Written in 60 minutes.
Scorpio House: Living Room
Robin emerged from the kitchen, a dish towel in her hands, watching as Maxie rocked back and forth on the sofa, her boyfriend Cooper holding as sobs continued. She’d been crying since Robin had arrived, though she’d calm considerably from the wailing—
That was uncharitable, Robin thought grimly as she went to the coffee table, picked up some empty glasses and returned to the kitchen. She dumped them in the sink, switched on the water. Maxie’s sister was dead—
Her chest tickled, tightened, and something crawled up her throat. Robin gripped the edge of the counter, took a deep breath, squeezed her eyes closed. Forced it back down. She’d fallen apart once already. Couldn’t do it again.
Outside the kitchen window, she heard a car engine switch off. Maybe it was Mac, returning from the station with an update. Or Bobbie, who had dropped off food. Or—
Robin went back into the living room just as the door opened, and her brain skittered to a stop. Felicia stood there, her eyes rimmed with red. Just behind her stood Mac and—
Maxie sniffled, focused on the door, and like lightning, her grief and fury had a target. “What are you doing here?” she demanded, lurching to her feet. Beside her, Cooper got to his feet warily.
“No. No. Neither of you—” Maxie’s voice trembled.
“Maxie,” Felicia said softly, turning to the quiet man beside her. “Your father and I—”
“That man is no father of mine,” Maxie spat, and Frisco Jones exhaled on a shaky breath.
“Maxie, don’t—” Robin came forward, a hand outstretched.
“No, no, no! You don’t get to come here when it’s over!” Maxie shook off Cooper’s arm. “No! Because if you could come today, where were you yesterday?”
“I—” Frisco opened his mouth, then closed it.
Maxie whirled on Robin. “You know what it’s like! You know! Your father showed up like this—but at least he had the decency to pretend to be dead!”
Robin flinched, and Cooper put a hand on Maxie’s arm. “Babe—”
“No!” Maxie cried. “No! My sister is dead! Her body is barely cold, and they’re here like they have a damn right to be—I can’t—” Her sobs choked off and she whirled away, dashing past Robin. A moment later, the back door banged shut. Cooper flicked an uncomfortable look around, then followed his girlfriend.
Robin briefly considered going after her, but then turned her attention to the trio at the door. “Felicia.” She went to the woman who had partially raised her, and embraced her. Felicia hugged her back, the older woman’s thin body trembling. “And—” Robin looked over at Frisco. She had only a handful of memories of this man. He’d been around during her childhood, a friend to both her parents.
But Maxie wasn’t wrong in her anger, in her fury. Because if her parents could show up the same day her sister’s body was found—
“Robin. You’ve—” Frisco cleared his throat. “You’ve grown up.”
“Yes.” Robin took a deep breath. “I made coffee. Come in. Let’s—you must be tired. From the traveling.” She looked at her uncle who slowly shook his head. No leads then. No progress that could be reported.
She absorbed that hit, then turned to make Georgie’s parents feel welcome — and wished she had the courage to rage at the world as Maxie had.
She knew what it was like to grow up without her parents, to wonder if her father loved her—and if he did—how could he have left her behind?
But Robin wasn’t Maxie. And the time to rage would have to come later.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“It’s so awful.” Emily embraced Elizabeth, then took Jake into her arms for a cuddle. “How’s Spinelli?”
“He’s—he’s awful,” Elizabeth admitted. She closed the door. “He’s upstairs with Cameron, watching a movie. Jason—he’s at Sonny’s if you were looking for him—”
“No, I stopped by your grandmother’s but she said you were here.” Emily gave Jake back, then stripped off her jacket, tossing it over the side of the desk. “I guess you’re sticking close—”
“You could say that. Let’s—let’s sit down.” Elizabeth gestured at the sofa. “Um, I’m staying here. With Jason. Me and the boys.”
