Elizabeth bounded down the steps late the next morning, dressed in a blue tank top and a pair of straight legged jeans. Her hair was tucked into a messy ponytail and Brenda could tell just by looking at her that helping her new stepdaughter to achieve a new image was going to an interesting experience to say the least.
“Are you sure this is gonna work?” Elizabeth asked, looking at Brenda skeptically. “I mean…no matter how different I look, they’re still going to treat me like I’m eight.”
Brenda smirked and slipped a pair of dark glasses over her eyes. “When we’re done with you today, everyone’s going to think you’re my sister and not Carly.” She gestured towards the door. “Shall we?”
The closing of the front door brought Ric and Jason in from the living room and Ric shook his head. “What’s with the sudden urge to start looking different? Since when has she given a damn?”
Just you wait, Jason Morgan. You’ll see that I’m not a little kid anymore.
Jason shook his head to clear his mind. “Maybe she’s doing this to make a point to your brother. If she looks and act older, he might start treating her that way.”
“Doubtful,” Ric smirked. “Nothing is going to change Sonny’s mind about marrying her off to Alexander Castellano when she’s eighteen.”
Jason narrowed his eyes. “That’s the family he was talking about? Since when has Sonny been on good terms with them?”
Ric shoved his hands in the pockets of his dress pants and frowned. “That’s a good question. You don’t think it’s a truce of some sorts?”
Jason shook his head. “Sonny wouldn’t send Elizabeth into the nest of vipers to do that. He’s got more respect for her than that.”
“Yeah…this is the same man who distrusts his daughter’s ability to handle her inheritance that he probably arranged the marriage the second he read the will.”
Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “I can’t believe Lily agreed to sign that–giving her money to her husband.”
“I told you last night,” Ric replied. “Did you think I was joking? Lily assumed that you and Elizabeth would get married and that you would just sign her trust fund over to her.”
Jason shook his head. “Lily knew I never saw Elizabeth like that.”
“She was eleven when Lily signed that will. If you’d seen her like that , you would have been arrested.”
Jason scowled. “Don’t be stupid.”
Ric shook his head. “I’m not saying it’s true, but it’s what Lily thought. Besides, Elizabeth is only fifteen. Why don’t you wait until she’s a little older before you decide that you’ll never feel that way.” His smirk deepened. “Or you could stick to the viper Carly.”
“You don’t even know her,” Jason defended quickly.
“Oh, come on.” Ric shook his head. “She’s just like every girl you dated in high school. Looks great, not a damn thought in her head.”
“And you have taste?” Jason scoffed. “Faith?”
“Yeah, I know she’s a manipulating and scheming bitch…” He shrugged. “But she’s also smart, sexy as hell and has a mouth like–”
“That’s enough,” Jason interrupted, grimacing. “I definitely do not need that mental image.”
Elizabeth stared at Brenda with her eyebrows raised. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Brenda shook her head, smiling. She held the dress out further. “Try it out. Trust me.”
“No way! It’s too short,” Elizabeth protested.
Brenda shoved the outfit into the girl’s hands. “You go try this on, I’m going to visit the cosmetics counter and use my connections to get you a makeover. When you walk back in that door, those men aren’t going to know who you are.”
Elizabeth glanced down at the sun dress. It did kind of resemble the dress Carly had been wearing the previous day and if that had got Jason’s attention…then maybe…
“All right,” she agreed after another moment of hesitation. “But you promise I’m not going to look silly?”
Brenda nodded. “Absolutely. I supported Carly and me for almost ten years by being a model–I know clothes. I know what material looks good on some people, I know what cut will look right. Trust me, Elizabeth, this dress and everything else we’ve bought today looks right on you.” She pushed the teen towards the dressing room. “Now go.”
Elizabeth took off her tank top and jeans and frowned when she realized the straps of her bra would be showing with this dress. After some hesitation, she unhooked her white bra and tossed it to the side.
She gripped the hem of the light blue cotton sun dress and yanked it over her head. She smoothed it over her hips and then moved to tie the two strings in the back.
As soon as the dress was in place, Elizabeth frowned and turned to the side. She had…she had a waist…and hips and…holy hell, were those her breasts?
“Elizabeth?” Brenda knocked on the outside door. “You about to ready to show me? Because I found a terrific pair of sandals to match it and if looks like I think it will, we’ll buy it to wear home.”
Elizabeth smiled genuinely and turned in a full circle. “Brenda?”
“Yeah?” the brunette asked, grinning at the light tone in her stepdaughter’s voice.
