Chapter Four

The ride to the house was silent, drenched in tension. She hugged her body tightly and was as close to the passenger side as she could be without actually being outside the car.

His fingers were clenched around the wheel so rigidly that his knuckles were white. “Do you need a ride to the hospital in the morning?” he asked finally when they were ten minutes from the house.

Elizabeth shook her head. “I’ll call a cab.”

“Elizabeth–”

“I said, I’ll call a cab,” she said coldly.

“You can be mad at me all you want–you’re just angry you ended our marriage because of a mistake,” he replied.

“I know exactly why I ended our marriage,” Elizabeth retorted. She snorted and looked out the window. “You’re just like my father.”

Jason slammed his foot on the brake and the car squealed to a stop. He jerked it over to the shoulder of the car and put it in park. “Let’s get one thing straight,” he said, trying to keep his rage in check. He stared straight ahead through the window shield. “I am nothing like your father.”

“For all the trouble I went through to give Olivia a better life than I had, I sure failed since she got the same lying, cheating son of bitch for father that I had!” Elizabeth exploded.

His hands were shaking. He was so scared that he might hit her that he got out of the car and walked a few feet away, trying to regain his composure. How could she compare him to that son of a bitch? Christopher Webber had spent most of his marriage with other women, not even bothering to hide it from his wife or daughter and Elizabeth thought he was like him?

“Does it bother you?” Jason asked.

Elizabeth sighed and looked down at the London landscape from their penthouse suite. “Sure it bothers me. But my parents got married because it was the right thing to do not because they were in love.”

“It won’t be like that for us,” Jason remarked confidently.

Elizabeth laughed. “Oh, it won’t huh?”

“No.” He tucked her hair behind her ear and let his hand linger on her cheek. “Because I love you. And there’s no one else in this world I could imagine being with.”

“Promise?” she asked, her eyes searching his.

He brushed a gentle kiss on her lips. “I promise.”

The memory ended abruptly with the slam of a car door. “What’s the matter?” she asked acidly. “The truth hurt?”

He swiveled to face her. “I am nothing like him. When I took my marriage vows, they meant something to me.”

“Are you insinuating they didn’t mean anything to me?” Elizabeth demanded.

“It was pretty easy for you to throw it all away.”

“You threw it away!” she shouted. “You left me and you–”

“I swear, if you so much as say that I cheated on you again, so help me God, I will leave you here to walk home in the dark!” Jason cut in, furiously. “I think you were just waiting for an opportunity. Because no matter how much you said I wasn’t like him, you think all men are like your father and that’s pretty damn sad, Elizabeth.”

Her eyes burned with tears. “That’s not true.”

“I think it is true.” He shook his head. “And I think you know that I never touched that woman but you don’t want to admit that you threw our marriage away for nothing.”

Glaring at him, she jerked the car door opened and grabbed her purse from the seat. She slammed it shut and stalked to walk down the road.

“Where are you going?” he called after her.

“I’m going to walk home. I don’t want to be around you right now.”

“Elizabeth, I’m not going to run after you this time!”

“Good!” she called over her shoulder. “I don’t want you to.”

He swore under his breath and went towards the driver’s side door. He wasn’t going to chase after her. He wasn’t going to do it.

“Son of a bitch.” He shut the door and when he was just behind her, she spun around, her fist raised in the air as if to hit him. He ducked and put his shoulder into her midsection, lifting her and turning to carry her back to the car.

“Let me go!” she protested. She smacked his back with her hand, but she was tiny and didn’t really pack any punch. “Let me go right now.”

He shifted her weight to one side and opened the driver’s door with his free hand. He shoved her inside and pushed her over to the passenger side. Before she could get out, he put the power lock on and got into the car. Every time she popped the lock on her side, he relocked it.

“I don’t want to be around you right now!” she said, her face flushed and her eyes ignited in fury.

“That’s too damn bad because we’re going to have to present a united front for Olivia. I don’t want her see us fighting. Now if you love her as much as I think you do, you’ll agree.”

“Fine,” she said her teeth clenched. She folded her arms across her chest and looked out the window. He started the car and pulled back out onto the road. “When’s your little Barbie doll coming to town?” she bit out.

