Written in 50 minutes.
And all the times I let you in
“Hello, darling.” Her grandmother poked her head around the edge of the door. “Do you have the energy for a surprise visitor?”
Elizabeth sat up, already smiling because she knew who her visitor was—and sure enough, a little bundle of energy zoomed past his great-grandmother towards the bed. “Mommy!” Cameron cried. “Mommy! Miss you!”
Audrey came in behind him, closing the door. Then she lifted Cameron to sit on the bed. “Careful, my love,” she cautioned the toddler. “Mommy’s still a little tired and needs a gentle hug.”
“Hi, Mommy.” Cameron dropped to his knees and crawled towards her, wedging himself in between her side and the railing. “You almost better?”
“Almost.” She kissed the top of his curls, lingering for just a moment. She’d worried so in the elevator, in the hotel, that she might never get to hold him again. That he would grow up without her. But she had another chance.
And she would make it a better one.
“Thank you, Gram. I really—” She took a deep breath. “I really needed to see him.”
“He really needed it, too. We both did.” Audrey squeezed her hand. “How are you feeling?”
“Tired, mostly. Kelly says I’m okay. She’s going to discharge me in about an hour.” Elizabeth paused. “I—I can’t go back to the apartment. Lucky and I—”
“I’d heard,” Audrey murmured, and Elizabeth dipped her eyes away, focusing on the thin hospital blanket. “News travels fast when it begins in the emergency room at the top of someone else’s lungs.” Her grandmother tilted her head. “You’ll come home with me, then. You still have things from when you came last fall.”
“Thanks, Gram. I appreciate it. Um, there’s just—” She cleared her throat. “Jason—He’s going to be a part of things—”
“I’d hope so if he’s the father of this child. Are you asking me if he has permission to come in?”
“Of course. It might not be what I wanted for you, but I have no intention of making anything more difficult for you.” Audrey smiled at her. “Now, tell me what else Kelly has to say about the baby.”
Just for you to go again
Jason stepped inside the office of the coffee house, remembering that nearly twenty-four hours earlier, he and Spinelli had planned how to infiltrate the hotel and end the siege.
It felt like another lifetime now.
Behind the desk, Sonny lurched to his feet. “Jason. Hey. Hey. I wanted to—” He came around the desk. “I wanted to call. To come by. I just didn’t know—” He paused. “I heard about Alan. I’m sorry.”
“Thanks,” Jason said, though it still didn’t feel right to accept condolences for a man he’d never let be his father. How could you let people feel sorry for a loss that wasn’t yours? He had no right— “I just—I came to tell you I’m not at the penthouse.”
Sonny furrowed his brow. “What? What happened—”
“I—” Jason searched for the words and settled on the simplest recap of the last day of his life. “Elizabeth’s baby is mine. I’m going to be a father.”
Sonny stared at him for a long moment. “But she said—”
“Did she?” Jason asked. He wiped the back of his mouth. He’d spent hours wracking his brain—and she’d never said those words. She’d never told him or clearly anyone else that the baby was Lucky’s. It didn’t make it right that she’d kept the truth from him—but also it didn’t make any of it wrong. “She never told you, did she?”
“No,” Sonny said slowly. “Now that I think about it — she said it was who she expected. I assumed—”
“I’m sorry—but she should have corrected me—”
“Before or after you told her it would have made things harder for me?” Jason wanted to know, and Sonny closed his mouth. “I’m not innocent, either. And that’s not what I came here to tell you.” He didn’t want to think about all the ways he’d failed Elizabeth or how she’d not told the truth — it no longer matter. That was yesterday.
Today was important. Tomorrow was the focus. He wouldn’t have regrets.
“I don’t understand what that has to do with Sam or the penthouse—” Sonny put a hand on Jason’s forearm. “Don’t you think you should maybe slow down a little? You just lost your father—”
“It’s because I lost him it has to be this way. Alan—he told me—” Jason fisted his hand at his side. “He told me his regret was giving up. Not fighting to be my father. And now it’s mine, too. I didn’t give him a chance. Not a real one. I don’t want that with my child. This baby — I can’t be the father this baby deserves if I don’t make changes.”
“Okay,” Sonny said slowly. “But I still—”
“I’m at Jake’s right now,” Jason told him. “I just thought you should know. If you needed me.”
