Written in 63 minutes.
December 31, 1999
Corinthos-Morgan Warehouse: Office
“You know, if you’re going to do the books for this place,” Alexis Davis began amicably as he put down his briefcase on the rickety table, “you should get a room that doesn’t look like it could double as solitary confinement.”
Jason frowned at his lawyer. “Why? All I need is a table, a chair, and some lights.” He shook his head and went back to the ledgers. “Sonny has an office. People are always trying to make appointments.”
“Yeah, that’s how you stay legit,” Alexis began, then shook her head. Trying to make Jason even slightly more corporate to support the image of the warehouse as a legal business was never going to work. “I was able to get that search warrant quashed, by the way. It was clearly fishing.”
“But,” Alexis continued, “it would be simpler if you could alibi yourself for the night Moreno went missing. They can’t pinpoint an actual time of death, only that the body was in the harbor for a few weeks.” She tilted her head. “Elizabeth—”
Jason leaned back. “She can alibi me for a few hours,” he said slowly, “and I know that if she phrased her answer just right and they didn’t follow up, it would hold. The problem is she wasn’t with me the whole night.”
Alexis wrinkled her nose, then gingerly perched on the edge of a chair that looked like it had been dragged up from storage. “I was afraid of that.”
“There’s—” Jason grimaced. “There’s more. I got shot that night.” He stared at his lawyer, waiting for her to ask the question.
Alexis pursed her lips. “Okay.”
“Elizabeth found me the next morning. I stayed at her place while I was recovering, and Bobbie looked in on me.” Jason rolled the pencil between his fingers, feeling the ridges against his skin. “How much trouble would they be in if someone told the PCPD that?”
“Well,” Alexis drawled slowly, “that would depend. You’re not required seek to medical assistance. If Bobbie gave you medical help—” She paused. “Did it include any medication?”
“Not from her,” Jason said.
“But from someone,” Alexis continued. “Did Elizabeth give you medication? Does anyone know that?”
“I—” Jason frowned over the question. “I don’t know if anyone other than Sonny knew.” Did Carly? She might have. “Maybe.”
“That’s likely where the problem would come,” Alexis told him. “If anyone gave you pain pills and the PCPD could somehow prove it enough to file charges — they could be in trouble. Elizabeth could be charged with distribution of a narcotic. They wouldn’t even have to tie you to Moreno’s death,” she added. “If someone knew Elizabeth was doling out pain meds—” She stopped. “Maybe we should stop speaking in hypotheticals, Jason, and you tell me what’s going on. I’m your lawyer. I can be Elizabeth’s lawyer if she needs one, at least until there’s a conflict of interest—”
“Carly knows I was shot,” Jason said. “Sonny gave Elizabeth the medication I needed. I only took the antibiotics after the first day. But, yeah, she got me some pain meds. She flushed them when I refused to use them.”
Alexis perused that information for a long moment. “Carly knows you were shot, and from what you’ve asked, I imagine she also knew Bobbie and Elizabeth were involved. She might not make the connection with the drugs, Jason, but I assure you — if she goes to Taggert, he will. He’s already trying to tie Elizabeth to this anyway he can to force her statement.”
Jason sighed. And if Carly had the chance to throw Elizabeth under the bus— “Her statement would be enough to force Elizabeth on the record, wouldn’t it?”
“It might,” Alexis admitted. “Again, a gunshot wound around the time Moreno was presumed to be murdered—that doesn’t look great for you. It’s circumstantial, but it’s enough to pull Elizabeth and Bobbie in for questioning. If they can threaten either of them with accessory, particularly if they make this drug connection — I don’t know, Jason. It would depend on the evidence. I could probably get it dismissed eventually, but I wouldn’t be able to represent you and them.”
He’d been afraid of that. “Carly is threatening to turn them in,” he admitted. “If I don’t help her disappear with Michael and get out of the marriage.” He paused. “I told her I’d do that—but she wants me to go with her.”
“Of course she does,” Alexis muttered. “Jason—” She hesitated. “The rumors about you and Elizabeth—are they true?”
Jason frowned at her. “What? About the party? What Nikolas said? Why does that matter?”
