Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting
I’m through with doubt
There’s nothing left for me to figure out
I’ve paid a price, and I’ll keep paying
– Not Ready to Make Nice, Dixie Chicks
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Port Charles Municipal Building: Scott’s Office
Elizabeth flashed Carly a hesitant smile as she stepped into the lobby of Scott’s office and found the pregnant blonde occupying one of the other seats. Scott’s secretary told them both it would be a minute, then stepped out into the hallway.
“Do you know why Scott called us?” Elizabeth asked as she sat next to Carly. “He wouldn’t say over the phone.”
Carly grimaced, shifted in her seat. “No. Just that it was about the case. I thought maybe he wanted to go over my statement…but now that you’re here…” She bit her lip. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s more serious than that.”
God, she hoped nothing had gone wrong with the case. Elizabeth closed her eyes and leaned back against the seat. Her protection hearing was at the end of the week and she wasn’t convinced that the same judge that had let Ric within five feet of her medical care after the embolism would renew the protection order, much less make it permanent.
If the case went south and her protection order expired…
“Hey, sorry to make you guys wait.” Scott gestured for them to go into his office, even helping Carly get to her feet. “How are you feeling today?”
“Just tired,” Carly admitted warily as she lowered herself into a seat at Scott’s conference table. Elizabeth took the seat next to her as Scott closed the door. “What’s up? Did something go wrong with the case?”
“No. It’s moving slow, but it’s moving. We have a preliminary trial date set for November, but I might push that out or Lansing might ask to move it up. We should know in a few weeks for sure.” Scott sat across from them. “I’ve been going over the medical records and your initial statements, and well, last week it occurred it me exactly what it means for Lansing to represent himself.”
Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “Wait, would he be the one cross-examining us?”
“How is that allowed? Letting the defendant near the victims?” Carly demanded. “Why wouldn’t the judge make him have someone else do it—”
“If Lansing weren’t an attorney, the judge would have assigned one to his case to advise him. I might have been able to petition for the other guy to do the questioning, but…” Scott shrugged. “I can’t take this to trial without putting you both on the stand, and you needed to know what that meant.”
Elizabeth looked at Carly, alarmed at her pasty complexion. “Carly, are you—”
“I feel sick,” she muttered, pressing her hand to her abdomen. “You mean he gets to stand in front of me and call me a liar about what he did? He gets to accuse Liz to her face, saying that it was her idea?”
Elizabeth bit her lip. “I haven’t even seen him since he was arrested the first time.” After he’d thrown her around their living room and tried to attack her over that Sun article. “But I didn’t—that means he’s probably representing himself in family court. Didn’t he have a lawyer at that first hearing? Jason said—”
“He fired him. I don’t know what Lansing is thinking, but yeah, I think maybe he is going to be do the presentation on Friday. Which means he’ll be cross-examining you about the assault and—” Scott sighed. “That’s why I asked you both to come in. We got a strong case. And Taggert took this case seriously. Even when your kidnapping veered away from Lansing, Carly, he did everything right, paperwork wise. There’s no technicalities. No corners cut. With the two of you testifying, along with the medical evidence of your overdose and embolism, Elizabeth, I’m gonna put him away for the rest of his natural life.”
“Okay…” Carly tipped her head. “Are you just trying to reassure us?”
“The thing is…reading the statements, looking at the evidence…the two of you have been through hell. And it was bad enough when it was me and some other guy making you relive it. But I don’t know if I feel comfortable asking you to do it when Lansing is the other guy. He’s looking at twenty-five to life on two charges—the kidnapping and the attempted murder. Another ten on the assault earlier that day, Elizabeth. If he were found guilty of all three and sentenced consecutively, that’s sixty years before he gets to think about parole. But if he were to plead guilty—if we avoided a trial—”
Elizabeth blinked, looked at Carly whose eyes were wide. “But this is good publicity for you, Scott. I know how hard you’ve worked for us. I mean, you got those contempt charges when it looked like the judge might let Ric win my power of attorney—”
“Yeah, I mean, don’t you take a hit if you plead it down?” Carly asked. Her color had returned.
