October 31, 2019

This entry is part 27 of 31 in the series All of Me

I know I let you down
Again and again
I know I never really treated you right
I’ve paid the price
I’m still paying for it every day
I Don’t Know You Anymore, Savage Garden


Monday, September 22, 2003

 Warehouse: Jason’s Office

 Jason raised an eyebrow when the secretary he and Sonny shared announced that Lieutenant Taggert wanted to see him. With a sigh, he let the cop in. He wanted this case to be over so that Elizabeth would be safe—but also so he’d stop having to let Taggert through his damn door without a warrant. He wanted some things to go back to the way they used to be.

“Morgan.” Taggert hesitated when Jason simply remained seated behind his desk, paperwork in front of him. He took a seat. “Lucky Spencer told me he’d talked to Elizabeth about investigating her past. I figured she’s talked to you about it by now.”

“She has,” Jason said. “Why?”

“Because it occurs me that you knew her, too, back then. And I wasn’t sure if Spencer had talked to you. And there’s this other thing about Baker I wanted to run past you.” He took out his notepad. “The first time I was aware you knew Elizabeth outside of your sister was just before you left town. The fall of 1999.”

“We weren’t friends until that summer, in August,” Jason said, leaning back, considering. “I didn’t have a lot of interaction with her, but she came by with Lucky a lot. He washed cars for me, then worked for me at the garage, doing paperwork and running the website. I rented him the room.”

He frowned, trying to remember the first time he’d seen Elizabeth. “She was at Sonny and Brenda’s wedding. I guess as Lucky’s date. I remember seeing her as they left because she was someone I didn’t recognize. And then a few months later, when Nikolas got shot. She was there with her sister.”

“You’re good with faces. You don’t remember anyone hanging around her? Or your sister?” Taggert pressed, leaning forward.

“No. I really don’t. I went to Kelly’s, I’m sure she waited on me. But nothing sticks out.” Jason shook his head. “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well, it was a long shot. Spencer’s looking into the records at Kelly’s. Anyway.” Taggert huffed. “I tried to go see Baker once, in August, but he stuck to his original story from ‘98. No idea what Elizabeth is talking about. He never touched her, blah, blah. But when she mentioned that he knew the color of her dress, I thought maybe he does know something.”

“I got that feeling, too,” Jason admitted. “But I—” He shook his head. He hadn’t wanted to know anything else, hadn’t wanted another secret to keep from Elizabeth. “So?”

“So, I’m going back, and I’m thinking combined with my threat to his parole…” Taggert gestured at him. “Maybe you being in the room might remind him what awaits on the outside.”

Jason stared at him. “You want me to go to the prison to intimidate him?” he finally managed. “Is that even legal?”

“I can bring a third party to the interrogation,” Taggert said. “It’ll take a day or two to set it up.”

Jason stared at him for a long moment before leaning forward. “There was a week between Baker’s arrest and Edward’s call. Why didn’t Elizabeth’s case get investigated during that time? Why wasn’t sending that kit to the lab the first thing that happened the day after you arrested him?”

Taggert looked away, shook his head. “I didn’t think about that part of it when I realized what happened to her case. Because it’s just…it’s routine. We were waiting on the charges. How much time the DA was going to ask for the kidnapping and extortion. And yeah, it’s what Elizabeth said. He was facing more time for those crimes than we could have gotten him for on the rape. That case was supposed to be airtight.”

He grimaced. “Easy to see all the ways you could have done better. I just—I believed her. I believed he confessed. And you know, I wanted it to be over. I wanted her to have peace. She kept coming in, wanting updates, trying to find ways to help—” Taggert shook his head. “I wanted it to go away for her, so I let it go.” He sighed. “Will you go with me or not?”

“I’ll go with you.”

“I’ll call when it’s set up.”

Quartermaine Estate: Dillon’s Room

Dillon scowled at his laptop screen, trying to concentrate on the paper he was writing for his modern film class, but nothing was going right.

He glanced at his phone, managed a smile when he saw that Lulu had sent him a text reminding him he’d promised not to sulk all day and take her to the movies that night. He hadn’t been dating her that day they’d all gone out as a group, but he was now.

And it was nice to have something to look forward to. He’d watched his brother’s press conference earlier that day and then had spent hours trying to get it out of his head.

There was a light knock on his slightly ajar door. He twisted to see Georgie standing at the threshold, her cheeks tear stained. She’d called him a few times, but he hadn’t picked up. Hadn’t want to hear it again.

“If you’re here to defend your stepfather—”

“I’m not,” Georgie said, her voice cracking. She swallowed hard. “I—he sat us down to watch the press conference. We—we all watched it. And then he said it was true. And I just—” She clasped her hands in front of him. “I just wanted to see you. To apologize.”

“I get it. You want to believe he was a good guy.” Dillon shrugged. “Now you know—”

“He’s not a bad man,” Georgie said defensively. “No, don’t give me that look. You don’t know him. He did something awful, Dillon. He did it because my mom didn’t make a lot of money, and their restaurant was failing. If he’d lost his job then—”

“And this summer, Georgie? Let me guess — college tuition, right?” Dillon shook his head. “You know, I know you see the good in people. But sometimes it blinds you to the bad. He was selfish and he played with other people’s lives. I’m glad he feels bad, but all his guilt won’t bring back Brooke.”

We’re just as responsible,” she insisted, her voice climbing. “We ignored her, we didn’t treat her well, and she walked away from us. And then Maxie and I— we never said a word to any of you about what Mac told us. Once we thought she was in the park—” Her voice broke as tears slid down her cheek. “We should have said something. If we’d said something, you would have called the cops or maybe run or moved faster. But we didn’t. Because—”

“Because Mac just told you to be careful in the park or something dumb like that? Not — hey there’s a vicious rapist who beats women and rapes them until they’re broken and bloody and by the way, he likes brunettes—” Dillon cut off abruptly as Georgie cried harder.

“I don’t blame you,” he said after a long moment. “I don’t even blame Kyle or Lucas anymore. I don’t blame me. I blame the man who did it. I blame the people who knew that park wasn’t safe at night and did nothing to fix it. Where were the extra cops, Georgie? Why weren’t there officers patrolling those damn fountains?”

“I—” Georgie wrapped her arms around herself. “I don’t know.”

“Your stepfather played games with my family—with the lives of every single woman in this town—and I don’t care how good he is or how much pressure he was under. He had a choice, Georgie. Forgive me if I’m not in any damn hurry to forgive him. Because his choice cost Brooke her life!”

“I’m going to go,” she said carefully, sucking in a deep breath. “I—I’m just sorry.”

She ran out of the room, and he didn’t even bother to go after her. Instead, he called Lucas to check on his cousin and make sure she got home safely.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Nikolas eyed the guard stationed on Elizabeth’s door as he entered the penthouse. “That’s new. Didn’t you used to share a door guard with Sonny?”

“It’s only during the daytime when Jason isn’t here,” Elizabeth said as she gave him a light kiss on the cheek. “Just a few added precautions.”

“I can’t be mad at that.” Nikolas squeezed her hand as they took a seat on the sofa. “I just wanted to see you in person after yesterday. You looked okay but—”

“I’m good. My vitals are in the normal range, and I have a checkup with Monica next week. She wants to do monthly visits in addition to my OB appointments. They’re really not taking any chances.” She set a hand on her abdomen. “And I’m not either. I wasn’t expecting this baby, but I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure he or she is safe.”

“Well, let me know if there’s anything I can do, or Emily. You know we both just want the best for you.” He paused. “I made a donation to Ned’s campaign and put out an official statement from Cassadine Industries endorsing him.”

“Oh, that’s good. Most of the major businesses in town are affiliated with the Quartermaines, so I’m sure Ned appreciates an independent endorsement.” She tucked a leg underneath her body. “Is that all you came over to do? Check on me?”

“I—” Nikolas hesitated. “Have you heard from Ric since the protection hearing?”

“No.” Elizabeth blinked. “No, not even to annoy me about a deposition for the trial. And Scott hasn’t brought it up in a while. I guess we’re moving full steam ahead on that. It’s…weird, I guess how little I think about Ric. Apart from thinking about my health, he’s not in my head at all.” She smiled at that, looking at her hands, enjoying the way they looked without those awful engagement and wedding rings.

“I wanted you to know I put men on him,” Nikolas told her. “I’m sure Jason and Sonny have as well, but I just…” He pursed his lips. “After that day at your house—when I saw you dying in front of me—”

“Nikolas…” She touched his hand. “Hey—”

“It’s not even the first time you’ve died in front me,” he admitted, and she managed a hesitant laugh at that memory. “But I just remember looking at you, that monitor flatlining — and thinking — Oh, God, he’s killed her. I’m not sure I’ll be able to rest easy until he’s behind bars. And not even then, maybe,” he admitted.

“I appreciate that, but—”

“I just have someone watching him. I know he’s in Crimson Point. I know he hasn’t left the city since the protection hearing. I just—I didn’t know if Jason and Sonny give you reports—”

“Jason doesn’t talk about it much,” Elizabeth admitted. “But I assumed he’s got someone watching Ric. But thank you, it does make me feel better that Ric is miles away. I can only hope the trial will be short. I don’t think Scott plans to call lot of witnesses. Me, Carly. Monica, for sure. Probably you. I don’t know if he’ll call Jason or Sonny. Taggert. Cruz, the cop who was with us that day.” She sighed. “I don’t know why he’s bothering with the trial. Even if they can’t prove the charges about what happened to me, Carly’s are a slam dunk.”

“That’s what we thought about Baker,” Nikolas reminded her quietly. “And there’s no reason that mistrial should have ended up with him serving a quarter of the time he was supposed to.” He shook his head. “You know, I used to wonder if we’d have been better off going to the cops with the blackmail, but now I know they just would have screwed it up.”

“Let’s talk about something else. How’s your mom? And grandmother? Laura still doing well?”

Talking about Laura Spencer and her triumphant homecoming was Nikolas’s favorite subject, so he happily moved on from Ric, the PCPD, and all of the tragedies they’d suffered.

Warehouse: Sonny’s Office

For the first time in weeks, Sonny looked up to find Jason entering his office. They hadn’t spoken much since Jason had come by the penthouse earlier that week and almost not at all at work.

His friendship, his partnership with Jason was changing and Sonny didn’t know what it was going to look like going forward. If they could go back. Or even if they should.

“Hey.” Sonny cleared his throat. “How’s it—” He broke off the awkward question. “What’s up?”

“I, uh…” Jason took a seat. “I wasn’t sure if you saw. Or heard. Taggert was just here.”

Sonny furrowed his brow. “What’s going on? Did you call a lawyer—”

“No, no…” Jason shook his head. “No, it’s not about—it’s about the case.” He told Sonny that Taggert wanted him to go to the prison to see Baker as intimidation.

“Oh. I saw the press conference.” Had been humbled, awed by the woman he’d seen on the screen. “I was going to stop by—but how is she?”

“Yeah. She’s…handling it. Gail Baldwin has been good for her, I guess.” Jason shifted. “I just…didn’t want you to think there was…a reason Taggert was here that I wasn’t—”

“We’re not so far gone, you and I, that I would think that,” Sonny said quietly. He met Jason’s eyes. “Things are…rough right now, but for you to go to the police against me? It wouldn’t enter my mind.”

“Okay—”

When Jason made a move to stand, Sonny held out a hand for him to stop. “I don’t want this distance between us when…I just don’t.”

“I don’t either,” Jason admitted.

Sonny got to his feet and looked out his window, turning his back on his friend. “I blame me for not handling it all better.”

“Last summer, Elizabeth was kidnapped, too,” Jason said. “She’s not my wife. We don’t have kids. But I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t see straight. I almost didn’t find her.”

“I remember.”

“So, maybe I should have thought about that. Sonny, Carly was gone. And I wasn’t even sure I was right,” Jason admitted. “I had to be right, because I didn’t have any other leads. Any other ideas. She had to be with Ric. If I was wrong…she might never have come home.”

“I put a lot of pressure on you,” Sonny murmured. “I’ve always done that. Always made you responsible for me, my black moods. My family. I sent you to Courtney when you had other things to worry about. Anyone could have looked out for her. I sent you. And it wasn’t right.”

“I could have said no.”

“Yeah, well…” Sonny turned back to him. “I like Elizabeth. And I’m glad she’s doing better, I really am. I’m sorry about this…that someone is out there preying on women. And if you have to work with Taggert to make that lying son of a bitch Tom Baker give you something to make this finally over, then that’s what you have to do.”

Sonny rubbed his jaw. “You can’t say anything during the interview because it’s being recorded. Any hint of actual intimidation makes it useless.”

“That’s what Taggert said, yeah.”

“Doesn’t mean we can’t threaten him before you get there. We can pass on the message that if we find out Baker knows anything about Elizabeth he’s not telling you, he won’t even have to worry about after parole. He might not make it to sunrise one day.” He met Jason’s eyes. “I want him terrified when you show up with Taggert, so you don’t even have to work at it.”

“Yeah, I’ll call my guy at Pentonville. That’s a good idea.” Jason hesitated. “You look better,” he said finally.

“I’m feeling better. I saw Elizabeth on that screen—and I remember that night. She was standing there, drugged out of her damn mind, and demanding that we let her stay. That we let her help. Taking it all on her own shoulders.” He shook his head. “She risked her life for Carly. Because she blamed herself. The least—and I mean the very least—I can do is help her get justice.”

Kelsey’s Apartment: Living Room

Lucky scowled down at his notes as Kelsey switched the channel from the news to a movie he didn’t recognize.  “There’s something I’m not remembering.”

She shifted on the sofa, turning to face him and folding her legs underneath her body. “What do you mean?”

“My Aunt Ruby’s records from before she died. Elizabeth mentioned there might be records of people who kept tabs, and Aunt Bobbie said Ruby never threw anything out.” He grimaced. “I should stop by there tomorrow. See if it jogs my memories—”

“You live there,” Kelsey reminded him. “And you were just there a few nights ago—”

“I know.” He threw the pencil and notepad on the coffee table and leaned back against the sofa. “But there’s something at the edge of my memories. I remember something—”

“You have to stop pressuring yourself.” She touched his knee, leaned in. “Go to Kelly’s tomorrow. Get the records from your aunt. You’ll probably remember it when you see the list of tenants. But right now, Lucky, you’re just driving yourself insane.”

“Yeah, yeah, I guess.” He curled an arm around her shoulder and drew her closer. “But Taggert and Jason are going to see Baker on Wednesday. If they get a name—”

“We’ll need more than a name to build a case. So, if we get a name, it might also jump start whatever you’re trying to remember.” Kelsey sighed, closed her eyes. “Think about it. By the end of this week—this monster might finally have a name. We might be able to get everyone some justice.”

“Listening to Elizabeth today, thinking about what all of these women have been through—” Lucky sighed. “I’m not sure justice is even possible. But we could make it over. And that’s not nothing.”

Morgan Penthouse: Bedroom

Elizabeth was sitting up in bed, a book of baby names in her hands, when he came home from work that night. A shipment had arrived three hours later than they’d expected, so it was nearly eleven by the time Jason could leave the warehouse.

She smiled up at him when he came in, setting the book aside. “Hey. You’re not as late as you thought you’d be. It’s not even midnight yet.”

“Yeah, we got a break.” Jason stripped down to his briefs, climbed into bed next to her and kissed her. “What are you reading?” He reached for the book. “Already?”

“Well, we have to be prepared,” Elizabeth said, her cheeks flushed slightly. “Emily came by after Nikolas and dropped it off as a baby gift. The first of many—which I’m taking as a threat. Your sister always goes over the top.”

He took the book from her and flipped through it. “So, what do you like?”

“I don’t know. I know Emily said you picked Michael because of Sonny. And didn’t Carly say they were naming this baby after you?” Elizabeth smirked as Jason’s cheeks reddened slightly. “I thought it was a sweet name. Morgan Stone. Did you want…to name the baby for someone? Emily?”

Jason shrugged. “We can if you want.” When she rolled her eyes, he continued, “It’s a name, Elizabeth. I woke up in the hospital, they told me I was Jason Quartermaine. I didn’t like it, so I changed it. No big deal.”

“Yeah, I’m sure it was a bigger deal than that. If names don’t matter, why did you change it?” she challenged.

He hesitated, trying to remember those days after the accident. He’d been angry all the time—at these strangers who kept telling him who he was supposed to be and always looking so damn disappointed when that version of him didn’t show up. “I thought if I didn’t have their name—if I didn’t use the name they kept telling me was mine—they’d stop wanting me to be him.” Jason shook his head. “It seems stupid now. And I don’t know—I couldn’t see it as them grieving. Their son died. He ran after AJ, promising them he’d take care of it. And he never came home.” He looked at her. “And to make it worse, I was wearing his face.”

“It’s better now, isn’t it?” Elizabeth asked softly.

“It was always easier with Grandmother and Emily. And Ned—until I found out about AJ driving—he and I got along fine. But it took longer with Monica. And I’m not sure I’ll ever get there with Edward and Alan.” Jason was quiet for a long moment. “It’s not as bad as it used to be.” He cleared his throat. “But I get what you mean. The name mattered. I picked Morgan because it was my middle name, and when I told Grandmother I was using it, she just looked so happy. I liked making her happy.”

“There’s no one like Lila.” Elizabeth picked up Jason’s arm so she could tuck herself underneath it. “I think I want our baby to have their own first name. Something that belongs completely to them, you know?”

“I like that idea.” He leaned down, kissed her forehead. “I had a strange visitor at work today.” When she frowned at him, he went on. “Taggert. He wants to go visit Baker at Pentonville and thinks I might be good for intimidation.”

“Why does he want to see Baker?” Elizabeth scowled. “I thought he was cleared—”

“He is—of the actual attack. But I got the feeling that day I saw him—and Taggert said he got the same one—Baker knows more than he’s saying. He knew the color of your dress, and you said he had no trouble going along with what you’d said. Like he already knew you and what happened.”

“I guess.” She sighed. “And…you’re going?”

“It’s not my first choice to spend an hour driving to Pentonville with Taggert, but—” He paused. “I asked him why your kit wasn’t sent that first week. If you were right, and they were just going to let your case go anyway, before the call.”

“What’d he say?”

“That he thought it would be easier for you if Baker went away for the twenty-five. It was more time than he’d get than your charges. And maybe he didn’t want to put you through testifying after the kidnapping.” Jason shook his head. “But if Lucky was right, if Ned told the story right—Mac lied to Taggert, too.”

“Yeah, I guess I can understand that. And Taggert’s the one that reopened my case in the first place. I don’t think he would have been on board for lying to me.” She grimaced. “Are you going to go?”

“Yeah. Because he came to me and asked for my help. And he’s always been good to you. Whatever I can do to make this over faster. If Baker knows who did this—”

“Then it could be over by the end of the week,” she murmured. She sighed and leaned against his shoulder. “Good. I want to get on with the rest of my life. The rest of our life.”

October 28, 2019

This entry is part 26 of 31 in the series All of Me

You never asked for trouble
But you’ve got fire that burns so bright
You turn and face the struggle
When all the others turn and hide
You hold your head above the waves
Above the war they try to wage
You are stronger than their hate
In Your Shoes, Sarah McLachlan


Friday, September 19, 2003

Port Charles Hotel: Office

Elizabeth peered through the crack in the door that led from the back offices into the conference room set up to deliver a press conference. A podium had been set up at the front of the room with rows of chairs arranged facing it. Those chairs were filled with members of the Port Charles media, print and screen and even, she’d been told, an Internet blog.

Her friends and family were already sitting out there in the back row—Jason, Bobbie, Monica, Emily, Nikolas and Lucky filled one of the rows by themselves. She caught Jason’s eye, offered a him a smile meant to reassure him.

He hadn’t tried to stop her or talk her out of doing this, but Elizabeth knew putting herself out there like this made her a target in all sorts of ways. The announcement that she’d be giving a statement had hit the media the day before, and she and Jason had had to unplug their main line to stop it from ringing.

“We can stop this any time,” Ned said as Elizabeth closed the door and took a deep breath. “I can go out there, make excuses.” His eyes met hers, a concerned warm brown. “You don’t need to do this.”

She bit her lip, looked at Edward who was also planning to give a statement as to his involvement, then back to Ned. “No, maybe I don’t need to do this. But I want to. For Brooke. She can’t fight for herself anymore. It’s up to us.”

Ned touched her shoulder. “Okay.” He looked over at Olivia, talking last minute arrangements with Jax and Alexis. “All right, we’re ready.”

“Okay. I’ll go with you to check the sound one more time,” Alexis told Olivia as the two women opened the door and went into the conference room. When Alexis knocked to let them know everything was set up correctly, Ned opened the door for Elizabeth.

She went to one side of the podium and stood next to Edward, who put a hand on her shoulder. Ned stepped up to the microphone.

“Thank you for coming,” he began, as he set his prepared remarks on the podium. “I launched my campaign for mayor last month after the death of my daughter because I wanted women like her to be better protected by our police department and our justice system.”

He paused, his breath catching slightly as he looked down at his notes. After a moment, he looked back up at the crowd.

“I am a grieving father, angry at the world. When I learned just how devastating the failures of this city had been, I wanted to burn it to the ground. But I am just a grieving father. A bystander to all the women that Garrett Floyd ignored in his selfish pursuit of power.”

He paused again, looked at Elizabeth, who nodded. He looked back at the press. “So today, I think you should hear from one of those women.”

He stepped back as Elizabeth started forward, but Ned put his hand over the mike and whispered to her, “We can still stop this.”

“I can do this,” she reassured him. Ned removed his hand and went to stand next to his grandfather. Elizabeth stepped up to the microphone, Olivia moving in to adjust it slightly for her shorter stature.

“Good morning,” she said, flinching at the echoing sound of her own voice. She found Jason in the audience, focused on him.

