Elizabeth blinked. Brenda silently cheered.
And Jason waited, terrified.
That I love you.
I love you.
Elizabeth cleared her throat and tried to speak over the wad of cotton that seemed to have staked claim of her throat.
“You…ah…uh…” Her shock was slowly ebbing away and was being replaced by a different emotion.
“Are you crazy?” she cried.
Jason frowned. “What?”
Brenda muttered under breath as Elizabeth continued. “What in the hell are you thinking?” she demanded.
It was Jason’s turn to be stunned. “I…well…”
“After all this time…after everything, you tell me you love me?” Elizabeth shook her head. “Are you nuts?”
“That is not what you’re supposed to be saying,” Brenda muttered.
“I just…” Jason couldn’t speak, didn’t know what to say.
“Did you love me when you were sleeping with Courtney?” Elizabeth asked. “Or did your feelings take a short break?”
“That is not fair,” Jason told her, finally finding his voice. “You have no idea–”
“How can you stand there and tell me that after everything that’s happened?” Elizabeth demanded. “What do you expect me to say? Do you want me to say it back?”
“Fine,” Elizabeth shrugged. “I love you. Does it change that you let me walk away–that you left me alone all the time–that everything came first? No. So what good does it do?”
“Did you love me when you slept with Zander?” Jason demanded, turning her words on her.
“Do not try and turn this on me,” Elizabeth replied. “You know what happened with Zander–I tried to explain it to you–”
“Then why don’t you let me explain Courtney?” Jason interrupted. “You haven’t even give me a chance.”
“Fine. Explain why you slept with Sonny’s sister–why you made all the sacrifices to be withher…the ones you wouldn’t make me with me–why you put effort into making it work with her when you let me walk away without a second glance…go ahead…I’d love to hear this one!” Elizabeth yelled. “How are you going to justify–”
“Because it was easy!” Jason exploded. “Because Courtney didn’t expect me to do anything! She just wanted me around–she didn’t ask for things and she didn’t want anything from me.”
“Gee, that makes me feel better,” Elizabeth bit out sarcastically. “I’m sorry I was such a bitch–”
“I didn’t have to feel when I was with her,” Jason cut in. “And with you…it’s different.”
“Different how?” Elizabeth challenged.
Jason just shook his head and looked away. Brenda wanted to throttle him. Stupid idiot–Elizabeth was standing in front of him and she was actually listening to him and the moron was going to shut down on her. It took all of Brenda’s restraint not to go in there and clarify what Jason was trying to say–Elizabeth was too hurt, but Brenda saw it clearly.
“Okay, go ahead, shut down,” Elizabeth said. She crossed her arms and turned around. “I don’t know why I’m surprised. It’s always been like this. Ever since you came back last year, every time we get somewhere, you shut down–”
“You make me feel,” Jason cut in suddenly. “When I’m around you, the entire world is different and that the way I live my life isn’t enough and I don’t like that.”
“Gee, I’m so sorry,” Elizabeth apologized, her tone bitter. “It wasn’t my intention to make you feel.”
“Damn it, will you stop being so defensive?” Jason argued. He gripped her shoulder and forced her to turn around. “You do the same thing–you shut down on me just as much.”
“I’m tired of being hurt,” Elizabeth said softly, careful not to meet his eyes. “And that’s all you’ve been doing lately.”
“I know…and I’m sorry, Elizabeth.” Jason tilted her face up to his. “I don’t like my life when you’re not in it.”
“So…you don’t like it when I’m there and you don’t like it when I’m not?” Elizabeth asked incredulously.
“No, that’s–” Jason stopped and took a deep breath. “That’s not what I meant. I don’t like what my life does to you. How it affects you.”
“It doesn’t affect me,” Elizabeth argued. “How you handle it does. You were the one who never came home, who never talked to me, who never called. Not Sonny, or your job. You.”
“It’s not enough,” Jason told her. “You told me that you hoped being Sonny’s enforcer was enough–and it’s not.”
“What do you want me to do?” Elizabeth asked. “Say, okay. That’s great. Let’s try again.”
“No…I know it’s not that easy,” Jason replied. “But–I just…I want another chance, Elizabeth. That’s all.”
Elizabeth looked away and bit the inside of her cheek. “One day at a time,” she said quietly. She raised her eyes and met his. “I want to take this one day at a time.”
Jason nodded. “Okay. That’s fine. Whatever you need.”
“Whatever I need?” Elizabeth asked. She gave him a hesitant smile. “I think I need you to kiss me.”
“I think I need that, too.” Jason dipped his head down to brush his lips against hers.
Brenda leaned around the doorway, trying to get a better view but was interrupted by a loud knocking. “Shoot.” She moved away and started towards the door. “I’ll get it, don’t worry! You two keep kissing!”
At Brenda’s statement, Jason broke away from Elizabeth and turned around to see Brenda darting across the living room. “She was listening.”
“Don’t tell me that surprises you,” Elizabeth said amused.
“It doesn’t.” Jason took her hand. “Come on.”
