You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And now you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it
– Stuck in a Moment, U2
December 26, 2005
Quartermaine Mansion: Dining Room
Emily watched as Dillon piled his plate high with French toast, bacon, sausage and six slices of toast before arching her eyebrow. “Lu’s hungry this morning I see.”
Dillon glanced at her from the corner of his eye. “How do you always know?” he muttered, reaching for the pitcher of orange juice to pour a glass.
“Please,” his cousin replied. “You hate sausage.” She watched him continue to fill his plate. “Why did she make a break for it this time?”
Dillon hesitated but before he could say anything else, Edward ambled in with Tracy behind him, the two already finding themselves knee deep in their usual arguments. “The thing about Lu is that you think you know what she’s getting herself into and then she just completely goes in another direction.”
“What’s this about Lulu?” Edward demanded. He jabbed a finger in his grandson’s direction. “Mark my words, young man, Lesley Lu Spencer will lead you into nothing but disaster. As this family’s leader of the next generation—”
“I’m out of here,” Dillon interrupted, making a hasty exit towards the foyer.
“That boy is out of control,” Edward continued. “This family is out of control! One grandchild is a motorcycle riding thug, another is a lost cause alcoholic, one has his head in the clouds, another wears leather pants and you…” his gaze fell on Emily. “You have completely lost your mind over some boy.”
He expected Emily to launch into her usual defense of the Cassadine boy but was surprised when she remained silent and took her customary seat to the left of his own. Not sure what to do now that Emily had disrupted his morning routine, Edward sank into his seat and reached for the newspaper. Maybe she hadn’t heard him.
“Have you come to your senses then about that boy?” Edward demanded. “He’s useless, I tell you. And a wastrel! Why, when I think about all the spending he’s authorized at the hospital. He’ll have you in the poorhouse in less than ten years, mark my words!”
But Emily didn’t rise to the bait. She smiled absently at him and bit into her blueberry muffin. She was ignoring him! If there was nothing else Edward hated, it was being treated like a doddering old fool. Well, he’d see about this!
“And when that happens, don’t bother to darken my doorstep!” he declared. “The day you marry him, you’re no longer a Quartermaine!”
He finally got a reaction from his granddaughter but it was not the fiery defense he had expected. Instead, she set her muffin down, pushed her chair away and left the room. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out.
“Nice job, Daddy,” Tracy said, strolling in the room. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen two members of the family flee the room so close together since Alan and I were teenagers. You haven’t lost your touch.”
Edward put Emily’s strange behavior out of his head and started on the next step in his routine: questioning Tracy about Ned and ELQ.
Patrick checked his watch and scowled. “She’s late.”
“You have the patience of a five-year-old,” Lucky said. He breathed some warm air into his hands and rubbed them together. He was always leaving his gloves at home. “She’s ten minutes late. Maybe that ancient car of hers wouldn’t start again.”
“I’m not even sure she came home last night,” Patrick huffed. “Will said she disappeared with Morgan and he wasn’t awake when she came back, if she came back at all. She certainly wasn’t there when I got home and she wasn’t there when I woke up.”
“Ellie is a big girl now, which you should know since you’re the same age and you’ve spent a few nights out yourself,” Lucky reminded him. “Why don’t you let the girl live her own life?”
“Because she’s clearly incapable of it,” Patrick said. “Look at who she hangs out with! First Morgan and then she goes to the holiday party with Sonny freaking Corinthos! Who knows where she is right now?”
Elizabeth was not that far away, in fact. She had returned to her apartment, but it had been extremely late and she had met Jason very early that morning for coffee before his shift at the warehouse. At that very moment, she was around the corner, her back pressed up against Kelly’s and giggling as Jason kissed the side of her neck. “I have to go,” she told him.
“Why?” he asked, pulling away and frowning in mock confusion. “You’d rather eat breakfast with your brother?”
“Not in the mood he’s going to be in, but I do have to go to work eventually.” She raised herself up on her tiptoes and kissed his nose. “I’ll see you tonight?”