“My name is Elizabeth Webber, but you already know that thanks to the tabloids and the newspapers that covered the kidnapping of Carly Corinthos and the physical assault I suffered at the hands of Ric Lansing due to the police department’s reckless disregard for my health and safety.” She paused. “I am not here to talk about that case today.”

The room started to buzz with whispers. Elizabeth knew they’d expected her to rail at the PCPD over her assault.

“On February 14, 1998, at the age of sixteen, I took a walk in the Port Charles park after dark.”

And now the room was eerily silent as she continued. “I was a silly girl who had told a lie about having a date to a dance, then was too embarrassed to admit the truth. So, I walked in the park, sat on a bench, and waited for time to pass.”

She found Lucky’s eyes, still full of deep regret as they both thought of the night that had changed their lives. “A man grabbed me from behind, threw me behind the bushes, and raped me.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes, took a deep breath. “I didn’t go to the police. I couldn’t even tell my grandmother. But a friend found me in the park and took me home. His family gave me strength and support to get through the night. I didn’t want anyone to know. I couldn’t bear for anyone to look at me and know.

“I stayed in my room for days. Every man became the man who raped me. Even men I had felt safe to be around before that night—they terrified me.”

She paused to look around the room. It seemed less scary now, easier to keep talking. She looked down at her notes and kept going. “I went to the hospital a few days later and did a rape kit. They took pictures of my bruises and I gave them the dress I had been wearing. I eventually went to the police and for a long time, I felt grateful to Detectives Taggert and Garcia who handled my case. They were kind, but not hopeful. At the time I didn’t remember a lot of the details of my attack, couldn’t give a description, and I was told my rape kit could not be processed without a suspect.”

She gripped the edges of the podium as she continued to speak. “But that fall, we had a suspect. Tom Baker, who blackmailed Emily Quartermaine and held the both of us hostage in his photography studio. He said something that my attacker had, and I accused him of raping me. I was terrified, frozen, and he went along with my charge. He was arrested, and I thought—finally—finally, they’ll be able to investigate.”

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath as her breath caught. “But a month later, I was told that he couldn’t be prosecuted for my attack. That there wasn’t enough evidence. I was told that my rape kit had come back negative for any DNA and he was denying his confession.” She smiled bitterly. “I never doubted Detective Taggert’s word. He said my kit had been run, and now my case would be ruled inactive. Put into cold storage.”

She saw that Scott Baldwin had slid into an empty seat next to Bobbie and he gently nodded when they made eye contact. So, he had been Ned’s source. She’d wondered. “I thought the man responsible was in jail for what had happened to Emily Quartermaine and would be there for a long time. Not as long as we’d hoped, but he was gone. I put my life back together, I moved on. I put it behind me. And then this summer, the Herald told us a serial rapist was stalking the park.”

Her hands fisted at the podium.

“I didn’t…I didn’t let myself believe it was the same man. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t call, I didn’t ask. Even when I was asked by the family of the last young woman to speak to her about my own experience, I never once let myself believe we had been victimized by the same man. Because I assumed that the PCPD had taken care of me. Even after they had planted a story that put my life in danger, I still thought I could trust them.”

She sucked back a sob that tried to bubble up in her throat. “But I was wrong. The PCPD never ran my rape kit. If they had, if they had processed even one of the kits in cold storage, they would have known that the man stalking the park this year was not just my attacker, but that I was the first of at least seven women, beginning in February 1998 and continuing until this past July. All seven of us, including Brooke Lynn Ashton—we were all raped by the same man. A man that the police department continued to let wreak havoc because of budget woes and blind ambition.”

She looked at Lucky, who nodded, reminding her it was okay to tell them everything the PCPD had done. “For a week after Tom Baker was arrested on charges of kidnapping, stalking, and extortion, nothing happened in my rape case. He was never questioned, and my dress sat in evidence, untouched. Because Baker was charged with crimes that would put him away for twenty-five years to life, my case was deemed to be a waste of time and money for the department. A week after his arrest, Garrett Floyd and Mac Scorpio got the political cover they needed to ignore my case.”

Elizabeth glanced back at Edward and Ned who were both ashen, knowing what would come next. “Concerned for their family member, Ned Ashton and Edward Quartermaine called Mayor Floyd to make sure that they had everything they needed to put Baker away. And Floyd took that as an invitation to ignore anything that might derail or delay the trial. Including my case. When I disrupted the trial, accusing Baker of rape, Edward called Floyd again. And this time, Floyd and Scorpio made it official. They generated a false lab report stating my rape kit had returned negative results. Then my case was marked as solved, so it would no longer show up as an open case.”

The room exploded as that news sunk in — that the PCPD had unwittingly delayed the capture of a serial rapist, falsified official evidence, and had engaged in political corruption. She waited for the din to quiet down.

“If my case had been handled properly according to procedure, we would have known five years ago that Tom Baker did not rape me. I would not have had justice, but the women who came after me — the attacks in 1999 and 2000, the four in 2003 — they might have been avoided. If the rape kits for all rape cases were processed at the time of report, then we would have known four years ago that one man was raping women in the park. The DNA would have been on file in state and federal databases. But that did not happen. Because Mac Scorpio, Garrett Floyd, and the PCPD threw me away. I didn’t matter. Their bottom lines, their jobs, their needs mattered more than me and the public they’d sworn to protect.”

She looked at the back of the room where Taggert was standing, his eyes cast down. She didn’t know how long he’d been there, but she wasn’t in the mood to see him.

“They knew a serial rapist was haunting the park by the end of June, but they refused to tell the public. The commissioner warned his own daughters not to walk in the park, but no one warned Brooke Lynn Ashton. If we had known we were being hunted, do you think anyone would have walked there? Brooke Lynn would be alive today if the mayor and the commissioner hadn’t decided that women like us were expendable.”

Rage was now coursing through her veins, her chest rising more rapidly. “I was sixteen when I was raped, little more than a child. I was terrified to tell anyone, sure that the world would blame me. Because my family wasn’t wealthy and couldn’t deliver an election, Garrett Floyd threw me away. He could do that because that’s what this world does. It decides that women are less, that we can be forgotten, put away, disposed of because a man’s reputation, a man’s election somehow matters more than my right to walk in the park without fear, to have justice for the terror I was put through.”

She paused, the room silent. “Garrett Floyd wanted to be your mayor more than he wanted to serve the people. Mac Scorpio wanted to keep his job more than he wanted to protect the public. They don’t care about the people they’ve taken an oath to look after. I nearly died for their greed and ambition. Seven of us were ignored. One of us gone forever. I will fight for Brooke Lynn and for all the others that came after me because I will not let Garrett Floyd throw away one more woman. He got away with it once because I was nothing more than a little girl who didn’t know how to stand up and shout.”

She looked straight ahead at the WKPC television cameras she knew was carrying the conference live. “Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow up and return to destroy your world. I am not going to be thrown away, and I will not stay silent. I am going to vote for Ned Ashton in a few weeks, and I hope that everyone listening will as well. This city deserves a change. I’m sorry I can’t take any questions.”

She stepped back from the podium as Ned put an arm around her shoulder, steadying her. “Are you okay? Do you need Bobbie or your doctor?” he asked as Edward stepped up to deliver his short and furious condemnation of Floyd’s actions.

“No.” She took a deep breath, was relieved when it came easily. She pressed her own fingers to her pulse and found it only a bit more rapid than usual. “I just want to go home. Do I have to stay—”

“Olivia—” Ned started to ask but Olivia was already taking Elizabeth by the elbow and steering her into the back room.

PCPD: Squad Room

Taggert had arrived at the hotel just after the press conference had begun, hoping to slip in and out without being noticed. But once Elizabeth’s incendiary statement had been delivered, he found himself all but chased down the street back to the PCPD, reporters and cameras at his heels.

In the squad room, he found a group of sullen officers gathered around the television set. “She dates a fucking criminal and we’re the bad guys,” Capelli muttered. Taggert shot him a dirty look.

“You’re wanted in the conference room,” Beaudry said with a grunt. “Floyd came in five minutes ago, grabbed Esposito by the scruff of his neck and hauled him in already. With your rookies.”

“Fantastic,” Taggert said with a roll of his eyes. He went down the hall to find the mayor in a fury as he berated the officers in front him.

“I want to know who the hell is leaking the confidential investigations in this office!” Floyd demanded, jabbing his fingers at the trio standing sullenly in a line. “You!” He barked at Dante who stared back at him with open hostility. “You grew up with the last one, didn’t you? Angry at the PCPD?”

“I don’t know,” Dante drawled, “probably not nearly as angry as you were when you leaked her name to the press, asshole.” His dark eyes were lit with fury. “The ‘last one’?  You piece of shit—”

Floyd’s face was almost florid in his rage. “You—you’re fired—”

“Can’t fire him,” Taggert said calmly as he shut down the door. “And if you got a problem with the officers under my command, you take it up with me.  Vinnie isn’t even on this case. I knew months ago something was wrong with the Webber case. I didn’t leak it, but I wish like hell I had.”

“You son of a bitch,” Floyd hissed. “You have screwed up this case from the beginning—you and this Brooklyn asshole—”

Vinnie snorted. “Oh, that he remembers about me,” the detective snarled, his accent thick. “But you don’t remember that I wasn’t even on the damn cases back then!”

“You were a patrol officer in this division!” Floyd gestured wildly. “Why didn’t you make the link?”

“Because even when we did make the link,” Taggert said, stepping in front of his officers. “You refused to let us do anything about it—”

“I said you couldn’t announce it!” Floyd retorted. “Not that you couldn’t investigate it—”

“No public warning, no extra patrols for the park—” Cruz rolled his eyes. “Sounds like not being able to investigate to me,” he told Dante.

Taggert’s mouth twitched—he so badly wanted to smile at the level of disrespect the rookies were showing the line of command. He shouldn’t—but maybe it meant they couldn’t be corrupted or bribed. “We’re working the cases as hard we as we can. You got more damage control to worry about anyway.”

“That’s why I’m here—” Floyd stabbed a finger at Vinnie. “I’ve recommended to the ethics board that Esposito be suspended for thirty days, pending termination for his negligence and public disregard for safety.”

“Fuck that shit!” Vinnie roared. “You’ll hear from my union rep!” He stormed out of the room.

Floyd smirked at Taggert and the rookies. “Careful, officers, or you’ll be next.”

He sauntered out of the room.

“He doesn’t get it, does he?” Dante asked, shaking his head. “He’s a dead man walking. Elizabeth Webber flayed him alive and all that’s left is his rotting corpse.”

“That just makes him more dangerous,” Taggert muttered.

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Bobbie went behind the counter, murmured something to Penny who had been managing in her absence, then looked at Lucky who took a seat in front of her. “Well.”

“Yeah, I’m not looking forward to work tomorrow.” Lucky rubbed the side of his face, exhausted already. “I got a voicemail from Cruz that Floyd went to the PCPD after the conference, accused Dante of being the leak, tried to fire him—and did manage to engineer Vinnie’s suspension. Which is bullshit because Vinnie’s a crappy cop, but this was a system clusterfuck, not just one person.”

“Yeah, well.” Bobbie sighed. “You said you had some questions about the case? I don’t know what I could offer you.”

Lucky explained that their theory about Elizabeth as the trigger victim and how they were trying to think of anyone who fit the profile and was part of her past. “It’s a huge pool of suspects, but Elizabeth thought maybe the regulars she had back then might be a place to start. She didn’t really remember any names or faces. Not after so much time, but we were wondering if Ruby would have kept something.”

“Well, we have the tax records for the rooms we rented going back to about, oh, ‘94, I think. I can check that.” Bobbie pursed her lips. “I have a few boxes of paperwork your aunt left behind that I really don’t know anything about. Ruby kept track of unpaid tabs — she might not have thrown them out once it was paid off. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to Kelly’s when she was here.” Bobbie’s smile was sad. “Didn’t really need to, you know?”

“Yeah, Ruby always made it look easy.”

“I might even have some of her journals. I could pull out what I have when I get home.” Bobbie shook her head as she poured herself a cup of coffee. “It just seems wrong that Elizabeth could have known the guy. Wouldn’t they have done this—” She stopped, shook her head. “We can’t assume anything. Not knowing what we know now.”

“To be honest, Aunt Bobbie, having looked at Elizabeth’s file — Garcia didn’t do anything with Elizabeth’s case. They didn’t look at the crime scene. Didn’t interview anyone in Elizabeth’s life. They seemed to assume it was a stranger rape and moved on. By the time Taggert got assigned it, it was pretty cold.” Lucky shook his head. “But that seems to the way the PCPD operated. Doing the bare minimum.”

“Well, I hope Ned winning in a few weeks will start changing things. I’ll go through Ruby’s things and see if I can’t give you something to help.”

“Thanks—” Lucky stopped, took out his buzzing cell phone. “Hey.”

“Hey. I saw the press conference,” Kelsey said. “The phones are ringing off the hook at the office—do you think Scott is the one that told Liz?”

“Maybe,” Lucky allowed. “I knew she had a lot of the details from someone in a position to know. If the Quartermaines admitted making the call, then someone had to have tipped off Ned Ashton.”

“Yeah.” Kelsey sighed. “Yeah, she was already asking questions, so I’m glad she knows. You okay?”

“As okay as I can be. Will the DA’s office get out of this without a lot of heat?”

“We might be okay. Different DA, former ADA not working here anymore—” She paused. “Will you come by after I’m done work?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll see you tonight.”

Lucky hung up the phone to find his aunt smiling at him. “What?”

“Nothing. Your voice—” Bobbie sighed, her eyes a bit brighter. “It changes when you talk to her. Did you know that?”

“No, but—” He shrugged. “I gotta get going. I have a shift at the club. Call me if you find anything in Aunt Ruby’s records.” He kissed her cheek, then left.

Scorpio House: Living Room

 

When Edward Quartermaine’s face faded from the screen, Felicia picked up the remote and silently switched off the television. On the other sofa, Georgie was crying, Maxie was sitting silently, staring straight ahead. Next to her, Mac was pale, his eyes looking down.

“Is this what you were talking about when I came home in July?” she asked softly. “When you told me Floyd had pushed you on this case?”

“I—”

“Why?” Georgie said, with a sob. “Why would she say those things? Tell them that Floyd made you do it, Dad!”

“How could he make him do anything?” Maxie looked at her stepfather. “He tells you to do something, you tell him to go to hell. It’s not hard. I say it to you all the time.”

“Girls—”

“Don’t start acting like we’re kids and can’t handle this,” Maxie said. She got to her feet and flipped her hair over her shoulder. “I’m an adult. I was there the night Brooke got attacked. I’ve watched Dillon tear himself apart. Kyle and Lucas drowned themselves in guilt. Georgie broke up with Dillon because she was defending you—”

“Because you didn’t have a choice,” Georgie said to him, but even her own conviction was fading. Her voice trembled. “He made you do it.”

“You always have a choice,” Mac said after a long moment. “I didn’t have a good choice. Elizabeth is right. We didn’t immediately investigate after he was arrested. I should have. But I was concentrating on the Quartermaine part of the case, and I didn’t—I wasn’t aware of the rape charges until Floyd called me. But I should have known it.”

“Why wouldn’t Taggert have gone after him—” Felicia pressed her lips together. “Is she right? Did you weigh the odds? Twenty-five to life? Why waste time on a dubious rape charge when you could just sit back, do nothing, and get the same result?”

“I thought he was guilty,” Mac said, numbly. “At first it didn’t seem like a big deal. Until I realized we were lying to Elizabeth. Until Edward called and—I had a choice, Georgie,” he told his youngest step-daughter painfully. “You always have a choice,” he repeated.

“Then why?” Maxie demanded, her voice ending on a wail. “Why did you do this? Why did you let him keep hurting women and why is Brooke dead because of it? Why?”

“Because I didn’t want to lose my job,” Mac said. And damned if that felt like a shitty excuse. “We had the Outback and it was already failing at that point—if I’d lost that income—”

“And it wasn’t like I was making a lot from my work as a private investigator,” Felicia said, with a slow exhale. “And you had the guy’s confession. So, you buried her case to keep your job and support us.”

Georgie sniffled and looked away from them. “I have to go call Dillon. I have to—I have to apologize.” She rushed away, her feet pounding on the stairs.

Maxie stayed for another minute. “You always have a choice,” she repeated. “And yeah, I guess that was a terrible choice. What about this summer, Dad? When you chose to warn me and Georgie, but didn’t make it sound so bad that we told anyone else? How do you think it makes me feel that your choice helped put Brooke in that park?”

“I will never be able to forgive myself—”

“Good. You shouldn’t.”

Without another word, Maxie stalked out the front door, slamming it shut behind her. Mac shook his head, looked to Felicia. “I—”

“You put the needs of your family above those of the people you were supposed to protect.” Felicia offered him a wistful smile. “You think you’re the only person in the world who has ever been selfish? Who’s ever sacrificed one person to save himself?”

“The girls—they’re in college. The Outback is long gone. We didn’t—I couldn’t—”

“The girls are my responsibility,” Felicia told him. “And I’m grateful for the help you’ve given us. The stability you’ve given them. But please, don’t ever use them as a reason not to do the right thing.” She shook her head. “I told myself that whatever was bothering you—I could deal with it. I wasn’t a good wife to you. I depended on you too much. I made my girls your problem to fix. And that’s my fault. But I’m not sure—”

She met his eyes, sighed. “I don’t know, Mac. I just don’t understand how you could have done this. We knew Elizabeth Webber. Steve and Audrey were so good to me. She was at our wedding—she caught my bouquet. And six months later, you put her on a shelf like she was nothing. I get it—you thought the guy was guilty. And if you’d actually investigated the case, maybe you’d have been right. Maybe there wouldn’t have been evidence.”

“I—”

“And it’s hard to blame you for that choice now—because how could you have known that animal would go on to rape six more women? But that’s why you do the job right the first time. So, you can look back and tell yourself—I did everything I should have.” Felicia rubbed the back of her neck. “You haven’t resigned.”

“I offered a few times, but Floyd refused to take it. Now, I think he’ll either have to fire me or—if Ned wins, I want him to fire me. It won’t bring back his daughter, but if it gives him a moment of peace—” Mac sighed, looked away. “I owe him that. At the very least. I’m sorry, Felicia.”

“You’re a good man, Mac, who made a mistake.” She reached up to kiss his cheek. “We’ll get through this.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

 Elizabeth was exhausted by the time they got home that afternoon. She dropped her purse on the desk, kicked her shoes off, and sat on the sofa with a huff. She closed her eyes and extended her arm, expecting Jason to check her pulse.

He didn’t put his fingers on her wrist but took her hand and pressed it to his chest as he sat next to her. She opened her eyes, looked at him suspiciously. “You’re not checking my vitals?”

“I will. But I just wanted to tell you that I love you.”

She smiled, sat up. “I love you, too.”

“You terrify me,” he admitted. “With your fearlessness, your courage—you declared war on the PCPD, the mayor, and the man who did this to all of you. And you did it by reminding everyone who matters here. Not the election. Not the men who screwed up the case. But you. And Brooke Lynn. And the other women.”

“Someone had to,” Elizabeth murmured. “He’s still out there, Jason. And if Lucky is right, he’s still attacking women who look like me. Every time he rapes someone, he’s raping me again in his mind.” Her voice trembled slightly. “Part of me is a little…a lot…scared that standing up there—reminding him I exist—showing him that he didn’t destroy me—”

“He’ll want to come after you.” Jason nodded, his fingers sliding over her smooth skin of her inner arm. “Yeah, I thought about that, too.”

“But I couldn’t hide. I can’t hide. I won’t live my life in fear. Not ever again. I wouldn’t let him break me five years ago.” Elizabeth turned her hand so that she was the one clutching his hand, squeezing it. “I wouldn’t let Ric Lansing break me. I won’t let him be the thing I think about for eight months, worrying about what he did to me or if it’ll cost me my life or my child’s. And I won’t let my rapist drive me to fear either. I run my life. Not them.”

He leaned forward, brushed his lips over hers. “I love you,” he murmured again.

“I love you, too.” She managed a smile for him as he drew back. “Now. Let’s check my vitals and talk about the security I’m sure you want to add.”

October 24, 2019

Your Update Link – Mad World, Chapter 44.

I can’t believe we only have a handful of chapters left! Only three weeks until the last chapter is posted. I’ve received such wonderful feedback on this story — I know that it’s a bit sadder and likely harder to read than others I’ve written, so I appreciate you guys sticking through it.

Sorry for not blogging the last few updates. They’ve been made on schedule, I just forgot to create a second post.

This entry is part 25 of 31 in the series All of Me

And I am feeling so small
It was over my head
I know nothing at all
And I will stumble and fall
I’m still learning to love
Just starting to crawl
Say Something, A Great Big World


Tuesday, September 16, 2003 

PCPD: Conference Room

Lucky set down his paperwork and took a seat, waiting for Kelsey and Taggert to finish setting up a white board in the corner of the room. They were both arguing over something, but he wasn’t really paying attention.

He felt better after clearing the air with Elizabeth the day before—he hadn’t realized just how much guilt and frustration he’d been carrying around about not telling her that her case was opened again, that Baker wasn’t guilty.

He and the others had spent all day on the phone and on the street trying to track down the security companies as well their company lists, but it had been slow, and Lucky didn’t have a lot to show for that part of the investigation.  He’d been nominated to represent them as neither Dante nor Cruz wanted talk about how little they’d found.

“Fine,” Kelsey said to Taggert as she threw up her hands and walked over the table. “We’re done arguing about this. Let’s just start.”

“Did you get anything on the guards?” Tagger added as they both took a seat.

“We managed to get the companies, but a lot of them are being cranky about their employee lists,” Lucky admitted. “We didn’t tell them why—we figured you wouldn’t want anyone to know where we were looking.”