“Maybe,” Scott admitted. “If we go that route, I mean, it’d be nice if you two would release a statement saying we decided it together, but I just—” He shook his head. “The PCPD has done enough damage here, and my office wasn’t much better. We knew who kidnapped you that first night, Carly. We knew he was probably drugging you, Elizabeth. And we didn’t do enough. I can’t ask either of you to put your lives on hold for six more months, at best, and then let that scumbag torture you on the stand.”
“What would you offer him?” Elizabeth asked softly. “Not that—I just want to know. Because I really like the idea of him rotting away in prison.”
“Yeah, in a small cell with other people bringing him food and never seeing the light of day,” Carly muttered. “If we could swing solitary confinement, that’d be great—”
“Well, I’d open with twenty-five to life on the kidnapping and ten for assault. Basically, cut that sixty years almost in half, and see where the negotiations go from there.”
“You would drop the attempted murder charge,” Elizabeth murmured. She rubbed her chest, still remembering the pain and pressure before the embolism. “What about the overdose?”
“We have a little less evidence there without the overall murder charge.” Scott grimaced. “I don’t love it, but it’s a place to open the bargaining.”
“What’s the bottom line, then?” Carly raised her brows. “What’s the least you’d take before you walked away? If I’m giving up the idea of putting him away for sixty years, then I wanna know what we might expect—”
“I’d probably drop the negotiations if we got less than fifteen to life. I think fifteen is rock bottom, and he knows it. He’d probably accept it.”
“Fifteen years,” Elizabeth murmured. He’d be gone, out of their lives for fifteen years. Long enough to forget him, maybe. “I don’t know.”
“You know what? Let’s revisit this after the hearing on Friday.” Carly looked at Elizabeth. “I might have to testify. Your lawyer asked me to, and it’ll be…it’ll be a test run.” She looked back at Scott. “I get what you’re trying to do, Scott. And I appreciate it. Is there any other reason you might not want to go to trial? Is it just us?”
Scott pressed his lips together. “I think your mother might have told you that Lansing has subpoenaed your medical records and Elizabeth’s. Once he saw the referrals to therapists, he also asked for Kevin and Gail’s records—”
“Wait, what?” Carly demanded, leaning forward as Elizabeth’s stomach pitched. “He can’t have those—”
“I’m asking for the judge to appoint a special master to make that distinction, but…anything that goes to credibility…the thing is, Carly…”
“It wasn’t just my records he asked for,” Carly muttered, pressing a hand to her face. “Well, we’re in luck—Sonny’s never talked to a—” She scowled. “Scott, don’t tell me you’re turning over my mother’s statement—”
“She hasn’t officially made one. I’m dancing on an ethical line there because I know she’s got information that I haven’t asked for. But the last thing I want to do is piss Bobbie off or make this worse. I’m filing an injunction—Sonny was tangential at best to your rescue. The ultimate information came from the security footage and the real estate agent. The fact that Sonny called Jason isn’t important. I can call anyone else who watched that video.”
“But a deal would keep all of that off the table,” Elizabeth said slowly. She sighed. “Carly’s right. I think we should revisit this after the hearing.”
A hearing where it would be Ric questioning her instead of some random lawyer. God help them all.
PCPD: Commissioner’s Office
Taggert stormed into Mac’s office and threw a file down on his desk. With some trepidation, Mac looked down and saw the name Webber, Elizabeth scrawled on the tab, along with a notation that the case had been closed.
“You know where that was?” Taggert demanded. “You wanna know where the rookies found this?” He leaned over Mac’s desk, planting his hands on the edge. “Not in cold storage. In the closed archives.”
“Falconieri and Rodriguez thought it was a mistake—you know, there was a confession, maybe the cop who put away just got it wrong. I could tell Spencer didn’t buy it, and you know why? Because he knows I’m the one that put that case on the inactive list.” Taggert bared his teeth as he growled. “Because I personally walked that fucking box down to cold storage myself and put it on a shelf. What the hell happened to her case, Mac?”
