Luigi’s Italian Restaurant
Dinner was an almost complete disaster. Elizabeth was only speaking to her grandmother and Ric, convinced Brenda had ruined her life. Sonny and Brenda weren’t speaking, Jason was silent as usual and Adela was sending her oldest son a look that would have killed him if she could swing it.
Only Carly seemed mildly normal as she chattered on, carrying most of the conversation and looking around the restaurant.
Elizabeth was still dressed in the clothing she’d worn home, but the make up was washed clean from her face and her hair was in a messy pony tail. She once again looked eight years old.
A man a little older than Ric approached them about halfway through their dinner and Sonny scowled. “AJ. You’ve ruined my appetite.”
AJ Quartermaine laughed. “Well I heard that you’d brought your new wife and Mother insisted I come over and tell you in person that we’re issuing the permits.”
Sonny nodded. “Smart decision.” He glanced back at the table. “This is my wife, Brenda and her younger sister, Carly. This is AJ Quartermaine.”
Carly raised her eyebrows. “As in ELQ?” she asked, fluttering her eyelashes. Jason scowled when he saw Carly flirting with the young executive and was even more irritated when he saw AJ’s interested expression.
“That’s the family company, yes,” AJ said. “I’ll be taking over as CEO in January of this year.”
“Hopefully you’ll have more sense than your father,” Ric murmured.
“One would hope.” AJ shrugged. “Well, I’ll let you get back your dinner.” He smiled at Carly. “See you around.”
When he’d returned to his table, Carly grinned. “I think I’m gonna like New York.”
“You should braid your hair…don’t leave it down when you sleep.”
Elizabeth glared at Carly’s reflection in her mirror. “What do you want?”
Carly shrugged and entered the room, closing the door behind her. She took Elizabeth’s hair brush and started brushing. “I thought it would nice to assure you that you can have your little play mate back. I have no interest in Jason Morgan.”
“Elizabeth, let me let you in on a little secret.” Carly’s quick fingers started to wind the long brown waves into a tight French braid. “Beautiful women who know they’re beautiful…we use men to get what we want. I wanted my picture hung, so I flirted. I needed an ally in this house, so I flirted with Jason. But I won’t end up with a lackey of Sonny Corinthos. I’ve set my sights much higher.”
“So…you were just using him to get what you want?” Elizabeth asked. “That doesn’t seem fair.”
Carly shrugged and fastened a hair band to secure the braid. She moved away and sat on the bed. “It’s not like I’m forcing him to do anything. He chooses to do it. It’s not my fault if he’s as weak as any other man.”
“Jason’s not weak,” Elizabeth protested hotly.
Carly smiled. “Spoken like a girl in the throes of puppy love.”
Elizabeth twisted around on her vanity seat and glared at her step-aunt. “You’re not that much older than me and you couldn’t possibly understand how I feel.”
“Well, maybe you really do love him.” She shrugged again. “It doesn’t matter because he doesn’t see you as anything more than a little sister.”
Elizabeth sighed. “Yeah. I know.”
“You’re in luck though, kid, because you’re a beautiful woman too.” Carly eyed the teen. “You just have to learn how to use that.”
“I don’t think I want to,” Elizabeth said hesitantly.
“Hey, some of us don’t get ahead unless we use what we were given. And it’s not like you’re manipulating him or anything. You’re just going to…show him what he’s missing.”
“I tried that already and he just thought I looked silly,” Elizabeth said mournfully.
“Because you acted like you looked different. Tomorrow when my sister comes in here and wants to do your makeup and hair, let her. And then go downstairs to breakfast and when your father comments on your appearance…” Carly paused and opened her eyes wide, feigning innocence. “Act like you have no idea what he’s talking about…because you’ve always looked this way, you’ve always been this beautiful and well-dressed. The sooner you realize how beautiful you are, the easier it will be to make Jason see you that way.”
“So…it’s kind of like if you think you are something, then you are.”
“Yeah.” Carly stood. “I’ll even lay off of Jason if you want.”
“What did you mean that you’ve set your sights higher than Jason?” Elizabeth asked as the blonde went towards the door.
