I was the match and you were the rock
Maybe we started this fire
We sat apart and watched
All we had burned on the pyre
You said we were born with nothing
And we sure as hell have nothing now
– Things We Lost in the Fire, Bastille
Friday, June 19, 2003
Queen of Angels: Courtyard
Jason stared at the pale purple heel that dangled from Sonny’s trembling fingers.
When he had started to work for Sonny years earlier, he had worked a lot of stakeouts. Had followed people, listened as they talked to others. He had trained himself to automatically assess what people looked like and what they wore so he could recall them later. Give Sonny accurate reports.
He hadn’t paid attention to how Carly had dressed for his wedding—had barely paid attention to his own tuxedo. He’d unzipped a garment bag she’d given him and just worn whatever was inside. Now, Jason realized that he knew exactly how his best friend had been dressed. It was crystallized in his memory as if she were standing in front of him.
A pale purple dress with spaghetti straps that fell to her knees with a high waist that covered her burgeoning pregnancy. It had been made of some sort of soft material that Jason didn’t know the name of, beyond the fact it was neither cotton nor silk. Jason could visualize Carly walking towards him from the doorway of the church, carefully picking her feet over the gravel and soft ground to meet him near the gazebo where he had been standing.
Her feet wrapped in a pair of shoes that had matched her dress with thin straps at the ankle and a type of heel that had always reminded him of an ice pick.
The same shoe that Sonny now held.
Jason swallowed, turned to the little blond boy he still loved as his own, at the scraped and bleeding palms of the five-year-old, the torn dress pants showing a similarly scraped knee. The tear stains on his face.
“Michael,” he said quietly, firmly. “Can you tell me what you saw?”
Michael continued to cry, unable to form words through his choking sobs. Jason lifted him in his arms and looked at Sonny and Bobbie, their faces pale and shaken.
“Where are the guards?” Sonny bit out. “I thought you went over security—”
“I’m taking Michael inside,” Jason cut in. “Sonny, go find Francis. He’s head of the security detail. Find out where the hole in the perimeter was—there shouldn’t have been one,” he said as Sonny’s face darkened and his partner opened his mouth. “But obviously there was.”
“What do you want me to do?” Bobbie asked, crossing her arms.
“I need you to go find Emily and Monica,” Jason said. “Tell them—” He hesitated.
He had to clear the church without anyone knowing what was going on. If the PCPD got wind that Carly was missing, they would shut the scene down. Jason wouldn’t be allowed to question Michael, to calm him down on his own. And he knew Taggert and Capelli would leap at the opportunity to tear apart Sonny and Jason’s holdings.
Whatever was happening, wherever Carly was—it was crucial that Sonny and Jason retained control of the scene and situation.
Bobbie pressed her lips together and nodded. “You need me to get everyone out of the church without telling them why,” she said. She twisted her fingers together. “Okay. Do you care what I tell them?”
“No,” Jason said shortly. “But ask Monica to do it. I need you and Emily in the back with me. Michael trusts both of you.”
The little boy was still crying in Jason’s arms, his face buried in the shoulder of Jason’s tuxedo jacket, the tears soaking through to the linen shirt beneath.
“Bobbie,” he said as a fuming Sonny disappeared through the gates—the shoe still clutched in his hand. The strap dangling. “I will find her.”
“I know.” Bobbie took a moment. Took a deep breath. Composed herself. “I’ll get it done, Jason. I trust you.”
They returned to the church together—Bobbie went through the wide double doors and Jason strode down the hall where the bridal suite was located. He pushed the door open and Courtney gave a startled shriek as she topped backwards off the small step stool she had been standing upon, falling to the floor in a heap of white tulle and silk.
Leticia Juarez, Michael’s nanny, wrinkled her nose and started to stand to assist the bride, then froze when she saw her charge in Jason’s arms. “Michael?”
