Flash Fiction: Signs of Life – Part 17

Written in 73 minutes. Went over again, but some of the Liason scenes are taking longer than usual because I want to make sure they’re just right.


Morgan Penthouse: Kitchen

Elizabeth lingered outside the kitchen for a long minute, playing with the cuffs of her white sweater, still feeling terribly awkward after the night before. After that…incident in the bedroom, they’d had a mostly silent dinner, and then they’d gone to sleep, though she wasn’t sure how much sleep either of them gotten. She remembered laying in bed, staring up the ceiling, feeling Jason next to her, and wanting to set herself on fire from humiliation.

But they should talk about it, right? She chewed on her bottom lip, debating. He obviously wasn’t going to bring it up, but she had started it, so she should finish it right? Maybe. Or she should never speak of it again and run away to join a convent—

“Now you’re being insane,” she muttered to herself. She drew in a deep breath and went into the kitchen, finding Jason by a counter, sipping coffee. “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” he replied, but stayed where he was, his eyes on hers. “Did you, uh, sleep okay?”

“Not really,” Elizabeth admitted. She folded her arms, unsure what to do with them. “I, um, wanted to apologize, I guess.”

Jason set his coffee on the counter, his brows drawn together in confusion. “For what?”

Oh, he’d make her say it, wouldn’t he? Because there was no end to this embarrassment. “Last night. Um, I know it’s not fair for me to…” She rubbed a finger against her bottom lip, then dropped it with mortification when she saw his eyes drop to her mouth. “It’s not fair for me to, like, lead you on like that. I’m sorry.”

“Lead me on,” Jason repeated. “When did you do that?”

Elizabeth squinted. Was he being deliberately obtuse or — “Last night,” she repeated. “I asked you to, um, help me with my dress—” And she knew her cheeks were flaming red. The heat was practically turning her insides into an inferno — which was what had happened last night only it hadn’t been embarrassment. “And then I, um—”

She’d practically stripped for him, and even now she didn’t understand what had been going through her head. She’d been standing there, feeling his fingers trail down her back as he unfastened the buttons, and she’d been practically trembling by the time he was finished. Then she’d lost her damn mind.

“I remember.” His voice had changed, gone deeper, and the blue of his eyes were darker. Was that— “That’s not leading me on.”

“I—” Now she didn’t know where to go with any of this. “It wasn’t? But—”

Jason closed the distance between them, reaching for her hand, lacing his fingers through hers. “We’re going to take this as slow or as fast as you want,” he told her. “And last night, you stopped when you weren’t comfortable moving forward.”

“Yeah, but—” Elizabeth searched his eyes. He really wasn’t irritated or annoyed with her. She’d been so sure — “You’re really not mad? It doesn’t bother you? Because I know you were, um—” Interested, but she didn’t say it.

“Did I want to go further?” he asked. “You know I did.” Jason brushed his knuckles down her cheek. “And yeah, I needed a minute after we stopped, but that still doesn’t mean I’m angry at you for stopping.”

Elizabeth exhaled slowly, the tension sliding out of her body like a receding wave. “I thought I might be able to—” She touched the fabric of his dark shirt where it had folded slightly over hist chest. “I wasn’t thinking about anything but you until—” Until she’d felt her knees against the bed and knew what was next.

“Good.” He dipped his head and captured her mouth with his. She relaxed against him, sinking into the familiar taste of him mixed with coffee. She’d never liked the flavor until Jason had kissed her.  “You’re what matters,” he murmured against her lips, sliding his fingers through her hair. “There’s going to be stops and starts, but as long as you trust me, we’ll get there.”

“I do trust you.” Elizabeth sighed, then frowned as she touched his shirt again, then drew back realizing he wasn’t just wearing a black t-shirt. It was a thin black sweater, and he wore a pair of dark trousers — not jeans. Not his normal hanging around the house or going to work clothes. “Are you going somewhere?”

Jason grimaced, kissing her one more time before reaching for his coffee. “Yeah, Sonny set up a meeting with some people. We have to tell people about this.”

“This,” Elizabeth repeated, then it clicked. “Oh. That we got married.”

“Yeah. Part of the reason was your protection,” Jason reminded her. “Now we have to go negotiate it.” His eyes iced. “I’m not convinced Sorel wasn’t behind the bomb, but even if he wasn’t—someone was.”

She shivered slightly, folding her arms again. With everything that had been going on with Carly and then getting married, she’d nearly forgotten how this had all started. The bomb on New Year’s felt like another lifetime ago. “Oh. I—Do I need to be there?”