“AJ Quartermaine could use a trophy wife,” Carly murmured, her eyes lit with anticipation. “See you tomorrow, kid.”
Sonny glared at his wife as she followed Elizabeth into the room for breakfast the next morning. Elizabeth was dressed in a spaghetti-strapped black cotton tank top and a pair of tight flared jeans. Her hair was curly but was styled and her makeup was done the way it’d been done the day before.
“I thought we discussed this,” Sonny said, irritated. Elizabeth took her seat next to Ric and frowned at her father in confusion.
Carly hid her smirk behind her napkin as Sonny’s glare deepened. “Elizabeth, you will not dress that way–”
“What way?” Elizabeth interrupted. “When I left for the store yesterday, I was wearing jeans and a tank top. That didn’t seem to bother you.”
“And you will not wear makeup–”
“This is from the stuff Mama bought me before she died,” Elizabeth replied innocently. “It seemed okay with you then. Brenda just re-bought some of the brands that were dried out.”
“Elizabeth, you are only fifteen–”
“She looks a lot like I did when I was fifteen,” Brenda challenged with a cool look. “Any other smart comments, darling?”
Sonny scowled and finished his coffee. “I’m going to the warehouse. Ric, Jason?”
“We’ll be there at the normal time,” Ric said.
Sonny stormed from the room and Carly grinned. “Well done, kid.”
Brenda smirked. “I should have known. What kind of rotten advice did you give her?”
Carly’s smile only brightened. “I think me and the princess are gonna be just like sisters.” She looked at Ric. “Hey, where does AJ Quartermaine go for fun? Like social stuff.”
“Funny you should mention the Quartermaines,” Ric said. “He called early this morning. He’s having some sort of fund raiser tomorrow night and he invited the family. Asked if you would allow him to escort you.”
“Well, then you just call him back and tell him he’s more than welcome to.” Carly’s eyes lit up and she looked at her sister. “Hey, Bren…”
Brenda shook her head. “Oh…I know that look. No. You have plenty of dresses, you don’t–”
“Well, the princess here needs something,” Carly told her. “Right?”
“Actually, Elizabeth doesn’t go to these things,” Jason said. “Sonny doesn’t let her. And she hates them.”
“I’ve never been to one, so I do not hate them,” Elizabeth corrected him. “And I don’t care what Daddy says anymore. The whole family was invited.” She smiled at him. “Besides, I’m fifteen. It’s about time I get to meet guys my own age.”
Jason scowled. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Exactly what she said.” Carly stood. “Let’s go shopping. I need the perfect outfit to dazzle AJ.”
Jason smirked. “Yeah. Whatever.”
“He looked interested last night,” Elizabeth mused, her eyes twinkling. “With his tongue hanging out his mouth and all that.”
Jason narrowed his eyes and glared at her. “You know what, Elizabeth–”
“And on that note, I think we should do some shopping,” Brenda said quickly. She stood. “Elizabeth, I think white would be a good color for you. What do you think Carly?”
“She’s about the only person I know that can carry that color off with out lying,” Carly teased. “Unlike my sister who wore white at her wedding.”
Elizabeth giggled and finished her orange juice. “Well, I definitely don’t to be in white my whole life.”
Jason’s scowl deepened. “If that means what I think it does–”
“I think this conversation has ceased to include us, Jason,” Ric said. He stood and yanked his friend up from his seat. “Say goodbye.”
“Wait a second–” Jason protested as Ric pulled from the room.
Once they were gone, Adela smiled at the three women who were left at the table. “I think the three of you will do just fine.”
Elizabeth’s grin deepened. “Thanks, Abuela.” She looked at Carly. “I think it’s working.”
“I think he’s definitely jealous for some reason he’s not aware of,” Carly replied. “Now…shopping?”
“She’s sure got a one track mind,” Brenda remarked.
“Your wife’s here to see you.”
“Show her in.”
Brenda entered and sat down in the chair. “I just came from shopping with your daughter.”
“Again?” Sonny asked, irritated. “Haven’t you changed her enough?”