“What time are you done?” he leaned down to steal another kiss.
“Mmm…” Elizabeth blinked, distracted. “What was the question? Wait…” she closed her eyes and licked her lips, really enjoying the taste of coffee. “Nine tonight. I’m working a little overtime.”
“I’ll meet you in the parking garage then.” He kissed her again. “Unless you want to ditch everything and we’ll go on a ride. I’ll take the cliff road.”
Elizabeth pouted. “No fair. You know I’d do just about anything for that.” She paused and then wiggled her eyebrows. “I’ll do it if I can drive.”
Jason chuckled and stepped back, finally allowing Elizabeth to come away from the wall. “No deal.”
“Bully.” She kissed him one last time and then darted around the corner to find her brother waiting for her impatiently.
Not that Patrick had any other way of waiting. Nothing was ever on time for him, even if it was five minutes early.
“Nice of you to tear yourself away for your own family,” he snarled.
Elizabeth was too buoyed by the events of the last fourteen hours to care about her brother’s bear of a mood. “Well, I’m here now and I’m starving. Let’s grab some food—”
“Not so fast,” Patrick grabbed her arm to anchor her in place. “Lucky, we’ll meet you inside.”
“Courage, El, courage,” Lucky shrugged and entered Kelly’s to find a table.
“Where were you last night?” Patrick demanded.
“Where were you?” Elizabeth countered easily. “You stomped out of Dad’s like a five-year-old and then didn’t bother to come home. I didn’t even leave until after nine and I don’t seem to recall you calling and checking in—”
“Do not turn this around on me, Ellie. I am not the one who spends her time gallivanting with criminals—”
“Patrick, please do not start this right now.” Elizabeth could feel the glow of her happy morning fading away. “Because I swear that if you do not stop asking right now, I will tell you exactly where I was.”
Something in her tone of voice stopped him from opening his mouth for a long second. But he wasn’t out for long. “Did you sleep with him?” Patrick demanded harshly. “Jesus, Ellie—”
“Stop it, just stop it right now!” Elizabeth planted both her hands on his chest and shoved hard. “How dare you do this in the middle of the courtyard? How dare you treat me like a child? I am your sister, you jackass and I think I have earned at least a miniscule of respect.” She jabbed her finger at him. “I will spend my time with whomever I please. I don’t ask you to run your friends by me. You do not get to treat me like this—”
“Whoa, whoa—” Patrick closed his hands over her shoulders. “Wait, I’m sorry.”
“Do not apologize to me unless you mean it,” she warned. “I am through with the Drake men and their drama. You and Dad treat me like I stopped growing up at age five and I am sick of it. I am an adult, Patrick. An adult. Which means I get to sleep with whomever I want.”
“Oh, God, you did—”
“For your information, and I am only telling you this because I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings. I did not have sex with anyone last night, and I did not spend the night with Jason. I came home late and left early.” She crossed her arms and glared at him. “And just so we’re completely honest with each other, I do have feelings for Jason and I am lucky enough to know that he feels the same way. I have the right to that, don’t I?”
“You have the right to that and a lot more, Ellie, but not from some two-bit criminal—”
“If you say another word—just one more word—along that subject line , we are done, Patrick. We are done,” she threatened.
Patrick closed his mouth, fuming. “Fine. Have it your way. You’re right. You’re a big girl now and you can do whatever the hell you want. Far be it for me to try and keep you from making a mistake.” He glared at her for another moment before letting out a huff. “Are we going to eat breakfast or not?”
He expected her to smile and follow him inside like she had done after all their arguments in the past. But this time, she shook her head. “No. I’ll get something at the hospital.”
“Ellie, wait,” he called after her half-heartedly. But he didn’t say it loud enough and she disappeared back into the parking lot.
Patrick went inside and threw himself into the chair across from Lucky who merely checked his watch. “Five minutes less than I thought it would take.”
“Shut the hell up.”
