Brownstone: Sonny’s Office
“I want to make this clear that I am only letting her go because Alexander Castellano will be in attendance and I think it’s for the best that she meet him,” Sonny announced, pouring himself a bourbon.
“So why do I have to go again?” Jason asked.
“Because I will be busy introducing my new wife to everyone and someone will have to keep an eye on my daughter,” Sonny told him. “She’s young, she’s impressionable and this is her first social event. So, don’t let her leave the party with anyone.”
He looked at his brother. “You and Faith are doing divide and conquer on Daniel Vega and his wife. Charm them, kiss up to them–I don’t care what you have to do, but we’re going to need his influence with the congressman in this district, okay?”
“Think your little viper can handle being sweet?” Jason mocked. Ric narrowed his eyes.
“Think you can handle your newest bimbo dumping you for someone richer?”
“Are you two finished?” Sonny asked. He checked the clock on the corner of his desk. “The girls should be ready, so let’s get this over with.”
“Adela, you are not going to believe your eyes,” Brenda boasted, pulling her white silk wrap more tightly around her shoulders. Her dark eyes glittered with excitement. “She looks absolutely incredible.”
“She always looks beautiful,” Adela said indulgingly. She’d adored her first daughter-in-law, Lily but after only a few days, Brenda was fast earning a special place in her heart. When she’d first took Elizabeth shopping, Adela had assumed she was trying to look good in her husband’s eyes, but then she’d argued bitterly with Michael over Elizabeth’s new appearance and she could still feel the tension between the newlyweds.
“Well, of course,” Brenda laughed, “but I swear tonight, she is going to blow everyone away.”
“I hope she’s not wearing anything too revealing,” Sonny said coming up from behind his wife and brushing a soft kiss on Brenda’s bare shoulder. “But you look breathtaking.”
Brenda smoothed her hands over her hips and adjusted the top of her strapless silk black dress. “Don’t worry. Elizabeth is dressed as a fifteen-year-old should dress.”
“Where is she?” Carly asked. She glanced towards the door. “AJ will be here to pick me up and I want to see how she looks.”
“You do?” Brenda asked curiously.
“I care about people other than myself,” Carly said defensively. She peered into the hallway mirror to make sure her French twist was still tightly done. “I helped her do her hair remember?”
“I’ll go get her,” Adela said.
Adela knocked softly before pushing the door open. Her granddaughter was standing in front of her full-length mirror, peering at herself in the mirror. Her long curls hung down her back. Some spots seemed to shimmer a little every time Elizabeth breathed.
“Mi niete,” Adela sighed. “They’re waiting for you.”
Elizabeth turned and Adela sighed in relief. The dress they’d bought was indeed something that would pass Sonny’s muster. It was dark blue silk with wide straps. It clung to her curves but it was long–coming to her mid calves. Her hair in the front was twisted away from her face. The makeup was just a bit darker than it’d been that morning. Her skin seemed to glow a little.
“Do I look stupid?” Elizabeth asked, hesitantly. She twisted her hands. “Because I’m not really used to all this and I’m really scared that I’m just going to make a fool of myself tonight.” She sighed and looked back to her reflection. “Maybe I should just stay home.”
“You look beautiful,” her grandmother assured her. “And you will be fine.”
“I don’t know, Abuela,” Elizabeth shook her head. “I really think that I’m just being stupid about this whole thing. What’s the use of waiting around for him to notice me?”
“You seemed fine this morning.”
“It was different,” Elizabeth murmured.
There was a knock on the already open door and a tuxedo-clad Jason pushed it open further. “AJ’s here and Carly refuses to–” he stopped abruptly when Elizabeth looked at him. He blinked. “Elizabeth?”
She bit her lip. “I look stupid don’t I?” she asked softly.
Jason shook his head. “No. Not at all.” He swallowed hard. “You look…beautiful.”
Elizabeth’s cheeks flushed and she looked away. “Thanks.”
He held his hand out. “Come on. Carly’s refusing to leave until she sees you.”
She smiled and slipped her hand into his, letting him lead her out of the room. “Goodbye,Abuela!” she called.
The Quartermaine Estate: Ballroom
The Corinthos party entered the ball room just after AJ and Carly and immediately separated. Ric spotted Daniel Vega and his wife Cristina across the room and tugged Faith in that direction. Sonny kissed Elizabeth on the cheek, gave Jason a warning look before steering Brenda towards Alan and Monica Quartermaine, AJ’s parents.
“So, what are we supposed to do?” Elizabeth asked nervously. She smoothed her hands over her dress again as if ironing out some sort of wrinkle. Her eyes darted around the large room, drinking every detail from the lavish chandelier to the orchestra set up at the far end of the room to the many whirling couples on the dance floor.
“I don’t know. I usually can talk Sonny out of making me come to these things,” Jason told her. He saw Alexander Castellano out of the corner of his eye and despite Sonny’s directions to introduce the two, Jason stepped into Alexander’s line of sight, blocking his view to Elizabeth. “Let’s dance,” he said brusquely.
Elizabeth raised her eyebrows but didn’t have a chance to protest as Jason grabbed her hand and led her towards the dance floor–in the opposite direction of the eighteen-year-old heir to Staten Island and Long Island.
After glancing at the couples around them, Elizabeth mimicked their positions, putting on hand on Jason’s shoulder and leaving her other in his hand. He put his free hand around her waist. “You know how to dance?” Elizabeth asked surprised.
“How hard can it be?” Jason asked even as he stepped on her feet. She winced and glared at him. “Look, let me lead and we’ll be fine.”
“I am letting you lead,” she grumbled. “At least I think am. What does leading mean, anyway?”
“I don’t know. I saw it in a movie once,” Jason replied. He stepped on her foot again and she suppressed the urge to kick him.
