Written in 58 minutes.
Emily Quartermaine retrieved her debit card and picked up the brown bag with her lunch. “Thanks, Penny,” she told the waitress behind the counter. She made it all the way to the door before turning back to look at the trio at the table.
“Honestly, Georgie, I think you’re right to be a little suspicious,” she told her. “A bouquet of flowers just showing up in your dorm?”
“I think it’s sweet,” Georgie’s friend, a pretty brunette, said with a shy smile.
“Creepy,” Spinelli muttered, picking up his orange soda.”
“It wasn’t even addressed to me,” Georgie reminded her friend. “It could have been for you, Chels.”
“Oh, no—” Chelsea’s eyes widened and she looked at Emily. “It’s totally for Georgie. She’s the friendly one—”
“Let Spinelli see if he can find something out,” Emily suggested. She patted the tech’s shoulder. “He’s going to do it anyway, so at least give him permission.”
Spinelli hunched his shoulders. “Was only gonna poke a little,” he muttered.
“Let me know how it turns out—” Emily pulled open the door and then walked straight into Lucky. “Oof! I didn’t see you there—”
“Yeah, a lot of that going around,” Lucky growled. She grimaced and gently pushed him away from the entrance, back towards the courtyard. “Em—”
“I haven’t seen you in a few days,” she reminded him. “I wanted to make sure you were okay—”
“Okay?” He laughed derisively. “How am I supposed to be okay? I’ve been humiliated in front of the whole world—”
“I know it hurts right now, and it’s not the way you should have been told. If Elizabeth had any idea that’s what she be asked on the stand, I’m sure—”
“Oh, you’re sure she would have told the truth? That’d be a first—”
Lucky shoved his hands in his pockets. “Did you know she was packing up today? Used me to avoid the press, and now she’s taking my kids—”
Emily bit her lip. “Have you talked to her? About custody. I know you were hoping you could find a way to stay in their lives—”
Lucky’s jaw clenched. “She shut me down. After a year of lying to me, it’s that simple for her. Everyone knows the truth, so Jason gets the kid he walked away from without having to do a damn thing.” He slapped a hand against his chest. “I’m the one that’s been there for him. Fed him, put him to bed, changed him—but she gets to give him away like none of that means anything—”
Emily exhaled slowly. “There are no easy answers in this situation, Lucky. What was she supposed to do? Keep lying? Keep Jason away from his son?”
“He’s my son—”
“Not biologically,” Emily said gently. “I don’t pretend to know why it went on this long — but better when Jake is three months old and not six. Did you really want her to keep this secret forever?”
“I wanted it not to be true!”
“I get that, Lucky, but that’s not on the table. It is true. You can go for another paternity test, but there’s already the one on file at the hospital.” Emily set her bag on the table. “I’m sorry, Lucky. I am. I don’t want it to be like this either. I don’t want those boys to lose someone who loves them. Is Liz shutting down all visitation with them?”
“No—” Lucky took a deep breath. “No. She’s fine with me and Cam, so I guess there’s that. But it’s a no on Jake.”
“Maybe it’s a no right now,” Emily said. “Jason got released this morning. They haven’t even talked about it yet. And Lucky, you don’t even know why he said yes to giving Jake up all these months. Maybe he didn’t want it either.”
Lucky went over to the table, jerked out a chair and sat down, putting his head in his hands. “She said something like that,” he muttered. “That she couldn’t keep hurting him to make me happy.”
“Yes, Elizabeth created this situation by not telling the truth.” Emily sat next to him. “But in order to resolve it, either you or Jason have to be hurt. And she’s been hurting him for almost a year. Even if he didn’t know it. Lucky, do you remember what was happening last fall? What happened when you found out about the baby—”
“Do you think it makes me feel any better to know that she lied to keep me clean?” Lucky bit out. “Do you think I like knowing that my wife only stayed with me out of pity and fear? That I guilted her into all of this?” He leaned back, tilted his head up, his voice hoarse. “I knew something was wrong. Months ago. During the kidnapping. I knew she didn’t love me anymore. I killed that a long time ago.”
“I’m asking you to think about the boys here. Cameron adores you. You are the only father he has ever known—”
“I don’t think—” Lucky shook his head. “I can’t do it. I can’t be around Cam and not think about Jake. And know what I’ve lost. It’ll hurt too much. It has to be both of them—”
“That’s—” Emily bit back her quick words, but he frowned at her. “That’s not fair. Cam is innocent. He didn’t ask for this—”
“Elizabeth should have thought about that before she did this. She started this lie. She’s going to have to deal with it.” He jerked to his feet and stalked out of the courtyard.
Emily sighed, picked up her order, and followed. This was going to get so much worse before it got better.