“Yeah. Stay on it. It’s one of the few leads we have,” Taggert said. He looked at Kelsey, who cleared her throat.

“Lucky, the thing Taggert and I were arguing about was asking you to dig into Elizabeth’s past.” Lucky frowned at her and Kelsey averted her eyes as she continued. “Because we have another theory of the case—another lead. What we were talking about—all the ways her case was different—” Kelsey looked at Taggert before looking back at Lucky. “It made me think we were really on to something.”

“We think Elizabeth isn’t just the first known victim or the first victim, but she might be our trigger victim.” Taggert tapped a pencil against a notepad. “We think the guy might have known her.”

“That maybe she was a target.” Lucky exhaled slowly. “Are you—How—” He looked at Kelsey. “Why didn’t you say anything? Yesterday. Last night. Any time since Luke’s.’

“I didn’t—” Kelsey bit her lip. “I wanted to talk it over with Taggert. To make sure I wasn’t just…seeing things.” She widened her eyes a bit at him as if to suggest they’d talk about it later.

“Okay. Fine. Why do you think she’s the trigger?”

“Well, the handcuffs were a clue,” Kelsey admitted. “But also the hair. He told our other victims their hair wasn’t right. But that’s not something that happened to Elizabeth. Now maybe it’s simply something she doesn’t remember—”

“But the victims remember the beating beginning after the hair. Elizabeth didn’t have the same injuries—that could be because you showed up,” Taggert continued, “or—”

“Elizabeth was someone he knew,” Lucky finished. “That he’d been following her, waiting for an opportunity.” Jesus Christ. He unclenched his fists, stretched out his fingers. “And that the other women are just…”

“He’s trying to recreate that first experience. Sometimes the first attack gives you a high you simply cannot replicate,” Kelsey said. “Or there’s something about Elizabeth herself. So, I thought—we thought you might be able to help us see if there’s something about Elizabeth that might have triggered the other attacks.”

“If maybe there’s a reason for the other dates,” Lucky said. He looked at Taggert. “I don’t know—” Then he stopped. “Theresa Lopez. April 26, 1999. That’s a week after the fire at the garage.”

Taggert got up, went to the white board and scribbled garage fire under the second victim’s picture. “Okay. What about Veronica Logan? January 2, 2000—” He frowned, tapped the marker against the board. “You weren’t home yet, but that was about a week after the Christmas party at General Hospital. Nikolas went after Jason Morgan. He came in to file assault charges, and I remember seeing it in the gossip papers, all over the Sun.”

He wrote Christmas party under Veronica Logan’s name. “And I bet there was some mention of Elizabeth in the papers after that fire,” he told Lucky.

“February 14 of this year?” Kelsey pressed. “Could it be simply the anniversary?”

“Maybe,” Taggert admitted, writing anniversary under Dana Watson’s name. “Audrey’s obituary would have been in the papers, and I think there was a large write up about her in the Herald about her hospital service.”

“Yeah, they wrote about Steve and Audrey and their family. I could pull it, but I’m sure they would have mentioned Elizabeth,” Lucky pointed out. “What about May 30?”

“Her marriage to Ric was in the paper the week before, and there was a story about her miscarriage, about her fall in the Sun. Sonny Corinthos was suspected, but we never found out who actually pushed her.” Taggert made another note under Renee Norton’s name. “July 2 is easy. Elizabeth was in the hospital, all over the papers. And that continued throughout most of July.”

“What, are we saying this guy stalks Elizabeth through the papers and rapes someone every time she’s in there?” Lucky asked skeptically. “Because that doesn’t track. What about the Face of Deception modeling? She was in the papers for that. We were supposed to get married, and her car accident. Then last year, she was kidnapped.”

“All of that happened during the period our guy was dormant. He might have gone to jail for something unrelated. We could check intake and out take release records,” Taggert pointed out. “His DNA wouldn’t be on file unless it was a felony or required for the case.”

“I can run a search,” Kelsey offered. “I mean, the dates match, Lucky. Something happened in Elizabeth’s life near enough to the dates of the attacks that I don’t think we can rule it out.”

“No, I guess not. I just—I don’t like the idea—it was bad enough when it was just a serial rapist that was never caught…but if you’re right, if this guy knew Elizabeth, and he’s been stalking her—” Lucky shook his head. “It’s almost too horrible to imagine.”

“You and Liz were close around the time she was attacked, right?” Taggert asked. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you. I thought you could think back to that time, think about the people who were around her. I’m not saying Liz knew the guy—”

“But he might have seen her at Kelly’s or something,” Lucky said, grimacing. “Yeah. I guess—I can talk to Emily and Sarah. Maybe Nikolas. I’m actually seeing Emily, Nikolas, and Elizabeth for dinner tonight. Can I—can I run this by her?”

“I don’t want to upset her any more than I have to,” Taggert said after a long moment. “But I also don’t want to hide anything from her either. Yeah.”

“I’ve been thinking about what Elizabeth said at the end of her statement,” Kelsey said. “About Baker knowing the color of her dress. How easily he went along with her story.”

“I thought the DNA cleared him,” Lucky said, frowning. “How—”

“Maybe he knew something,” Taggert said. “It bothered me, too. I looked at his history. I called a friend at the Herald to pull some background on him. She said that she called some sources at the NYPD. He left New York around 1995, but there were a few open cases of extortion where he was a person of interest. A few lower level clients of Baker’s studio claiming he was asking for more money to keep bad photos from circulating. It didn’t go anywhere, but he left the city.”

“That jives with him blackmailing Emily, even though in hindsight he must have been nuts to go after a Quartermaine with connections to the Cassadines and Jason Morgan.” Kelsey pursed her lips. “Did she have anything useful for us, though?”

“No, but I heard back from Brenda Barrett today. She remembered Baker hiring security at his photo shoots. Sometimes it was a company, and sometimes it was an off-duty cop, moonlighting for extra money.”

“Maybe our guy knew Baker, too. Bragged to him.” Kelsey shrugged. “Do you want to talk to Baker again?”

“Yeah, I’ll have to arrange a visit. Make sure he tells me the truth.” He looked at Lucky. “Keep Dante and Cruz on the security companies. Kelsey is going to look into the backgrounds of anyone in the PCPD working here then. I want you to look into Elizabeth. It’s a long shot, but maybe you or a friend, or even family might remember something. We’re going to find this guy, Spencer. If it’s the last thing I ever do.”

Port Charles Hotel: Conference Room

Ned frowned when he saw Olivia Falconieri sitting at the long table with paperwork in front of her. “I’m sorry—the clerk in the lobby must have given me the wrong—”

“No, you’re in the right place.” Olivia got to her feet. “I told you I was sticking around Port Charles. As long as Dante is, anyway.” She rounded the table and held out her hand. Ned shook it. “Edward didn’t mention hiring me as facilities manager?”

“No, but I’ve been busy.” Ned glanced around the room, furrowing his brow. “You got the memo? We’re holding a press conference on Friday.”

“Yes.” Olivia picked up a clipboard from the table, perused it. “Alexis sent over the list of media you want to invite, and she said there would be a few statements made.” She looked up at him, tipped her head. “We’ll be ready, so we just need to sign the papers. I could have faxed these to your campaign office—”

“I didn’t have anything else to do today and it’s important—I need to make sure you got the note about having a room ready. The next room, I think, it’s an unused office?”

“Alexis said one of the people giving a statement might have some difficulties.” Olivia frowned. “Is this…is this about your daughter’s case? Was there a lead? Lois didn’t say anything, and Dante’s been pretty close-lipped—”

“She doesn’t know yet. No one does. It hasn’t hit the papers yet. They’re keeping this one close to the chest.” Ned leaned against the table. “Elizabeth Webber is going to give a statement. I’m not sure about the content, but the gist is going to be that she was raped by the same man in 1998. The PCPD didn’t bother to run the basic lab work that would have exonerated a suspect in custody for other crimes. Her case and two others were basically ignored for three years until he came back, raped four more women, and drove my daughter to suicide.”

Olivia stared at him for a long moment before slowly exhaling. “You’re not…you’re not serious, are you?”

“I wish I were kidding. I wish this was just a nightmare I could wake up from.” Ned rubbed his eyes. “Someone leaked this to me, so I took it to Elizabeth. Someone has to stand up for her. Mac, Floyd—everyone at the PCPD refused to five years ago and my little girl paid the price. I didn’t do enough for Brooke. But I can do this.”

“Yeah, it seems like the kind of thing the public should know, but…” Olivia pursed her lips. “What will you do after the election? When Floyd is gone, when you’ve fired the commissioner?”

“I—” Ned shook his head. “I’ll be the mayor. I’ll work—”

“I mean, when this case is over, when Elizabeth Webber doesn’t need you to fight her battles…” Olivia handed him the paperwork to sign. “What happens then?”

“You mean when there’s nothing left to do for Brooke?” Ned scribbled his name at the bottom. “I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out when that happens.”

Kelly’s: Lucky’s Room

Lucky tugged a pair of jeans from his dresser with one hand as he towel-dried his hair with the other. He looked over at the sound of his door opening and frowned as he saw Kelsey close the door behind her. “Hey. I thought—”

“I waited for you after work.” She leaned against the door, her eyes a bit sad. “You’re mad at me.”

“I’m not mad.” He tossed the towel over the back of a chair and sat on the bed to pull his jeans over the briefs he wore. “I told you I was having dinner with my brother, Emily, and Elizabeth tonight.”

“I thought we’d talk after work.” Kelsey bit her lip, folding her arms. “I know you’re mad that I just…that Taggert and I talked about all of that without running it past you first—”

“He’s the lead investigator, you’re the ADA. I’m just a patrol—”

“Stop—”

Kelsey put a hand on his chest as he started past her to grab a shirt from where he’d left a pile of laundry. “Stop talking past me.”

He stilled, then looked down at her. “What do you want me to say? We’ve been working on this case together for months. We talked on Saturday about Elizabeth’s case being different. And instead of telling me what you thought that meant, you went to Taggert.” He shrugged. “You made it very clear what you think of my contributions—”

“I was wrong, okay?” She balled her hands into fists at her side. “I wanted to protect you—”

“Protect—” Lucky exhaled slowly. “Because of my memories. Because there are still some spots that aren’t so great.”

“You’re—” Kelsey swallowed hard, her voice just a little raspy as she continued. “You think I don’t know how much this all hurts you? I know we talked on Saturday. I know you know you shouldn’t blame yourself. But I know you, Lucky Spencer. And you do blame yourself for what happened to Elizabeth. For not taking her to that stupid dance. For not being quicker. For not realizing the guy was still in the area—”

Lucky sank on the bed. “It’s not my fault,” he said, but even he heard the lie in his voice. “Kelsey—”

“I thought—God, I thought if I told you that I thought Elizabeth was the key to this—that somewhere in her past—somewhere in your past—she came across this guy—how much worse would it be if you couldn’t remember it?”

He rubbed his chest. “I didn’t think about that.”

“I just—I thought Taggert would ask to talk to Elizabeth. That he’d interview people himself. It was his idea for you to do it.”

“It makes sense,” he murmured. “I already have relationships with the people Elizabeth knew. I was there. He doesn’t know.” He looked at her, standing miserably in front of him. “You don’t have to protect me.”

“No, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to. I mean…” She sighed, sat next to him. “I’m sorry,” she repeated. “I should have told you before Taggert got involved. It won’t happen again.”

“It might,” Lucky pointed out. “I am just a patrol officer. You are the ADA assigned to my division. The next case won’t be as personal—I hope not anyway. But there are always going to be things you and my commanding officer know that I don’t.” He managed a smile. “I just have to get over myself and remember how—” His smile deepened into a smirk. “How lucky I am to have such an impressive woman in my life.”

Kelsey rolled her eyes and slugged him lightly in the shoulder. “Yeah, okay.” She leaned in to brush her lips against his. “We’re okay?”

“We’re okay.” He deepened the kiss, losing himself in her for another moment before wincing. “But I have to finish getting dressed and start dinner. My aunt agreed to close the diner for me. Emily is coming by to help, and then Elizabeth is coming early with brownies for dessert.”

“Sounds like a good night—”

He grabbed her arm before she could leave. “Hey. Next time, we’ll all get together. This is just—”

“I know. I’ll look forward to it.” She kissed him again. “Have a good time with your friends.” Kelsey danced her fingertips down his bare chest. “But come by my place after you’re done.”

“Promise.”

Harborview Towers: Hallway

Jason braced himself as he stepped out of his penthouse and walked towards Sonny’s place. Max’s stance at the head of the elevators indicated his partner was home, which meant it was time to stop putting this off and confront Sonny about the threats he’d leveled at the district attorney.

The fact that Sonny’s anger had reached levels where he was threatening public officials was bad and Jason really didn’t know how to deal with that. It was an unspoken rule, but it was a strong one in nearly every organization in their syndicate: going after officials didn’t do shit. It brought more attention, it never stopped the cases, and it was nothing more than suicide.

And Jason couldn’t bank on hoping that none of their guys wouldn’t eventually decide to do what the boss said. Not every guy was loyal to Jason, and there was always one asshole who wanted to move up the ladder.

With Elizabeth’s case reopened and her pregnancy, with Carly nearing the end of her own pregnancy—there was no way Jason was going to let Sonny get away with creating more trouble for them.

Sonny was sitting on the sofa in front of the dark fireplace, a tumbler of bourbon in his hand. He didn’t look over at Jason’s entrance, merely took another sip. “What?”

“We need to talk.”

“You mean you want to tell me how wrong I am again,” Sonny muttered. He sat up, set the tumbler on the coffee table with a clunk. “You talk to Carly?”

Jason exhaled slowly, sat in the armchair next to the sofa. “Do you think for one minute that I don’t want to be the one that puts a bullet between Ric’s eyes?” he asked.

Sonny frowned. “Look—”

“He went after Elizabeth when she was at her lowest. She’d lost her grandmother, most of her friends were out of town, and I—I wasn’t around. But that wasn’t enough for him. He drugged her repeatedly for six months. He drugged her with sedatives so she’d be more compliant, so she’d sleep with him. He drugged her with birth control so she would want the baby he was stealing for her. He nearly killed her. He kidnapped my best friend, locked her in a small room, and threatened to kill her and take her baby on a daily basis for a week.”

Sonny closed his eyes. Said nothing.

“If I had lost that court case, Sonny—if he’d been in charge of her care one second longer—I would have taken him out then. I don’t care if I would have gotten caught. If it would have put us in danger—Ric was never getting the chance to go after the people I cared about again.”

“Then how the hell can you fight me on this?” Sonny demanded, lunging to his feet. He gestured wildly with one arm. “I want him dead. I want him gone.”

“Because it didn’t happen to me,” Jason said. Sonny scowled, but Jason pressed on. “It didn’t happen to you. We didn’t get kidnapped. We didn’t overdose from drugs fed to us in our water and food. Sonny, the day Elizabeth learned the drugging had been going on for months, she also learned there was a chance the drugs had damaged the baby she’d lost. She has nightmares. Still. She has to sleep with an oxygen tank next to her. There is never a single minute of her life when she doesn’t have to deal with what he did to her.”

Sonny looked away, his face pale. “I know that, Jason—”

“I couldn’t stop it. We didn’t stop Ric before he had the chance to damage Carly more than he did that night in February. We never knew what he was doing to Elizabeth until the kidnapping. We failed to protect them. And they’re not blaming us. All they want is the chance to put him away. To testify against him.”

Jason shook his head. “I know it was bad for you. I know you fell apart, and I’m sorry I didn’t see it earlier, but Sonny—I couldn’t do it all. I couldn’t keep the business going, look for Carly, and protect Elizabeth at the same time. I know it scared you to see Lily.”

“Do you think I like knowing how useless I was to everyone?” Sonny muttered. He crossed over to the minibar, poured himself another glass of bourbon, ignoring the one left on the table. “Nikolas fucking Cassadine did more than I did.”

“He did more than I did. Sure, we used those cameras, but at the end of the day — the real estate agent was all we needed. And I didn’t think of it. No one else thought of it. Do you think that makes me feel great, Sonny? Elizabeth went back to him day after day, pretending to be his wife—he attacked her, Sonny, because I wasn’t smart enough to think about the damn house.”

“It’s not that I need to be the hero,” Sonny said slowly after a long moment. “But it was my fault. My fault my mother died. She took a beating meant for me, and she never would have been there if it hadn’t been for me. I used to blame Mike for not staying—for my mother needing to stay with Deke. But it was my fault—” He shook his head. “It’s all my fault. He came to town because of me. I need to be the one to end it.”

“Sonny—I’m asking you as a friend—as a brother—don’t make this one more thing I have to worry about,” Jason said. “Elizabeth is pregnant, and it’s high-risk because of Ric. Carly is pregnant and upset. And there’s more—the rape case—the Baker letter? It was real. It’s the same guy, Sonny. And it wasn’t just Elizabeth and Brooke Lynn Ashton. There are seven women.”

Sonny stared at him, shook his head. “What? What you are talking about?”

Jason told him about the visit from Ned and Taggert, about Elizabeth getting involved with the new case and the cover-up. “This guy is still out there, Sonny. And she’s going to give a press statement that goes after the police, the mayor, and—” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I can give her all the guards and security I want, but that doesn’t mean I can keep her safe.”

“The same man,” Sonny repeated softly. He frowned. “I—I meant to keep up on the case. My source at the PCPD.”

He set the still full tumbler back on the bar. “I forgot. I forgot to ask.” He frowned, shaking his head. “I’m sorry.”

“Sonny—”

“I’ve—” Sonny looked around the penthouse, as if noticing it for the first time. “I’ve been so angry. When Carly left, when she took Michael, I just—I let it happen. I thought—good. One less person to tell me I’m wrong all the time—but—” He focused on Jason. “I forgot about that letter from Baker. I forgot how bad you said Elizabeth handled you going to see him. But she knows what he said now. Is she okay?”

“I think so,” Jason admitted. “She—it was bad when Taggert came over, but I guess I didn’t give her enough credit. She said she’d had this fear in the back of her mind ever since Brooke was attacked.”

“Brooke—” Sonny pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes, digging in. “Christ, I never even talked to Lois. I never checked in with her.”

“Sonny—”

“Her daughter—and you said the PCPD screwed up Elizabeth’s original investigation? Does Lois know that?”

“I don’t know if Ned warned her yet. Maybe. She will after Friday. I imagine the national press might pick it up because of the Quartermaines.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “Sonny—”

“I’m sorry,” he said again. “I just—” Sonny let out a harsh chuckle. “Maybe Bobbie is right. Maybe I do need to see a shrink.” He looked at Jason.  “About Ric—”

“The trial date is set for November,” Jason told him. “Let’s just—let it happen. We can talk about all of it again after that. Maybe Elizabeth and Carly will change their minds. Maybe you’ll feel better about their decision.”

“I guess.” Sonny looked away, towards the window. “I’ve always been selfish, Jason. But I used to take the time to at least think about other people. Lois was one of my oldest friends. I’ve known Elizabeth for years. And Carly—Christ, what she’s been through because of Ric—I threw them all away because of what I wanted. What I thought was best.”

He grimaced, picked up his bourbon. “Doesn’t make me much better than Floyd. And doesn’t that make me feel like shit?”

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Like they had on that fateful April night more than four years ago, Lucky arranged to close Kelly’s early so that he and Emily could cook dinner. Elizabeth stopped by about twenty minutes before they were going to start, a tray of brownies ready for the oven.

The four of them sat at the same table in the center of the restaurant and got caught up. Not on the big things—everyone knew about the case, the trial—Elizabeth wanted to talk about something happy. So, they talked about Laura Spencer—their memories of her, the joy in her homecoming. Lucky and Nikolas reminisced about how much they’d hated one another when Nikolas had moved to Port Charles.

“I mean, I hated him so much,” Lucky said, with a roll of his eyes, “that I questioned what was wrong with me that night at the club when you got shot and I was happy you were still alive.”

“The Cassadine hatred gets bred in early,” Nikolas said with a serious nod. “We had the Spencers on dart boards back in Greece.”

“You see, he says that like it’s a joke,” Emily said, pointing a French fry in his direction, “but I kind of think he might be serious.”

Nikolas smirked but didn’t say one way or another. “It became clear that if I wanted to be friends with Emily and Elizabeth, I was gonna have to suck it up and stop treating you like the plague,” he told Lucky.

“Well, once I realized my dad wasn’t infallible, I started to question why the hell we were treating you like trash anyway,” his brother offered with a shrug. “And I got tired of making my mother cry.”

“So, any luck on the job front?” Emily asked Elizabeth as the brothers started to clear away their dinner. Lucky set Elizabeth’s finished stack of brownies on the table. “Or have you decided to take a break from all of that until the baby gets here?”

“Well, Jason and I haven’t really talked about it,” Elizabeth admitted. “Obviously, if I decided not to work, it’s not like he’d be all that irritated. I’m also not qualified to do a whole lot. I can’t waitress—way too much stress on my body which I’m not allowed right now.”

She put a brownie on her plate and started to split it into smaller pieces. “But Gail suggested volunteering to lead a survivor’s group, and after Taggert came over last week, I agreed. Today was my first meeting.”

“You okay with it?” Nikolas asked, touching her hand.

“I wasn’t sure if it was something I really wanted to do—you know, steep myself in what happened—but you know, as hard as it was listening to the women who came today—” Elizabeth shrugged. “I don’t know. I felt like I was doing something that was useful. Helpful, even. I used to volunteer taking phone calls at the rape hotline downtown, so this was similar.”

She popped a piece of brownie in her mouth, then swallowed. “Now is as good as any to tell you that on Friday, I’m going to be at Ned’s press conference. I’ll be going public about what happened with my case and the others.” She looked at Lucky. “I hope it won’t cause any issues at work. I mean, for you.”

