Flash Fiction: Signs of Life – Part 16

Written in 78 minutes. You’ll understand when you get to the last scene why I went over time, and I hope you’ll forgive me.

Oh, and, uh, rated R if you care about those kinds of things.


Quartermaine Mansion: Foyer

Carly didn’t care who saw her or what they thought as she slammed her way into the foyer and tossed her coat over the banister, preparing to storm up the stairs — until her husband stepped out from the front parlor, his face set like stone.

“We need to talk.”

His anger cut through her own, and Carly remembered that she was limited in her choices. Jason had made his that day in the church, choosing that simpering little waif over her, and now she was stuck for good.

She highly doubted that he was willing to even entertain the thought of getting her out of town now. She’d overplayed her hand, underestimated just how angry he was over Sonny — and she never should have made those remarks about Elizabeth’s rape in front of Jason.

AJ was the only thing that stood between her and losing everything.

Carly turned, her finger gripping the railing. “Why?”

“Did you really think I wouldn’t find out?” he demanded. “I’m not going to have this conversation with you in the middle of the foyer.” He jabbed his finger over his shoulder. “Get in here and let’s settle this.”

Carly grimaced, but obeyed. What choice did she have? Jason had made sure of that, hadn’t he?  And what exactly had AJ learned? Her trip to the church?

“You practically ran out of this house after Grandfather made that announcement this morning,” AJ said, closing both the double doors. “I followed you.”

Carly’s face paled, her heart pounding in her chest, in the throat, almost as if it was going to leap out of her mouth. “What?”

“I followed you to the church. I didn’t go in, so God only knows how you humiliated yourself,” AJ bit out, “but I waited. And then you came out, angry and upset. Jason came out later. With Elizabeth. So I guess you didn’t stop the wedding.”

Carly folded her arms, remaining silent. She’d give him nothing.

“I don’t know what the hell my brother is thinking, but I don’t care. I have my son,” AJ continued. “And the prenuptial agreement made it clear — if I get proof you’ve had an affair,  you walk out of here with nothing and I get full custody of Michael. Do I need to remind you of that?”

“No,” Carly growled. “You don’t. I know what I signed—”

“Do you?” AJ demanded. “Because I wanted my son to have a family. His mother and his father. I know you love him, you know that I love him. I’ve given you everything, Carly! Everything! Unlimited access to every cent I own, and what have you done?”

She lifted her chin, said nothing.

“I have never, not once, done a single thing to deserve the way you’ve treated me,” AJ said. “I didn’t have to marry you, you know that. All of Jason’s money wouldn’t have changed what you did to me. What you both did to me. You tried to destroy my life so I wouldn’t suspect Michael was my son. I have proof that you drugged me, that you tried to break my sobriety.”

Carly gritted her teeth. Damn that Lorraine Miller for turning traitor then fleeing town. “I know that.”

“This is the last time you humiliate me, Carly. The absolute last time. Because I don’t need the prenuptial agreement to destroy you. If you think I won’t drag you into court and divorce you, you’re demented. I have all the cards here, Carly. And you have nothing.”

And she knew it. God, she knew it, and she had no one to blame but herself.

“You and my brother—whatever it was—it’s done. Let him go. If he wanted you, Carly, he had his chance. He married another woman. That’s his answer, isn’t it?”

“You—”

“The next time I find you rushing out after Jason, I’m filing for divorce. Michael is young enough to forget you.”

He left then, slamming the double doors behind him as Carly flinched.

She had no choice now. She had to find a way to make her marriage work, to make AJ think this baby was his.

But Jason couldn’t be allowed off the hook so easily. He was going to have to pay for abandoning her.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Had Jason just…had he…

Love doesn’t seem like enough, but it’ll have to be.

Elizabeth’s hand fell from the railing and she stepped down, off the step. She swallowed hard. What did she say to that? How could she respond? He hadn’t even really said it, had he? But wasn’t it nearly the same? Oh, God, she didn’t know what to do—

But she couldn’t keep standing here, staring at him like an idiot. He was trying, wasn’t he? Trying to explain the twisted, complicated relationship with Carly—and honestly, what did he really owe her? They were married for reasons that had nothing to do with their feelings. Would she expect him to be in love with her after a week of dating if she wasn’t in a wedding dress?

