Written in 62 minutes.
Hardy House: Living Room
Elizabeth walked carefully down the stairs, holding Jake in one arm and one of Cameron’s in the other as the three-year-old carefully navigated each step with his short, stubby legs.
“Oh, let me take him—” her grandmother strode across the living room and met Elizabeth halfway to take Jake.
“Thanks, Gram. Cameron keeps rushing up and down the stairs,” she said as they finished their descent, “and I’m trying to show him how to slow down.”
“Mommy, zoom!” Cameron jumped off the last stair and onto the landing, his sneakers hitting the wooden floor with a dull squeak. When Elizabeth released his hand, the toddler began flying around the room, darting around sofas and tables. “Zoom, zoom!”
“Goodness—” Audrey laughed. “When did this start?”
“He got a miniature motorcycle for his birthday,” Elizabeth said, watching her son with amusement. “Just a little one—that fits in his hand—but now he wants to ride on a real one and keeps trying to convince me he’s old enough.”
Audrey bounced Jake in her arms, the infant reaching for her necklace. “A motorcycle? I remember another Webber who liked to zoom on those.”
Elizabeth’s cheeks flushed and she looked away. “Gram—”
“Gave me a heart attack, your mommy did,” Audrey told Jake who made another grab for the necklace with Audrey avoided with the skilled practice of a woman used to babies. “I’m so glad she grew up to have a little one just like her.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes, then moved to a side as Cameron began another lap. “Thanks for hanging with him for a little while today. I’ve got an appointment with Bobbie to start the paperwork to end my maternity leave.”
“I think it’s a shame you’re not going to finish the full six months,” Audrey told her. “They’re only little for so long—”
“Gram—” Elizabeth went into the kitchen, and her grandmother followed. “We’ve talked about this. I only got six weeks paid as it was, and the last six weeks were unpaid. It was one thing when Lucky and I were still together. He and I budgeted for all of that, and we could make it on his income—” She poured a glass of orange juice. “It’s just me. I need to get back to work.”
“Seems to me,” Audrey said, stroking Jake’s back. “That you have other options—” Elizabeth sent her a dirty look. “But I know all about independence,” her grandmother continued. “Have you spoken to Jason yet?”
“Yesterday.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Is it going to be a problem? I mean, I don’t exactly know how much Jason is going to be around. Or what it’s going to look like, but he wants to be Jake’s father.”
“And how did Lucky take that news?”
“Not well. He expected things to go on the way they were—with the boys. I told him Cam is one thing. You know, he’s always been there, since Cam was born, and Cam thinks of him as Daddy. But Jake—” Elizabeth touched Jake’s soft blonde hair, and the infant turned to offer his mother a smile. “Jake’s three months old. If I’m ever going to fix the mistake I made, this is better. He’s angry.”
“He’s right to be, but—” Audrey said as Elizabeth made a face. “I think you’re making the right choice. As hard as it is right now, it’s better now than three years from now. I do hope Lucky can find a way to be at peace with all of this.”
“Thanks, Gram. It means a lot to me that you’re okay with all of this.”
“It’s not the path I hoped your life would take, but you know very well that you’ve made bad choices. It does no good to pile on to the guilt you already feel by expressing disapproval. You’ll get enough of that from the world,” Audrey continued. “I’m just hopeful that it will get easier from here.”
“You and me both—”
Cameron zoomed into the kitchen and began laps around the table. Elizabeth laughed and went to stop him before he got dizzy or fell.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“You should be proud of me.”
Jason raised his brows, curled his fingers around the edge of a door. “Good morning, Carly.”
“Good morning,” the blonde said, striding past him. “Hey, Spinelli,” she said to the tech, sitting on the sofa, hard at work on the laptop in his lap. “That looks important,” she said to Jason. “What’s he working on?”
“Something for Georgie. Why am I proud of you?”
“Because it’s been a whole day since you got released and this is the first time I’m showing up on your doorstep.”
Jason closed the door. “You called me twelve times yesterday, and it’s been sixteen hours since I got released. Not a whole day.”