General Hospital: Locker Room
“I am supremely glad that Christmas is over,” Emily said, pulling her scrubs top on. “No more family togetherness.”
“At least until New Year’s Eve,” Robin laughed.
“Do not remind me.” Emily tied her scrubs pants and hesitated before closing her locker. “Robin, am I being selfish?”
“About what?” Robin asked. She bound her hair back in a ponytail. “You’re like the least selfish person I know.”
“About Nikolas.” Emily touched her engagement ring. “I love him, I love him so much, but I love my family, too. I never thought I would, but I do and I just…I feel like I’m making things difficult for my family. They don’t like the Cassadines, they never have. They don’t approve of my relationship with Nikolas, and I think it’s just going to get worse after we get married, not better.”
“Em, you can’t let your family dictate your choices in life—” Robin began but Emily shook her head.
“I know that,” Emily cut in. “And that’s not what this is about. I have to face what my choices might cost me. This might be my last Christmas with them, my last New Year’s. The only person at my wedding will probably be my mother.”
“Emily, if that’s true, if that’s what happens…” Robin touched her shoulder.
“Then the loss is theirs, not yours.”
“I know that here,” Emily tapped her head and then she pressed her hand flat against her chest. “It’s here I’m having trouble coming to terms with. I love the Quartermaines. They saved me, they gave me so much love and understanding and so many opportunities—how can I make a choice that will cut that off?”
“I don’t know,” Robin answered. “I don’t know what the answer to that is. I guess you’re going to have to find out for yourself if it’s worth taking the risk.”
“He is worth it,” Emily said. “He’s worth it and so much more, but I’m not the only one risking here. Nikolas adores his uncle. Stefan is his father in every way and he has made it clear that if Nikolas goes through with this, Stefan will go back to Greece and will cut all ties. The hatred is that strong.”
“I’m terrified that one day, the only thing Nikolas and I will see when we look at each other is everything it cost to be together and that we’ll hate one another for it,” Emily confessed.
Spencer House: Living Room
Laura carefully took down Lucky’s Christmas ornament and smiled fondly at it before wrapping it in tissue paper and placing it back in the box. She loved her little family mementos and couldn’t wait to pass certain pieces to her future daughter-in-law, whoever she may be or even a son-in-law one day.
And of course, to Emily, when she joined the family. She had a Christmas ball for Nikolas that she had kept hidden away for many years; she had taken it on the run, brought it home to Port Charles and that first wonderful Christmas that she felt like she could put it up and not have Luke snarl, it had taken its place near Lucky and Lulu’s.
She would hate to part with it, but it should be Emily’s next year.
The door opened and closed behind her and Laura, with that uncanny sense that only mothers seemed to possess, smiled. “I’m glad you came back.” She placed a silver angel into its box and turned. “Honey, I think it’s time we sat and talked.”
Lulu nodded but stayed on the front landing. “I know. That’s why I didn’t sneak in through my window.”
Laura gestured towards the kitchen. “Do you want some hot chocolate? I’ll put marshmallows in it.”
“No,” Lulu bit her lip. “Is anyone else home?”
“No, Lucky went down to the club to do the books, Grandma is at the hospital and your father is looking after the cleanup at the Star.” Laura lowered herself onto the couch and patted the cushion next to her.
Lulu sat gingerly on the edge and kept herself closed off, her arms tightly crossed. “I’m sorry I left yesterday. I was just—you gave me that necklace and I was so…” she shook her head. “I don’t know, everything just bottled up inside me and I couldn’t think anymore.”
“Sweetheart…” Laura wished she could reach out and hug her daughter, but she knew Lulu wouldn’t accept it right now. “That necklace is very special to our family. It’s passed down three generations and it’s my dream that even a hundred years from now, a woman in our family will give it to her daughter and tell her about all the women that came before her.”