Elizabeth took a deep breath, then went over to him, his eyes staying on her with every step she took. Whatever he meant by what he said, whatever was swirling around in her head or his—

She curled her fingers in the lapels of jacket, then tugged him down to her, kissing him with everything she had inside of her, everything she wanted and dreamed and fantasized about, his mouth warm and sweet against hers, his taste as addictive.

His fingers dug into her hair, tugging her head back to deep the kiss, crushing her against him, her feet nearly leaving the ground. Blood pounded in her brain, leapt from her heart, made her knees tremble, and something was ringing—did she hear bells? What was that?

Jason broke away, breathing hard, his eyes glazed slightly. He brushed her bottom lip with his thumb. “It’s the phone,” he murmured. “Ignore it.”

No argument there, and Elizabeth dove back in, shoving his jacket off his shoulders, hearing it drop to the floor. But Jason didn’t kiss her again, not like that—instead, he kissed the hollow at the base of her throat and everything shivered, tingled, then burst into flame as his mouth moved across her skin, to the curve of her neck and shoulders, his fingers sliding gently beneath the straps of her dress. One slid off her shoulder—

“If you don’t pick up this phone right now, I am getting on a train, and I will use my key and I will come to that penthouse, and I don’t care—

Emily’s voice burst into the room like a gunshot blast and Elizabeth shoved Jason away, confused and startled. Then focused on the answering machine. “What—”

“I’m going to count to five. One, two—”

Her fingers trembling, Elizabeth jerked the phone off the hook. “Emily.”

“Elizabeth Imogene Webber,” Emily said, “you have a lot of explaining to do.”

It was like a bucket of cold water had been dumped over her head. Elizabeth pressed her other hand to her forehead, then looked at Jason, his face still flushed—and had she done that? Unbuttoned his shirt halfway? She drew her hand from her face, staring at it like it was alien to her.

“Elizabeth,” Emily repeated. “Are you listening to me? What is this message? And my mom called me, too. She said you got married. To my brother. What the—I just left for school—”

“I—” Elizabeth’s mind blanked. She had a story, didn’t she? She met Jason’s eyes in a blaze of panic. “I don’t—”

Jason, taking pity on her, pressed a button to put her on speakerphone. “Emily.”

“Oh, no, it’s starting already,” Emily said, with some disgust. “I don’t think I’m insane for wanting to know what the hell is going on—”

“You know what’s going on,” Jason said, with a patience and evenness that Elizabeth envied. “Elizabeth and I got married this morning.”

“Oh, for crying out loud—”

“We got married because we wanted to,” Jason continued, “and we didn’t wait because we didn’t want to. That should cover it.”

“It absolutely does not—”

“Emily,” Elizabeth said, out of patience. “We got married this morning. Which means you are calling on our wedding night.”

There was a silence on the other line as Emily digested that information. “Listen—”

“And Elizabeth already told you our sex life is none of your business. We’ll call you tomorrow.” Jason hung up on his sputtering his sister, plunging the room into silence as Elizabeth’s brain skittered and jumped.

We got married because we wanted to…our sex life is none of your business…

“She’ll probably stay in New York at least tonight,” Jason told her.

“Maybe. I’ll leave a message for her when I know she’s in class.” Elizabeth absently drew the sagging strap of her dress back over her shoulder, and his eyes followed the movement. She flushed. “Um, I was gonna go and change. I don’t—” She bit her lip. “The fabric is kind of delicate—I just don’t want anything to happen to it.”

Jason dragged a hand through his hair, then nodded. “Yeah, okay. I’ll go—I think there’s some lasagna or something in the freezer. I’ll go defrost it.”

They stared at each other for another long moment, then went their separate ways.

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

“I think we should be discussing damage control,” Alexis declared as she accepted the glass of wine Sonny handed her. “Carly might already be at the PCPD—”

“She’s impulsive and stupid, but I don’t think she’s going to the police tonight.” Sonny sipped his bourbon, then wandered over to look over the skyline of Port Charles as the sun dipped behind the buildings, plunging the downtown into night. “Tomorrow. Tonight, she’ll be cursing Jason’s name. We have time.”