Courtney tried to sit up, to find the leverage to pull herself into a standing position, almost lost in the full skirts of her elaborate wedding dress. “You’re not supposed to be back here—”
But she closed her mouth as Jason ignored her completely and set Michael on the sofa. Leticia knelt in front of Michael, taking his small bleeding hands in hers. “What’s going on?”
“Mommy,” Michael managed to sob but couldn’t get anything else out.
The door opened again as Emily and Bobbie rushed in. “Jason—” His little sister quickly came to Michael’s side, sitting on the sofa. “Hey, buddy. What happened?”
Bobbie handed Leticia a first aid kit. “Monica is clearing the church as we speak.” She hesitated. “She may have taken some liberties with the story I gave her.”
“Clearing the church?” Courtney demanded as Bobbie reluctantly pulled the bride to her feet. “What are you talking about? Jason, what the hell is going on? What happened to Michael—”
The door opened again as Sonny came in, his eyes a burning pit of coal as he closed it behind him. “They found a guard on the south side of the church.”
Jason looked at him. “Found—”
Sonny gently shook his head, and Jason understood. A guard had been killed. That was the hole in the security.
“I want to know what the hell is—” Courtney tried again, but her voice died as she saw the shoe in Sonny’s hand. “Where is Carly?” she demanded, her voice trembling.
Jason ignored all of this, concentrated on Michael. He cupped his nephew’s face in one hand and kept his eye contact. “Hey, buddy. I need you take deep breaths for me. Okay. Breathe with me.”
He drew in a deep breath and Michael did the same.
“I will find your mother,” Jason said. “I just need you tell me what happened. Okay? I need you to be the best big brother and son you can be.”
“Mommy—she was standing outside,” Michael choked out. “And—And then a man p-put something over her mouth. Mommy—she tried to fight him. But he started dragging her away. I screamed. I ran after them, b-but I tripped—” His lips trembled as sobs continued to wrack his frame.
“We have to call the police,” Courtney said. “They—”
Bobbie closed a hand over the bride’s wrist and squeezed it hard. “No. Wait let him finish.”
“Do you know the man?” Jason asked. “Have you seen him before?”
“B-bad man,” Michael said with a nod. “Mommy doesn’t like him. He—he worked with her.”
Behind the sofa, Sonny braced his hands along the edge, dipping his head. Everything inside Jason went cold.
“Did he have dark hair?” Jason asked. “Like Daddy?”
“Oh, God—” Emily met Bobbie’s terrified eyes. “He can’t mean—”
Michael nodded. “R-Ric. I—I thought he-he was Mom—Mommy’s friend, but-but she was fighting—a-and then she stopped.”
“Drugged her,” Sonny muttered, dragging his free hand through his hair and closing his eyes.
Jason leaned forward, kissed Michael’s head. “Okay, okay. Michael, you did good. I’m so proud of you. I need you to stay here with Aunt Emily and Grandma Bobbie, okay? Can you stay here? Stay safe—”
And then he and Sonny left the room without speaking further. No communication was needed. They knew where they had to go.
“We need to call—” Courtney started, but winced as Bobbie squeezed her wrist again. She yanked her arm away from Bobbie with a scowl. “What is your problem? We need to call the police. They need to start looking for Carly, too—”
“Jason and Sonny already know what happened to her,” Bobbie shot back. “Calling the police—”
“Oh, it’s not like it’s about their business,” Courtney cut in with a scathing tone. “Ric hates Sonny because of their mother. If Ric took Carly, then the police need to arrest him—”
“My brother is really marrying her?” Emily said to Leticia who just busied herself patching up Michael’s scratches.
“Hey, I get Jason’s life,” Courtney snarled. “But this is different. Carly was kidnapped by someone who hates Sonny because of personal reasons. Jason’s gone to the police before. Last year. Because Taggert was there when the crypt exploded. Remember, Bobbie—”
“As a last resort,” Bobbie said with a weary sigh. “Courtney, I’m terrified, but we need to handle this the way Jason and Sonny want us to. Carly wouldn’t—”
“Carly isn’t here.” Courtney stalked towards the vanity where her purse sat, her dress rustling.
