It’s on your face; is it on your mind?
Would you care to build a house of your own?
How much longer, how long can you wait?
It’s like you wanted to go and give yourself away
Heaven forbid you end up alone and don’t know why
Hold on tight, wait for tomorrow, you’ll be alright
– Heaven Forbid, The Fray
Friday, June 19, 2003
Elizabeth Webber pasted a smile on her face as Georgie Jones set a plate of French toast and sausage in front of her, then an omelet and wheat toast in front of her best friend, Emily Bowen-Quartermaine.
This was a happy day, Elizabeth reminded herself. Her best friend in the entire world was in town for a weekend, and Elizabeth desperately needed her cheerful and bright-eyed nature.
Except that Emily was rolling her eyes about the wedding she had come to town for and her idiot brother’s ridiculous choice of a second wife. Like he hadn’t made a terrible choice the first time, right?
Elizabeth managed a weak smile as she sipped her orange juice.
“Oh, ugh, I’m tired of talking about Jason being an idiot.” Emily cut up her omelet and waved her fork at Elizabeth. “You need to tell me everything you haven’t been saying over the phone.” Her best friend’s dark eyes peered at her. “Tell me about the new husband—and what is it with this town and quickie marriages lately? Both my brothers got married and divorced before I could even find out where they were registered, and you’re married to a guy I’ve never met—”
“Oh.” Elizabeth smiled. “Ric is…he’s good. He’s a lawyer, you know. Um, criminal law. He was working for Sonny and Jason for a little while, but it didn’t work out.”
“Yeah, I bet.” Emily hesitated. “Listen, Mom—she called to tell me that you’d had a miscarriage. She was…she thought you might not tell me.”
Elizabeth sighed, put down her fork. “Yeah. I—I was pregnant. For about…” A brief shining moment. “I was about two months along, but I—I fell. And yeah.” She dropped her hands into her lap. “I’m okay.”
“Uh huh.” Emily pushed her egg around her plate with her fork. “You don’t have to talk to me, Elizabeth. No, cancel that.” She leaned forward, lowered her voice. “I wanted to…I wanted to try to pretend for you. I know you want that. You want to stick your head in the sand—”
“You think because I haven’t been home for two years that I’m an idiot?” Emily rolled her eyes. “A year ago, my brother married this girl. A year later, she’s marrying Jason, and AJ is off in New Orleans trying to put his life back together. Plus, I distinctly remember my mother calling me last fall to tell me you were living with Jason—”
“I didn’t press you for details then. I figured you want to talk about it, you’ll tell me. I didn’t want to butt in. God knows I did that too much with Lucky when he came home.” Emily pursed her lips. “So, I let it go. And I let you say nothing in phone calls. Nothing in your letters and emails. When you bothered to send them at all—”
“I come home, and you’ve lost weight. You look like you haven’t slept in weeks. You look miserable, Elizabeth. I know you just had a terrible tragedy, and I just—you don’t have to pretend for me.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes when Emily finally lapsed into silence. What could she say to her best friend? Why had Emily chosen this moment to finally…look at Elizabeth and see her?
“I am…struggling,” Elizabeth said finally. “I—I—” She hesitated. “I’m not going to talk about what happened with Jason. Or Courtney. I can’t.”
“Ric is…” Elizabeth paused, searching for the right words. She didn’t want Emily to worry about her. Maybe if Emily wasn’t going back to her summer program at UCLA in two days…maybe Elizabeth could feel free to say more.
But Emily wouldn’t be here.
And there were still some things Elizabeth didn’t want to think about it.
“Ric is a choice I made when I thought—when there was a baby involved. But I made it, and I can live with it.”
“You can live with it,” Emily murmured. “That’s not marriage, Elizabeth. You deserve more.”
“I deserve what I have for a lot of reasons. Don’t worry about me, Em. You’re here for a happy reason. You know, Jason is getting married, and—” Elizabeth stopped.
There were some things she couldn’t fake.
“Yeah, my brother is marrying his brother’s ex-wife.” Emily raised her glass in a mock toast. “Awesome sauce. Let’s drink to that.”
“Emily—” Elizabeth shook her head. “It was…complicated.”
“I don’t know how complicated it has to be since the ink on their divorce is barely dry,” Emily muttered. She stabbed a fork towards Elizabeth. “If I find out they were cheating on you and AJ—”
“Emily—it’s not…” Elizabeth shook her head. “It’s over now. That’s—it’s complicated.”
