Written in 61 minutes.
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
Sonny poured himself a cup of coffee and grimaced as Max opened the door for Jason. He was not looking forward to this conversation. “Hey. Sorry if you had plans today.”
Jason just raised his brows. “You said it wasn’t going to take long. What’s going on?”
“I might have been hasty yesterday when I suggested you and Elizabeth could wrap up this marriage thing on your schedule,” Sonny said. He gestured towards the coffee bar, but Jason shook his head. “Had a call from Tagliatti’s people.”
Jason tensed. “What the hell does he want?”
“He wants,” Sonny said slowly, “to throw you and Elizabeth a wedding reception at the No Name, and before you say no—” he put up a hand as Jason opened his mouth. “It’s not something we can refuse.”
“Why the hell not? It’s personal—” Jason began, then shook his head. “It’s not coming from Tagliatti, is it?”
“No. Not only him.” Sonny sat at the dining table, sipped his coffee, even as his blood boiled. He didn’t want Elizabeth in the middle of all of this any more than Jason did, but that was where she’d ended up. “They’re gonna use the party as a cover to take out Sorel. Tagliatti and Vega have their eye on Moreno’s territory, and they’re not interested in letting Sorel solidify his hold.”
“Then they can throw their own party,” Jason retorted. “I’m not taking Elizabeth anywhere near an assassination attempt—”
“I get it, but—” Sonny paused. Jason, in so many ways, wasn’t a good fit for this world and this was more evidence of it. “Let me lay out their plan—”
“Wait. Wait—” Jason shook his head. “You know the plan? Damn it, Sonny, you’re in on this—”
“Tagliatti and Vega have nothing against you or Elizabeth. In fact, they’re on our side. None of us want Sorel in charge of a parking meter, much less Courtland Street and the rest of that area. Moreno was a boil on our ass, and I’d be happier if we divided things up—”
“The plan is to make sure you and Elizabeth are long gone before any of this goes down,” Sonny interrupted. “We’ll have the party. Other guys will bring wives and mistresses. Whatever. You’ll do a few dances. Dinner. And you’ll retire early and the party will go on. Just like any other reception,” he added. “Elizabeth will be safe at home before anything happens—”
“That’s if it goes right,” Jason snapped. “What makes you think Sorel will play along? What if he—”
“That’s a risk,” Sonny said slowly, “but Sorel’s already gone after Elizabeth once. You and I both know he was behind that bomb on New Year’s. Sorel needs to go, Jase. This might be our one chance—”
“No—” Jason shook his head. “Absolutely not. You can find someone else—”
“It’s not a request.” Sonny got to his feet. “This is how it’s going to be—”
“You don’t get order me around—”
“No?” his boss raised a brow. “We could call Elizabeth over and ask if she’d be willing to do this—”
“You leave Elizabeth out of this,” Jason growled, stepping towards Sonny. “She’s already done enough.”
Sonny tipped his head. “You think she wouldn’t want a chance to get rid of Sorel? She’ll probably understand this better than you do—”
“I don’t care. It’s not on the table. You can go to hell.”
Jason slammed the door behind him, and Sonny sat down, troubled. He’d known Jason would take this badly, but that was the problem with friendships in this business. Sometimes you had to put them aside for the greater good.
Whether Jason liked it or not, this was how it had to be.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Elizabeth set the phone back on the hook and frowned, glancing up when the door was thrown open. Jason stalked in, and slammed it behind him. “Oh. That was quick.” She tucked a piece of hair behind her ears. “You made it sound like you’d be gone for a while.”
“Yeah, well—” Jason glared at the door, before forcing himself to take a deep breath. He turned his attention back to her, his eyes softening even as the tension remained in his face. “If Sonny tries to talk to you, don’t listen.”
“Uh—” Elizabeth blinked. “Don’t listen?” she echoed. She’d thought things were better with Sonny and Jason, but—
“He thinks he can convince you when I already told him no, so I need you—” Jason exhaled in a huff. “You need to trust me. I know what I’m doing.”
“I do trust you, and I won’t talk to Sonny if that’s what you want.” She bit her lip. “Can I least know what’s going on or—”
Jason fisted his hands at his waist, dipped his head to look at the floor. “I’ll tell you, but you won’t change my mind.”
This didn’t sound good, but Elizabeth trusted Jason. “Okay.”
