Flash Fiction: Chain Reaction – Part 12

This entry is part 12 of 20 in the Flash Fiction: Chain Reaction

Written in 68 minutes. Went over to finish the last scene but I don’t think you’ll argue.


Kelly’s: Courtyard

I didn’t ask to be forgiven. Because I’m not sorry.

Courtney reeled back like she’d been slapped, her cheeks pale. “What did you just say to me?”

“I’m not sorry it happened.”

“You-you—” She swallowed hard. “No, no—you have to be sorry—” She put up her hands. “You have to be sorry because it was wrong. You hurt me, and you have to be sorry you did that—”

“That’s different,” Jason said. He took a careful breath. “I am sorry you’re hurt. And yeah, what I did was wrong because of the promises I’d made you. But that doesn’t mean I would change what happened or that I’m sorry I did it. And I’d be lying to you and myself if I said differently.” And he was done lying to himself. His phone rang before he could say anything else, and he tugged it from his pocket, making a face when he saw it was Carly. But she was nearly nine months pregnant, so he answered.

“Really, right now?” Courtney demanded as he flipped the phone open, lifted it to his ear.

“Carly—” Before he could even speak her name, he could hear her crying. “Carly, what happened—”

“S-Sonny—he’s lost his mind—he thinks he saw Lily, he thinks—” Carly was barely audible. “He thinks he saw her at the penthouse on the balcony. You need to  get here. Please. Please. I can’t do this. I can’t—”

“Where are you? Are you at the Towers?” Jason was already heading for the parking lot, dimly away of Courtney trying to keep up with him. With his free hand, he fished his keys from his pocket. “Go to my place—take Michael—”

“We’re—” She sucked in a heavy breath. “We’re already there. We’ll wait for you.”

“My car is over—” Courtney started, but Jason was already at the bike, swinging a leg over the seat. “Jason, wait—”

Her words were lost in the roar of the engine, and then Jason was gone.

She stared after him for a long moment, gritted her teeth, then swung her eyes back to the diner. She had some business to take care of.

Kelly’s: Dining Room

“So,” Nikolas drawled, “that was very interesting, wasn’t it?” He ate a spoonful of chili while Elizabeth just glared at him. “You sure there’s nothing to tell?”

“I have no idea what that was,” Elizabeth murmured, trying very hard not to look out the courtyard where Jason and Courtney spoke for half a second before he took a phone call, then left with Courtney chasing after him. She looked back at Nikolas. “And butt out.”

“No fun in that,” Nikolas said with a shrug.

The door swung open a minute later and Courtney charged back in, stopping at the counter. “Are you happy now?”

Elizabeth lifted her brows, looked behind her, then back at Courtney. “Who are you talking to?”

“You, you goddamn tramp—”

“Fantastic,” Elizabeth muttered coming around the counter, grabbing Courtney by the elbow. The blonde started to protest but Elizabeth wasn’t in the mood. She dragged Courtney through the kitchen and shoved her towards the back entrance. When they were in the alley, she finally released her. “You’re not coming to my place of work to scream at me, you lunatic.”

“How dare you talk to me this way after what you did to me—”

“I did nothing to you,” Elizabeth shot back. “I didn’t ask you to marry me. I didn’t tell you I loved you. I don’t even like you. A month ago, I let you sit there and get inside my head and make me feel bad, but I’m done with that now, do you get me, Courtney? No one is going to walk all over me. I’m sorry Jason hurt you, but that is a him and you problem, and it has nothing to do with me—”

“You did something, I know you did! Because he loved me! And he stayed for me!”

“I did nothing, Courtney. I just came to my job. You’re the one who kept coming to my job to talk about the wedding that isn’t happening. You’re the one who made sure Jason came here today. What did you think was going to happen? He’d feel so guilty when he saw me he’d agree to set the date?”

Courtney pressed her lips together, glared at her. “Shut up.”

“Oh, so that’s the plan. Guilt Jason into staying with you. Guilt him into marrying you. What a great love story. A real beautiful tear-jerker. I’m so sorry it didn’t work out. Maybe if you’d given me lines or something so I could have played my part—”

“Shut up! Just stop—”

“I have seen Jason three times since that night, Courtney, and each time, I told him to go be happy. If it was with you, fine. That’s what love is. Wanting someone to be happy, to be their best selves, even if it’s not with you. I told him to go be happy. Your job was to be the woman he loved. But I guess you couldn’t manage that, huh?”

