Elizabeth shifted sleepily and snuggled closer to Jason. She didn’t want to wake up and find out that last night had been a dream. She wanted to believe that she’d admitted she was ready to be with him and that she’d wanted to make love with him.
And if it was a dream…well, Elizabeth would rather have a dream like that rather than ones that usually occupied her time.
As she became more aware of her surroundings, she realized that she was, in fact, naked. Her face flushed as she realized that he was, too. She smiled. So it had been real.
She’d heard so often that the first time hurt that she’d come to expect it—but other than a few moments, she hadn’t felt it. Jason had been so gentle and sweet…she almost couldn’t believe it. They had to go slow—Jason’s ribs were a little sore from the previous night.
Elizabeth opened her eyes slightly. The sunlight was streaming through the window—it was Saturday morning. She smiled. She’d never been so thrilled for a morning before. But today…today she was starting a new chapter in her life. She was going to put her past behind her and concentrate on the life at hand. On her job at Deception and her partnership with Sonny and Jason, on her friendship with Emily, AJ and Jason, on her family, on her writing…and on her relationship with Jason.
She’d never fully forget about her childhood—she wasn’t naïve enough to think that. But she wanted to forget the hold it had on her. Last night, she’d proved to herself that Jeff Webber would never be able to hurt her again. If and when he ever came back, she wouldn’t be the terrified emotionally and physically abused girl he’d left. She’d be a strong woman who had had to fight and claw her way back to life.
She wasn’t alone anymore—he could never hide the truth again. He’d never be able to look at Emily or AJ again without their knowing exactly who he was. And he’d never able to tell her Jason was going to leave her.
Because she knew without a doubt, that Jason wouldn’t leave her. Maybe he wasn’t in love with her yet, but Elizabeth trusted him with her life. She knew he’d never hurt her and it was only a matter of time before everyone knew exactly how happy she was.
She knew that she’d done most of the work herself—she was finally able to accept that. But she couldn’t deny that she’d had to motivation this time. She’d had a reason to let go, to finally move past the terror her father had put her through. Jason was her reason—and she didn’t care that she depended on his very presence in her life so she could breathe. She was in love with him and that something her father could never touch.
“I love you,” she whispered. She jumped when she felt Jason’s hand in her hair.
“I love you, too,” he said quietly.
She raised her head to look at him. “Really?” she said, eagerly.
Jason nodded, “Yeah.” He used his hand tangled in her hair to pull her closer to him. He kissed her softly. “I love you.”
Elizabeth bit her lip, blinking back tears. “I love you,” she repeated. “I don’t think I ever get tired of telling you.”
His hand drifted across her cheekbone. “I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing it.”
Elizabeth laid her head back down and pressed a quick kiss to his chest. “You are by far the most beautiful person I’ve ever known,” she whispered. “I’ve never known someone who thinks of other people before himself…who lets people be exactly who they are without holding them back.” She looked up to meet his eyes. “And I can’t believe how lucky I am to be someone who gets to see that side of you.”
“You’re beautiful,” he said, running his fingers down her bare back, sending shivers through Elizabeth’s body. “You’re strong and you take control of your life. You could have done this without me and you would have been fine. I’m just glad you let me in.”
She smiled, her eyes watery. “That makes two of us,” she whispered, leaning down to kiss him.
Emily stretched and—rolled off the couch. Several moments she later, she sat up, cursing. “This is ridiculous.” She looked up at Nikolas who was still sleeping peacefully. “Get up.”
Nikolas groaned. “No.”
She poked him. “Up, Cassadine.”
He sleepily opened one eye. “Whatcha doin’ down there?” he asked groggily.
She glared at him. “I fell. If I have to be awake, so do you.”
Nikolas sat up. “I need some coffee.”
Emily stood. “I’m going to see if Beth came home. Make some coffee.”
Nikolas stood and headed for the kitchen. “I’m only doing what you told me to because I want coffee.”
“Yeah, you keep believing that,” Emily called, smirking. She knocked on Elizabeth’s door. “Beth? Beth?” She frowned and slid it open. Her eyebrows nearly shot through the roof as she saw Elizabeth’s lavender dress thrown carelessly over bottom of the iron bed frame. Her jewelry—which Emily knew was expensive—was haphazardly decorating her nightstand. One of Elizabeth’s dresser drawers was left open and it was out so far it had tilted and hit the ground.
Emily surveyed the scene and decided that Elizabeth had had to somewhere in a hurry—and where ever it was, it kept her from the Deception party. But it kept Sonny and Jason, too.
“Oh, God,” she whispered. She spun around and darted down the hall. Not caring that she was only dressed in Nikolas’s dress shirt or that her makeup was probably all over her face, she ran straight into the hall and headed for the elevators.
