Written in 56 minutes.
Morgan Penthouse: Kitchen
Elizabeth set Jake’s empty bottle into the sink and perched him on one hip, keeping a close eye on Cameron who was still only halfway through the waffles and bacon on his plate. She looked towards the living room, worried.
What did Lucky want with Spinelli? And what had Jason learned on the phone call that convinced him it was okay to talk to the cops without Diane?
She heard a door open. “Cam, try not to drown yourself in the syrup, okay? I’ll be right back.”
“K, Mommy—” Cameron shoved another piece of the waffle into his mouth.
Jason and Spinelli were alone in the living room, which was good, Elizabeth thought, setting Jake into his playpen. But then she got a better look at their expressions—Jason’s mouth was pinched and Spinelli’s eyes were dazed, staring at the floor.
She waited wordlessly, afraid to say anything. Afraid to know what was happening. There were only a few people in the world that Spinelli cared about enough for this creation—
Jake made a protest from the playpen, then launched his rabbit out. Spinelli blinked, then smiled faintly at the infant. “The Wee One protests his imprisonment. I feel ya, kid.”
Then he sat down—dropping straight onto the floor—nearly collapsing. “Faithful Friend and the Fair Chelsea.” He looked at Elizabeth. “They’re gone.”
Elizabeth sucked in a sharp breath, her eyes flying to Jason who nodded grimly. “What happened?”
“Mommy?” Cameron came to the door. “I finish—” He stopped. “Snelli. You fall down?”
“Cam—” Elizabeth went to stop her son, but Cameron was on a mission and he slid under his mother’s legs and went to sit next to his new friend.
“Boo boo?” Cam wanted to know. He crouched down next to Spinelli, his brow furrowed. “Mommy a nurse. She can fix you.”
“No fixing to be done, Little Dude, but the Jackal thanks you for your kindness and consideration.” Spinelli drew his knees to his chest. “Didn’t do enough, Stone Cold. Couldn’t stop it.” He put his head against his knees and his whole body started to shake as the tears began. Bereft, Cameron patted his shoulder.
Jason got to one knee next to him, a hand on his other shoulder. “We’re going to help them now, Spinelli. Diane will meet us at the station, and we’ll tell them everything we know.”
“Spinelli, why don’t you go upstairs and take a shower,” Elizabeth said softly. She knelt in front of him. “You need to get your head clear and think of everything Georgie and her friend said to you these last few weeks. You were their best friend, and they need you to look after them now.”
“Not just friends. Family.” Spinelli drew in a heaving breath but nodded. “Yes. Yes. The Jackal must do what is right.” He smiled at Cameron. “Thanks, Little Dude.”
“Mommy makes me get a bath when I sticky, and it sucks but then I clean. That’s okay,” Cameron said, nodding sagely. “Snelli be okay.”
Jason looped one of Spinelli’s arms over his shoulder and lifted him to his feet. “Go ahead. I’ll call Diane.”
“I’ll take Cam up to wash him up.” Elizabeth scooped the toddler into her arms, then put a hand on Spinelli’s shoulders. “Come on. We’ll go together.”
Jason watched Elizabeth walking slowly after Spinelli up the stairs, and when they disappeared, he went over to the phone. Christ. How the hell was Spinelli going to come forward about hacking into the college security to give them the footage?
He couldn’t think about it yet, couldn’t really fathom that friendly young woman who had been in and out of the penthouse since Spinelli had moved in. She’d come forward about the conversation she’d heard between Lucky and Sam — she’d helped decorate the place for Jason’s return from jail—
And she’d helped Spinelli set up a bedroom here at the penthouse for the boys. All the small little ways Georgie Jones had been in his life, and now she was gone. He’d known her since she was small girl—
His hand tightened around the phone as it slammed into him and he remembered Robin. She’d always considered Maxie and Georgie her cousins, but they’d been more like her sisters. Did she know? Was someone with her?
“Diane? Hey. Yeah, we need you as soon as possible. I need to take Spinelli to the PCPD for questioning.”
General Hospital: Nurse’s Station
“Is it wrong of me to be glad Elizabeth couldn’t get back on the schedule until next month?” Emily asked. She set a chart down next to Robin. “I feel like a bad friend because I know she wanted to get back to work, but—”
“She asked for six months, she got it. The hospital hired a nurse to take care of it.” Robin checked her notes. She blinked, then focused on Emily. “Why is it bothering you today?”
Emily leaned against the counter and handed Robin a letter. “I’m scheduled for a deposition in the custody case, and it made me think of everything since the trial. And I also ran into the temp nurse on the surgery floor—Patrick was chewing her out—”
At the mention of her ex-boyfriend, Robin’s lips thinned. “He needs to have more patience—” Or maybe he was in the same bad mood she’d been in since they’d broken up. After everything they’d been through this last year— “You know, it should be socially acceptable to ask someone if they want kids on the first day. Two years of my life down the drain—” She rolled her shoulders. “Look, siting for the depo is going to suck. Especially since you’re friends with both of them—”
“Not anymore. Not after the crap Lucky’s pulling—” Emily turned at the sound of the elevator, and Robin glanced up. The pen in her hands fell to the counter with a click of plastic.
Mac was standing there, his eyes red—Kevin just behind him, a hand on Mac’s shoulder, gripping it. “Uncle Mac.”
“Robin.” Mac closed his eyes, swallowed hard. “I can’t—” He looked at Kevin. “I can’t—”
“What’s wrong?” Robin rushed around the counter. “Uncle Mac—”
“Robin—” Kevin caught her before she reached her uncle. “It’s Georgie. They found her in the park—”
“Found.” Robin simply stared as the horror of the single word sunk in. “Found,” she repeated. She looked at Mac, at the tears sliding down his cheek. “Found. Georgie was found.”