“I think the people I work with the most will be glad,” Lucky admitted. “It’s all Cruz and I could do to keep Dante from quitting, Kelsey was disgusted when we started to figure things out, and Taggert—” He saw Elizabeth scowl. “What? I thought Taggert was okay—”

“There was something I didn’t think of until Edward came over yesterday,” she told him. “They didn’t call Floyd or Mac until a week after Baker was arrested. So why wasn’t my case already at the lab?”

Lucky sat back in his chair, blinked. “I—I don’t know.”

“They never started the investigation,” Emily murmured. “Which made it easier when Floyd pressured them to drop it.”

“Why investigate and spend the time when Baker was already on the hook for twenty-five to life?” Nikolas pointed out. “Seems like something the PCPD would tell themselves.”

Lucky grimaced. “I—I really didn’t think about it. I was so angry when I found the case had been marked solved—when I saw the kit hadn’t been processed—” He sighed. “But yeah. I guess that makes sense. I hate my job.” He shoved his plate away. “You should know the investigation has opened up a new track, a theory of how he picks his—” His mouth twisted in disgust. “How and when he picks the women.”

Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “And it’s something you think I need to know?”

“They put me in charge of it,” Lucky admitted. “And it’s not something I could hide from you even if I wanted to. The thing is, Elizabeth, your statement has a lot in common with the others, but the parts where it deviates—we think it can tell us something about our perp.”

“Okay.” Emily took Elizabeth’s hand in hers, tightened it. “Okay. Like what?” she asked her friend. “What happened to Liz that didn’t to the others?”

“The hair thing,” Lucky said. “You said he smelled your hair—how did he react afterwards?”

“Lucky,” Nikolas muttered. “Really?”

“He wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important,” Elizabeth said, her eyes on her ex-fiancé, her face pale. Without even thinking about it, Emily flipped Elizabeth’s hand in hers, pressed two fingers to her pulse. “He didn’t smell my hair so much as—he buried his face in it. That’s when he whispered to me. He was next to my ear. He stroked it, I think. And I was crying. I think—” She closed her eyes. Forced herself back to that moment.

Because whatever it took, they had to find this guy.

“I was crying, asking him to stop. He hadn’t—not yet. But he kept his face—” Her stomach rolled as bile rose in her throat. Oh, God. How had she forgotten any of this? It seemed so goddamn clear to her now. “He kept his face in my hair the whole time. I was crying, but I could hear him breathing in my ear.”

“What happened to the others?” Emily asked softly. “Are you allowed to tell her, Lucky?”

“He smelled their hair, said it wasn’t right, brutally raped them until they were torn inside, then beat them unconscious,” Lucky said flatly. Emily gasped, releasing Elizabeth’s hand and putting her fist at her mouth.

“Lucky—” Nikolas started, then stopped. “Wait, he…beat them all?”

“All of them?” Elizabeth asked faintly. “Not just Brooke—”

“The reason we have so many victims who reported is that he beat them all unconscious. They were all found in the park.” Lucky shifted. “That’s part of the reason we think that there was something about your attack that was different. Not that what happened to you wasn’t violent—”

“But I walked away. And I—I don’t think he was going to hit me. Not like that.” Elizabeth clenched her fists. “So, I was different.”

“You’re the earliest known victim, Elizabeth. But we think it’s more than that. We think it’s—we think he was looking for you that night. Not just any woman. But you. Or maybe he’d been following you—”

“Waiting for an opportunity.” Elizabeth looked at Nikolas and Emily, both as horrified as she was. “You think he knew me. That I knew him—”

“You were working at Kelly’s,” Nikolas reminded her. “Maybe you didn’t know him. Maybe he was a customer.”

“And the others were picked because, what, they were at the fountains and they looked like me?” Elizabeth asked. “Please tell me—”

“You said you had a theory about when the attacks happened,” Emily said slowly.

“It’s not a great one, but the thing is—all of the known attacks happened around the time you would have been in the newspapers. The garage fire, the Christmas party where you got into a fight with Jason,” he said to Nikolas. “Your miscarriage and what happened with Ric—this year, on February 14, another woman was attacked in the park. That might have been because of the anniversary or Audrey’s death—”

“Or both,” Elizabeth murmured. She looked at Lucky, her throat thick. “Taggert said there was a gap between the groups of women. Three, then four. And the first new one was February 14.”

“Yeah. I’m sorry—”

“Don’t be sorry. I don’t—I don’t need to be protected. If he was someone I saw—I need to know that. I need to be able to help.”

“But wouldn’t you have gone through all of this back then?” Emily asked Elizabeth. “Didn’t Garcia or Taggert ask these questions back then?”

“They did. And honestly, Lucky, I don’t know. I mean…after my attack, you know better than anyone I suspected everyone. And I had regulars at Kelly’s.” She bit her lips. “Ruby’s gone now, but maybe Bobbie knows if she kept track of that stuff. Maybe there’s somewhere she wrote that stuff down. That’d be the best bet. I mean, outside of you guys, your families, and school, I spent most of my time here before the attack.”

“I’ll ask my aunt. That’s a good idea—I don’t know if we kept records, but Kelly’s has the rooms. Tax records would tell us who rented them out. It’s something to start with. Do you remember any security guards or—” he hesitated. “Cops?”

“Cops?” Emily repeated.

“More likely to be a security guard,” Lucky said quickly. “It’s—because of the handcuffs, I mean. Remember all the security guards patrolling the movie theaters and the street around it?”

“I guess.” Elizabeth bit her lip, tried to remember that. “No one sticks out. I mean, everyone came into Kelly’s, Lucky. Taggert, Garcia, Mac. Capelli. And a bunch whose name I never knew. We’re on the waterfront, and Sonny sometimes had private security guards outside of the regular guards. For the warehouses. Maybe I can ask Jason if there’s a list of companies.”

“That’d be helpful.” Lucky shook his head. “I’m sorry, guys. I didn’t mean to do this tonight—”

“Hey.” Elizabeth reached across the table, took his hand in hers. “Don’t ever apologize to me for trying to get me justice. You always listened when no one else could. Or would. I’m glad you’re on this, Lucky. I want you to fight for Brooke, for the others, the way you always fought for me. They deserve someone like you on their side.”

“Nikolas and I will try to remember if we came across anyone,” Emily told Lucky. “ELQ hired security companies and I’m sure Stefan did back then, right?”

“Right. We’ve all had waterfront interests,” Nikolas said. “I think Uncle often outsourced security. I’ll get you those records.”

“Thanks. About Friday—” Lucky looked at Elizabeth. “I’d like to be there. Because I want to show support, but—”

“I’ll be putting myself in the papers,” Elizabeth said softly. “And you’ll want to see who shows up. Ned is going to announce my name to the media he invited tomorrow. If you’re right, and it’s about the papers—”

“Shit, maybe he works for the tabloids or something.” Lucky dragged a hand through his hair. “It’s something else to think about.”

“Next time we get together,” Emily said as they started to clean up their desserts, “we’re only talking about unicorns and kittens.”

October 21, 2019

This entry is part 24 of 31 in the series All of Me

Underdog, just look at the mess you’ve made
It’s such a shame, a shame
We had to find out this way
Revenge loves company, three makes it a crowd
So wash your mouth, sit this one out
Underdog, You Me At Six


Monday, September 15, 2003

PCPD: Squad Room

Lucky stepped quickly to one side as Vinnie Esposito stormed out of the squad room, letting the heavy doors slam against the wall in his haste. Lucky pressed his lips together, shook his head, then continued towards Taggert’s desk where the lieutenant was hunched over a pile of paperwork, irritation etched into his features.

“What’s wrong with Vinnie?” Lucky asked, taking a seat next to the desk.

“Floyd has filed an official complaint against him,” Taggert muttered. “Dereliction of duty in not making the link between our seven cases.” He scowled, slammed a folder shut. “He’s making Vinnie the scapegoat. He wasn’t even the investigating officer on the first three cases.”

“Then—”

“He was a patrol officer assigned to the Major Crimes unit back then. Floyd’s argument is that if Vinnie was any good at his job, he should have seen the connection.” He looked at Lucky. “He’s not wrong. I know what you’re thinking.”

Lucky shifted uncomfortably. It was one thing to condemn Vinnie in the back room at Luke’s with his friends and girlfriend, but Taggert was their commanding officer. “I mean, the cases weren’t on the computer and as a patrol officer, no, we don’t really get to see a lot of the cases the investigating officers do. If they don’t bring us in—” He hesitated. “He wasn’t assigned to Elizabeth’s case. I—I don’t remember him being there when we came in—”

“Not the Webber case, no. Garcia handled that personally, then I took it over. There wasn’t a lot of leg work to do on the case.” Taggert grimaced. “But Vinnie was the first officer on scene for both Lopez and Logan. But then he moved, and both cases were cold for almost three years. I don’t know. Another cop might have seen it—”

“I’m not defending him,” Lucky said. “But even if he had linked the cases, what good would it have done? You saw what Floyd did when you did link them.” He shook his head. “He treated the victims like crap, and that sucks. Because it meant they weren’t eager to cooperate. But at the end of the day, if their statements had been better, if he had linked the cases—it still would have landed on Floyd and Mac.”

“Yeah.” He eyed Lucky. “Kelsey left me a message. Said you had something you wanted to run by me.” When Lucky scowled, Taggert grinned slightly. “She said she thought you might not be comfortable bringing it up yourself and wanted to make sure you did.”

Lucky would have to talk to her about that, but he didn’t have a lot of choice now.  “Yeah, we—Dante, Cruz, me, and Kelsey—we were going over the victim statements.” He swallowed hard. “And I was thinking about Elizabeth’s.”

“Listen—I know that must have been hard for you read,” Taggert began but Lucky shook his head.

“It’s not—I can’t change anything. I can’t make myself get to the park faster or not—I can’t change it,” he repeated. “But the thing about the handcuffs…Elizabeth never remembered that while we were investigating ourselves. She remembered the soap, remembered the words, but not the handcuffs or the hair. So, I never knew any of that.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “The other victims — they’re all pretty clear on how it happened. They got grabbed, they got thrown to the ground, punched in the face, then flipped and handcuffed. It was a routine for him by the time—” Lucky’s stomach rolled. “By the time he got to Wendy Morris and Brooke Ashton.”

“But not with Elizabeth.” Taggert pulled out her case file, pulled out her statement. “He threw her to the ground, slapped her, took off her coat. Elizabeth was probably fighting him, he took her hands—but yeah, I see it now. Handcuffing wasn’t his first move. So that’s something he realized would work after that attack.”

“Which, one, makes it more likely she’s the first victim,” Lucky told him, “and two—”

“Why did he have handcuffs?” Taggert finished. He exhaled slowly. “You don’t think—”

“I’m not saying it was a cop,” Lucky said with a shake of his head. “I’m just…I’m remembering that the businesses around the park were dealing with a bunch of thefts and burglaries. A bunch of places hired private security—”

“Who might have had handcuffs.” Taggert sat back in his chair. “I remember that. A bunch of teenagers breaking into places, vandalizing. We never caught them, but they hired a bunch of their own guys. We could only spare officers for Central Avenue—” He nodded. “It’s a hunch, but I think you might be right. I think the handcuffs were a spur of the moment thing. But why don’t you think it was a cop?”

“’I—” Lucky pressed his lips together. “I guess there’s no reason it can’t be. I just don’t want it to be.”

“Fair enough. But we can’t rule it out. So why don’t you, Dante, and Cruz tackle the security firms. Get a list of the companies used. Run down their employees. I’ll look at the other angle.”

“I could—”

“I can do it more quietly than you can,” Taggert said as they both stood up. “I doubt that’s what we’re looking at, but I’m not ruling it out either.”

Lucky managed a tight smile as he left Taggert’s desk and went to the desk he, Dante, and Cruz shared. He dialed into his voice messages and was surprised when he picked up one from Elizabeth, asking him to lunch that day at Kelly’s.

He thought about ducking, not sure he was ready to face her after reading the details of her statement, but instead, he picked up the phone to accept.

Quartermaine Estate: Family Room

It took two more days before Ned had the energy to take on his family and tell Edward Quartermaine exactly what their pressure on Garrett Floyd five years earlier had ultimately cost this family.

He found his grandfather lingering over his coffee at the breakfast table with Monica as she read the newspaper. Edward looked up at his entrance, furrowing his brow. “Ned. This is a surprise. I thought you’d be locked up with Jax and Alexis preparing for the debate next week.”

“I’m not worried about the debate,” Ned said as he joined them at the table. “Good morning, Monica.”

“Ned.” She tilted her head. “What’s wrong?”

“I had a source leak some information he thought might be useful against Floyd.” Ned picked up a silver spoon, twirled it in his fingers. “You remember Tom Baker?”

“The lunatic that went after Emily and her friends?” Edward set his coffee down. “I know he’s up for parole in December. I already made calls to scuttle that. He’ll serve the full fifteen years if I have anything to say about it. It’s the least I can do for poor Elizabeth Webber—” He frowned. “How does Baker help you with the election?”

“You had me call Floyd back then,” Ned reminded him. He looked at Monica. “The case was airtight, and we wanted him to go away for good. Twenty-five years before parole was even an option. There was a chance he might try to squiggle around the kidnapping charges, and we didn’t want that.”

“I remember,” Monica murmured. “Emily was adamant that he go to trial. She wanted to face him the way Elizabeth had. But…”

“I told Floyd to get it done. Whatever he had to do.” Ned took a deep breath. “We never knew about the charges of rape. Emily didn’t tell us. At least not me or Grandfather.”

“No, she told me,” Monica said as her hand fisted next to her plate. “She told me, and I think she might have told Jason. What does—”

“What did he do?” Edward demanded.

“About a month after the kidnapping, Taggert told Elizabeth that the case was being ruled inactive. That the rape kit had come back negative. There wasn’t enough evidence against Baker, so they were going after him on the kidnapping. She was upset at the trial—”

“And we called back.” His grandfather suddenly looked very old. “But Mac told us there wasn’t enough evidence. Ned, what did Floyd do?”

“They never ran the rape kit, did they?” Monica murmured. “I remember Emily talking about it when the story hit the newspapers—about not running the kits until there was a suspect. She said that’s what happened to Elizabeth. But I know that lab work can take up to six weeks, if not longer. If Taggert knew a month after the kidnapping—that’s barely enough time—”

“The PCPD never investigated Elizabeth’s accusation against Baker at all?” Edward roared as he got to his feet. “I demanded they get her justice—I—” He looked at Monica, almost helplessly. “I never—Steve and Audrey’s granddaughter—”

“We leaned on him to make sure Emily’s case stayed on his radar. I never thought he’d throw away another case to get it done. And when the Baker case had the mistrial, he probably forced Dara Jensen to make a deal. To make it go away.”

“I can see how this might damage Floyd’s credibility,” Monica said slowly, “but—” And then Ned saw the news hit her. Sink in. She closed her eyes. “Oh my God.”

“What?” Edward demanded. “What—” He looked to Ned. “He never ran the rape kit. He closed her case—but Baker confessed—” He sank back into his chair. “Didn’t he?”

“The running theory is that Elizabeth gave him an opening and he lied to her to control her. To scare her. But no. Her kit was run this summer as part of the investigation. And she is now the earliest known victim of the same man who killed my daughter.”

Monica stifled a sob, her hands over her mouth as tears slid down her cheeks. “No, no. No. Not the same man. Not the same. All this time—”

“How many women?” Edward asked, more quietly now. “How many women in total?”

“That we know about? Seven, including Elizabeth and Brooke. They’re the first and last known victims. But there’s a two-year gap. He could have moved around. He could have killed the other victims. We might never know how many there are.” Ned absently rubbed his chest. “The pressure we put on Floyd five years ago…we can directly link it to this summer and my daughter’s death.”

“We couldn’t have—” Edward gestured helplessly. “We couldn’t have known. I tried to get her—” He looked at Monica. “I tried to get her justice, Monica. For her and for Emily. I tried.  I only wanted that man to pay.”

“And the best I can say about everyone involved is we all thought Baker was guilty. He’d confessed, hadn’t he? Mac and Taggert believed him.” Ned shook his head. “But we were wrong. And we would have known that if Mac had run the kit.”

“This—this isn’t like him. Floyd must have something on him—threatened his job. Mac has a family—he was putting Robin through college. He had Felicia’s girls—” Monica took a deep breath. “But he should have said something.”

“Does Elizabeth know what happened?” Edward asked, looked at his grandson. “Does Jason? Or Emily?”

“I don’t know about Emily, but I went to Jason and Elizabeth on Saturday. After everything the media put my daughter through a few months ago, I would have—I never would have said a word without her blessing.”

“I have to talk to her. To see them.” Edward looked at Monica. “I have to make sure she knows I never meant—”

“She knows, Grandfather,” Ned said, reaching over to touch his forearm. “I promise that. But I’m sure she wouldn’t mind hearing it from you directly.”

“Did she give permission to go public?” Monica asked, leaning forward.

“She’s thinking it over,” Ned admitted. “She wants it out there, she’s just not sure how involved she wants to be. There—” He looked at Monica who briefly nodded. “She’s still recovering from her embolism this summer. So, she’s considering her options. There’s more, Grandfather. But it’s separate from Elizabeth’s case. My source—he suspects that there were two leaks after Brooke’s attack.”

“I thought the same,” his grandfather admitted. “The first round was just the attacks—the ones from this year, but then a few hours later, Brooke’s name was in the tabloids.”

“Sc—my source thinks the first leak was from inside the department—someone angry at the inaction, at the lack of public warning. And he thinks that as soon as the first wave of calls came in, Floyd leaked Brooke’s name to turn some of the spotlight off him.”

“That son of a bitch,” Edward breathed. “He won’t live until the election. Mark my words. I will—” He scowled. “Can we prove it? Because I will—”

“Not yet,” Ned told him. “But I will. Because once we go public with this, he’ll need a miracle to win this election.”

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Elizabeth set her bag on the table and took a seat across from Lucky. “Thanks for meeting with me.”

“Of course.” He shifted in his chair. “I’m sorry. I meant to call you a few times over the last few months, but I just—after Brooke and everything else.” He looked away.

Lucas Jones came over to take their order, but she only asked for a water while Lucky asked for his usual lunch special. “I guess you heard I gave a statement.”

“I’m on the case, so I read it.” Lucky stared down at the table. “I—I guess a lot of it came back after all.” He looked up at her. “I know it’s not my fault, but I just—”

“When I think of what I know now the other women went through—most of them ended up in the hospital.” Elizabeth sighed, folded her arms on the table. “I think maybe he would have raped me again or beaten me. Either way, you’re the reason the attack ended. So, thank you for looking for me that night. If you hadn’t found me, if I hadn’t had you, your father, or Bobbie, I don’t know if I could have kept myself together.”

“Elizabeth—”

“Taggert wouldn’t tell me how long my case had been open again—and he certainly refused to tell me anything about why my negative rape kit suddenly cleared Baker.” Elizabeth stared at him. “So, what I want to know, Lucky, is how long did you know that the mayor and Mac covered my case up and made me disappear?”

Before he could answer, Lucas returned with their drink orders, then disappeared, giving Lucky a minute to gather his thoughts.

“How long have I known for sure?” Lucky asked. “I still don’t. The official department stance is there was a clerical error. But I suspected it when we first got sent down to cold storage. Just after Brooke died. We found the later two cases—but not yours. I knew something was wrong, so we went over to the closed storage. I thought—honestly, I wanted to believe it was a mistake. Your case wasn’t technically solved, but we all thought the guy responsible was away.”

“So, it’s been two months of the PCPD trying to cover their asses. Again.” Elizabeth pursed her lips. Nodded. “I get that we’re never going to be close again, Lucky, but I would have thought after everything we’ve been through, I merited a little more loyalty than some job you just started—”

“I wanted to tell you,” Lucky hissed. He grimaced. “I wanted to. But what could I say? Your case got royally fucked up either through outright corruption or just plain negligence? You were barely out of the hospital, and I knew you were recovering. I didn’t even know if we’d be able to open your case officially. If we’d get enough evidence. I watched you put yourself back together, Elizabeth. There was no way in hell I was going to rip your life apart over a maybe.”

“I guess you’re right,” Elizabeth said finally. “What good would it have done for me to know my case was reopened if my kit did actually come back negative this time.” She rubbed her head. “And it’s not like the PCPD knew that Baker had sent me that letter. Jason and I didn’t come forward about that, either. He left a message on the hotline, he told me later, but we all could have been more up front.”

“I’m sorry, Elizabeth.” Lucky shook his head. “How did you find out about Floyd and Mac? Kelsey and I thought—we theorized, but you’re saying it like it’s a fact.”

“Someone in the position to know told Ned Ashton who has reasons for knowing it’s true,” Elizabeth told him. “But that stays between us, do you understand? Because I haven’t decided what I’m going to do about it, and Ned deserves the chance to make Floyd’s life a living hell.”

“I agree.” Lucky leaned forward, lowering his voice slightly. “But Ned knows. Good. I hope whoever told him got all the details right so he can win in November. What does he want to do with it?”

“He’s not sure either. He doesn’t want to inflict any more stress on me after what Brooke went through when her name got leaked.” Elizabeth pursed her lips and looked away, through the window of Kelly’s. “I could let Ned issue a statement. Refuse comment. I could do the least. I deserve to put this behind me. This doesn’t have to be my fight. And I’ve spent a lot of time fighting other people’s wars. I’ve put my life on the line too many times.”

Knowing what she went through because of the Cassadines, because of Ric Lansing, Lucky nodded. “Yeah. I know.”

“But I also remember that night—you didn’t have to make me your fight either.” Elizabeth focused on him. “You could have taken me to the hospital. Called the cops. But you didn’t. You listened to me, you got me help I could live with. And Bobbie was a godsend. But you didn’t have to keep worrying about me.”