Mac slowly got to his feet. “It must have been a mistake,” he said, but his voice sounded weak even to his own ears. “Taggert—”
“The dress you told me you sent to testing? It’s still in the fucking box. It wasn’t supposed to be in there. It wasn’t when I walked that box down there. It was in in the evidence locker, and what’s worse—it hasn’t been touched since we checked it into evidence in March of 1998. You falsified a lab report.” Taggert shook his head. “I don’t know what the fuck is going on, but—”
“I’ll look into it—”
“Spencer gave you a report with her case listed as one that should be reopened and pulled. And you edited that report before it went to the DA—you took the Webber case off the list—What the hell—”
“Her case has another suspect—it would be harder to link it—” Mac shook his head. “I was going to talk to you about it today. As for why it wasn’t in cold storage, I don’t know. I’ll look into it,” he repeated.
“Don’t bother.” Taggert grabbed the file back from Mac’s desk. “From now on, only my team comes near these cases. And I’m reopening the Webber case.” He arched a brow at his boss. “Anything you want to tell me before I dig deeper? Because if Baker isn’t the guy, and we could have known that five years ago—”
“Do you know how close we are to running out time on the statute because you didn’t process her fucking kit?” Taggert snarled. “We got five years from the date she turns eighteen. We got until November 1 this year to get, at least, a DNA profile. And the only reason we got a break is the poor kid was sixteen when the whole thing happened. If she’d been an adult, we’d be out of luck.” He shook his head. “This is bullshit.”
He stormed back out the way he’d come, and Mac sat down at his desk, staring blindly at the blotter in front of him. God help him, he’d really thought Tom Baker had raped Elizabeth Webber. He hadn’t thought they’d get any DNA running her dress since it had been turned over to the hospital several days after her rape—so he’d gone along with Floyd, thinking that it might be their best bet to make sure Baker did time for something.
But if Baker had been innocent of the rape—
If Elizabeth’s rapist had continued his rampage and raped six more girls—including Brooke Lynn—
How was Mac ever going to live with himself?
Harborview Towers: Lobby
Elizabeth kept her expression carefully blank as her elevator was boarded just before the doors closed. Courtney Matthews hesitated before crossing the threshold but eventually stepped into the elevator and then stood in the opposite corner.
She looked at the button lit up on the panel, then stared straight ahead as the doors closed and the car began its ascent. “I didn’t think Jason was staying here these days. Didn’t he take a room at Jake’s?”
Elizabeth bit her lip before answering. “He did, but he had a meeting he couldn’t take at the warehouse.” She shifted her weight from one foot to the other. What to say to the woman that had once been engaged to your boyfriend? Especially the woman who had been…basically jilted at the altar even though the ceremony had actually been canceled because of Carly’s kidnapping, not because Jason had left Courtney for Elizabeth.
The elevator climbed slowly to the penthouse level as Elizabeth dug her fingers tightly into the strap of her purse.
“I can’t stop being angry at you,” Courtney finally said as the elevator reached the eighth floor. “I know you weren’t having an affair before Jason broke the engagement, but I still can’t seem to make myself any less angry or not hate you. Because if you’d just…” She shook her head with a rueful laugh. “If you hadn’t believed him, if you hadn’t helped to find Carly—God, maybe he wouldn’t have been so angry with me.”
“But no. You had to go and prove how much more well-suited you are for his life than I am. I loved him, Elizabeth. That wasn’t a lie.”
“I didn’t think it was—”
“And I was humiliated when he left me. When those tabloids said he was at your house every day—you were calling him, checking in, and damn you, he looked forward to those calls—” Her voice broke as the elevator opened on their floor.
Courtney stepped off, started for Sonny and Carly’s penthouse but then whirled around to face her. “He never loved me. I get it now, but you know what should worry you, Elizabeth? How easy it was for him to lie about it. He lied to me, he lied to you, but he lied to himself—” She shook her head. “It should worry you that he could stop giving a damn about me like he flipped a switch in his head. Maybe the doctors were right—maybe he really is damaged—”
“Stop—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “You’re hurt. And none of us look great in this situation. Yes, Jason and I are together now. And yes, we’ve been together almost since you two broke up. But you were my friend and you went after him—”
“He sure didn’t run away,” Courtney snapped. “I went after him, but he didn’t seem to mind it.” She smirked. “We were sleeping together by Christmas. Did you know that?”