“Don’t—” Bobbie began, but Emily shook her head.
“We can wrestle her to the ground, but the second we turn our backs, she’s gonna call them. I’ve got something else.” Emily got to her feet. “Elizabeth.”
“Elizabeth,” Bobbie repeated. “I—”
“You know what’s going to happen. My brother and Sonny are going to burst into that house and start demanding answers. And Elizabeth is going to be in the middle of it all.” Emily folded her arms over her chest. “I want to be there. And I want to make sure Ric didn’t do anything to her.”
Bobbie scowled. “Courtney, this is my last warning—” But the bride was already speaking into the phone. “Okay, let’s go to the house. We can at least warn Jason and Sonny.”
Lansing House: Panic Room
Carly moaned, pressed her face into the fabric beneath her cheek. A hammer pounded inside her skull. Her body ached. Her mouth was dry. What the hell had happened to her?
Her vision blurred as she opened her eyes. This wasn’t her bed. The pillow beneath her head was too rough, the mattress thin and bumpy. Carly turned slightly and forced herself to sit up slowly. She was lying on a cot that was maybe a foot off the ground and…her ankle felt heavy. Cold. She tried to concentrate, to bring her location into focus.
A thick, heavy, metal bracelet was wrapped around her right ankle and attached to a chain. Carly stared at it for a long time because it didn’t make sense.
Nothing about this made sense. Where the hell was she? What—
“There’s enough slack for you to move around, to use the bathroom but not to get near the door.”
A voice sliced through the fog, forcing Carly to turn, to find a shadow in the darkness. A light switched on over her and suddenly, the dim light of a single low-watt lamp next to her was replaced by brightness.
Carly cried out, her head exploding from the pain. “W-What—”
“You’ll have everything you need,” the voice continued, and Carly knew it. She couldn’t place it. Couldn’t make herself think. Couldn’t think past the pain.
“But you won’t be leaving this room.”
“What’s—” Carly managed. “What’s going on—”
“Don’t bother screaming. This room is sound proof and I will never be—” The voiced stopped. “That wasn’t long enough,” came an aggravated mutter.
She heard some moving—a new source of light, but she just couldn’t make herself move. And then the light was gone.
The voice was gone. The light was gone.
With the room once again plunged into the shadows, Carly could take a deeper breath. Her head was still pounding, but the piercing pain had faded. She could focus now, and some of her panic was starting to recede.
There was some dim movement out of the corner of her eye, and then Carly could see a row of screens across from the cot. She took a deep breath and started to stand. The room wavered, but she forced herself not to sway.
Fought down the nausea.
She had to figure out where she was. Had to make sure she knew everything so that when Jason and Sonny found her—she’d be ready.
Carly limped the short distance between the cot and the little desk in front of the row of the screens built into the wall. The images were in black and white—and she didn’t recognize them. There was a living room with a sofa. A front door. A view of a street and driveway. A kitchen. A staircase. A bathroom. Two bedrooms—
But in the second bedroom, Carly did recognize someone. A short, thin woman was sitting on a bed, wrapped in a terry cloth robe.
Her dark hair bundled up in a messy bun, tendrils falling around her face, damp from a shower.
Elizabeth Webber was in that room.
And the voice…Oh, God. Now Carly knew that voice.
Ric had kidnapped her. Locked her in this room.
She searched the screens frantically and finally found him climbing the stairs. He must have been out of frame before.
She watched him as he went into the bedroom. Elizabeth—she couldn’t know, could she? Carly had always disliked the other woman, but Elizabeth was like Robin. A goody two shoes. An angel. Soft. Fragile. She could be a moron about guys, Carly knew that. But there was no way Elizabeth would be in on this.
She watched Ric pull Elizabeth to her feet—and there it was—a slight wobble. A sway. Elizabeth put a hand to her head. Said something. But now Carly knew. Elizabeth had been drugged just as she had been.
