Chapter Forty-Nine

This entry is part 30 of 31 in the series All of Me

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here
Dare You To Move, Switchfoot


Thursday, September 25, 2003

General Hospital: ICU

Lucky’s chest eased as Kelsey opened her eyes, just a sliver of brown as she shifted and turned her head slightly. “What—” Her voice was little more than a raspy whisper. “What happened?”

“You were pushed down the stairs at work.” He leaned forward, taking a hand in his. “You hit your head.”

“Oh. Ow.” She closed her eyes again. “Am I okay? Why does everything hurt?”

“You cracked some ribs. And broke your ankle. But you had—” He had to stop. Take a breath. Remind himself she was okay. “You had a head injury. A brain bleed.”

“B-brain—” Her eyes opened again, wider now. “What?”

“You’re okay,” Lucky added, quickly. He kissed her palm. “The doctors say you’ll be fine.”

“The warrant—did—I was getting a warrant—”

“We got him, Kelse. He got a call from a cop in Buffalo about you asking for his cases, and he went after you to give him time for his grand finale.” Lucky grimaced. “He attacked Elizabeth—she’s okay,” he assured her when she gasped. “She took him out with a baseball bat. She’s here for observation because of the baby, but she’s okay. We got him. He got moved into lock up earlier.”

“We got him.” Her eyes fluttered close again. “She got him. Did you—”

“We sent out the DNA for a match, but we already charged him with your attack and Elizabeth’s. He’s not going anywhere.” He managed a smile. “Now you can just focus on getting better and out of this hospital.”

“You’re up!”

Lucky turned to find the disheveled district attorney at the door, with Bobbie just on his heels.  “She woke up just a few minutes ago.”

“Hey, sweetheart.” Scott hurried to the other side of the bed to take Kelsey’s other hand. Lucky got to his feet and took the coffee his aunt offered him. “Your mom is on her way up here—”

“Great. Just what I need,” Kelsey muttered.

“Scott, why don’t I go get one of her doctors while you tell them the good news?” Bobbie said, putting a hand on Scott’s shoulder.

“What? Oh. Yeah. Yeah.”

“I’m glad you’re awake and doing better, honey.” Bobbie patted the leg that wasn’t wrapped up in a cast and raised up in the air slightly.

“What good news?” Lucky asked as his aunt left the room. “We couldn’t have gotten DNA back yet—”

“We won’t need it.” Scott looked at Kelsey with a smile, before looking back at Lucky. “I’ve been in a meeting with Vinnie’s newly appointed lawyer. You and Spencer—you put together a tight case. We have the contact with Elizabeth, the contact with cases involving the other victims. We have Baker’s statement, naming him as the cop who confessed to him about Elizabeth. Emily identified him as one of Baker’s security during her photoshoots, and we got word from Brenda Barrett that she also knew Vinnie.”

“Wait—” Lucky held up a hand. “He’s confessing to the rapes? Not just yesterday—”

“He knows the DNA is going to match. He’s looking at seven separate rapes in the first degree, two of which were against minors. Outside the attacks yesterday, at trial, he’ll get seven consecutive sentences of 25 years to life.”

Kelsey sighed. “You’re pleading him down to a single sentence of 25 years, aren’t you?”

“I’ve contacted the other victims. Even Elizabeth Webber.” Scott shrugged. “Up to me, I’d lock the door and forget about him for two hundred years. But the others—”

“They just want it over.” Kelsey looked at Lucky. “I can’t blame them.”

“He’s young, Scott,” Lucky said quietly. “In twenty-five years—”

“He’ll be up for parole,” Scott told him. “But I will crawl out of my nursing home to bring those DNA reports to a parole hearing. He’s pleading to Elizabeth Webber’s rape and the attack yesterday. She deserves that. But his DNA matching in six other rapes? That keeps the door locked.”

He met Lucky’s eyes. “He’s not getting out. It’s over.”

“Yeah. Yeah. I guess—I don’t know. It feels like it’s not enough.”

“There is nothing we could ever do to make him pay enough for what he did to all of those girls. To Kelsey. We can’t bring Brooke Lynn Ashton back. But that’s the job, Spencer. Sometimes…throwing away the key is all we can do.”

“Thank you.” Lucky grimaced as Scott raised his eyes. “I know you’re the one that told Ned Ashton what happened to Elizabeth. I know you did it to get back at Floyd, mainly, but Ned and Elizabeth both deserved to know it.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Scott shrugged. He leaned over to kiss Kelsey’s forehead. “I better go check in with your mother. See how long before she gets into town.”

