The next week and a half was relatively quiet—on all fronts. Elizabeth didn’t have any nightmares that woke up her in the night—but it didn’t stop her from spending a few nights with Jason. She and Jason spent virtually all their time together, growing closer.
AJ and the family returned to New York after a week. There was a crisis at the ELQ office he couldn’t ignore. They had another reunion dinner before going, but this one was more somber. They all knew the truth by that point and it was on their minds throughout the dinner. AJ promised to come for another visit in a few weeks as soon as things settled down and this time…he, Jason and Emily would pay a visit to the Quartermaine mansion. Dealing with one’s past didn’t seem to be limited to Elizabeth anymore.
Things were quiet on the territory front. A few dealers, a few prostitutes, all of which Sonny and Jason took care of while Elizabeth worked on tracking Verruchio’s movements. That, along with helping Carly plan the next Deception launch party was proving enough to exhaust Elizabeth into getting more sleep.
Elizabeth had asked Edward if he’d heard anything about the Webbers returning from Europe. Edward didn’t ask why, but he told her he hadn’t heard a thing. He told her he’d keep his ears open and let her know. Elizabeth wasn’t sure what she’d do if Jeff was returning to Port Charles, but she wanted to be prepared. Somehow, being blindsided by the news when he was already there didn’t sound conducive to keeping the nightmares at bay.
The night of the Deception launch party was upon them, and Emily and Elizabeth spent a few hours getting ready. Emily was going with Nikolas, Elizabeth with Jason. Emily was thrilled about going because Luke and Lucky Spencer had returned from their latest mission and were going to be there to support Laura. It’d been more than a year since she’d seen them. Elizabeth wasn’t as thrilled, she adored Luke but the incident when she was ten still hung in her mind where Lucky was concerned. Emily had convinced her to try and make a fresh start with him.
“Have you seen my emerald earrings, Beth?” Emily called from the entry way as she studied her reflection in the mirror. She smoothed the silk strapless emerald green dress over her hips.
“Didn’t you let Carly borrow them?” Elizabeth asked, emerging from the bathroom. She finished putting in her amethyst earrings. “She’s at the party by now.”
Emily wrinkled her nose. “Do you still have the emerald set you got from Lila?” she asked.
Elizabeth nodded, “Yeah. It’s in my room. I’ll get it.” Elizabeth disappeared back down the hall and reemerged a few minutes later with a velvet box. “Here.”
“Thanks.” Emily turned to look at her friend. “I was right—that dress looks great.”
Elizabeth looked down at the lavender velvet dress she wore. It was sleeveless with a high collar and low back. It clung tightly to her upper body, but was loose around her legs. “It’s not bad.”
Emily smirked as she fastened the emerald necklace around her neck and put the one she’d been wearing back in her own box. “Jason’s gonna forget his name.”
Elizabeth shrugged and worked on fastening a bracelet. “Jason isn’t interested in material things.”
“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate them,” Emily teased. She watched Elizabeth struggle to clasp the bracelet. “Here, let me.”
Elizabeth held her wrist out and Emily clipped it shut quickly. “You look amazing. Nikolas will probably spend a few minutes drooling at the door.”
Emily met her eyes, the green eye shadow making her blue-green eyes look a deeper shade of green. “I’m counting on it.” She grinned.
Elizabeth laughed. She checked the clock on the VCR. “They’ll be here any minute. I’m going to get my purse.”
There was a knock at the door then and Emily leaned over to open it. “Hey, Nikolas.”
Nikolas stared at her for a beat or two. “Oh, hi,” he said finally. “You look…incredible.”
Emily grinned. “Quite a difference from sweats huh?” she asked, wrapping her arms around his neck. She gave him a light kiss. “You’re looking pretty good yourself,” she said, pulling away to drink in the sight of him in a tux. He almost never wore them—except at weddings or family events.
Nikolas grinned. “I clean up well.” He looked around. “Where’s Liz?”
“Right here,” Elizabeth said, appearing again. She was transferring her wallet, lipstick, keys and gum from her standard cloth purse to the lavender evening bag. “You look nice.”