Michael. She brought a fist to her mouth. Oh, God, she remembered her little boy had been there. Crying. Screaming. Running after her. Had Ric hurt him? Where was he?
Had he seen Ric? Could he—
Carly forced down her worries, her terror. Ric handed Elizabeth some clothes from a drawer and then she watched as the married couple talked for another moment. Ric was frowning, Elizabeth was holding the sweats in front of her.
She didn’t begin to change until Ric had left. An odd lack of intimacy for newlyweds and Carly looked away, followed Ric, rather than continuing to watch Elizabeth.
What did he have planned? Why—What had he said? She would have everything she needed…? Why had he kidnapped her and locked her inside his own home? How could he possibly think to get away with this?
Lansing Home: Master Bedroom
When Ric was finally gone, Elizabeth released a breath and managed to pull on the thin gray sweatpants and blue tank top he had given her. He had been irritated that she wouldn’t dress in front of him, and Elizabeth wasn’t entirely sure where her reticence had come from. Hadn’t she just promised herself that she would reapply herself to her marriage?
She looked at the clock and frowned slightly. It was nearly seven-thirty.
How long had she dozed? Ric had said it was for a few minutes but that couldn’t be right. She’d arrived just before six. She had had a glass of champagne.
And her head was fuzzy. Her mouth was still dry. She felt a bit better after the shower but—
She looked at herself in the mirror and shook her head. There were circles under her eyes, her skin was pale—even more than usual. She wasn’t sleeping. Wasn’t eating well. And she hadn’t felt right since her miscarriage. Dr. Meadows had given her a clean bill of health, but Elizabeth thought maybe it was time to go back—
A crash and men’s shouts drew her attention. Elizabeth’s ears perked up—she knew those voices. But—but he was getting married—
Elizabeth stumbled out of the bedroom and towards the stairwell, bracing herself against the wall, vertigo sending her spinning. Why couldn’t she walk straight? She could hear the shouts more clearly—Sonny’s demanding tones—something about Carly—and Jason’s growls. Something else crashed.
Elizabeth started down the stairs, holding on the rail with a death grip. Her stomach was rolling, and her head was swimming.
“J-Jason?” she managed as she came to the bottom of the staircase, switching her grip to the doorway that separated the stairwell from the living room.
Sonny and Jason were in her living room, clad in disheveled tuxedos. Sonny had Ric against the wall, his hands at his throat while Jason was opening a closet door.
All three men turned to look at her and she couldn’t process the scene. Couldn’t make it come out right. “You’re getting married,” she said without thinking to Jason. “Aren’t you?”
Jason scowled at her and then something in his eyes changed as he drew closer. He touched her chin, turned her head slightly and then turned back to Ric. “What did you give her?” he said, his voice reaching a low dangerous growl she had only heard a handful of times.
“What are you talking about?” Ric asked, his fingers digging at Sonny. “She’s fine. Elizabeth, tell them—”
“What’s going on?” Elizabeth licked her lips. She reached out, but she just couldn’t…there was no energy in her fingers as they brushed Jason’s tuxedo jacket. “What—I don’t—”
She could feel the fury radiating from him, but Jason’s touch was gentle as he put a hand under her elbow and led her to the sofa. Helped her to sit.
He took her wrist in his and laid two fingers against her skin. “Your pupils are dilated,” Jason told her. “Your pulse is ragged. What did you eat or drink tonight?”
Elizabeth stared at him. Shook her head. “N-No—”
“Leave my wife alone,” Ric growled, but he couldn’t quite break free of Sonny’s grip.
“I had—what’s going on? Did-did you say something about Carly?” Elizabeth said, drawing her wrist from Jason’s grip. “Is she okay?”
“She’s missing,” Sonny said flatly. “And Michael saw Ric take her. Where is she?” he demanded, digging his hands in more tightly. Ric gasped.
“He was—” Elizabeth forced herself to think. “He was here. I think. I don’t know—” Why did her tongue feel so heavy?