Emily lifted her brows. “I didn’t realize things had progressed this far—”
“They hadn’t. I mean, they wouldn’t have. But—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Some things happened yesterday, and then this morning—it’s—at the park yesterday. Jason and I were there with the boys. Lucky walked past, and when Cameron tried to hug him, to talk to him—” She squeezed her eyes shut. “Lucky shoved him away. He walked away—”
“What?” Emily’s eyes widened. “What did you say?”
“Cameron was so upset, inconsolable. Screaming for his daddy.” Elizabeth cleared her throat. “I brought him here because—because he’s happy here. And because I needed to take care of him—we stayed the night. I wanted Cameron to feel safe. And I knew Jason and Spinelli—”
“You don’t have to say anything else. My God, I knew Lucky was pushing things with Cameron, but I never thought—” Emily pressed a fist to her mouth. “My God.”
“It was awful. And I never want Cam to go through this again. He woke up back to his old self, I think, but I can’t risk another scene like that. I’m having Diane revise the custody petition.”
Elizabeth rose to her feet, crossed the room to set Jake down in the bassinet. “I’ve been kind, I think, to Lucky. Understanding. Patient. I knew he was threatening to walk away from Cameron because he saw it as leverage. As a negotiation tactic. The moment you told me what he’d said—or what Georgie overheard—or even after that mediation meeting—I knew I should have walked away then. Rejected any visitation at all. But I didn’t.”
“I felt guilty. This was all happening because of me. I set all of this into motion years ago when I decided Lucky was my problem to fix. I thought Jason could take care of himself. That it was better to keep choosing Lucky because he needed me, and Jason didn’t.” She rubbed her arms, chilled. “Somehow, I convinced myself that the right thing to do was to lie to Jason, to take away his son—that Lucky needed Jake more. This was my fault, Emily, and I would have kept taking the hits. I would take anything Lucky or Nikolas threw at me. Because I started this a lifetime ago, and I kept going last year—”
She broke off, turned to focus on Emily. “But it stopped being my fault after the trial. I told the truth when it would have been safer, easier for me to keep lying. To keep demanding more from Jason than I had a right to—to keep protecting Lucky’s world. To make myself unhappy.” Tears burned as they trickled down. “When did I decide Lucky was worth more than me? How could I have done this myself—to Jason—to my boys—” Her breath was shaky as she forced herself to continue. “The things I’ve done will haunt me for the rest of my life. But everything that happens now isn’t my fault. Lucky listened to my little boy screaming for him and still walked away.”
Emily slowly stood, her eyes shimmering. “I can’t believe. I can’t accept it. It’s not right. I—”
“I’ve spent my life begging, cheating, and destroying myself and the people around me so that Lucky Spencer would love me.” She met Emily’s eyes. “Even with the divorce, even with the mediation, and the custody demands, I couldn’t stand to go for broke. To play anything but fair. Because I needed Lucky to love Cameron.”
“And he doesn’t,” Emily said softly.
“He doesn’t. And my son will never have to beg anyone to love him. I won’t allow it.” Elizabeth wrapped her arm around herself. “So whatever happens next, Lucky is out. Cameron doesn’t need a father who puts conditions on his love.”
“No, he doesn’t.” Emily approached, hugged her tightly. “I’m so sorry, Liz. I’m so sorry.”
“I’m not. I’m not—” Elizabeth stepped back, found a smile. “Because he ripped off the blinders I’ve been wearing. The love, the family I want for myself, for my sons—it’s right here. Jason and I were talking before last night—but then Georgie—” Elizabeth paused, as the horror stole over her once more. “Spinelli was shattered, and Cam is good for his spirits. And Jason was shaken, too, I could see that. She was just a baby, Em. Just starting out her life. Just making her own mistakes and choices.”
“It’s brutal,” Emily agreed, winding her arm though Elizabeth’s and walking back to the sofa. “I can’t wrap my head around it.”
“I realized I was just treading water. Staying with my grandmother, only being here for visits. Jason deserves to live with son, and Cam—”
“Cameron deserves my brother,” Emily said. “You don’t have to tell me what I already know. I’ve seen it, haven’t? With my own eyes. I know Jason loves Cameron. They deserve each other.”