“Oh, my God. That’s what happened. Are you freaking serious? What the hell—”
“Emily, it wasn’t—like that. Not exactly.” Damn it. “Okay, listen. I don’t—yes, I was at the penthouse for a while, but it wasn’t about…I mean, Jason and I were—we weren’t really together. We…talked about it. But it just…it got derailed by other stuff. And I don’t know what was going on with Courtney. I don’t know. Maybe she was—” Elizabeth sighed. “It wasn’t that simple. Please, please, don’t bring this up to either of them. I already—I embarrassed myself enough when—”
Her eyes burned at the memory of confronting Courtney in Kelly’s. Going after her. The way Jason had defended Courtney had stopped Elizabeth from ever asking when it had actually started.
Wasn’t it obvious?
Emily sat back and huffed. “Fine. It’s not my thing to get pissed about, I guess. I’m just—ugh. I should have come back to PCU instead of transferring to UCLA—”
“I miss you so much, Em. I can’t wait until you come back home in August.” Elizabeth reached across to take her hand. “And I love how much you love me. But Jason is your brother. And his choices matter. He…obviously loves Courtney. It’s—” It was the only explanation. “So please, tonight, be his sister. Not my friend.”
“Yeah, okay. But I’m still gonna be AJ’s sister, so I can’t promise anything.”
Elizabeth asked her a question about California and was able to distract Emily for almost twenty minutes. She pushed her food around her plate and listened to Emily talk about college and how hard she was working.
“Oh.” Emily straightened. “Jason! Hey!”
Elizabeth closed her eyes as Emily got to her feet and rushed around Elizabeth—likely to hug her brother who had obviously come up behind them at some point. There was a sour taste in her mouth as she contemplated turning around. She wanted to disappear—just stand up and walk away.
Thank God Jason hadn’t arrived earlier.
She took a deep breath, gathered herself. She could do this.
She was good at this.
Elizabeth took her wallet out of her purse and tossed a ten on the table to cover her breakfast before standing and turning to flash a bright smile at Emily’s brother.
Jason Morgan stood there, looking much as he had the year before in a pair of blue jeans and a dark T-shirt. His arm was loose around his sister’s waist and he was smiling a little.
“Hey.” Elizabeth tucked her hair behind her ears as she slid the strap of her purse over her shoulder. “Congratulations.”
Jason’s smile dimmed slightly as he tipped his head, his forehead slightly wrinkled. “Elizabeth. Hey. Um, thanks.”
“We were just eating breakfast—” Emily scowled. “Liz, why did you put down money—”
“Oh, I have to get going. I’m done anyway.” Elizabeth smiled again. “And I know you guys must want to catch up before things get crazy later today.”
Elizabeth managed to keep the smile on her face as she looked at Jason again, but their eyes met. Held for a moment. “I—I wish you happiness, Jason.” She cleared her throat, fixed the strap higher on her shoulder. Again. She desperately wanted to have something to do with her hands.
“You don’t have to go,” Jason said, stepping forward, his arm falling from his sister’s waist. “You haven’t seen Emily either—”
“I know, and I’ve missed her, but—” Elizabeth looked at Emily. “You’ll be back in two months for good a-and you know, I’ve waited this long. I really do have to go. We just—” She swallowed. “We moved last week, and I haven’t really unpacked.”
And then the interest slid from Jason’s eyes at that reminder. She’d married Ric. A man Jason hated more than anything in the world.
“Congratulations, and good luck tonight.” And then Elizabeth hurried from the courtyard, not looking back.
Emily stared after her before looking back at the table. “She didn’t eat anything.”
“What?” Jason asked, frowning. “What—”
“We’ve been here for almost a half hour.” Emily gestured at their breakfast plates. Her own plate was half-eaten, but all Elizabeth had really done was cut her French toast and move those pieces around her plate. “She’s lost weight, did you notice?”
“I—” Jason’s shoulders squared, and he squinted. “Yeah, I saw. She…she lost a baby a few weeks ago, Em. She’s probably not doing well.” He looked away.
“Probably?” Emily arched her eyebrows. “I thought you were guys were friends.”
“By the way, not that I’m gonna rain on your parade or anything, but you should know my loyalties are divided about this wedding.”
Jason closed his eyes. “About Elizabeth? Listen…”
“Who said anything about Elizabeth?” Emily asked, innocently. “I was talking about the fact you’re marrying AJ’s ex-wife. And hey, how solid are you that the divorce is legal? You know us Quartermaines.” She batted her eye lashes. “We lie.”
Port Charles Police Department: Locker Room
It was his first day as a police officer.
If anyone had told Lucky Spencer as a teenager that he would have worked his ass off in the academy to get to this point, well—he would have smirked and flipped that person off.
But he was here. Starting the next chapter of his life.
