Flash Fiction: Hits Different – Part 16

This entry is part 16 of 22 in the Flash Fiction: Hits Different

Written in 64 minutes.


Alan checked the hallway once more before sliding into the study, and closing the door firmly behind him. “Well? Have you gone through the papers?”

Edward scowled, tossed the petition aside. “I don’t know what that boy thinks he’s doing, going against the family like this, and you! We’re in this position because of you!”

Alan lifted his brows. Instead of rising to the bait and giving his father the fiery response he’d wanted, Alan said, “So it’s bad then, isn’t it?”

“It’s fine,” Edward growled. “It’s all supposition, and-and rumors! Justus thinks this will get him a leg up in the conservatorship—he wants that ridiculous child to be appointed instead of me!” He huffed. “Can you imagine?”

“Well—”

“And don’t think I’m letting you off the hook! You told me to leave it alone! You said to give it time! Well, what we do we have? That girl got her hooks into him just like she did before his brains got scrambled—”

“Father—” Alan winced. “I don’t know if we can really speak about him the way. After all, you thought he’d be crawling back by now—”

“That was before I realized that girl is more conniving than I thought.” Edward stalked over to the window. The early morning sun rose over the rose garden outside, and Edward could almost see Lila working with the flowers, on her hands and knees, the way she’d been before she’d been relegated to the wheelchair. Her grandchildren at her side.

Jason, that bright, shining boy with so much purpose—

“How did she do it?” Edward muttered. “At every step, he’s rejected his old life. He refused all our efforts to show him who he used to be. He rebelled. He broke furniture. He destroyed his room. He shattered that damn window—but two weeks with that girl—less than two—and he’s agreeing to file paperwork to stop the divorce we worked so hard to arrange—”

“Father—”

“How did she do it?” Edward repeated, turning to his son, his eyes blazing. “How did she convince him to keep the one piece of his life he should have been eager to discard! She hid the truth from him for months—”

“Well, Father, it seems to me that we underestimated his hostility towards us.” Alan sighed when Edward scowled. “It’s possible he’s aware that we’re behind the lost jobs. Ruby and that woman who ran the bar — they were under orders not to tell him why he was being kicked out, but maybe he connected the dots on his own.”

“The doctors said—”

“The doctors said that they couldn’t measure the damage fully. All we know is that his long-term memories are gone. Retrograde amnesia combined with the damage to the frontal lobe—he’s impulsive. His filter is gone,” Alan continued. “He doesn’t have the same reasoning abilities he once had. Though he never completed the hospital tests,” he admitted with a rueful sigh. “So it’s possible we’ve been operating with a faulty thesis. Perhaps Jason is more capable than you or I gave him credit for—”

“What are you telling me—”

“If he underperformed on the tests in the hospital purposely,” Alan continued, “and it seems to me that’s likely, then we created the circumstances that made him vulnerable to Elizabeth’s story. After all, consider it from her perspective. What do you suppose she’s told him?”

Edward bristled. “That we barred her from her husband’s hospital room, kept her from the estate, stole her money, and are trying to steal her home.” He gripped the back of his desk chair. “I see your point.”

“We cut Jason’s access to money, and when he left, we made sure he couldn’t find a job or a place to live. Now, you and I know we were only trying to encourage him to come home. To be with his family. But Luke went to find him. And instead of being angry that Elizabeth kept the truth from him, she’s spun it so she’s the victim. Just like he is.”

“If we could only make him understand that we were doing what was best for him. What I know he’d want if he knew the truth—”

“Once she was pregnant, Father, there was no chance Jason would ever see Elizabeth for who she really is.” Alan paused. “Can Justus win on Wednesday? Have you talked to the lawyer?”

“He’s not sure,” Edward muttered. “He says it’s a crapshoot. No one’s ever done this before. If Jason walks in there, looking capable and of sound mind, a judge is going to have questions.”

“I think we need to talk about what our goals are. And adjust to this. If you’re still of the mind that you want Jason back in this house and away from Elizabeth, well, then we might need to make some concessions on Wednesday. We’ve lost the opportunity tell Jason what really happened. We have to work with what’s left and not alienate him further.”

