Written in 57 minutes.
Scorpio-Drake House: Living Room
Patrick hung up his coat and turned to Robin with a grin. “So, I hear Carly made a run for it. You get all the good karma and none of the blame. It’s a good day.”
“Very funny.” She frowned when a pack of Starbursts fell from his coat pocket. He stared at it for a long moment, then scooped it up. He ripped off the top and popped a pink one in his mouth. “I thought they were out of those. That’s what Jason said.”
“Elizabeth spent forever in the candy aisle trying to find the big bag—” He wagged the little package.”I got the last one up at the register. Don’t tell her, though. There wouldn’t have been enough.”
Robin furrowed her brow and he returned her gaze with a bland expression. Be cool, he reminded himself. You’ve got nothing to hide. You were once a master of saying nothing to women and getting away with it.
“Stealing candy from a pregnant woman.” Robin shook her head, then held out her hand. “I’m gonna need a penalty.”
“She finds out, I’m coming for you,” he warned, dropping a yellow in her palm.
In the kitchen, Elizabeth twisted the cap off the jar of pickles and poured some of the juice into a glass tumbler. Then she set it aside and dug back in the white the plastic bag for a bag of gummies.
Crowded around the kitchen island were a crowd of men who were appalled when she dropped several pieces into the glass. “I know pregnancy cravings are bad,” Sonny said, slowly, “and listen, Carly and her pickled turnips—it violated some laws. But that is disgusting.”
Elizabeth pursed her lips, glared at him, then looked at Mac and Robert. “You have an opinion to offer?”
“Nope,” Mac said. “I learned from Felicia not to argue. Or judge.” He winced as she plucked one out and ate it. “It’s a choice.”
“I’m taking my appetizer somewhere where I’ll be appreciated.” She picked up the glass and went to the dining room where Anna and Felicia were laughing about something.
“They bring new life into the word,” Robert said solemnly. “It is not for us to understand or question. But merely to support.”
After leaving Patrick the kitchen, Robin went outside to find Jason checking the deep fryer. “Hey. I have a question for you.”
“No, I can’t explain what Elizabeth’s eating. Don’t ask me to try.” He’d buy her whatever she craved, but even his stomach had rolled when he passed through the dining room and watched her eat the pickle juice soaked candy.
“Oh. No. Not that. She said they went to a drug store right?” Robin asked. “That’s why they were late?”
Jason frowned, looked at Robin more closely. “Why?”
She pulled out a crumpled receipt. “This was in Patrick’s pocket. They bought the candy ten minutes ago.”
“She said—” Jason took the receipt, studied it. A bag of gummy bears, a jar of pickles—and Starbursts. “I thought they were out of these.”
“Patrick said he grabbed the last package, and not to tell her. But it’s all on the same receipt —and it’s not one of our cards.”
“No, it’s Elizabeth’s—” He looked at Robin. “Why did you check his pocket?”
“I don’t know. He just seemed weird. And trying to hard not to be.” Robin bit her lip. “It’s strange, isn’t it? I don’t think they were at the drug store the whole time.”
“What do you think was going on?” Jason handed the receipt back. “There’s no reason for them to lie—”
“It makes sense. Elizabeth got a craving at work, and Patrick tagged along. But then he takes the candy she specifically told you she was looking for. And you said she ate it with Jake. But Emily used to tease her about the gummy bears in pickle juice.”
He couldn’t answer that. He hadn’t been there. He didn’t know what she’d craved. “Robin—”
“I think she panicked when you called. And she said the wrong thing.” Robin looked at the receipt. “I don’t know why, but I think they’re lying.”
“To hide what?” Jason demanded. “I trust Elizabeth—”
“And I trust my husband. They would be the last people to have an affair. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be hiding another secret.”
“I think,” Jason said after a long moment, “that you’re overthinking this. Elizabeth probably misspoke on the phone—”
“So Patrick lied to me about it, not wanting me to tell her he had them? Jason—”
“You two look serious,” Sonny said, sliding open the door. “We’re not fighting again, are we?”
“No.” Robin forced a smile. “No. We’re not. How’s the turkey? It hasn’t exploded yet, so that’s a good sign.”
Morgan House: Master Bedroom
He’d brushed Robin’s concerns off and had actually managed to forget them entirely as they finished cooking dinner and sat down to eat early. Sonny’s deep fried turkey had turned out better than anyone had expected, but most of the food had disappeared by the time people started heading home.