“Two of the other families want to use us to get rid of Sorel,” Jason bit out. “They want to throw us a wedding reception so Sorel will come and they’ll take care of things. They promise we’ll be out of there before it happens, but there’s no way I’m putting you in that position.”
That was the absolute last thing Elizabeth had expected to hear and she simply stared at him. “Are you kidding me? That’s what Sonny wants to do? Why does he think I’ll say yes when you don’t think it’s a good idea?”
“It’s—” Jason grimaced. He stalked across the room to glare out the balcony doors. “Because it’s how things are done,” he muttered. “Sonny thinks I’m an idiot, and I don’t know that.”
“I—” Which meant it was a good idea? She didn’t understand what was going on. “Do you think they’re lying when they say we won’t be there?”
“Okay.” So if the risk to her was minimal and this was how things were done— “Do you think I’ll mess something up or I’ll—”
“No. It’s not about any of that.” Jason turned to face her. “Sonny has no right to tell me what to do. This isn’t business—”
“It sounds like it is,” Elizabeth said gently and he flinched. “I’m not pretending I know a lot, but I’ve lived in Port Charles long enough. There’s not really a clear line between personal and the business, is there? I mean, look at us right now. I didn’t want to be mixed up in any of this, but I am. We haven’t been able to separate from any of it since you were shot.”
“I don’t want this to touch you—”
“It’s too late for that.” He flinched, and her stomach twisted. “Look, I’m not saying I’ll agree or anything. You’ve said no, and that’s enough for me. This is your life, Jason, and you get to make the decisions. Okay? Please don’t think I’m saying anything differently.”
“If this is about Sonny telling you what to do—” Elizabeth tipped her head. “Is it maybe about the delivery and not the idea itself? He made it sound like an order, didn’t he?”
Jason was quiet, but she could see some of tension easing in his shoulders. “I don’t like the idea,” he said. “But maybe it is. He’s in charge, that’s fine. But he’s not going to tell me what’s right for me. Not again.”
Elizabeth knew something terrible had happened with Sonny and Jason, but he’d never told what it was. She just knew it was the night of the shooting and it was why he’d been bleeding to death in the middle of nowhere, and that it involved Carly, who Jason thought he’d been in love with a month ago.
And this was not a conversation she wanted to have today, not after the morning they’d spent in bed. She wanted to hold onto the dream little longer.
“Okay. So we won’t do it and Sonny will have to figure out something else.” She shrugged and turned back to the phone. “Emily called while you were gone. She’s home for the weekend and wanted to have lunch. I told her I’d let her know—”
“You’re not going to ask any other questions?” Jason wanted to know.
“Do I need to?” She shrugged. “You know why you’re saying no, and you’ve asked me not to take Sonny’s side.”
He blinked, then nodded. “Right. So, okay. We won’t do it.”
“Right. That’s what I said.” She gestured to the phone. “Do you want me to call Emily back so we can meet her for lunch or did you have something else you wanted to do?”
“I should head into the warehouse and make some calls, but you go ahead.” Jason leaned down, kissed her. “Thank you.”
It was strange, she thought after Jason had left and she’d made plans with Emily, that Jason seemed so grateful that Elizabeth had taken his side with so little pushback. This was Jason’s way of life, and he was the one calculating all the risks. What business was it of hers to say differently?
She wasn’t surprised, however, when Sonny came knocking mere minutes after he’d likely learned Jason had left. It put a bad taste in her mouth because she knew what he’d be doing.
And Sonny must have seen how she felt when he opened the door, because he sighed. “Jason already got to you?”
“Got to me?” Elizabeth scowled. “What the hell does that mean?”
Sonny walked past her into the penthouse, even though she hadn’t invited him in. “Look, I get why Jason is angry at me, and I hate that it has to be this way. But this life means doing the hard things—”
“And it means you trying to shove a wedge between me and Jason because you think you’re right,” Elizabeth cut in sharply. Sonny stared at her blankly. “What do you expect is going to happen if Jason tells you know, and then I tell him that I’m on your side? You think Jason isn’t going to be mad at me?”
“But maybe that doesn’t matter to you since you already told Jason he can divorce me tomorrow if he wants to,” Elizabeth retorted. “So what do you care if Jason and I are fighting ?”
“I never said it—is that what he told you?” Sonny demanded. “I told him he should just let things go until you want to make a chance. No expiration dates—”
“I want to know why it was your business to even offer an opinion. Do you think Jason and I are morons?”