At the same time, Carly shot up and groaned. “Oh, no.”
Sonny sat up in bed and stared at her. “What?”
“I didn’t tell Emily Elizabeth was okay.” Carly threw her legs over the side of the bed and grabbed her robe. “She’s going to be so worried. She’s gonna hurt me and so is Elizabeth.”
She hurriedly tied the robe and left the room.
Sonny slumped back into bed. Carly was a hurricane sometimes—you weren’t sure quite when it would hit and sometimes it would be nice and calm and you’d think you were in the clear—but when it came down to it, when a hurricane got going…you got out of its way.
Carly made it to the elevator just as Emily dashed out it. “Whoa!” she said, as Emily crashed into her.
“Carly!” Emily focused. “Beth–Jason—”
“They’re fine,” Carly said. “Sonny called from the warehouse—I was supposed to tell you last night, but you and Nikolas left before I could find you and then I tried to call you—but Sonny came home and I was so glad to see him, we went upstairs—” Carly broke off. “I am so sorry!”
Emily took a deep breath. “Everyone’s okay.”
Carly nodded. “From what Sonny tells me, definitely.” She grinned. “They went to Jason’s to finish a conversation.”
“A conversation?” Emily’s face lit up. “Do you think…?”
Carly shrugged. “I don’t know. Let’s not get our hopes up.” She grinned. “Now, from the looks of you, you got yourself a fine young man down stairs.”
Emily looked down at the messily buttoned shirt and flushed. “He’s making coffee. I’d better go.”
“I’m glad I caught you before you went to the penthouse,” Carly said. “Don’t tell Liz I didn’t tell you.” She grimaced. “She’ll hurt me.”
Emily made a motion as if she was zipping her lips shut. “My lips are sealed.” She pushed the button for the elevator. “See ya.”
Carly reentered the apartment, whistling. Sonny was making his way down the steps. “I take it everything’s fine.”
“Everything’s great,” Carly said happily. “Jason and Liz finished a conversation last night and she’s still not home. I caught Emily before she went to the penthouse and I’m also starving, so get cooking.”
Sonny just laughed and headed for the kitchen.
Hours passed as Emily waited impatiently for Elizabeth to get home. After eating breakfast with Nikolas, she’d kicked him out and gotten showered. She was going to sit Elizabeth down and demanded to know everything that was going on. She even had a list of questions. Did she work for Sonny? And Emily meant work in the most liberal of terms. What conversation was Carly talking about? Were she and Jason together? Was Elizabeth in love with Jason? Had they done the nasty?
Emily sat on the couch, legs and arms crossed. She stared at the door, willing to open. By now she was used to Elizabeth not being here when she woke up—she’d spent a good many nights at Jason’s. But until now Emily had assumed they were strictly platonic—hadn’t wanted to think anything else. She was afraid she’d get her hopes up.
AJ had called after she’d sent Nikolas home. He’d cleared his schedule and was returning in a week. She desperately wanted some good news for him. Emily knew that his conversation with Elizabeth had helped to clear up quite a bit of guilt for him—but AJ would never forgive himself until he saw Jason happy. And Emily wanted Jason happy as well.
It was early afternoon when the door finally opened. Elizabeth entered, wearing a black tank top and black jeans. Her hair was messy, but her face was clean—of any makeup, Emily noted. She must have had time to wash her face. She looked tired—but…she looked…peaceful.
Emily shot to her feet. “You did it.”
Elizabeth closed the door behind her. “What?”
“You’re happy. You and Jason slept together!” Emily squealed.
“We always sleep together,” Elizabeth replied amused. She dropped her keys on the table. “I am so tired.”
“Tired…” Emily trailed off grinning. “You and my brother did the nasty, didn’t you?”
Emily’s smile fell from her face. “Elizabeth Imogene Webber. Sit,” she commanded pointing to the couch.
“You okay?” Elizabeth eyed her. “You’re not sick right?”
“You, my friend, are going to answer some questions for me. So sit.”
Elizabeth shrugged and sat. “Shoot.”
“We’ll start with the easy questions,” Emily said. She stood directly in front of her friend and crossed her arms. “What happened with you and Jason?”
Elizabeth smiled happily. “I love him.”
Emily blinked. “What?” She uncrossed her arms and sat next to her. “You love him? Did you tell him?”
“Yeah. This morning. I thought he was asleep so I let it slip.” Elizabeth sighed. “And he said he loved me, too.”
Emily considered jumping up and down in excitement. She considered calling Carly. She considered making the trek to New York just to high-five AJ. But she was twenty-one years old. She was a mature woman with manners and decorum.
She settled for squealing and hugging her friend for about five minutes. When she pulled away, “Anything else?”