“You’re always so literal.” Carly dismissed the correction, then clapped her hands together. “Okay, so where do we start?”
“Start?” Jason repeated. “What are you talking about?”
“Have you called Diane yet? Because she should be our first call. She’ll know exactly what we have to do. It might be an uphill battle,” Carly continued, “because you know, that whole pesky murder charge, but Diane got you off that, so I just know she can win this—”
“Win what?” Jason squinted. “Carly, what are you talking about?”
Carly scowled. “You know what. Custody. Everyone heard Elizabeth tell the truth on the stand.” She huffed, folded her arms. “I can’t believe she lied to us all!”
“Did she, though?” Jason asked pointedly. “Did she tell you Lucky was the father? Did she tell Sonny? Did she say the words—”
“Damn it. She got to you already, didn’t she?” Carly threw her hands up. “You have such a blind spot for that manipulative bitch—”
Spinelli’s head popped up at the anger in Jason’s tone, and Carly stared at him with irritation. “What? She spent a year lying to you! You went to jail to get that little boy back and she didn’t even have the decency—” Then Carly closed her mouth. “You knew. Didn’t you? Is that how she got you to jump bail?” She slapped his arm. “That’s why you got involved with finding Jake! I knew something was weird with all of that! It was upsetting and all, but—”
“I’m going to say this exactly once,” Jason said, and the tightness in his tone had Carly closing her mouth, mid-sentence. “Jake is my son. Elizabeth is his mother. That has nothing to do with you. And if you and Sonny had stayed out of it—we wouldn’t be in this mess—”
“That’s not fair—”
“I’ve already talked to Elizabeth. We’re working out what to do next. But that has nothing to do with you.” He opened the door. “And Carly, if I find out you’ve gone near Elizabeth to harass her about this—”
“You’ve always been too nice to her,” Carly muttered as she went past Jason. “She’s already stolen months from you—”
“Mothers get choose, remember, Carly?” Jason said, and Carly snapped her mouth shut, her eyes burning. “Or does that only apply to you?”
“That’s not fair—”
“Neither is jumping to conclusions and rushing over here to tell me that I’m not going to be a father—” Jason shook his head. He’d listened to her, hadn’t he? He’d believed her. And had told Elizabeth that it was for the best Lucky was the father before she’d even had a chance to open her mouth. “Stay out of it.”
“For now.” Carly stabbed a finger at him. “But if she tries to pull any fast ones—”
Jason closed the door in her face, and looked back at Spinelli who was wide-eyed. “What?”
“Uh, nothing. Nothing, Stone Cold.” Spinelli set the laptop side. “I just don’t remember ever hearing you speak to the Valkyrie in such a—” He hesitated. “Well. Like that.”
“Carly hasn’t annoyed me like that in a while.” Jason grabbed his keys. “I’m going out for a while. Elizabeth is coming over this afternoon with the boys. You can be here,” he added. “I just wanted to warn you.”
“Oh, sure, sure.” Spinelli sat back down. “I’m still working on the university mainframe. They’ve updated since the last time I hacked.”
“Don’t get arrested.”
General Hospital: Nurse’s Station
“Oh, no.” Emily sighed as she stepped off the elevator and saw Elizabeth at the counter with paperwork in her hands. “Man, I thought I talked you out of this last week—”
“Unless I won the lottery somewhere—” Elizabeth went over to the sofa in the waiting area to begin filling it out. “Not all of us have trust funds, Em.” She winced. “Sorry. That’s not fair.”
“No, but it’s accurate.” Emily sat next to her. “But you said you talked to Jason, and that he’s going to help you with Diane. I thought that meant you’d worked out some sort of support.”
“Yes, because it’s in Jason’s interest that I get full custody of Jake,” Elizabeth said, flicking the top on the pen. “But I supported Cameron on my own before Lucky and I moved in together. I make good money—”
“Em—” Elizabeth set the clipboard down. “This isn’t me thinking I can’t ask or that Jason wouldn’t do it. I know what kind of money he has. Okay? I know that if I asked him to make it so I never have to work, he’d do it and he probably wouldn’t even notice. I don’t want that.”