“Thank you,” Kelsey murmured once Scott had left and they were alone again. “I know he’s not your favorite person—”

“If that guy had been investigating my mom’s case last year—” Lucky shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe he turned himself around or something.” He smoothed her hair back, off her forehead, leaving his hand resting lightly against her skin. “You scared me.”

“That wasn’t the plan,” she murmured. “But hey, you’re a cop, so it’s only a matter of time before you’re in this bed, and I’m the scared one.”

“Yeah, well, let’s try not to do this again any time soon.” He hesitated. “I love you, you know.”

“Yeah.” Kelsey opened her eyes again, that smirk he’d fallen for all those weeks ago back in her eyes. “I know. I love you, too.”

Port Charles Hotel: Owner’s Suite

An exhausted Lois opened the door, her face lined with an obvious lack of sleep and her eyes red and puffy. “Hey.” Ned stepped forward to embrace her tightly.

“Hey.” She stepped back, kissed his cheek, and gestured for him to come into her room. “I’m sorry. I only got in around midnight.”

“Yeah, I asked the front desk to call when you checked in. I hope that’s okay.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Lois shook her head, sat back on the sofa, and wrapped the ends of her cardigan more tightly around her torso. “I can’t seem—I can’t seem to make this work in my head.” She gestured at the television where WXPC News at Noon was muted. “They’ve been running the story all day, and I know what Alexis said on the phone—”

“Yeah. It—” Ned sat down, looked at the screen where the news anchor was speaking, a photograph of Brooke positioned in the upper right corner. “I thought when we knew—”

“I thought it’d be some stranger,” Lois murmured. “Someone we never knew. Not—” She looked at him, the tears sliding down her cheeks. “She knew him, Ned. Vinnie grew up down the street from her. They were never close—he’s older. But he knew her.”

She pressed her fist to her mouth. “I keep thinking maybe that’s why she did it. Maybe she remembered and she needed that image to go away. How—”

Ned slid closer to her and put an arm around her, drawing her in closer. “I know. I wondered, too.”

“Olivia called me as I was getting my things together, and she was—she was crying. Frannie—Vinnie’s ma—she was at my door, blubbering, trying to explain it was all a mistake, and I just kept—” She squeezed her eyes shut.  “Did he go after her because he knew her?”

“Why—”

“The reports said that he went after one of his other victims—Elizabeth Webber—that he went after her again yesterday because he knew her. A-And—” Her voice trembled. “He knew her then, didn’t he?”

“I don’t—” Ned exhaled slowly. “I got a case update this morning from Taggert. That’s the operating theory. He was one of her regulars at Kelly’s, and he started following her around—”

“Jesus. She was just a baby.” Lois lunged to her feet. “I did the math. Sixteen years old, and a grown man—a cop following her around. What? One night, it was just too much and he grabbed her?”

“Yeah. And then he attacked other girls who looked like her every time he came across Elizabeth. He was at the garage fire when Lucky Spencer—” Ned shook his head. “And in Buffalo, he attacked girls on the anniversary of her rape. Taggert said he kept picking girls who looked like Elizabeth, who left the movies, and stopped at a fountain—”

Lois shook her head. “Stop, stop.  I get it.”

“I got another call on my way over. Scott Baldwin said he’s been in contact with the other victims, and he wanted my input. Vinnie’s asking for a deal. He wants to plead guilty—”

“You tell him to go to hell!” Lois snarled. “You tell him that we will see him fry—”

“The case is airtight, Lois. The DNA is gonna match. But a trial means all those women have to testify. Be cross-examined—”

“In front of the man who raped them.” She sighed. Leaned her head against the window that overlooked the park. God, she could see the fountain where her daughter had been stolen from her. “Yeah. I guess that makes sense.” She pursed her lips. “What’s the deal Baldwin wants to make?”

“Twenty-five to life for rape in the first degree of Elizabeth Webber, aged sixteen.”

“Just her case—” Lois furrowed her brow. “Why—”

“Because he’ll never plead to all seven of them. And Elizabeth’s case started it all. She ended it yesterday with a baseball bat. She said she would come to the hearing, give a victim impact statement if we needed. No one else would. It was hard enough to get the other women to sit down for an interview, Lois. We can’t ask them to do more.”

“They want it over.” Lois rubbed her fist against her chest. “He’s only twenty-nine years old, Ned. Twenty-five years—he’ll be in his fifties—”

“And we’ll go to his parole hearing with his DNA match in every other case. Scott said he’d make it a point to make sure the DA’s office fought parole. And honestly, Lois—” Ned offered her a grim smile. “How long do you think Vinnie’s gonna live in prison after raping Jason Morgan’s girlfriend?”