“What is with you?” she demanded. “You’re acting all weird. I figured you’d make a beeline for Carly as soon as we got here.” She narrowed her eyes. “My father is making you do this, isn’t he?”
He was too busy concentrating on avoiding her feet and he missed every word she said. “What’s that?”
“Daddy. He told you to stay with me to make sure I stay out of trouble didn’t he?” Elizabeth asked again.
“He might have said something to that effect,” Jason admitted.
“Ow!” Elizabeth hissed. “Damn it, watch where you’re putting your feet, will you?”
“Sorry,” he apologized. “Look, it’s your first time at one of these things–he didn’t want anyone taking advantage of you.”
“Of course, because little Elizabeth is incapable of using her brains to take care of herself,” Elizabeth snapped. “Why should we treat her like she’s fifteen years old and not five?”
“Elizabeth, no one is trying to hurt you,” he attempted to explain.
She pushed him away abruptly and glared at him. “Sure as hell could have fooled me.” She turned around and stalked away, disappearing in the crowd.
Cursing under his breath, Jason followed her, making sure to keep Alexander Castellano in his line of sight the whole time.
Across the Room
“AJ mentioned you’d done some modeling,” Monica inquired. She smiled graciously. “Would I recognize you from anywhere?”
Brenda shook her head. “I worked mostly overseas–just as a way to support myself and my sister.”
“And your sister is the delightful girl who seems to have captured my son’s eye?” Monica asked.
Brenda smiled, spotting her sister chatting with AJ a few feet away. She was surrounded by several other highly-placed members of New York society. Her eyes were lit up, her face animated…it was the happiest Brenda had seen her sister in ages.
“Carly is my sister, yes and just between you and me, AJ’s caught her eye as well,” Brenda confided.
Monica laughed and eyed her husband who was a few feet away with Sonny and some other men in the business. “Your marriage to Sonny was sudden–we didn’t expect to him to marry again after he lost Lily.”
“I’ve heard such wonderful things about her,” Brenda remarked honestly. “Elizabeth adored her.”
“Lily idolized that girl,” Monica divulged. “Her whole life was Elizabeth, because well, she couldn’t have any more children. I’ve never seen a mother who loved her child more. Poor Elizabeth was more devastated than anyone else when Lily was diagnosed with cancer.” Monica smiled. “I saw her come in with you. She looks so beautiful–so much like her mother.”
Brenda smiled. “It was a challenge to convince Sonny his baby wasn’t ten years old anymore, but I think we’re making headway.”
“When she marries Jason, that should make everything complete,” Monica said. “That was always Lily’s dream, you know.”
“Really,” Brenda murmured. “And everyone knew this?’
“Of course. Everyone expects it. Jason’s not being groomed to take over like Ric was but marrying Sonny’s only daughter will cement his position in the organization. For him, it’s a matter of necessity. He can’t ever hope to fully gain trust in this world until he does something to prove it.”
“Did Lily ever talk to Jason about this?”
Monica shook her head. “Oh, no. Lily was the eternal optimist. She was so sure that Jason would fall in love with Elizabeth that she agreed to that codicil in her will.”
“You know about that?” Brenda asked, startled.
“Lily and I were quite close,” Monica revealed. “She fought against Sonny’s wishes to turn the inheritance over to Elizabeth’s husband but in the end, she believed so strongly that Elizabeth would marry Jason, she knew he’d sign it over to her in a heartbeat.”
“Yes, he would,” Brenda replied. “So, this expectation…people don’t generally speak about it, do they?”
“Well…no,” Monica admitted, “but we assume it’s going to happen and well…of course, Sonny knows what it would mean for Jason’s future.”
Brenda’s eyes found her husband and they narrowed thoughtfully. “I’m sure he does.”
“Damn it, Elizabeth, wait a second,” Jason called as he jogged after her rapidly disappearing form. She yanked a glass door open and disappeared outside. “I’m going to kill her,” he muttered before following her into the gardens.
“Why can’t you just leave me alone?” Elizabeth demanded, hearing his footfalls behind her. She whirled her and jabbed a finger in his direction. “Do you get off on hurting me?”
“Hurting you…” Jason repeated, startled. “What the hell did I do this time?”
Her eyes burned with tears, her cheeks flaming with the heat of embarrassment. How was she supposed to explain to him that for one moment out on the dance floor, she’d actually entertained the unbelievably idiotic thought that maybe he really did want to dance with her? “It doesn’t matter,” she whispered. She turned and faced the rose bushes. “Just go away.”
He sighed and stepped towards her, his hands brushing the tops of her bare shoulders. “Elizabeth, you have to believe me when I say the last thing I want to do is hurt you.”
She shook her head sharply, her hair brushing the sides of his arms, leaving tiny trails of glitter on his skin. “You don’t understand,” she said softly.
“Of course I understand,” Jason protested. “I know what kinds of feelings you have–”
“You don’t know!” Elizabeth accused, turning abruptly and shoving him away. She glared at him. “Don’t dare trivialize the way I feel by pretending it’s some stupid little girl crush!”
“You might think it’s more–” Jason attempted again.
“I don’t think, I know,” she cut in. “I know exactly how I feel although there are many times I wish I didn’t.”
“Didn’t know or didn’t feel?” he asked a little startled by the direction in the conversation.
“I wish I didn’t have these feelings,” she whispered. She met his eyes briefly before looking away. “Because it causes me nothing but pain.”
“I’m sorry,” Jason apologized. “I just don’t feel the same–”
“Because you’ve never let yourself,” Elizabeth interrupted. “Because I’m firmly in the little sister category and you won’t let yourself move me.”
He shook his head. “No. I feel that way because–” Jason stopped speaking abruptly as she suddenly jerked his head down to hers and kissed him.