Written in 48 minutes. Basic spell check not did not read for typos.
“First,” Laura said with a sigh as the waitress set down her iced tea and Elizabeth’s soda, “let me apologize.”
“No.” Laura shook her head and held up her hand. “Absolutely not. You’re going to start apologizing to me again about what happened two years ago and I’m not interested. It’s not my business. This current situation is not about that.”
“Isn’t it?” Elizabeth sighed. “Lucky left town and ignores the boys. Nikolas left—”
“Having issues with the mother of his children does not give my son the excuse to say the things Spencer overheard. And I’m sorry—” Laura lifted her brows. “What exactly does Nikolas have to complain about?”
Elizabeth pressed her lips together. “I—I don’t know—”
“You made a mistake,” Laura said gently. She tilted her head. “You made some poor choices a few years ago when you were hurting, you were confused, and neither of my sons acted well. Before or after any of it. I’m sorry you were all hurt, but at the end of the day, Elizabeth, maybe it was for the best.”
Elizabeth slowly blinked, then focused on her former mother-in-law. “I’m sorry. Come again?”
“If I had known—if I had been here when Lucky had the drug addiction—” Laura sighed. “If I had been here to see how he treated you—you never would have married him again. Because I would have killed him—”
“No! I spent too many years of my life thinking that I had to sacrifice everything to be Luke’s wife. I won’t watch you apologize over and over again—” Her voice trembled slightly. “You’ve been through enough, Elizabeth. And I’m angry that my sons continue to put you through this. Spencer and I had a very long discussion about what he’s said about Cameron.”
“Cameron is trying not to be angry or hurt,” Elizabeth told Laura. “Jason talked to him last night, and Cameron remembered what I’d told him about Spencer having a tough time and taking it out on him. Not that it makes it right or—”
“But it’s a good lesson for Cameron to learn some empathy,” Laura nodded. “And I’m so glad Jason was there for him. I’m so glad to see you happy again. Jason clearly loves you, and he adores the boys. If my son can’t step up and by a good father—” She tightened her mouth. “Either of them—well, then I don’t want to know them.”
“I’m just surprised Nikolas dropped Spencer on you like that last fall,” Elizabeth said. “He loved Spencer. Loves him. I can almost understand Lucky—almost—” she added when Laura narrowed her eyes. “But Nikolas—”
“He said he was in the middle of something and he wanted Spencer to be with family. He refused to give me more details. And he rarely calls either of us.” Laura grimaced. “I’m worried about him, but short of going to Greece myself and dragging him home—I don’t know what else to do.”
“I wanted to run something by you that Jason suggested,” Elizabeth said. “Um, a few years ago—Jason and I were—we were thinking about getting married. That—that fell through obviously. But he’d planned to…” Her voice tightened. “We were going to raise the boys. Lucky was already spending less time with them, and he wanted to adopt Cameron then.”
“I thought you told me you didn’t think you’d get married again,” Laura said.
“I—I don’t know. Um, Jason knows how I feel about that. We…” Elizabeth sighed, pushed her salad around with her fork. “We argued about it. I know he’d say we didn’t. But we did. He’s…he’s still trying to prove that he’s staying, and I don’t need proof. I just need him to do it. But I don’t think marriage is in the cards for me. I’m—I’m not good at it. But—I could—he was wondering if maybe adopting Cameron was something we could do.”
Laura pursed her lips. “And you’re not sure?”
“I am…” Elizabeth searched for the right words. “Apprehensive. I know Jason wouldn’t suggest it if he didn’t mean it. But I also know—I know that legal ties should mean something. And they don’t always. I mean—I had a legal tie to Lucky twice. And well…” She jerked a shoulder. “And Jason and I have been engaged. I’ve heard these promises before.”
“I’m surprised Jason moved in when you’re still so unsure,” Laura said. “Are you sure that was the right choice?”
“I don’t know.” Elizabeth met Laura’s eyes. “But I don’t know what time was going to change. If he’s staying, then he’s staying. And I wanted him to know that I’m trying hard to trust it. Trust him. And I do most of the time. I think it’s me. He hasn’t done a single thing since—God—since September—and I can’t quite bring myself to go all in.”