“How could I have looked away—”

“Because that’s not who your mother raised you to be,” Elizabeth gently. “And that’s maybe why you’ll make a good cop. I never would have picked this for you, but I hope it makes you happy. Because the girl who crawled out the snow? She never would have picked herself up if you hadn’t been there to hold out a hand.”

“Maybe,” Lucky allowed. “But I know you, Elizabeth. Lizzie,” he teased as she laughed. “The girl I knew before that night—little annoying Lizzie Webber? She got scared. But she wouldn’t have stayed scared for long. I was there to hold out a hand, but the girl I fell in love with? She would have clawed her way back to the surface eventually.”

Elizabeth smiled, nodding. “Yeah. Maybe she would have. You know, I blamed Lizzie a lot for that night. I always tell myself not to listen to the Lizzie voice. It always got me in trouble. She made my life a living hell a lot of the time. But I am Lizzie. That’s just the voice reminding me that it’s okay to step out and take a chance. This whole thing—this investigation? It doesn’t have to be my fight. But I’m going to make it mine. Because Brooke isn’t here anymore. And there are so many other women—even men—so many people who get sexually assaulted, raped, beaten—they get thrown away. And honestly? There aren’t enough people picking the fight.”

Baldwin Home: Living Room

Bobbie gingerly set her purse down on Scott’s coffee table and eyed him as he took a seat across from her. “Are you sure this is okay? Serena won’t be coming home? This might take a while—”

“She’s on a trip with Lucy and Kevin looking at colleges.” Scott rolled his shoulders. “I wanted to go, but I think I need to be in town this week. I think some shit is going to hit the fan in the park rapist case, and well, Serena isn’t going to listen to me about anything anyway.”

“Teenagers rarely do.” Bobbie folded her hands in her lap. “You said you were able to avoid turning over any evidence of Sonny’s breakdown.”

“Yeah, I got a lucky break. A judge quashed the subpoena.” Scott leaned back, stretching his arm across the back of the sofa. “Is that what you were worried about?”

“Yes. No.” Bobbie hesitated. “You probably know Carly is staying with me right now.”

“I did. She called me in case I needed to get in touch about the case.” Scott shook his head. “I’m sorry she’s having trouble with Sonny, but I’m not sorry she’s thinking about walking away.”

“The thing is—” she bit her lip. “She’ll be angry that I’m here, and I’m prepared for that. Because I think—I think I need to force his hand. She left because he’s—he’s not well. I mean, that’s not why she left. But it’s part of everything.”

Scott frowned at her. “Bobbie, I told you, Sonny’s mental health isn’t going to be part of the case—”

“But maybe it should be,” she argued. “I don’t know—I don’t know. Maybe what’s wrong with him is genetic. Maybe it explains Ric. But I just—he fell apart after Carly got kidnapped. Courtney called the PCPD, they were searching the penthouse, and Sonny—I’m not sure exactly when it started but by that Friday—the day before we found Carly, he’d lost it.”

“Lost it,” Scott repeated. “Bobbie—”

“Jason and I were going over what we knew at his place. We were both desperate, at the end of our rope, you know? And Courtney rushed in because Sonny was having hallucinations. He thought he saw Lily. He thought Lily was in the room with him, blaming him for her death, for what happened to Carly—”

“He hallucinated his dead wife.” Scott exhaled slowly. “You said you didn’t know when it started?”

“Jason said the last time he’d talked to Sonny was Tuesday—that by then, Sonny was already not taking visitors. Not dealing with business. He was drinking heavily. He was already fraying at the edges. And Jason—he was under a lot of pressure with looking for Carly and worrying about Elizabeth. When Sonny had his hallucinations—I saw them, Scott. I saw him talking to Lily. Telling me what Lily was saying.  We had to sedate him.”

She pressed her lips together. “I don’t know if you can even do anything, but I can’t sit idly by, knowing my daughter, my grandchildren—that they’re in a home with a mentally ill man who knows he has these breakdowns and refuses to get help.”

Scott rubbed his hands over his face. “Bobbie. C’mon. You know what Sonny would think if he knew you were telling me this—what your daughter would think—”

“They’ll be angry with me. Sonny might never forgive me,” Bobbie admitted. “But I can live with that. Because I can’t lose another daughter, Scott. You know what I’m talking about. If not for Jason, I don’t know what would have happened to Carly this summer. Elizabeth would probably be dead. Sonny was useless.”

“And it’s not like the PCPD was making any headway,” Scott muttered. “Yeah, okay. I don’t—there’s no way this is relevant to the Lansing case. At least not now. And I’m under no obligation to tell him anything now that the judge said go to hell. But I get it, Bobbie. You see your daughter in trouble and you’re desperate to help her.”

Grief lined his face as he sat back. “You know, Karen got her life together. She moved on. She lived, she loved, and then she died. In a senseless car accident.” He shook his head. “But I’ve never forgiven Sonny Corinthos for what he did to her.”

“I know.”

“I don’t know if I can help you with this, Bobbie. Not legally. But if you need me—” he leaned forward again, his voice intent. “I will be here for you. Whatever you need. In fact, because you deserve to know—there’s something you ought to know. Elizabeth might have already told you, but—”

He told her about Floyd and Mac covering up Elizabeth’s rape case and making it go away, and the pressure they’d been under from the Quartermaines. Bobbie exhaled slowly after he’d finished.

“Lucky has suspected for a while,” she admitted. “He told me a few days ago what he thought happened.”

“Yeah, well, that’s what I meant about the rape case coming to a head because I—I told Ned Ashton. And he’s getting together with Elizabeth to figure out exactly how to go public with it all.”

Bobbie lifted a brow. “Really? I—I wouldn’t have thought—”

“After everything he’s been through because of this town—I’m a father, too. I couldn’t let it happen again. I couldn’t let it keep happening. And I feel like hell about what happened to Elizabeth.”  He shook his head. “Elizabeth didn’t deserve what happened to her.  All of those women deserved better from us. The least I could do was make sure Garrett Floyd is never in a position to hurt anyone else.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason placed the phone back on the receiver as he shook his head and looked over at Elizabeth sitting on the sofa, studying a cookbook like there was going to be a test. “Monica’s here. With Edward.”

Elizabeth blinked up at him, her brow furrowing. “I guess the trend of unexpected visitors continues.” She closed the book and set it on the coffee table. “But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Ned said he’d talk to him this week.”

“Yeah.” He shook his head, still not wild that all of this was happening at a time when Elizabeth needed to be concentrating on herself, putting her health first. But she’d allowed him to take her pulse every time he’d asked, and her blood pressure had remained stable.

She was stronger than she looked, and he guessed he’d eventually be able to let go of the gnawing fear that if he took his eyes off her for a single second—He’d left her alone in that house, and he’d returned to find her nearly dead. It was probably going to take a while to forget it.

It was probably the first time Edward Quartermaine had been inside this penthouse since Jason had moved in, and part of Jason wasn’t entirely comfortable letting him in at all. If Monica wasn’t with him—

“Thank you for seeing us,” Monica said as Jason closed the door behind them. She looked at him sadly before looking at Elizabeth who had gotten to her feet. “I’m sorry it’s late, but Edward waited for me to be done at the hospital.”

“I—” Edward just looked at Elizabeth and shook his head. “Ned told us today—and I just—” He shook his head again. “I have nothing to say. I thought—this is my fault.”

“No,” Elizabeth said quickly. She touched Edward’s elbow. “Of course it’s not. I told Ned that as well. I knew how upset your family was after what happened in the studio.  I’m not at all surprised you made phone calls to make sure no one got away with what happened.”

“I just—I didn’t know.” Edward allowed Elizabeth to lead him to the sofa. “After—when I did know, I tried to make them investigate—”

“Ned told us,” Jason said, roughly, visibly affected by the old man’s anguish. “Mac gave you the same lie he gave to Elizabeth. They buried her case because they thought Baker was guilty.”

“But if they’d run the kit,” Monica said tightly, shaking her head. “If they’d run all of those poor women’s kits, Brooke—”

“I’ll never be able to forgive myself,” Edward murmured. “All my life I’ve used my name to push what I wanted, what I thought my family needed—”

“They were never going to investigate Baker,” Elizabeth told Edward gently. She took his hand in hers. “Because they still could have run my kit. The day he was arrested, they knew he was a suspect. When did you call? When did Ned contact Floyd?”

“Almost a week later—” Edward nodded. “I see what you mean.”

“They knew Baker was going down for the kidnapping. They thought the case was airtight. Why go to the trouble of investigating my case, spending time and money when they didn’t need the charges? They put my case with the solved ones, not to bury it, Edward, but because that’s what they thought. My case wasn’t legally over, but it never would have come off that shelf.”

And this gave her some sense of peace. Nothing she’d done could have changed what happened. If she’d reported right away, if she’d had a rape kit done that night instead a few days later—none of that would have changed the fact the PCPD was always going to take the easy way out.

“You deserved better than that. Brooke deserved better.” Edward got to his feet, looked at Jason. “This is what drove you away. The way I used the Quartermaine name to control the family.”

Jason shifted his eyes away, didn’t know how to answer that. “Part of the reason,” he finally said. “But I agree with Elizabeth. Based on the timing, I don’t think they were ever going to look into Baker. Your call just gave them the excuse they needed. Mac had already made the decision even if he didn’t know it yet.”

“Ned said you were thinking about how involved you wanted to be in all of this,” Monica said, looking at Elizabeth.

“I wasn’t sure,” Elizabeth admitted. She looked at Edward and bit her lip. “It turns out I’m pregnant and I’ve been ordered to avoid stress.”

Edward’s eyes lit up with pure joy, and she was relieved the news had been enough to shake him out of his doldrums a bit. “Really?”

“Thanks to Enduro condoms,” Monica said, sweetly. Edward shot her a glare, then returned his attention to Elizabeth.

“That’s wonderful news, my dear. And if I could share it with Lila—” When Elizabeth grinned, Edward wagged a finger at her. “Oh, I see. She already knows. Am I the last?”

“Very nearly,” Jason muttered.

But Edward ignored him. “This is very good news,” he repeated. “And you shouldn’t do anything that puts this sweet baby at risk.”

“I won’t. I’m following the doctor’s orders to the letter. Jason takes my blood pressure in the morning and at night. And I let him check my pulse every time he asks.”

Monica smirked. “Every hour on the hour?” she asked her son.

“No,” Jason said. He looked away. “Every other hour.”  She patted his arm.

“And my health—my baby—that is my first priority. But I can’t ignore—I can’t ignore that for years, no one has taken these cases seriously. And Brooke’s last—I was her last call. I was the last person to hear her voice.” Her voice broke suddenly, and she squeezed her eyes shut, took a deep breath. “She’s not here, so someone needs to stand up for her. This happened to me. I’m the one they threw away. I’m the one they sacrificed. So—”

She looked at Jason, then back at Edward. “Call Ned. We’ll do this right. I want to hold a hold a press conference where I tell everyone exactly what the PCPD did to me and what ended up happening to all the women who came after. I’m not that weak little girl anymore, and it’s time to make people pay for throwing us all away.”

October 17, 2019

This entry is part 23 of 31 in the series All of Me

You tell me it gets better, it gets better in time
You say I’ll pull myself together, pull it together
You’ll be fine
Tell me what the hell do you know
What do you know
Tell me how the hell could you know
How could you know
Til It Happens To You, Lady Gaga

Sunday, September 14, 2003

PCPD: Conference Room

Kelsey lifted her brows in surprise as Taggert set down the phone. “Did I hear you right? Jason Morgan is on his way up with Elizabeth Webber?”

“I’m not sure he’s ever come here voluntarily, much less without representation,” Taggert admitted. They both got to their feet when the door opened, and Elizabeth and Jason were led in.

Once they were settled, Elizabeth let out a shaky breath. It wasn’t the same room—the old PCPD had burned down the year previous. They weren’t even in an interrogation room. It wouldn’t be like before.

“Let me tell you a few things before we get started,” Taggert told her. “When you gave your statement the first time, it was still early in your investigation. To be honest, none of us working here had much more than rudimentary training for dealing with these kinds of crimes.”

Elizabeth pursed her lips. “Is that to explain what happened with my rape kit?” she asked. “The mistakes made?”

“I meant…” Taggert paused. “There are things we could have done differently. For example, you came in a few times to add to your statement, but we never took you through it all the way again. All the workshops say witnesses remember more details in these kinds of crimes after some time—”

“Because we’re still processing it,” Elizabeth nodded. When he frowned at her, she shrugged. “I’ve had therapy, Taggert. It’s kind of like your workshops. I stopped going after that fire at the garage, but Gail and I worked out a lot of things I never thought I’d remember.”

“That’s why I need you to go through it from the top,” he said. I’m not asking to torture you or be cruel. But we’ve taken all the—” he hesitated.

“You’re trying so hard not to say victims.” And the consideration of that…it relaxed her slightly. “I was a victim. I’m not now. But we all were, and I know that’s also a legal term. You can use it.”

“Right.” Taggert looked to Jason briefly before turning back to her. “We’ve taken all the victims through it again. We might do it one more time. So, this might not be the only time we talk.” He nodded to Kelsey who pressed record on a tape recorder sitting in the middle of the table.

There were a few legal things—and she could feel Jason tensing next her as she signed some paperwork. It went against everything he believed in to sign papers without a lawyer for the cops, but she trusted Taggert. On this anyway.

“Okay, let’s start at the top,” he told her.

Elizabeth closed her eyes, leaned back in her chair, and under the table, reached for Jason’s hand just to hold it for a moment. He squeezed back.

“I went to the movies that night,” she said. “I’d lied to my grandmother, my sister, my friends. I’d told them I was going to the dance with a football player who didn’t know I existed.” Her mouth twisted. “It seems so silly now…that lie. As soon as I’d said it, I knew I was digging a hole. He’d be at the dance, and Lucky and Sarah would see him. They’d know I lied.  And God, the thought of going home to face…

“So, when the movies were over, I still had an hour left before I could go home and not be interrogated by my grandmother. I didn’t think she’d wait up for me. So, I walked home through the park. God it was so cold, and I had these stupid strappy heels on. I can still feel the snow soaking my stockings as I went through the park.”

“You stopped at the fountain on the southern edge of the park. Was that where you entered the park?” Taggert asked.

She frowned at the question but was grateful at the detail it had brought back to her. “Oh. No. That’s…the side of the park where it borders Central Avenue. A lot of buses run past there, and I was going to take one home. I came in from the opposite side. I guess, from the north. It was across the street from the movie theater. I had crossed most of the park by then.”

Had been just yards away from the park entrance.

“I stopped because the walk had only taken ten minutes and it seemed so important to kill more time. I didn’t want to go to a cafe or diner—what if someone from school was there? And I didn’t have a story yet to cover where I’d been. How to explain my lies to Lucky or Sarah.” Elizabeth looked down at her fingernails, at the chipped red nail polish she never remembered to remove or reapply.

“So, I stopped at the fountain. There was a bench, and I had my leftover popcorn. I thought…I’ll sit here for about ten minutes and maybe I could get away with going home early. I could lie to my grandmother about it. Or maybe…God maybe I would have just told her the truth. I think I was close to just saying to hell with it, and maybe Gram would have—”

At the thought of her beloved grandmother, her voice broke and she dipped her head.

“Do you want to take a break?” Taggert’s voice broke through. She felt Jason turning towards her, his arm along the back of her chair.

“No, no. Just…my grandmother.” She accepted the tissue Kelsey offered her and took another deep breath. “I don’t know how long I sat there. It felt like hours, but it could have been seconds.”

She couldn’t look at Taggert, couldn’t turn to Jason, or even look at Kelsey who was a relative stranger. So, she looked between the two of them, at the window across the room.

“I was yanked back before I felt the hand on my mouth—I couldn’t scream, but I held on to the bench. I tried so hard, but it was stone and—” She held up her hand, looking at it. “I broke nails. One of them was completely gone, and it was hell hiding that. I had to lie about closing my hand in the door.

“But it wasn’t enough,” she murmured. “He was so strong…” Elizabeth had to take a moment. To just…breathe. “He dragged me into the bushes—there weren’t leaves and the branches scratched at my legs. I kept struggling. I tried to fight. I don’t know…what happened to my coat. It was gone. I never did…find it.

“He threw me on the ground. Hard. It was so cold…. He grabbed me by the hair and slammed my head into the ground.” She closed her eyes again, trying to put herself back in that moment. She’d gone through it with Gail in therapy but there were things even Gail didn’t know.

“He let me go…just briefly—I could feel his weight lift off me for a second, and I tried to get myself together to scream, but I couldn’t. Everything hurt, and it was just this ugly horrible blur. I wanted to curl up and just…go away. But he grabbed my hands and he held them over my head.” She rubbed at her wrists. “I tried to kick, tried to get away, but then he shoved me on my stomach—” She looked at Taggert. “He handcuffed me. My hands were behind my back—and I—I don’t know how I forgot that. I didn’t remember that until…months later, but I don’t know how I could have forgotten. The metal was freezing. And then he shoved me on my back again, my shoulders—it hurt so much to move for days. To lift my arms.

“I tried to kick him again and I think I must have hurt him because he slapped me. And then…” Her voice trembled, and she did look at Jason this time. His eyes were wet as they met his, and something about that broke her. He never let Taggert see any emotion, and this—because he was hurting for her, he wasn’t protecting himself.

“He smelled my hair. It was a little shorter then…” Her stomach rolled as bile rose in her throat. “He put his face down next to my ear, but it was just to say something. He was—in my hair. Smelling it, rubbing it against his cheek.”

Without a word, Kelsey slid a bottle of water across the table and Elizabeth took it, taking a long gulp as if that could make it go away.

“Do you need a break?” Taggert asked again, but this time his voice sounded rusty.

“No, we’re…it’s almost done.” She rubbed her chest. “That’s when he said not a word in my ear. His breath smelled like soap. Clean. I didn’t remember the stuff about the hair until after I stopped going to therapy. I remembered it when Lucky came home. I couldn’t look at my hair then, I almost dyed it, but then people would have asked, so I just—I chopped it as short as I could.”

She took a deep breath. “That’s not relevant, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

It wasn’t but she just shook her head. Had to get this out. “He pulled down the top of my dress—that’s when he ripped one of the straps. And he touched my…my breasts. Squeezed them so hard I had bruises there, too. I think I was a walking bruise for weeks. And then—I heard a rip, and it must have been my—because he was just…”

The stabbing pain came back to her then, but Elizabeth was ready for it. She shoved it aside. “He was inside of me. It felt like hours, but it really wasn’t. I don’t know. I just…it was happening. And then it was over, and I was crying. And then he…I don’t know. He tried to pull my dress up, and he was sweating. Panting, I thought. But I think…” She frowned. “It sounded like crying, but that’s not possible, right? I mean, that doesn’t make sense. I heard Lucky’s voice. Calling my name.”

She dipped her head. “I never told Lucky that it was…it was that close. That I don’t know what would have happened if Lucky hadn’t come along. Maybe he would have killed me. But he just uncuffed me and ran. I laid there a few minutes, trying to just…and then Lucky was closer. He was right there, and I thought…I had to get to him, because it would be over if I could just…so I crawled.”

She fell silent and looked at Taggert. “Is that what you were looking for?”

“Yeah.” He cleared his throat. “Yeah. Um…” He scratched his cheek, looked at Kelsey. “Any questions?”

“Would you be willing to let us talk to Gail Baldwin?” Kelsey asked. “If you remembered this in pieces and in therapy, she’d have notes. And it would corroborate the timing of it. That you remembered before you knew it was…”

“Because there are things that happened to me that happened to the others.”

“Yeah,” Kelsey admitted. “I can’t…be more specific at this time, but it will be helpful—”

“I’ll sign a release.” Elizabeth sighed exhaled slowly, because somehow…knowing that the entire story had been told—that it was on tape—that she wasn’t the only one with these memories now—some of the darkness swirling inside had dissipated. “You said it wasn’t Baker. That he’d been excluded.”

“Yeah.” Taggert furrowed his brow. “The DNA didn’t match. Why?”

“I just…” Elizabeth chewed her bottom lip. “It just seemed so…he seemed to know what I was talking about. He didn’t even…skip a beat. And…I went to see him in prison a few months later. After he’d been sentenced. And he said something about my red dress. But maybe…” Elizabeth sighed. “I don’t know. Maybe he just took a lucky guess.”

Taggert frowned but nodded. “Maybe. That’s all we needed from you right now. I know with everything else you’re dealing with, Liz, that it couldn’t have been easy to do this. Thank you.”

“Just promise me you won’t give up this time.”

Elizabeth and Jason left without giving Taggert a chance to respond. She’d had enough.

Gate House: Living Room

Ned grimaced when he found Scott Baldwin standing on his doorstep, but he stepped back to allow the district attorney to enter. “What do you want?”

“You know, what happened to your daughter—” Scott shook his head. “It makes me sick, Ned. It makes me sick that I couldn’t do more. I didn’t know how bad the case was screwed up—but—” He hesitated. “I should have.”

“You said all of this in July. If that’s all you have—” Ned started to open the door, but Scott remained planted in his spot by the sofa. “What is it?”

“Floyd can’t win in November. I can’t serve another term under him. I thought about resigning but God only knows who he’d put in my place.” Scott scowled. “So, I’m gonna do what someone should have done a long time ago. I’m gonna give you the ammunition you need to put him in the ground, but you can’t tell anyone I’ve leaked information in an ongoing investigation.”

Ned growled at him. “I don’t want to know anything that’s going to compromise that case—”

“It won’t. It’ll just show this goddamn city how corrupt Floyd is, how corrupt he makes the people working for him, and how easy it is for him to sacrifice everyone else for his power.” Scott took a deep breath. “Floyd threatened to fire Mac if he didn’t close Elizabeth Webber’s rape case in the fall of 1998. Edward was making threats about funding another candidate in the ‘99 election so Floyd wanted the Baker case to go away.”