“Elizabeth. He drugged you.”
“Call the cops, Elizabeth,” Ric choked out.
Elizabeth turned to look at him. At the man who had fathered her child. Whom she had promised to love, honor, and cherish.
Had he drugged her tonight? Had he drugged her before? Is that why this sensation felt so…familiar?
“I need you to tell me what happened tonight.”
She turned her head back to that familiar voice. That gentle, beloved tone in Jason’s voice that he adopted when he spoke to her. Tears slid down her cheeks. She missed his voice. The way he said her name. Had he said it tonight? Yes. Yes. She remembered that.
“I don’t know,” she managed to say. “I can’t—I came home at six. I was at the studio. I—I don’t—We had champagne…” Elizabeth looked at the table, but the glasses were gone. The champagne was gone. Like it had never happened. “Didn’t we?”
“No,” Ric said, as Sonny finally released him. “No, we didn’t. Elizabeth, you came home and went upstairs to sleep. You’ve been sleeping so much since we lost the baby.”
The baby. God. She closed her eyes. Her baby. Her little shining ray of light in the darkness.
“Shut up,” Sonny growled.
She had been sleeping a lot, Elizabeth thought. Or no, wait. No, she hadn’t. She never slept. Did she? Why couldn’t she remember?
“I—” Elizabeth looked at Jason. “I don’t know. Maybe—maybe I took a nap. I don’t know.”
“Michael said he took Carly. Was Ric gone?” Jason asked.
“I’ve been here the whole goddamn time. Tell him, Elizabeth. You woke up at seven and I was here. You took a shower—”
“I—” Elizabeth’s voice faltered. “Maybe.”
“Damn it, we’re not going to get anything from her,” Sonny growled. “Whatever he gave her is screwing with her memory. I’ll take him to the warehouse. Jase, you take her to the penthouse. Get her some rest. Some coffee. I don’t know. Call Bobbie—”
And then the door was open again, and two women clad in evening gowns rushed in. “Courtney called the PCPD,” Emily said in a rush.
“Where’s my daughter?” Bobbie cried as she pushed past Emily and started for Sonny and Ric. Jason sprang off the sofa and intercepted her, wrapping an arm around her waist and holding back.
Emily sat next to Elizabeth. “Elizabeth, are you okay?”
“I don’t know,” Elizabeth said slowly, drawing out her words. “Am I?” she asked, twisting her head to look at Jason. Jason would know. Jason would protect her.
“He gave her something,” Jason bit out. “What did you say about Courtney?”
Bobbie pushed herself away from Jason’s grip. “I tried to stop her, but she called the cops.”
“My sister did what?” Sonny demanded.
“Called the authorities,” Marcus Taggert said as he and Andy Capelli swaggered into the room. Behind him, a shorter dark-haired uniformed officer entered, his expression aggravated. “When someone is missing, the first few hours are crucial, Corinthos.”
Sonny closed his eyes, and Jason scowled.
“These people are trespassing,” Ric snarled. “I want them out of here—”
“No—” Elizabeth managed. She stood. Shook her head. “No. They’re not. They—” She closed her eyes, and Emily rose, putting an arm around her waist to steady her.
“What happened to her?” Capelli demanded of Sonny. “Did you terrify her into a nervous breakdown?”
“Oh, for the love of—” Bobbie muttered.
“They’re not trespassing,” Elizabeth said. She could do this. She had to do this. Everyone was so angry. So afraid. “They—they’re looking for Carly. And—they should look. You should all look.”
“Elizabeth—” Ric said with a devastated look in his eyes, in his words. “You don’t believe I would—”
“They have to look,” she repeated. “Or they won’t know for sure. They have to know for sure—”
“We have your permission, Elizabeth?” Taggert asked. He approached her. “You’re sure—”
“You don’t have mine!”
“We just need yours, Elizabeth. And exigent circumstances will take care of any gray areas.”