“It’s hard, sweetie. I know that. When Luke and I divorced the first time, that was the right choice.” Laura paused. “We had just gone so far down the wrong path and we needed a change. If…If I hadn’t had my breakdown, I think maybe he and I could have made it. But time had changed us too much by the time I recovered. He’d changed too much. But I loved him so much, I wonder if he came to me and asked to take just one more chance—” Laura smiled wistfully. “I wonder if I’d be able to resist.”
“That’s kind of how I feel sometimes,” Elizabeth admitted. “And I start to think this is just another version of what happened with Lucky. I loved him so much for so long, and losing him broke me in so many pieces — I kept trying so hard to get it back. For ten years, Laura. With Jason—it’s—we never had a chance. Not really. We were engaged for a total of ten minutes. Ten minutes of perfection.” She swiped a tear. “Sometimes I think we’re just together because we miss Jake. We feel guilty.”
“Have you talked to Jason about this?” Laura asked softly.
“No. Because it’s…it’s fleeting. And I think it’s me. Because I’m scared so I make up reasons to explain the fear. Because this isn’t like Lucky. We’re not building old dreams — Jason’s—Jason’s all in. I know it. He’d marry me tomorrow if I agreed.”
“It doesn’t matter if Jason’s all in,” Laura told her. “It matters if you are. Do you want to be?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I do.” She cleared her throat. “Because sometimes he looks at me, and I can see how he feels. And I want to trust it. I know that I love him. I just—I don’t know how to get over this.”
“It’s so easy to let fear run your life,” Laura said. “I remember when Nikolas first came to town—it was so difficult. I believed Stefan was his father, and it was difficult enough for Luke to accept him even though he believed he was the result of—” She cast her eyes away, and the words were unsaid. Luke believed Nikolas was the product of marital rape.
“I was terrified he’d learn that I’d have an affair with Stefan,” Laura murmured. “For years, I lived that way. And I kept myself from Nikolas. I can never have that time back.” She focused on Elizabeth. “But then Luke learned the truth — at least the truth as we believed it. And as terrible as it was — I was free. The lies were done. There’s something so liberating about telling the truth even when it destroys everything.”
“I wish I were keeping a secret,” Elizabeth said with a sigh. “I wish this could be as easy as just telling the truth. But I don’t know how to fix it.”
“If you’re afraid of jumping in,” Laura replied, “then the answer is usually to dive in head first. Jason wants to adopt Cameron. He wants to have a permanent role in your son’s life. And after what Cam’s heard about Lucky, that little boy deserves it. If you’re really not ready for your relationship with Jason to change, then go for the shallow end of the pool. What does Cameron want?”
Cassadine Estate: Gardens
Nikolas scrubbed his hands over his face, stared at the missed call from his mother and the voice mails he knew were from her.
He knew he’d never be able to explain this to her — to Spencer — who might never forgive him, but Spencer was safe. He was growing up with his mother who would protect him from the darkness of his own family.
Nikolas had been fighting them his whole life only to learn there was always another battle. He could never win the war. Somehow—the Cassadines always rose from the ashes to continue the onslaught.
He forced a smile as Jake inched his way into the garden, on the hand of the nanny hired to look after him and give him a few lessons. “Uncle Nik!”
Jake let go of the nanny’s hand and hurled himself at his uncle. “I missed you! It’s been days!”
“I know, I know. I tried to get back sooner, but Grandmother keeps me busy.” He settled Jake at his side, waited for the nanny to melt away. “Have you been good for Berta?”
“Yup. Just like Mama said. Always be nice unless people mean. Then you get even.” Jake flashed his bright smile at him—sometimes he looked so much like Elizabeth Nikolas could hardly stand it.
“That sounds like your mother,” Nikolas agreed. He pulled out his phone. “I have new photos for you. From Christmas.”
“Christmas was a long time ago,” Jake said with a sad sigh. “But okay. Can I go home soon? I miss Mommy. I miss Cam. And I don’t even know Aiden.”
“I know.” Nikolas handed him the phone. “This is your mother at the GH Christmas party. She’s holding your little brother. And that’s—” He paused. “That’s your dad. He’s got Cameron. They’re waiting to hear Uncle Patrick tell the story.”
“Daddy’s in a lot of the pictures now,” Jake said, furrowing his little brow. “He didn’t used to be.”
