Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
– Brave, Sara Bareilles
Monday, July 11, 2005
“There’s my brother.” Emily kissed the top of his head as she moved past him to sit across the table. “It feels like ages since I saw you.”
“Two weeks,” Jason said absently as he opened a bag of small cereal puffs and dumped it on the tray of Evie’s booster seat. “We had lunch.”
Emily dismissed that with a wave of her hand. “I meant one on one brother sister time. We’re always around other people. I can’t bug you the way I want to.” She pouted. “You ordered without me.”
Jason looked at her with some impatience. “You’re a half hour late. I was hungry.”
“I practically had to sneak out to take my lunch break. I wish I could skip the intern part and go straight through to the doctoring part.” She perused the lunch menu. “So, how’s things? Where’s Cam and Elizabeth today?”
“Elizabeth’s at her studio, so Steven took Cameron for the day.” Jason shifted. “You don’t like the hospital?”
“It’s fine, just busy, busy.” Emily glanced up and grinned. “Hey, Georgie. I swear, you never leave this place.”
“Don’t I know it,” the teenager complained. She took Emily’s order and then went back inside.
“And I saw how you sidestepped the question,” Emily said. She reached across the table for a fry. “You didn’t tell me how things were.”
“They’re fine.” He shifted again. “Actually—”
Her eyes lit up. “You’re going to ask me for advice? Fantastic. I’ve been waiting for this day my whole life—”
“We’ve only known each other half your life.”
She narrowed her eyes. “It feels like so much longer.” Emily leaned back in her chair. Brothers. “So, actually what? Finish your sentence.”
“It’s…about Elizabeth.” Jason hesitated. “I…want to ask her to move in with me.”
Holy crapola. This was the mother lode. “Into the penthouse?” Emily asked. “Because, I mean, I know the short-term stuff is fine, but…” She sighed. “Elizabeth said things…were getting a bit more tense with Sonny and Carly.”
“Yeah.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah, they are. I…you know I was thinking of moving out a few months ago but decided not to in order to keep the situation from getting worse.”
“But now?” Emily prompted when her brother remained silent.
“Now Carly knows the truth, and I’ve told Sonny I don’t plan to sign away my guardianship until I’m satisfied he’s in a better place. So it’s as a good time as any to find somewhere else to live.”
“Makes complete sense.” Emily waited until Georgie set down her order and refilled Jason’s coffee cup. Once she was gone, she reached for the ketchup to dump on her fries. “So what’s the ish? Elizabeth and Cam are basically living with you as it is. You don’t think she’ll agree until you find a new place?”
“Maybe. I don’t know.” Jason shook his head. “I’ve…I’ve never asked anyone to move in with me before.”
Emily pursed her lips. “No, I guess that’s true. You and Robin just kind of fell into it, and didn’t Courtney start staying with you after Ric kidnapped her?”
“Something like that. This…with Elizabeth, it’s different. I don’t know. You’re right, I should just ask her—”
“No, I get it,” Emily held up a hand. “It’s a deliberate commitment. Plus, you have the kids. Both of them. I mean…” She cast a glance at her niece, who held out a mushy cereal puff. “No, thanks, baby. You finish it.” To Jason, she continued, “Evie’s situation is complicated, but Cameron’s a permanent fixture, no if, ands, or buts. You guys move in together, there’s a logical progression. Who are you going to be to him?”
“I’d adopt him if that’s something Elizabeth would want—”
“Nope.” Emily shook her head. “Not good enough. She’s not going to want that wishy washy kind of thing—if you want it, I’ll do it. Do it because you want it. Because you want Cameron to be part of your life.” Emily leaned forward. “Jase, it’s a big enough step when you’re not a single mother.”
“You’re right.” Jason reached for his coffee. “I want to adopt him, and I want Elizabeth with me.”
She bit into her burger with relish. God, how far they’d come since that day in December. “Have you…considered something permanent between you?” She hoped he wouldn’t close down now. “I’m not trying to nag, I know how much that annoyed you both—”
“I have,” Jason interrupted. “But I can’t ignore that we’ve both been married before. Mine was…” He pushed his half-eaten pastrami sandwich away. “I don’t know. It ended up being a mistake. But Elizabeth’s experience with Ric was so much worse.”