“Did you know he and I nearly got back together that November?” Elizabeth said softly, not even a little threatened by Courtney’s revelation. After all, hadn’t she run away from Jason? Run to Lucky? Run to Zander, to Ric?
Wasn’t Jason allowed to be lonely?
Courtney pressed her lips together. “So, what—I was nothing more than a rebound—”
“That’s not for me to answer, Courtney. Jason and I had our problems, and we both ran from them. We’re really good at running, and we’ve been doing it for years. I’m sorry you were hurt. I know Jason cared about you—”
Courtney threw up her hands as if to ward off Elizabeth’s empathy. “Don’t bother trying to make yourself look good. He was engaged to me and that didn’t seem to bother you at all.”
“And he had broken up with you before anything happened. You know that Courtney. You know he broke up with you before you took Michael to the island. Before I got sick. And yeah, he broke up with you in part because of me, but it was because of you, too. I believed Ric had kidnapped Carly, and I believed he was drugging me. I let Jason search my home. I let him install cameras and surveillance. You called the cops who searched his home.”
“I called the cops because of Carly—”
“And that’s why Jason broke up with you. Because you don’t want to live in a world where your best friend gets kidnapped and you can’t call the police as a first choice—”
“I just—” Courtney’s voice broke. “I just thought if Jason could call the cops last year, why couldn’t I? Why was it okay for him to work with Taggert for you and not Carly?”
Elizabeth sighed. “Courtney—”
“Just save it. You’ve got all the answers, don’t you? You and Jason are this great, epic love story and people like me are just the obstacles on the road to your true love,” she spat out. “Lucky, me, Zander—we’re just roadkill.”
She spun around and slammed the penthouse door. Belatedly, Elizabeth realized that in the tiny hallway outside of the Corinthos penthouse, stood poor Max Giambetti, Sonny’s guard when the penthouse was occupied.
“Miss Webber,” Max said blandly. He carefully kept his eyes forward. “Nice to see you looking so well.”
“Nice to see you, too,” Elizabeth muttered before walking over to Jason’s penthouse. She knocked lightly, hoping she wasn’t interrupting his meeting.
Jason pulled open the door and she bit her lip, finding Bernie, their business manager, sitting on the sofa. “Oh, hey, I thought you’d be done by now—”
“We’re just talking about regular business now,” he told her, catching her elbow as Elizabeth turned to leave. “And we’re almost done.” He kissed her, his hand sliding from her elbow to her wrist. “Your pulse is racing,” he said, drawing back, his brow furrowed. “Are you okay?”
She very nearly rolled her eyes, but she accepted that it was going to take longer than three weeks for Jason to stop monitoring every little change in her health. “Yeah. It’s just been a long morning. I’m sorry to interrupt—”
“I’ll just leave these contracts here for you,” Bernie said as he slid the last of his paperwork into his briefcase. “We really were done, Miss Webber.” He got to his feet. “It’s good to see you on your feet again.”
When he’d left, Elizabeth sighed and dropped her purse on Jason’s desk. “Now I know why you never come here anymore. I ran into Courtney on the elevator.”
“I just thought it would be better if I gave her some space until she figures out what to do about…” Jason shrugged, sitting on the arm of his sofa. “I mean, your condo is good, and the security upgrade is okay but—”
“It’s not quite the bulletproof fortress this place is,” Elizabeth finished. She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned in to kiss him again. “It’s okay. It’s awkward, and she has every right to be angry at us both. I mean, at least you didn’t actually marry a sociopath who tried to kill you.”
Jason grimaced and drew her in more closely against him. “I hate that I hurt her, but if I had gone through with it just because I didn’t want to be a bad guy or because she’s Sonny’s sister, it would have been worse.”
