Went a bit over. Written in 64 minutes. No spellcheck.
December 31, 1999
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Jason just stared at Elizabeth as she stalked across the room, her back to him. Fragile and damaged. If that’s what Elizabeth had taken from the confrontation with Carly, it meant that somehow, Carly had thrown Elizabeth’s rape in her face and used it to make her feel less.
He exhaled slowly. “Elizabeth,” he began, not having the slightest clue what words he would use to follow that.
“Let’s just not talk about it,” she muttered. “I don’t want to.”
“I get that.” He waited. “So let me talk and then we can drop it, okay? You don’t even have to look at me.”
Fair enough. Okay, so now what? “Carly has an idea of who I am,” he said finally. “Based on how we met. It was only a few months after my accident, and I was still—I don’t know. I was understanding how things worked. She thinks that because I had sex with her while I was interested in Robin that it gave her power over me—and Robin.” And it was humiliating to recount that, to remember how Carly had used that knowledge to try to lure him back into her bed. How she had used it to hurt Robin.
And he remembered that Robin had forgiven him even when he hadn’t really deserved it.
“I don’t know why she still thinks that’s true now,” Jason continued. “Robin always knew I couldn’t be Michael’s father because Carly and I haven’t been together that way in three years.” He paused again. “Yeah, I like sex, Elizabeth. That’s not something to be ashamed about.”
“I didn’t mean—” Elizabeth turned to him now, her voice quiet. “I didn’t mean you should be—”
“I know that.” Relieved that she was looking at him now even though she was still across the room, Jason took a step towards her. “You’re not fragile or damaged—”
“Really? You’re not living in my head, Jason, okay? I know—” Elizabeth wrapped her arms around her torso. “I know what goes through my mind when we’re together.”
“You’re right. I can’t tell you how to feel about yourself.” And knowing she felt both of those things—that Carly had forced them on her again just to get herself out of trouble—it left a sour taste in his mouth. “I can only tell you how I feel about you. I know you’re—I know you haven’t been with anyone. You told me that about Lucky—”
“I mean technically—”
“Technically doesn’t count,” Jason said with a shake of his head. “And I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you that.”
“No. Bobbie told me that. And I’ve been to therapy. I get it. But knowing it and feeling it—” She rubbed the side of her face. “I don’t think about it all the time,” she offered. “Days go by, and I don’t. But lately, now we’re—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I knew it would come up—”
He took another step towards her. “What scares you about it?” he asked. “I mean, if you can or want to—”
“I don’t know. That I won’t like any of it,” Elizabeth admitted. She twisted her fingers together in front of her, staring at them. “Or maybe worse. That I will, and then there will be a moment, and then I’ll be back there. It’s the hardest part of it, you know. You never know what’s going to trigger it. Um, sometimes people say something or, once, DJ—the cook at Kelly’s—he just bumped into me in the kitchen and I thought he was grabbing me—” Her throat closed. “I’m scared that if we try—If I try—then it’ll put me back in that night and it’ll ruin everything—”
Her eyes met his, tears still glistening in her lashes. “It’s not about trusting you. I wish it was that simple. I trust you. I trusted Lucky. It’s about trusting myself, and I’m not there yet. I’m sorry.”
“Why are you sorry?” he demanded, wincing when he heard the roughness of his tone. She flinched. “I didn’t—I just meant this isn’t something you did to yourself, Elizabeth. It was done to you.”
Elizabeth swiped at her tears. “I know. I’ve been in therapy. It’s not my fault. None of it is. But it still feels like there’s something wrong with me.”
Jason had been slowly crossing the room and now he was just in front of her. “You said you trust me.”
“Do you trust me when I tell you that I don’t care if or when we sleep together?” he asked.
Elizabeth made a face. “Jason—” She took a deep, watery breath. “See, I know you meant that to help, but now—”
“What?” he reached for her hands, stopping her from twisting them. “Do you think because I don’t care that it means I don’t want to?” he asked and from the flush in her cheeks, he knew he was right. “I’ve been scared,” he admitted in a low voice, “to show you how much I do want you. Maybe saying I don’t care isn’t the right way. Because I do care,” he continued, “and I hope one day you’re ready. But it’s not a dealbreaker. I just like being around you.”
“Jason—” She squeezed her eyes shut. “It’s so frustrating,” Elizabeth muttered.
“Because most of me wants to—” She sighed. “I think maybe I didn’t really believe you were—I mean, that you wanted to have—you know, this is ridiculous. It’s frustrating,” Elizabeth repeated, meeting his eyes and now he saw the flare of irritation, “because if you want me, and I definitely want you, that I don’t get to have that, you know? It shouldn’t be this hard—”
“It’s been less than a week,” Jason cut in. He cupped one of her cheeks, letting his thumb slide over the tear-stained skin. “I can be patient.”
“Yeah, well, patience has never been one of my virtues.” But some of the sadness had dissipated and he knew that he’d managed to reassure her. She smiled at him. “This has been a really weird day.”
“Yeah, and it’s not over yet.” Sensing the storm had passed, he leaned forward to kiss her, but she put her hands on his chest. “I’m sorry—”
“No, no, I just realized—” Elizabeth narrowed her eyes. “You never told me how Carly threatened you. You said she had and that you’d turned her down so she came to me. What did she say to you?”
Jason winced because he really didn’t want to have this conversation since it just put that insane conversation with Alexis back in his head.
Fortunately for him, before Elizabeth could press further, there was a slight knock on the door and then Sonny pushed it open. “Hey, hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
“No.” Elizabeth cleared her throat and put some space between them. “Do you—um, should I go upstairs? Or whatever—”
“No, I think since the bomb was in your studio, you should at least get to know about it.” Sonny glanced at Jason. “Don’t you think?”
