Written in 61 minutes. Went a minute over but I hope the ending is worth it.
St. Timothy’s Church: Chapel
Ten minutes earlier…
Jason tugged at the collar of his shirt, then glanced at Sonny standing next to him without a care in the world. Of course not. He wasn’t the one getting married, Jason thought, then returned his attention to the set of double doors at the end of the aisle, separating the chapel from the anteroom.
Father Coates emerged from a room off the front of the chapel, clad in the elaborate white and gold robes that he wore during Sunday services. He nodded to a woman sitting at the organ off to the side who began to play.
He swallowed hard as the first notes of the wedding march wafted through the church. This was really happening. He was really getting married, and any second, the doors at the end of the aisle would open and—
Alexis pushed both of the doors open, flashed them both a harried smile, then went back around a corner, disappearing for a minute. Jason’s collar felt tight again. Was Elizabeth having second thoughts? Third thoughts? She’d be insane to go through with this—
Then Alexis returned and came down the aisle to stand across from Jason, leaving an empty space for Elizabeth to stand.
“We’re good,” Alexis told them both in a voice barely above a whisper. “Don’t worry.”
That was easier said than done. All Jason could do was worry. Would he hurt Elizabeth? Would their friendship be ruined by this? Would anything that had grown between them survive this crazy plan? Six months earlier, she’d barely been a blip on his radar, and now it as if she consumed if every waking thought—
Elizabeth appeared then, walking from around the corner, pausing at the threshold of the chapel. The tulips he’d given her clutched in her hands, the blooms on on the flowers wavering slightly as her hands trembled.
Her face was pale, her eyes were wide, her chaotic curls spilling around her face, over her shoulders, brushing the wide straps of the dress she wore. Jason’s breath caught at the sight of her, in wedding white, the bodice curving and clinging tightly, then exploding into a fluff of soft, floating fabric that fell just below her knees.
Her eyes locked on his and she offered a smile, even as the tulips continued to tremble. She was as nervous as he was, Jason realized. And she wasn’t moving. The wedding march continued, but she hadn’t taken another step.
He thought about how beautiful she looked, and how much better she deserved on her wedding day than an empty church with only his lawyer and best friend as witness. There was no one to walk her down the aisle or to stand up with her that belonged to her.
Without thinking, Jason started moving. He went down the aisle, their eyes holding each other’s until he reached her. He held out his arm, and she smiled at him again, but it was more genuine now and reached her eyes, the sparkle he enjoyed so much lighting them up.
“We’re in this together, remember?” he promised her.
“I remember.” Elizabeth took his arm and then he led her down the aisle to stand in front of Father Coates. She handed the tulips to Alexis, then turned back to take Jason’s hands so that Father Coates could begin the ceremony.
Jason only half listened to the words the priest said, talking about the importance of marriage, the sanctity of the promises they were about to make, and the commitment that was being undertaken. He knew all the reasons they’d agreed to do this, and all the reasons why it might be a mistake.
He hadn’t proposed to her, and she had no engagement ring. There’d been no celebration, no whispered words of love and forever. And yet, for all that he knew this was not a real marriage—
It didn’t feel false. It didn’t feel like a lie. When Father Coates asked Jason if he’d promise to love and to cherish Elizabeth, and he said, “I do”, every word of it felt like a promise he meant to keep.
Elizabeth’s soft, but firm voice repeated the same vow he’d taken seconds earlier, and then the priest asked them about rings. Elizabeth blinked in surprise, but Jason was already turning to Sonny.
His partner handed him the box from the store they’d visited that morning, and Jason turned back to her, opening it and removing a gold band with diamonds inset. He reached for her hand even as she was lifting it to him.
Father Coates prompted her with the vows for the exchange of rings, her voice wavering slightly as he slid the band onto her hand. Then Jason turned back to Sonny who handed him a second gold band, this one was plainer and wider to fit his own hand. “I didn’t get a chance to give this to you earlier,” he told her.
Elizabeth exhaled slowly, but then took the ring from him, returning it as she slid it onto the finger of his left hand, her touch light and soft, the red polish of her nails stark against his skin.
Jason repeated the same vows that she’d spoken a moment ago. “I, Jason, receive this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
Father Coates blessed the rings, then completed the ceremony. “May the Lord in his kindness strengthen the consent you have declared before the Church and graciously bring to fulfillment his blessings within you. What God has joined, let no one put asunder.” He closed his Bible, then smiled at Jason. “You may now kiss the bride.”
