Chapter 39

This entry is part 39 of 41 in the Signs of Life

Where we used to laugh
There’s a shouting match
Sharp as a thumbnail scratch
A silence I can’t ignore
Like the hammock by the
Doorway we spent time in swings empty
Don’t see lightning like last fall
When it was always about to hit me

How’s It Going To Be, Third Eye Blind

Friday, February 4, 2000

Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

The call came early the next morning — so early that the sun hadn’t yet broken through the clouds. Elizabeth stirred, then groaned, shoving her face deeper into the pillow. “Five more minutes,” she mumbled.

Jason slid his arm from beneath her and reached for his cell on the nightstand. “Yeah. Yeah, okay. Call me if she moves.” He hung up and rolled back towards Elizabeth. “Hey.” He brushed his lips over her hair. “I have to go.”

“Okay,” she mumbled. She shifted onto her side to peer at him blearily. “Call me if you need me.”

“Go back to sleep.” He kissed her gently, then went to confront Carly, promising himself this would be the last time.

Quartermaine Estate: Family Room

AJ reluctantly went in that morning, intending to grab a quick breakfast and leave. He was ashamed of the day before, when he’d nearly broken his sobriety — being around the minibar was just a temptation he didn’t need.

But then he stopped, blinking at the empty table that sat against the far wall. No decanters, no tumblers. He frowned.

“I had them moved, my dear. To your grandfather’s study.”

AJ turned at his grandmother’s voice, saw her already at the breakfast table. “You did?”

“Ned told me that you had a weak moment.” Lila held out her hand and he went to take it. “How are you, my love? Yesterday was a difficult one.”

He squeezed her hand, then sat on the sofa. “Difficult is a good word for it,” he murmured. “It’s humiliating, Grandmother, what I was willing to accept. How I was willing to lie to my own family just to—” He sighed, looked down at the carpeted floor. “How I felt any sense of righteous for the year Jason stole from me with Michael. I got a harsh reminder that one year doesn’t make up for all the ones he’s lost. Twenty-two of them.” He looked at Lila. “How can any of you stand me? I murdered my brother.”

“You made a terrible choice, AJ. One that you couldn’t take back. And yes, the Jason we loved once is gone to us. But you did not murder your brother. He’s still here.”

“For you. For Emily. Sometimes for Mother. But not for me. He’ll never—” Tears burned in his eyes. “I hated him for so long. I hated him for being the chosen one, for Mom loving him more when he wasn’t even her real son — I could never measure up to Jason. He was better simply be breathing. But he loved me, you know? Despite that. He was frustrated and disappointed in me. But he loved me. He came after me that night, and I let the world believe Ned caused the accident. Just weak moment. Ned was willing to take the blame, and I nearly let him. I would have kept lying if I hadn’t blurted it out in a drunken confession.”

“You must forgive yourself, AJ, for what happened. You cannot keep living in one single moment. It will choke you.”

“Forgive myself? How can I do that when no one else will?”

“Everyone else does not matter. You are the one who must live with the consequences. Did you want to hurt your brother?”

“No. No, of course not.” AJ cleared his throat. “Or maybe I did. Maybe part of me wanted it. With him gone, I could have risen to the top. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. And maybe I never will.” He exhaled slowly. “But you’re right about something, Grandmother. I can’t keep holding onto that moment. Not anymore. I have a little boy who depends on me. So—” He rose to his feet. “I’ll have to find a way to move on.”

He went into the foyer and stopped when he saw Ned. “Hey—”

“Hey. Good news.” Ned had his coat in his hand. “Jason found Carly. I’ll handle this part.”

“I should—”

“Go spend time with Michael. This isn’t you being weak,” Ned told AJ. “Or not wanting to face it. This is me getting a little revenge of my own. For walking into that room yesterday and seeing you think about taking a drink.”

AJ swallowed. “That would have been my choice—”

“Yeah, that’s true. But she doesn’t get to push you to the edge of the cliff, leave you teetering on the brink, and walk away. So if you really need to do it, AJ, if you need to be the one, I get it, but—”

AJ blinked. “You want to serve her the papers because of what she did to me?” he asked, startled. “Really?”

“You’re my cousin. Quartermaines may attack each other, but we close ranks when it comes from the outside.” Ned’s smile was grim. “And Carly is going to regret the day she tangled with us.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Elizabeth curled up at the desk, her history of architecture textbook open beside her. She was supposed to be studying for class and thinking about a paper, but instead, she’d grabbed a sketch pad after looking at the remains of the temple at Delphi. It had spurred something in her and the way she was thinking about her quest to paint a new version of the Wind.

She nearly missed the phone ringing until it had done so four times. Absently she picked up the cordless, pressed the talk button. “Yeah?”


“Oh. Em. Hey.” Elizabeth focused, setting down her pencil. “What’s up?”

“Nothing. I’m dying down here at school, waiting for updates. Ned wouldn’t tell me anything and Mom keeps telling me not to worry, but Deenie—you remember Deenie—”

“Yeah, she was Sarah’s best friend and hated me.”

“Oh. Yeah, right. Anyway, she has a brother who works at the PCPD, and she told me everything, or everything that she knows. So, is it true? Carly’s not pregnant with AJ’s baby and now she’s on the run?”

Elizabeth snorted at the image of Carly fleeing like a fugitive. “Yeah, I guess that’s the best to describe it. It blew up yesterday when Sonny found out and went to confront Carly. She took off before he got her. Sonny took a swing at AJ, they got into a fight, and Sonny got put into jail over night.”

“I always miss the best stuff,” Emily muttered. “How are you doing with all that? How’s Jason?”