They brought the boys home, but there was no bedtime. It was a holiday which meant all three boys would be up until dawn playing video games in the living room.
Elizabeth poured mouth wash into a cap and swished it around her mouth. After spitting it into the sink, she smiled at Jason who was already stretched out in bed, one of his travel books in his hands. “There. Pickle juice gone.”
“I wasn’t going to ask—” And then Jason remembered the strange conversation with Robin, and the receipt. “You know, Patrick got the last pack of Starbursts and didn’t tell you,” he said.
She flicked off the light, and crawled across him to her side of the bed. She flashed him a confused smile. “I bought them for him—” Elizabeth pressed her lips together. “Oh. I wasn’t thinking when I talked to you earlier. He was trying to convince me the Starbursts would taste better, and I guess I just—” She shrugged and picked up the remote from her nightstand. “I got mixed up.”
“Oh.” He fell silent, looked back at the page in his book, but his attention was unfocused. She hadn’t sounded confused on the phone, and Robin had seemed pretty clear about Patrick’s words.
But what was the alternative? To believe she was lying to him? Elizabeth never lied to him.
Elizabeth leaned back against the pillows, and he let it go, letting her relax and watch one of her shows, and he went back to his book again. Trying to focus.
“I felt the baby today,” Elizabeth said, and that got his attention. Jason set the book side. “Not like—kicking. Obviously—” She took his hand, rested it against the gentle curve. There was nothing yet, and he was a bit disappointed. “It was just a flutter really. But it’ll be soon.” She sighed happily. “And I think maybe I might be further along than I thought,” she continued. “Because I’m bigger now than I was with any of the boys at four months.”
“We can find out next week,” he told her. He leaned over, kissed her. “Mmm, no pickle juice at all.”
“I told you I’d take care of it.” She wound her arms around his neck and drew him over her. And he stopped thinking about Starbursts and receipts altogether.
General Hospital: Nurse’s Station
“You know what I think is actually going to kill me?” Patrick asked Elizabeth the next morning as he stepped up inside the hub and reached for a chart. “The fact that we thought of everything except the cover story.”
“I panicked,” Elizabeth muttered. “I swear to God if this falls apart because I said Starbursts instead of gummy bears, I’ll deserve the prison sentence.” She clicked away at the keyboard, irritated with herself. “I distracted Jason, I think. What about you?”
“Maybe. It’s hard to tell with Robin. She’s sneaky.” Patrick leaned against the counter. “Uh, how you feeling this morning? I mean, we’re good, right?”
“Do you mean did I wake up feeling guilty?” she murmured, keeping her voice low but resisting the urge to whisper. Low conversations about patients were normal. Hushed whispers were suspicious. “No. You?”
“You’d think.” Patrick shrugged. “I’m off to my rounds.”
He disappeared down the hallway, then Laura stepped off an elevator a few minutes later, her brow furrowed.
“Hey. You okay?” Elizabeth asked. “You look upset.”
“Not upset. Concerned.” Laura leaned across the counter. “And I wanted you to hear it from me.”
Oh, damn it. Had they already found Baker? They should be fine, Elizabeth told herself. It was twenty hours. She’d wanted forty-eight, but—
“There’s a possibility Tom Baker has jumped parole,” Laura cautioned her. “He didn’t report for work this morning.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth tightened her fingers around her pen. “How—Maybe he’s sick.”
“Maybe. I spoke to his supervisor to see what we should do.” Laura said. “He has to miss an appointment with his parole officer. and that’s not until Monday. Unless you want me to—if he violates parole—”
What would look less guilty, Elizabeth wondered? Encouraging Laura to push for contacting the parole officer and finding Baker’s body sooner? Or holding off to give the body a chance to sit longer, making cause of death harder to determine?
How would she have answered if she didn’t know exactly where Tom Baker was?
“I’d feel so silly if I asked you to push and he’s just at home with the flu or something. I mean, he lives alone, right? Maybe he’s just too sick to call out. You call his parole officer, and he finds him at home, I’ll just—” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “I don’t want to live my life in fear. And I don’t want to think about Tom Baker. No special favors. If he violates on his own terms, that’s his problem.”
“All right. You let me know if you change your mind.” Laura patted her hand and walked away, leaving Elizabeth unsure if she’d made the right decision. Too late now, she thought, and went back to work.