“I’m certainly not interested in your love life,” Alexis said dryly, “nor am I helping you to circumvent the law. I just wanted to point out that you need to shake Carly’s credibility and prevent any situation where Elizabeth could be forced to testify against you. Taggert doesn’t want her. He wants you and Sonny.”
Jason squinted. “I don’t understand—”
“The entire town knows that Carly is a jealous shrew,” Alexis reminded him. “You make this look like it’s revenge for you moving on with another woman—it’ll take her down a notch. And if Elizabeth wasn’t in a position to testify against you because of, I don’t know, some sort of confidentiality—”
“There’s several types of confidentiality,” Alexis continued. “Priest, doctor, and, well—spousal.”
Jason just stared at her. “Alexis—”
“It’s tricky to assert it about actions,” Alexis continued, “but generally lawyers try to avoid calling spouses to the stand because if it’s not voluntary, then the spouse can sabotage the case by offering material that was confidential—”
“Just— Jason put up a hand. “Listen—”
“It would work both ways,” Alexis continued, “because then if you were asked if Elizabeth gave you narcotics, you could—”
“This is—” Jason took a deep breath. “That’s—” He paused. “That’s your best advice?”
“I’m not advising you to do anything that circumvents the legal execution of the law,” Alexis said blandly. “I’m merely stating the ways in which you could protect one another under current legislation. Now, there are some challenges to privilege, but it usually gets tied up in appeals and goes for years — it’s messy,” she repeated. “And it mostly gets avoided by just not asking the spouse to testify if they’re the only witness.”
“Don’t thank me. I didn’t do anything. Remember — I gave you zero advice. We just chatted about the law.” She got to her feet. “Right?”
“Right.” He watched Alexis go, then sat back in his chair, thinking over the conversation. He hadn’t thought twice about Elizabeth getting supplies from Sonny — he had only take two doses of the pain pills on the first day when it had been unbearable, but those kinds of charges—even the accusation—
He scrubbed his hands over his face. He’d have to find another way to deal with Carly.
Elizabeth dumped a few coffee mugs into the dish tub and turned back to the counter, frowning when she saw her grandmother. “Gram.”
“Elizabeth,” Audrey said with a stiff nod. “I was hoping you would reconsider coming to the hotel with me tonight for the party.”
She opened her mouth, then saw Carly sauntering in and taking a seat at the counter. This was definitely the last thing she needed today. “Thanks, Gram, but I already have plans tonight.”
Audrey’s expression grew even more stony. “With Jason Morgan?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth said, ignoring Carly’s smirk. “Gram—”
“I certainly hope I won’t have to be attending your funeral,” her grandmother snapped then stormed out of the diner.
Fantastic. Her day was going just great. She turned her attention to Carly. “What can I get you?”
“It’s really what I can get for you,” Carly said coolly. “I’m here to do you a favor, Little Miss Muffet—”
“I doubt that—”
“You know Jason’s only playing around with you because of me,” Carly interrupted and Elizabeth closed her mouth. “Because I made a mistake—”
“Just the one?”
“He always comes back.” Carly leaned forward, her brown eyes dancing with glee and malice. “You can ask Robin. I was his first, you know? After the accident. She wasn’t enough for him—”
“That’s—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “That’s none of my business—”
“It should be. He and I—we have chemistry. You know, where it counts. You’ve seen him, haven’t you? He’s gorgeous, sexy—” Carly closed her eyes and Elizabeth’s throat burned because she knew what the other woman was insinuating. “Mmm, the things he can do with those hands—”
“I have other customers—” Elizabeth started to turn away, but Carly’s hand snaked out and wrapped around Elizabeth’s forearm.
“He always comes back to me,” Carly repeated. “He likes to pretend he likes girls like you—fragile, soft—” She paused. “And damaged.”
Elizabeth flinched at that, and Carly’s lips curved into a smile. “That’s right. You know all about Robin and her sob story. He put up with that for as long as he could. I know about you.”
Her breath froze in her lungs and Elizabeth could only stare at her in stunned silence. “Everyone knows. I’m sorry for you,” Carly added. “Because you were young. Don’t think I’m not sympathetic—”
“Sympathetic—” Elizabeth choked out.
“Sympathetic enough to let you take a few rolls with Jason to get yourself back in the game.” Carly shrugged, released Elizabeth’s arm. “He’ll make you like sex again.”