“You’re beautiful as always,” Nikolas said. “Where’s Jason?”
Elizabeth flicked her eyes to the clock. “He’ll be here any minute. You guys go ahead without me. Jason’s never late and he only lives two floors up anyway.”
“All right.” Emily grabbed a purse and blew a kiss. “See ya there, Beth.” She and Nikolas left, the door closing behind them. Elizabeth gave her makeup and hair one last check at the mirror and looked at the clock again. Jason was supposed to pick her up at seven. It was a few minutes after seven. She frowned. Jason was usually early if not on time.
She started pacing. So what if he’s late? Maybe the elevator is out of order, or maybe his zipper got stuck. It’s only a few minutes. He’s not perfect after all. Elizabeth decided not to worry until 7:20.
Which came and went with no Jason. Elizabeth couldn’t hide the sinking feeling in her stomach anymore. Something was very wrong—Jason wouldn’t just stand her up. She’d accepted that he wasn’t leaving town. So where was he?
She sat on the couch and stared at the clock ticked the minutes. At 7:45, she stood up and headed for the phone. She dialed Jason’s number quickly. His voicemail came on and Elizabeth slammed the phone down. No good. His phone wasn’t even turned on—something else that never happened around Jason. She started cracking her knuckles, worried. Some was now incredibly wrong.
Just as the clock reached 8:00, the phone rang. Elizabeth practically leapt towards the phone and snatched it up. “Jason?” she demanded.
“Liz, it’s Sonny. Get to the warehouse now.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes and tried to ignore the tears. “Where’s Jason? Is he okay? Damn it, Sonny, tell me!”
There was a pause on his end. “Come dressed sensibly. Something’s up and you can’t be wearing an evening gown.”
“I’ll be right there,” Elizabeth replied. She put the phone down and headed for her room, practically ripping the jewelry from her body.
Please let Jason be okay. Please.
Elizabeth arrived at the warehouse fifteen minutes later. The lavender dress and amethyst jewelry replaced by black jeans and a black tank top. She hadn’t wasted any time by pulling her hair out of the French twist, and she stopped only long enough to grab her handgun and load it.
By the time she had arrived, she’d gotten her emotions under control. Whatever was happening wouldn’t be helped by her tears. She was calm and in control. And hoping like hell that both Jason and Sonny would be waiting on the other side of the door.
She closed her eyes and said one last silent prayer—and opened the door.
Sonny was standing at the window that faced the water. He turned when he saw her. Her eyes darted around the room—it was empty. “Where is he?” she demanded.
“You were right,” Sonny said quietly. “It’s Verruchio behind it all.”
Her blood ran cold. “Oh my God, he’s dead isn’t he?” She wanted to scream, cry—rage at the world, but she had to remain calm.
“Not yet.” Sonny reached onto his desk and pressed play on a tape recorder.
“Mr. Corinthos, I’m sorry we couldn’t meet under more pleasant circumstances. We haven’t been introduced—I am Frank Verruchio and I have someone you’d like back. Mr. Morgan was a rather difficult man to capture, but my men are resourceful. If you haven’t him in twenty-four hours, I suggest you stop looking.”
“When was the message left?” Elizabeth asked immediately.
“An hour and a half ago,” Sonny said. “I’ve got men combing the town—no one’s heard anything and no one’s talking.”
Elizabeth snatched the phone up and started dialing.
“Who are you calling?” Sonny asked.
“Albert Chosky. Verruchio was his right hand man and probably did a few kidnappings for him. If Verruchio has a pattern, he’ll know it.”
Sonny stared at his sister as she got in quick contact with South Floridian crime boss. He was more grateful than ever that he’d taken her into the business. She had a quick mind that came up with solution that he never would have thought of it.
“Uh, huh,” Elizabeth murmured. She grabbed a pen and a pad of paper and began jotting things down. “Docks, warehouses, silencers, uh huh…okay…three guards…sure thing, I’m sure my brother won’t have a problem. Okay, thanks. Bye.” She hung the phone up. “I was right. Verruchio did seven kidnappings for Chosky—all of them the same way. He was never caught by anyone so Chosky figures he’ll stick to the same pattern.” She headed for her computer and flicked the switch. “He always sticks to abandoned warehouses on the docks. He uses seven men. Three to guard the hostage and the other four to patrol. Verruchio never leaves the hostage alone.”
