Elizabeth walked hesitantly up to the gates that led to the Webber Estate. She wasn’t sure exactly why she was here—it wasn’t to talk to Jeff, that was for sure. After what had happened yesterday, she knew she wasn’t ready for that.
She felt horrible about what she was doing to Jason. The look on his face when she mentioned leaving—she’d do anything to take the hurt look away. But she couldn’t help it—the mere sight of Jeff Webber terrified her to the very core. To exist in the same town with him…it was something Elizabeth didn’t know if she was ready for.
She knew she was strong—she had made it through the last five years by herself. But she couldn’t control herself when Jeff was around. Sure, with Jason standing right next to her, she was able to stand up to him a little. But…when Jason wasn’t there and she was by herself, Elizabeth knew….she just knew that she wouldn’t be that strong. She’d cower, she’d shrink back…she’d fall into her old routine.
And everything in her was just screaming to get away from him. Even now, standing in front of the house she’d lived in for eighteen years…she wanted to turn and run.
But she couldn’t. She had to stand here and fight this. She didn’t want to leave—she wanted to stay—with Jason. With Carly and Sonny. With Emily. She wanted to be the strong person she’d been before. The woman who’d stared Frank Verruchio in the face and laughed. Who’d kicked doors in and shot men to keep Jason safe. She briefly wondered if maybe she’d left that woman at the safe house.
Elizabeth closed her eyes and begged the memories to stay away. She didn’t want to hear his voice and she didn’t want to feel his hands. She heard a twig snap and she whirled around. She backed up until the gate was at her back. She was cornered.
And Jeff Webber was standing in front of her, a sneer on his face.
“Well, Lizzie. Here to see your mother?”
Mutely, Elizabeth shook her head. She could feel the violent trembling that seemed to control her when Jeff was within fifty feet.
Jeff took a step closer. “Where’s your little body guard?” He came closer and closer. Elizabeth willed herself to move. To run! But her mind was frozen in fear. “Not here, is he?”
“Please, leave me alone,” Elizabeth whispered, trying back up. The bars of the gates were digging into her back. Jeff was close enough for her to feel his breath.
Jeff grabbed her arm and jerked her away from the fence. She went sprawling onto the ground. Instinct kicked in and she began to crawl away frantically. He grabbed her ankle and dragged her back.
“Stop!” she cried. He flipped her over, and kneeled next to her.
“You know what, Lizzie?” Jeff asked, leaning down close to her. He wrapped his hand around her pale and slender throat. Her eyes widened as his hand tightened. “I could kill you right now. Do you know how easy this would be?”
Elizabeth brought her hands up to claw frantically at his hands as she started to feel dizzy.
“And no one would miss you…no one cares about you, Lizzie. And the last face you’ll ever see is mine.”
Suddenly, Elizabeth sat straight up and began screaming. Her hands flew to her throat. She could still feel his hands. And she was still screaming.
She was still screaming when Johnny burst into Jason’s penthouse; when Carly and Sonny rushed in. She was still screaming as Sonny knelt beside her. He took her by her shoulders and tried to get to focus.
But Elizabeth didn’t hear any of them. She didn’t see any of them. All she could see was Jeff Webber’s face. All she could hear was Jeff Webber’s voice.
And all she could feel was Jeff Webber’s hands around her throat.
She was kept screaming until her voice was too hoarse to continue. And still, her mouth was open in a silent scream. Tears streamed down her face. And her hands were still clutching her throat. She was digging at it, trying to get Jeff to let go.
Carly was almost hysterical herself and nearly didn’t hear Sonny’s command to call 911 and find Jason. She called 911. And then she tried Jason’s cell phone. He was at the Quartermaines and said he’d meet them at the hospital. Carly called Emily, but she was out. She left a message on her cell.
Elizabeth was still digging at her throat, her mouth open in a silent scream, her eyes glazed over.
And all Carly wanted to do was grab a shotgun and hunt Jeff Webber down.
The elevator doors couldn’t open fast enough for Jason. Before they were even open all the way, he was halfway down the hall towards the emergency room. Carly and Sonny were in the waiting room.
“Where is she? What’s happened?” Jason demanded, out of breath. He’d run from the parking lot all the way here.