“Jason, just wait a minute, okay—” Sonny caught his arm as Jason turned to go. “You and Sam have been through a lot this last year. You can co-parent with Elizabeth and not give up what you have with Sam—people do it all the time—”
“I—” Jason nodded. “I know. It’s not just about the baby. I don’t—” How did he put it into his words? “I think Sam and I have been over for a while,” he said finally. “Or maybe we never really got back together. Not in the way that mattered. You and Carly. You almost got back together right before you got divorced for good. You know what I mean. You were together, but it wasn’t right.”
“Okay. Yes, but—”
“And I know you think you’re still going to be together now,” Jason continued, “but Carly doesn’t want it. So it won’t work. I didn’t know I was done until I asked Elizabeth to marry me, and she asked me about Sam. I hadn’t even thought about her.”
“You asked—” Sonny scrubbed a hand down his face. “Okay. Let’s back up for a second. You got engaged to Elizabeth before you broke up with Sam, and then Alan passed away—I think you need—”
“She said no,” Jason said bluntly, and Sonny closed his mouth. “And she was right. It was the same as the last time I asked her—”
“The last time—”
“The last time, she wanted to know about Sam, and I didn’t know what to say. Because I didn’t think of her.”
“How many times exactly did you propose—”
“Does that matter?” Jason asked, impatiently.
“Apparently not. Jason—” Sonny shook his head. “Okay. I get it. You and Sam are done. But—”
“She told me nothing had changed. But it has now,” Jason said. “Sam and I—I felt guilty that about Elizabeth. About wishing—” He closed his mouth. It was clear to him now in a way it hadn’t been this morning. He’d never really wanted to get back together with Sam, but she’d been there and Elizabeth wasn’t. And he’d stayed with Sam because he felt guilty for wishing she was someone else. For wishing that he was the father of Elizabeth’s baby.
And now his wish had become a reality.
“Jason, just because you’ve had some sort of epiphany about your life and what you want from it, it does not mean everyone else has. Elizabeth said no last night, didn’t she?”
“And this morning—”
“You proposed again—” Sonny shook his head. “Never mind. Can I just give you a little advice? Just one piece,” he said when Jason looked at him. “Take your time. Everyone has been through a lot, including Elizabeth. She might not be ready to take the same leap you are. Don’t take it too hard if you try to propose again now that you’ve broken up with Sam, and she turns you down, okay?”
“I won’t.” He started for the door.
“You won’t propose, or you won’t take rejection too hard?” Sonny called after him, but Jason was already gone.
Disappear when you come back
“It’s good to see you on your feet.”
Elizabeth grinned as she saw Patrick leaning against the door frame. She tucked the remnants of her purple dress in her tote bag. “Hey. I was hoping to see you before I left. How’s Robin?”
“Good, good.” He crossed the room to hug her briefly. “In recovery. We got lucky. I guess if they’re springing you, you and the baby are good?”
“Kelly’s asking for some light bed rest for a few weeks, but me and baby have a clean bill of health—” Elizabeth touched her belly. “I’ll be off the schedule for a bit.”
“Yeah.” Patrick rubbed the back of his neck. “So, I heard a rumor from the emergency room—”
“Oh, God, everyone really does know.” Elizabeth sank back onto the bed. “I guess I should be relieved it’s less people I have to tell.”
“There you go.” He sat next to her. “You doing okay with all of this?”
“I guess. I haven’t seen Lucky since last night. I feel terrible for how he found out, but I’m a little relieved. Except for—” Elizabeth shook her head. “Jason asked me to marry him. Twice.” Four times if she counted the times he’d asked last fall.
“And I’m guessing that you said no.”
“Of course I said no. He’s only asking because Alan passed away. We talked about him in the elevator last night, and I know Jason has regrets for how everything happened—” Elizabeth got back to her feet. “What if I said yes, and he resented me later for taking advantage of him—”
“I don’t know a lot of people who take advantage of Jason Morgan—”
“That’s because you don’t know him,” Elizabeth shot back. Patrick put up his hands in protest and she sighed. “I’m sorry. It’s just—Jason’s too generous with himself. He’s always worried about other people. Taking care of them. Sonny and Carly, for one. And now he’s decided I’m one of those people—”
“In your defense, you should be one of those people. You’re literally carrying his kid. He wants to be part of it, Elizabeth. It’s not a terrible thing—”
“It wouldn’t work—” She stared down at the bed. “Marriage should be more than that. I’ve had two husbands, Patrick. I can’t let the third one marry me out of guilt and obligation. I won’t do that to myself. Or him.”
“Then don’t marry him.” Patrick waited. “Unless you want to.”
Of course she wanted to. But— “I can’t. Let’s just leave it at that.”