“No,” Jason said firmly. “Sonny and I will go, tell them that you’re my wife, and that changes how they see you. It better,” he muttered as an afterthought and she flashed a hesitant smile. “And then we’ll get Sorel to pledge protection. It’s just—it’s nothing you have to worry about, I mean.”  He paused. “We haven’t really talked about what I do.”

“We don’t have to,” Elizabeth said quickly, but he shook his head.

“We do. You live here,” Jason continued, “and you’ve already dealt with the police because of this. You’re doing fine,” he added. “And you’ve got good instincts, so I’m not worried. But there’s still some things we need to talk about.”

“Okay. I mean, isn’t it basically a don’t ask, don’t tell sort of thing?” Elizabeth asked skeptically. “I don’t ask you anything, and you don’t tell me anything.”

“Well—” Jason frowned. “Yeah, I mean that’s how it’s supposed to be, but—” He looked away. “I don’t know how well that works. That’s how Sonny tries to handle things, and I tried to do with it with Robin.” And Carly, but they both left her name unsaid. “But there are times when you need to know things to keep you safe. You need to know who people are.”

“Like this guy Sorel,” Elizabeth said. “I know about him—”

“But there’s others. You need to know who they are and what they look like,” Jason continued, “and what our relationship is to them so you know who to trust and who not to.”

“Okay,” she said slowly. “That sounds fine.”

“But yeah, most of the time, I can’t tell you anything. And it’s easier if you don’t ask,” he admitted. “Because then—”

“Then you don’t have to lie or refuse to tell me,” Elizabeth finished. “I get it, Jason. I do—”

He still didn’t look quite convinced, but before he could say anything else, there was a knock on the door. He grimaced. “That’s probably Sonny. Or Alexis. Anyone else has to be called up from the front desk by Wally.”

Elizabeth followed him out of the kitchen, her head still spinning a bit. She managed a smile at Sonny as he entered, carrying a manila folder. “Hey, Sonny.”

“Good morning. Jase? You about ready?”

“Yeah.” Jason went over to the closet to draw out a black suit jacket. “What’s that?” he asked Sonny, nodding at the envelope.

“Oh, the photographer developed some of the shots we took after the ceremony yesterday,” Sonny said. “I wanted to have a few in case we got, uh, visits from the PCPD over the next day or so.” He handed the folder to Elizabeth. “You might want to toss some up in a frame or something around the place.” He glanced around the mostly barren penthouse. “I thought you brought your things over from the studio.”

“Um, most of them. There are a few more things I need, but I didn’t really live there long.” Elizabeth shrugged. “Does it really matter? Jason only just moved in here, what—” She looked at him. “A few months ago? And I’ve only been here a few days. If we change everything too fast, wouldn’t that look more fake?”

“Maybe.” Sonny made a face. “Yeah, probably. Still.”

“Jason doesn’t like clutter,” Elizabeth said, “and as long as I have somewhere to paint, I don’t need anything else. I know I can’t go back to the studio until it’s secure,” she told Jason, “so I hope it’s okay if I use one of the rooms upstairs.”

“Yeah, no problem. Let me know if you need anything to make it work.” He turned his attention to Sonny. “You want to get this over with?”

“Yeah, I know how much you like this stuff,” Sonny said dryly.

“I got shot at the last one,” Jason muttered, grabbing his leather jacket off the hook. He ignored Sonny’s flinch and crossed over to Elizabeth, kissing her one more time, then holding her against him. “When I get back,” he said, dropping his voice lower, “do you want go for a ride? The roads should be clear enough.”

“That sounds good.” Her cheeks still flaming because Sonny was right there, she kissed him again. “Um, good luck, I guess.”

Jason and Sonny were gone long enough for Elizabeth to brew herself a cup of tea and settle down in the living room to look over a list of things she needed to make a guest room into a temporary studio. She hoped one of them didn’t have a carpet, but if they all did—she’d need a tarp—

Then the phone rang, jarring her.

“Yeah? Hello?” Elizabeth asked, bracing herself for another diatribe from Emily. She really hadn’t figured out how to say anything about the situation to her best friend, so —

“Hey, Mrs. Morgan—”

Mrs. Morgan. Holy crap.

“Uh, your grandmother is here. Should I send her up?”

“Oh.” Elizabeth bit her lip, then rubbed her forehead. “Yeah, I guess so.” Audrey had barely just started to accept her relationship with Jason — how the hell was she going to react to a quick wedding? Which just reminded her that she still had to deal with the rest of Port Charles — when she went back to work in a few days, her section would be overflowing again with busybodies wondering why Jason Morgan’s wife was still waiting tables —

Elizabeth opened the door a few minutes later to her grandmother. “Uh, hey, Gram.”

“Hello.” Audrey’s face wasn’t giving Elizabeth much to go on, but she didn’t look angry. “How are you?”