“She did say something interesting that I wanted to ask you about,” Elizabeth said, tilting her head to the side, her fingers playing the hair at nape of his neck. “She said she thought it would be okay to call the police because you’d worked with Taggert for me.”
Jason frowned. “Yeah. I told you about it in the hospital, remember?”
“Yeah.” Elizabeth smiled at him. “But we were talking about something else and I never really thought about it after that. I just…I wish I had known, that’s all.”
“Jason, half the problems we had last summer was because neither one of us was being all that up front about how we felt. If I knew you’d cooperated with the police—Taggert specifically—to find me, let me tell you, I wouldn’t have had any doubts in my mind about how you felt.”
“I was desperate,” Jason admitted. “Courtney probably knows because of AJ. I went to the Quartermaines—Edward blackmailed me into dinner—”
“Cooperation with Taggert and dinner at the Quartermaines?” Elizabeth smirked. “That’s a declaration of love right there. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“It didn’t seem important,” he said with a shrug. “We found you. You were alive.” And that was true—Jason wasn’t the kind of guy to broadcast anything that might put him in the position of being a hero. He’d done what he’d done to find her, and once he had, he probably hadn’t thought about it again. “Does it really matter?”
“No, but it’s nice to know.” She pressed her lips together. “That’s a lie. Yeah, it matters. Because I was a mess last summer. I thought we were going somewhere, but you kept leaving for Sonny and Carly, and then not making a move—I thought I was imagining things and I made…choices based on that. But knowing what you went through to find me—I wasn’t imagining any of it.”
“I wish I could have handled everything better. Been more honest with you.” He sighed. “But I guess I wasn’t ready to do that yet.”
“Yeah. Well, it’s not your fault I have this thing about people who stay…” She shook her head. “Anyway. I came over to tell you about my meeting with Scott.”
Jason frowned at the change in topic, but he allowed it. He straightened, and she stepped back. “What happened at the meeting? I found out after you left that Carly got called there, too.”
“Yeah, he wanted to talk to us about the case.” Elizabeth dropped onto the sofa with a huff. “Ric is going to be representing himself at the trial—and probably at the hearing on Friday.”
Jason scowled, taking a seat next to her, turning to face her slightly. “What does that mean? Why does that change the case?”
“It doesn’t, but Scott wanted to make sure Carly and I understood that a trial where Ric is his own attorney means he’ll be questioning us.”
“What? Can’t he stop that—”
“Not really. Which also means he’ll be questioning us on Friday. Scott…isn’t sure he wants to put us through that. He said the case is rock solid, but…” Elizabeth shrugged and picked at a loose thread on her jeans. “It doesn’t mean it won’t suck. Particularly since Ric subpoenaed records from Kevin and Gail. Scott’s trying to keep that access limited, but—” She looked at Jason with some trepidation. “Ric also subpoenaed Sonny’s medical records.”
Jason winced. “Well, there’s nothing to find in the records, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things Ric could do.” He hesitated. “Are you okay…with testifying?”
“Well, that’s the thing. Scott offered—he thinks if he drops the attempted murder charges, he could get Ric to plead to just the kidnapping.”
“But that’s almost your entire case,” Jason told her. “And isn’t the kidnapping only twenty-five years? That’s cutting it in half—Damn Baldwin—”
“The whole point of a plea deal is to make it attractive enough for Ric to take it. My case isn’t as solid on its own, and there’s still a chance Ric could ask for a severance. And then it’s just my medical records and Carly. Which means—”
“You’d have to testify a third time—” Jason shook his head. “So, Baldwin wants to plead it out—”
“He could probably get life without parole in a trial, Jason. Carly’s case is really strong. If it went to trial—Ric would get put away for probably the rest of his life. Baldwin isn’t asking because of the strength of the case. I honestly think he wants to spare us.”
“He’s close to Bobbie,” Jason admitted. “He never did go after us for search warrants on the warehouse—And he got himself charged with contempt over your case.” He hesitated. “Is that what you want? To avoid testifying?”