Courtney’s hand flashed out, but Elizabeth caught her. “You don’t get to stand here like the wronged woman when everything that happened today is on you. I haven’t seen Jason in almost a month. Did you know that? He went out of his way to avoid me here, and I’ve made damn sure I don’t run into him when I see Emily. We did what we were supposed to. We stayed away. But that wasn’t enough for you, wasn’t it? You wanted to make him feel bad, so you dragged him to Kelly’s—” She stopped. “How did you know I’d be here? Are you—did you get my schedule from your dad?”

“You’re just mad because you got caught—”

“Caught doing what? Courtney, I did nothing but go to work. Maybe, and I’m just throwing this out there, the problem is that you put Jason in front of me, and instead of feeling guilty, he got pissed at you. You don’t get to take this out on me. Go yell at him.”

“I plan to, but you need to understand that—”

“You’re not going anywhere, yeah, yeah. I got that. Courtney, here’s something about me you don’t know. If I wanted Jason back last month, I could have had him. I could have cried, I could have begged. I could have done a lot of things. But I chose to look at the man that I loved and think about what he needed. What he wanted. I put him first. So when you go home and play this all back in your head, think about that.”

“You think he’s going to leave me now, that he’s going to come back to me—but he chose me, Elizabeth. He chose me first—”

“Yeah, I know.” Elizabeth tilted her head. “It’s called guilt, Courtney. It’s called obligations. Making promises and trying like hell to keep them even when you don’t want to. I’m sorry you’re unhappy. I’m sorry that Jason hurt you. But you’re the one that kept including me in this little triangle, not him.”

“You slept with my fiancee—”

“I did. And I’m not sorry. Anything else?” Elizabeth asked, arching a brow. “Because I would like to get back to work now.”

“This isn’t over—” Courtney threw her hair back and stalked down the alley, turning the car towards the parking lot.

“Of course not,” Elizabeth muttered. “I couldn’t be that lucky.” She yanked open the kitchen door.

Nikolas was still finishing his chili when she returned. “No idea what’s going on, you said?”

“Shut up and eat your food.”

Harborview Towers: Hallway

Max was waiting for him when the elevator doors slid open. “Thank God. It’s a goddamn mess, Jase. Mrs. C is hysterical, Michael’s not much better. I think I got Mr. C calmed down—”

“Take a deep breath,” Jason said, and the guard obeyed. “What happened?”

“I don’t know how any of it started, but I heard Mr. C. Shouting. I went inside and he was on the balcony, yelling the name Lily over and over again. Then he started to run towards the kitchen, then to the old maid’s room — he kept screaming the name. Mrs. C came downstairs, upset and Michael was with her. Sonny grabbed her arms—”

“He grabbed her?” Jason repeated. Damn it. Damn it. “Did he hurt her?”

“He shook her hard, demanding she tell him where Lily went. It was like he didn’t recognize her—I froze, man, I’m sorry, I froze—” Max dragged a hand through his hair. “But when he started to shake her, I got her away. I got her away,” he repeated. “And I picked Michael up, and I took them to your place.”

“Okay. Okay. Good. Good. I want you to come with me, and we’re going to deal with Sonny first, okay?” Jason started for the door. “There’s a medical kit in the bathroom downstairs. Go get it. It’s under the sink.”

“Got it.”

Jason pushed open the door, found Sonny pacing by the fireplace, his black hair disheveled, his eyes red. He looked over at the entrance, the pupils of his eyes so wide the black swallowed the brown. “Jase, Jase, you gotta help me—”

“That’s why I’m here.” Jason took Sonny by the arm, gently, and steered him towards the sofa. He still recognized Jason, that was good. But— “Tell me what’s going on, and I’ll fix it.”