Across town, Elizabeth was doing everything she could not to think about the upcoming court hearing. Or that she’d relegated Jason to the sofa while she laid in her bed half the night, thinking of him lying out here, in nothing more than a pair of gray sweatpants that were so much more revealing than she’d ever—

“I was thinking,” Elizabeth said, curling up in a corner of the sofa with a legal pad and pencil in her hand. “About what we talked about last night. About you not knowing what you like to do.”

Jason, at the end of the sofa, frowned at her, his coffee mug halfway to his mouth. “Yeah?”

“Well, you have time now, right? We’re both off today. And Luke said I had to stop working seven days a week,” she said with a curl of her lip. “We could make a list of stuff to try.”

“A list?” Jason repeated. He shifted on the sofa so that he faced her. “Like what?”

“Well, I don’t know. I was looking through some magazines, and if you’re okay, I was wondering if you want to start with some of the hobbies you had before,” she said. “I mean, maybe you might still like that stuff.”

“Uh, okay. I guess that makes sense.” Jason set the coffee on the table. “Like what?”

“Well, sports. I know you said you don’t watch television or movies because the pictures move, but there’s playing sports right? You played hockey in high school and college.” Elizabeth frowned, tapped the pencil against the pad. “But you don’t like people.”

“No, not so far, I don’t.”

“Yeah, so the other sports are out—well, what about running? And, um—” She bit her lip, stared at the legal pad. “You, um, work out, right? With weights.” She glanced up. “You didn’t…well, you didn’t before,” she muttered.

“Then how did you know?” Jason asked, drawing his brows together. “Did Emily tell you, or—”

She cleared her throat, then gestured at him. “You look, um, different. Like—in the biceps. And—” The abs. And chest. And it was how it had all gone stupid and insane a few days ago—she hadn’t noticed the physical changes, and then he’d been shirtless, and she’d just wanted to—

“Anyway. So that’s a yes?” she asked.

Jason tilted his head, peering at her, and she wondered if she was flushed all over. She certainly felt like everything was on fire, and damn it—her chest was probably red—

“That’s a yes,” he said slowly. “I had some physical therapy at the hospital, and the weight training because I’d been laying down for almost two weeks. And there was a gym at the house. When I got too frustrated or angry, which was all the time—I went there.” He stretched out an arm, flexed it—

“Don’t do that,” she hissed under her breath, clenching the pencil tightly.

Jason frowned. “What did you say?”

“I said you should talk to Sonny,” Elizabeth said. “He’s got a gym. They’ve got a boxing ring down there, too. He’d get you set up with access or whatever.”

“Yeah, okay. But that’s not what you said.”

She cleared her throat. “Uh, what about other physical stuff, like—”

“You said you wanted to go to art school.”

Elizabeth blinked. “What?”

“You were supposed to go to art school,” Jason said, “but I don’t see any art supplies around. Did you stop doing that or something?”

“I don’t…”  She slid her hand across the legal pad. “I had a studio. Where I used to live before I moved in here with you. I used to go there. I haven’t in a few months. I…I was going to give it up, but Sonny…he found out and prepaid the rent for the year. He said I’d change my mind.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s okay. I guess…I mean, we’re talking about you like to do or might like to do. It’s fair to…ask me. I just haven’t felt inspired in a few months. That’s all.” She set the pad on the table. “I called Luke while you were in the shower. If you still wanted to go to dinner, it’s okay.”

“Yeah, I still want to go.” Jason caught her arm as she stood and tumbled her back to the sofa, only this time she was sitting almost on top of him. “You noticed I worked out.”

“I—” Elizabeth winced. “Yes. You just…look, we already went through this, okay? This is how it started, and we’re not starting it now.”

“Starting what?” But he was grinning when he asked it and she rolled her eyes.

“You’ve got a one-track mind,” she muttered.

“Am I not supposed to think about that when I look at you?” Jason wanted to know.

“When you—” She stared at him. “What?”

“You think about it when you look me.” He leaned in, brushed his lips just beneath her ear, and she sighed. “You get all red. From here—” He touched her forehead, then his finger stroked her cheek — “to here—” and then he traced the edge of her scoop-necked shirt. “To here.”

“You—” Elizabeth stopped. “I forgot what I was going to say,” she muttered.

