Written in 57 minutes.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Jason was almost relieved to see Elizabeth on the sofa with Spinelli when he returned from Sonny’s that afternoon. He really didn’t know how she transported two children around all the time, especially since Cameron never seemed to stay still for more than ten minutes at a time.
He no sooner pushed open the door then Cameron raced for the stairs and likely the toys upstairs. Elizabeth got to her feet. “I’ll go up and close the gate behind him,” she said. “Otherwise, he’ll ride that bike right down the stairs.”
“Little Dude definitely has the need for speed,” Spinelli said, cheerfully. He set his laptop on the table. “He’s why parents leash their kids.” The smile on the younger man’s face didn’t match the tone of his voice, Jason realized as he lifted Jake from the stroller and crossed the room a playpen that had mysteriously showed up next to the television. He checked the toys and left Jake chewing on the long ear of a stuffed bunny.
“Is everything okay?” Jason wanted to know.
“Uh, yeah. I guess. Maybe. Do you still have that thumb drive I gave you last week? The Jackal requires it.”
Jason frowned, opened the desk drawer and retrieved it. “Did something happen?”
“Faithful Friend and Fair Chelsea had another delivery. Dead roses.” Spinelli’s mouth was pinched as he took the drive and shuddered. “Creepy to the maximum.”
“Did Georgie tell Mac?” Jason asked, leaning against the desk.
“No, but the Jackal will relay that suggestion—” He smiled grimly as Elizabeth descended the stairs. “I, uh, also have some information for you and Fair Elizabeth.” He tucked the thumb drive in his laptop bag. “The Insightful One overheard a troubling conversation while working last week. She didn’t want to get involved, so she said nothing. But she felt as though it should be shared.”
“Detective Dingus and The Departed One were discussing the divorce and custody,” Spinelli mumbled.
Elizabeth drew her brows together. “Detective—”
“Lucky and Sam,” Jason bit out, then focused on the tech. “Discussing how?”
“Uh—” Spinelli rubbed the back of his neck. “Questioning the best way to ensure Detective Dingus maintains his role as the paternal—”
“Spinelli.” Jason knew that the kid was uncomfortable with confrontation, and had always used nicknames and hyperbole to cope with that, but he was running out of patience—
“Right.” Spinelli swallowed. “Georgie didn’t get all the details, but they were brainstorming how to make Fair Elizabeth and Stone Cold look like unfit parents to tank the paternity and custody.”
“They—” Elizabeth’s eyes widened. “Me? Unfit? And Jason—” She exhaled in a heavy sigh. “Okay. Thanks. I’ll let Diane know.”
“Thanks,” Jason added, his fists clenched at his side. Why the hell had Sam decided to weigh in on any of this? It wasn’t her business anymore—
“I’ll, uh, head out. I need to go to PCU.” Spinelli looped the bag over his head and headed for the door. “I’m sorry,” he said. “It sucks.”
“It does,” Elizabeth murmured. She closed her eyes, dragged her hands through her hair. “What is he thinking?” she wanted to know, looking back at Jason. “I know Sam must be angry, but you’ve been broken up for a while now—”
“She knew,” Jason said quietly. “She found out after Jake was born. I didn’t know that,” he added when Elizabeth just stared at him. “Not until Jake was kidnapped. It came out then.”
“She knew Jake was your son,” Elizabeth repeated. “She knew before Maureen Harper kidnapped him.” She rubbed her chest, then laughed—though it was short, choppy, almost bitter sound devoid of humor. “Well, that explains her visit to the house the day after. When she said she wanted to help, and instead—” She sighed. “Never mind.”
“What did she do?” What had Sam said to Elizabeth, knowing where Jake was and who had him? Damn it. He’d thought he was protecting them all by not revealing the role Sam had played, but—
“I think maybe she was trying in the beginning,” Elizabeth murmured. She wandered over to the terrace doors, peering out at the view of the harbor. “Trying to tell me she understood what I was going through. Because of the baby she’d lost. But I was angry. Jake wasn’t dead—I still had Cameron,” she said. “We were the same, the two of us. We’d both lost a child. I could even have another baby. Like Jake could just be replaced.”
“She—” Jason scrubbed a hand down his face, taking that in. With full knowledge of who had his son, Sam had tried to plant the seeds in Elizabeth’s head. She would never have told the truth. If Maureen Harper hadn’t revealed her part in it all— “I’m sorry.”
“It just—I guess it gives that conversation a different meaning now that I know she knew all along. Maybe she wanted it to be true.” Elizabeth made a face, turned back to him. “That’s not fair. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t—Don’t apologize for her. She doesn’t deserve it.” And now Sam wanted to go after Elizabeth again? Pushing Lucky, trying to get them both declared unfit—
“I can’t believe Lucky really thinks he’s going to go into a court room and point to you as an unfit father,” Elizabeth said with a scowl. “He’s the one with the record of drug abuse. And his affair with Maxie—everyone knew about then when she faked the pregnancy. He did drugs around my son. He can’t win this. It’s impossible.”
“I just got acquitted for murder,” Jason reminded her. “And I’ve got an arrest record—”
“No convictions,” Elizabeth said. “And zero record of endangering kids. I just hate that he’s even considering it. The last thing you and Sonny need is more of this—”
“You let me worry about that.” Jason crossed to her, reached for her hands. “Remember what Diane said. There’s no chance I’m going to lose the paternity suit. And once I’m Jake’s legal father, Lucky’s rights go away.” He hesitated. “And if it looks like it’s going wrong—you tell me how you want this to work out, and I’ll make sure it happens.” He’d get Spinelli working on the family court roster, he decided. There was always something—
“You just got out of jail,” Elizabeth said, but her lips had curved into a smile now because she understood what he was offering. “Let’s just…let’s see what he has to say. Diane is filing today, and we should get something back from Lucky and his lawyer. I just hate that this is happening.”