Sonny nodded. “I’ll call every man in. You getting a list of warehouses?”
Elizabeth’s hands flew over the keyboard. “It’ll be ready by the time they get here.” She glanced at him. “Chosky recommends every gun have a silencer. He also gave his recommendation. Separate into groups of three and split the warehouses among the men. The work will get done more quickly.”
Sonny began dialing. “Max, it’s me. Every man must be at the warehouse in ten minutes. We’ve got a lead and we need everyone.” He hung up. “Liz, you did some good thinking. I wouldn’t have thought of calling him right away.”
Elizabeth clicked print and turned to him. “I told you I’d be invaluable.” She stood and went to the printer in the middle of the room, waiting for the pages to feed out. “I have eighteen warehouses. We’ll need fifty-three men.”
“Fifty four,” Sonny corrected. “Eighteen groups of three is fifty-four.”
Elizabeth grabbed the lists that came out. “No. Fifty-three.” Her eyes flashed. “I’m going.”
“Like hell you are,” Sonny replied. “I’m not putting you in danger.”
She slapped the papers on his desk and glared at him. “You don’t get to make that choice. That is not just a partner he has. That’s Jason. That makes it different. I am not going to lose him. And I will not sit in this office waiting for him. I am not some helpless female. I am going and you are not stopping me.”
“You’re too emotionally involved,” Sonny snapped. “You’re in love with him and you’ll make mistakes.”
“Don’t you understand?” Elizabeth cried. “I won’t make mistakes. I won’t fail. I can’t. This is too important.” She took a deep breath. “If it were Carly, what would you do?”
“Elizabeth-” Sonny stopped. “I want to make this clear. I am not happy with this decision.”
“You’d let Jason search for me wouldn’t you?” Elizabeth demanded. “Then give me that same consideration.”
“Okay.” Sonny ran his hand through his hair. “Get these lists separated. You’re going with Francis and Johnny. They’re the best.”
Elizabeth nodded and immediately set to work.
Eleven minutes later, the main room of the warehouse was filled with Sonny’s men. Elizabeth set to work quickly and divided them into eighteen groups. She gave a list to one person in every group.
When she was finished, she went to stand in her group. If Johnny and Francis or any of the other men were surprised to see the boss’s sister included, it didn’t show.
“Your orders are to search the address you’ve been given. Search it thoroughly—do not call in unless you are positive Verruchio or Morgan aren’t there,” Sonny directed. “Once you’ve been called in, you will be sent to a different warehouse.” He paused for a few seconds letting his eyes flick around the group. “If they are there, call me immediately. I will spread word to the other groups. Go in and secure the location—do not wait for the other men to arrive. I want Morgan back here as soon as possible.” He let his eyes rest on Elizabeth. Her facial expression was blank—her stance tense. He was still having reservations about sending her, but he couldn’t inflict a double standard on her. He would let Jason search for Elizabeth. “I want Verruchio alive if possible. I have a man from Florida who’s flying up personally to witness his demise. You will face seven guards if you get that warehouse. Three guarding Jason and four patrolling.” Sonny paused again. “I don’t think I need to stress how important it is that Jason comes back here alive. Go. We have less than twenty-two hours.”
Elizabeth, Johnny and Francis got into the unmarked black car and began driving the fifteen necessary minutes to their assigned warehouse. Elizabeth sat in the back and stared out the window. She was trying to remain calm—but the prospect of losing Jason for good was terrifying.
“You okay, Ms. Webber?” Francis said, glancing over his shoulder.
Elizabeth didn’t even glance away from the window. “It’s Elizabeth, Francis. And I’m fine.”
The car pulled up a hundred feet from the warehouse. Elizabeth got out of the back of the car and immediately felt her lower back to make sure her gun was still tucked in. She joined Johnny and Francis who were assessing the location.
“It’s remote,” Johnny said. “It’s the last warehouse within miles on the docks.”