“That’s the truth. Slimy piece of crap. He’s lucky he’s been so good to Alexis and Kristina, or else I would have sicced Nikolas on him ages ago.” Emily sipped her soda. “So bad marriages all around. It’s not like I don’t get that. I married someone because it seemed like a good idea and then I broke his heart in the worst way possible.” She pressed her lips together. “I know what’s it like to be scared of the future because of what came before.”
She sighed and twisted her wedding ring on her finger. “And it’s not something to think about lightly, that’s for sure. But Jason, when it’s right, it’s right.” She closed her eyes, remembering that incredible day six weeks earlier. “There’s something about standing there with each other, in front of the people you love, and making that promise. It means something.” She opened her eyes and focused on Jason. “I know you didn’t always see it that way, that it was just some paperwork—”
“I know it’s more now. I just….it’s only been a few weeks—”
“Time is relative, Jase. Are you going to tell me there’s something about Elizabeth that would change your mind in another six months?” She tilted her head. “Or is it because of the situation with Sonny and Carly that you’re still hesitating?”
“It’s a factor,” Jason admitted. “I don’t know, Emily. I just have to think about it some more.”
“Hey, you’ve been doing something right so far,” Emily told him. “Just follow your instincts.”
Corinthos Penthouse: Bedroom
Carly removed her diamond earrings and placed them in the velvet lined drawer of her jewelry box. Across the room, she watched as Sonny methodically and silently removed his suit and changed into the silk pajamas he wore to bed.
They had not spoken about their argument the week before—he had spent a great deal of time at the warehouse, she at her club. When they had spoken, it had been about the boys.
That ended now.
“Have you spoken to Jason?” she asked.
He glanced over at her, his dark eyes unreadable in the shadows of their bedroom. “Yes.”
She pursed her lips when he said nothing more. Why must everything be so goddamn push and pull? Didn’t he understand she couldn’t fix a goddamn thing if no one ever told her the fucking truth?
“I suppose that means nothing is going to change.” She twisted on the vanity seat to look at him directly. “That he’ll retain custody.”
His short answers were only stoking her ire. Of course he blamed her when she damn well knew the root of the problem was Sonny himself. If he had just trusted her, they could have avoided this.
If he had kept his filthy hands off that whore, none of this would be happening.
She turned back and reached for her cold cream. Another approach was necessary, she could see this now. She had tried to talk to Jason before without any change. If Sonny had been rebuffed in his attempts to regain custody of his daughter, then Jason had no intention of doing the right thing.
And why the hell wasn’t Jason trying to help make this situation go away? He was with that simpering little twit and her bastard. He had a family; he knew keeping Evie was destroying Sonny. What the hell was the hold up?
Didn’t he understand he held the cards?
Or maybe Sonny hadn’t pushed enough. Surely, Jason would relent if Sonny just pushed. How to make that happen?
She applied the cream to her face, slowly massaging the lotion into her skin. “Was it Jason’s idea to change the results of the paternity test or yours?” she asked.
Sonny sighed. “Carly, I don’t—”
“I think we should talk about how it happened,” Carly asked. She dabbed some of the cream into the delicate surface under her eyes. “The only way we’re going to have a fresh start for our marriage or for our boys is if we do this. I don’t want it to fester like it has for a year.”
Her husband sat on the bed, a newspaper in his hands. “I—I didn’t know he was going to do it until he did it.”
As Carly had suspected. She nodded. “Did…you think it might be the truth?”
“I wondered,” Sonny admitted. “Until I realized he and Courtney hadn’t separated at the time it would have happened. He wouldn’t have done that to my sister.” He clenched his hands. “Even though he’s been pretty damn quick to forget her.”
“I…should have dealt with it better, Sonny,” Carly said, though she didn’t think her actions had been nearly as bad as his. She’d been shot in the head—hadn’t she forgiven that? Did no one remember what she’d been through? “I just…I was hurt. I lashed out. I don’t…know if I meant what I said about the boys.”
She’d meant every word of it and had intended to use Alexis’s secret to destroy him in court, but that wasn’t important now.
“Well, I took you for your word.” Sonny stood, crossed to the window that overlooked the city. “I thought…I’d use the summer to figure out how to fix things.”
There was more to this story, but Carly knew he would never tell her and if it reflected badly on Sonny, it was unlikely to come from Jason either.
They were always more loyal to one another than they were to her. Men. They all stuck together.
