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.”
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.”
“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.”