“He’s actually out tracking Carly down now. I really hope he finds her today,” Elizabeth said. “He can drag her home to deal with her own mess and maybe I can stop thinking about her.”

“That would be nice,” Emily said. “But I think it might be just beginning. I mean, how are you and Jason going to stay out of this when Carly’s stuck in the middle of two custody battles with Sonny and AJ on either side and poor Michael in the middle.”

Elizabeth hesitated. That was a great question, actually, and she wished she knew. “Look, AJ’s going to shield Michael from the worst of it. As unfair as it is, you know your brother’s lawyers are going to wipe the floor with Carly, and Sonny will slap around what’s left.” And maybe Jason would feel a little conflicted about it, but—

“Yeah, I guess. I mean, you’re right. That’s not fair because Carly can’t afford lawyers if AJ cuts her off from the money, but I don’t know, I guess she shouldn’t have had an affair and lied about it. So there’s that.” Emily waited a moment. “But you really think you and Jason aren’t going to be affected?”

“Do I think Jason’s going to love it? No. He’s worried about Michael, and I am, too. And Sonny—this is going to be hard on him. But do I think my relationship with Jason will get messed up? Is that what you’re asking?”

“Well, it’s just Carly’s going to be desperate and asking for help. Jason’s always come through for her before. You don’t sound worried that it’ll happen again.”

Would Jason feel tempted to help Carly again? Elizabeth didn’t think so, not after  the last few weeks. Or the last few conversations. He’d been the one to blow everything up. But old habits were hard to break. Was she sure Jason was ready to break this one?


“It’s not that I’m hoping that would happen. I’m just scared. You and Jason haven’t been together long. And he and Robin—like that was serious. Not that you aren’t—this isn’t coming out right.”

“No, I understand where you’re coming from. All I can say is that Jason knows he made mistakes with Robin, and he’s been careful not to repeat them with me. And I’m not shying away from telling him how I feel. I just—” She looked at the photo on the desk, one of their wedding photos and thought about how that day had felt. How she’d felt walking down the aisle towards him and speaking her vows—

And how it didn’t even seem to hold a candle to how she felt now. “I can’t speak for Jason, Emily, but I can promise you this. I love Jason. And I love the life we’re building together. Carly’s not going to chase me away, and I’m not going to let her hurt him. Not ever again.” She paused. “Does that help?”

“Actually yes. You, um, you never told me that before. That you loved—I mean, I knew that. You don’t get married—and I saw Jason. I know he loves you, but neither of you said it in front of me or told me, and it’s just—wow, it’s kind of wild to hear you say it.” Emily’s voice sounded a bit more upbeat. “But it’s awesome, too, you know? I’m happy for you both.”

“Thanks, Em.” She hadn’t said it out loud before either, and wasn’t entirely ready to say it to Jason, but it was nice to hear it. To acknowledge what it was.

“I have to run to class. You call me the minute you know anything.”

“I promise.”


Carly yanked open the door and smirked at him. “Took you long enough. You’re getting slow.”  She stepped back, as if she meant to let him in. “You going to drag me back to Port Charles?”

“No. I wanted to confirm where you were and I knew you’d open the door for me.”

“Why?  So AJ can serve me?” Carly rolled her eyes and leaned against the doorway. “Or so Sonny can?”

“Does it matter?”

“Well, you can tell Sonny not to bother.” She tossed back her hair, then glared at him defiantly. “He has nothing to do with this—”

“Don’t lie to me,” Jason said tightly. “Not again—”

“I’m not,” she shot back. “I did what I should have done weeks ago. Lucky for me, New York doesn’t have a waiting period because the last thing I need is to be fighting two custody battles. So I took care of it.”

Jason stared at her for a long time, then swallowed hard. Waiting period. New York didn’t have a waiting period. “You had an abortion.”

“The right to choose and all,” Carly said. She folded her arms. “Go ahead. Judge me. I don’t care.”

He exhaled slowly, then shook his head. “I’m not going to do that,” he said, and she blinked at him. “You’re right. It’s your choice. It’s always been your choice. You’ve made all the choices, and I’ve just followed your lead. I guess we’re all better off if you’re not dealing with Sonny in court.”

She clearly hadn’t expected that. “Wait—”

Jason glanced behind him at the sound of another car pulling into the empty space next to his bike. He stepped aside, waiting for Ned to get out, a sheaf of papers in his hand. “Good luck, Carly. You’ll need it.”

“She’s all yours,” he told Ned as he passed him.

“Thanks.” Ned turned to Carly. “You’re not welcome back at the mansion, and all your accounts have been closed. And that car—” He gestured at the parking lot, where she hissed. “That’s in AJ’s name. Not yours. We’re taking it. Good luck finding your way home or paying for this room.”

“You can’t—”

“I can do what I want. I have all the money and the power, Carly. You should have thought about that before you slithered in and tried to hurt AJ.” Ned’s smile was wide and mean. He slapped paperwork against her chest. “You’ve been served.”


  • Holy smokes

    According to Doreen on November 28, 2023
  • That was great. I loved the ending. It was the best.

    According to Carolyn J Grandchamp on November 28, 2023
  • Wow Jason even told Ned where Carly was and then walked away. Will wonders never cease

    According to leasmom on November 28, 2023
  • AJ’s story broke my heart. It’s great that Jason stood up to Carly and Ned serving Carly papers. Thanks for the update.

    According to Shelly on November 29, 2023
  • I feel so sorry for AJ. I’m still not sure if Carly got an abortion. I liked the way Jason handled Carly. I can see Sonny going on the war path and blaming Jason for Carly’s choices. I really liked Emily and Elizabeth’s conversation.

    According to Carla P on November 29, 2023