It’s the same sad echo when you lie
It’s the same sad echo when you try to be clear
It’s the same as the same sad echo around here
– Echo, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Sunday, June 21, 2003
Crimson Point, New York
Zacchara Estate: Trevor Lansing’s Office
It was days like these that Trevor Lansing wished like hell he’d drowned the boy in the bath as a child. Richard had been nothing but a disappointment since the day he’d been born—not even special or important enough for his mother to stick around—
He’d done what he could, but Richard was useless.
“You haven’t stuck to the plan since day one,” Trevor snarled when his son arrived that Sunday. “You had your instructions—”
“It’s working,” his son retorted. “I’m just not following your orders.” Ric scoffed. “I’m the one in the middle of everything—why should I listen to you?”
“I got the PCPD breathing down our necks—you know the Crimson Point police are just chomping at the bit to get to Anthony. Faith Roscoe is calling me, making threats—” Trevor whirled around, stabbed a finger at his phone. “You were supposed to be taking Corinthos down from the inside and you’re so far outside—”
“They’re weak right now. Looking for Carly.” Ric shrugged. “You worry too much. Don’t call my home—”
“What, because I might meet your wife?” Trevor let his eyes open wide. “You think I’m stupid, Richard? You think I don’t know about the lure of a pretty girl? You had one job with the Webber girl. Screw her secrets out of her. Find Morgan’s Achilles heel. Get rid of her, Richard. And—well, you might as well kill the Corinthos woman as well. Cut your losses.”
He scowled, turning back to his desk. Perfectly good plan shot to bloody hell. This was supposed to be his chance—his moment to get revenge on Sonny Corinthos for costing him a good woman, leading Adela to her death, and for him to step out from under Anthony Zacchara’s thumb.
The territory was supposed to be his, and he was damned if Richard was going to blow it for him.
“Elizabeth stays,” Ric said, stubbornly. “Morgan doesn’t care about her.”
“Damn it.” Trevor rubbed his face. “This weakness comes your mother, I just know it. Dead more than two decades and she’s still haunting me.” He sat behind his desk. “Look, I’m sure the girl is nice. I’m sorry you lost your kid. Tough break—”
“It’s Sonny’s fault,” Ric insisted. “He pushed her. He killed my baby. And he’s stealing Elizabeth from me.” He shrugged. “So I’m taking his woman. His kid.” He smirked. “I should have killed the little bastard when I grabbed Carly. No witnesses—”
Trevor stared at his son—for the first time, seeing the light in his eyes as something more insidious than anger. Talking about killing kids—Jesus. “Maybe your idea had merit before the cops got involved, but it’s time to cut your losses,” he repeated. “You know your wife only married you because of the kid. Cut her loose. We’ll give her a nice settlement. Come back home. We’ll figure out another way to get at Corinthos—”
“This will work.” Ric shook his head. “You just have to let me handle it.” He paused. “The PCPD thinks I did it for you and Anthony. Maybe if they had a lead to investigate—maybe you can find a way to make them think Carly just left.”
“I can try to lay a few false trails.” Trevor waited a moment. “My patience is running thin, Richard. You’ve let Faith Roscoe dangle in the wind, and she’s crazy. You don’t want her thinking you’re the enemy.”
“I’ll take care of Faith,” Ric said. He glared at his father. “Don’t summon me again. Get the cops off my back so I can do what needs to be done.”
Trevor watched him go and shook his head again. Ric had gone off the deep end, and he had a bad feeling that if he didn’t get the idiot under control, Ric would take everyone down with him when he crashed. He had no intention of helping him with any false leads, to tangle himself up more in this catastrophe than he already had.
They would wait for the scheme to explode and deal with the pieces then.
Monday, June 22, 2003
Brownstone: Living Room
It had been more than three days since Carly had vanished from the church, and Bobbie looked as if she had been awake for every single hour of those days. Her dark red hair lay limply against her shoulders, her dark eyes shadowed.
At her side, her niece Lulu was attempting to feed her—a bowl of soup, a cup of coffee lay untouched on the table.
“I don’t understand how he could have taken her and not have led you to her yet,” Bobbie said, her eyes rimmed with red. “Taggert tells me Ric has barely left the house—only went down to Crimson Point yesterday—no stops. No evidence he’s gone to see her.”
