Written in 50 minutes.
Scorpio-Drake Home: Backyard
Sonny checked the temperature on the deep fryer, then stepped back with a grin on his face. “Always wanted to try one of these.” He accepted the bottle of beer Jason offered.
“I’m just glad Dad’s making one in the kitchen if this one gets burnt to a crisp,” Robin said as she stepped out from the double terrace doors. She folded her arms, drawing her cardigan sweater more tightly around her torso. “I know you don’t feel the cold,” she said to Jason, “but you can still freeze to death.”
“Fryer’s keeping us warm,” Jason offered. He glanced down towards the patio, and the teens clustered around the electric heater. “And I wanted to keep my eye on them.”
“Mmm. Patrick said there was more tension than usual. Not pranks or anything, just a general unhappiness.” Robin peered over the railing, watching as Emma and Trina talked to each other enthusiastically, their hands flying. Cameron was showing Jake something on his Nintendo Switch, and Joss was staring down at her phone.
“You can’t force kids to like each other,” Sonny said. He bumped Robin’s shoulder. “But thanks for trying. Even if you had to invite Carly. Never thought I’d see the day.’
“Me either,” Robin muttered. She straightened as Joss said something to Spencer, and Trina narrowed her eyes. None of the adults could hear what was said, but there was no mistaking the expression on Trina’s face or the flushed cheeks on Joss. Cameron set his game aside, but it was too late. Joss was already on her feet and dashing across the yard towards the house.
“Mayday,” Sonny said.
Joss charged up the stairs and into the house. Robin winced, started to follow but Jason held out a hand. “Let me try.”
“I guess. You always talked sense into Carly. To the extent anyone could,” Robin added as Jason went inside. He closed the door behind him and set the beer on the island counter.
“Did anyone see where Joss went?” Jason asked Robert and Mac, busy working the second turkey.
“Uh, towards the front of the house,” Mac said.
Jason found her in the entry way, shrugging into her jacket. “Joss—”
“Don’t even start, Uncle Jase. This was stupid. Okay? Just stupid. I didn’t even want to come—” Joss looked at him, her blue eyes shimmering with tears. “I get it. And I’m tired of pity invites.”
Joss yanked open the door, and lit out, running down the front walk. Jason grimaced, jogged to catch up with her. “Didn’t you promise not to walk anywhere alone?” he called as Joss reached the sidewalk.
“Oh—” Joss stopped, closed her eyes, and huffed. “That was after dark. And I was just imagining those sounds, okay?” Her lip trembled. “Don’t make me go back. Please.”
“I won’t,” Jason said carefully, wishing Elizabeth was here. She’d know what to say. “If you really want to go home, I’ll take you myself. It’s too far to walk—”
“Emma hates me, and her mom hates my mom, so I know I only got invited because Aunt Liz made her parents do it—” Joss folded her arms. “I know I pulled some nasty pranks on Trina, and I shouldn’t have tried to make her miss the cheerleading tryouts or tell Oscar that thing about her hair, but I was just so mad at her—”
“Like, Trina and Emma just walk into a room and everyone loves them. They don’t even have to work at it. Do you know how how annoying that is? I’m pretty. I’m rich. I’m supposed to be the popular one—” Joss sucked in breath. “God, I hate myself. Emma’s right. I’m just a spoiled entitled princess who couldn’t make friends if someone tied a meat chop around my neck.”
Jason frowned. “Is that what she said?”
“The princess part. I added the rest of it. They only put up with me because of Cameron. I used to be able to count on Spencer, but now he’s dating Trina, so I’m the fifth wheel, and it sucks. I don’t want to be here anymore, okay?” Tears were streaming down her cheeks, and Jason didn’t know the first thing to say to make her feel better. “I hate it. I hate them, and I hate my mother, because let me tell you, being her daughter hasn’t helped either.”
“I want to leave. Please. I want to go home.”
Jason opened his mouth to say something, but Carly stepped up behind him, putting a hand on his shoulder. Next to her stood Cameron, a distraught expression on his face.
“Thanks for the invite, Jase. Really. Tell Patrick when he gets home I appreciate it,” Carly said. “But Joss and I are gonna head out.”
“Joss, don’t go—”
“Don’t worry about it.” Joss forced a smile on her face, swiped at her tears. “It’s fine. You’ll have more fun when I’m not here.”
“That’s not true—”
But Joss just followed her mother to the car, leaving Jason and Cameron the sidewalk. Cameron exhaled slowly. “I didn’t even realize they were fighting,” he told his father. “We were all fine, and then I looked away to help Jake with the game—next thing I knew—”
“I know.” Jason put a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s go back inside. Grandma Laura’s watching TV with Aiden in the living room, and she’s probably ready for a break from the puppy parade.”
General Hospital: Locker Room
When the clock struck noon, Elizabeth and Patrick were already in the locker room, changing from scrubs to street clothes. She checked her phone, showed it to him. He nodded grimly. As expected, Baker was still asleep, and would be for at least another three hours if he kept the schedule they’d carefully monitored.
Elizabeth sighed when a text flashed on the screen. “Joss and Carly already made a run for it,” she told Patrick. “The girls got into a fight.”
Patrick winced. “I was really hoping that wouldn’t happen.”
“Me, too—” Elizabeth got to her feet, then braced her hand on the locker, pressing her other hand to her abdomen. “Whoa.”
“You good?” Alarm flashed over his face. “Do you need something? I can go get Britt—”
“No, no—” She exhaled slowly. “The flutters,” she murmured. “It’s the first time I’ve felt the baby.”