Laura took the velvet box from a drawer in the coffee table. “I don’t suppose I went about the right way of giving it to you. Family tradition dictates that on the sixteenth birthday, I come into your room, fasten it around your neck and tell you about those who came first. But that day, as I put it into the box, your father…” she sighed. “You’re his little princess, his gumdrop as he likes to say and he just…he wasn’t ready. He asked me to wait and against my better judgment, I did.”
“This is going to sound so stupid, but when I didn’t get that necklace, when we didn’t have that moment I had actually been looking forward to…” Lulu sniffled. “I thought it…Well, it’s because she knows. She looks at me and she knows.”
Laura frowned. “Know what, Lu?”
“That I’m not a real Spencer,” Lulu admitted in a tiny voice.
“What?” Laura gasped. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m not clever like Dad, I’m not slick like Lucky, I’ll never be as sweet as
Grandma and I’m nothing like you. I’m not graceful, I’m not compassionate, I’m not—”
“Baby…” Laura reached across the gap between them and pulled her daughter into her arms. “How can you say such things? Is this what has been going through your head this last year?”
“I just knew that I didn’t fit, that I didn’t belong and you guys seemed to believe that because you didn’t even give me the family heirloom—”
“You are a Spencer, in every way that counts.” Laura pulled away and smoothed the hair from her daughter’s face. “I pray to God you never have to prove it by having the kind of lives your father and I led and I’m so grateful your childhood wasn’t like Lucky’s, but darling, you are everything that’s good about your father and I. If we had planned our daughter, we couldn’t have planned anything more perfect.”
“You have to say that, you’re my mother,” Lulu mumbled.
“Even after I had Lucky, I knew I wanted one more,” Laura told her. “I wanted a little girl to love and I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter.” She wiped her eyes and sat back. “This pearl necklace was given to my mother on her birthday by my grandmother, your great grandmother. Have I ever told you about her?”
Lulu shook her head. “No. Not really.”
“I didn’t know her, she had passed by the time my mother found me, but her name was Lillian. Her husband gave this to her on their wedding day and it was his idea to pass it down to their daughter, which she did. My mother gave it to me when I turned sixteen even though we were barely on speaking terms, as we so rarely were. She still sat me down and we had this moment.” Laura gestured for Lulu to turn so she could fasten the necklace.
As she did so, Laura continued, “My mother told me that my grandmother was the strongest woman that she’d ever known. She’d grown up during the Great Depression and had left her family to find work so they wouldn’t have to worry about having another mouth to feed. She ended up in Texas, picking fruit for the local orchard and one day, the owner’s son was there to check on the work. According to family legend, he looked at Lillian and she looked back and they never looked at anyone else for as long as they lived.”
Lulu smiled. “That’s very romantic.”
“Mmm…well then my mother told me about my father and how they met. He was her college professor, the man that encouraged her to go into medicine. They did not end up together, of course, but she told me that he had given her the two greatest gifts—her daughter and her path in life.”
“Trust Grandma to find a spin to put on that story,” Lulu laughed.
“So now it’s my turn to tell you about your father and I. I don’t suppose there’s much you don’t already know. We have had an interesting marriage, with all the excitement I think I can stand for one lifetime, but I know that I will never find a man who will cherish me or love me more. I wish that for you, baby.”
“I hope I get half of the love you and Dad have had,” Lulu swallowed hard.
“One day, when I give this necklace to my daughter, I’m going to tell her that my mother was the best woman I’ve ever known and that the only thing I’ve I ever wanted is was for her to be proud of me.”
“Of course I’m proud of you,” Laura began.
“I wish I had a pretty story to tell her or a way to put a spin on how she came into existence, but I don’t.” Lulu fingered her pearls for a long moment. “Because all I’ll be able to say is that I was dating her father to make my parents mad and how I was too scared to tell him I was pretty sure he was going to end up being an alcoholic like all the other men in his family.”
Laura stared at her for a long moment before finding the words. “Are you telling me that you’re pregnant and that Will Drake is the father?”
Lulu nodded miserably. “Still proud of me?”