She latched onto that. She could do this for Jason and Sonny. Carly was missing. Carly was important to them. She knew how much Jason loved Carly.
“You can look.”
“Damn it,” Ric growled. “You should get a warrant—”
“Got something to hide?” Sonny demanded.
“Rodriguez, make sure Corinthos and Morgan stay right here. Lansing, you come with us. We’re going to search this house from top to bottom,” Taggert said. To Jason, he growled, “Don’t go anywhere.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Jason muttered.
When the trio had disappeared into the back of the house where the basement door and back stairs was located, Jason released Bobbie, and turned his attention back to Elizabeth. “Bobbie, Ric gave her something. Her pulse isn’t right—”
Bobbie hustled over to Elizabeth, repeating Jason’s earlier measurements. “Honey, you need to come to the hospital. We need to take care of you—”
“N-No.” Elizabeth shook her head. She had to stay here. Had to make sure the PCPD could look for Carly. If she left, Ric would stop them from looking. “I—I have to stay.”
“Elizabeth,” Emily said, with anguish. “You look like hell. Your pupils are so big I can’t even tell what color your eyes are—”
“Elizabeth, I appreciate you giving your permission for them to look,” Sonny said with a soft sigh. “But he probably already stashed her somewhere else.” He scowled at Jason. “We’re wasting our time here.”
All eyes turned to the uniform at the doorway who took a deep shaky breath. “Look, if you leave now,” he said with a sigh, “you know Taggert and Capelli are gonna just come after you. It’s better if you let them do what they want and then you’re not running from warrants, too.”
“Why is it always the rookies with common sense?” Sonny muttered.
Jason ignored him, gently pulling Emily away from Elizabeth so he could take her place on the sofa. “You have to go to the hospital, Elizabeth. Please. I need you to be okay. I can’t worry about you—”
“You’re not,” Elizabeth said, deliberately taking her time with her words. Couldn’t slur them. Couldn’t mess this up. “I’m…I’m okay. I, um, I haven’t—” She closed her eyes. Her hands were shaking. Why were they shaking?
Jason’s warm hands closed around hers, stilling them. “Elizabeth—”
“Since the baby. Haven’t been okay,” she admitted, finally saying out loud what had been locked away. “I’m not okay about that. I mean…” What did she mean? “I’ll see someone. But this—”
“Elizabeth,” Emily muttered. “For God’s sakes, Jason, don’t argue with her. Make her go—”
“With the PCPD here?” Sonny shook his head. “Elizabeth, do you think you gotta stay so me and Jason don’t get arrested for trespassing?”
“I—” Elizabeth stared at the other man for a long moment. “I—yes. I’m here. I can let you in. The police—” She licked her lips. They were dry and cracked. How long had they been like that? “Maybe they don’t believe Michael. Maybe they won’t look very hard.”
“And if you’re here, you can let Jason and Sonny in again to look for more evidence,” Bobbie said with a shake of her head. “Elizabeth—”
“Can’t get arrested. He’s—” Elizabeth turned squinted at the uniform, who was trying to pretend he was anywhere else. “He’s right. You can’t find Carly if you—”
“That is not your job,” Jason began. “It’s mine—”
“My fault.” Elizabeth wasn’t sure how, but it had to be. Ric was hers. She had promised herself to him. Chosen him.
“Elizabeth, do you believe Michael?” Sonny said, his voice tight. “Do you think Ric is involved?”
Elizabeth drew in a sharp breath. “Oh, God. Oh, God.” She couldn’t say it. Couldn’t. If it was true, oh God, what had she done?
“Please come with me,” Emily begged, tears sliding down her cheeks. “Please don’t stay here. It’s not worth it. Jason and Sonny—” She got to her feet, went to the uniform. “You’re new, right? Do you know Lucky Spencer?”