“I know,” Jason said, dragging his hands through his hair. “It doesn’t make sense. I don’t know what to do next.”
“You’re sure he acted alone?” Lulu asked, unable to control herself anymore. No one ever asked for her input, and she was eager to try to help. To do something for the aunt that had taken her in without protest after her mother had fallen…. ill.
“Yes,” Jason snapped, tired of defending himself even to a kid. “I am.”
“Hey.” Lulu held up her hands. “Listen. I’m just trying to help. I believe you. I just—” She bit her lip. “A girl listens. And pays attention, you know? Maybe he took Carly on his own, but I mean—has he been working against you guys alone the whole time?”
Jason frowned at her. “What?”
“He’s been in Port Charles since November,” Lulu pointed out. “I remember when he came to Kelly’s because it was my first week and I broke like eighteen plates. Liz was trying to figure out how much to take out of my paycheck when he rented the room.”
“Odd that he went to Kelly’s to rent a room,” Bobbie said, tilting her head. “I remember thinking that then. He dressed in Italian suits, custom made shoes but lived at Kelly’s. He threw a lot of money around—remember?”
“Yeah,” Lulu nodded. “At Mrs. Hardy’s service, I remember he handled all the arrangements, which I thought was nice because Liz was so upset. She argued later because he had paid for a lot of it up front and then wouldn’t take any money when it was settled.”
“He came to Kelly’s because of Elizabeth,” Bobbie murmured. “He was pursuing her almost immediately. Oh…” She pressed her fingers to her lips. “He targeted her.”
“Because of me.” Jason looked away. “Yeah. I tried to tell her that, but—”
“She wouldn’t have listened.” Bobbie got to her feet. “He comes from money, that’s clear. But I’m trying to think of anyone else he’s done legal work for—”
“Well, he helped Ned,” Lulu said. “Remember? They had meetings at Kelly’s. I don’t know what about—Liz always told me not to eavesdrop, but they had paperwork and stuff. And wasn’t Ned pretty pissed at you guys last year?”
“The warehouse.” Jason sat down, put his head in his hands. “Yeah. Kristina, his fiancée was killed. And he’s never liked Sonny.”
“Ned might know something. Maybe a property or just—something.” Bobbie clenched her fists in her lap as Jason’s cell phone rang.
He took it out of his pocket and exhaled slowly, answering it with some relief. “Hey. Yeah. Okay. Thanks. Look, we’ve been talking, and I think we’ve—” He stopped, his brow creasing in frustration. “Elizabeth, don’t—Fine. Yeah, I’ll talk to you in an hour—okay, no, I’ll meet you there.”
He stared at the closed phone for a long moment. “Ric was out looking at office spaces this afternoon,” he said. “She searched the house again. Nothing. Nothing we missed yesterday.”
“There’s nothing in the house,” Lulu said, with some irritation. “Why is she still there? We should just force her to leave. She’s so selfish—”
Jason scowled at her, and Lulu blanched at the banked fury in his eyes. “What?” she said defensively. “She’s making everyone worry about her instead of Carly—”
“She’s doing this for Carly,” Bobbie said, touching Lulu’s hand.
“I get that, but it’s just stupid.” Lulu shrugged. “She knows that as soon as she leaves the house, she’s going to be put on the plane to California. This way, she gets to stay in the middle of it and have everyone look at her.” She pressed her lips together. “Everyone thinks it, Jason, I’m not the only one—”
“Everyone,” Jason repeated, getting to his feet. “How many people are speculating about Elizabeth where anyone, including her psycho husband, can hear?”
Feeling a bit chastised now, Lulu hastily tried to take it back. “That’s not what I mean. I mean—I just—I went to check on Michael this morning, and I was talking to Courtney, and she’s—she’s so worried about Carly, and I mean—I’m right, aren’t I? I mean we’re talking about Liz, not Carly. Liz made her choice. It’s like Courtney said—”
“I’m going,” Jason said to Bobbie, tuning Lulu out. “We’ve got eyes and ears on Ric. I’m not going to rest until she’s home, Bobbie.”
“Don’t kill yourself.” Bobbie got to her feet, embraced her daughter’s best friend. “You need to keep your strength up. Eat. Rest. Take care of yourself.”
