Written in 49 minutes.
Wednesday, February 2, 2000
Corinthos & Morgan: Office
Jason scribbled his name at the bottom of a contract, then shoved it into a pile that he intended to dump on the secretary’s desk on his way out. He only came down here once or twice, but there always seemed to be a thousand things for him to sign. Why the hell had he agreed to go into this kind of business? There was so much paperwork—
“Yo—” There was a light knock, and Jason glanced up to find one of the guards in the open doorway. “Uh, AJ Quartermaine is insisting on talking to you. We can kick him out, but I thought I’d check—”
His stomach churned, but Jason got to his feet. There couldn’t be a lot of reasons the Quartermaine scion would be demanding to talk to him, and he wondered if he was out of town. Had AJ realized he might not be the baby’s father? It was one thing to let things drift until Carly’s paternity test, but—
“I’ll take care of it,” he told the guard.
AJ stepped over the threshold and closed the door. They stared at one another for a long moment, then finally he spoke. “I know that I’ve done a lot of things wrong in my life. Most of which you don’t even remember. There’s no reason for either of us trust each other after this last year.”
Jason shoved his hands in his pockets. This wasn’t quite the approach he’d expected, so he remained silent.
“I married Carly knowing exactly who she is and what she’s capable of. This was the same woman who drugged me into thinking I was drinking again,” AJ reminded him, and Jason accepted that. He’d known that, but he’d accepted it as part of Carly’s life before Michael. Now, it showed a pattern of being willing to destroy people who’d never hurt her to get what she wanted.
He should have seen it as a lesson to be learned.
“I knew she was in love with you,” AJ continued, “and that there was a chance whatever was going on with you two would continue. I know it has.” His eyes burned into Jason’s. “I deserve the life I have with Carly, and it was always a price I was willing to pay to have Michael. You know that. You were willing to pay it, too.”
“What’s the point of all of this?” Jason interrupted. “Why are you here?”
“Whatever Carly’s faults—and there are many—she’s a good mother. I don’t want Michael to lose what we have. I can live with Carly. And I know you’ve moved on.” AJ swallowed hard. “You’re building a future that doesn’t include her. You took my son for over a year without asking and lied about it. I’m at least giving you the choice.”
Jason furrowed his brow. This was a strange conversation for them to be having—how could AJ sound so convinced. “What—”
“Don’t bother.” AJ held up a hand and Jason closed his mouth. “Carly and I weren’t sleeping together at the point she got pregnant. There’s no chance this is my baby. I hoped that the infidelity clause in the prenuptial agreement would be harsh enough, but I guess Carly can’t help herself. I don’t even know if it’d hold up in family court, and I’m not willing to chance it. I don’t want Michael to be used like a weapon. He’s already spent too much of his life in the middle of all of this.”
“I don’t deserve him. Or any other kids. I don’t deserve anything. For what I did to you. To my family, to the other people that I’ve hurt.” AJ pressed a hand against his chest. “I deserve Carly, okay? But Michael should have his family. I’m asking you to let him have it. I will be a good father, and if you want to be an uncle, I can live with that. I promise. I just—”
“AJ—” Jason stopped. He didn’t know what to say to this impassioned plea from a man who had clearly thought through everything minute.
“And, you know, maybe we can come clean later. I don’t know. I just—I’m asking you for this. To keep quiet. Do you want to deal with Carly for the rest of your life?” AJ pressed. “Michael will be dragged into court, but so will Elizabeth. You and me, we’ve got enough bad blood. Neither of them deserve it.” He cleared his throat. “You don’t have to decide right now. It’s a lot to ask, and you should think it over.”
Quartermaine Estate: Family Room
Bobbie had thought often about what she was going to do. She’d been pushing the wrong people, she knew that. Putting pressure on Elizabeth when it wasn’t remotely her fight—and the way Elizabeth had looked the last time they’d discussed it, Bobbie had decided to stop. Jason had a right to walk away from Carly and everything that came with her. He had a right to a future.
But that didn’t mean Bobbie was ready to let this go.
“Mama.” Carly’s expression was wary as she stepped into the room where Bobbie was waiting. She closed the doors, leaning against them. “I haven’t seen you in a while.”
“And this will be the last time,” Bobbie said softly. Carly flinched. “I’m sorry. I am. But I can’t do this anymore. You and I both know that’s not AJ’s child—”
“I forgave you for Tony,” Bobbie said, and Carly closed her mouth. “I looked past everything you did to hurt me because, God knows, I was never innocent. I lied, cheated, and stole to get what I wanted, and the only person who ever really got hurt was myself. I wanted better for you. I wanted you to have what I didn’t. So I forgave you. But you haven’t changed. You’re still lying, still cheating, and stealing what doesn’t belong to you.”
Carly’s eyes burned with tears, but she lifted her chin. “So you’re turning your back on me. Because I’m not living my life the way you want me to—”
“I will miss my grandson,” Bobbie said, and her heart twisted. Oh, God. “But I can’t sit by and watch this. You were willing to sacrifice me to get what you wanted. To put Elizabeth in jail. You would have watched us both get destroyed to punish Jason. I don’t matter to you. No one matters to you but yourself.”
“That’s not true. Mama, please—” Carly’s voice broke. “Please.”