“Can we go to the hair salon too?”
Brenda laughed. “What ever you want, honey. Come on out and show me.” She stepped back and her eyes lit up when Elizabeth emerged. Gone was the girl who looked eleven. With some makeup, the right accessories and the girl would pass for seventeen, eighteen easily.
“Do I look okay?” Elizabeth asked hopefully.
Brenda nodded. “You look incredible. They won’t even recognize you.” She reached out to touch a strand of Elizabeth’s curly hair. “I don’t think we’ll change your hair too much. You have gorgeous hair.” Brenda hesitated for a moment. “I’ve seen pictures of your mother and you have some hair.”
“She had straight hair,” Elizabeth corrected. “Mine’s horribly curly. That’s why I always wear it up.”
“Yeah, but it’s the same color,” Brenda told her. “And it looks like the same texture.” She studied it for a moment. “I think maybe a few inches, just to clear the dead ends. A few highlights–maybe. We’ll get it styled. And I’ll show you how to braid it at night so it’s not hopelessly tangled in the morning.”
Elizabeth frowned and suddenly the look of distrust was back in her eyes. “Why are you doing all of this?”
“Because I want you to like me,” Brenda told her without shame. “And I’m willing to do anything to achieve that goal. You and I are going to have to live together for a long time and we’re family now. I’d like for you to trust me.”
“You know my approval doesn’t mean anything to my father right?” Elizabeth warned her. “You saw how he treats me.”
Brenda rolled her eyes. “Look, your father’s treatment of you is absolutely ridiculous and that’s the first thing I’m going to change. He needs to realize that you are not five years old anymore.” Brenda smirked. “Now, go grab your clothes so we can buy that dress and these sandals so we can finish our errands.”
Still skeptical about her stepmother’s motives, Elizabeth ducked back into the dressing room and shoved her clothes into a bag Brenda handed her. She slipped into the blue heeled sandals and they headed for the cashier.
Brownstone: Sonny’s Office
“What time did they leave?” Sonny asked, checking his watch. “It’s almost five o’clock.”
“They left at eleven,” Ric volunteered. “Have you talked to AJ Quartermaine about the docks permit?”
Sonny nodded. “He called at about one. He’s still stalling but I’m gonna send Johnny down there tomorrow morning to change his mind.”
“That sounds like a good idea.” Ric glanced out the window that faced the street. “The limo just pulled up.”
“Good.” Sonny tossed back a bourbon. “I’ll get Mama. We’re going out for dinner. Where’s Jason?”
Ric smirked. “Helping Carly hang pictures in her room. Do you want me to get him for dinner?”
“You’d better.” Sonny glanced out at the limo but neither Brenda nor his daughter had emerged yet, though the guards were already heading towards the front door with packages. “It’s imperative that we all be seen in a public place tonight.” He frowned. “Is that…?”
Ric walked over to the window when his brother trailed off and his eyes widened with Elizabeth finally got out of the car, her once waist-length dark curly hair cut to her mid-back and styled bone straight. Her makeup was fresh and light but her eyes were done in smoky colors, highlighting her deep blue eyes. The blue sundress hugged her curves.
“When Brenda mentioned Elizabeth was going for a different image…she might have been more specific,” Ric murmured.
Sonny narrowed his eyes and flew out of the office. Ric hastily swallowed the rest of his whiskey before joining his brother.
Brenda and Elizabeth stopped dead in the middle of the foyer when they were confronted with an enraged Sonny Corinthos. “What in the hell are you wearing?” he demanded.
Elizabeth bit her lip and looked down at the dress. Suddenly all the compliments from the women at the salon and Brenda meant nothing. “You don’t like it?” she asked softly.
“You look like a hooker!”
“Sonny!” Brenda hissed.
“Sonny,” Ric said, putting a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “She looks like she’s fifteen years old. Leave her alone.”
“Go upstairs and get changed immediately,” Sonny ordered.
“What’s all the yelling about?” Jason asked, jogging down the steps. He stopped at the bottom and gaped when he saw Elizabeth. “What the hell?”
Elizabeth glanced at Brenda sharply, hurt. “I knew this was a bad idea!” she cried. She darted towards the stairs and pushed in between her father and Jason to run upstairs, her heels clicking with every step.
When he heard the door slam, Sonny sighed and looked at his wife. “Brenda, what you thinking, dressing my little girl up like that?”
“Are you kidding me?” Brenda demanded. She threw her hands up in the air. “Here’s a newsflash, you big oaf. Your little girl is fifteen years old!”