Lucky grinned when he saw the dark-haired New York native who had the locker next to him. “Hey! I didn’t know you were gonna end up here.”
His roommate from the academy, Dante Falconieri, flashed a returning smile as he buttoned the crisp blue uniform shirt. “Yeah, well, I was waiting on a few places. I wasn’t wild about going back to Bensonhurst and trying to pretend I had some authority. Most of my family would laugh in my face.”
“Cruz is starting today, too,” Lucky said, with a nod. He tugged his t-shirt over his head and tossed it in the locker. “I got assigned to Major Crimes with your cousin.”
“Vinnie?” Dante said with a wicked grin. “Good luck. He’s an asshole. I got Major Crimes, too, but I’m stuck on patrol with some guy who looks like he ate his weight in donuts.” He frowned slightly. “Where is Cruz? He better not be late on his first day—”
“Oh, he’s got a later shift” Lucky shrugged. “Jason Morgan is getting married tonight, so I guess they’re…I don’t know, worried about it.” He snorted. “Glad I don’t have that detail.”
And hoped he wouldn’t be asked to work any case with people he’d known once. The whole point of this job was a new start. A new life. Putting the old Lucky Spencer behind him.
“Yeah, I do not hear good things about the Organized Crime Unit.” Dante laced his shoes. “But, hell, no one stays at the PCPD for their entire career. You put some time in the streets, get some experience and then go somewhere where the senior officers aren’t a bunch of idiots.”
Lucky picked up the badge he’d been issued the week before after his orientation, then clipped it to his breast pocket. “I mean, if Taggert, Capelli, and your cousin can do it—” He shrugged. “Hey, how hard can this be?”
District Attorney Wing, Municipal Building: Scott Baldwin’s Office
Over a cup of coffee, Scott Baldwin perused the list of new recruits Commissioner Mac Scorpio had sent him earlier that day. A grant from the state had allowed them to hire three new police officers, but they’d had to be pulled from the ranks of the local police academy.
Scott’s eyes fell on one name. Lucas Lorenzo Spencer, Jr. Assigned to Major Crimes under the supervision of Detective Vincent Esposito.
“So, he really did it,” Scott murmured. “I’ll be damned.” Luke Spencer’s son would be fighting on the right side of the law—Scott would believe that when he saw it.
He glanced up to find his secretary standing at his door, an expectant look on her face. “What is it, Barb? Did I forget an appointment?”
“Your 9 AM meeting with Kelsey Joyce for the Major Crimes division—”
“Right, right.” Scott turned away from his computer monitor and the email and rose from his desk. “Bring her in.”
“He’ll see you now,” Barb said as she turned back to someone outside. She stepped aside, and a young brunette entered, dressed in a slim black pencil skirt with a black blazer over a cotton candy pink skirt.
“Mr. Baldwin,” Kelsey Joyce said, flashing a bright smile, her brown eyes glowing. “It’s nice to see you again.”
“Kelsey,” Scott said, extending a hand. “I don’t think I’ve seen you since you graduated high school, though that wasn’t so long ago, huh?” He gestured for her take a seat at the small conference table. “How’s your mother?”
“She’s good.” Kelsey sighed, and now that light dimmed slightly. “Still misses Dad. And she said thanks for taking me on here—with Lee and Gail so nearby, she won’t worry about me as much.”
Oliver Joyce had been a close friend of Scott’s in law school in Buffalo, but they had been in and out of touch over the years. His death in a car accident almost a decade ago had been a shock for everyone who loved him.
“Gail is always looking for someone to worry about, so she’ll be happy to add you.” Scott sighed. “I wish I hadn’t lost touch with your father. He was a good man. Always encouraged me to follow my conscience. I usually ignored him, but sometimes, you know I still hear him in the back of my head.” He smiled at her. “He’d have been proud of you. Graduating high school at sixteen, passing the bar at twenty-three. His brilliant daughter.”
“Well, I hope I can live up to him.” Kelsey folded her hands in her lap. “Your secretary said I’d been assigned to Major Crimes—”
“Yeah, yeah. We had, um, a meeting with the mayor last month—the commissioner and I are old friends, and we work closely together. It seems the mayor’s office is unhappy with the lack of priority Major Crimes gets—”
“Well, it’s Port Charles. You share a water border with Canada.” Kelsey shrugged. “I understand that organized crime would take precedence—”
“And we’re not taking our focus off that, but we’ve been having trouble keeping officers at the PCPD. Frustration over those priorities. Feeling neglected. We need to do more for the rest of Port Charles. I promised I would do more when I got elected.”
“Okay. So, is that where I’ll be working?”