“Emily, I’m not going to tell you everything about my relationship with your brother,” Elizabeth said exasperated. “He’s your brother.”
“Well, yes, and I’ll admit, hearing details might be painful.” Emily grinned. “But I’ll get used to it. Spill.”
Elizabeth bit her lip. “Em-”
“Did you do the nasty?” Emily demanded.
Elizabeth started laughing. “The nasty?” she echoed. “Do I want to know?”
Emily glared at her. “Don’t avoid the question.”
Elizabeth shook her head, amused. “Oh, Em.”
“Do not ‘Oh, Em’ me,” Emily said. “I’m your best friend. I told you when I made love with Nikolas.”
Elizabeth sighed. “You’re right—you did. And you deserve the same courtesy.” She took a deep breath. “Did you feel like…you finally got something right? Like it was the most natural thing in the world?”
Emily’s eyes softened. “Yeah. Being with Nikolas…being each other’s firsts…god, Beth, it felt incredible—like everything in my life had been leading up to that moment.”
“I know Jason’s been with other women,” Elizabeth said, her face flushed, “but you know I’ve never slept with anyone. He was so good to me, Em.”
Emily smiled. “I guess it wasn’t that bad.”
“That bad?” Elizabeth asked. Her jaw dropped. “My god, Em, I know he’s your brother but have you ever stopped to think that he’s the most gorgeous man on Earth?”
“Well…no,” Emily wrinkled her nose. “But he’s not bad.”
“It was incredible,” Elizabeth said. “He made me feel like the only woman on the planet—like there was no one else in the world but the two of us.”
Emily sighed happily. “Good. That’s exactly how you should feel when you’re with the man you love.” Her face sobered. “Do you think he’s it?”
Elizabeth hesitated. “Well…” she looked away. “Yeah.”
Emily frowned. “You don’t sound happy about the idea.”
Elizabeth turned back. “Well…what if he doesn’t feel that way? I mean, yeah, he said he loves me. But love doesn’t last forever—not for everyone.”
“Beth, when my brother loves…he loves with everything in him,” Emily said quietly. “There’s no way this is a temporary thing. You should see the way his face lights up when you enter a room. I don’t even know if he’s realized it, but he’s so happy when you’re around.”
Elizabeth gave a little smile. “Really?”
“Yeah,” Emily nodded. “And you know what? You’re the same way. You guys have something—something Carly and I saw before the truce. We both see something and we’ve never been wrong. Grandmother thinks you’re perfect for Jason and she got AJ and Court together.”
Elizabeth grinned. “I’ve got Lila’s approval? I’ve got nothing to lose.”
Emily nodded, knowingly. “She told me herself she saw it. Anyway, you’ve answered all questions except the last one.” She frowned. “Do you work for Sonny?”
Elizabeth tensed. “I do some research sometimes.”
Emily shook her head. “I’m not stupid, Beth. I know you have a gun. You didn’t show up at the party because something was happening—Jason and Sonny weren’t there either. And you’re almost always at the warehouse. You can trust me—I won’t tell a soul, honest.”
Elizabeth hesitated. “You promise you won’t get mad?” she asked.
Emily nodded. “Promise.”
“Okay.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I’m an equal silent partner in all of Sonny’s businesses. The hotel, the coffee warehouse…and the other thing.”
Emily’s eyes widened. “Equal partner?” she asked, in a hushed tone. “My god. You, Sonny and Jason are equal partners.”
Elizabeth nodded solemnly. “And after graduation in two years, Sonny’s going to make the official announcement.”
Emily sat back and blinked. “I didn’t quite expect this,” she said.
Elizabeth sighed. “You’re mad.”
“No. Just surprised.” Emily frowned. “You can’t tell me what happened last night can you?”
Elizabeth shook her head. “No.”
“I figured. Carly know?”
“No. Just me, Sonny, Jason and you. The men don’t even know.”
Emily clasped her hands together and studied her nails, “All right.”
“You’re okay with that?”
Emily sighed. “It’s your life, Beth. You make your own decisions—no one can tell you what to do.”
Elizabeth nodded. “Taking the classes…in self-defense, it’s helped, Em. I’ll never have to worry about my father again.”
Emily glanced sharply. “That’s why you’re doing this.”
“What?” Elizabeth asked, taken aback.
“You’re involved because you want to make sure Jeff Webber will never cross you again. So you’ll never have to be afraid.”
Elizabeth looked away. “I just hated feeling helpless.”
Emily sighed. “Well, now I really have to accept this because I don’t blame you. I even understand.”
“Really?” Elizabeth asked, hopefully.
“Yeah. Just…promise me you’ll take care of yourself,” Emily said.
Elizabeth nodded. “Not a problem.”