Written in 27 minutes
You wear your best apology
Elizabeth pushed herself up on her elbows when she saw Emily step inside the partially open door. “Em. Hey.”
“Hey.” Emily came to the side, leaned over to hug her lightly. “How are you? Are they going to keep you another night?”
“I’m not sure. Kelly wanted to see my blood pressure come down a few more points, and to monitor the baby. She read your witness statement—” Elizabeth rested her hand against her belly, feeling the baby shift and roll inside. “She was nervous when I couldn’t feel him moving.”
“I’m so sorry—” Emily’s voice broke, and she dipped her head.
“My dad—” Emily squeezed her eyes shut. “I don’t know if anyone’s told you. God—” She breathed out, a harsh sound that sounded like more like a sob. “Dad got to the hospital, but he wasn’t stable enough for surgery. He died.”
Elizabeth reached out her hand, feeling useless to do much else with monitors taped everywhere, her movements limited. “Oh, Em, I’m so sorry.”
“I got to speak to him. We all did, which I’m glad about. I mean, not Grandfather, but I know it gave Dad peace to talk to Jason—”
“Jason was—” Elizabeth’s hand fell back down to her hospital bed. “He was there? He talked to Alan?” And then had come back to her room after his father had died— “He never said anything.”
“You saw him?”
“This morning. Um, while we were trapped in the elevator, I told him the truth. The truth I should have told everyone months ago—”
“About the baby,” Emily cut in gently. “I know. Lucky came by.”
“God.” Elizabeth’s head fell back against the pillow. “I was so tired. Just completely at the end of my rope. I just—I wanted him to stop talking so I told him, and it was such a terrible way—and then Jason came in—and then Sam was there, I think. I don’t know. It all runs together for me.” She exhaled slowly. “He didn’t tell me,” she repeated softly. And she’d been hard on him.
“I don’t think he’s handling it well.” Emily swiped at her eyes. “Me? I had the time with Dad. I hate this, I should have had him longer, but at least I won’t have regrets. Jason will.” She paused. “But you and Jason—he took the news okay?”
“Pretty well considering I lied to him. I didn’t want to, I didn’t even mean to, but it just—it was like this terrible avalanche, and I didn’t even start it.” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “But I stopped it.”
“That’s good. I’m glad he knows. I’m sorry for Lucky, but he seems to handling it okay. Nikolas and I will be there for him. You don’t need to worry about that.”
“Thanks.” Elizabeth’s eyes stung. “I’m really sorry about Alan. I’m glad you chose him, you know. He gt to the hospital and you were able to say goodbye to him. That’s—that’s going to help.”
“I know. Doesn’t help right now—” Emily rubbed the side of her face. “I keep forgetting. Doesn’t that sound terrible? I woke up this morning, and I had to remember, and then I took a nap, and I remembered—and I hate it. It’s like he dies over and over again. Losing Grandmother was horrible, but Dad—he was supposed to be here longer.” Her voice faltered. “There should have been more time. We deserved more time.”
But I was there to watch you leave
Sam thought about ignoring the knock at the door when it came later that day — only a few people had the right to walk past the desk without an advance cal—and Sam didn’t want to see any of them. Not right now. Not when she couldn’t understand how everything could keep going so wrong, and why she was somehow the bad guy—
All she’d done was not handle terrible news all that well — how had Jason been able to walk out as the innocent party?
But the knocking persisted, so Sam went over to answer it because maybe it was someone to yell at—
“Where’s Jason?” Carly demanded as she stalked past Sam, into the living room. She looked around. “Jason!”
“Not here,” Sam said dully.
“I haven’t been able to find him all day. He’s not answering my calls—” Carly huffed. “Where did he go? I heard about Alan—”
“You might want to check with Elizabeth,” Sam said, the words leaving her mouth as a snarl, something she hadn’t intended. “She’d know.”
Carly narrowed her eyes. “What does that mean?”
“It means—” Sam dragged her hands through her hair. “It means that Elizabeth lied to us all, okay? The paternity test. It didn’t come back for Lucky—”
“No, of course it did—” Carly stared at her. “I saw her open it. I knew it was Lucky’s baby!”
Sam rolled her eyes. “Okay, well, I don’t know what to tell you. She’s saying differently now—”
“No, no, this is a trick, okay? Because I saw her open it, and if it had been Jason’s baby—she’d dropped everything. She finished her shift—”
“That’s your evidence?” Sam said, skeptically. “Did she even show you the results?”
“No, but she sure as hell didn’t deny it—” Carly hissed. “This is a trick,” she repeated. “A low down dirty trick. She’s taking advantage of Jason’s grief, right? Alan died. She’s using it.”
“I—” Sam shook her head. “I don’t want to hear any of this right now.” As much as Sam hated all of this—even hated Elizabeth—even she knew that wasn’t what was happening. Elizabeth had slid in through the cracks of Jason and Sam’s relationship, always there when a fracture deepened. But if Elizabeth had wanted to take advantage of Jason, she would have accepted his marriage proposal.
Any of the times he’d made it. She’d refused him, and how was Sam supposed to handle that? To understand the grief in Jason’s eyes hadn’t only been for his father, but for the rejection he’d felt.
“You can sit here and yell into the wind, but I’m going to take a nap,” Sam said finally said. And while Carly was in mid-complaint, Sam went upstairs and did exactly that.