Ned just stared at him, shaking his head. “Why does—” He stopped as the realization began to spread throughout his body. “Are you—what do you mean he closed her case?”

“I mean that Mac put her case in the closed storage without running the rape kit that would have cleared Tom Baker of her rape. And because everyone assumed his confession was true, the bastard went on to keep raping women. Including…”

“Including my daughter.”

The fury all but consumed him, made him dizzy. He put a hand against the wall to brace himself. “I don’t understand. How—”

“Taggert figured it out when he pulled Elizabeth’s case after he linked the other cases. He found a falsified lab report stating the kit was negative and was livid when he realized her case had been moved from cold storage. He had put it there himself. He reopened her case and also found two other victims. This bastard kept raping because Mac and Floyd made her case go away.”

And now his daughter was dead.

“Because Grandfather—” Ned squeezed his eyes shut, his brain screaming. Because Edward had gone through the roof when Emily had been held hostage by Tom Baker. Had been livid when the trial began, and Elizabeth Webber had made her outcry. He’d been so angry—

And Ned knew—Christ, he knew Floyd had been under pressure from the Quartermaines.

“I called him,” Ned said faintly. “I’m the one—I made the call. Grandfather told me to do it, but I made the contact. I told Floyd that we wanted to make sure that Baker’s case was handled by the book. We wanted him to go away. Whatever he had to do.”

Oh, God. He’d never meant…

“Ned—”

“I didn’t—we didn’t know about Elizabeth’s attack. Emily didn’t tell us. And it wasn’t in the papers. Not until the trial. And then…then Grandfather was so upset. He wanted to make sure that Steve’s granddaughter got justice. I called Mac personally, and he told me—”

His chest was on fire as he forced the words out. “He told me that there just wasn’t enough—he lied to me.”

“Everyone believed the confession, so they figured what harm would it do. Investigating it might have taken two or three months — Baker might have dragged out the trial into election season. Floyd wanted it to go away. And after the Quartermaines contacted him again, Floyd had Mac create the lab report in case anyone ever came looking.”

“But no one did. No one gave it a second thought. And he raped six more women.” Ned slid down the wall until he was sitting on the ground, looking helplessly up at Scott. “He raped my daughter. And now she’s dead. Because I made a phone call.”

“Bullshit to that.” Scott sliced his hand through the air. “Bullshit to all of that. You want to blame yourself for wanting Emily to have justice? For making sure Floyd knew the Quartermaines were watching? Any other man with a fucking conscience would have pushed back and told you there were other charges. Edward would have backed down. Your family might be ruthless and insane, but not one of you would have fed Elizabeth Webber to the wolves for Emily’s sake. Any other man would have told Edward and you about the rape case.”

“But Floyd didn’t.”

“And when he was faced with the serial rapist this summer, he tried to bury it. But it didn’t work.” Scott hesitated. “I know who leaked the investigation when Brooke was attacked. He leaked the attacks, not her name, Ned. Because he was angry. Because he wanted justice. And then when the mayor’s office got the first request for comment, I think Floyd put your daughter’s name out there. Because he’s the only one who benefited from having the spotlight on the PCPD and on your family.”

Ned took a deep breath and got to his feet. “Does Elizabeth know?”

“Taggert told her last night the case was re-opened, and she had questions about the rape kit. I think she’s curious what happened.”

“Then I think it’s time I tell her.” Ned lifted his chin. “And if she’s okay with it, I will use this to raze this city to the ground.”

Luke’s: Office

In the back office, while Claude was manning the bar, Lucky was leaning back in his chair, staring that ceiling. He’d gone into work for a little while that afternoon and discovered Elizabeth’s statement had been transcribed.

He’d sat down to read it, to see if he could offer any details or clarification because he knew how little she’d remembered about her attack.

Only to realize just how much of the horror she’d never told him about.

Kelsey knocked on the open door and waited a moment at the threshold. “Hey. Taggert called me. He said you’d stopped in. You saw her statement.”

“Yeah.”

She nodded, then walked in and rounded the desk. She set her briefcase down and leaned against the desk. “You didn’t listen to the tape, did you?”

“No.” He cleared his throat. “No. I didn’t—once I got to the end—” He shook his head. “She never…she was never able to do that before. You know? She couldn’t get through the details back then. I never—it’s stupid. It’s not about me.”

“No, but you went through it with her. And you’ve been remembering more and more of it in the last few months. It makes it now instead of then.” She tipped her head to the side. “I don’t even know her, and it was a hard statement to sit through. Sitting there, watching her relive it. But she’s strong, Lucky.”

“Yeah. She always was.”

“Are we interrupting?”

Lucky and Kelsey looked to find Dante and Cruz sauntering into the office. “Hey. I didn’t know you guys were off tonight,” Lucky said. He sat up and Kelsey straightened away from the desk.

“We were signing out for the night when we saw Elizabeth Webber made her statement. After we read it over…” Cruz shrugged. “Dante figured you might need to talk.” He grinned at Kelsey. “I guess we weren’t the only ones.”

“I can’t believe how much her statement sounds like Brooke’s attack,” Dante said as he sprawled out in one of Luke Spencer’s battered armchairs. “How did they not know?”

“Her original statement wasn’t that detailed,” Cruz reminded him. He shrugged and sat on the bench that stretched out along the wall next to the door. “That’s why you do follow-ups with cops who aren’t assholes.”

“Oh, yeah.” Dante grimaced. “Vinnie’s original interviews are bad. I mean, I know he’s worried about being a scapegoat for Floyd, and Taggert said he’d watch out for him, but I don’t know…maybe he should be held responsible.”

He looked at Kelsey who had remained quiet so far. “What do you think?”

“I think Vinnie Esposito is a crappy cop,” Kelsey offered bluntly. “With poor training and not enough experience. I also think he’s a misogynistic asshole. To be honest, I’ll be surprised if he makes it out of this investigation without being written up.”

“What about the fact that the guy didn’t beat Elizabeth Webber like he did the rest of them?” Cruz asked. “Do you think that’s because she was the first and he was just…” He grimaced. “Figuring out what he liked?”

“I scared him off,” Lucky said dully. He scrubbed his hands over his face. “She said so in her statement. He didn’t get the chance.”

“It’s not your fault,” Dante told him. “Isn’t that what you’re always telling me?”

“My voice scared the guy off,” Lucky repeated. He closed his eyes. “But that means I should have heard him running away. I could have caught him—”

“And I could’ve been President if you listen to my mother,” Dante shook his head. “Look at it this way—her case doesn’t match the others, right? I mean, she wasn’t left unconscious and beaten nearly to a pulp. Because you stopped it.”

“Maybe.” Lucky sat up, then squinted at him. “Maybe. But maybe not.”

“What do you mean?” Kelsey asked as Lucky got up and crossed the room to dig through a box in the corner. “What is that?”

“I’ve been taking my own notes and bringing them home to think about the case when I’m not at the station. I read over all the victim statements and you’re right. Elizabeth doesn’t match the others.” He flipped through a notebook he brought back to his desk. “This thing about the hair. She didn’t remember that then. She only remembered he smelled like soap and that he said not a word.”

“Which he said to, what, four of the other victims?” Cruz squinted at him. “So?”

Kelsey frowned at him, her eyes narrowing with interest. “You think there’s something to the hair, don’t you?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. He’s always saying they’re not right. Did he say that to Elizabeth? Or maybe she just doesn’t remember then.”

“You’ve got a point. Let me think it over. I think there’s something there.” She looked at Cruz. “What do you think?”

“I think Lucky’s got a point. Elizabeth’s the first known victim. Her case is different. We should be looking at how they’re different.”

Lucky nodded. “All of the victims after Elizabeth say the first thing, he did was handcuff them. But he doesn’t do that with Elizabeth.”

Dante nodded, “Okay. Maybe he learned from her.” He looked at Lucky. “But she still got handcuffed. How could she have forgotten that?”

“She was in denial at first. It took time for her to even admit what had happened even though I knew it right away. It was hell even getting her to go to Mercy to have the rape kit, to turn over her dress—that’s not my point. If we’re right, and the handcuffing wasn’t his first choice—”

“Then why did—” Dante exhaled slowly. “Why did he have handcuffs in the first place? Jesus, are you telling me you think it was a cop?”

“Or a security guard. One of those rent a cops. They hired them at the Harwin for a while back in 1997 and 1998. There were a lot of burglaries. I remember reading them in the papers. They had a bunch of officers on Central Avenue where the hotel was, but the Harwin and the businesses on the other side of the park hired a bunch of security firms to patrol the area.”

“Yeah, and sometimes they carry handcuffs to detain people until the cops get there. It’s not really legal, but we usually don’t bat an eye at it.”

Kelsey took a deep breath, looked at the trio of friends. “We’re going to run down every lead, guys. Even if it takes us to places we don’t really want to go.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Elizabeth had convinced Jason to take them to the PCPD on his bike, though he’d initially protested. Elizabeth had reminded him that Kelly had told them to let Elizabeth set her own limits and that she could do whatever she’d done before, at least for a while.

So, after she’d finished giving her statement, without being asked, Jason had taken them both on a ride on the cliff roads, to let the wind and the roar of the motorcycle clear their heads and try to put it out of their minds.

It worked. At least until they returned to the Towers parking garage and made their way upstairs to the penthouse. Jason nodded to the guard on duty in the hallway, but he and Elizabeth still didn’t say anything to each other when they were alone in the living room.

“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth said after a long moment in which they stood there, looking at one another. “I shouldn’t have asked you to come—”

“It’s—” Jason shook his head, looked away. “I knew before that night at Jake’s—before you told me. I knew what you’d been through. Logically. Until these last weeks—until that letter from Baker and what’s happened to Brooke—I don’t think I ever really understood it.” He sighed. “And to listen to you go through it, it just—I don’t understand men who hurt women. And I hate that it happened to you. I hate that it’s still happening.”

He shook his head again. “But this isn’t about me.”

“We’ve already talked about this, Jason. Yes. The rape exists in my head, and it’s not as locked away as it used to be. I hate that this case is open again, but maybe this time they’ll do it right.” She put her hands on his shoulders, sliding her fingers down to his elbows, then back up again. “It was hard back then, thinking that it had ruined my life. That I was never going to be able to fall in love and be normal. But Lucky, then you—you both proved to me I had so much more to give. And I’m okay. I’m not alone.”

He dipped his head down, let his forehead rest against hers. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

The phone on the desk rang then, and Jason sighed before pulling away to answer it. “Yeah?” He frowned. “Really? Okay. Send him up.”

He looked at Elizabeth, a bit bewildered. “Ned’s downstairs. He says he needs to talk to both of us.”

“Oh, man, I wonder if he found out about the first three cases.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Maybe he wants me to make a statement or something.”

“Elizabeth—”

“I know, I know. You want me to avoid stress.” She held her wrist out to him. “Go ahead, check my pulse.”  She was joking, but Jason clearly wasn’t.

By the time Ned reached the door, Jason was satisfied that her pulse rate was normal and had let her sit down.

“I’m sorry to just show up,” Ned told them when he closed the door. “But I just—I had a source leak some details about my daughter’s investigation.”

“Taggert came to talk to us last night,” Elizabeth said as Ned sat down in the armchair. “I know my case was reopened. That the case count is up to seven.”

“I’m glad he finally let you in on it, but did he explain what happened to your rape kit?” Ned pressed.

Elizabeth exchanged a troubled look with Jason. “Is that what your source told you? How my kit was messed up?”

“I need your okay before I go public with this,” Ned said, “because what I’m about to tell you is going to ensure that Garrett Floyd’s days as mayor are done.”

This entry is part 22 of 31 in the series All of Me

Today was gonna be the day
But they’ll never throw it back to you
By now you should’ve somehow
Realized what you’re not to do
I don’t believe that anybody
Feels the way I do, about you now
Wonderwall, Oasis


Saturday, September 13, 2003

Warehouse: Jason’s Office

Jason held Carly’s elbow as she slowly lowered herself to the dingy sofa in his office. “I would have come to you—”

“I’m eight months pregnant, not dying,” Carly muttered. “And Dr. Meadows thinks it’s a good idea if I keep active for as long as I can stand it.” She sighed. “And since Courtney left for Manhattan last month, Sonny spends a lot less time here in the mornings so I knew it would be clear.”

“Yeah, one of the guards told me you’d taken a suitcase and Michael to the Brownstone,” Jason told her, taking a seat next her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize things were so bad with Sonny.” He shook his head. “I should have. All I do with him is argue these days and it’s always the same thing.”

“Yeah, well, I guess we both thought he’d eventually come around.” Carly bit her lip. “Has Sonny tried to go after Ric? Did he—he did tell you—I mean, I know I’m not supposed to ask about business—”

“Once,” Jason asked after a long time. “I told him no. He gave the order to Johnny who also refused.”

Carly closed her eyes. “And neither of you got in trouble for that?”

“I sent Johnny to the island to deal with security down there for a while until Sonny cools off, but no. At the end of the day, even if Sonny wanted to, there aren’t a lot of the guys who are willing to—” Jason shook his head. “Why does it matter?”

“Well, for one, all this time I thought he was angry at me because he couldn’t go after Ric. It turns out he was already ignoring what I needed from him, and he was angry with everyone else.” Carly exhaled slowly, trying to gather her thoughts. “He’s not well, Jason. A year ago, I thought he trusted me. He brought me into the plan to fake his death and he gave me a role to play. He listened to me. He took suggestions to get through that. But—”

“Yeah. He’s been having a rough time of it since you went missing, but I don’t know. Maybe it started when he found out about Ric and his mother.” Jason rubbed his chest. “He always blamed himself for his mother’s death, you know. And then you get kidnapped because of him. Elizabeth nearly dies because she’s trying to help him. He always takes on the weight of the world.”

“I know that, Jason. I do. And I’ve let him get away with it. You and I—we’ve made him a priority in a way that I just…don’t want to do anymore, you know?” She absently rubbed her belly. “Michael deserves better. This new baby deserves better from me. And Jason, you deserve better, too.” She looked at him. “What did the doctor say yesterday?”

Jason sighed and got up to pace across the room. “That Elizabeth should be able to carry the baby to term without a lot of problems as long as we monitor her health and avoid stress. The doctor seemed to think most of the risk would come after delivery.”

“Well, that’s good news, isn’t it?” Carly asked. “I mean, she and I are never going to be friends, but I know what she went through. She did it for you mostly, but I’m still free because of her.” She bit her lip. “Jason, we have to stop letting what Sonny needs be the most important thing in the world to us. You need to put Elizabeth first. I need to put my kids first.”

“Yeah, I know. I know that.”

“But doing it is a lot harder than it looks.” She hesitated. “Listen, there’s something else you should know. Sonny made some threats against Scott Baldwin.”

Jason blinked, shook his head, and looked at her. “No. That’s not—he wouldn’t—”

“Exactly. He wouldn’t. If he were thinking clearly. He wants Ric to go away, and right now, you and I are standing in his way. He can’t do anything to us, and I don’t believe he ever would. So, he’s blaming the next best thing.”

“Going after a DA—that’s suicide. There’s not a man alive in this organization—” He shook his head again. “No one is going to agree to do that. Not over something like this.”

“And the fact that he couldn’t even get anyone to go after Ric gives me a lot of relief, because that means Scott will be safe. I know you guys gave Courtney grief when she called the police, and I get it, but Scott means a lot to my mother and he’s—”

“He’s never once treated you and Elizabeth differently because of me and Sonny,” Jason finished. “Yeah, I agree. I don’t think Baldwin’s in any danger, but it makes me nervous Sonny isn’t getting better.”

“He’s the father of my children, Jason, but I’m just…I can’t do this anymore.” She started to get to her feet, so Jason took her elbow and helped her.

“We’ll figure this out, Carly. But right now, you worry about the baby. Let me worry about Sonny.”

“That’s what I’m worried about,” Carly muttered on her way out the door, but Jason didn’t answer her.  

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

 “I am so glad to see you,” Elizabeth said as she embraced Nikolas for a tight hug. “I feel like we didn’t have enough time to catch up in July.”

“Well, you were busy trying not to die,” he said dryly as he drew back and kissed her cheek. “But I’m happy to see you out of the hospital and…” He looked around the room. “I think I’m not entirely surprised to find you here.”

“I’m moving my things in here officially this weekend,” Elizabeth told him as they sat down on the sofa. “But I’ve been staying here since Wednesday—Sarah was here overnight, and I let her stay in the condo.”

“Sarah?” Nikolas repeated. “Why—” He shook his head. “Why was she in Port Charles? She left last year without so much as a word to the rest of us—”

“Yeah, well, she finished her residency in California and Mercy is interviewing her for a fellowship. It was fine. She stayed at my place, and Jason and I took her to Eli’s for dinner. It was weird but fine.” Elizabeth scratched her temple. “How’s your mother? You were hoping to bring her home soon. Is that still happening?”

“Yeah, yeah. She’ll be at Shadybrooke for few weeks, and then they’re going to do some outpatient therapy.” Nikolas’s smile was full of relief. “She should be home for good by Christmas as long as there aren’t any setbacks.”

“I’m so glad,” Elizabeth said, reaching out to squeeze his hands. “I know Lucky could use her in his life. He told you about the investigation and what happened to Brooke Lynn Ashton?”

“Yeah. It’s—” Nikolas shook his head. “It’s brought back some rough memories for him. Have you talked to him?”

“A little but not in a few weeks,” Elizabeth admitted. “But he seems happier than he used to be. Have you met Kelsey?”

“I did. She came with him to pick me up. I liked her. And you’re right, he seems happy. But I’m worried about this case.” Nikolas paused. “He said he talked to you about his memory issues.”

“A few weeks ago, yeah. He said he was remembering it now,” Elizabeth replied.  “I thought about checking in with him again, but…” She looked down at her hands. “I don’t know. We have this shared trauma of that night, and I’m dealing with a lot after what happened with Ric—what’s still happening because of him…”

“Are…are you okay?” Nikolas asked, concerned.

“I’ve been seeing Gail Baldwin and digging into a lot of crap that happened, so it’s been painful. Jason and I have fought maybe a hundred times about him worrying too much about me taking risks with my health, so that’s been fun.” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “And then, to top it off, ELQ apparently can’t make decent condoms, so it turns out I’m pregnant.”

To his credit, Nikolas merely nodded. “Okay. So that’s a lot.”

Elizabeth exhaled slowly, shaking her head. “The doctor says there’s a good chance I’ll be okay, and the baby will be okay, but instead of being excited, Ric gets to play a starring role because of the drugs he fed me for months.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “I’m sorry. That’s not why you came over—”

“Hey. We agreed this summer we were going to do better by one another, right?” Nikolas squeezed her hand again. “I’m glad you felt like you could tell me that. Have you talked to Jason?”

“To a certain extent, yeah, he knows all of that but…I’m tired of everything being about Ric. Between what happened to Brooke and the memories it brought up for me because of Ric, the trial, and now the baby—I just want my life to stop being about Ric Lansing.”

She got to her feet and paced the length of the room. “I wanted the chance to testify against him. To see his face so he could know that I’m not weak. I wanted him to know who put him there.” She stared out the window over the harbor. “But mostly, I just want it all to be over.”

“It will be.” Nikolas got to his feet and joined her. “At the end of all it, you and Carly will put that sociopath away for the rest of his life, you’ll have your baby, and in a few years, this won’t even make the top ten list of things you think about.”

“I wish I could believe that,” Elizabeth murmured. She smiled at him. “But it gives me something to look forward to, you know? The idea that if I just concentrate on that moment—my baby’s fifth birthday or something—I want to be able to dream again, Nikolas.” Tears slid down her cheek. “But I’m not sure I remember how anymore.”

“Well, then dream about this. Next week, let’s get together with Lucky and Emily and have dinner. The Four Musketeers.”

Elizabeth laughed through her tears. “You know, the last time we all had dinner together, Lucky was kidnapped. I guess it can’t get much worse than that. Okay. It’s a deal. Dinner with the Musketeers.”

Brownstone: Living Room

 “Hey, Lucky,” Bobbie said as she embraced her nephew. “It’s been a few weeks since I saw you around.”

“Yeah, well…” Lucky grimaced and followed his aunt to the kitchen where she started a pot of coffee. “I’ve been busy with the case—”

“And Kelsey,” his aunt said with a smile. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed how little you come by Kelly’s and your room.”

“Things are…” Lucky shook his head, with a bit of a surprised laugh. “Things are good. I’m not really sure how it happened, but she’s amazing. And I feel—” He looked at Bobbie. “I feel like I’m finally the person I’m supposed to be. With her. With Dante and Cruz. And sometimes, at my job.”

“I’m so glad.” Bobbie squeezed his shoulder. “You were so lost. Even when we thought you were found, you still didn’t seem comfortable in your own skin.”

“Nikolas likes her.” He shrugged. “Dad might not since she’s an ADA and he’s not that great about my job choice, but I guess we’ll find out.”

“I can’t believe your mother will finally be home next month,” Bobbie said. She placed the coffee carafe underneath her faucet and turned on the water. “Lulu is excited to be moving back to the house—she said Lesley is coming home next week, then Luke will come back with Laura.” She threw him a smile over her shoulder. “It’s been a hard year for the Spencers, but we’re coming out of it.”

“Yeah.” Lucky sat on the stool by the counter and unpinned his badge from his uniform shirt. “What do you think Mom is gonna say about me being a cop?”

“I think it might surprise her,” Bobbie admitted as she switched on the pot to brew, then turned to fully face him. “But do I think she’ll react like Luke? No. She’d be proud of you for going after what you want.” She tipped her head to the side. “You’ve been at this for four months on duty. Is this still something you want?”