Port Charles Park
“It must be a relief to be free,” Elizabeth said, handing Jason a bottle from the diaper bag so that he could feed Jake. She sat next to him on the bench.
“It wasn’t so bad. I got to do those night shifts at the hospital for a while,” Jason reminded her. He smiled down at Jake. “He’s getting so much bigger.”
“I know. He’s sleeping so much better now. Or he has been. I’m hoping that won’t change now that we’re at my grandmother’s.” Jason frowned, looked at her. She continued, “I waited to leave the house. Lucky’s address is protected because he’s a cop. I knew the press couldn’t find me. I figured waiting until the trial was over would give things a chance to die down. And your acquittal was bigger news.”
“Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense.” Jason pressed his lips together, then asked, “Was Lucky okay with that?”
“He and I didn’t speak after the testimony. He went directly to Spoon Island until this morning. That’s something else I guess we need to talk about. Um, he came to the house while I was packing. I thought we were going to—” She picked at the cuff of her sleeve. “I thought we were going to be able to just walk away. Not happy or anything, but just accepting it was over. He gets to be angry with me. So do you—” she said, softly, meeting his eyes. “You should both be furious with me—”
She didn’t believe that. Couldn’t. “You can tell me how you feel. It’s not going to change my mind about Jake—”
“I made the decision, too—”
“I made it for you. You know that. I asked you on the day you buried your father—” Her throat tightened and she looked away, tears distorting the greenery that surrounded them into green blobs. “I shouldn’t have done that. I can never make up for it.”
“I haven’t. I am sorry, but it won’t be enough.” She brushed at her tears with the back of her hands. “Anyway. Lucky told me he wants both boys.”
Jason tensed—he could see the way his hold on Jake tightened. “Both of them.”
“I told him no. It’s not even up for debate. It was hard because I’ve already hurt him, and I know the way it came out made everything worse, but I can’t keep choosing him. It’s not fair. To you, to Jake, and it’s not fair to Lucky. He doesn’t see that now, but he might.” She cleared her throat. “I need to get an attorney and file for custody. Um, there might be stuff you need to do. I don’t know how to get a birth certificate changed. Or if that’s—I don’t know. It’s a huge mess, and I created it, so I have to fix it. I just don’t know where to start.”
Jason gently stroked Jake’s back until the infant burped. “Diane is general practice. You can have her.”
“She’s on retainer with me,” Jason said, “so—”
“I can’t—” Elizabeth exhaled, looked up at the roof of the gazebo. “I can pay her—”
“Jake is my son. You told the world that. And you wanted me to be involved,” he continued. “We’re not married—”
She flinched and looked away, thinking of the elevator, of the repeated proposals he’d made. Just marry me. What if she’d said yes to that insane idea all those months ago?
“So I want to support Jake. And it’s in my best interest that you have an attorney who can get you custody. Diane is the best attorney that’s ever worked for me.”
“I don’t want your money—”
“I know you don’t. But Jake deserves my support, doesn’t he? It’s not for you. It’s for him.”
She made a face, then looked at her lap. “Yeah. Okay. That—that’s okay. Um, I don’t know what things are going to look for the next few months. I have to see if the hospital will let me end my maternity leave early. I took six months, but it was going to be unpaid for part of it. And Lucky’s going to make this as painful as possible. But I promise — I’m not going to break this time. I’m not going to let him or anyone else—including myself—guilt me into letting Lucky stay Jake’s father.”
“I’m going to make better choices,” she murmured. “I don’t want to be afraid all of the time.”
Jason frowned. “Afraid? Was it—the job? Because if that still—”
“No. And we are absolutely never having that conversation again.” Irritated, she flicked her eyes back to him. “I swear, if you so much as say the word dangerous again to me, I’m going to scream.”
She shoved herself to her feet. “We had this argument in 2000. I won it, then. And then again in 2002. I won it again. I am done fighting this battle, Jason. Because I never get to win the war, and it’s exhausting, so I promise you, if you try to use your job or the danger to walk away from our son—”
Jason stood, mystified. “I didn’t. I wouldn’t. Even if I wanted to, it’s too late. The world knows—but I don’t want to. I never did.” When she flinched, he sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to make you feel bad—”
“No, you have every right—I didn’t—I just—” She folded her arms. “I’m just not interested in having the same conversation we’ve been having almost since we met.” She checked her watch, winced. “I have to get back to my grandmother’s. It’s almost time for the boys’ naps, and Gram needed to go somewhere.”
Reluctantly, Jason handed the baby back to her. “I’ll call you with Diane’s information and let her know you’ll contact her.”
“Thanks. Um, we’ll figure out some sort of schedule with Jake. I want you to see him as much as you want. Gram knows that,” Elizabeth added. “We’ll work it out. I’m going to make this right.”