Carly was shaking. “She was screaming so bad,” she whispered. She looked to Sonny. “I’ve never heard anything like that. She wouldn’t stop screaming.”
Sonny cleared his throat. “She had another nightmare. She was so loud that we heard her over in the next penthouse.”
Jason sat down and put his head in his hands. “I shouldn’t have left her alone. I thought…I thought I’d be back before she woke up. She’d been asleep all day, not one nightmare. Not since yesterday.”
“It’s not your fault,” Carly said, quietly, putting an around his shoulders. “You know that right?”
“I was at the Quartermaines…” Jason raised his head and looked at Sonny. “When we saw Jeff yesterday, he accused her of lying. And it got me thinking…if Elizabeth ever goes public with this, she’ll need people backing her up. And if my grandparents are on her side, he can’t very well call her a liar.”
“It’s a good idea,” Carly said, faintly.
“My grandfather…he does know.” Jason rubbed his eyes. “He never said anything—but he saw Jeff hitting her once. He knew, but there wasn’t much he could do.”
Dr. Scanlon came out from behind a curtain. “Mr. Corinthos?”
Sonny sprang to his feet, Carly and Jason following suit. “Is she okay?”
“We have her heavily sedated,” Dr. Scanlon replied. “We had to bandage her throat, but she’s all right. She’s sleeping now.”
Sonny breathed a sigh of relief while Jason looked bewildered. “Bandage her throat?”
“She was scratching at it,” Carly said quietly. “Like she had someone’s hands around her throat.”
“Can we take her home?” Sonny asked urgently.
Dr. Scanlon nodded. “I’d recommend she make an appointment to see Gail Baldwin or Kevin Collins. She was hard to calm down.” He took a deep breath. “Do your best to keep her calm. Avoid stress.”
“Avoid stress,” Carly muttered as Jason carried Elizabeth into Sonny’s penthouse. “Like that’s possible.”
“The guest room,” Sonny said to Jason who headed up the stairs. He turned to Carly. “That’s why she’s staying here. With Johnny on the door, no one gets in so if Jeff Webber finds her, he can’t touch her. Not to mention, someone is always going to be here.”
Carly hugged herself. “She said she wanted to leave Port Charles, Sonny. Maybe…” she paused. “As much as I want to tell her to stay and fight…” She looked to Sonny. “Maybe she’d be happier somewhere else.”
Jason laid Elizabeth gently on the bed and pulled the covers over her. He couldn’t tear his eyes from the white bandages that adorned her throat. He wanted to find Jeff Webber and squeeze the life out of the monster. But it wouldn’t solve any thing.
He took her hand and held it tightly. “I am so sorry that I wasn’t there. I told you I’d protect you—but I don’t know how to do it anymore. I know you think running is going help this….but you can’t leave. You can’t leave me. We just found each other—and you can’t do that.”
He kissed the inside of her palm and sighed. If Elizabeth left town, he’d follow her. He was sure of that now.
There was a knock at the door. Jason reluctantly let go of Elizabeth’s hand and stood to open the door. Emily’s tear streaked face stood in front of him. “Is she okay?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Jason said, opening the door. “It was a bad one, Em.”
Emily looked at Elizabeth’s still form and bandaged throat. “Oh, Jesus, Jason. What are we going to do?”
Jason shook his head slowly. “I don’t know, Emily. I have no idea.”
Elizabeth rolled over in bed and opened her eyes slowly. Her vision was blurry and she couldn’t speak through the scratchiness of her throat. She vaguely made out a passed out Jason on the chair next to her.
She sat up and blinked a few times. When she’d gone to sleep, she hadn’t been in the guest room of Sonny’s penthouse. She’d been on the couch at Jason’s. She felt something on her throat and her hand flew up to investigate. She had a bandage covering most of it.
She rubbed her eyes. She must have had another nightmare—it had probably been a bad one.
Elizabeth swung her legs over the side of the bed and rolled her shoulders, trying to work the kinks out. She crept out of the room slowly as to not disturb Jason.
Carly and Emily were sitting down stairs when Elizabeth came down. They were on the couch, conversing quietly but when they heard her steps they turned.
“Hey,” Carly said with false cheeriness. “Look who’s up?”
Elizabeth didn’t say anything until she seated herself on the opposite couch. “What happened?”
“Listen, Liz, you don’t—”
“What happened?” Elizabeth repeated, cutting Carly off.