“Lily, I can’t find her. I can’t find her.” Sonny seized Jason’s arms. “You gotta find her. She’s pregnant, okay? And I have to protect her. But I couldn’t find her. And Reinaldo—” He jerked up, twisted to look towards the door. “I don’t know who that guy is on the door, I need Reinaldo—”

The loyal guard who’d been Sonny’s personal body guard had died six years ago in a shooting at Luke’s. “He’s not here. I’ll go get him, but this is Max—” Jason gestured at the other man who had emerged from the hallway to the door way. “This is Max, and I trust him with my life, you know?”

“You trust him.” Slowly, Jason got Sonny to sit back down, though his pulse was racing. This was bad. This was worse than he’d ever seen him.

“I do. So take a deep breath. I’m going to get you some water, and I want you to tell me everything you remember about the last time you saw Lily. Then you can rest, and I’ll go find her.”

“You’ll find her.”

“I will. You know I will.”

Sonny closed his eyes. “Okay. Okay.”

Jason left him on the sofa, then poured him a glass of water. He took the kit from Max and found the sedative inside. He loaded the syringe, then took it and the water back to Sonny. “Okay. Tell me about Lily.”

“She was—she was on the balcony.” Sonny sipped his water. “I told her to come in. It’s getting cold. She turned, she smiled at me. She—she smiled. And then she was gone. I don’t know, did she fall?”

“No. No, she didn’t.” Jason took the water glass, set it aside. “I’m going to give you something to help you. Okay? It’ll help you remember.”

“Help me remember,” Sonny repeated, watching as Jason rolled back Sonny’s sleeve, and found a vein. “How soon?”

“Soon. Lily didn’t fall, Sonny. You know that. She turned, she smiled at you, and then she went to the car.”

“The car.” Sonny squinted, then nodded. “Yes. Yes. The car. We were…” His throat worked hard for a minute, and he swallowed. “She died. She and my son.”

“Yes. They died seven years ago,” Jason said. “You married Carly. Do you remember Carly?”

“Christ. Christ.” Sonny put his head in his hands. “Carly. She’s pregnant. That’s my son.”

“Yes.”

“What’s happening to me? What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know, Sonny. But we’re going to figure it out. Right now, I want you to relax. To rest. I gave you something to help, okay?” Jason stood, pulled Sonny to his feet. “Max is going to help you. Can you do that for me?”

“Yeah. I can do that. Carly. Where is she?”

“Safe. I’m not going to let anything happen to her or the kids. I promise. Come on.” Jason gestured for Max to take his place, and the guard hurried forward. “Put him to bed, then come across the hall.”

He waited until Sonny and Max had cleared the first landing before leaving for his place.

Carly was pacing in front of the fireplace, a hand at the small of her back, her eyes bloodshot. “Jase.”

He ignored her for a minute, went straight for the little boy curled up in a ball on the sofa. “Hey, buddy.” He crouched in front of the sofa. “Hey—” he grunted when Michael launched himself at Jason. “Okay. It’s okay.”

“Daddy was hurting Mommy,” Michael said, his voice muffled, buried in Jason’s shoulder. Jason rose to his feet, bringing Michael with him, stroking the five-year-old’s back.

He met Carly’s eyes. “You’re not going back. Not tonight.”

“No. No I can’t do this again. I can’t keep—we were okay and then we weren’t, I can’t—I can’t keep hoping it—” Carly sucked in a shaky breath. “You can’t keep fixing him, Jason. You can’t keep this up. None of us can. I was so scared—” She pressed her hands to her mouth. “And Michael—he’s seen too much—”

“I know.” Jason went to the desk, and shifted Michael to one side, reaching for the phone. “I’m going to take care of everything. Okay? Wally, it’s me. Yeah, I need you to send someone up. Get a car ready, and send some guys over to the Forest Hill house. Open it up. Make it safe. Carly’s on her way in a bit. Michael will be with her—”

The door opened and Courtney came in. He looked at her for a minute, then turned his attention back to the phone. “And so is Courtney. Thanks.”

“What am I doing? What’s happening?” Courtney crossed over to her sister-in-law. “Are you okay?”

“I can’t go through it all again. Just—”

“Carly and Michael are going to one of the safe house for a few days. Maybe longer,” he said. “And you’ll go with them—”

“Oh, I don’t—” Courtney began. “I should be here with you, a-and Sonny—”

Jason looked over at her. “No. That’s not necessary. I’ve got Sonny handled. Carly needs you more than he does.”