“I don’t know,” Lucky admitted. “I got into it because of Scott—because of how he and everyone went after Mom and Dad last year for what happened to Rick Webber. He made it sound like I couldn’t do it, you know? I went into the academy just to prove I could. Then I met Dante and Cruz—” He looked at Bobbie. “But ever since I actually started doing the work…”

“Well, I guess it doesn’t help that literally the day you started was Carly’s kidnapping. Then this rape investigation with poor Brooke. It’s probably been hard on all three of you. Especially you and Dante—”

“Yeah…” Lucky sighed. “The thing is, Aunt Bobbie, this rape case—it’s bringing back a lot of stuff. You know where the papers are saying it happened, right?”

“The park,” Bobbie said with a nod as she took two mugs out of a cabinet. “That’s where Brooke was.”

“The papers don’t have the whole story yet, but you’re going to be hearing it soon enough because Taggert is supposed to tell her today.” Lucky waited until Bobbie stopped to meet his eyes. “Brooke and the other three women—it’s not the first time this guy has hit Port Charles.”

Bobbie stared at him for a long moment, then closed her eyes. “Oh, God. Tell me when you say her—tell me—”

“Taggert had this hunch that something about this case seemed familiar, but I think he already knew. I think he was already told he wasn’t allowed to reopen her case because he told me, Dante, and Cruz to go down to the archives and bring up all the cold cases that were similar. He knew what we were supposed to find.”

The drip of the coffee was the only thing that punctuated the silence as Bobbie said nothing. Lucky continued. “We found two other cases. Two other women, in April 1999 and January 2000. But Aunt Bobbie, Elizabeth’s case wasn’t in cold storage.”

Bobbie frowned. “I thought Taggert put it on the inactive list. That’s what he told Elizabeth back then. Even though Baker had confessed—”

“That’s where Taggert put it. Mac Scorpio told him they would run the rape kit, but until then it had to come off the active case list. He told Taggert the kit came back negative.”

Bobbie clutched at the edge of the counter as if to maintain her balance. “Lucky—”

“But we found the file in closed storage. It was marked as solved. The lab report was in the file, just like it was in the DA’s file—but it wasn’t created until December. And the lab said it didn’t come from them. And her dress never got tested.”

“I—I can’t—” Bobbie shook her head. “How—”

“We couldn’t understand it either. Taggert talked to Mac. He said it was some kind of clerical error—that the lab got it wrong, but I don’t think so. I think Floyd pressured Mac to close any case that would screw up Baker’s trial. We all thought Baker was the guy. Maybe Mac didn’t even think he was doing anything wrong.”

Bobbie rounded the counter to sit at her table. “Why would Floyd care—” She twisted in the chair to look at Lucky. “Because Baker was on trial for what happened to Emily. You think Edward was behind this.”

“I think it’s entirely possible the Quartermaines were the source of that pressure, yes,” Lucky said. He turned on the stool. “We ran the kit finally—and all the other kits. They’re all linked. Baker was excluded. And Elizabeth’s rapist went on to brutally beat and rape six other women, including Brooke Lynn.”

Bobbie pressed a fist to her abdomen. “I feel sick to my stomach. They…they swept her case under the rug and—Oh, God. You said Taggert is telling her today?”

“Yeah. She’s the only previous victim we haven’t interviewed. He held off until he had no other choice. He was almost hoping he wouldn’t have to tell her at all — Elizabeth’s case is five years old — older than that now, and the statute of limitations ran out in February.”

Bobbie frowned. “Then—”

“Elizabeth was sixteen,” Lucky continued, “and in the state of New York, the clock on limitations doesn’t start until the victim turns eighteen.”

Bobbie pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. “And now, after everything she’s been through, Taggert is going to reopen all of this.”

“Aunt Bobbie—”

“I don’t think Edward had anything to do with the cover-up,” Bobbie cut him. “I buy that he leaned on Floyd to protect Emily, to go after Baker. Edward’s always been ruthless, but he’s not cruel. He respected Steve and Audrey too much to do that to their granddaughter. He wouldn’t have done it.”

“Maybe, but at the end of the day, instead of running the rape kit and officially clearing Baker, Mac let this case die. And six other women went with it.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“What do you think is going to happen to Sonny and Carly?” Elizabeth asked as she handed Jason his takeout container from Kelly’s. She settled herself on the sofa next to him and grimaced at the roasted vegetables and plain chicken breast she’d ordered. The least she could do for her baby was eat better, but damn if didn’t hurt to watch Jason sink his teeth into a burger.

“I don’t know,” Jason admitted. “Carly seems tired of dealing with it, and I can’t blame her. Not after everything she’s been through. I guess…we’ll just have to see how it plays out.” He eyed her as she listlessly stabbed a fork into a piece of zucchini. “Did Nikolas stop by today?”

“Yeah, and then I went to see Gail when he left for our usual session.” She sighed. “Gail said that one of her support groups is looking for someone to lead it.” Her stomach twisted. “A rape survivor’s group. She thought I might be interested.”

He just tipped his head to the side. “Are you?”

She said nothing for a long moment as she ate a few bites of the vegetables. As she chewed, she tried to think of a way to express exactly what she was thinking. “I don’t know. I think about talking to Brooke and what I’ve been through this summer, the idea of talking about my rape, listening to other people talk about theirs…I almost can’t stand it. But…”

“But?” he pressed when she trailed off.

“I went to a few group meetings while I was seeing Gail the first time around. And…I don’t know. It sucked knowing I wasn’t alone. That men were out there doing this to women all the time.” Elizabeth looked away, towards the fireplace. “But…I wasn’t alone. And that helped sometimes when I was sitting in my room and couldn’t sleep.” She jerked a shoulder. “That summer, I used to get really upset that I would never know. Lucky and I were trying to find the guy, but our own investigation never went anywhere.”

She set her takeout container on the coffee table. “But then I’d remember some of the stories I heard in group, and I’d think…maybe it’d be worse if I did know the guy, you know? Someone’s boyfriend raped her when she told him no. Another had been…her father. Someone else’s uncle.”

She looked at Jason whose expression hadn’t changed, even as one of his hands had clenched into a fist. “Gail thinks I’d be good at it, and it might help me let go of my guilt about not doing enough for Brooke. I’ve been complaining about not having any passion, any direction…And I don’t think it would be all that stressful. I mean, it would be painful, but—”

“Not stressful the way we need to worry about,” Jason offered when she furrowed her brow, trying to articulate the difference.

“Yeah. If she thinks it’s a good idea, she’s probably right. But I don’t know. I’m trying to get away from all of that. I was just telling Nikolas how much I want it all to stop, to go away. If I did this, I’d have to live with all the time.”

He paused for a moment as if searching for the right words. “But you already do.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I don’t know. I guess it’s something to think about.”

The phone on Jason’s desk rang, so he got up to answer it. “Yeah?” He grimaced, looked at Elizabeth. “Hold on a second.” He put the receiver down. “Taggert is here to see you.”

“Really?” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Send him up, I guess.”

Jason gave the directive, then hung up the phone. “What do you think he wants?”

“I don’t know. It’s almost eight.” Elizabeth got to her feet to clear away their dinner, but Jason stopped her and did it instead. “I went to see him and Scott yesterday—you don’t think Ric already knows, do you?” she called after him as he went into the kitchen.

“I don’t know.” Jason reappeared in the doorway. “I guess we’ll find out.”

When she opened the door to Taggert a few minutes later, she hoped neither the fear nor the panic swirling in her stomach showed on her face. “Lieutenant, this is a surprise.”

“Hey, Elizabeth,” Taggert said as she stepped back to let him. He had a slight grimace on his face when he saw Jason standing at the bottom of the stairs. “Sorry to come by so late, but I didn’t want to wait another day.”

She gestured for him to take a seat. He did so, sitting in the armchair next to the sofa where Elizabeth tugged Jason to sit next to her. “What’s up? Is it Ric?”

“No, no. Everything is still where we left it there. Um, you know I was promoted this summer and took over Major Crimes. That’s why I was on Brooke’s case.”

“Do you…have a lead?” Elizabeth asked. She looked at Jason who looked unhappy. She frowned before looking back at Taggert. “Did you find him?”

“No. We—the papers already reported that she was the fourth young woman in the park. We…There’s no easy way to say this, Elizabeth. But these four women—they weren’t the first.”

The chill began in her fingertips and she idly started to rub her hands together to keep them from freezing solid. Silly to wonder if the ice was real or just in her head. “They weren’t.”

“There were three other earlier attacks,” Taggert continued, looking down at the carpet. His voice started to sound far away. She felt Jason take one of her hands, hold it tightly. “January 2000. April 1999, and—”

“February 1998,” she said softly. “How can you know that?”

“We ran the…we ran the forensics, and there was…a DNA match linked all seven cases.”

“Seven—” Elizabeth shook her head. “No, no, then there’s a mistake. Because my kit was run. Back in 1998. After Baker confessed. Because he confessed—”

Thank God she was sitting down because her head started to swim. Jason turned and wrapped his arm around her, bringing her closer to him. He was so warm. She wanted to crawl inside of him and hide.

Because she knew what was coming next and she couldn’t stop it.

“Elizabeth, I can’t—the kit wasn’t—there were some issues. But—we now know the profile excludes Baker. And links you to the later cases.”

She closed her eyes, swallowed hard. “Jason.”

“I’m right here—”

“The letter. The letter he sent—is that what he said? Is that what you’ve wanted to tell me?”

“Letter?” Taggert asked, his brows lifted. “What letter?”

She couldn’t speak. Couldn’t get the words out over the pounding of her heart. So, Jason took a deep breath and told him.

“In July, when we were packing her things at the house…she got a letter from Tom Baker. She didn’t open it.” His features were pained as she met his eyes. “I did. I read it. He’s up for parole in a while and he—”

“Wanted to clear his conscience?” Taggert asked sardonically.

“Make sure that no one was waiting for him when he left prison,” Jason said flatly. “He saw the same tabloids that Ric Lansing saw. Thought he had reason to worry.”

Taggert left it at that. “I no longer work in Organized Crime,” Taggert said. “I am supremely uninterested in anything that has to do with arresting someone who is not the asshole who—you can trust me. At least on this.”

“What did the letter say? Do you still have it?”

“It’s upstairs,” Jason said, but it was clear that he wasn’t going to leave Elizabeth alone for a minute to retrieve it. “She didn’t want to read it, and I never told her what was in it.” He looked at her, regretful. “You didn’t want to know. Every time I tried—”

She touched his face, understanding. After her reaction from just knowing he’d been to see Baker— “Taggert, can we trust you?” she asked softly. “I mean, really.”

“After we got the letter, I went to see him. To warn him to stay away from Elizabeth and Emily if he got out on parole,” Jason said, not looking away from Elizabeth. “But he said something that…he said something about what he wrote. So, I went home and read the letter. He said it wasn’t him. Then, after Brooke and the other stories in the papers…”

Taggert narrowed his eyes, lunged to his feet. “Is there, ah, a reason you didn’t think to tell the cops—”

“Tell the same department that almost got her killed?” Jason demanded, also rising and meeting Taggert’s glare, fury in his eyes. “Yeah. There were reasons.”

“Don’t—” Elizabeth stood up between them. “Don’t. Jason didn’t tell you because we didn’t trust you. And after everything that came out about Brooke’s case, I’m not sure he was wrong. Because I know for a fact I was told five years ago that my rape kit came back negative, Taggert. How were you able to exclude Baker this time?”

“I can’t get into that, Elizabeth—”

“When Jason told me he’d been to see Baker, I fell apart. I had a panic attack. I continued to have panic attacks and breathing problems until three weeks ago. And then we found out we were pregnant. He didn’t think I could handle knowing. And I don’t blame you.” She turned to look at him. “I don’t blame you.” Elizabeth returned to Taggert.  “But this guy—he’s raped six other women. And he’s responsible for Brooke’s death. So, I just…I want to do what I can to help.”

Taggert exhaled slowly. “I’m sorry, Elizabeth. For all the ways we’ve failed you. But I’m trying to do right now. What happened to you, to Brooke, to everyone who should have been safe makes me sick.” He looked at Jason, who was still breathing hard with anger. “You said you believed him. Why?”

Elizabeth gave him a pleading look, so Jason sighed and sat back down, pulling her with him. Taggert also retook his seat.  “He said that he knew he was getting out, and he wanted to make sure I didn’t have a reason to come after him,” Jason related as though there wasn’t a world of meaning in that statement. “Once we found out about the other attacks—it just seemed it fit. He said that she had said something, and he’d run with it.”

“Yeah, that’s about what I thought might have happened. I looked at the transcript of your original statement and it looks like—”

“He told me not to say a word, and—” Elizabeth took a deep breath, shaking her head. “Yeah, I guess maybe. I accused him, and I must have looked so freaked out. Thinking back, that makes sense.”

“I’d like you to come in,” Taggert told her. “I’d like you give us an updated statement for our files. We never conducted a second full interview.”

“Do you have any leads?”

He hesitated. “We have some things to look at, but at the moment, we don’t have a suspect. The DNA isn’t in the database. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be. Other jurisdictions are still getting online. He was inactive for nearly all of 2000 through 2002. He might have been somewhere else.”

“I guess…” Elizabeth sighed. “I guess yeah. Where did you keep the letter?” she asked Jason.

“I can get it—”

“I need a minute,” she told him quietly. “Please.”

“It’s in my top dresser drawer.” He watched as she slowly climbed the stairs before turning back to Taggert. “You’re not going to hassle me about going to see Baker?”

“I already know it was off the books because you’re not listed in his visitor log. So, I could…” Taggert looked at the stairs. “Knowing what she’s been through, Morgan, I waited until the last possible minute to bring her into this. I wanted to protect her. So, I can put myself in your place. Woman I cared about whose life was shattered gets a letter like that? I’m gonna get her some answers anyway I can.”

He tilted his head. “And now that I’m thinking back to it, it seems to me that after Brooke was attacked, I got a tip from an anonymous source that these weren’t the first attacks. That I should look at similar cases.”

Jason didn’t look at him, stared straight ahead at the television where the news was running, muted. “If I had come to you, she would have known. And she didn’t want to know.”

“Fair enough.”

Elizabeth came down the stairs and held out the letter, still folded. “Here. When do you want me to come in?”

“Tomorrow. Whenever is good for you.” Taggert took it and carefully slid it into a plastic bag he kept in the pocket of his suit jacket for times like these. “Thanks.”

Jason walked him to the door as Elizabeth sank back onto the sofa. When he closed the door, he looked back at Elizabeth. He didn’t know what to do for her. How to even…begin to understand how to make this okay for her.

“I think maybe part of me has wondered since the moment Emily called me and told me it was in the park,” Elizabeth admitted. “When you put that letter in front of me, and I had to face it, I still pushed it under the rug. I’ve avoided it. Concentrated on Brooke and what happened to Ric, and then the baby—I didn’t think I was strong enough to face the idea it wasn’t Baker.”

Her cheeks were wet when she met his eyes again. “But Taggert said it…and I realized I already knew. I had already accepted it. Somewhere inside. I just didn’t…Did you hear what he said? It wasn’t just me. I wasn’t alone.”

The echo of her words from earlier that evening slammed into him because they were no longer comforting but filled with horror. With terror.

He was rooted to this spot in front of the door, afraid to come near her. To touch her. What if he did, and it happened again? If she went back to that place—

“I wasn’t alone,” Elizabeth repeated. “And he just…” She pressed a fist to her mouth, closed her eyes. “He kept on doing it. He kept hurting women. April, January, February, May, July—and then, oh, God, Brooke. He’s the reason she’s gone. He’s still out there, Jason. Not five years ago. But now. Tonight. And these are just the women we know about. What if…”

He moved just one step towards her, then she flew into his arms, burrowing her head into his chest. He exhaled slowly, wrapping his arms around her and held her.

“What do you want to do?” he asked after a moment.

“I have to do it. I have to help. Six other women. Brooke. If I don’t, and I knew something that could have helped, even a little…and then someone else…I couldn’t live with myself, Jason.”

“Okay.”

She drew back to look at him. “I know you and Taggert aren’t…on most days, you don’t like each other, but I was hoping…you would come with me.”

“Taggert and I agree on one thing — you.” And he knew Taggert had transferred to Major Crimes over the handling of Elizabeth and Carly’s case. He’d been the only cop on their side while Carly was gone, responsible for the rookies who had sat outside her house every day. And now he’d done what he could to keep this case from touching Elizabeth. “If you want me there, then that’s where I’ll be.”

“Thank you.” She was quiet for a moment. “I’m going to tell Gail I’ll do it. The support group, anyway. I think—I think I need to deal with this once and for all and put it away for good.”

October 10, 2019

Your Update Link – Mad World – Chapter Forty

Hello! I’m not sure what happened to my morning, but I woke up at 5 AM, about 30 minutes too early, picked up a book to relax until I had to get ready — and then somehow it was 6 AM and I was running late. Listen. This life.

Super excited to hit this chapter! There are nine chapters left (can you believe that?) and we’re really getting into the weeds here. I was highly amused by how any of y’all were suspicious of Sarah. To be honest, I threw her in at the last minute to give myself something to work with in Book 3. I’ve got plans for her then, but she’s done for now.

I’m plugging along with Fool Me Twice, but a couple of my students are really trying my soul this week and I’m not writing as much at home. I write on my prep period and usually manage 1000-1500  words. I need to boost that by 1000 to get done on time. I’m going to put away a lot of work this weekend — THREE DAY WEEKEND WOOOOOT. I have my plans done for next week for the most part, so it’s a lot of relaxation and getting things done around the house. I hope to have a flash fiction but you guys know how my schedule gets.

This entry is part 21 of 31 in the series All of Me

Now that we’re here,
It’s so far away
All the struggle we thought was in vain
All in the mistakes,
One life contained
They all finally start to go away
Now that we’re here it’s so far away
And I feel like I can face the day, and I can forgive
And I’m not ashamed to be the person that I am today
So Far Away, Staind


Friday, September 12, 2003

General Hospital: Kelly Lee’s Office

 Sarah’s surprise visit was able to keep Elizabeth from obsessing about her doctor’s appointment and while dinner with her sister and Jason was a bit awkward, it was drama free. They dropped Sarah back at the condo while they went to the penthouse for the night.

The next morning, they headed to the hospital where Kelly Lee, a doctor Monica had recommended from Buffalo, had been granted temporary privileges and office space to treat Elizabeth, at least for today. She knew she was receiving special treatment from her connection to the Quartermaines, but it was hard to argue with it when it benefited her and the possibility of keeping her child.

From the moment Elizabeth and Jason entered Kelly’s office at General Hospital, she felt a weight lift off her shoulders. Kelly was enthusiastic, warm, and most importantly — direct.

“I can understand your cardiologist’s concern,” Kelly said as she looked through Elizabeth’s chart. “You’ve had a difficult few months health wise. That being said…” She lifted her eyes to the nervous couple seated in front of her. “Your recent scans are clear for blood clots, your bloodwork is clean, and none of the tests you’ve had so far show any damage to your heart and lungs.”

Elizabeth exhaled slowly and looked at Jason. He took her hand in his, squeezing it. “So, it’s not crazy to think I could carry this baby to term and be okay?”

“It’s not crazy, no,” Kelly told her. “But we also can’t ignore that Dr. Quartermaine is entirely correct. You are at an elevated risk for another embolism, and pregnancy does place stress on the body that you probably don’t really need right now. That being said, there are a lot of things we can do to monitor you and stay on top of any problems.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes, bit her lip. “But I can—I can keep the baby.”

“I’m sure you’ve both been through a lot since you found out a few days ago,” Kelly said when Elizabeth opened her eyes, looked at her. “Looking at your records, you had some scary close calls, Miss Webber.” She flicked her eyes to Jason. “And I’m sure that was difficult to watch. But you’re on blood thinners. Usually, we take you off those about ninety days after the embolism, but we’ll keep you on them for the duration of the pregnancy.”

She scribbled something else. “You’ll see me monthly—Dr. Quartermaine—the Chief of Staff—offered me a staff position so I won’t just be a visiting doctor. At home, however, I want you to monitor your pulse daily and your blood pressure once a week. Any deviation from the norm, you’re to come straight to the hospital so we can look into it.”

Elizabeth stared at her for a long moment. “But—but that’s it? That’s all we can do—”

“Well, normally, I’d remind you to take it easy. To avoid stress, but I understand you’re due to testify in a trial,” Kelly told her. “We’ll keep a close eye on you during that period, but honestly, Elizabeth, considering how fragile your situation was two months ago, you’ve gotten yourself back into decent enough shape that we can get you through this.”

She tipped her head. “But no unnecessary activity. Take it easy. Pregnancy can cause extreme fatigue, and you’re still rebuilding your stamina. If you feel tired, sit down. If you feel dizzy, lay down, call me. Try to avoid being alone for long stretches of time or make sure there’s always someone there to take your call.”

Kelly waited a long moment. “Are you a high-risk pregnancy? Yes. Do I think you need to worry? Not all the time. From your case file, it looks like the symptoms of your blood clots were masked by the drugs your ex-husband was giving you. But you’re aware of the symptoms now.” She leaned forward. “Follow my directions to the letter, and I honestly think you have an excellent chance of a smooth pregnancy.”

She tapped her pencil against the desk blotter. “Where we might have issues is delivery and directly after. We can discuss it as we get closer to your due date, but I might want to check you in ahead of time to monitor you closely in case a clot develops.”

They scheduled a follow-up appointment along with an ultrasound, and before Elizabeth knew it, the two of them were in the hallway of the hospital on their way to the elevator.

“I feel…” Elizabeth managed a laugh. She led Jason to a small alcove near the elevators and sat down on the sofa. “I feel so silly for all the drama and the crying, and the—” She shook her head. “She made it sound so easy.”