Carly and Emily exchanged glances and Carly sighed. “You were screaming. We heard you clear over here…Johnny burst into Jason’s and we were right behind him. We couldn’t calm you down. You…you just kept screaming and crying and digging out your throat.”
Without thinking, Elizabeth’s hand flew up to cover the bandage. “I went to the hospital again, didn’t I?”
Carly nodded miserably. “Yeah. Jason was so upset with himself for not being there. Is he still asleep?”
Elizabeth nodded numbly. She couldn’t do this anymore. “I’m never going to get over this, am I?” she whispered.
Emily desperately wanted to say she would, but she knew she couldn’t. She exchanged a helpless glance with Carly. “Beth—”
“It’s never going to be over,” Elizabeth continued quietly, her voice thick. “I’m going to hear him the rest of my life.” She stood abruptly. “I have to get out of here.”
Carly stood. “You know what? Me, too. Let’s go out to dinner.”
Elizabeth shook her head, vehemently. “I need to leave town. I can’t be in the same place as him—I can’t. I need—”
“Liz, please,” Carly said, but Elizabeth was working herself up to a point of hysteria.
“I can’t be here. I have to go, Carly, don’t you understand? He can find me. He can haunt me—it’s never going to be over. I need to go!”
“Beth—” Emily tried to cut in.
Elizabeth was trembling. “It’s not fair to you. To any of you. To wonder the next time you’re going to have to calm me down or take me to the hospital.” She looked up to the ceiling. “I have to leave—I can’t keep doing this. I love you too much. I’m ruining your lives…don’t you see?”
“Elizabeth,” Carly said, putting her hands on her shoulders. Elizabeth shrugged out of her grasp and moved across the room.
“And what about what I’m doing to Jason?” she whispered, more to herself than anyone else. “What kind of life am I confining him to? Baby-sitting me? That’s not fair to him—”
“You don’t get to decide that,” Emily cut in.
“Yes, I do.” Elizabeth turned. “I have to leave—don’t you understand? I have to!”
“Don’t run because you’re scared!” Carly said, desperately. She flicked her eyes to the stairs. Jason. She needed Jason to talk Elizabeth out of this.
“I’m never going to escape this!” Elizabeth started cracking her knuckles as she paced the room. “He’s always going to be waiting—and I can’t keep depending on the people I love. The only way to do this is stand on my own—not let anyone in. I can’t—”
“Beth, stop it!” Emily cried. “You’re not thinking rationally—”
“I have to do this!” Elizabeth cried, tears streaming down her face. Her voice was hoarse and it hurt to speak but Elizabeth continued anyway. “I have to! I can’t…I can’t be here anymore!”
Sonny entered the penthouse. “Liz—”
“I have to go, Sonny,” Elizabeth said quickly, making an attempt to dart past him and out the door.
Sonny blocked her. “Whoa, hold on, honey.”
“I have to go!” Elizabeth was now hysterical. “I’m quitting my job and I’m leaving town!”
“Whoa, whoa!” Sonny said. He closed the door. “Liz, sweetheart, we need to discuss this—”
“There’s nothing to discuss!” Elizabeth cried. “This is my life and this is what I need to do!”
“What’s going on?” Jason asked, coming down the steps. “Elizabeth—”
“I have to go!” Elizabeth cried. “Please, Jason—you promised me you let me do whatever I needed to do. I need to do this!”
Jason stared at her, stunned. “Elizabeth!”
“You promised me!” Elizabeth said, her voice suddenly quiet and pleading. “You said anything…please, Jason. I have to go.”
“Go where?” Jason asked. He had stopped dead in his tracks, staring at her from across the room. “Where are you going to go?”
“Anywhere!” Elizabeth said, desperately. “You have to make them understand—you promised me! You said you’d do anything I needed…I need you to let me do this!”
Jason just stared at her. Finally, he shook his head slowly. “I can’t.”
She stared him, the tears streaming down her face. She looked around the room. From Carly’s tear-stained face, to Emily’s stricken one, to Jason’s determined expression and finally to her brother. Sonny’s expression was unreadable. “I’m going to my apartment,” Elizabeth said finally. “I need…I need to be alone.”
And before anyone could stop her, she’d jerked the door open and she was gone.