“Oh.” Patrick shoved his hands in his pockets. “You know, we can cancel our plans—”
“No. No.” Elizabeth let the moment wash through her, the sensation of the life growing inside her. This baby was going to have everything she could offer — a world safe from Baker. “No, let’s go.”
They had a small window of maybe a half hour before anyone at the house realized they were late. From this moment on, there would be no speaking. Only carrying out the plan they’d carefully orchestrated.
Nothing could go wrong.
Scorpio-Drake Home: Living Room
Cameron tried to distract himself by watching the Puppy Bowl with his youngest brother who was positive that this was the year he’d convince their parents he was old enough for a dog.
Just like he had been for three years.
But he couldn’t get Joss’s face out of his head, and the way she’d run away. Cameron had only heard part of the words Emma had flung at Joss — the spoiled princess part — but there had to be more for Joss to flip out. They were always sniping at each other, weren’t they? Why was it suddenly different? Joss had been moody for a few weeks, ever since the dance—
“I’ll be back,” he told Aiden when he saw Emma through the archway to the kitchen. “Hey.”
“Hey.” Emma bit her lip. “You never came back,” she said, pitching her voice low so her grandfather and uncle didn’t hear her. “Where’s Joss?”
“Don’t tell me you actually care,” Cameron found himself saying, then winced when Emma narrowed his eyes. “We need to talk.”
“Yeah, fine.” Emma led him up the backstairs to her room, leaving the door open a few inches. “Look, it wasn’t my idea to invite her, so don’t be mad at me—Trina is tired of putting up with her—”
“You know, I get why Trina and Joss have their issues. Joss has said and done some stupid thing. But not lately—”
“Oh, then I guess everything’s forgiven—”
“But Joss is still my best friend. Okay? Outside of you,” he added. “And she’s always been there for me.”
“One time she tried to steal her dad’s plane—”
“How about when Deenie Masterson turned me in for cheating on that science test last year? When Mr. K found that cheat sheet on the floor, and she blamed me—”
“Joss got up, made a scene, and demanded a lawyer.” Emma made a face. “She’s good at making a spectacle of herself—”
“What did she do today that was so bad?” Cameron wanted to know. “You called her a spoiled little princess. What did she even say?”
“Trina was talking about her dad being out of town and missing him. Joss, like always, decided make it all about her.” Emma rolled her eyes. “Talking about how she understood and missed her dad. Like it’s the same thing! Trina got mad—”
“Dude, Joss’s dad lives on a different continent—”
“And Trina just reminded her that Joss’s dad chooses not to be with her,” Emma said with a shrug, “and Trina’s dad is doing important work. Joss got mad at her, and I told her to stop being a spoiled little princess and just be glad we let her in the house after all the crap she pulled—”
Cameron stared at her blankly. “Trina said what? Are you serious? You don’t even think it’s messed up that she told Joss her dad didn’t want her—”
“Oh, come on, Joss’s dad worships her—”
“You wouldn’t get it,” Cameron retorted. “You never had a parent abandon you—and don’t bring up your mother. She didn’t walk away from you, okay? And she fought hard to come home. My dad didn’t. He didn’t want me. And Joss thinks that all the time about her dad, so yeah, I think it’s a shitty thing to say when Joss was probably just trying to find something they had in common.”
“Oh, come on! Why do you always see the best in Joss?”
“Why do you always see the worst?” Cameron shook his head and started for the door.
“Cam, wait—” Emma reached for his arm, but he shook her off.
“No, I’m pissed. You co-signed something really mean. I spent years wondering what I did to make my dad—Lucky—stop loving me. And sometimes I still think—” He stopped, took a deep breath. “It messes with your head when someone who is supposed to stick doesn’t. I got lucky, okay? I got a new dad and it’s great. Joss doesn’t have that. I don’t care what pranks or crap she pulls with Trina, it’s mean to say what you guys did, and I don’t like either of you right now.”
Cameron stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
This time it was Patrick who bought the car in cash, using the instructions Elizabeth had given him. If anyone ever noticed the strange cars on the street, the descriptions wouldn’t lead to the same person – and Patrick had used a wig to buy it so they wouldn’t even have the right hair color.
They parked the car at a drug store halfway between Baker’s house and the hospital, far enough away that it wouldn’t be tracked. They parked their own car on opposite sides of the lot, then went to the car. Patrick slid into the driver’s side, Elizabeth into the passenger. They exchanged the coats and hats they’d worn from the hospital, for a different set — deep maroon for Elizabeth and navy blue for Patrick.
“Twenty minutes,” Elizabeth said. “That’s the window. We have to be back in this parking lot in twenty minutes.”
“Got it.” He put the car into drive, then they traveled in silence. He wished it was dark for the cover of night, but broad daylight would have to do. Most of the people on the block worked, he thought. And they were parking a block away, walking through the cluster of trees. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the best they could do.
Waiting for perfect meant another day Baker could plot to hurt one of their girls, and Patrick would gladly go down for this if he knew he’d kept them safe.
They got to the woods, and made their way towards the spot that backed up to Baker’s house. His hands were in his pockets, wrapped tightly around the bottle and accompanying syringe.
Then they were at the edge of the woods, Baker’s dumpy, run-down rental house in front of him, the back door six feet away. “Last chance,” he murmured.
Elizabeth slid out the lock picks from her pocket. “Let’s get this over with.” She showed him her phone with the other hand showing Baker still asleep.