“Sonny, she looked fine,” Ric tried to tell him.
“She had all that make up on and all that skin showing–”
“She looked beautiful and it took a while to convince her of that,” Brenda spat out angrily. “Damn it, Sonny. That girl has little to no self-esteem and I’m beginning to understand why.” She glanced at the guards who had halted around them, packages in their hands. “Go store that somewhere until I can fix this,” she said, shortly. The command in her voice had them moving before they realized it and Sonny gaped.
“What the hell is going on?”
“I think that’s the question I should be asking,” Brenda said, irritated. “Where is the romantic family man you painted yourself out to be when we met in Puerto Rico, huh? Was that all an act?”
“You know what?” Ric said. “I’m going to go check on Mama. See that she’s ready for dinner. Jason, why don’t you check on Elizabeth?”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea.” The two men climbed the steps, leaving the newlyweds at the bottom.
“Go away!” she called when the knock came.
Jason opened the door anyway and just shook his head when he saw Elizabeth curled up on her window seat, her sandals kicked off. “Are you okay?”
“What does it matter?” she asked miserably. “I could try to look my age and he’ll still see me as a kid.”
“You are a kid,” Jason said, resignedly as he sat down on her bed. She glared at him.
“If you’re supposed to be in here to cheer me up, you’re doing a lousy job.”
“What’d you do to your hair?” he asked. “And your face?”
“It’s called makeup,” Elizabeth muttered. “And it’s just straightened. Brenda thought it might be a good idea. We bought a whole big bottle of the gunk in case I want to do it again.”
“You looked fine before,” Jason assured her.
“I don’t want to look fine ,” Elizabeth whispered. “I want to be beautiful. Why can’t anyone just understand that?”
“What makes you think you’re not?” Jason asked, surprised.
She shook her head. “You said it yourself. I’m a kid. Who thinks a kid is beautiful except their parents?”
“That’s not what I meant,” he replied. He moved to the window seat. “Elizabeth, you’ve got all the time in the world to look older. Why do you want to hurry it up?”
She sniffled. “Because I’m tired of being treated like I’m invisible or like I’m not capable of making my own decisions. The only time Daddy even talks to me anymore is to dictate something or yell at me. I thought if I just…changed the way I look…he might take me a little more seriously.” Elizabeth glanced at him. “I thought you might take me more seriously.”
Jason frowned and leaned back. “I take you seriously.”
Elizabeth snorted and stood. She crossed the room and turned back to him, her arms folded. “What are you smoking? You’re just a kid, Elizabeth. Stop acting like you’re five and maybe we’ll stop treating you that way. Go away, Elizabeth. Grow up, Elizabeth.” Her eyes burned with tears. “Is any of that sounding familiar?”
He stood. “I never meant to hurt you, Elizabeth.”
“That’s just another line you say,” she bit out. “I never meant to hurt you Elizabeth. You’re a great kid, Elizabeth. Why aren’t you out playing jump rope? You’re too young to like guys. You should just start recording this stuff, Jason, it might save you some breath.”
“Where is this coming from?” Jason demanded. “I thought we were friends.”
She shook her head. “You never saw me as a friend. I’m just Ric’s niece. The little pest who followed you around and the little stupid idiot who announced she was going to marry you!” Her voice got louder and more hysterical with every word until she was almost sobbing.
He took a step towards her. “Elizabeth–”
“But you will never see me that way,” she whispered brokenly. “It doesn’t matter how much I try to make you, you just don’t. You’d rather trail after bimbos like Carly with your tongue hanging out. Well, go ahead, see if I give a damn anymore.” She broke off abruptly and slammed into her small bathroom.
He knocked on the door. “Elizabeth, come out of there–”
Adela slipped in the room, hearing her granddaughter’s sobs. “Jason, go join Ric and my other foolish son in the foyer. I will see to Elizabeth.”
“Go,” Adela said again. “Shoo. Men are always saying the wrong thing when a woman is crying. It’s something on your genes. Go,” she said again, propelling him towards the door. She shut it behind him. “He’s gone.”
Elizabeth opened her bathroom door, tears streaking her eye makeup. “Oh Abuela,” she whispered, launching herself into her grandmother’s arms.
“Mi nieta,” Adela murmured, smoothing her hands over Elizabeth’s back. “It’s all right, bebé .”
“Why doesn’t he love me?” she choked out.
“He is a fool. All men are,” Adela told her. “He may come around yet.”
Abuela – grandmother
Mi nieta – my granddaughter
Bebé – baby