She waited for him to say more, but he wouldn’t. There was nothing else to say. He didn’t know exactly what had happened — or why. But something had.

Maybe it had been standing at the counter, holding a phone in his hand, looking at Elizabeth, and knowing he couldn’t touch her. Knowing that she was hugging Nikolas because it couldn’t be him. And maybe it had been sitting across the hall, watching Sonny remember Lily had died, remembering the horror of it, dragging him back from wherever his mind had taken him — and all he wanted to do was talk to Elizabeth, because she would listen and when he was done, he’d know what to do next.

It was clear to him now what he had to do, but first — he had to make sure that things here were calm enough so that he could take a few hours and go see Elizabeth.

Because that’s all he wanted to do now. Was see her.

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Elizabeth stretched her arms over her head, then leaned on the counter to watch the last table finish their meal. A couple. Maybe on a date. They were sending little flirty signals back and forth. Their feet brushing one another. Hearts in their eyes. She wondered if she and Jason had ever looked like that.

What a strange day — from the unexpected encounter with Jason to the wonderful news of Emily going into remission — the way Jason had looked at her after he’d heard the news — and maybe they were both remembering the last time they’d received good news about Emily, and how they’d celebrated in each other’s arms.

And then the tension with Courtney — the insane confrontation in the alley. Elizabeth was  honestly a little surprised that she hadn’t crumbled under the pressure or the guilt, but she just…didn’t. She’d done everything she could to respect Courtney’s space since that night. She’d never pushed back, she’d never said a word to her. She’d been polite. Kind. And maybe that’s why Courtney had snapped. Because what happened today was no one’s fault but Courtney’s.

The bell above the door jingled, and Elizabeth slowly straightened, making a face when Ric sauntered towards her. What a great way to end the day.

“The grill is closed, but we still have the cold menu,” Elizabeth said, tossing the late night menu at him. “So make it quick—”

“You look so tired,” Ric said, with a sigh. He sat at the counter. “I wish you’d let me help. Financially. I could—”

“I’d rather choke.” Elizabeth shoved a utensil wrap at him, then poured him a glass of water. She was good at her job, damn it. And didn’t even give into the temptation to accidentally overfill and splash him.

“Elizabeth—”

“Give me your order or get out.”

Ric’s mouth settled in an unhappy line. “Fine. The Cobb salad.”

“Great.” Elizabeth went to the window, slapped the order down. “Don, would you mind bringing this last order to the customer? I’m going to clear down the courtyard.”

“Sure thing, Lizzie,” Don said, the cook sending Ric a dark look. “You take your time out there. I’ll take care of it in here.”

She busied herself folding chairs, and sliding them into stacks. A few more weeks and they’d be able to close the courtyard down for the season. She’d probably grow old working at Kelly’s, she thought with some derision.

The door behind her opened, and Ric stepped out. “I’m not going to make it easy for you to leave me—”

“No, I don’t imagine kidnapping a pregnant woman and keeping her locked in a panic room would be easy, but don’t worry, I still found the door.” Elizabeth folded up another chair.

“You made me promises—”

“You made a few yourself, Ric. And broke every one of them—”

“I would have thought you’d be more understanding. Don’t you have a soft spot for criminals?” Ric bit out.

Elizabeth set the last chair in the stack, then looked at him, her expression stone-faced. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“How many crimes did you overlook for Jason?”

“There it is.” Elizabeth pointed at him. “I knew you’d get around to it eventually. You think I’m stupid, don’t you? You think I’m going to compare your crimes to whatever imaginary thing you think Jason’s done, and talk about how they’re worse. You should know by now. I’m not going to let you use me against Jason. Not ever again.” She started past him.

“I couldn’t use you the last time,” Ric retorted, and she whirled back. “Or don’t you remember how useless you were to me about Jason and Sonny? You didn’t know anything. But I stuck around because I fell in love with you—”

“Oh, how romantic. Can’t believe I’m divorcing you—” She rolled her eyes.