Francis nodded. “Definitely the most likely.”
“Which is why I assigned it to us,” Elizabeth said quietly. She felt their eyes on her but she kept staring at the building. “I knew that it had the best chance.”
Francis and Johnny traded looks but didn’t say anything. Elizabeth finally glanced up. “Let’s circle the perimeter,” she suggested.
“Right,” Francis said. He decided not to comment on the fact that Elizabeth seemed to know exactly what she was doing. Pretty strange behavior for the boss’s sister.
They were coming around the last side of the building when they heard voices. The three of them snapped to the wall and leaned in close.
Elizabeth’s heart was racing. Jason was here! She reached behind her and pulled her handgun out. Attached to the top was a silencer. Johnny and Francis pulled their own guns out.
“I’ll look and see what’s there,” Francis breathed. He moved a few centimeters and leaned his head slightly around the corner. “Two.”
Johnny nodded and looked to Elizabeth. “Me and Francis will get them. Stay here.”
Elizabeth nodded and watched as Johnny and Francis made their quick movements. It went fast. They jumped out, each shot once and moved right back, not even waiting to see if they’d hit. After a moment, Francis leaned around again and breathed a sigh of relief. “They’re down.”
They continued around the corner to reach the fallen guards. Johnny kneeled down next to them. “They’re dead,” he said simply. “That leaves two patrolling.” He straightened. “Liz, you and Francis go look for Jason. I got the other two.”
“You sure?” Francis said. Johnny nodded.
“Let’s make this quick. Liz, call Sonny.”
Elizabeth pulled the cell phone out of her back pocket and dialed her brother’s number. A few short words and she slipped back in her pocket. “He gave the go ahead. Let’s go.”
The inside of the warehouse was divided into two floors with high ceilings. It was dark, damp and smelled like rotting fish. Elizabeth wrinkled her nose and made a silent vow to lay off seafood for a while. Johnny was going to stay down stairs while Francis and Elizabeth moved upstairs.
“If we see anyone,” Francis said as the two were inching their way up the stairs, “Shoot. Aim for the knees to knock them out. You’re good at making at the shot.”
Elizabeth gave him a humorless smile. “And you’re good at chest shots. I know.”
They reached the top of the stairs and stuck close to the wall. The hallway went into two directions. There were a few doors on either side. Elizabeth and Francis exchanged a quick glance. Without a word, they separated. Elizabeth to the left, Francis the right. Elizabeth felt the first knob turn easily. She slid the door open soundlessly. The room was empty. She crossed the hall and did the same. Another empty room. She was about to try the third door when she heard Francis.
She turned to see Francis motioning towards another door. He gestured for her to come closer. Elizabeth was careful to keep her footsteps light.
“Voices,” Francis mouthed. He leaned his mouth close to ear. “I’m going to kick the door open. Try to get as many down before they realize anything.”
Elizabeth took a deep breath and nodded. She moved to the side and Francis backed up. He raised his foot and with one sweeping motion, the door flew open.
Elizabeth jumped into the doorway, her gun raised. There were five occupants. Three dark-haired men, a blonde and Jason tied to a chair. She squeezed off five quick shots towards the dark-haired men before Francis came to her side. He fired three shots.
When they paused for a split second to access the situation, all three were down. Two were still moving.
The last man standing was staring at them. His expression was torn between amusement and shock. “What the hell-”
Elizabeth raised her gun and aimed it straight at his face. “Shut up and don’t move,” she hissed. She was desperate for a glance of Jason but she had to take care of Verruchio first. “Verruchio, I presume.”
Frank Verruchio stared at the small brunette. “You’re Corinthos’ sister,” he managed to say. Francis entered the room and slipped past Elizabeth to finish off the three guards.
Elizabeth smirked. “Your point?” she asked coolly. She was amazed at how easy it had been—how calm and in control she felt. She would gladly shoot him if it meant Jason would come safely.
Francis mimicked her aim. “Untie Jason,” he said. “I got him.”
Elizabeth nodded and turned her eyes to Jason.