In a rush of breath, Jason looked back at Elizabeth, realizing that they’d done it. They were married. She smiled at him, tremulous but…happy? Was she really happy? He tipped up her head, then leaned down. Her mouth opened beneath his with a soft sigh, and for a moment, he nearly forgot where they were, his other hand sliding around her waist to draw her closer.
He would have remembered in another minute or Sonny would have coughed or something—but instead, the double doors, which one of the altar boys had closed after the ceremony had begun, slammed open.
And there was Carly, standing at the end of the aisle, stricken and furious.
Elizabeth, still in a daze, had trouble processing the scene at first. Her mouth was still warm from Jason’s as she drew away from him, startled at the interruption.
“What the hell is going on here?” Carly demanded as she stalked down the aisle, her brown eyes snapping with anger. “What the hell is this?”
Jason’s arm, still around Elizabeth’s waist, tensed, and he drew her closer.
“Father,” Sonny murmured, going over to the priest. “If we could have a minute.”
The priest, accustomed to the drama of a wedding involving Sonny Corinthos, merely inclined his head. He left the room, followed by the altar boys and the piano player.
“You think this is going to do anything?” Carly demanded. She focused on Jason. “You think this is going to stop me?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jason said evenly. He looked at Sonny. “How did she get in?”
“I don’t know,” Sonny said tightly, “but I’ll be asking that question—”
“Do you expect me to believe you’re marrying this child because you’re in love?” Carly spat. “Please—”
“Carly, I hardly think you want this to get back to your husband,” Alexis said coming forward slightly, reaching out as if she were going to take Carly by the hand and draw her away. “Why don’t we—”
“Don’t touch me!” Carly slapped at her then strode forward, grabbing Jason by the lapel of his suit jacket, shaking him.
Elizabeth stepped back as Jason grimaced and released her, reaching up to take Carly’s hands and lightly pushing her back.
“You cannot stand here and promise to love and cherish her when a month ago you were telling me that you loved me!” Carly cried.
Elizabeth sucked in a breath without thinking, and some of her reaction must have shown in her face because Carly’s eyes were now lit with glee as she turned her attention to Elizabeth. Jason turned, his face lined with irritation—and guilt.
Because it was true. She could read his expressions now, and she knew that Carly wasn’t lying. Not about that.
Jason had told Carly a month ago that he loved her.
The air was sucked out of the room and reality returned, almost as if the hazy dreamy fantasy she’d been enjoying had been popped like a pin in a bubble.
Jason had barely admitted to more than possessing feelings for her, some of which were sexual. He had not told her he loved her or that he wanted a future with her. He enjoyed being around her, kissing her, and maybe there might be other things in the future.
But he had never lied to her.
“That’s right, little girl,” Carly taunted. “While you were patching him like a sad, pathetic Florence Nightingale, he was telling me that he loved me! Do you know where he told me?”
That sliced through Elizabeth like a knife. In her studio, of course. That’s where Jason had been a month ago.
“If you don’t leave,” Jason said, stepping between Carly and Elizabeth, “then I’ll make a call to the Quartermaines. This is your last chance, Carly—”
“No, it was your last chance,” Carly snarled. “We were so close to everything we wanted, what we dreamed about, and you’re throwing it away for a child whose legs are glued shut—”
Elizabeth shoved past Jason and swung at Carly, the attack coming as such a surprise that the older woman fell backwards and hit the pew, then the ground. Elizabeth winced as pain laced through her fingers.
“Maybe if you kept your legs shut more often, you’d have less trouble,” Elizabeth retorted as Jason put an arm in front of her, staring at her with wide eyes. “Because last time I checked, you’re already married to someone else. If Jason wanted you, he’d be with you.”
Carly rose to her feet, wiping at her lip. “Oh, you have no idea what you just unleashed—I felt sorry for you!”
“I didn’t ask for your sympathy,” Elizabeth bit out. “But you’re going to need it when AJ finds out what you’ve done. Emily told me your prenup has an infidelity clause. You think the Quartermaine lawyers wouldn’t be interested in this little scene? He’ll drag you and up down that court room and you’ll walk out with absolutely nothing.” She smiled, but there was no humor in the expression. “Go ahead, Carly. I dare you.”