“Well, Diane isn’t really that hopeful that we’ll get the protection order renewed on Friday,” Elizabeth admitted. “I talked to her after the meeting with Scott. She thinks Ric is going to go after you. And since the judge is the same guy who gave Ric that injunction—”
“He’ll paint himself as the wronged husband with an adulterous wife who is now public with the guy from the papers.” Jason exhaled slowly. “What about Carly?”
“She said she’d testify, but honestly, Jason, I don’t know if I want to go through with testifying at the hearing at all. Ric is in Crimson Point. Carly and I are surrounded by guards. If I testify at that hearing, it’s going to be about you and me, not what Ric did to me.”
He put an arm around her and drew her in closer. “What do you want to do about the trial?”
“Diane said Ric won’t be able to use you against me the same way. Not with Carly’s case at the same time. And all of the medical experts and witnesses can testify—” She hesitated. “We’ll go to the hearing, but I’m not going to push the order hard. I want to testify at the trial, though. I want to go to trial. I mean, if Carly doesn’t want to, that’s okay with me. And we can handle it that way, but…” She took his other hand and laced their fingers together. “I know…we don’t really talk much about what’s going to happen to Ric after he’s sentenced. I mean, once he’s in jail.”
“But Carly and I were talking about how long he’d be in jail, and I realized…I want him to rot in prison. I want him to be locked away, in a cell.” She looked up at him, meeting his eyes. “I get there may be reasons I can’t…that it can’t happen that way, but if there’s a way that it can…”
He was quiet for a long moment, but then nodded. “If that’s what you need—if that’s what Carly needs, then that’s what will happen.”
“Are you sure? Because—”
“This time, I’m listening to you,” he cut in. “And if this is something you need to get past this, that’s what matters to me. How I feel about him? Not gonna change if he’s dead.” He winced, as if the blunt statement had gone too far. “Anyway—”
“Thank you,” she said. She turned slightly to slid her arms around his neck and kissed him. “Thank you.”
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
Sonny waited until after dinner had been cleaned up and they’d put Michael down to bed that night before asking Carly about her meeting. She had remained at the dinner table, going over some paperwork from the club and didn’t notice at first when he’d come down from tucking Michael in.
He pulled out the chair across from her, sat in it, but didn’t pull himself to the table, angling the chair slightly out towards the rest of the room. “Are you ready to tell me what happened in the meeting today?”
Carly looked up at him, sighed, and put down her paperwork. She didn’t say anything.
“You didn’t say anything when you got home,” Sonny continued. “What happened? It can’t be that bad, Carly. If they’d dropped the charges or anything else ridiculous, I’d know. It’d be all over the news.”
She sighed. “No, it’s not bad news. I just…I knew it would be an argument, Sonny. And I just…” Her brown eyes, so often lit with humor or mischief, were dull now. Fatigued.
“He called me…and asked Elizabeth to come in as well to…ask us how we wanted this to happen.” She grimaced. “The trial, I mean.”
Sonny tilted his head. “What do you mean? You’ll testify, Ric will go to jail.” Where he would meet with a very much deserved accident.
“Yeah, well, Scott is taking into consideration that Ric is defending himself. Which means when I testify, when Elizabeth testifies…it’s him we face. Not some lawyer I don’t know. But the man who actually…” She looked away.
Rage, always simmering beneath the surface, boiled over, but Sonny kept his face calm. His voice even. “I hadn’t…I hadn’t thought about it that way.”
“I guess we hadn’t either. As bad as it will be for me, I didn’t…I didn’t spend time with Ric the way Elizabeth did,” Carly admitted. “He doesn’t know the buttons to push. He didn’t spend all those months manipulating me. He’s going to get into that courtroom and he’s going to blame it on the miscarriage, and God, Sonny, I’ve lost a child. All I can think about is her on the stand having to deal with that, and I get sick to my stomach. I don’t want to face him. I don’t want to look at him. And I don’t want Elizabeth to do it either.”
“And Baldwin is going to force you do it?” Sonny demanded. “Can’t he just find a way to do this without you?”