“Sonny—”

“And we’ve done the damage control,” Sonny reminded her. “Jason and Elizabeth got married in a church with a priest. We’ll have wedding photos of them, there’s rings. They’re living together, and half the town already suspected they were together before this. Carly crashing the wedding did us a favor.”

Alexis grimaced. “Maybe—”

“Because now when she tries to turn on Jason with no corroborating evidence but her word, the PCPD might go after us, but it won’t get to court. You said that, remember? She’s got nothing but her own testimony. Bobbie will lawyer up just like we will.”

“I suppose you’re right. All we have to do is tell the PCPD Carly vowed revenge on Jason and was cruel to Elizabeth about the rape.” Sonny growled the last part as the memory burned. “She barely had credibility before this, and now—it’s gone. She’s destroyed it.”

“Fair enough. I just—I put this idea into Jason’s head, and Elizabeth seized on it to keep Jason in town. I feel responsible. I don’t want either of them hurt.”

“Neither do I,” Sonny said. “I’ve already done enough.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason had put the lasagna in the microwave to defrost, then went into the living room to wait for Elizabeth to come back downstairs. He went over to the desk and picked up his suit jacket where it had dropped to the ground earlier—

None of this was turning out the way he thought it would, but wasn’t that the story of every day since he’d met Elizabeth? Since he’d really and truly met her that night at Jake’s? Wasn’t that part of the reason he’d been drawn to her? Her smiles, her laughter, the twists and turns of conversations—

He hadn’t meant to tell her all of that tonight, hadn’t even known it was inside of him, but he’d desperately needed to explain how he could have done something as stupid as tell Carly he loved her only a few weeks ago without making what he felt for Elizabeth seem wrong or too fast.

He’d believed what he had said to Carly in the moment, but it had already been fading and shifting and turning into something else. Not even hatred, but apathy. The only good Carly had ever brought to his life was Michael, and he couldn’t think of that little boy without the pain that followed.

Jason just wanted to be done with Carly forever, and he wanted Elizabeth to understand that she was the key to that—to his realization that he’d been punishing himself by letting Carly stay in his life, clinging to a hope he could have Michael back.

Michael—and Carly—were in his past. Robin was in the past. And for the first time in a long time, Jason wanted to look to the future.

When the microwave timer went off and Elizabeth still hadn’t come downstairs, Jason went upstairs to check on her. Was she upset? Had he pushed her too hard? Was she still thinking about Carly—

The door to his—their—room was partially ajar, but he still knocked. “Elizabeth? Are you okay?”

“Um, yeah. I forgot—you can come in,” she said. Jason pushed open the door, surprised to find her still in the wedding dress. She was standing in front of the full-length mirror, twisting and trying to reach—”

“It’s buttoned,” Elizabeth said miserably, turning to face him. “I forgot when Alexis put it in. It’s..got all these little tiny buttons, and I can’t—” Her face flushed and she bit her lip. “Can you help?”

“Uh—” Jason nodded, his throat tight. He crossed the room and Elizabeth faced the mirror again, her back to him. His fingers fumbled as  he reached for the small, pearl button. There were at least a dozen, maybe more.

Slowly and carefully, he slid each button individually from the loop, painstaking avoiding the bits of lace and fabric around each. She looked so beautiful, and he didn’t want to make a single rip or tear into it.

As each button came undone, the bodice of the dresser became looser and the two pieces in back gaped, revealing the soft, pale skin of her upper back. The bare skin without a single piece of clothing beneath it. He focused on the dress, ignoring the way her skin felt as his knuckles brushed it, or the way her breathing had changed.

The final button was at the base of her back, and reluctantly, Jason slid the last one out of its loop. He probably could have stopped halfway down—the dress would have been loose enough for her to shimmy out of it, but he hadn’t wanted to stop touching her—and she hadn’t asked him to.

He remained standing behind her, raising his head until he met her eyes in the mirror. She had hands pressed to the front of the dress, holding the bodice in place so that it hadn’t slipped and slid while he’d been unbuttoning the dress.

Then Elizabeth moved her hands, letting them fall to her side. The bodice had been sitting higher on her chest as she held it against herself, but when she let go, the straps on her shoulder loosened first, sliding down her shoulders.