“And I was trying to remember,” Jason continued, “if you were red all over, but I didn’t really spend a lot of time looking—”

She clapped both her hands over his mouth. “Oh, man, you’ve got to stop that,” she muttered. She jolted when the tip of his tongue darted out and licked the inside of her palm. “Oh, you—”

“It upsets you that I think you’re beautiful?” Jason asked, frowning. “Or that I think about you all the time—”

“You think about—” Elizabeth took a deep breath, and slowly slid away from him. “You think about sex all the time,” she corrected. “And I’m in front of you. I’m the only woman you’re around—”

“I lived at Jake’s for over a week. There were women there,” Jason told her, and she made a face. “There was this one blonde. She came back a few times, and I thought about it, but then I got kicked out. I could have gone back,” he said.

Elizabeth sighed, and now some of the flush was gone. Reality was setting in, reminding her why she’d put the brakes on in this area. “That’s my point. If you went back there tonight, and she was there, you could—”

“But I don’t want to now. I like you.”

“Okay. Sex is fun, okay? It is, and it was fun the other day, too. Not just fun, but good.” She bit her lip. “But it means something to me, that’s all. And I don’t sleep with just anyone. I don’t judge people who do, but it’s just not for me. I want to care about someone before we’re together that way.”

Jason considered this. “Why?”

“I—” Elizabeth hesitated. “I—women get a different message about sex growing up. You know, if you sleep with a lot of guys, you’re a slut. Like, there something wrong with you. And…maybe it’s because…well, it’s personal. I mean, you’re seeing me naked. And you’re—” She tucked her hair behind her ears. “Well, I don’t know what it’s like for lesbians or whatever, but having sex with a guy means, you know, you’re inside me. Which sounds so crude,” she muttered, “but that’s what it boils down to. For me, anyway. I’m not speaking for all women. Just me. And I like you, Jason. You—the guy in front of me. But I want more than someone to share a bed with. And maybe I don’t know if you want more than that.”

Jason had been listening to her as she stumbled through the explanation, and he didn’t look mad or annoyed like another man might. “Okay.”

“Okay?” Elizabeth repeated. “What does that mean?”

“Okay. It makes sense, and it’s important to you, so it’s important to me. So I won’t talk about it until you want me to—”

“Oh, I didn’t—” Elizabeth made a face. “See now, I’m just a floozy, because I kind of like it when you say that stuff—except it makes me all—” She wiggled her shoulders. “I don’t know. I want you to be you, and say what you’re thinking.”

“So don’t stop?” Jason echoed, bewildered. “But you told me to—”

“Yeah, I know—” she sighed. “I’m a mess. I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry. I just want to make sure I understand. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t like when you cry,” he told her, and she smiled faintly.

“You weren’t hurting me earlier. It’s just…you start talking about it, and I start thinking about it, and then all my morals go out the window, and I start thinking about—never mind. Let’s talk about something. Anything else.”

“Okay. We could work on that list more,” he offered. “We only found one thing. Do you have more ideas?”

Comments

  • Why does Edward and Alan dislike Elizabeth so much? Do they think she manipulated Jason? Our couple has to win. I enjoyed their chat. I think my morals would go out the window if Jason was on my sofa. Lol

    According to arcoiris0502 on January 17, 2024
  • Wow, Alan and Edward are absolutely convinced that Elizabeth is nothing but a gold digger but I can’t help but wonder why. They are still planning on being meddlesome. I hope they can’t come between J and E in their new found relationship and hope Jason with Sonny’s help goes scorched earth when he can.

    Loved the Jason and Elizabeth talk and bantering It was open and honest without either of them taking offense to the other’s thoughts and feelings.

    Lovely update.

    According to nanci on January 17, 2024
  • What is wrong with Edward and Allan trying to get rid of Liz? I can’t wait for the court case to happen.

    According to Shelly Samuel on January 17, 2024
  • I really hope Edward and Alan don’t pull some dirty trick to win the case. I really like how Jason listens to Elizabeth as she tries to explain things.

    According to Carla P on January 17, 2024
  • I’m old but I would have a hard time talking with a man about sex too, especially if I really like him. You did great

    According to leasmom on January 17, 2024
  • Definitely looking forward to learning more of the back story from Edward and Alan’s POV. Seems strange to be so convinced she’s a gold digger when she’s been friend with Emily for so long too.

    According to Living Liason on January 18, 2024
  • loved that conversation as she tries to explain women/men & sex.
    Alan and Edward are jerks and I can’t imagine what she could have done to make them think she is such a horror. I hope Justus kicks their butts

    According to PAMELA HEDSTROM on January 18, 2024