Lois exhaled slowly. “I believe in the system most of the time,” she said finally. “But there are just some people who don’t deserve to live. But he can’t get the death penalty for our girl. He should. Because Brookie? That’s on him. He did that to her.”

“I know, baby—”

“But you’re right. A trial would make this all last so much longer. If he’s willing to sign a deal today—” She pressed her lips together. “If that part of it can be over today, we can all find a way to move on. I mean, nothing is bringing back our little girl, so better if it’s just over.”

“I told Scott to go ahead,” Ned admitted, “but I warned him I hadn’t run it past you. He assured me if one of the women or you or I had vetoed it, he’d go forward with our charges.”

“I appreciate it. At least something in this town is working right.” Lois looked back out over the park that stretched along several city blocks in downtown Port Charles. “You wipe the floor with Garrett Floyd in November, Neddy. And you make this a better place.”

“That’s the plan.” He put his hands on her shoulders and rubbed them lightly. “Come to the house. Lila is worried about you. And we have a better view.”

“Yeah. You’re not wrong. Thanks.”

Port Charles Police Department: Lock-Up

Dante was grimly pleased when he found his cousin laying on his back in the cell, moaning slightly. Vinnie’s face was bruised and cut from where he’d busted his cheekbone on Elizabeth Webber’s bed, and Dante knew the asshole was walking with a limp from the hit he’d taken from the bat.

He only wished Jason Morgan had had a chance to go after him—to finish the job.

“Hey, Cuz,” Dante said with a pleasant smile he didn’t feel. “Bad day?”

“Go to hell,” Vinnie muttered.

“Just found out my cousin is a dirty cop who brutally raped and beat seven women that we know of, so I don’t know, I kind of think I’m already there.” Dante tipped his head, jerked his chin out. “Why Brooke?”

“What?” Vinnie turned his head and looked at him, his brown eyes blood shot. “What?”

“You knew her. You went to her Communion. Her birthday parties. She and the Cerullos—they’re family. Why Brooke?”

It was a horrible ache in his chest, in his head, a rage coursing through his blood. Blood he shared with the animal locked in his cell. He had to know. He had to understand how someone he’d known all his life could hide this part of him.

“You really wanna know?” Vinnie looked back up the ceiling. “I mean, Dante, if you really wanna know, I’ll tell you.”

Dante closed his eyes, took a deep breath. “Yeah, Vin. I really wanna know.”

“I thought it would be like the first time.” Vinnie’s voice turned slightly wistful. “You know the first time you’re with a girl, and it’s everything you pictured? Everything you fantasized about? I kept trying to figure out why it was never right.”

Oh, God. Dante’s stomach pitched, but he kept his features even. “That’s what you always told them. It was never right.”

“You didn’t know Elizabeth back then. You should get some pictures.” Vinnie laughed, a slow, smooth chuckle like they were trading stories in a bar. “She was hot. I saw her when she first moved here that summer. High cut shorts, low cut tops. Oh, man. She had a way of smiling at you—”

Jesus Christ. He knew from Elizabeth’s file that Vinnie was waxing poetic about a fifteen-year-old girl. “Why didn’t you just ask her out?” he forced himself to ask.

“Thought about it. But I figured her old bat of a grandmother wouldn’t like it. Would tell her no. I’m not that much older than her, but you know how some bitches are about that shit.”

“That doesn’t explain Brooke—”

“For months, I followed her around, waiting for an opening. Hoping she’d look at me, that she’d give me that smile—but that night at the movies—I saw her dress. She wanted it, man. Dressed in that slutty red dress, mmm….”

Bile rose in his throat, but Dante swallowed hard. He needed to hear it. He needed to hear him say it, to admit it. “Get to Brooke—”

“I thought about going after Elizabeth again. Followed her a couple of times, but she never went anywhere alone at dark again. So, I tried to find someone else. Someone who looked like her. I followed them, just like her. They had her hair—and you know, if they stopped at the fountain—it was a sign that it meant to be.”

Vinnie sighed, almost sadly. “But it was never right. They never smelled right. Their hair never felt right against my skin. I thought…I thought maybe I had to know her. I had to want her. When I saw Brooke at the theater, I saw her go into the park, and man, I just knew it would be right. I knew it would feel good. And I knew I’d be her first. That would make it special. Like it was with Elizabeth.”