“They do. Jason—he offered. Cam’s not there right now, but he will. And I was reminded, terribly, that life is too short to wait until the perfect moment. I’ve waited long enough.”
Greystone: Living Room
Jason should have paid more attention to the car clustered in the front drive, he thought, as he strode past Max, and into the living room to find Carly speaking with her ex-husband.
“Jason!” Carly’s eyes lit up and she came to hug him. “You’ve been impossible to find these days—” Her mouth twisted. “Someone’s keeping you busy—”
“Yeah, my son,” Jason said, and she scowled. “I see him every day,” he added, hoping it would quell her ire, and give her peace a mind. There was part of Carly, he knew, that had been genuinely angry that Jason had been lied to, that he’d had watch Lucky claim Jake. How she handled it—who she blamed—well, that was different.
“See him—you should have him. All the time. At night. Morning.” Carly put hand on her hips. “But you won’t—”
“I do,” Jason repeated. He looked at Sonny. “That’s why I’m here.”
“What? What? Don’t tell me that mealy-mouthed—” Jason snapped his head around, and Carly stumbled. Tried again. “I mean, did Elizabeth give you visitation?”
Jason ignored her question, focused on Sonny. “Elizabeth and the boys are living with me now—”
“I knew it!”
“Shut up, Carly,” Sonny said blandly, then to Jason, he continued, “What kind of protection are you looking for?”
Irritated and beyond his patient, Jason turned, took Carly by the arm and lightly shoved her back a few feet — into the foyer. Then he closed the door, locking her out.
“Yeah, she’s not going to handle any of this well—” Sonny started, but Jason scowled. “I’m not saying that should be a problem for you—”
“It’s not. And Elizabeth can handle Carly. I don’t care about any of that.”
“No, of course.”
“I need you to sign off on a security upgrade for the Towers,” Jason said. “We haven’t overhauled it since you were living there with the kids. I need—”
“Done. I’ll call our guys. Guards?”
“Do—I didn’t think we had any cause for—” Jason frowned. He was out of loop, had been for months. “Do we—”
“I wasn’t sure if Elizabeth was more anxious after the kidnapping,” Sonny said gently. “Relax. Things are quiet. Everyone is lying low after the publicity from the trial. So, no personal guards. Do you want someone to trail after? Just in the area. Elizabeth could keep driving. Just a presence.”
“Maybe when she has the boys,” Jason said finally. “Thanks. I appreciate—I appreciate all space you’ve been giving me.”
“You’ve earned this,” Sonny said simply. “If I need you, I know how to find you. Take this time for yourself. And for your family.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
For his family. He liked the sound of it, and it put him in a good mood—good enough that he was able to deal with a short Carly confrontation after leaving Sonny. She’d been filled with complaints and worries—but he’d smoothed them over and left without breaking a sweat.
Then he’d gone home, thinking about what they might make for dinner—he didn’t cook much, but he’d liked breakfast that morning. Maybe—
There was laughter coming from the kitchen when Jason arrived at the penthouse. He followed the sound to find Spinelli and Cameron at the kitchen table, Jake in a bouncy sweat, and Elizabeth at the stove. Her hair had been piled on her head, pieces trailing down, sticking lightly to the side her face, damp from the steam rising from the stove. She held a metal spoon in her hand, traces of red sauce clinging to the edges.
She was turned away from the pot, laughing with a flushed Spinelli covered in dinosaur stickers, Cameron giggling another ready in his hand, and Jake gurgling, his tiny fist wrapped around a cloth rabbit ear.
Elizabeth turned at her entrance, her smile remaining in place. “You’re home!”
“Stone Cold—” Spinelli’s desperate eyes found his. “You must assist the Jackal. He’s under attack from the Little Dude—”
“I think you can take him,” Jason said lightly, crossing the space to press his mouth to Elizabeth’s. Her smile widened under his lips, and she wrapped one arm around his neck. “Hey,” she said softly when he drew back.
“Hey,” he echoed. “I’m home.”