Scott hesitated. “I know this might seem insane, but our resources are limited. We only have one another attorney assigned to Major Crimes—Danielle Simmons—but she’s on maternity leave. For the next two months.” And had given some indication that she planned to go into private practice within the next six months for a better schedule, but Scott didn’t think that was the best news he could give her right.
Kelsey blinked. “Wait. Does that mean I would be—”
“For the moment, yeah, you’re basically running Major Crimes.” He sighed. “I told you. We’re crap at priorities in Port Charles.”
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Ned Ashton leaned back in his chair, then shifted, crossing one leg over the other. “Brooke, I know you’re not happy—”
His nineteen-year-old daughter rolled her eyes and huffed. “Oh, yeah? What gave it away?”
“This is going well,” his younger brother, Dillon, said to him. While his tone was upbeat, his face remained stoic. “I’m glad I canceled my plans to be snarked for an hour, but you know I got a busy day ahead of me to be yelled at by anyone else—”
“Who invited you anyway?” Brooke Lynn retorted. She snorted “Nothing is gonna make me okay with being stuck here in this backwater with a bunch of hicks when I could be at home—”
“Where you were failing out of Columbia?” Ned asked. “Getting arrested?”
Brooke groaned. “Oh, God. It wasn’t that bad. I was just with some friends—”
“Who were shoplifting.”
“One bottle of wine.”
“Your mother and I decided you need a change in scenery—”
“Do you need me for this?” Dillon asked, leaning forward. “Because, seriously, I could go.”
Ned glared at his brother. He’d brought the idiot along because Dillon was only a year older than Brooke. He was supposed to be the mediator. He was supposed to speak Brooke’s language.
But no one spoke Brooke’s language clearly, and Ned was obviously being punished for not being as hands on with his daughter as he would have liked.
“You and Ma sicced Grandma on me,” Brooke interrupted, her dark eyes flashing with irritation. “You know what she’s like. How am I supposed to tell her no? But I’m nineteen, Dad. You don’t get to run my life. You couldn’t even do that when you were supposed to.”
“That’s a fair point,” Dillon said to her. “I got one of those, too. I met him once. When I was, like, ten. I think. Maybe I was nine—” He screwed his face up in concentration, and Ned knew his story-telling loving brother could go on for hours off he was on a tangent.
“Dillon,” Ned said, flatly. “Go away.”
“Gone.” Dillon jumped up and moved to the counter where his girlfriend, Georgie, was serving Maxie and Lucas Jones.
“I can make my own friends, you know.”
Ned sighed and reached for his cup of coffee. It had seemed like a good idea at the time to bring Brooke to Port Charles for the summer, to give her time to settle in and make some friends before transferring to PCU for her sophomore year.
But the little girl he remembered had transformed into a sulky young woman who wore too much eye makeup, too much jewelry, and too little clothing. He didn’t know this girl.
He didn’t know how to know this girl.
And he hated himself for letting Lois take the lead on raising her, and Lois for leaving him for no reason at all. But Brooke was his daughter. And he had to make the effort.
“Alexis wanted to have us over for dinner this weekend. To celebrate finishing her therapy and getting custody of Kristina back.” Ned eyed Brooke. “Can you at least join me for that?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Brooke shrugged. “What else am I supposed to do? Go to the movies?” She rolled her eyes. “God, I miss New York.”
Ned rubbed the back of his neck and felt very guilty when his phone vibrated, and he was relieved at the opportunity to talk to someone else. Anyone else. He flipped it open. “Yeah?”
“We need to talk. Immediately.”
Ned grimaced at the sound of Faith Roscoe’s voice. The universe was obviously punishing him for granting his wish, because this he did not need. “I’m busy—”
“We’ve got a problem. You know where to find me.”
“Yeah, okay.” Ned closed his phone and slid into the pocket of his trousers. He dropped a twenty on the table. “I have a meeting—”
“Well, that took five seconds.” Brooke got to her feet. “Are you gonna take me back to the gatehouse or am I stuck here?”
“Dillon,” Ned said, twisting towards the counter. “Can you drop Brooke at the house—”
“I need a car. This is never gonna work—”
“Oh, yeah,” Dillon said with a sigh. “That sounds like a great time. Let me just stop my life and take care of yours.”
“Great. Thanks. You’re the best brother.”
Queen of Angels: Chapel
Carly Corinthos grimaced at the floral arrangements alongside the pews down the aisle. “I thought these were supposed to be yellow.” she said to the wedding planner.
“They were,” the woman said with a harassed smile and clenched teeth. “But the bride called last week to change them to pink. Said money was no obstacle.”