“She’s not a Barbie doll and she doesn’t know we’re moving here,” Jason replied, his voice tight with tension and anger. He wasn’t going to let her goad him into another explosion.

“I’m sure she’ll just love the idea of moving to a hick town in the middle of nowhere so you can spend time with your daughter,” Elizabeth retorted.

“Elise likes Olivia,” Jason shot back. “And you know what? Olivia loves her. So just shut up.”

“I’m so glad you finally have a wife that’ll bow down to you and do whatever you say,” Elizabeth said sarcastically. “You must love being the alpha male.”

“Yeah, because you never did let me win any real argument,” Jason replied angrily.

“We never really argued,” Elizabeth said quietly. She looked out the window. “Not until we moved here.”

He felt some of the tension ease from his body at her soft words. The fight was gone in her voice and he wondered why. She was right–there had never been any real disagreements from the time they met until the day he asked her to go to Paris and leave Olivia. It wasn’t that they’d always gotten along or thought the same about everything. He respected her and he’d thought she respected him. And that was important in a relationship. Just as important as trust. But like respect and love, that had also been an illusion in their marriage.

He pulled into the driveway of the large house they’d bought five years ago. It was an old-fashioned looking house with a large wrap-around porch, white trim and even a picket fence around the yard. He’d never been really attached to it–she’d picked it out, she’d decorated it and it had made her happy to do those things. And it made him happy to see her happy. It’d been his home because she was there.

“Are you sure you don’t need a ride tomorrow?” he asked.

“No,” Elizabeth said, stiffly. “I’ll be fine.” She popped the lock, opened the door and started up the walk. When she’d pulled open the screen door and had pushed open the heavy front door, he put the car in reverse and backed away.

Elizabeth watched his taillights disappear down the street until they were out of sight. She closed the door and locked them before going into her art studio.

She’d painted and sketched most of her life–she’d never done anything with it, despite Jason’s encouragement to try and sell some of it. It was her release, her escape. First from her life with her parents and then later from the divorce. When Olivia would be sleeping or at school, Elizabeth would spend the entire day or night in here, just painting or sketching. She’d forget to eat or sleep but she never forgot to wake Olivia up for the day or pick her up from school.

It was in the large sunroom at the east end of the house. The best sun came in the early dawn hours and she worked best then.

There was a desk in the corner of the room–she didn’t use it for anything important and it was mostly just storage space. In the bottom drawer on the right side, there was a gray metallic lockbox that she removed and sat down on the couch to look at. She fished the key from where it hung around her neck on a silver chain and unlocked it.

Their marriage certificate sat on top and she moved her fingers over the raised seal. Jason Edward Morgan and Elizabeth Imogene Hardy Webber. Married on May 29, 1995. At the Sacre-Coeur Basilica Church in Paris, France.

Beneath the certificate, there was a picture of them on the day and after that, various clippings from different newspapers announcing their marriage. She’d been so ecstatic–so thrilled at being Mrs. Jason Morgan’s wife that she’d saved every mention of the event.

There were other pictures of them and cards. Cards congratulating them on their marriage, cards from Elizabeth to Jason on their anniversaries.

And at the bottom of the pile, there was two newspaper clippings. She stared at the picture of Jason and the blonde. Her arm was wrapped in his, her head against his arm. The caption readWall Street financier Jason Morgan out on town with Eloise de Beauchamp, the daughter of the Duke de Beauchamp.

So many tears shed over this simple picture. This picture had torn her entire world in two. She’d spent three years sure that Jason wasn’t like her father. And then this picture had shattered that illusion.

She took out the last newspaper clipping, this one from the New York Times. It was dated three years ago. Wall Street whiz kid Jason Morgan married Elise Jacoby in a Central Park wedding. Mr. Morgan has been divorced from former debutante Elizabeth Webber for over a year. The former Mrs. Morgan resides in upstate New York. He met the new Mrs. Morgan in Europe. The couple plan to base themselves out of New York City while traveling for his job.

She’d filed for divorce in early June of 1998, almost three years to the day they’d married. Olivia had been eight months old and the divorce had been finalized by that December. He’d married Elise in the summer of 2000 when Olivia had been two and a half. He’d now been married to the other woman for three years–a year less than their marriage had lasted.