“Uh, all right. Come on in.” Elizabeth closed the door after Audrey had passed her. “I guess you, um, heard.”

“I have.” Audrey set her purse on the desk, removed her coat and scarf, draping them over the purse. Then she reached for Elizabeth’s hand, tilting it back and forth. “It’s a lovely ring. Did Jason pick it out?”

“Yeah, he did. Gram—”

“When I was reconciling with your grandfather,” Audrey said, letting Elizabeth’s hand fall away, “there were some parts of our relationship that were a bit difficult.” She paused. “I had trouble trusting anyone after my marriage to Tom Baldwin ended.”

Elizabeth folded her arms. “Gram—”

“Considering the time period we were in,” Audrey continued, “and the fact that Steve and I had already been married once—we certainly weren’t strangers to one another. Still, it took me time to feel…” She hesitated, searching for the right word. “Safe, I suppose.”

Elizabeth’s throat tightened. “Was Gramps kind?”

“Steve was the best of men,” Audrey said softly. “And he never once made me feel like any of it was my fault. Until you, he was the only person I ever told.”

“I’m glad, Gram. Um—”

“When I heard from Lila yesterday,” Audrey continued, “I took a minute to hear the happiness in her voice. Lila adores her grandson, and she genuinely likes you. She wanted to welcome you to the family, and hoped I felt the same.” Audrey’s smile was a bit thin. “I don’t think it will surprise you that, at the time, I didn’t. She shamed me with her graciousness. It’s easy to forget that Jason Morgan isn’t just…well, he’s not just the man in the newspaper, is he?”

“He’s not, no.” Elizabeth paused. “I know you might not understand—”

“There are two kinds of safety, I suppose,” Audrey continued. “There’s the external safety. The world around you. And then there’s the feeling of safety you feel inside.” She pressed a fist to her heart. “And I think I had forgotten that. Sometimes one of those feels more important than the other. Particularly when the world fails you. And the world has failed you, darling, repeatedly. With your parents, with that terrible night in the park, with the loss of Lucky—”

Elizabeth’s eyes burned. “You never have.”

“Of course I have, sweetheart.” Audrey paused. “Does Jason—is he kind?” she said finally.

“Yes. More than I ever thought anyone would be. I feel…not just safe,” Elizabeth continued, “but like there’s a future again. I didn’t think I would after Lucky died.”

“Well, I’d hope you believed in the future if you married him. Of course I have my reservations by how fast this seems to be happening,” Audrey admitted and Elizabeth sighed, “but I’ve been known to be hasty in my own time, and impulsive,” she added. Elizabeth smiled. “I certainly don’t want to pretend that I was perfect.”

“But you…you’re okay with this,” Elizabeth said, almost questioningly. “Or at least, you’re not going to cut me out for getting married.”

“I would be denying myself a lot of joy if I did that, wouldn’t I?” Audrey said. “If it doesn’t work out—and it might not—I want you to always know you have a home with me.”

Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “Are you here because you hope it doesn’t—”

“No, and I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. I just—even your grandfather and I divorced for a time,” Audrey reminded her. “Love doesn’t solve everything, and we often let our own pride get in the way. I just—you might not always have my understanding, but you will have my support.”

“That—” Elizabeth almost couldn’t speak. “That means so much to me, Gram. Thank you.”

“Well, I missed the wedding, but I certainly hope there were photos—”

“Oh—” Elizabeth wiped the tears from her cheek. “The photographer gave us a few. I think we’re getting more, but—” She reached the folder. “Sonny dropped them off this morning, and I almost forgot.” She opened the folder, surprised when she saw more than just the posed shots they’d taken after Carly had crashed the wedding. There was one of her standing alone at the end of the aisle, then another of Jason walking her down — and then one of them speaking their vows.

“Oh, how lovely—” Audrey beamed as Elizabeth handed them to her. “And you look wonderful. That’s such a beautiful dress—thank you. I hope to get a copy of some of these when you get the full package.” She paused on the posed portrait. “He really is a handsome young man. Your grandfather thought highly of Jason before the accident, and he hoped he would recover.” Audrey’s eyes sparkled now as she returned the folder. “You know, he once thought one of his granddaughters would end up with one of Alan’s boys, and I think he secretly hoped it would be Jason since he wanted to be a doctor.”

“Well, I guess Gramps got his wish a little bit,” Elizabeth managed, surprised. And then they both laughed.

No Name Restaurant: Private Dining Room

Jason didn’t think much of any of the men he and Sonny worked with, but Joseph Sorel might be one of the worst. He’d almost believed someone else had set the bomb that night in the studio, but Sorel’s stupid, smug smile made Jason think differently.