Her stomach was rolling and bile had risen in her throat until she nearly gagged from it, but Carly just continued. “And you might even entertain him for a little while. At the end of the day, honey, you and I both know you’re not enough to keep him. He’ll get bored, just like he did with Robin, and then he’ll come back to me. He always does.”
Carly got to her feet and adjusted the strap of her purse over her shoulder. “I told you, kid, this was me doing you a favor. Have your fun for as long as he’ll let you but don’t fool yourself. You’re not woman enough for Jason. You’re a damaged little girl looking for a hero.”
As soon as Carly had left the diner, Elizabeth went into the kitchen and straight into the walk in fridge to give herself a long moment. To take a deep breath. She had Emily’s words rolling in her mind to just talk to Jason, to ask him—
But she also knew that Carly’s venom was rooted in truth. Elizabeth was damaged. She was fragile. Not as much as she had been, that much was true. She could take care of herself — but in the ways that mattered — as a woman — there was a piece of Elizabeth that would always be broken. Shattered.
And she was terrified that Carly was right — that the piece of her soul Tom Baker had stolen that night could never be fixed. That she would always be trapped in those bushes, her back against the cold, frozen dirt with someone looming over her—
“Lizzie?” DJ poked his head in. “You okay?”
She closed her eyes and sank to the ground, resting her head against the cool metal wall. “No,” she said softly.
“Let me call Tammy, kid.” The cook edged his way into the freezer and knelt in front of her. “We’ll get someone to cover your shift—”
“Okay.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I’ll—I’ll do it.”
She had another call to make.
Elm Street Pier
Jason was just crossing to the stairs to lead him to Kelly’s for some dinner when he felt the phone in his pocket vibrate. He tugged it out and smiled when he saw Elizabeth’s name on the screen. Maybe she was getting done early—
“Hey.” Her voice sounded a bit strange—almost flat and empty. “I’m not feeling well, so I’m going home early.”
Jason frowned. “I’ll be right there. We can get your stuff tomorrow—”
“No, I—” She cleared her throat. “No, I—I, um, talked to Emily. I’m going to stay with her. I just—I’m sorry.”
“Elizabeth, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I mean, except for—I think I’m getting a cold—”
“Then let me—” He could take care of her, the way she’d done for him. “I’ll come right now—”
“Jason, I—look, I’m sorry. Please. I just—I have to go.” The line went dead, and Jason found himself staring at the silent phone, unsure what had happened. Things had been fine that morning. For both of them—
He grimaced. If Carly had gone after him—why wouldn’t she confront Elizabeth? Damn it.
Wearily, Elizabeth pushed open her door, then slid over the bolt to lock it behind her. She’d felt terrible lying to Jason about where she was spending the night. She reminded herself that she’d go to Emily’s in the morning.
She just didn’t want to see anyone or anything right now. She wanted to sit with herself in the dark—
Elizabeth dragged her hands through her hair and took a deep breath. It was stupid to let Carly into her head, stupid to let her words sink into her bones.
Stupid to think that Carly wasn’t right.
The phone rang, and Elizabeth jumped from the sound. She turned to look at her landline, wondering if it was Jason. Or maybe it was someone else—
She bit her lip, considered letting the machine pick up but then reached for it. If it was Jason, she almost wanted him to catch her in the lie. To come over.
Elizabeth lifted the receiver to her ear. “Hello?”
“Miss Webber, I’m glad I caught you. This is Joseph Sorel.”
Her heart frozen for a moment, then began to beat wildly in her chest. “What—”
“I regret to tell you that this will be the last time we speak. I hope you’ve made peace with yourself.”
“What the hell—” Elizabeth began, then she heard something slam against her door. She rushed towards it, flipped back the bolt, then tried to twist the knob.
“It won’t open. Now, go check under the table.”
Elizabeth obeyed, kneeling down to peer underneath her artist’s table—then her mouth dried up.
“Have you found it yet? You’re trapped, my dear, and unless you do exactly as I say, you won’t be able to see the year 2000. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” she breathed, staring at the 5:00 numbers blinking in red. Then, in horrors, they stopped blinking, then began to change. 4:59. 4:58.
Oh, God. There was a bomb in her studio.