“I—” The uniform nodded. “Yeah, we’re friends—”
“Then you need to listen to me. My brother is going to get Elizabeth out of here. And you have to help—”
“I can’t—” the cop shook his head. “I can’t let him leave—”
“Then, Jason, you have to come back—”
“Elizabeth is right,” Sonny muttered. “Even if she’s drugged out of her goddamn head, she’s right.” He scrubbed his hands over her face. “Taggert and Capelli are just looking for Carly. They’re not going to tear the house apart. But Elizabeth being here means we can. Jason—”
Elizabeth nodded, relieved that someone understood. “You can come back. If Ric did it, you need to know for sure. You can’t waste your time. I can’t go.”
She had to stay. Had to make it right. Her head started to swim, and she pressed a hand to her eyes. “Oh, God. I think I’m going to be sick.”
“I don’t care about any of that,” Jason growled. “I’ll come back with or without permission. She’s not staying here another minute—” He started to get up, but Elizabeth’s other hand shot out, took his hand.
“I can do this. I’m—I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I think I might be sick.” Elizabeth took a deep breath, and her stomach started to settle. “But I told you. I wasn’t lying. I haven’t felt well in weeks. I’ll go see a doctor. But Carly’s missing. And she’s pregnant.”
Her head was starting to clear. She could finally feel herself coming back. Elizabeth rose to her feet and saw Jason’s expression as he also stood up. The anguish. The fear.
And the knowledge that some of that was for her—that it wasn’t just because of Carly—that filled something in her. An empty piece of her soul that she hadn’t even realized was missing.
“This is the way I can help,” she said softly. Meeting his eyes. Looking at him the way she used to, begging him to believe her. To know her again.
His eyes softened. “Don’t ask me to leave you here—”
“You can’t make me go. You know I’m stubborn. I promise. I—I’ll go talk to a doctor or something. But right now, you need me here.” She looked to Bobbie. “I can be more useful here. Let me help.”
Jason pressed his lips together, shook his head. “No—”
But he was cut off when the police returned with a smug Ric. “Now that you’ve looked in all the rooms,” her husband said as he wisely stopped at the doorway, scowling at how close Jason was standing to her. “You can all get the hell out of my house—”
Elizabeth took a step back, relieved when her balance held. “I let you look,” she said, hardening her voice. She kept walking back, away from their worried expressions. “She’s not here. Ric didn’t do this, okay? He wouldn’t hurt Carly.”
“See?” Ric said with a lift of his chin. “You tried to make her turn against me, but Elizabeth loves me, Morgan. Not you.”
Jason swallowed, looked at Sonny. “Let’s go,” he said.
He stalked towards the doorway and out to the porch.
“Don’t think this clears you,” Taggert said with a jab of his finger. “Just because she’s not in here, it doesn’t mean anything.”
“I’ve been home all night,” Ric retorted.
“Elizabeth, please—” Emily said, anguished. But Bobbie took her arm and led her from the room.
“Corinthos,” Taggart said. “Let’s go. We need to go down to the station.”
Sonny shook his head, but left the living room, following Taggert out the door. The uniform looked back at Elizabeth once more before closing the door behind him, leaving her alone with her husband.
Lansing Home: Front Lawn
Jason wanted to put his fist though the goddamn wall. Why the hell had Courtney called the fucking police? If Taggert and Capelli hadn’t shown up, Ric would be somewhere being tortured for what he knew, and Elizabeth—
Elizabeth would be safe.
He had seen her swaying, her pale face, her dilated pupils, listened as she tried to think. Tried to understand what was happening around her. And the fact that this wasn’t the first time she had felt like this didn’t really make him feel better.
It just meant that the fucking monster had been drugging her for weeks.
When that asshole had brought up her miscarriage, Jason had watched her crumble inside and admit that she wasn’t okay. He’d wanted to take her away, to tell everyone else to go to hell, Elizabeth had to be safe.
But then she’d been there at the end, her head had cleared enough for her to give him that look. She wasn’t asking to stay because she didn’t understand what was happening.
No, Elizabeth had done what she always did—took the weight of the world on her own shoulders. Blamed herself for Carly’s kidnapping. Made it her problem to fix.