“He has,” Carly said. “That’s why he called us in. Ric also subpoenaed our therapist’s records.” Her eyes shifted away for a moment before returning to him. “He suggested maybe he could plead Ric out. Avoid a trial.”
A deal would be good. Faster. Sonny could arrange for that accident by the end of the year. “Why would you think this would be an argument?”
“Because I can practically see what you’re thinking right now. A deal gets this over faster, and Ric can die in prison.”
Sonny shrugged slightly. “That’s the plan, isn’t? Trial or now. He doesn’t get to live, Carly. Kidnapping you. Locking you in the room. Nearly killing Elizabeth. We’re done with him—” He stopped. “Exactly what is it that you think is supposed to happen?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t want to think about it. But now…we asked Scott for time. To get through the hearing on Friday…but…” Carly met his eyes. “I think I have to testify, Sonny. I have to get on the stand and face him. I don’t think I’m going to get past this unless I do.”
“Okay, I can see that. I don’t like it, but I can see it. And if I know Elizabeth at all, I figure she’ll probably come to the same conclusion. Or I hope so. I think you’re right. I think it’ll be good for both of you to face that bastard. Put him behind you.” Sonny frowned. “What are we arguing about then—” He stopped. “No.”
“I also want him to rot in prison,” Carly murmured. “So that I can go see him once in a while. See him in that ugly prison clothing. Without his manicures. Without his fancy clothing. I want to see him broken. And I want to see it repeatedly. He wanted me to live in that box until I had my baby, and then he was going to kill me. I want him to live every day in a small box until he goes mad, and I want him to always remember who put him there. I want him to rot away slowly, Sonny.” She paused. “I don’t want you to do anything.”
The image she painted was seductive and he was nearly swayed. But every moment Ric was alive was a moment that son of bitch hadn’t earned. He’d signed his death warrant and leaving him alive at this point would be a sign of weakness Sonny simply couldn’t afford.
“I get why you want that,” he said slowly. “But I can’t do it. He needs to die, Carly. And I need to be the one to do it.”
“Look, this happened to you. And it happened to Elizabeth. Don’t think Jason and I don’t know that. That we don’t grieve for all we could have done to stop it. To keep you from hurting, but I promise you he wants Ric’s blood as much as I do.”
“No, no. This happened to you. And it should be about you,” Sonny agreed. “And I get that. But, damn it, Carly, I went through it, too.” And now his voice cracked. He looked away. “Not knowing if you were still alive—I—I fell apart, Carly. I know that, and this—this is how I can make it right. Jason, Bobbie, and Elizabeth ran themselves ragged trying to find you, tearing that house apart—”
While he had babbled like an idiot, hallucinating back here in the penthouse, wallowing in own self-pity. No—this was his chance to finally do something right. Something he should have done months ago when Ric had showed his true colors. He’d let the bastard live to torture his family.
He pushed away from the table, stood. “This happened to you, and it happened to Elizabeth. But we went through it, too. Testify. Face the demons. We can talk about how long I’ll wait. A year, two. You can visit him, see him begin to rot. But that’s all I can give you.”
Carly exhaled slowly. Also stood. “I would never pretend that you and Jason, that my mother and Courtney—that there wasn’t suffering. Worry. Terror. I get that. But you were all bystanders. Collateral damage.”
She picked up her purse, looped the strap over her shoulder and edged around the table, away from Sonny. Toward the door.
“I don’t know what Elizabeth wants to do,” Carly said. “And that’s something she and I will decide, but you know what? She and I will decide, and I can promise you, Sonny, that when Elizabeth tells Jason how she wants to handle it, he’ll listen to her. That’s how much he loves her. I just wish I could say the same.”
“Damn it, Carly—”
“I’m going to talk to my mother. We’ll—” Carly stopped at the door. “You’re angry now,” she said gently. “And the thought of letting Ric rot in prison probably never crossed your mind. So, we’ll talk about this later.”
But she had already slipped out the door, and to be quite honest, Sonny wasn’t sure what he would have said if she’d turned back.