“Well, I wasn’t saying he should give you that much, but child support—”
“When I get back to work and my finances figured out, I’ll be in a position to figure out how much Jake needs. Then Jason and I can talk about it. But if I start letting him take care of everything—” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “I want to stay at home. I wanted to take six months. Lucky and I were barely going to be able to swing it, but we were making it work. But I’m the one who lied to put Lucky in that position, and then I’m the one that blew it all up again on the stand. I don’t think I get to benefit—”
“You’re being too hard on yourself,” Emily said softly. “And I don’t think you should link your maternity leave—”
“Most women only get six weeks. It was a privilege and a luxury to have three months, Em. I had three months with Cam before I went into the nursing program. I’m okay with this.”
“Okay. Well—I ran into Lucky yesterday,” Emily told her. “He told me that he’s asking for custody of Jake. Or at least visitation. I guess moving out didn’t go well.”
“No. I don’t know what I thought he’d do. Maybe I hoped he’d…” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I hoped he’d let go so that I wouldn’t have to make the harder choice. But I deserve this, too. I hate that I’ve hurt him. He did everything I wanted him to, Em. He got clean. He stayed clean. And he was done with Maxie. He was a good husband. A good father. I just—I lied to him. And I don’t love him anymore. He didn’t deserve what I did to him.”
“Maybe not, but I know how hard it was last year. I wish I could have made you feel safe enough to tell me the truth,” Emily said, squeezing her hand. “There’s one other part of the conversation we should talk about though.”
Elizabeth tilted her head. “What?”
“It’s about Cam.”
Sam leapt up from the table when she spied Lucky coming through the courtyard. Days of staking out the diner during the lunch rush had finally paid off. “Lucky—”
Elizabeth’s estranged husband brushed past her. “I don’t have anything to say to you—”
He stopped, turned to face her. “You knew, didn’t you? That’s why you wouldn’t help us in June to get him back. You wouldn’t let us go on your show—”
Sam winced. “It was—Okay. It was part of it. I did know, but not that long,” she added in a rush. “I found out right after Jake was born, and it really messed me up, okay? I struggled. I nearly told you the truth. Remember? At the station—”
“You almost told me, but you didn’t. What, do you want a cookie for that?”
“No, but—” Sam grabbed his arm as he turned away again. “It’s just—look—you and I both know what’s going to happen now that the truth is out and we’re out of the picture.”
Lucky closed his eyes, the pain washing over his face. “Yeah. Yeah. We do. I should have realized it was deeper when she kept lying to me to go see him in jail—I should have—I’m so damn stupid—”
“You trusted your wife just like I trusted my fiance,” Sam cut in. “We had a right to trust the people we loved. That’s why I didn’t tell you. Because I knew if Jason went public with being Jake’s father, it would be the beginning of the end. Elizabeth wouldn’t have a reason not to use that baby to get Jason back. And now we’re gone. The truth is out. What’s stopping them?”
Lucky shook his head. “Nothing.”
“Why does she get to win?” Sam asked softly, and Lucky focused on her, frowning. “She gets to humiliate and hurt you—and me for that matter—she manipulated Jason into lying for her, and then to forgive her—and you just know she’s going to use Jason’s money to get custody and screw you in the divorce—” Sam stepped closer to her. “Why does she get to walk away with everything she ever wanted while you and I suffer? Does that seem fair?”
“No.” He cleared his throat. “No. And she’s not going to. I’m not just giving up on my sons.”
“You shouldn’t. And I’m going to help you keep them.”
Harborview Towers: Lobby
Jason stepped off the parking garage elevator and went around the corner to the private elevator for the penthouse, an involuntary grin spreading across his face as he spied Elizabeth waiting, Jake in a stroller and Cameron running circles around her, his arms spread out.