“Jason,” Bobbie said with tears in her eyes. “I am so sorry, I tried—”
“I’m going back there,” his sister hissed as she left the house, joining them on the front step. “As soon as Taggert lets us go, I’m going to drag her out of here by her hair, and then you’re going to lock her somewhere until she stops being so goddamn hard headed—”
“Right now, she thinks she’s helping. She’s upset. She’s not thinking clearly.” Jason swallowed. And if the PCPD hadn’t been there, he could have done more. She would have come with him willingly before they arrived. Before she understood Carly was missing.
“Are you going to meet us at the station?” Taggert demanded as he joined the group and the front door closed. “Or do we have to take you in the patrol car?”
“I should stay here,” the uniform said. Capelli turned to glare at him. “I mean, the witness saw Lansing. If he leaves the house—”
“That’s a good idea,” Taggert said before Capelli could snarl at the uniform. “Good clear thinking, Rodriguez.” He looked at Morgan. “I saw her, too, Morgan. He’s guilty as fuck.”
“Taggert,” Capelli began.
“He did it. I don’t know how, but she consented to a search which gave us nothing. She refused medical treatment, didn’t she?” he asked Bobbie. Bobbie sighed, and Emily just folded her arms with a scowl. Taggert nodded. “Exactly. We don’t have a lot of options. Rodriguez, you stay here until the end of shift—we’ll bring someone to relieve you—”
“I’m fine. I’ll work a double. I’ll stay all night if I have to.” Rodriguez lifted his chin. “I—I didn’t like how she looked, sir. If she changes her mind—”
“A patrol car should be right outside.” Taggert nodded. “Okay. Let’s get down to the station and figure out what’s next.”
Jason met the rookie’s eyes and, for the first time in his known life, felt a rush of gratitude for a cop. He’d listened to them. He knew Elizabeth’s condition. And the kid was going to stay.
And as soon as Taggert let him go, Jason was coming right back here to force her to go. He just had to pray she would be okay until then.
Lansing Home: Living Room
Her shoulders slumped when the door closed, and she looked at Ric. “Why did he say those things?”
“What?” Ric said, with wide eyes. “You know I didn’t take Carly. I’ve been here—”
“About my pulse. My pupils.” Elizabeth went to the mirror over the fireplace mantel and scowled. She couldn’t tell now, but she didn’t doubt Jason for a moment. Still… “My eyes look okay—”
“He was lying to you,” Ric said gently. He moved behind her, put his hand around her shoulders, gently rubbing. “Trying to get you to leave me. You stayed. You believed in me.”
He leaned down, brushed his lips against her neck, and it took everything in her not to flinch. Not to move away.
Because she didn’t believe Ric. She believed Michael. She believed Jason. And she knew…she knew something wasn’t right about tonight. It wasn’t the first time she had felt so fuzzy, so tired, and weak. She’d thought it was from the fall. The recovery. The deep sadness inside.
She had a job to do. She turned and managed a weak smile. “He was scared. Carly’s missing. And Michael probably saw something in the dark that looked like you. Poor kid. He must be terrified.”
Ric nodded. “But the PCPD are involved, and you were right to let them search. I’m sorry I was so angry—”
“Well, now they know she’s not here.” She forced herself to kiss his cheek. “They can look for her somewhere else. I’m still not feeling well—I think I’m just going to go upstairs. Get some sleep.” She hesitated. “I’m going to sleep in the other room, though.”
“Elizabeth, I thought—”
“I’m just feeling sick to my stomach a-and you know I haven’t been sleeping well. You said you were getting up early to look for office space, right? I don’t want—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. She could do this. “You need your rest.”
“Okay,” Ric said, with a tilt of his head. “If you’re sure.”
“Very sure. Good night, babe.”
She kept the smile on her face as she turned away, as she climbed the stairs, and went into the second room. She wouldn’t sleep, but at least…she wouldn’t feel obligated to let him touch her again.