Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn – Part 4

Honestly can’t tell you how long this took. My keyboard was such a bitch — lagging every five seconds. Probably around 70-80 minutes, tbh.


Morgan Penthouse: Guest Bedroom

The miniature motorcycle was actually a tricycle which delighted Cameron. He fit his tiny feet to the pedals and it rolled forward. Jason reached out to close the door before Elizabeth could even think — but of course Cameron would make a beeline for the long hallway, and the stairs didn’t have a gate.

The entire penthouse felt like a death trap now and Elizabeth clutched Jake more tightly in her arm, looking around the room again, taking in all the details —    the bed with racing cars that Jake wouldn’t need for at least a year. The tricycle Cameron rode, the Lego sets carefully tucked on shelf next to a row of plastic figures—Spiderman, Batman, Superman, and other superheroes she didn’t recognize.

On the other side of the room sat a crib with padded bumpers, a changing table, and a toy box filled with stuffed animals. Spinelli stood in the center, a huge grin stretched across his face, eyes bright. He’d been so excited to show off his surprise——

“Thank you,” Elizabeth said. She handed Jake to Jason and hugged the tech. “You and Georgie obviously have good taste,” she said as Cameron zoomed around them, though he struggled to go very fast across the carpet. “How did you know he was obsessed with motorcycles right now?”

“Well, Noble Emily might have given us some pointers,” Spinelli admitted.

“Uh, thanks,” Jason said. In his arms, Jake started to fuss, screwing up his little face, then emitted a cry. He gently rocked the infant, but it didn’t help.

“Oh, he’s ready for his bottle,” Elizabeth said. “Cam, we have to go downstairs so Jake can eat—”

“Mom! He’s got Biderman!” Cameron clutched the red and blue figurine to his chest, his blue eyes wide. “Can’t I play?”

“The Insightful Georgie made sure we got these—” Spinelli handed Elizabeth a square device the size of a paperback book. “They’ve got video and audio. I wanted to open them up to see if I could make the picture better, but Georgie said maybe not this set. I bought my own to play with,” Spinelli informed her. He switched it on, and a black and white picture popped up, aimed at the crib. “And the little dude can press this  button to talk to you. It’s like an intercom.”

“You, uh, really thought of everything,” Elizabeth said.

“I’ll hang out with him and make sure he’s okay so Little Stone Cold can get his munchies on.”

“Thank you,” Elizabeth said again. “Cam, you okay to stay up here with Spinelli?”

Cam thrust a plastic figure at the tech. “You be Batman.”

Elizabeth followed Jason down the stairs, still trying to understand the itch between her shoulders and the general discomfort she felt over the room upstairs. She unzipped the diaper bag to pull out the container of formula and an empty bottle.

“I can do that,” Jason offered, rubbing Jake’s back in slow circles to keep him calm.

“No, no, it’s okay. You—” She forced a smile. “You’ve got him sort of quiet—I’ll do this.” She hurried into the kitchen to mix the bottle, then stared in confusion at the bottle warmer on the counter. What—

“Elizabeth, is everything—” Jason stopped as he saw it as well. “I guess the surprises weren’t just upstairs,” he said.

“No, he really thought of everything.” She switched it on, then set the bottle inside. “It was really thoughtful of him.”

“Are you sure? You seem…I don’t know. Like it bothers you—”

“No. No,” she repeated with force, turning to face him. “It’s not—okay, a little. I don’t know why. I knew we’d have to get things for Jake here so he could spend as much time as you wanted, but—”

“Did you want to do it yourself? Because—”

“I must sound like an insane person,” Elizabeth muttered, dragging her hands through her hair. “No. Everything Spinelli and Georgie did was perfect. And I appreciate Emily helping, too. Maybe it’s—” The bottle warmer beeped and she retrieved the bottle, tested it on her wrist, then handed it to Jason. Jake immediately settled as his father adjusted him in his arms, laying him in the crook of his elbow. His tiny hands tried to rest on the bottle but he wasn’t strong enough to hold it himself.  Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “It’s Cam,” she murmured. “Spinelli made sure he’d be welcome here and feel at home. And it doesn’t bother me. It just—it’s this conversation I had with Emily earlier.”