Elizabeth studied Elise Jacoby-Morgan in the faded newspaper clipping. At that time, the woman had had chin-length dark hair and light skin but she couldn’t tell more than that from a picture and this was the only time Elizabeth had even seen her. She couldn’t allow herself to think that Jason had married someone who looked like her.

She set the clipping back in the box and laid back on the couch, her eyes to the ceiling. Had she been wrong all those years ago? Had Jason not cheated on her with Eloise, the daughter of a duke?

She closed her eyes, troubled at the idea that she’d seen the picture and immediately lumped Jason in with men like her father.


It was almost noon the next day when Jason found Elizabeth still deep asleep in the art studio. He’d gotten to the hospital around eight and was surprised that Elizabeth hadn’t made it there earlier.

Olivia had been sleeping but she woke up when breakfast arrived at nine and when she asked about her mother, Jason told her that Elizabeth had pretty much stayed by her bedside for the past two days and was completely exhausted. She’d be there soon.

But as noon approached, he became worried and he’d told Olivia he was going to get her mother.

And now, he found her passed out on the couch, dressed in yesterday’s clothes with an open metal box at her finger tips on the floor. He kneeled next to her and went to close it when he recognized the wedding announcement of himself and Elise on top.

He picked it up, concerned by the idea that Elizabeth had clipped it out and saved it. Underneath it was more pictures and clippings, but the one that stood out was the one that had tore their marriage apart. She’d saved it. After nearly four years, she still had it. That said something.

Underneath that, he found their marriage certificate and their own announcement from various newspapers. He smiled at the clipping from the New York TimesJason Morgan, the son of Wall Street financier Chad Morgan, has married debutante Elizabeth Webber, the daughter of Christopher and Cheri Webber of Philadelphia. The two wed in an elegant and romantic ceremony for friends and family in Paris, France on May 29, 1995. They met last August while vacationing in Spain with their families. The couple plans to live in New York while traveling extensively.

She’d saved all the announcements. The one in the Times, one from the London paper, one from Philadelphia. And there was one from San Francisco as well. He hadn’t realized that at the time.

She’d come home after their fight the previous night and had gone through these old memories, going from the good to the bad. And she’d fallen asleep looking at his wedding announcement.

He sighed and set the clippings back in the box and then gently shook her shoulder. “Elizabeth…”

She blinked slowly and smiled involuntarily at the sight of Jason kneeling next to her. Another dream, she thought idly. “Hey…”

“Hey, ” he greeted, returning her smile. “Olivia was worried about you.”

Olivia. Oh…shit. Elizabeth jackknifed into a seated position and ran a hand through her hair. “What time is it?” she asked, disoriented.

“It’s almost noon. I came to check on you.”

“Noon?” Elizabeth repeated. She swung her legs over the couch and stood. “How could I have slept so late?”

“You were exhausted,” Jason told her. “You haven’t had any real sleep since the accident. Look, go get a shower and change. I’ll make you something to eat and we’ll go to the hospital.”

“Jason–”

“Just go. The more time you argue with me, the more time you’re wasting.”

She scowled at him. “Fine.” She stalked out of the studio and he heard her footsteps on the stairs a few moments later. He exhaled slowly before exiting the studio and heading towards the kitchen.

He made her a quick sandwich and set it on the table with a glass of iced tea. A few minutes after that, he heard a knock on the back door. A brunette entered without waiting for him to answer it.

“Oh.” She stopped awkwardly and shuffled her feet. “I didn’t realize Liz had, ah, a guest.” She jerked a thumb towards the door. “Just, um, tell her that Jessica stopped by–”

“I’m not a guest, I’m her ex-husband,” Jason interrupted.

“Oh.” She shifted again. “Jessica Spencer. I live behind the house–well, I live on the next street over but our backyards connect. Our daughters are friends. Olivia and Maja?” Jessica prompted.

“Olivia’s talked about her.” Jason hesitated. “I’m actually in town because Olivia was in a car accident.”

Jessica paled. “Oh my God. Is she okay? Where’s Liz? What happened?”

“The car rolled down a hill and crashed into a tractor trailer,” Jason related. “Olivia’s fine but she’s going to need some therapy for her legs. Elizabeth is upstairs taking a shower.”