“Yeah. Yeah. The guys already looked?”
“Didn’t take long. The studio isn’t far from the warehouse.” Sonny rocked back on his heels. “Good news and bad news,” he continued. “Bad news, it was a live bomb. It should have detonated.”
Jason exhaled in a rush as he reflexively tightened his grip on Elizabeth’s hand. “But it didn’t.”
“No. Uh, Paulie said you might have made it out with minor injuries,” Sonny told her. “In the closet, I mean, but tough to know for sure. The thing is — there was a wire crossed. The bomb could count down but detonation couldn’t be triggered.”
Elizabeth squinted. “So, was that a mistake?” she asked. “Did he want the bomb to go off or did he just want to scare me?”
“It’s hard to say,” Sonny said slowly, and Jason could tell he was impressed that Elizabeth had made that leap. “The thing is—we don’t know. I’m getting a meeting together, so we’ll see tomorrow.” He hesitated. “You can’t go back to the studio.”
“No, I didn’t think I would. Um—” Elizabeth flicked her eyes to Jason. “I was gonna stay with Emily while you got the door and lock replaced, but I don’t feel—I mean, he could go after her, too.”
“If you were there, yeah. He wanted you to refuse to alibi me,” Jason reminded her. “He doesn’t know you weren’t planning to.” He looked at Sonny. “Do you need anything else from me tonight? You’re doing the meeting.”
“No, no. You’re good to go. Uh, Happy New Year’s,” Sonny said, gesturing at the clock which had clicked over to midnight when they hadn’t realized. “Call me if you need anything.”
When Sonny was gone, Jason turned back to Elizabeth. “I know everything we just talked about, but—”
“You want me to stay here in the Towers which has better security,” she finished. “I figured.” Elizabeth bit her lip, glancing around the room with its spare furniture. “Um, I’m also guessing maybe the guest rooms aren’t furnished.”
Jason scratched the back of his neck. “Uh, no. Just the one bed. But you take that and I’ll take the sofa—”
“No, no.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “When we were in the studio, you were on the sofa and I was on the floor. I know how to share a space with you Jason.” Her cheeks flushed. “I mean, if you want—”
“If you’re sure.” His skin felt like it was stretched too tight all of a sudden. He cleared his throat. “You can change your mind. Even in the middle of the night.”
“I know. I just—I trust you,” she said. She hesitated. “I guess we should—I mean, unless you don’t have—”
“No, we can—” Go to bed, he finished silently, but saying it out loud didn’t feel right. “Yeah.”
“Right.” Neither of them moved for a minute, then she laughed—with a mixture of embarrassment and nerves. “Can I borrow something to sleep in? I guess a t-shirt or—”
“Yeah. I’ll get you something,” he said immediately, starting for the stairs relieved to have a task. He heard her footsteps behind him and hoped like hell they weren’t making a mistake.
Maybe he should just take the sofa after all.
January 1, 2000
Morgan Penthouse: Bedroom
The sky behind the shades was still a grimy gray when her eyes drifted open the next morning. Blearily, she focused on the clock sitting on the table — it was just after six. Hmmm, maybe she should just go back to sleep.
She was so wonderfully warm and comfortable—not a sensation she was used to since she’d moved out of her grandmother’s house. The mattress was soft and plush, and she was wrapped in a cozy cocoon of comforter and—
Elizabeth’s eyes snapped wide open as she took in the feeling of weight behind her, and an arm slung over her waist, holding her against a furnace of heat. Jason. Jason was holding her against him, his hand resting loosely over her abdomen. She could feel all of him. Every single inch, and—
And she was fine. She was comfortable. She wasn’t scared. Elizabeth closed her eyes as a shudder slid through her and tears stung her eyes. She’d dreamed of this so often—first with Lucky, and more recently with Jason and now—
She felt him tense behind her and that hand started to jerk back. She reached for it, lacing her fingers with his. “No, um, not yet.”
“I’m sorry, I—” His voice was rough with sleep. “I didn’t mean—”
“I’m okay.” She released his hand and twisted until she was flat on her back and Jason was resting next to her. He sat up slightly, propping himself up on his elbow. “Really.”
His eyes searched hers, doubting. Or maybe just worried that she was covering it up. Elizabeth bit her lip, then slid her hand up his chest—over the soft cloth of the t-shirt he’d worn and she’d wondered if he was only doing that for her—to rest at his collarbone. There was a flicker in his eyes when her fingertips brushed his bare skin and she realized—
He hadn’t been lying the night before. He really did—he found her attractive. He liked when she touched him. And she liked knowing it.
Feeling brave, Elizabeth tugged his head down to kiss her. His legs were brushing hers under the comforter, so she slid one of hers over his hips and he tensed against her. She old even feel his heart pounding where their chests met. She’d done that to him.
Fragile and damaged her ass.
“Good morning,” she murmured when she pulled back, her cheeks flaming.
“Good morning,” he managed. “I guess you slept okay.”
Elizabeth laughed then. “Oh, yeah. You?”
“Yeah.” He kissed her again, lingering for another minute. “I hate to get up,” he admitted.
“Me either, but I have to work,” Elizabeth said with a grimace. “And I know you have stuff to do.”
He paused and she wondered if he was going to suggest they both blow things off for a few hours—she’d like to explore just how comfortable she really was—but then the cell phone on his side of the bed vibrated. With a scowl, Jason rolled away from her. “It’s Sonny,” he said with some surprise. “I need to—”
“I’ll get a shower. I need to stop by the studio before work to get clothes,” she reminded him as she moved towards the bathroom and left him alone with his phone call.
Maybe this would work after all.