Emily picked up the phone and dialed a number. “Patrick Drake to the Sixth Floor Nurse’s Station. Immediately. If he’s not in surgery.”
“This morning,” Kevin continued. He led her over to the sofa in the waiting area, helped her to sit. Mac perched on the edge of the sofa. His hands were shaking, Robin thought, and nothing terrified her more than seeing her strong uncle’s hands trembling.
“She and her roommate were attacked after leaving a party,” Mac managed. “I’m—I’m—We’ll call everyone—”
“Lucy’s already taking care of it,” Kevin said.
“Attacked.” It was another terrible word that matched found. It couldn’t be just a car accident, no. Robin’s baby cousin had been ripped away from her through violence. Someone had stolen her.
“She’s gone,” Robin said. She thought if she said it outloud it would make it real, but it sounded obscene. Like a walking nightmare that had to be keep being lived over. Every second, her brain erased the knowledge and it had to come again. Georgie dead. She was dead. Found. She was gone. Dead. Murdered. Attacked. She looked at Mac. “Do we—I mean, is there anything—”
“We’re working the case. But—”
“I should help Lucy with the calls.” Robin stood suddenly. “That’s what I’ll do. I’ll—I’ll make calls. There are so many people. Everyone loved her—” She looked at Emily. “Georgie. Everyone loved her.”
“They did,” Emily said. She came out of the nurse’s station. “I’ll talk to my mother and get you off the schedule—”
The elevators opened again and Patrick stepped out, his face twisted in a scowl that disappeared instantly when he saw Robin standing in front him, swaying slightly, her eyes stricken. “What’s wrong?” he said, coming forward and taking her into his arms. “What’s happened?”
“Oh, God.” Robin choked back a sob and her knees crumbled, but Patrick kept her upright. “She’s gone. Georgie. They stole her and hurt her, and she’s gone—”
He hauled her against him as she finally broke into sobs, heartbroken, loud, shattered sobs that shook her frame. He looked at Mac’s eyes, and Kevin’s quiet grief, then pressed his lips to Robin’s dark hair. “Okay. Okay. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“I don’t care if I go to jail,” Spinelli said defiantly. He lifted his chin and glowered at Jason. “Georgie is what matters.”
The shower had indeed cleared his head, and now the grief was being fed by a searing anger—at himself, the killer, and the world. “They can throw away the key, but there must be justice. Fair Elizabeth, you understand—” He turned pleading eyes on Elizabeth who folded her arms.
“Spinelli, why don’t you listen to Diane? There might be a way to tell them everything without putting yourself at risk. Justice matters,” Elizabeth added when Spinelli’s nostrils flared. “But Georgie would never, ever put you at risk. You know that.”
“I’m sure we can talk our way around it. And perhaps the campus security will still have the footage on hand.” Diane touched Spinelli’s elbow. “I ask you to trust me to look after you. Do you?”
“You must agree that Georgie comes first. My faithful friend deserves nothing less-”
“Georgie comes first for you, and I understand that. But my loyalties are to the living,” Diane said not unkindly, and Spinelli seemed to shrink at this reminder of why they were here. She looked at Jason and Elizabeth. “Will you give me a minute with my client?”
“Yeah. Yeah. I’ll go clean up the kitchen,” Jason muttered, stalking from the room. Elizabeth peeked at Jake who had been moved to the bassinet for his morning nap, then followed.
“Diane will take care of him, Jason,” Elizabeth said, flinching when Jason dropped several plates into the sink with a crash and clink of cutlery and ceramics.
“Lucky was kind to him,” Jason said shortly. He looked at Elizabeth. “As soon as he stepped off that elevator, I knew—God, I knew it was bad, but—” He leaned back against the counter, dragged his hands through his hair. “He wanted to let Spinelli know easily. Wanted him to sit down, and I couldn’t let him in. Couldn’t let Cam see him—”
“It wouldn’t have made the news any easier if Spinelli had been sitting or standing,” Elizabeth said.
“In a million years, I never thought it was murder. Those girls—Georgie was just a kid. And I’m thinking about Robin. She loved her so much.”
“We’ll check on her,” Elizabeth said. She’d thought of Robin, too, once she’d made it upstairs and Spinelli was in the shower. Of all the people Georgie had touched in her short life. “Jason—”
“I knew something was wrong,” Jason said. “Or at least that there was some creep sending her flowers. That’s why Spinelli got that footage. But I didn’t know it kept happening. Why didn’t he tell me? Why didn’t she—”
“Because they didn’t, Jason. And there’s no guarantee if they had, it would have helped.” Elizabeth stepped up to him, put her arms around him, relieved when he hugged her back. Spinelli was like a brother to Jason — the younger, screw-up brother who needed constant looking after to keep on track, and right now, Jason thought he’d failed him. “He’s such a good kid, Jason. It’s hitting this so hard because he feels the way you do. But you’ll just make yourself sick thinking of everything you didn’t do. We have to focus on Spinelli and look after him the way he’s looked after us. The way he’s taken care of the boys.”
“Yeah,” Jason said roughly. He cleared his throat. “I’ll make sure he gets out of this without getting into trouble. Uh—” He exhaled sharply. “Look, I know we said we’d take this slow and maybe it’s not a good idea, but Spinelli—he seemed to do better when he was talking to Jake and Cam. Maybe—can you—”
“I already called my grandmother,” Elizabeth said, and his expression eased. “I needed to talk to her about yesterday anyway. We’ll be here when you get back.”
“Okay. Okay.” He rested his forehead against hers, then their mouths found each other in a comforting, soft kiss. “I love you,” he murmured and she smiled.
“I love you, too.”