Jessica pressed a hand to her heart. “Jesus. If Liz lost Liv, she’d just go insane. That girl is the best mother I’ve ever seen.”

Jason nodded and glanced towards the stairs. “Yeah, Elizabeth does love her.”

“So, Liz hasn’t really talked about you but Olivia just chatters on and on about her wonderful daddy,” Jessica related. “That girl worships you.”

“The feeling is entirely mutual,” Jason replied. He shoved his hands in his pockets. “So you’re married?”

Jessica nodded. “To Lucky Spencer, the photographer for the Port Charles Herald. We’ve been married for seven years.”

Elizabeth entered the kitchen then. “Jess!”

“Oh, honey.” Jessica crossed to her and embraced her tightly. “Your ex just told me about Liv, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Elizabeth replied, hugging her back. “Olivia’s fine. She’s awake. You could even bring Maja down in a few days to see her.”

“I just might do that.” Jessica pulled back and sighed. “Well, I guess you’re going to be going down to the hospital now so I’ll get out of your way. Call me if you need anything, okay?”

“I will.”

Jessica turned to Jason. “It was nice to finally meet you.” She smiled at Elizabeth again before leaving.

“Look, why don’t we just go?” Elizabeth asked. She put her hands in the pockets of her blue jeans. “I’m not hungry and I just want to get to Olivia.”

He pointed to the table. “Eat. You haven’t eaten since I got to town and if you don’t start eating soon, you’re going to get sick and Olivia needs you.”

She glared at him and sat down. “Fine.” She sipped the iced tea. “I don’t remember you being so bossy.”

“I don’t remember you being this destructive,” he shot back.

She glared at him. “What the hell does that mean?”

“It means that you put Olivia before everything–including your health.” He shook his head. “You know, normal people manage to have kids and still keep their marriage together. Where the hell did we go wrong?”

Elizabeth didn’t respond. She just ate half of the sandwich, drained the glass and stood. “Can we go now?”

“Why were you looking at those clippings?” Jason demanded. Elizabeth halted in the doorway, her back to him. “The box was still open when I got here. You were looking at our wedding announcement, mine to Elise and that damn clipping from Paris.”

She slowly turned around and leveled a cool gaze at him. “What business is it of yours?”

“Since you fell asleep holding mine and Elise’s, I think it’s my business.” He folded his arms.

“It happened to be in the box,” Elizabeth bluffed. “I was saving it for Olivia. She does like Elise.”

“Why is it in a box full of our wedding memorabilia?” Jason demanded. “And don’t tell me you were saving that picture of me in that Paris paper for Olivia. You keep that around so you can remind yourself what a jackass I am?”

“Maybe,” Elizabeth hedged. “Can we just go? I don’t feel like having this argument anymore.”

“We keep having this argument because you refuse to believe me. I never touched that woman and until you accept that you were wrong, we’re going to keep having this argument.”

“Why does it matter if I believe you?” Elizabeth demanded. “You’re not married to me anymore. I’ll bet Elise doesn’t care what you do when you’re not with her.”

“It matters because you’re the mother of my daughter and inevitably, the way you feel about me will get transferred to her and when she starts asking questions about why we got divorced, she’s not going to want to hear that it was just because we didn’t get along anymore. And I don’t want you telling her some bullshit about me cheating on you,” Jason shot back.

Elizabeth paled. “I would never…I would never tell Olivia about this. This…this has nothing to do with her a-and that picture…that was just the last straw. It wasn’t the reason I wanted a divorce.”

“The hell it wasn’t.”

“Don’t try and tell me why I filed for divorce,” Elizabeth spat.

“You listed it on the divorce papers. Adultery.” He shook his head and looked away. “Do you have any idea what it feels to be accused of something that you didn’t do?”

“I was miserable,” Elizabeth whispered. “You were never home and I had this child–this little girl who was always crying and there were some nights I couldn’t make her stop. And then you’d blow in for a weekend or a night and expect me to be your wife when I was already failing at being a mother.” She took a deep shuddering breath. “I was miserable and when she was two months old, I was so tired from being up and down all the time that I started…I started to take sleeping pills to help me sleep at night.” She gripped the doorway. “I started to feel a little better–but one night I slept right through and I missed her crying.” Elizabeth closed her eyes, her throat was tight and she forced herself to keep talking. “She h-had a fever and I rushed her to the hospital and the day I brought her home, I saw the paper.”