“I’ve mostly controlled the internal problems in my organization,” Sorel said coolly as he leaned back in the chair. “Whoever went after Ms. Webber—” He paused. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Morgan,” he corrected with a smile that indicated it had been a deliberate slip. “Whoever went after the young woman—he took a shot and it didn’t work.”

“Well, as a sign of a good faith,” Sonny said, “I expect you’ll be making it clear that if anything happens to Jason’s wife, you’ll be the first person I blame. And Jason will have free reign to handle it as he likes.”

That put a hitch in Sorel’s step because it wasn’t the way of things. “Without evidence?” he demanded. “Without proof—”

“Those are concepts for a court of law,” Sonny murmured. “If I wanted to live within that system, I wouldn’t be here.” He flicked his eyes to Sammy Tagliatti, seated next to Sorel. “What do you think, Tagliatti?”

“I think that’s a very fair deal,” the man said with a silky smile. “I support that. Clearly, the culprit came from your organization,” he said to Sorel. “That makes it your problem—”

Sorel clenched his jaw. “She wasn’t his wife when it happened—”

“Which is probably you’re still breathing,” Daniel Vega proclaimed from the other side of the table. He gestured at Jason. “And why he hasn’t ripped your throat out at this meeting. Shameful, shameful, going after such a young woman just to keep her from cooperating with the police. After Jason eliminated Moreno for you, you try to take something from him?”

Sorel’s face was florid with fury. “That’s not what happened—”

“No, it’s not,” Jason said flatly, drawing their attention as he hadn’t spoken yet. “You and your boss ambushed me at a meeting that was negotiated in good faith to make a deal, and then you finished Moreno off and dumped him. You wanted me framed for the murder, and you tried to use Elizabeth to do it.”

Sorel met his eyes, pursed his lips. “That’s one way to frame the story—”

“I’m in agreement,” Daniel said. “Anything happens to the young Mrs. Morgan, you’ll have my support to handle it however you like,” he told Sonny. “I don’t believe in collateral damage and using women and children. Extra bodies just draws the authorities to us. That’s how they got in trouble in Manhattan and Philly,” he continued. “We don’t give them an inch to come after us here.”

“Tagliatti?” Sonny said.

“Agreed. Sorel will be held responsible if a single hair on the woman’s head is touched. I’ll help dismantle his operation.” Tagliatti smirked. “And enjoy taking pieces of it.”

Accepting that as a price, Sonny nodded, then focused on Sorel. “Any questions?”

“No,” Sorel said tightly. “As I said, I had nothing to do with the bomb. And I’ll make it clear that she’s off limits.”

“Good.” Sonny got to his feet. “I’m glad we understand each other. Elizabeth Morgan is under the protection of the entire syndicate. Harm her and we’ll destroy you.”

Navigation

Comments

  • I’m so glad that Audrey is giving Jason a chance and how sweet is Jason in giving Elizabeth the time and space she needs to feel safe. I hope Sorel gets the message!

    According to Becca on November 21, 2021
  • Love it! You’ve handled the liason scenes beautifully. They will get their and in their own time. Enjoyed the pressure the families are putting on Sorel to keep him in line. I was splendidly surprised about Audrey and her conversation with Elizabeth. Audrey may always worry for Elizabeth physical safety but she gets that Jason is good for her emotional safety and she is going to support her. I can get behind this Audrey.

    According to Nanci on November 21, 2021
  • loving your Audrey

    According to nicole on November 21, 2021
  • I am so glad Elizabeth has her Grams support. Hopefully Gram can help Elizabeth take the next step with Jason. Jason was so sweet with Elizabeth. Glad the meeting went so well. I still don’t trust Sorel.

    According to Carla P on November 21, 2021
  • Great conversations! I loved Elizabeth’s conversation with Jason, and I was pleasantly surprised with Gram’s conversation with Elizabeth. Also, glad the mob bosses were able to convince Sorel. Great writing!

    According to Felicia on November 21, 2021
  • I am so happy that Audrey agrees with Liz being married to Jason. Sorel is going to die a slow and painful death if he goes after Liz. Thanks for the update.

    According to Shelly Samuel on November 21, 2021
  • Our couple is slowly getting there. It’s good that she opened up to him. I was surprised but happy that Audrey is being supportive. Of course, Lila helped her be that supportive. She needed to remember her actions. It was sweet that Steve always wanted one of his girls married to Jason. Sorel is an idiot. I loved that everyone supported Mrs. Morgan.

    According to arcoiris0502 on November 21, 2021
  • Jason and Elizabeth are very sweet together, well worth the extra minutes. It’s heartwarming to see an Audrey so supportive of Liz, knowing what she’s gone through and what she’s still going through. I’m loving this story.

    According to Lisa on November 23, 2021