“And when Sam died?” Carly murmured. She set the tub of cold cream down and slowly began to draw her brush through her blonde hair. “Why didn’t it come out then?”
“Sam…tricked me into terminating my parental rights,” Sonny said through clenched teeth. “I thought I was signing a trust for Evie. Instead, she took them away and created a will that left guardianship to Jason in the event of her death.”
Carly smirked. If she didn’t hate that whore so much, she might admire the tactic. A woman scorned had scorched him right back. Served him right.
It was easy to see this from Sam’s side of it. She’d been used, tossed away, foisted on Jason. Sonny had returned to his family. Why should she make it easy on the bastard who discarded her?
There was a certain poetry, a certain sense of innate justice that Carly respected.
That didn’t change the way of the world.
“I’m surprised Jason upheld it after she was gone.” Carly set her brush down and twisted to the side to look at his dark form at the end of the room. “That he didn’t take the opportunity to walk away from it. I can’t imagine it was easy on him, with what happened to Michael.”
“We believed you’d take the boys and fight me in court.” Sonny shifted and turned to look at her. “He was protecting the boys from that. Protecting Evie from…” His voice faltered, and he just shook his head.
“From being raised by a woman who loathed the woman who bore her.” Carly narrowed her eyes. What a high opinion these men had of her. She would have adapted to the situation. Maybe she never would have loved Evie the way she did Michael and Morgan, but she could separate the daughter from the mother.
And even if she didn’t fully believe that, what gave them the right to decide that for her? To take away her chance to prove herself?
They didn’t trust her, didn’t even give her a damn chance. She was almost tempted to prove them right. Call Alexis, demand Sonny be raked over the coals for his affairs, for his lies.
But that didn’t serve her purpose. Her children deserved their place in life, and if Carly had to sacrifice her self-respect to gain it for them, that’s exactly what she’d do.
“You didn’t give me much choice, Carly—”
“It sounds like Jason didn’t give you much of one either,” Carly said. “Decided to take responsibility, stood aside while Sam tricked you…” She shook her head. “I wonder if the rumors were true. If maybe he fell for her. She probably batted her whore eyes at him, wanted to raise her baby with him. He’s rich, single, and loves children. Perfect target.”
Sonny didn’t say anything for a long moment. “Are you saying you think Jason helped her trick me?”
“No.” But Carly made sure to hesitate.
The only way to get Evie in this penthouse, the only way to assuage Sonny’s guilt was to make him go after Evie.
And if Jason wanted to stop her from fixing all their problems, well then maybe he deserved what he got.
“And even if he did, you know it was just to protect you.” Carly raised an eyebrow. “You know he’d do anything to protect you.” She paused. “Anything he deemed necessary.”
Her stomach twisted as she looked back into her vanity mirror, into her own reflection because she knew the rules of the game she was playing and it didn’t entirely sit right with her.
She was selling Jason down the river in Sonny’s eyes, putting the weight of the blame on him. It couldn’t stay on her, not if she wanted to preserve her marriage.
And really, as much as she loved Jason, as much as she knew his heart had been in the right place, it was his fault. He’d decided he knew what was best without consulting either of them.
Turning Sonny against Jason had not been her first choice, but Jason had set the board; all the moves had been his. Sonny had only reacted to them, leaving Carly entirely out of the equation.
She was done being a pawn. It was time to remind them that somewhere inside Carly Corinthos lurked Caroline Benson.
A woman with a plan.
Morgan Penthouse: Bedroom
She was still trembling when Jason leaned down, brushed his lips against hers, her fingers laced through his hair. “Why does it always seem to get better?” she murmured, trying to get her breath.
“I don’t know.” Jason rolled to his side slightly and tucked her against him. “But it does.”
“I love you.” She closed her eyes, her fingers tracing small patterns on his damp chest. “Not just for your body, though.”
She felt more than heard the laugh roll through him. “Well, that’s good.”
They laid in comfortable silence for a while longer, as they often did on the nights she spent at his penthouse—which, in the last month, had been more often than she was at home.
She knew Cameron and Evie were asleep at the other end of the hall in a room that had easily adapted to another crib, dresser, and several more toys more suited for a growing boy with their nanny in the adjoining room.
“You know what’s freaking me out?” she asked. Before he could respond, she continued. “This is the happiest I can remember being in years.” She lifted her head to rest her chin on his arm so she could look at him. “Everything about this feels right.”