“Jesus,” Jason breathed. He stepped towards her. “Why didn’t you tell me any of this?”

“Because you wanted your life.” She opened her eyes and looked at him, her eyes rimmed with red and tears threatening to fall. “You wanted to keep on living that life and I wanted you to be happy–to have what you wanted.” She shook her head. “I didn’t think you were adjusting well to being a father and I was–I was willing to wait the extra time until you did. And I didn’t tell you this then because I didn’t want you to feel any more pressure to change and I thought if you had to stay at home with a crying baby and a wife addicted to sleeping pills, you’d come to resent me for it.”

“You didn’t trust me.” And oh, man…that tore at him more than her thinking he’d cheated on her. She’d been in so much pain and all she’d had to do was tell him. He would have stayed home–gladly, he would have done it. He’d loved her so much and to find out she didn’t trust him…

“No, I guess I didn’t. Because you’re right.” She took a deep breath. “I do think all men are like my father and he was a playboy right up until he died. And I know for a fact he couldn’t have handled it. My mother would have protected him from that sort of thing just like he kept his affairs as discreet as possible.”

“You thought that you were protecting me,” Jason repeated. He sat down at the table and stared at the floor, stunned. He’d come home during that time for a few weekends and nights. He’d never noticed it. He’d never seen it.

“I was willing to go right on doing it. But I saw that paper and I–” she closed her eyes again. He deserved the truth. “I was so jealous. You were living the life that I had loved. You were her father and you were still carrying on like we hadn’t had a child. And I was stuck in Port Charles.” She leaned against the wall, her eyes glazed and unseeing. “You were living two lives. You’d come home, play the part of husband and father and then you’d go play international playboy and I had let myself sink into this world where I was just a mother. I resented you so much, Jason. You can’t imagine how much I resented you. And after I saw that picture, it was like everything passed in a blur. One second I was standing on the front porch, staring at the newspaper and the next, I was sitting on the couch and contemplating taking an entire bottle of sleeping pills.”

His head snapped up and he stared at her incredulously. “What?”

“It was at that point I realized that I had to do something. Something had to change and I obviously couldn’t change my role as Olivia’s mother but I could definitely change my role as your wife. I didn’t want to do it, but I had to. I was losing myself. I was trying so hard to keep it together when you were home and that morning, I realized that I couldn’t do it anymore. You wanted that life so much…you could have it.”

“So you didn’t think I cheated on you?” Jason asked. He stood up.

“No, I definitely thought that and like I said, that was the last straw. If I was going to be at home, taking care of Olivia and putting my life together, I was not going to let you come home when you felt like and then go back and be with other women. I couldn’t…I couldn’t do that.” She shook her head. “Maybe I should have called my mother and asked her how she dealt with it.”

Jason moved closer to her until he was right in front of her. “Elizabeth, I am so sorry that I didn’t see it. I–I don’t know how I missed it. Maybe I didn’t want to see it. If I could turn back time, I would do it.”

She met his eyes and shook her head. “It doesn’t matter anymore. I was tired of you blaming this all on a picture. And it was just the last straw.”

He took her by the shoulders. “I didn’t cheat on you. Please tell me you believe me.”

“Jason, it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m not going to tell Olivia. In fact, I never want to her to know why we divorced.”

“Look, it doesn’t have anything to do with Olivia. I need you to believe me,” Jason told her. He slid his hands up to cradle her face. “Please.”

“Why does it matter so much?” she asked softly, her voice tinged with the exhaustion of having bared herself to him. “We’re divorced. It’s over.”

“Because I loved you with everything that was inside me and it has driven me nearly insane for the past four years knowing you thought I had been with another woman. I need you to believe me. I never cheated on you. I never even thought about it. It wouldn’t have occurred to me.”

The tears slid slowly down her cheeks and he could feel them on his hands. “Okay,” she whispered. “Okay, I believe you.”

A weight lifted off his shoulders and they slumped. He rested his forehead against hers. “Thank you.”

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