“I haven’t been able to get a hold of her since I got out,” Jason said. “Is she—”

“Obviously very supportive, considering she helped Spinelli. She talked to Lucky. I told you that he still wanted custody of Jake, and she tried to talk him out of it,” Elizabeth continued. She folded her arms. “He told her he can’t imagine staying in Cameron’s life if he loses custody of Jake.” Her throat tightened. “And I know she’s confused because Jake isn’t his biological son either. But the difference is that Lucky thought he was. He always knew Cam wasn’t.”

“I don’t understand. Lucky—” Jason squinted. “He’s been in Cam’s life since the beginning.”

“Just about. Um, we got engaged a few months after Cam turned one, but Cam was already in love with him, and Lucky was so good with him. Cam’s first word was mama, but dada was his second, and he’s always seen Lucky as his—” She swiped at her eyes. “He’s doing this to hurt me. He has to be.”

“I can understand his wanting to stay in Jake’s life,” Jason said slowly, forcing the words out. “I wanted that with Michael. I tried it. But Cam has nothing to do with any of this.”

“No. He’s not yours. And Zander is dead. There’s no one out there who can ever come between them. So either he’s been lying to me all this time about loving Cam as his own or—” She rubbed her chest. “He thinks this will break me. That it’ll make me change my mind.”

“That you’ll back down on me being in Jake’s life,” Jason said. “To let Cam keep his father, you’d have to let Lucky stay with Jake.”

“I don’t want to think it’s that cold. That he’s using Cam this way. I know he’s hurt. I know I made this giant mess and that I can’t just make it go away by telling the truth one day. I can’t make it not true.  I did this. I lied. And I asked you to lie. And it was cruel to both of you—”

“Elizabeth—”

“But Cameron shouldn’t be the one to pay for it. Because he’s the one that has to live with it. Even if a judge gives him visitation the way you got with Michael—” She shook her head. “We can’t go back. We’re not going back to how it was. I don’t want to. You deserve to have your son. He deserves to have you.”

“I wish there was something I could do to make this go away,” he told her. He set the empty bottle on the counter, then adjusted Jake on his shoulder, patting his back until in the infant burped. “But I’m not giving Jake up.”

“And it’s not on the table,” Elizabeth said firmly. “All I can do is tell a judge that I was scared, I made a mistake, and I’m trying to make it right. Lucky’s the one who’s going to have to explain why Cameron’s custody should have anything to do with what happens with Jake.”

Wyndemere: Study

Lucky scowled when he saw Nikolas’s aunt standing in the middle of the room. He glared at his brother. “You said you found me a lawyer—”

“Before we start down this road,” Nikolas said, leaning against the desk and folding his arms. “I thought you might want a second opinion. Before papers get filed and you can’t take this back.”

“I don’t—” Lucky clenched his jaw, then looked at Alexis. “I plan on asking for joint custody of the boys. Both.”

“Okay,” Alexis said with a nod. “There are some pitfalls there—”

“Both,” Lucky repeated. “Or none.” He folded his arms. “I can’t stay in Cameron’s life as a part-time father, watching Jason raise my son. I don’t care what the paternity results are. Anyone can make a baby. I’ve been Jake’s father, and I want him.”

“Jason will likely be a part-time father as well,” Nikolas pointed out. “They don’t live together—”

“Not yet, but don’t be stupid,” Lucky bit out. “He broke up with Sam after the kidnapping. They were probably planning to go public if he beat the murder charges—”

“Whether or not any of that is true,” Alexis said, “that doesn’t give you anything to work with. You understand that you have very few options. You’re not Jake’s biological father, and the court will likely look very hard at Elizabeth for lying about it. With Jason in the picture — and as someone who was deprived of his paternal rights, most family courts are going to side with him.”

“But—”

“In fact, if Elizabeth wanted to play hardball, you could lose even your limited access to Cameron,” Alexis continued. “You’re not his father. You didn’t adopt him. Stepparents generally don’t get a lot of power. Your one saving grace is that there is no biological father in the picture. If you want my advice, Lucky, drop Jake from your plans. File paperwork to adopt Cameron so she can’t use that against you.”