“Yeah, I have to admit, she’s not asking you to do anything much differently than you did after you left the hospital.” Jason took Elizabeth’s hand in his and held it palm side up, tracing the veins of her wrist. “And to be honest—”

“You already take my pulse at least once a day, if not more,” Elizabeth finished. “Yeah, I noticed.” She exhaled slowly. “I mean—we can—we can think about what’s next now. Because—I mean obviously we’re going forward with this.” She met his eyes. “Now that it’s—it’s safe. We can be happy. If you…”

“I am happy,” Jason told, softening his voice. “I was…afraid to be happy. I didn’t want to get used to the idea until we knew—”

“Until we knew,” she repeated when he stopped talking. She turned her hand back over and laced her fingers in his. “We’re having a baby.” Her smile spread until her cheeks nearly ached from it. “Maybe your mother—I mean, Monica—maybe she was right. Maybe this part is the miracle. Why we survived last summer.”

“You don’t have—you can call her my mother,” Jason told Elizabeth. “So, you said we can think about what’s next. We haven’t talked about it, but if your medical records are open to Ric—”

“He’ll know about the baby,” Elizabeth finished. She pressed her lips together. “Yeah, I talked to Bobbie about it, and I’d be insane not to worry about it. The miscarriage tipped Ric over the edge, so if he finds out I’m pregnant again—after what happened with that stuff in the papers…” She shook her head, her smile fading slightly. “I’m a little nervous.”

“That’s why I want—I want to move to the penthouse,” Jason told her. “You can do whatever you want to it, but as secure as the condo is—”

“The Towers are a fortress,” Elizabeth finished with a nod. “Yeah. We can do that.” At his surprised look, she shrugged. “I needed a place to get myself together. And the condo was great for that. And if it were just me, maybe we could discuss it further, but I remember how secure the penthouse was last year. All of that stuff you guys installed after that bomb got up to Sonny’s a few years ago and everything.”

She got to her feet and they started for the elevators. After she pressed the down button, Elizabeth said, “I also want to let Scott Baldwin know.” When Jason grimaced slightly, she continued, “I don’t want him to be blindsided if Ric finds out from my records. After he offered to make a deal when it would be better publicity for him to go to trial, I feel like I owe it to him to be fair.”

“Okay.” Jason wrapped an arm around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head. “Whatever you need, that’s what we’ll do.”

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

 Carly checked her watch and scowled, tapping her foot nervously against the floor as she stared at a magazine. She just wanted Jason to call and tell her about the doctor’s appointment—she was worried about both of them if the doctor gave them bad news.

She didn’t know if she actually liked Elizabeth Webber, but after everything they’d been through together, the least Carly owed Jason and Elizabeth was civility and her support.

She eyed her husband, pouring yet another bourbon at the minibar. Since Sonny was determined to be a jackass—

Her phone rang and Carly almost fumbled it in her haste to open it, but—” Oh, hey, Mama. No, he didn’t call me yet. You either?”

Sonny turned to look at her, a questioning look in his eyes. She silently shook her head as Bobbie continued to talk. “Oh, man. I mean…you warned me, I guess. Yeah. Okay. We’ll deal with it. Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. I’ll call you if I hear anything.”

Carly closed her phone, then pressed it to her forehead, silently counting to five before looking at her husband. “She was calling because she got a subpoena from Ric.”

Sonny grimaced but sighed. “That makes sense. She was there the day you were found and helped look—” He stared at her. “What?”

“She was also there when you had your breakdown, Sonny. And she didn’t tell Scott outright, but he knew enough that the judge decided it was Brady material—” When Sonny scowled, she hurried to add, “He would have been in trouble if he didn’t turn over whatever he knew about you—”

“Fucking Baldwin,” Sonny muttered. He threw back his bourbon. “So, your mother is just going to spill her guts? She could get in trouble for giving me that injection, you know? Why doesn’t she plead the Fifth?”

“No one who knows about that is going to tell anyone.” Carly pulled herself to her feet and planted her hands on her hips. “What’s the big problem, Sonny? Even if Ric makes you testify about your breakdown, it doesn’t change anything—”

“If you would just let me take care of that little fucker, we wouldn’t have to worry about this!” Sonny roared. “And now my mental health is going to be on everyone’s lips! I’m gonna look even weaker than I already do!”

Carly rolled her eyes. “Oh, God, Sonny, is that what you’re worried about? Typical. You had a breakdown because I was gone. That just makes you sympathetic—”

“You think Anthony Zacchara is going to find me sympathetic?” Sonny demanded as he stalked towards her. “What about Hector Ruiz or Sammy Tagliatti? You think any one of them is going to think it’s no big deal that I was hallucinating my dead wife?”

She exhaled slowly. “We talked about this. You’re not touching Ric. Not before the trial—”

“You know if I get rid of that asshole DA, that would take care of this too,” Sonny muttered. “Get rid of Baldwin, and the case gets postponed. No trial. No deal.”

Carly’s blood felt frozen beneath her skin as she stared at her husband. “Are you—are you threatening the district—you’re not serious, are you? What the hell is wrong with you?”

“You seem to forget who I am, Carly.” Sonny pressed a hand to his chest, his eyes bulging with fury. “I am fucking Sonny Corinthos and no one is going to make me look weak. The only reason Ric is still alive is—” He shook his head and turned away from her.

Pressure built behind her eyes as she struggled to form the next words. “Because Jason refused to do anything. And you don’t have the connections to do it without him.” She fisted her hands at her side. “What, did Jason tell everyone who works under you to leave Ric alone? Did you already try to give the order, Sonny? After everything we talked about—did you try to have Ric killed?”

Sonny didn’t answer her and just poured himself another drink.

“If you touch Scott Baldwin, if you go after Ric, Sonny, after everything we’ve talked about—everything I’ve been through—” Tears slid down her cheek. “That’s it. I’m gone. We’re done.”

He turned back to look at her. “Well, maybe that would be for the best,” he said simply.

Her heart pounding, she nodded. “Yeah, maybe it is. I’ll have Leticia pack Michael up. We’ll go to my mother’s.”

And when Sonny didn’t say anything else, Carly went upstairs and started to pack.

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Taggert had planned to visit Chicago to interview Theresa Lopez, the victim of the April 1999 attack, but he’d gotten lucky — she had flown in for her grandmother’s birthday and agreed to talk to him. Even better, he’d finally managed to convince all three victims from earlier that year to talk to him as well. Provided they met out in the open, away from the PCPD, and not in their own homes.

He spoke to Theresa first. She was no more than five foot three, maybe a hundred and ten pounds with brown eyes and pale skin. In the photos taken in the hospital four years earlier, her had been a deep chestnut brown, worn long with a tendency to curl.

Her attacker, the report read, had wrapped that hair around his first. Smelled it. Commented on it.

It was now short, in what his ex-girlfriend Hannah Scott had called a pixie cut, he remembered. And ash blonde.

He couldn’t blame her.

“Did you find him?” she asked flatly after she took a seat across the table from him, a large flowered purse held in her lap, her arms wrapped around it as if she could use it as a weapon any moment.

“No,” Taggert admitted. “But we have a lead—”

“Great. A lead,” she repeated, those eyes flashing. “You brought this back because maybe—”

“We’ve linked your case to others,” Taggert cut in as gently as possible. “Your kit was processed and came back with a match to a few other open cases. There’s no hit in the national database, but if his profile is ever put in there, we’ll be able to match it. But we’re actively pursuing him, Ms. Lopez.”

Her shoulders deflated and she looked away. “They didn’t test it back then. No suspect. It made no damn sense to me, you know? How the hell do you get a suspect without—” She shook her head. “And the first cop was an ass. He blamed me.”

As that first cop had been that lazy son of a bitch Vinnie Esposito, this didn’t surprise him in the slightest. “You don’t need this from me, but it wasn’t your fault.”

“Yeah, well thousands of dollars in therapy later,” she muttered. She huffed, looked at him. “What do you need from me?”

Taggert hesitated. “I need to take your statement. The one we have is a bit…” Incomplete. Half-assed. “There are questions you weren’t asked. Some ground I wanted to cover.”

“Because there’s this link, you said.” Theresa nodded.

She’d gone to the movies with a friend, she told him. A girl friend, so they’d met there and parted ways. She didn’t have a car then and the theater wasn’t far from her house. If she cut across Port Charles Park, she could be home in ten minutes.

“But I tripped over a stupid rock,” Theresa sighed. “Or a crack in the pavement. I don’t remember now. My sneaker was untied, so I stopped at the fountain.”

“Which one?”

“The one on the north side of the park, closer to the movie theater. It wasn’t really cold. One of the first nights it wasn’t freezing, so I only had a windbreaker on. I sat on the bench, before I could tie my shoe…” Theresa looked away. “He grabbed me. I kicked, tried to scream. I never did see that sneaker again. Flew right off my foot.”

It was sitting in an evidence bag, found soaking wet in the fountain when the crime scene investigators had swept the scene, but Taggert didn’t tell her that.

“He threw me to the ground,” Theresa said, her voice as flat and lifeless. “And he hit me. Hard in the face. And he grabbed my head, slammed it against the ground. I—I saw stars for a minute and by the time I could breathe—he’d flipped me on my stomach and handcuffed me.”

Taggert’s pencil slipped and he looked up. “Handcuffed.”

“Easier to hold me down when I can’t use my hands.” Theresa pressed her lips together. “I guess. I don’t know. He put me on my back. God, my fucking hands hurt. I was terrified, but all I could think was how tight the cuffs were. I didn’t—I didn’t tell that other cop that. I didn’t remember it.”

“It’s okay—”

“I didn’t remember most of it,” she admitted. “Not until later. When my parents made me go to therapy after I tried to kill myself the first time.”  She picked up the glass of water, her hands shaking a little. “But now it’s all I can remember. How much my hands hurt, how my shoulders felt like the muscles were being ripped into two. I guess it distracted me, because the next thing I knew, my jeans were off, and—”

Her voice broke. She took a deep breath. A huge gulp of water. Taggert said nothing, just sat there. Let her do it in her own way.

“He jammed himself inside me, and God it, hurt so fucking much. I wasn’t a virgin, I’d had one boyfriend steady since I was a freshman. Was having sex regularly. I tell you that because I know how it’s supposed to feel—”

“Theresa—”

Her eyes fastened on his. “It’s the only way I got through it.  I cried to my boyfriend in the hospital. I’d felt like I cheated on him, and God, he just—he never said a word against me. I pushed him away. Refused to see him, and he stuck. We’re still together.” She flattened her hand on the table. And now he saw a tiny diamond glinting. “Maybe we wouldn’t have made it if this happened, but he stuck with me through this and I guess once you go through the worst thing and get through the other side, all the other drama seems like bullshit.”

She exhaled slowly. “I don’t know how long it took. It felt like forever. And it felt like a few seconds. He had his hand in my hair the whole time. Talked about how nice it smelled, but it wasn’t the best. It wasn’t right,” she said slowly. “That’s what he said.  He finished, hit me a few more times—and the last time, he hit me so hard, I blacked out. That’s why it got reported. Because I was unconscious, and someone found me. I don’t know if I would have called anyone, and after I met Officer Fuckface, I didn’t want to keep going. Another guy came later. Garcia or something. He was nicer, but I couldn’t—after the first one, I just didn’t want to talk to the PCPD anymore.”

Taggert hesitated. “I’m sorry—”

“He told me that maybe I shouldn’t walk at night,” Theresa said flatly. “Like I’m not a fucking taxpayer. Like it’s my fault some asshole needed to prove something to himself. But I didn’t get angry then. I blamed myself. And after the first six months, I took a bunch of pills and tried to make it stop. But my mom found me and committed me to the psych ward. Told me I had to do something. My boyfriend cried. My dad cried.”

She looked at her hands. “I’d never seen either of them do that and I guess I realized what it would do to them. Even if my pain stopped, theirs would just start. And I didn’t want that. So, I went to therapy. And I got through it.

“Did any of that help?” Theresa asked after a long moment.

“Yeah.” Taggert set his pen down. “I’m sorry that the first cop you talked to was an asshole.  I can’t make excuses for him. And I wish I could promise you I’ll get him. That’s not a guarantee I can make.”

“I guess not.”

“But this case is all I’m working on,” he continued. “And I’m not going to give up until there’s nothing left to do.”

“You said there were others,” Theresa said. “How many?”

“Six,” he admitted. “One before you. Another after you. And then nothing until four this year.”

“Four this year.” She exhaled slowly. “He’s still…he’s still out there.”

“Yeah. But…” He looked at her hair. “Keep the blonde hair. Keep it short.”

“All long-haired brunettes.” Theresa nodded. “I was thinking about growing it out for the wedding next year, but I think I’ll go get my roots touched up.”

She left then, and a half hour later, Dana Watson arrived. She was only twenty-one and according to the photos, in February, she’d been a brunette with long, curly hair.

It was now a chin-length bob, worn stick straight and dyed a firetruck red. And her story was similar to Theresa Lopez. Identical, even, Taggert thought as he considered it later. On her way home from the movies. Had stopped by the angel fountain to check the time on her cell phone because she’d forgotten to put on her watch that morning.

Grabbed. Handcuffed. Hit. Her attacker had also commented on her hair. Had also smelled it. Said it wasn’t right. Had hit her hard enough to knock her unconscious.

Her story, Taggert thought later at his desk at the station, was all but identical to all the other statements. After Theresa and Dana, he’d also met with Renee and Wendy. He’d talked to Veronica Logan on the phone earlier that morning, the last victim from the first round of attacks.

All of them had described stopping at a fountain in the park, being grabbed. Handcuffed, then hit. The attacker had smelled their hair—

And then hit them hard enough to cause unconsciousness when it didn’t smell right.

While Elizabeth’s statement hadn’t been very detailed—Taggert knew she hadn’t remembered a lot of the attack during that first interview—he knew her case was different. She’d walked away from her attack and didn’t report being hit in the face at all.

He wondered, with therapy and the passage of time, if she’d remember any comments about her hair or if she’d been handcuffed. Had that detail come back to her like it had for Theresa?

Six young women with long brown hair had been attacked after her and had been told their hair wasn’t right. They’d been beaten more. Knocked unconscious for someone else to find. It was possible Elizabeth had just been his first victim, someone who whet the appetite for more brutality and sadism, but there was also the distinct possibility that somehow…

Elizabeth had been the trigger, the victim he kept searching out, the attack he kept trying to recreate.

Taggert exhaled slowly and pushed the files away. He’d put it off long enough, but it was time to bring Elizabeth into the investigation.

Port Charles Airport: Arrivals Hall

Kelsey exhaled slowly as she studied the notes Lucky had passed her when they’d left work that night, heading to the airport. She wasn’t nervous.

Not even a little bit.

She’d already met his aunt and his sister. They liked her. Lucky got along with her mother and hadn’t even scowled at Scott Baldwin the night she’d dragged him to dinner with her boss.

Two months into their relationship, everything was going great. They clicked intellectually, he was sexy as hell, great in bed, funny—

Outside of a dormant blood feud with some supervillain and a bout of brainwashing, Lucky Spencer was basically perfect.

So, what the hell was her problem?

Lucky reached over and put a hand on her knee. Kelsey scowled down at it—she hadn’t even realized it was bouncing up and down and she restlessly tapped her foot. “I’m not nervous.”

“Right.”

“I met your aunt.”

“I know.”

“And your sister is crazy. I think she asked me a thousand questions and if she weren’t only eighteen, I’d be worried she was running a background check. But she likes me.”

“So does my aunt.”

Kelsey narrowed her eyes at his easy tone. “I’m not nervous. He’s just your brother.” She huffed. “A Russian prince who has more money than God, a villainous grandmother, and a castle in the middle of the lake. Completely normal.”

“He is normal.” Lucky reached for her hand, covered it with his. “He used to have a giant stick up his ass, but we yanked it out years ago.”

She laughed, rolled her eyes. “Okay, well, that’s a weird thing for brothers to do, but whatever.” She glanced back up at the arrivals board. The private flight from London had landed, which meant the prince was somewhere in Customs. “I guess you read over Taggert’s interview notes from today.”

“Yeah.” Lucky took them back from her. “He’s going to talk to Elizabeth tomorrow. I guess he wants to give her one more night before—”

“All of these women—” Kelsey shook her head. “And the way they talked about the responding officer—Vinnie’s not just lazy, Lucky. He’s a misogynistic asshole who has no business being anywhere near rape victims. And apparently, he was in Special Victims while he was in Buffalo. How many women did he chase away? Did he scare? Blame?”

“Yeah. I know. I read the notes from Theresa’s interview. She attempted suicide six months later. With pills. Just like Brooke.” Lucky was quiet for a long moment. “We put them all through this again, but what did we even learn? Nothing.”

“Hey. Don’t count the statements out yet. We’ll get Elizabeth to come in, do her own follow-up, and then we’ll look at all the cases together. So much about them is the same, you know? But where they’re different—” She touched his arm. “That’s how we’re going to get him. He’s not a mastermind, Lucky. He’s just a sick, sadistic asshole. We know him now.”

“Yeah. Well, we’ll see.” Lucky gestured as a man with dark hair walked through the door of the arrival hall, a few men behind him pushing a baggage cart. “Come meet my brother.”

Kelsey slid her files into her bag and put away dark thoughts of serial rapists. She rose to extend a hand to Nikolas Cassadine, who smiled warmly at her and leaned in to kiss her cheek. “It’s nice to meet you in person.”

“You, as well.” Nikolas released her hand, then rested it on his brother’s shoulder with a teasing grin. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Lucky rolled his eyes but embraced his brother. “You still up for dinner or do you want to head home to get some sleep?”

“I slept on the plane, and I’m looking forward to getting to know Kelsey. You’ve managed to win over our sister, Miss Joyce,” Nikolas said as he took Kelsey’s arm in his. “Do you know hard it is to impress Lesly Lu Spencer?”

“Hopefully harder than it is to impress a Russian prince,” Kelsey offered as they started out of airport. “But I guess we’ll find out.”

PCPD: Conference Room

 Scott leaned back in the chair and grimaced. “Any idea why Elizabeth wanted to meet with the both of us?” he asked Taggert as the lieutenant took his seat. “You think she knows about her case?”

“I don’t know,” Taggert said, tossing a folder on the table. “Spencer swears up and down that he didn’t tell her—that he’s not in any hurry to bring that up for her either. Maybe it’s about the Lansing case.” He shrugged. “Maybe she’s changed her mind about not wanting to go to trial.”

Scott’s grimace deepened. “I could live with that, but—”

The door opened then, and another officer stuck his head in the door. “Miss Webber is here. You ready for her?”

“Yeah, let her in.” Both Scott and Taggert stood as Elizabeth entered in, one of her hands clutching the strap of her purse at the shoulder. “Elizabeth, what’s on your mind?” Scott asked as he gestured for her to take a seat.

“Oh. Well…” Elizabeth sat and waited for them both to retake their seats. “I wanted you both to be the first—well, the first outside of my friends and family to know—because I don’t want either of you to be surprised if it ends up in my medical reports for the trial.” She looked at Scott. “I’m pregnant.”

There was a long beat of silence as Scott digested that news, then looked at Taggert who looked very uncomfortable. “Ah—”

“My doctors—Monica and the OB I’m seeing—they’re going to do what they can to keep it from being obvious. Monica ran some tests at my checkup which gave the positive result, but while she’s consulting with my OB, her name never appears in the file.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I don’t think this counts as something you’d have to tell Ric, right?”

“Ah…” Scott pressed his lips together, still a little thrown. “Ah, no. I don’t think so. I mean, I have to tell him anything that might be evidence of his innocence.” He furrowed his brow. “Maybe if it discredits a witness or contradicts them, but I’ve got a lot of leeway with discretion.” He looked at Taggert. “Now, Ric would claim it’s evidence of an affair, am I right?”

“Yeah, probably.” Taggert cleared his throat, fidgeting slightly in his seat. “But I filed a report on the assault charges at the time. It was, and remains, my official opinion that the Sun was fed a false story in order to shake up the case. That’s the official PCPD statement as well, and Capelli was reprimanded for it.”

He looked at Elizabeth. “Are…are you okay? I mean, it’s not too soon?”

“My OB is optimistic that as long as I try to avoid stress and monitor my vitals I should be okay, but I was worried that Ric might get this information as part of my medical records, and I wanted you to be prepared for it, Mr. Baldwin.”

“Well, I appreciate that, Elizabeth. Like I said, there are a couple of things I’m being forced to hand over to Lansing—because he’s specifically requested it. If, as you say, the breadcrumbs are in your file and he doesn’t notice it, then, well…” Scott shrugged. “Not my problem, right?”

Elizabeth visibly relaxed, her shoulder slumping. “Thank you. I—I’ll be relocating to the Towers, though, starting this weekend. With Ric out on bail, even with the protective order, we’re both worried what he might do if he does figure out I’m pregnant.”

“After what he did when he just thought you were having an affair, I think that’s probably a smart move.”

Elizabeth thanked them again, then left. Scott turned to Taggert and just stared at him, the cop looking down almost blindly at the table.

“Avoid stress,” Scott repeated. “She’s supposed to avoid stress at the same time I’m prepping her to testify against a man who tried to kill her and—” He scowled, thinking back to the therapy notes he’d read. He knew more about Elizabeth Webber’s psyche than he ever needed to know anyone’s. “You’re investigating her rape which was bungled by the cops—”

“It’s more than that,” Taggert said with a sigh. “I interviewed the last of the previous victims today and started to really put together a picture of this guy. Scott, I don’t think Elizabeth is just the first known victim—she might be the first victim. The trigger victim. I think this guy knows her.”

“Fuck me.” Scott scrubbed his hands over his face. “Tell me everything.”