Oh, God. Vinnie had followed Brooke on purpose. Had known—had intended it—

“How’d you know—” Dante had to struggle to force the words. “How’d you know you’d be—”

“I caught her once with the Graziano girl.” Vinnie grinned, sat up and leaned back against the wall, his bruised and torn cheek looking grotesque. “She was a lesbo. Never drove stick, you know?” He shook his head. “Maybe part of me wanted to make her understand what she’d been missing—”

“I read her statement, Vinnie. You beat her. Like the others.”

“Brooke—I figured out what I’d been doing wrong with Brooke.” Vinnie nodded, as if he’d answered some philosophical mystery. “All those girls—it didn’t matter if they were virgins. If they stopped at the fountain. If they were young or brunette. Valentine’s Day didn’t work. Even if I knew them. It would never be right. It would never be as good as the first time.” He got to his feet, limped closer to the cell wall, to Dante. “It needed to be her.”

Dante swallowed hard. “So that’s why you went back. Why you went after Elizabeth Webber.”

“She’s my soulmate.” Vinnie sighed happily. “She doesn’t understand that yet. But she will. One day.” He looked at Dante. “Sorry about Brooke. I should have figured it out a long time ago. That’s on me.”

“Yeah.” Dante’s voice was barely above a whisper. “Yeah, that’s on you.”

He turned and stalked out of the holding area, straight down the hall to the bathrooms and into one of the stalls. And then he threw up.

When he’d finished, cleaned his mouth out, and could think clearly again, he pulled out the recorder he’d stowed in his pocket. He pressed the stop button, rewound it, and then played. When he heard the beginning of his conversation with Vinnie start to play, he stopped it again. He didn’t know if this would be admissible, but if Vinnie tried to back out of his deal, maybe Scott could use it as leverage.

Dante slid down against the tiled bathroom wall, pressed the recorder to his forehead, and didn’t even bother to wipe the tears as they stained his cheeks.

Port Charles University: Campus Center

Lulu dropped her bag down next to Dillon at their usual table and frowned at him. “You’re here.”

“Yep.” Dillon didn’t look up from the reading response he’d been trying to finish for the last hour. “I had class this morning. And another in about an hour—”

“Yeah, I know your schedule, dink.” She tugged out her own laptop, scowling at the notebooks and folders that came with it. She’d promised her aunt she’d go to college, make her mother proud, but man, academia was not her thing. “I mean, why are you here today?”

“Because sitting at home wasn’t going to change anything.” Dillon looked at her. “Mom’s in from New York, and she and Grandfather are figuring out how to spin this so Ned can get elected—”

“Ugh, really?” Lulu wrinkled her nose. “But—”

“That’s how the Quartermaines cope with tragedy. Some people cry in each other’s arms, we plot to take over the world. Don’t make that face, Lu. Spencers are just as crazy.”

“Yeah, fair play.” She waited a beat. “Have you seen Brooke’s mom yet?”

“No. She’s at the hotel, and Ned was leaving to see her when I left for class.” Dillon cracked his knuckles. “Lu—”

“The thing is, Dillon, even though we’ve known each other for five minutes and have been dating for thirty seconds, I know you.”

He met her eyes. “And—”

“And maybe the rest of the Quartermaines plot to take over the world, but you don’t. You live your life. You go back to work. To your movies.”

“Sounds normal to me—”

“Hey. Dillon—” She put a hand in front of the screen to force him to turn, to really focus on her. “I get it. I did the same thing when my family fell apart last year. I pretended nothing was happening. And eventually, everything slid back the way it was supposed to be, and my mom is coming home. I just—I don’t know. I wanted you to know that you’re not invisible to me. That I see you. That I get you. And if you want us to just sit and study and go to class like we do every other day, then okay.”

“That’s what I want, Lu. I just want to finish this thing, go to class, and—” Dillon exhaled slowly. “I think Brooke killed herself, Lu. I think that’s what made her take all those pills. I think she remembered him, and she wanted it to go away. She couldn’t live with it.”

“Maybe,” Lulu said, softly.

“And just maybe, if I’d been a better friend to her—if I hadn’t treated her like such a pain in the ass when she moved here, instead of taking those pills—maybe she would have called me.” He sat back in the hard, plastic chair. “It’s not—it’s not my fault that any of this happened, but you know, it’s a little on me that she didn’t feel like she could turn to anyone.”

“Maybe we all could have done more when she moved up here. I could have called before I went to London,” Lulu said. “I mean, I knew her, too. Dillon, you’re not the only one who bailed because she wasn’t friendly. Me, Maxie, and Georgie—we’ve known each other all our lives. And we used to play with Brooke when she visited Ned. We knew her, too. So, if this is on you, it’s on us.”