Brenda glared at him. “She needed something to wear to the Quartermaine benefit tomorrow.”
“We’re not going to that,” Sonny said, frowning. “Who said we were?”
“Ric did. AJ even asked to escort to my sister. We’re going. Elizabeth’s looking forward to it–”
“Even if we were going, she wouldn’t be. She’s too young.”
Brenda sighed. “Sonny, she’s fifteen. She’s a beautiful young woman and it’s time you see that.”
“Look, I’m glad you two are getting along but I wish you’d find something else to bond over–”
“Sonny, don’t you think she looks beautiful?” Brenda interrupted. “Don’t you see how happy she is when she thinks she looks better? Why can’t you just let her have that?”
“Because she’ll get older,” Sonny said defensively. “And she’s not gonna live the way I want her to. I want her to marry someone important, someone who can provide for her and treat her the way she deserves to be and she’d rather marry Jason.”
“What’s wrong with that? Jason can do all of those things,” Brenda argued. “Is that why you refuse to let her act and dress her age? Because Jason might start to look at her differently andthat wouldn’t fit in your plan?”
“Exactly,” Sonny snapped. “She’s my only child and she deserves better.”
“Don’t you think Jason would be good to her? Don’t you think he’s a good man?” Brenda asked. “You took him in, provided for him and accepted him into your family. How is that he’s not good enough for her?”
Sonny hesitated. “Because if he were to start treating her differently and something were to change in their relationship…it would screw up all of my plans.”
“What plans?” Brenda asked. “You have someone else in mind for her?” Something began to dawn in her eyes. “What was that business about Lily’s will?”
Sonny shook his head. “I’m not going to talk about this with you, Brenda.”
“Did she leave Elizabeth something?” Brenda pressed. “Something that she gets when she gets married, what?”
Sonny sighed. “When I opened the warehouse, Elizabeth was five years old. I gave Lily a percentage…you know, just in case something happened, I made sure she was taken care of.”
“That’s a wonderful gesture,” Brenda said. “And she left that to Elizabeth?”
“Elizabeth was only thirteen and all of the money is put into a trust fund. I didn’t want Lily to leave it to her. We fought over it when she made that will, and finally I thought we made some progress. Lily agreed that Elizabeth wouldn’t get money until she was twenty-five and if she were married at that point, control of the money would go to her husband.”
Startled, Brenda pressed her lips together. “You convinced her to sign away Elizabeth’s inheritance?” She gripped the arms of her chair. “And if she were to marry Jason or someone you didn’t choose for her…you know they’d probably sign the fund over to her. What, you don’t want her to have control of her own money?”
“She’s not fit to handle the massive amount of money that is already in there, much less the fortune that will be there when she’s of age. She’ll marry when she’s eighteen and her husband will take good care of her.” Sonny nodded. “It’s for the best.”
Brenda shook her head. “And I’ll bet you’ve already got someone picked out.”
“Alexander Castellano,” Sonny muttered. “I’m announcing the engagement the day she turns eighteen.”
“You can’t do that,” Brenda replied. “You can’t just pick and choose. Don’t you love her? Don’t you want her to be happy?”
“She will be happy. Alexander will treat her the way she deserves. She’s the daughter of a…” Sonny trailed off. “It doesn’t matter.”
“She’s the daughter of Sonny Corinthos, don of Brooklyn,” Brenda finished. “And you’ll be damned if she marries your right-hand man rather than a member of one of the five Families. I know who the Castellanos are, Sonny. They run Long Island and part of Staten Island, too. Alexander is the only son, isn’t he? You’ve made some sort of deal to merge the territories.” Her expression turned horrified. “You’ve bartered her like she’s some sort of contract.”
“That’s not true. I love her and this is the best thing for her–”
Brenda stood. “Then tell her the truth. Don’t lie to her.”
“She’s not ready–”
“The longer you put this off, the longer you let her believe she can change Jason’s mind, the worse it will be when you tell her that not only will she never be with him…but that you’ve already mapped out her life.” She stalked out of the office.