Wyndemere: Family Room
Lucky was still furious when he reached Spoon Island—he’d hoped the launch from the pier to the island would give him time to calm down—but the conversation with Emily had ignited everything he’d been trying to ignore—
Nikolas was sprawled out on the floor, watching as Spencer played with his toys. Lucky stared at the scene, at his brother with his son. Nikolas hadn’t known about the paternity for months. Jax and Carly had lied about it. Nikolas would understand what Lucky was going through, wouldn’t he?
“Hey—” Nikolas kissed his son’s forehead, then got to his feet. “Keep playing, Spence.”
“How’d it go?”
Lucky went over to the mini bar, but only poured himself water. His hands shook slightly—and for a brief moment—he wanted the high. Craved the oblivion it would offer. To let everything fall away, to fade. To give him peace.
“Disaster,” he muttered. “She’s not going to let me near Jake.”
“Is that what she said?”
“It boils down to it. I get it. I know it’s right. I know it’s the only to fix this. To just—tell the truth, and Jason gets his son, and I get to keep Cameron. Jason probably doesn’t want me playing daddy anymore than I want him to do it—”
“But I can’t. I can’t. I have to fight for Jake. He has to know that I love him. Blood doesn’t matter. I don’t care that he’s not biologically mine.” He turned to his brother. “If she’d told me the truth, I could have found a way to deal with it. I’m not my father. Okay? I can love a kid that’s not mine. I do it with Cameron, don’t I? That’s what went wrong with my parents. Dad could never accept you. Never bend enough to understand. And you always felt like Mom could have loved you better—”
“Lucky, it’s not that simple.”
“I love him. It’s not fair to ask me to walk away like this. To split the boys like this. How do I go to pick up Cameron, and see Jake and not get to have him?” He set the glass down, terrified he’d through it. Or that it would break in his hand. “What if Jason and Elizabeth end up together? You know. They get married, and Cam has him all he time, and starts to resent me?”
“I have to fight for my kids. You get it, don’t you?” Lucky took Nikolas by the shoulders. “I love my boys. I don’t care about the blood.”
“Okay. Okay. I know you do. I just—you’re setting yourself up for grief down the road. I don’t know a judge that’s going to give you custody of Jake.”
“I’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it. But I need to fight. I didn’t fight last year. Not enough. If I hadn’t relapsed, she wouldn’t have stopped loving me. We’re done, me and Elizabeth. But my addiction—it can’t cost me the boys, too. I won’t let it.
Jason grimaced when he pulled open the door and found Spinelli and Georgie inside, joined by a third person he didn’t know. Spinelli beamed when he saw Jason, jumping to his feet. “Stone Gold! My sensei! You will have the answers we seek!”
“We don’t have any noisemakers,” Georgie assured him. “I made him throw those out.”
Jason sighed, accepted Spinelli’s enthusiastic hug. “What answers?” he wanted to know.
“Faithful Friend has a dilemma that she refuses to let me resolve—”
“I don’t know if it’s my problem or Chelsea—oh, Chels—” Georgie leaned back. “Chels, this is Jason. Jason, this is my roommate and best friend, Chelsea Rae.”
Jason didn’t know why Georgie was introducing him to someone as if his face hadn’t been in all the papers, but whatever. “What’s the problem?”
“We live together in a dorm on PCU. We’re doing summer program,” she added. “And this bouquet of roses showed up outside our room. No name — I don’t know if it’s mine or Chels—”
“It’s yours,” Chelsea insisted.
“Spinelli wants to hack into the PCU security to get footage,” Georgie continued. “I told him it’s not a big deal. If they’re not going to leave their name, why do I care who they are?”
Jason looked at Spinelli who scowled. “If she says don’t do it, don’t do it. No means no.”
“Okay, but what if I hack in and get the footage, but I don’t watch it,” Spinelli suggested. “Then, if you want to know later—”
“You will never, in a million years, not watch that footage,” Georgie said with a roll of her eyes. “Chels, do you care?”
“Um—” Chelsea bit her lip. “What if he gets the footage and gives it someone who won’t let him look? We might want it later, Georgie.”
“I’ll give it to Stone Cold. He will be the keeper of the files.” Spinelli nodded. “This is a most excellent compromise. I knew you could do it, Stone Cold.”
“I did nothing,” Jason said, then went to the counter to order dinner.
Hardy House: Nursery
Elizabeth tucked Cameron in and smoothed the curls away from his face. Then, she went to the crib to make sure there was nothing for Jake to grab and hurt himself with. He wasn’t asleep yet, but was quietly laying there. Looking back at her with his daddy’s eyes.
“I’m going to do so much better for you, my sweet baby. No more running. I promise.”