Who was looking at her like he’d never seen her before. He was gagged, his feet tied to the bottom of the chair and his hands behind him. She avoided his eyes as she kneeled to untie his feet.
As she moved behind him, Johnny entered the room. “Calvary’s arrived,” he announced. “The other four guards are dead and a cleaning crew’s on its way.” He eyed Francis. “Sonny wants him alive, remember that.”
Elizabeth stood up as did Jason. Jason removed the gag and turned to look at her. “What the hell are you doing here?” he demanded.
Verruchio who’d barely said a word since they’d entered the room. “That’s what I’d like to know.”
“Shut up,” Francis ordered. He turned to Johnny. “Let’s take him to the safe house. Call some reinforcements.”
Elizabeth decided she didn’t want to answer Jason’s questions turned to Verruchio instead. “You know, for someone who was trying to take over Sonny’s territory, you’re awfully stupid. Seven men?”
He glared at her. “It’s always worked before,” he bit out.
Elizabeth smiled. “I know. That’s why I’m glad Albert told me. Such a wonderful man—more than eager to help. He told us all about your little habits.” She crossed her arms. “He’ll be meeting you at the house.”
Verruchio’s eyes went black. “He’s coming here?”
“Yep,” Francis said. Johnny reentered the room with three other men. The men grabbed Verruchio and hauled him out of the room, Francis and Johnny following with their guns trained on him.
Once they were gone, Elizabeth’s shoulders slumped. “That’s an evening I’d rather not repeat,” she said, dryly.
“And you’re not,” Jason said, his voice hard. “What the hell were you thinking? You could have been killed?”
She turned amazed eyes on him. “Are you insane?” she said. She shook her head. “No. We are not having this conversation here. Let’s go to the warehouse, Sonny’ll want to see you.”
Less than two hours after Elizabeth had left, she entered the office again. Sonny immediately pulled her into a tight embrace. “I’m glad you’re okay,” he said. He pulled away to look at Jason, “You, too.”
Jason nodded. His jaw was clenched. “What was she doing there?”
Elizabeth glared at him. “Excuse me?” she demanded. “Are we forgetting that I’m a partner here? That I get to make my own decisions? That I run my own life?”
“A silent partner,” Jason said. “You could have been killed.”
Elizabeth glared at him. Suddenly the fury that used to be present when she’d speak to Jason was back in full force. “You hypocritical jackass!” she sputtered. Sonny decided he was going to let them argue this out.
“I’m going to wait outside. When the two of you are done, we’ll go see Verruchio. Chosky will be here in a few hours.” He exited the office.
Jason ignored him. “What in the hell are you talking about?”
“If I were being held hostage, who’d be the first person trying to find me?” Elizabeth demanded, her eyes flashing.
Jason didn’t back down. “This is different-”
“The hell it is,” Elizabeth snapped. “Why? Because I’m not a man? Because I don’t have a dick I’m suddenly incapable of taking a gun and shooting someone? You know what, you son of a bitch, you’ve been gone for a long time. Just because you’ve been back less than a month, it does not mean you know everything about me!” She took a deep breath. “Ask any one of the guys I trained with. I am the third best shot, right under Francis and Zander. I know how to take care of myself. Just because I have trouble sleeping and I have nightmares, that does not remove my ability to take care of myself!”
Jason stopped. What the hell was he doing? “You’re right,” he finally.
Elizabeth stared at him. “What?”
“You’re right. I’m being a hypocrite.”
She blinked. “That was too easy.”
Jason took a deep breath and met her eyes. “When that door kicked open and I saw you—I…it hit me.”
“What hit you?” she asked, a little worried about the direction this conversation was taking. She licked her lips nervously.
His hand drifted up to her face. “How much I didn’t want to lose you.”
“I hate when you do that,” she muttered.
“I was really pissed at you,” Elizabeth said, “and now I’m not. I wanted to be pissed for a while.”
He smirked. “Sorry. Next time I’m an ass, I promise I’ll try to let you stay mad.”
“Good,” Elizabeth replied. She looked away. “Listen, I think we need to talk. There are some things I need to tell you.” She sighed. “But it’ll have to wait. We’d better go meet Sonny.”