“I have watch you use Michael since the moment he was conceived, and now you have another child to use as a pawn. You’re good at making people believe in you for a while.” Bobbie went to the door and gently steered Carly away so she could open it. “Tony saw who you really were. So did Jason. And now it’s my turn. Goodbye.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“And he just left it like that.” Elizabeth curled up on the sofa, her eyes wide as she watched Jason at the window on the other side of the fireplace. His expression was troubled, and she honestly didn’t understand.
He’d wanted to wait until the paternity test, but now he knew. There was no chance AJ was the father. The time was now.
But she swallowed those words. She’d meant what she’d said when they’d first learned about the baby. This was Jason’s choice. For better or for worse. His mistake.
“Yeah. He wanted me to think about it.” Jason turned to her, but his expression was hard to read. “What do you think?”
“About what AJ said?” Elizabeth shrugged. “I think, whatever he’s done in the past, he showed a lot of courage in at least facing you head on.”
Jason exhaled slowly. “Yeah, I guess.”
“And he’s not wrong about what the future is going to hold. A lot of time in court for everyone. Carly’s going to go down swinging. Sonny will be dragged into all of that, too.” She shifted. “But Carly knew what she signed—”
“She was desperate,” Jason interrupted. “She knew the Quartermaines would pay off anyone in court—”
Elizabeth closed her mouth. He was right. The Quartermaines would never play this clean, but neither had Carly. Not that Jason would never admit it. For all that he talked about moving on and not loving her, it was hard to believe it. Not when he constantly rose up to defend her. “Okay.”
Jason waited, but she remained silent. He furrowed his brows. “Is that all you think?”
“It doesn’t really matter what I think,” she said carefully. “This is your decision.”
“But I’m asking you.”
Elizabeth sighed, then got to her feet. She was tired, and she knew Jason was supposed to be out on business most of the night. She really just wanted to go to bed and never talk about Carly or her children again.
“Look, at the end of the day, what AJ wants from you isn’t yours to give,” she said bluntly, and he blinked at that. “He’s asking you not to destroy his family because he thinks you’re going to want, at the very least, joint custody of this baby he’s told the world is his. If the family finds out it’s not, he’ll feel pressured to divorce her. That’s his problem, and I don’t feel sorry for him. He knew what he was doing when he married her. And the only reason AJ’s even bothering to cover for Carly is because he thinks it’s yours.”
“Because it’s karma for him after you lied about Michael. He just get a little credit for asking permission. If he knew it was Sonny’s, this wouldn’t be a conversation and you know that. You want my blessing to tell AJ you’ll keep quiet, I’m not going to give it.”
Jason’s face tightened. “What does that mean?”
“It means,” Elizabeth said, wishing she’d kept her own mouth shut at this point, “that whatever you or I feel about Sonny right now, I don’t know that he’s done anything to deserve being kept in the dark. But this isn’t my problem. It’s not my secret. I think you’re wrong not to tell him. But you get to be wrong, Jason. Isn’t what you wanted? The freedom to make mistakes?”
“I told you I wasn’t going to make this choice for you, and I won’t. AJ, Carly, and Sonny—these are your people, not mine. This has nothing to do with me. Except that I’m married to you.” She folded her arms. “Keep the secret, tell the truth—it’s your choice.”
“But you think I’m wrong.”
“You are wrong,” she said gently, but he still flinched. “And the worst part is you know it. But you don’t want to talk about why you’re doing it, and until then, I don’t know if it does us any good to talk about it.”
“This isn’t a secret that affects our everyday life,” she continued, even though she wasn’t entirely convinced of that. “It’s not like Robin. You’re not asking me to raise another woman’s son conceived while we were together. This baby? Not my problem. I feel sorry for those kids. Whatever happens.”
Jason cleared his throat, then looked at the clock across the room. “I have to go.” He started past her, then stopped and took her by the shoulders. “Thank you.”
She raised her brow. “For what?”
“You’re unhappy with this,” he said, “and I guess we still need to talk about it, but thank you for at least telling me. Robin never—she didn’t really. And maybe she just thought it would go away. I didn’t know how unhappy she was until it was too late. I can’t fix anything if I don’t know.”
“Well, then I guess you’re welcome.” She stroked his jaw, knowing what he was leaving to do and wishing he wasn’t so twisted up about all of this. “Be careful tonight, okay? I want to be able to argue with you when you come home.”
He kissed the tip of her fingers, then leaned down for a longer, lingering embrace. “I don’t want to argue with you.”
“I’ll be careful.” He kissed her again, then left. She watched him go. Tonight, the problem with Sorel was supposed to be over—
But she knew something much worse was on the horizon. Sorel was nothing more than a physical threat, and those didn’t scare her. They still hadn’t really dealt with Carly, and why Jason was really keeping this secret for her.
And whether or not Elizabeth had been unintentionally lying to Jason when she said this wouldn’t affect them or that this wasn’t like Robin. Robin hadn’t confronted Jason on Carly because she’d been scared of the answer. Elizabeth understood the other woman for the first time—and how she’d been pushed so far over the edge, she’d blown up Jason’s life.
Elizabeth wasn’t going to do that, but she also wasn’t interested in sitting around for a year while Carly sat in the wings. One way or another, Jason was going to have to choose.