“Oh.” Carly frowned and looked back at the tulips. “We didn’t—All right, it’s not my wedding, I guess.” She signed the last piece of paperwork from her. “All right. I guess that’s everything until later tonight.”
She dismissed the wedding planner from her mind and went to find Jason, so he could take her back to the penthouse where she’d arranged several hours of massages, hair dressing, and makeup before the ceremony at seven that evening.
She found Jason in the anteroom going over the final security arrangements with Father Coates. She hung back until Jason had shaken the priest’s hand.
“You ready to go?” Jason asked. He crossed his arms and looked away from the inside of the chapel where in a few hours, his wedding would begin.
“Yeah, everything is fine here.” Carly smiled at the priest who had performed her wedding to Sonny the year before, and then followed Jason into the courtyard.
Because she was a bit worried about Jason’s…lack of excitement, she decided to inspire him a little bit. Cheer him up—though why he’d need that on the day of his wedding…
She wound her arm through his as they made their way to the parking lot, bouncing a little on her feet. “I can’t believe you’re getting married tonight, Jase! It feels like you just got engaged.”
“Yeah, it does.” He drew his brows together and looked away.
Carly slid a look at him under her lashes as they approached the SUV Jason had driven them in. “You know, I know you’re stoic and everything, but it’s okay to be excited. You’re getting married.”
She put out a hand to stop him from opening the passenger door for her and looked at him.
He looked like he always did. Spiky brownish-blond hair, average height, clad in his usual jeans, a t-shirt stretched over a muscled chest. But there was nothing in his eyes. No excitement, no interest. Just…nothing.
Jason had never been a man prone to much expression, but if you wanted to know how he really felt about something, you looked him in the eyes.
“Jase…” Carly bit her lip. “Listen, I know—” She turned to face him, and he just sighed. “I know maybe it was possibly my idea for you to propose—”
“And maybe I encouraged you to ask Courtney out, but that was just because I didn’t want you to get back together with Elizabeth, and you know she doesn’t get you anyway. I mean, God, she married Ric after everything we told her about him. If that doesn’t—”
“Emily is here for the wedding,” Jason interrupted. “And she doesn’t like Courtney. I met her for coffee this morning, so—”
“Oh.” Carly closed her mouth. “I guess that makes sense. I mean, she’s probably the last person in the world that likes AJ, so I guess you marrying his ex-wife…” She shrugged. “Are…are you sure that’s it? I mean, look—if you’re having second thoughts—”
“I’m not.” Jason brushed her hand away from the door and opened it. “I asked Courtney to marry me. You’re right. She’s Sonny’s sister. She understands what I do. I knew what I was doing when I asked her. And that’s it.”
“And you love her,” Carly said with a smile she didn’t feel at all. “So, okay. Let’s go back to the penthouses so we can get ready.” She leaned up to kiss his cheek. “In five hours, you’ll be a married man!”
This time, Jason did smile at her.
But it didn’t change the expression in his eyes.
She climbed into the passenger side, and he closed the door after her. She’d done what she could—she’d given him an opening to tell her if anything was wrong, and he hadn’t taken it.
So, she’d do exactly what Jason had always asked her to do and stay the hell out of it.
Lansing House: Front Porch
When she had left breakfast earlier that morning, she had not gone home to unpack. Instead, Elizabeth had gone to her studio, turned on the small television she always kept there and wasted her day watching day time television and sleeping.
She couldn’t sleep at home, spent hours awake at night next to Ric. Next to her husband. Wondering what happened to her life. How she had ended up married to a man she didn’t love any more than the one she had left at the altar over a year ago.
So, she spent her days at her old studio, pretending to get ready for a one-woman show that Ric had arranged at a local gallery. Elizabeth kept pushing off the date, kept saying she wasn’t ready. Since she hadn’t picked up a pencil or brush in nearly two months, it was unlikely she would be ready any time soon.
But she couldn’t keep ignoring her life. Couldn’t keep running away from her choices. Everyone else had moved on with their lives.
Emily was pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor, Nikolas was staying in London as Laura recovered from her nervous breakdown, Lucky had started a new career as a police officer, Zander had moved to New York for a job with ELQ, and Jason…
Jason was getting married.
Like she had.
It was over. It had never really existed. Hadn’t she had proof of that over the last year?
So, Elizabeth made a promise to herself. She would go home, and she would try to live the fresh start Ric wanted to give them. He had gone and bought a beautiful home for their new future. He wanted to be with her. He wanted to be a better person.
At six o’clock that evening, Elizabeth opened the front door and accepted Ric’s kiss and the offer of champagne to celebrate their first week in their new home.