“Zoom!’ Cameron cried as he spied Jason and changed directions to run right at him. Jason lifted him in his arms. “Zoom, zoom!” he chanted. “I zoom really fast. Tell Mommy—”
“Really fast,” Jason agreed as he joined Elizabeth and Jake. “Hey.”
“Am I early?” Elizabeth wanted to know. The doors opened, and they all stepped inside the car. “You’re just getting back from somewhere—”
“No, I went out for a ride on the bike, and lost track of time.”
“A ride?” Cameron’s eyes brightened. “Bike? Mommy! Mommy! He has a bike! I’m old enough,” he turned back to Jason, with a serious and sober face. “Very fast. I can drive.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes, and Jason grinned. “You are definitely your mother’s son,” he told Cameron. “She used to ask me that all the time.”
“Gram said she hoped I had a kid just like me,” Elizabeth said, her cheeks flushing. “I’m no sure this is what she had in mind. Cam, Jason never let me drive—”
“I did once and you closed your eyes,” he reminded her.
“Mommy, that’s bad,” Cameron told her. “Open eyes.” He looked at Jason. “I keep them open. You let me?” he asked, hopefully.
“Uh, we’ll talk to your mother,” Jason said, not wanting to let him down or disappoint him. “But you’re not really old enough for my bike.”
Cameron made a face. “Big brother. I’m old.”
The doors opened, and Jason set Cameron down to fish out his keys in case Spinelli had gone out. Then helped Elizabeth get the stroller over the seam between the hallway floor and the elevator.
Cameron was bouncing up and down. “I wanna see the bike. Can I see it?”
“Later,” Jason promised. “I’ll walk you guys down when you go,” he told Elizabeth. “He can sit on it, and maybe he’ll realize how far from the ground he is.”
“We can only hope,” she said with a laugh as he tested the door, and found it unlocked. “Then again, pretty sure my feet didn’t reach the ground either and you still me drive that once.”
“Never made that mistake again, did I?” Jason said, and she playfully hit him in the arm.
Cameron darted through the doorway and immediately started another round of zooms around the living room. Jason waited until Elizabeth and the stroller were inside, then closed the door. “He never slows down, does he?”
“No, I’m pretty sure he has pure sugar running through his veins.” Elizabeth unfastened Jake from the stroller and handed him to Jason. “Cam—”
Jason stroked Jake’s back, took in the sweet, fresh scent of his son, marveling at how simple it was. That she’d brought him for a visit, and he didn’t have to worry about anyone seeing him. Jake was his now. And no one could take him away.
Then he frowned, looked around the living room. “Spinelli?” he called, going to the stairs. “Are you here?” The door had been unlocked—
Spinelli’s footsteps thudded, then thundered down the first set of stairs to the landing. “Stone Cold!” He declared cheerfully. “And the Maternal One! Little Cam! And is that Baby Stone Cold?”
“That’s a new one,” Jason offered as Spinelli came down the last set of stairs.
“We’re still in testing. Faithful Friend is helping,” Spinelli said to Elizabeth. “You made it just in time! I made a surprise!”
Jason clutched Jake more tightly. “A surprise. What kind of surprise?”
“Come, come.” Spinelli went back to the stairs, and ran up them.
“Uh—” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “Should you be scared?”
“Maybe.” Jason handed Jake to her, then grabbed Cameron as he passed by. “Let’s go find out.”
Spinelli wasn’t in his room, but in the last guest room which had been left empty and devoid of furniture. Until now. Jason stepped into the room, with Elizabeth on his heels.
Cameron’s eyes grew wide at the sight of one of the bigger toys, and pushed to get down, running straight for the minature motorcycle. “Mommy! They come in my size!”
Spinelli had turned the room into a bedroom — a nursery, Jason realized. With a crib, changing table. And a toddler’s bed. And toys for both sets of ages.
Spinelli stood in the middle of the room, grinning. “I knew Little Cam and his brother would be here more. As soon as Maternal One made her declaration,” he nodded at Elizabeth. “Georgie helped. We wanted them to feel at home.”