“No,” Nikolas murmured. “But he and your mother miss you so much. They talk about you often.” He didn’t know for sure, but it was an easy guess. Next month, Jake would have been gone from Port Charles two years.
Two years was a long time to keep memories alive, but the moment Nikolas had discovered Jake’s existence here — he’d been determined to bring home. To make sure Jake never forgot the mother who loved him. The brothers who needed him.
Elizabeth had sacrificed too much for him—for his family for Nikolas not to return the favor.
“She’s so pretty,” Jake said. “I miss her,” he repeated. “I wanna go home. Doesn’t Mommy want me home?”
“She thinks about nothing else,” Nikolas said fervently. “And she wants you home every day. I’m trying so hard to make it happen, kiddo. I promise. Soon. I—” When Jake rubbed his eyes and sniffled, Nikolas made a rash promise. “You’ll be with your mother by your birthday. I swear.”
“Birthday?” Jake frowned. “I’m five on May 7,” he told Nikolas. “It’s February. Nanny says that means—” He stared at his hand, then counted. “First comes January, February, March, April, May—that’s still so long! I want to go home now!” He shoved the phone at Nikolas and hurled himself off the bench. “Now! Tell Mommy I don’t wanna wait!”
“She can’t—” Nikolas swallowed hard. “She can’t do anything about it. It’s not her decision.”
“Why? Why can’t I be with my mommy? I wanna be with Daddy. My real daddy. You said my real daddy cried so hard when I left. I want my mommy!” Jake shouted.
“Calm down,” Nikolas said, casting an uneasy look over his shoulder. Last he heard, Helena was irritating Victor in Russia, but his father walked the grounds and Nikolas wasn’t sure about his loyalty on the best of days. “Jake, I told you. We have to be careful. Someone took you from Mommy to hurt her. And it worked. She’s hurting so much without you. But I have to be sure no one else gets hurt when I take you home.”
Jake sniffled, then sat on the ground. “I want my mommy,” he said again, but his voice had subsided. He focused his eyes on Nikolas, and for the first time, Nikolas saw Jason in those eyes. A hard glare. “I will hate you forever if I don’t got my mommy when I turn five.”
“Fair enough.” Nikolas held his hand out. “We should get you home—back to the cottage with Uncle Stavros,” he said grounding out the name.
“Okay.” Jake climbed to his feet. “And I can’t talk about Mommy, I know. Or Daddy or Cam. The next time you come, can you bring me her voice? I don’t remember what she sounds like anymore.”
“I—I can do that.” Nikolas handed Jake back to Berta along with the usual bribe. “I’ll see you in a few weeks,” he murmured before heading back up to the main house and the emptiness of his estate without his son.
If Nikolas couldn’t bring Jake home soon, a lot of people were going to hate him forever.
Rafina, Greece: Bar
Luke Spencer slid onto a bar stool next to his son and removed the fisherman’s cap he wore over his thin hair. “Hey, Cowboy.”
“Dad.” Lucky kept himself crouched over the ouzo he was sipping. “You get eyes on him?”
“I did. First time in weeks,” Luke admitted. “But there’s a lot of guards. I don’t think we’re going to get the kid out without some big guns—”
“No,” Lucky snapped. “My enemy did this. It’s my fault. It’s your fault. We’re going to make this right.” He stared blindly at the dull, aged wood of the bar. “I can’t make it right any other way.”
“I’m the one that caused the accident, Cowboy. You said some harsh words to Elizabeth,” Luke said. “It’s not the same thing—”
“I did this. I did something that made her go to him.” Lucky tossed back the rest of his drink, called for another. “I made her so miserable she wanted to hurt me. I can fix this. I can make her love me if I bring Jake home.”
Luke pursed his lips, signaled for a whiskey. “Uh, Cowboy—”
Lucky turned to look at his father, his blue eyes unfocused and glazed from the alcohol. “I can fix this, Dad. You said you’d help. I can bring Jake home. We just have to get past the guards. And whoever’s in that cottage when Nikolas isn’t..”
He turned back to the new drink set in front of him. He picked it up, studied it. “And when I give Jake back to Elizabeth, I’ll make Nikolas regret the day he ever looked at her. And then I’ll kill him for kidnapping my son.”