She waited a moment. “The thing is that even if we had been best friends, even if we’d all been like a family, she might not have called. Because all the friends in the world doesn’t change the fact that maybe she knew the guy who raped her, that it was someone she’d known her whole life. She might have taken the pills anyway.”

“Yeah.”

“And no matter how close we might have been, we would always have thought we could have done more. That’s just who you are, Dillon. And it’s hard to accept that maybe we couldn’t save Brooke.”

Lulu straightened, took a deep breath. “So maybe we should try to help people like her. We could do some shifts at a suicide hotline or something. Maybe you could talk to your brother about doing a charity thing for rape victims. I don’t know. My brother might have some ideas, too.”

“Yeah.” Dillon’s chest felt a bit easier as he looked at Lulu. “Yeah. Thanks.”

“No problem. Now, leave me alone because I was supposed to read all of this stupid book by my next class, and I have like twenty minutes to find an online reading guide.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Elizabeth stepped just inside the penthouse door and stared at the sofa where, less than twenty-four hours earlier, her rapist had attacked her again.

“We should have gone to the condo,” Jason said. He set her duffel bag down. “Let me just pack a few things—we’ll go now—”

“No—” Elizabeth touched his arm. Looked at him. “No. The whole point of telling Scott I wanted to plead out the case was I needed this to be over. And now…in a few days, when he goes for his arraignment, it will be.”

She looked at the sofa, took a deep breath. “Yeah. Yesterday was bad. I was terrified. I made it out. I fought back, and I won, you know?” Elizabeth turned to frame his face with her hands. “This is your home—”

“It’s just a place. We can go anywhere—”

“I’m not letting Vinnie Esposito steal one more thing from me, Jason. We—” She turned around, gestured at the window. “You remember last year? When we stood there, and I talked about the yachts in the harbor—”

“Yeah.”

Elizabeth whirled back around, a grin on her face. “I remember the way you asked me about it—you asked me if I wanted a boat like one of those—and I thought—you know, I wondered if I said yes, if you’d go buy me one.”

Jason smiled now, warmth and humor back in his eyes. “I might have. I liked seeing you here. I did not like Zander. I should have shipped him to a safe house or locked him in his room, but I—” He hesitated. “You’re right. This is just a place.”

“I like the view from this penthouse. I always have. Those windows look out over the water, and it’s not that different from the view at Vista Point. Sometimes when I stand here, I think about being up there with you. We can remember the bad things that happened here, but I don’t want to do that.”

She gripped the sides of his leather jacket and smiled up at him. “This is the place where we talked about names for our baby, and where you almost offered to buy me a yacht. We played pool here. We’ve made love in that bed. I’m going to decorate one of the spare rooms so our child has a place of his own. This is our home. And if we decide to move one day, it’s going to because we decided to. Not because of bad memories.”

Elizabeth leaned up to press her lips against his, tugging him closer. “We could go upstairs now—the cops said they cleaned the carpet—”

Jason broke the kiss with a groan— “You’re really mentioning the cops right now? And Monica said bed rest.”

“Can you think of a better reason to stay in bed?” Elizabeth grinned, winding her arms around his neck. “Because I can’t.”


Comments

  • Thanks for the update Vinnie is a sick bastard, Brooke is gay I didn’t see that coming.

    According to Shelly Samuel on November 11, 2019
  • Vinnie is sick and I do hope in book three there is a reference to his death in prison, perhaps he and Ric will take each other out. I’m glad Kelsey is okay and it was a lovely conversation with Ned and Lois. Lulu made sense and gave good advise. Loved Liz and Jason talking about being in the penthouse and good and bad memories and not letting Vinnie chase them out of their home.

    According to nanci on November 11, 2019
  • I’m not sure I like the idea of Vinnie sounding crazy. He acting as if these rapes were dates. I do like that Dante recorded his musing and that the plea deal is going through. Those girls don’t need to recount their terror. Maybe it will give Ned and Lois some closure. I really appreciate how strong you have written Elizabeth. Thanks

    According to Sandra on November 12, 2019
  • wow Vinnie was the worst–not sure how Dante managed to listen to all that horror. Ned/Lois, Dillon/Lulu, Kelsey/Lucky are all good so far.

    loved it TY

    According to PAMELA HEDSTROM on December 1, 2019
  • I got chills from Vinnie talking to Dante. I hope Vinnie cannot plead insanity.

    According to Carla P on December 2, 2019