As if in a trace, Jason raised his hands to her shoulders, sliding his fingers beneath the straps. Maybe he meant to pull them back up, to put the dress back into place so that he could leave and give her a chance to change in private—

But Elizabeth raised her hands, sliding a thumb beneath each strap, their fingers brushing. And she gently pulled. Her dress fell from her shoulders, to the ground in a soft rustle, leaving her in nothing but a pair of white panties.

His chest felt eight sizes too big as their eyes remained locked together in the mirror. Elizabeth kept one of his hands in her own, raising it until it cupped one of her breasts. She was biting her lip, and Jason could feel her entire body had tightened, tense from something. Was it desire? Fear?

He wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he did anything that frightened her, that brought back those memories, so even though it took everything inside of him, Jason didn’t move his hand, just stood there, feeling the weight of her in his hand. Then he dropped his head down to brush his lips against the curve of her neck. Her body loosened and she sighed, slumping back against him.

Jason carefully lifted her from the surrounds of the wedding dress, aware that she’d been grabbed and lifted during her attack, and scared beyond words that he’d trigger something. But if he had, Elizabeth never let on, turning to him and wrapping her arms around his neck, then kissing him.

Jason pulled her against him, his fingers sliding across her soft, silky skin. His shirt fell off his shoulders, their skin bare against one another now. He started to gently steer her towards the bed, but when her legs brushed the comforter, Elizabeth was startled, jerking away, her body tensing all over again. Her breathing was choppy, her eyes squeezed shut. “I’m sorry. I—”

“It’s okay,” Jason said immediately. He kissed her one last time, soft and lingering to reassure her. Then leaned down for his shirt, drawing it over her shoulders even as she started to use her hands to cover herself. “It’s okay,” he repeated. She met his eyes, still biting her lip. “I’ll go put the lasagna in the oven, okay? I’ll see you downstairs.”

She nodded, the motion little more than a jerking motion. Jason closed the bedroom door behind him, but instead of going downstairs, he went into one of the guest bathrooms and splashed some cold water on his face.

It was going to be a long night.

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Comments

  • Magnificent and well worth any extra time you put into it. Fricken-Fraken Emily. Ruining the moment with her near Carly banshee wail. I like that AJ isn’t letting Carly run free or too free.

    According to nanci on November 14, 2021
  • amazing

    According to nicole on November 14, 2021
  • So good

    According to Jamie Lee Ann Byrd on November 14, 2021
  • Sigh. Before I let myself read this chapter, I had to go back to let myself re-read the perfection of the last scene in the previous chapter because I could and it was so phenomenal. I thought – surely, she won’t be able to top that. And, yet, of course you did. You followed it up so perfectly with everything that is these characters.
    I’ve said it before and I know I will say it again, your ability to write the characters consistently in different scenarios, allowing them to grow in ways that make sense for the situations they find themselves in while remaining consistent to their core selves leaves me in awe!

    Why don’t Sundays come faster?

    Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am that you are so passionate about this work?

    According to LivingLiason on November 14, 2021
  • I can’t wait for Sonny, Aj, and Jason to realize Carly is pregnant and the baby is not for her husband. It’s time for Liz and Jason to finalize their marriage. Many thanks for the update.

    According to Shelly Samuel on November 14, 2021
  • Wow! What an incredible chapter!

    According to arcoiris0502 on November 14, 2021
  • Bravo! Amazing follow up. God I loved them at this Liason stage . Total swoon. Can’t wait to see how you continue to weave this great story together.

    According to Liketoread on November 14, 2021
  • Thanks for this chapter and all that you do for us Liason fans. I hope AJ can control Carly.

    According to Carla P on November 14, 2021
  • Carly is getting exactly what she deserves! Jason is so sweet and gentle with Elizabeth it shows how much he cares for her. I can’t wait for more.

    According to Becca on November 14, 2021
  • Absolute perfection!

    According to GoldenGirl on November 14, 2021
  • Wow! Fantastic update; I didn’t realize my mouth was open until the end – Almost drooling Thanks for sharing.

    According to Felicia on November 16, 2021
  • This was perfect!!!!

    According to Laura on November 16, 2021