“Okay, look you little psycho,” Brenda was saying as Jason and Elizabeth entered the living room.
Elizabeth groaned when she saw Brenda forcibly trying to keep the door closed on a struggling Courtney. “What the hell is she doing here?” Elizabeth demanded.
“I need to talk to Jason–” Courtney began.
“Honey, I think you’ve done enough talking for one day,” Brenda retorted. “Will you please leave?”
“But–” Courtney finally registered on Elizabeth and Jason and their joined hands. “What’s going on here?” she demanded.
Brenda smirked. “What do you think? He woke up and realized he doesn’t like blondes anymore.”
“Brenda–” Jason started.
“In fact, it’s kind of funny. Jason’s always slept with the blondes but fallen for the brunettes,” Brenda mused. “Weird.”
“Don’t get any ideas about me,” Brenda warned him. “I am off limits.”
“Ew,” Jason said, his face twisting in disgust.
“Good answer,” Elizabeth said.
“But Jason–” Courtney tried to begin again. “I thought you were over her.”
Brenda snorted. “Don’t tell me you’re delusional as well as stupid.”
“Listen you little viper–” Courtney began viciously.
“Watch it, blondie. I am not Elizabeth–I will not stop at slapping,” Brenda told her. She shoved Courtney into the hall way. “Bye honey.” She slammed the door shut and locked it. “Ack.”
“Brenda?” Elizabeth asked.
“Yes?” Brenda asked innocently.
“Were you listening?” Elizabeth asked curiously. “And if so, how long?”
Brenda grinned. “From the ‘I’m sorry you had to hear it from Courtney’ to the moment the little psycho knocked on the door.”
“Uh huh. It didn’t occur to you that it was a private conversation?” Elizabeth asked.
“Private?” Brenda shrugged. “No such thing.” She sniffed the air. “We’d better eat before it gets cold.” She moved towards the kitchen.
“Brenda doesn’t live in the same world the rest of us, does she?” Elizabeth asked.
“No. No, I don’t think she does,” Jason answered.
— Courtroom —
“Okay, Ric and I decided the best course of action from now on is to make Scott’s witnesses look as stupid as possible,” Alexis told Brenda and Jason the next morning. “I’m going to take AJ and Skye since I know them and Ric’s going to take the police and coroner.”
“Whatever you think is best,” Brenda said. “I trust you.” She looked up to Jason. “We both do.”
“Yeah,” Jason agreed.
“I talked to some of the reporters who were in the courtroom yesterday. Now, they don’t exactly buy Elizabeth’s testimony, but they all agreed she was more credible than Courtney,” Ric said. He twisted in his seat so that he could see Elizabeth sitting behind the table. “They said she was charming and likable, not to mention that the jury does have an idea of who you are, so that works in our favor.”
Elizabeth frowned. “What do you mean? How do they know?”
“You’re Audrey and Steve Hardy’s granddaughters, a member of one of the most well-respected families in town,” Ric replied.
“Exactly,” Alexis said, nodding. “One of the reporters covered Tom Baker’s case and remembers you.”
Elizabeth grimaced. “Ah, yes. Not one of my more stellar court room appearances.”
“No, no. It’s a good impression,” Alexis told her. “Which is why Ric and I want to call you back to the stand.”
“What?” Brenda asked. She and Jason traded looks. “Why?”
“Because she’s such a credible witness, we want her as a character witness,” Ric said. “See, the general public has this view of Jason as a hitman for the mob. They don’t really see him as anything more than that.”
“And you want me to make him look more human,” Elizabeth clarified.
“Yes,” Alexis said. “But there’s a chance Scott will try and turn it around on you. Can you handle it?”
“Of course,” Elizabeth said.
“This is acceptable to both of you?” Alexis asked Brenda and Jason. “Ric will be questioning her for Jason and I’m going to do a brief line for Brenda, since the two of you seem to be getting along.”
“It’s fine,” Brenda answered. “Right, Jason?”
Jason hesitated. “I don’t know.” He looked at Elizabeth. “You don’t have to do this.”
“I want to do this,” Elizabeth told him firmly. “I think this is a great idea. I’m going to do it.”
“All right,” Jason agreed. “Just don’t let Scott harass her too much.”
“I’ll do my best,” Ric told his client.
“When will you be calling her?” Brenda asked.
“As soon as possible,” Alexis told them. “We want the image to be firmly in their minds.”
“When will Scott be resting his case?” Jason asked.
“Sometime today or tomorrow,” Alexis replied. “He’s only got four witnesses left. Skye, AJ, the coroner and Detective Taggart.”
“Taggart hates Jason,” Brenda said helpfully.
Alexis grinned. “Don’t worry. Ric’s been completely briefed on Taggart and Jason’s long history.”
“I saw him harassing Jason once,” Elizabeth volunteered.
“Good, I’ll be sure to bring that up,” Ric told her. He looked at his watch. “It’ll be filling up soon.”
“I hope today is as fun as yesterday,” Brenda said cheerfully.
Alexis looked at her strangely. “Are you feeling okay?”
“I’m great. Why?” Brenda asked innocently.