his hands cupping her face. “If anything happened to you, I wouldn’t—”
“I wouldn’t leave you,” Elizabeth repeated. She stroked his cheek. “Don’t ask me to leave you.” Ever, she wanted to say. Don’t ever ask me to leave. Let me stay right here forever. But she swallowed those words and anything else she wanted to say.
Instead of answering or making the promise, he kissed her, harder, a bit more roughly than he had before, though she wasn’t complaining. She gasped when he shifted, laying her against the mattress and covering her, his mouth greedily devouring hers with so much passion she thought she might drown in it. She frantically reached for the waistband of his sweats, shoving and kicking them down his legs, not even noticing the pain in her feet.
He dragged her panties down, barely getting them off before he thrust inside her, hard. Elizabeth cried out, biting her lip and tasting her own blood.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured against her throat. “I’m sorry—”
“No, no—” Her nails dug into his shoulders. “No, go. Keep going—” She gasped and couldn’t form another coherent word as he did exactly as she asked, until she nearly went blind from pleasure. She felt her body tense against his, and he groaned, and then it was over, the only sound in the room their heavy and panting.
Jason’s lips cruised over her face as she sighed, stroking his back. “I’m sorry,” he murmured again.
“For what?” she murmured.
“I’m too heavy, for one thing,” he muttered, leaning up on his elbows. “And that’s—you deserve—”
“You know, the women I met tonight,” Elizabeth said, and he stopped talking, drawing his brows together. “They felt sorry for me. Because I didn’t have designer clothes or expensive jewelry.” She opened her eyes, smiled at him, lazily. “But you know, I think they were jealous.”
The corner of his mouth tipped up. “Oh, yeah?”
“Yeah. Because I get to have you all to myself.” She stretched her arms over her head. “And they measure how much someone cares about them with the money they spend.” She met his eyes. “Thank you. For forgetting to be gentle. I’m not delicate.”
“No, you definitely aren’t.” He kissed the side of her throat, just under her ear. “But you are injured,” he reminded her. He looped her arms around his neck and lifted her up so that she was once again sitting in his lap. “And you’re going to feel this tomorrow.”
“Mmmm, probably, but worth it.” She kissed him again, her expression sobering. “I was scared tonight,” she confessed, and the amusement in his eyes faded. “I need to be able to tell you that. You were scared, too.”
“I was.” He rested his forehead against hers. “Terrified.”
“But we’re okay.” She laid a hand on his cheek. “We’re okay. And we’re going to keep being okay. Because you wouldn’t leave me, and I’m not going to leave you. I don’t know why you think I would.”
“I just want you to be safe.”
“I’m safe right here.” She laid her head against his shoulder, cuddling against him. “And there’s no place else I’d rather be.”