“I—” Lucky couldn’t. He couldn’t just give up on Jake. He wouldn’t. “I can’t. I can’t watch Jake grow up with someone else and not fight for that to be me. That’s your advice, fine. But how do I win my case? It can’t be impossible—”

“You’d have make Jason disappear. Make him an unfit father,” she added. “But that’s another uphill battle. He’ll have plenty of character witnesses about his time with Michael—”

“Another time he lied—”

“Jason won visitation rights,” Alexis said. “You weren’t here for that, but I secured that case for him. He could have stayed in Michael’s life, but he surrendered them for Michael’s sake. That would likely impress a family court judge. And you can’t even use the criminal record against him – he’s been legally exonerated of the charges. Lucky, this case would be difficult, close to impossible to win, and it would drag on for months—”

“But what about Elizabeth? Can’t I get anything for what she did to me? She lied. She lied on his birth certificate. On medical records. Christ, in the kidnapping investigation — she was asked point blank if there was anything that could have made Jake a target—”

“Lucky, that’s not why Jake got kidnapped—”

“I know that’s not why Maureen Harper says she did it, but maybe it was to get back at Sam — Jason’s girlfriend. Can’t I use any of that to talk about her being an unfit mother?” Lucky demanded.

“You could try, and with the right judge, it might get you something. But it’s a maybe, Lucky. You have an excellent chance of keeping Cam in your life. Take it—”

“No. No. I can’t. I can’t just give up like this. I can’t let Elizabeth take my son from me like this doesn’t matter—” He took a deep breath. “You can’t take my case because of Jason. But you know who would, don’t you? You can give me a recommendations.”

“I can, but I’d be surprised if it went anywhere.” Alexis shook her head, then looked at Nikolas. “I’m sorry. I tried.”

Harborview Towers: Parking Garage

After Jake’s bottle and a nap, Elizabeth reluctantly decided it was time to pack the boys up to return home. “We can try overnight visits if you want,” she offered as the elevator opened on the parking garage level. “And—and I don’t want you to feel like you can’t have him alone or anything, um, if you want Diane to make, like an arrangement or something—”

“She actually wants to talk to us both before she takes your case,” Jason told her. He set Jake into his stroller. “I know you’re trying to make up for the time we’ve lost—but I’ve also been in jail for most of his life,” he reminded her gently.

“Only because of the kidnapping—which wouldn’t have happened if we’d—if I’d told the truth,” she corrected. “I’ve had a lot of time to think about that—you were waiting on bail. Wouldn’t you have assigned Jake a guard or something?”

Jason grimaced. “Elizabeth—”

“I’m just—he’s not just mine. Not anymore. You don’t have to ask me for permission or-or—” She sighed. “I just want to make this okay, and that’s not going to happen in a few days or visits.”

“It’s okay right now,” Jason told her. “For me, anyway.” He scooped Cameron in his arms as they turned a corner. “I made you a promise,” he told Elizabeth’s son whose eyes were so wide at the sight of the Harley Davidson parked next to an SUV.

“That’s yours?” Cameron asked in a hushed, awed whisper. “Mommy, it’s a real bike.”

“Yes, it is.” Elizabeth smiled as Jason set Cameron down on the seat, holding him at the waist. “It’s bigger than the one upstairs.”

Cameron slid his hands down the handlebars, then dangled his feet. He made a face, then looked at Jason. “Maybe not big enough yet.”

“Not yet,” Jason agreed. “It’ll be a while.”

“Yeah. I play with my size,” Cameron said with a firm nod. “I can play with yours?” he asked him.

“It’s your bike,” Jason told him as he lifted Cameron off the motorcyle. “It’s just going to be at my place. For when you and your brother come over.”

“Grammy not like my zooming,” Cameron said, accepting this with a shrug. “Mommy—”

Jason looked at Elizabeth. “They’re brothers,” he told her. “And I like the way things are right now. With you bringing them both. I don’t want Cam to feel left out, and if you’re serious about going back to work, you should get to have all the time with Jake you can.”

“Okay.” Elizabeth nodded. “Okay. Then we’ll meet with Diane, and we’ll keep things this way.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

After Jason reluctantly strapped Cameron into his car seat and said goodbye to Jake, he went back up to the penthouse where  he found Spinelli back on the sofa on the laptop. “Thank you,” he said.

Spinelli looked up, then grinned again. “He liked the toys, right? Georgie said we did too much, but—”

“No, it was good.” Jason sat in the armchair next to the sofa. “Why did you include Cam?” he asked. “You know—he’s not—I mean, he’s not—”

“Not a blood relation, Stone Cold, sure. But he’s the Wee One’s big brother. And you like his mother. Fair Elizabeth will be here a lot. Little Dude is part of the package.” Spinelli paused. “And—” he made a face and his expression turned solemn. “I was at Kelly’s,” he reminded Jason. “I heard Lucky Spencer tell Emily that if he can’t have Jake, he doesn’t want Cameron. It’s wrong. And the Little Dude deserves the best. I know you feel the same, so when Detective Dingus loses Jake, he’ll turn his back on a little kid who didn’t ask for this to happen.”