“Jason didn’t trust you, remember? You didn’t know anything. He didn’t trust you, didn’t confide in you, didn’t care about you—”

“None of that was true then or now. But you need it to be.” She tipped her head, saw him grit his teeth. “You, you need me to think the worst of Jason, and I was stupid. Gullible. Hurt. I let you manipulate me, Ric, and I’ll regret it every day of my life. You needed me to be low and sad and isolated because it was the only way I’d ever let you near me. But that’s done now.” She stepped towards him. “Because I see you for who you are now, and all I want is for you to go away.”

“I’m going to prove to you that I love you,” Ric said. He slapped his hand out to stop her from opening the door to Kelly’s. “I’m going to do what Jason never did — fight for you—”

“Do you have any arguments that aren’t about Jason? Still mad that Sonny chose him and not you?” Elizabeth demanded. “This isn’t even about me, is it? You just want to win. I’m never going to trust you again. So stop coming around, and leave me alone—”

“I’m not going anywhere—” Ric had barely managed to get the words out before he suddenly was yanked away from her, and in less than a breath, he was pinned against the brick wall on the other side of the courtyard, the chairs scattering with a clatter.

Jason had him by the neck, his hand squeezing. “Think again, Ric.”

Comments

  • Finally, Liz has a backbone and stood up to Courtney and Ric. Jason needs to end his relationship with Courtney. Sonny needs to see a psych doctor to find out what is wrong with him.

    According to Shelly Samuel on May 3, 2024
  • I loved Elizabeth telling Courtney off and telling her some truths. Jason is going to be so done with her. She doesn’t even care that Carly and Sonny are in trouble. I’m so glad that Jason showed up to stop Ric. They both need to get out of Jason and Elizabeth’s lives. Sadly, they won’t stop until they cause more trouble. Why is Elizabeth so tired? I think I know. Lol

    According to arcoiris0502 on May 3, 2024
  • Woohoo! Miss Elizabeth is on fire! Loved her take no crap stance with both Courtney and Ric. Jason walking up at the end and pulling him away from her was classic Jason. Sonny needs to spend some time with a good therapist. Great update.

    According to nanci on May 3, 2024
  • I am so glad Elizabeth stood up for herself with Courtney and now Ric. Everything Elizabeth said to Courtney was the truth.

    According to Carla P on May 3, 2024
  • This update literally had me squeeing the entire time. Love that Elizabeth stood her ground with Courtney and Ric. Jason is finally ready to drop kick Courtney to the curb. Hope Carly and Michael are able to get away from Sonny safely. Yes, Jason! Go get your girl!

    According to Beth on May 3, 2024
  • OMG do I get a Ric beatdown???? I’ve missed them so much. Jason beating the shit out of Ric is like, my favorite song. Honestly, there were so many cathartic moments in this chapter. I sincerely hope Sonny can come back from this. Although, I know what happens on the show during this era, I’m hoping maybe it turns out differently here. I’m very curious to see where Jason and Liz go from here. It’s pretty clear that Jason has made up his mind and I know that Liz is fully aware of his feelings for him, hmm…I don’t know how quickly I want things to move. Good thing it’s not my choice, right?

    According to Mariah on May 3, 2024
  • I love how strong Liz is being with Courtney and Ric!

    According to Laura on May 3, 2024
  • seriously good chapter I love when Elizabeth gets pissed and lets someone have it. Courtney is so dumb and Ric is just cruising for a bruising
    So Sonny needs to see a doctor before he kills someone maybe he will get Ric.

    According to Pamela Hedstrom on May 3, 2024
  • It must be seriously therapeutic to write these chapters for this story and the others. They are so satisfying as a reader! You’re on fire right now, and I’m still amazed at all the stories you’re juggling, plus the end of the school year and all the other things going on. You rock!

    According to Jill on May 3, 2024
  • Agree with the above you rock! As does this story & Warning Shots…go Lizzie, get ‘em!!

    According to Shawna on May 4, 2024
  • Woah, Lizzie showed up and showed out today! She and Jason were firing on all cylinders. Jason tired of Courtney talking about Carly and Elizabeth tired of Ric talking about Jason. And Elizabeth schooling Courtney was fantastic! I loved it. Great writing 🙂

    According to Felicia on May 4, 2024
  • YES!!! Wish this was on the show! Awesome chapter!

    According to Tammy on May 8, 2024