“It does,” he agreed, his fingers sifting through her hair. “And…I’ve been happy, too. I-I love you so much.” And though the words felt slightly stilted, even forced, she knew they weren’t false. He was a man who often found it difficult to express himself.
Which made the moments when he did so much better.
“I just want it to last forever,” she admitted, closing her eyes.
“Maybe—maybe it can.”
Her eyes flew open, and she pulled herself to a sitting position, tugging the sheet over her breasts. “What?”
“I—” Jason cleared his throat and also sat up, his face only partially visible in the moonlight that filtered through the blinds at the window. “I mean…we could…you could be here. Um, more.” He took a deep breath. “All the time.”
“Like…live with you,” Elizabeth clarified, her heart racing. “Jason…I—”
“I know it’s only been a few weeks,” he interrupted. “And maybe it’s too soon, but I just…” He looked around, and even though the room was darkened, she saw his gaze touch on the dresser littered with her jewelry, her makeup. The half-open closet door that housed a few suits, but more of her clothes.
“I mean, I’m already…here most of the time.” Elizabeth shifted. “My grandmother is always…” She licked her lips. “She’s always joking with me that I—I just come in for my mail.”
“I know.” Jason switched on the table lamp. “I don’t want to rush you or move too fast—”
“It’s been almost six years since we met,” she murmured, “I don’t think moving too fast is something we can be accused of.” She dragged one hand through her hair. “Okay. I mean, it’s…one thing for Cam and I to spend the nights, but you know he’s got a ton of stuff at Gram’s. I mean, he’d live here.”
“He kind of already does,” Jason told her. “If—if it’s me you’re worried about with him—”
“No.” God, she was making this more complicated than she had to. “I just…if we live together, Jason, it’s just…a thing to consider. About…our kids.” She twisted her fingers in her lap. “I love you, and I want you to be important to my son. I just…I have…to be cautious.”
“I know.” Jason tilted his head. “But what’s really wrong? Is it really about Cam?”
“I just…I’m just scared,” she admitted. “We’ve been so careful this time, Jason. And we’ve done everything right. And it’s been perfect. I mean, Sonny and Carly are not a factor in this, I promise. Because that problem exists whether we live together or not, so it’s not about that. It’s…about changing things.” She bit her lip to keep it from trembling.
“Sometimes,” she continued, softly, “we don’t always do well with change.”
“Like the last time we sort of lived together,” Jason responded. “When Sonny was going through…something like this, and I chose his well-being over being honest with you.”
“If we’re going to simplify it, maybe. I mean, it’s different now. We…we’re in a different place, and we’re different people, but…” She scrubbed a hand over her face. “I don’t know how to explain it.”
“I want us to be a family,” Jason said. “I-I want to adopt Cameron.”
Her head snapped up at that. “Jason—”
“A-And if I adopt Evie, then I’d want you to adopt her, too.”
Holy crap. “You want to…” Her throat was tight, she pressed a fist to her mouth. “You want to adopt my son. And…you…want me to adopt Evie.”
“We-we could get married, if you’d feel better about it that way—”
The room spun for a moment, and she swallowed hard. “Jason, I don’t want you to say that because you think it’s what I want—”
“I want to be with you,” he interrupted. “To be a family with you.” He paused. “I didn’t…used to think that marriage was part of that. I thought it was just…paperwork. Something people did to make themselves feel better.”
Oh my God, this was really happening to her. “Jason—”
“But I know it’s about more than that.” He glanced away for a moment, then looked back at her. “It’s about making promises to one another. I…want to make them to you.”
Her heart was going to fly right out of her chest, she just knew it. “Jason…” She reached for his hand. “Are—is this a proposal? Are…” A tear slid down her cheek. “Are you asking me to marry you?”
“Maybe I should—it should be a different way. I—I don’t have a ring—”
“That’s not important to me.” She swiped at her tears and crawled into his lap. “Are we getting engaged? Is this what’s happening?”
His lips curved into a slow grin as he brought her clasped hands to his lips. “Yeah. So you’ll marry me?”
She beamed. “Hell yes!” And then proceeded to punctuate a series of yeses with kisses to his cheeks, his lips, and anywhere else she could reach.
Elizabeth Webber was going to marry Jason Morgan, and no one on this planet was going to stop her.