Jason’s chest tightened, and he forced himself to exhale. He couldn’t understand how Lucky could tie them together. How he could stomach giving up Cameron just to hurt Elizabeth. He knew Lucky was hurt, and Jason could give him some space on that—but Cam—Cam had nothing to do with any of this.

“So, when Little Dude loses the dingus,” Spinelli continued, “it’ll be okay. We’ll be here, and maybe toys don’t make up for that kind of thing, but belonging does.” He stared at his laptop. “Belonging is nice. Everyone should.”

“Yeah, they should.” Jason got to his feet. “Thanks for helping me get this place ready for Jake and Cam. They’re going to be here a lot, so there’s still more we need to do. But this was a good start.”

“Oh—” Spinelli reached into his pocket and drew out a thumb drive. “I forgot—the security footage you promised to hold secure for my Faithful Friend and her roommate. In case they want to know the identity of the creepy admirer.”

Jason took the drive. “You didn’t look?”

“Of course not.” Spinelli sniffed. “But if we need it, you’ll have it. Thanks for being our guardian of the drive.”

Jason shoved it in his pocket, then went to set up the meeting with Diane.

Comments

  • Lucky an ass he don’t really want those kids he just want to stick it to Jason and Elizabeth. With Cam he acted like he father of the year yet Cam was never the reason for him to get help he only got help when he thought he as a having a bio kid.

    According to Jamie Lee Ann Byrd on August 7, 2022
  • I hope Lucky loses the case. I am so loving Spinelli for what he is doing for Cam. Thanks for the update.

    According to Shelly Wendy Samuel on August 7, 2022
  • Spinelli is the best!!! Lucky is so stupid and he is going to regret his decision and lose both boys. Jake abs Cameron are going to be spiked by Jason and they deserve it abs so does Elizabeth.

    According to Becca on August 7, 2022
  • It’s so easy to feel Elizabeth’s struggle here, with guilt, with fear of losing her sons, with uncertainty about her place in Jason’s life. And, Lucky has always been just about Lucky and being an entitled victim. Grr, I cannot recall a time when I like or sympathized with his character particularly after the fire.

    According to Living Liason on August 7, 2022
  • I feel so bad about Cameron. Spinelli is the best. He knows what Cam will be feeling if Lucky leaves Cam. Elizabeth is feeling so guilty. I hope Diane can give them some good advice.

    According to Carla P on August 7, 2022
  • Lucky is such a jerk. I’m so glad Elizabeth isn’t falling for his manipulative bullshit. I can’t believe he thinks he can win. And I’m loving how Spinelli is looking out for Cam.

    According to Lisa on August 7, 2022
  • Lucky’s such an ass
    How has no one slapped him across the face & told him to leave both kids alone because I really wants neither, he just wants to win & hurt Liz
    If he cared about the kids at all it’d be the one who called him Dad & loved him despite his shitty behaviour he conveniently gets to blame on addiction not the baby was isn’t his & doesn’t know him

    Can someone ask him exactly what he thinks will be positive for him winning custody of a baby he’ll only see as Jason’s? Instead of the child who will understand he’s being rejected?

    Seriously Lucky sucks & I hope he OD’s, he’s such a whiny baby, where’s Helena with some matches when you need her? Lol

    Poor Cam deserves better! I’m glad Spinelli stepped in to make him feel better & is seemingly on board with Liason

    According to Jess on August 8, 2022
  • Lucky is such an idiot and doesn’t deserve either boy. He can’t win custody. Spinelli tugged at my heart with his feelings about Cam. He gets it. Jason and Elizabeth are a united front. He’s a good father because he didn’t want Cam to feel left out. It’s going to be an ugly custody battle.

    According to arcoiris0502 on August 8, 2022
  • Hopefully Lucky goes down in a big steaming pile horse pucky, dingus indeed. Awww, Spinelli is a good egg. He wants Cam to know he belongs and of course Liason and their little family to be are icing on the cake. Great update.

    According to nanci on August 8, 2022