“Do you think we wouldn’t have noticed in a few weeks that the PCPD had closed the case or that Carly wasn’t really a threat anymore? Do you think we need you to tell us what to do?”
“You told Jason he could divorce me any time and he came home to tell me that I had options,” Elizabeth spat. “Because he wanted me to know if I wanted out, I could go. Because that’s who Jason is. He didn’t want me to feel tied down or forced to stay. But it took me hours to figure that out, and so we spent most of yesterday pretty sure the other person wanted to leave.”
“I didn’t mean for that to happen—”
“I don’t care what your intentions were, okay? I care that you think you have a right to interfere in my life or Jason’s. We’re not your pawns to move around a chessboard.” Her chest burned. “And I don’t know what you did to hurt him and break his trust, but this sure as hell isn’t going to earn it back.”
“I’m not trying to earn it back,” Sonny said slowly. “If Jason’s in Port Charles and working for me, then he still needs to take orders from me. If he can’t handle it—”
“Then it’s your fault.” Elizabeth jerked the door open. “You can get out. Jason speaks for both of us. If he tells you no, you don’t get to go around him.”
“This wedding reception is going to happen,” Sonny warned her. “I already told the others yes. So you tell Jason—”
She slammed the door before he could finish.
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Elizabeth was still in a rotten mood when she took a seat across from Emily a few hours later. Emily made a face. “Jason couldn’t be here?”
“No, he had work.” Elizabeth picked up a menu and scanned it. “He said maybe tomorrow—”
“He’s working? Didn’t you just get married? I knew it.” Emily sat back. “I knew something was weird and off about all of this.”
Elizabeth laid the menu down and stared at her best friend. “What the hell does that mean?”
“Since the Christmas Party, you’ve both been acting really weird,” Emily said. “I mean, I’m trying to be okay with all of it, and I’m still glad it’s not Carly, but you have to admit, this all feels really forced.”
She really wasn’t in the mood. “Forced.”
“Is it about the business?” Emily lowered her voice. “Are you helping Jason cover up something?”
And because it was partially the truth, tears pricked at Elizabeth’s eyes. Even her own best friend and Jason’s sister couldn’t believe Jason would be in love with her enough to get married. “Because he couldn’t possibly want to marry me otherwise, right?”
“Elizabeth, that’s not what I meant—”
“But it’s what you think. It’s what plenty of people think.” And even it had started like that, she knew it wasn’t just about the business. About Carly or the PCPD.
“Oh, don’t sound so offended—where are you going?” Emily demanded. “You just got here—”
“I lost my appetite.” She jerked away from the table and stalked out.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
A few hours of grunt work at the warehouse hadn’t rid Jason of his bad mood or irritation, so he left and went home. Maybe Elizabeth would want to take a ride. The roads were clear, and they were supposed to get snow the next day. It would be the last chance for a while—
He found her out on the balcony, the doors wide open, letting the swirl of January winds into the penthouse. Not that he cared, but—
Jason stepped out onto the balcony. “Hey, are you okay?”
Elizabeth turned, then blinked at the doors behind him. “Oh. I didn’t realize—” She sighed. “I just got back from lunch with Emily, and she thinks—it doesn’t matter,” she muttered. “I’m just not in the mood to deal with her. And Sonny came by as soon as you left,” she threw over her shoulder as she looked back out over the edge of the balcony.
Jason tensed. “What did he say?”
“I yelled at him for a while, but it didn’t change anything. He said he’d already said yes, so you need to get used to the idea or something.” She jerked a shoulder. “I’m really tired of everyone telling me what they think or acting like they know better than I do.”
He joined her at the balcony. “I’ll talk to him tomorrow, tell him to leave you alone—”
“I did that before I threw him out. We’ll see if it works.”
He drew off his jacket and dropped it on her shoulders. “Aren’t you cold?”
“I didn’t want to feel anything,” Elizabeth replied, then made a face. “It sounds stupid now. I was just so mad at Sonny, and then Emily—”
Jason ran his hands down her arms, then back up to her shoulders. “Let’s go take a ride. Before it snows and we can’t go for a few weeks.”
“We can do that later, can’t we?” Elizabeth slid her arms around his neck, the jacket dropping to the ground. She leaned up to brush her mouth against his. “I want to be with you. Everything goes away when you touch me.”
That was the best offer he’d had all day, so he lifted her in his arms, kicked the doors closed behind them and headed for the stairs.