“So do I. But we’ve got warning,” Jason reminded her. “Diane can prep for any attack on you or me as a parent.” He thought about what Sonny had said, and wondered if Lucky would push too far and lose Elizabeth’s support for joint custody of Cameron. Jason worried if he told her now he’d step up, she might feel guilty enough about everything else to accept the offer even if it wasn’t what she wanted.
Better to wait for Lucky to throw the first punch, because it sounded like he was stupid enough to play dirty.
And Jason had someone else who needed to be dealt with.
Lewis Hall: Georgie & Chelsea’s Dorm
Georgie flopped back on her bed. “You can’t see anything!”
“Well, we can,” Chelsea said, trying to be helpful. “We know he’s not very tall. And he—” She squinted at the figure in the grainy black and white footage. “He likes hats.”
“And long jackets in the summer,” Spinelli said. The same figure had delivered both the fresh roses as the dead ones — but all that meant is that it was some of average height who kept his back to the camera. No face shots.
“You should call your stepdad,” Chelsea told Georgie. “Isn’t it a little weird that he didn’t look at the camera?”
“It could just be a florist delivery. They let delivery guys up to the rooms all the time,” Georgie said. “Maybe this isn’t even the guy.”
“It’s probably just some dumb joke.” Georgie studied the vase of the dead flowers on the dress. “The frats are starting early—”
“And it’s not like it was addressed to either of us,” Georgie reminded her. “If someone wanted to scare us, why not write notes?”
“I guess.” Chelsea chewed on her lip, looked at Spinelli. “What do you think?”
“I think,” Spinelli said slowly, “that better safe than sorry. Give the Commissioner everything—”
“He’s going to think we’re silly.” Georgie got to her feet and crossed to the dresser. “Maxie is already driving him nuts with Cooper and all that crap she pulled last week. She picked the vase up and dumped it in the trash. “We’re not probably not even the only people that are getting pranked.”
Jason heard the footsteps behind the door and waited — knowing that she was peering through the peephole. If she didn’t answer the door —
Finally, the tumblers shifted and he heard the locks clicking. Sam opened the door, draping one arm along the edge, the other braced against the frame to block him from coming in. She arched a brow and smirked. “Lonely after all those weeks away?”
“Not for you,” he bit out, and her eyes widened. She fell back a step. Good, he thought. He’d been too kind to her, felt too guilty about the fact she couldn’t have children, that he’d kept the truth about Jake from her — but he wasn’t going to let her push him around for the rest of his life in return.
While he knew her medical issues were ultimately because of her connection to him, he reminded himself that Sam had known the risks of being around him. She’d chosen them. And she’d chosen to watch as his newborn son was kidnapped. Chosen to keep that knowledge to herself. Chosen to torment Elizabeth with thoughts of Jake’s death—
He was done with the guilt.
“What do you want?” Sam demanded.
“If you want to talk about this in the hallway,” Jason said, “we can do that. I’m thisclose to calling Diane to tip off the police that someone else was part of Jake’s kidnapping—”
She hissed, let her hand fall away from the door, and stepped back so he could enter. “You have a lot of nerve—”
“No, you do.” Jason stalked into the apartment, then turned to face her. “You knew where my son was and said nothing—”
“I told you—”
“Yeah, and I swallowed that bullshit about you being paralyzed and scared. I let myself believe you. But you didn’t stay scared, did you?” Jason asked, stepping close to her — Sam was forced to tilt her head up to maintain eye contact. “You went to Elizabeth to make her think Jake was dead.”
“That’s—” Sam swallowed hard. “You’re making it sound deliberate—”
“Because it was. You wanted Jake gone. You wanted me to lose my son when I was already facing a lifetime in prison—and you did it, you said, because you were scared. You weren’t scared. Or paralyzed. You were happy for Jake to disappear, weren’t you?’
“Why are you here?”
“There was a time I loved you,” he said, and she frowned, likely confused at the change in topic. “A time when I wanted my future to be with you.”
“I felt guilty because I stopped wanting that at some point and I didn’t know how to tell you. I didn’t know how to end things without hurting you. And I’ve continued to feel that guilt. Do you think you’d be protected from prosecution if Elizabeth knew what you did?”
Sam licked her lips. “You never—”
“I never told anyone. Because I felt responsible. But today? I see who you really are. Spiteful. Vindictive.”
“How dare you—”
“You have nothing to do with my life anymore. Nothing to do with Elizabeth or her boys. You’re going to stop filling Lucky Spencer’s ears with your bullshit. If I find out you’re still trying to hurt Elizabeth or the kids—”
“What? You’ll have me arrested?” Sam sneered.
“You decided to make yourself a threat to my son the minute you kept your mouth shut about his kidnapping. Maureen would have given him back within hours, but you enjoyed hurting me, hurting Elizabeth—”
“Stay away from me. From my life. From my son. Or you’ll see exactly who I am.”
Sam’s cheeks paled and she stepped back. “Are you threatening to kill me?” she asked, her voice trembling. “How could you—”
“Do you want to find out?” He took a step towards her, and she backed up hastily, against the door. She reached for the knob, twisted it. “I didn’t think so.”
“Get out.” But the sneer, the arrogance was gone, and there was fear in her eyes. Good.
He left, hearing the door slam behind him. He didn’t know if she truly believed him, and Jason didn’t even know if he believed himself — but if Sam caused Elizabeth one more moment of pain —
They’d both find out what he was capable of.