Carly hissed, then glared at Jason. “You’re going to be sorry,” she promised him. “This was your last chance.”
Then she stalked out of the church, the door slamming shut with a thud behind her.
Elizabeth’s hands curled into fists, facing away from everyone. She took a minute to get her breathing under control. To cool her expression. If Jason knew she was hurt or upset, he’d feel worse.
And he didn’t have a reason to feel that way. He hadn’t lied. Hadn’t made any promises. Elizabeth had known exactly what she was taking on.
She turned back to the trio, lifting her chin. “I think we need to sign some things before we go,” she told Jason. “So let’s get it over with.”
“Elizabeth—” Jason began but Sonny elbowed him.
“She’s right. Let’s get the certificate signed, then Alexis and I will get out of your hair,” he told Jason.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Every time Jason thought he had a handle on Elizabeth, she flipped and showed him something new. But maybe he needed to stop underestimating her, he thought as he unlocked the door and pushed it open, Sonny heading into his own penthouse.
Elizabeth went in first, removing the knit cap from her hair and tossing it on the desk. Then she unbuttoned her jacket, the diamond ring on her finger flashing as the stones hit the light.
“I’m sorry,” Jason said, breaking the tense silence. “I don’t even know how she found out—”
“The city clerk’s office probably,” Elizabeth said absently, laying the bouquet of tulips next to her coat. “They probably saw your name on the paperwork and called Edward or something. He probably couldn’t wait to tell Carly.”
Jason flinched at the reminder that the entire world knew about his previous relationship with Carly, even his own estranged family. “About what Carly said—”
“I didn’t punch her because of what she said to you,” Elizabeth interrupted. “You can handle yourself. I’m just tired of her throwing my rape in my face like it’s something I did to myself. She has no right—”
“No, I know. And I’m sorry you had to hear it, but she deserved it.” Jason reached for her hand, the knuckles red. “You need to keep your thumb outside your fist,” he told her, running his fingers across her skin. “That’s why it hurt.”
“And she’s got a hard head,” Elizabeth muttered. “It’s fine.” She drew her hand back. “I’ll remember that if I have to punch someone else later.”
“You don’t need to explain anything,” she told him. “About what Carly said. I may not—” She hesitated. “I may not know the extent of your relationship before you were shot, but I’m not an idiot.”
“It wasn’t—” Jason grimaced. “I just want to explain—”
“But I don’t need it. You didn’t make me any promises that were broken by what she said, okay?” Elizabeth turned away from him, the fabric of her dress rustling and floating as she moved across the room towards the stairs.
“No, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t wrong. You may not need or want my explanation, but I do.”
Elizabeth sighed, stopping at the base of the stairs, a hand on the railing. “All right. Then go ahead.”
“It’s true what she said. I told her I loved her,” Jason told her, his stomach twisting as her face remained perfectly expressionless. She might be saying nothing now, but he’d remembered the church. The gasp, the pallor of her skin.
“I told her it didn’t matter anymore after what she’d done. But I should have told her the rest of it. That it didn’t matter if I thought I loved her, but that she’d never be the person I needed her to be. The person I thought she was,” Jason continued. “She can say she loves me over and over again but she’s never done anything but—” He paused because saying out loud was painful and humiliating but Elizabeth deserved it. “She’s never done anything but hurt me. And whatever I thought I felt for her—I was wrong. Because it’s not love. I should have known better.”
Elizabeth remained where she was, but her eyes had softened. “I’m sorry, Jason.”
“I’m not. If she hadn’t shown me who she really was underneath all the lies and broken promises, I might still think she loved me. That I loved her. I wouldn’t have seen you.”
Elizabeth’s hand tightened around the railing, the skin around her knuckles turning white. “What do you mean? You already knew me—”
“You and I both know things changed while I was staying with you,” he said softly. “That’s why I could walk away from whatever I thought was there with Carly. The night we met at Jake’s, do you remember what you asked me?”
“Do you know what nothing feels like,” she said, her voice scarcely audible. “And you said that’s where you live.”
“Until you,” he told her. “You dragged me back into living, Elizabeth. I told you. There are no words for what I feel for you. Love doesn’t seem like enough, but it’ll have to be.”