“I will.” Jason flashed an irritated glance at Lulu before he left.
“He’s just mad because I’m right,” Lulu complained. “I get Liz is trying to help, but now look, Jason’s meeting her at the hospital instead of looking—”
“What is Jason supposed to do?” Bobbie snapped. “Ric is the one who took her. We know he acted alone. He’s watching Ric—” Her voice broke. “And if Ric doesn’t lead us to Carly, then we know she’s—she’s somewhere for us to find, and maybe he’ll—”
“I’m sorry, Aunt Bobbie,” Lulu said miserably. “I didn’t mean to upset you. I know Jason is trying hard. I’m just—I don’t know. Something is so weird about all of this. Like, how can Carly have just vanished? It’s like she has to be in the house because that’s the only place Ric has been, but she can’t be.” She sighed. “I’m sorry,” she said again. “I probably shouldn’t have told Jason what Courtney’s been saying about Liz. It’s probably not helping.”
“No, it’s not,” Bobbie said, but then she looked at the meal her niece had been trying to convince her to eat before Jason’s arrival. “We’re doing everything we can right now,” she told Lulu. “But I should take my own advice.” She got to her feet. “I think I’m going to go make some pasta for dinner. I’m suddenly starving.” She would need all the energy she could muster to get through the next few days.
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
Courtney stepped off the bottom step and frowned as she watched her brother take another drink. She knew for a fact that the bottle of bourbon at the mini bar had been replaced three times since Carly had gone missing.
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” she asked, irritated. Why the hell wasn’t he out looking like Jason? Jason was trying to find Carly and had barely been back to their penthouse while her idiot brother sat in this room, drinking himself into a stupor.
“Don’t talk to me about having enough,” Sonny muttered as he tossed back the entire tumbler of bourbon. “There’s not enough alcohol in the world.”
“Michael’s asleep,” Courtney said, folding her arms. “If you even care.”
Sonny whirled around, his dark eyes bright with anger. “What the hell does that mean?”
“It means that you’re not doing anything to help Carly,” Courtney snarled. “You’re not cooperating with the police, you’re not taking meetings, you’re not even talking to Michael—you’re just drinking yourself into oblivion.”
“I’m not doing anything to help?” Sonny shot back, waving the glass at her, weaving slightly. “Fuck you. I don’t cooperate with the police—”
“Oh, yeah, because God forbid Big Bad Sonny Corinthos asks for help!”
“You’re a dumb little girl, you know that?” he squinted at her, then dismissed her by turning back to the bar. He reached for the bourbon.
She rushed across the room and jerked the bottle out of his grasp. “You keep trying to make this my fault, Sonny. Like I did what I did to hurt you and Jason—”
“No, I honestly think you thought you were helping. That’s what makes you an idiot.” Sonny sighed and reached for the vodka instead. “I knew you were an idiot. That’s why I told Jason to stay away from you.” He shook his head. “I told him you couldn’t do this.”
“But Jason ignored you. He loves me,” Courtney said, with a confidence she no longer felt. “He chose me—”
“He wanted to prove me wrong,” Sonny said. He bypassed pouring the alcohol this time, and just drank straight from the bottle. “Wanted to prove everyone wrong.”
“What are you even talking about?”
“Wanted to prove he was his own man, that he didn’t always put me first.” Sonny shook his head. “I should have let him tell her. This is my fault. If I had just told her the truth, she would have stayed.”
“Are—” Courtney frowned. “What did you lie to Carly about? She didn’t leave you, Sonny. She was kidnapped.” With disdain dripping, she continued, “Or are you too drunk to remember that?”
“If she had stayed, you wouldn’t have been there.” Sonny sank onto the sofa, leaned back and looked at the ceiling. “She wouldn’t have called the cops.”
Her blood boiled as she realized exactly who the hell her brother was talking about. “Oh, right, because perfect sainted Elizabeth knows your life,” she growled. “She’s the one who couldn’t handle it. I’m still here. I got kidnapped, didn’t I? Did I run to someone else? Did I leave Jason?”
“No.” Sonny met her eyes. “You got kidnapped for five hours. Not weeks. Not trapped in the dark.” He closed his eyes. “I should have been a better friend. I should have explained it to him. Trapped in the dark. You do anything to make the dark go away.”
“You’re too drunk to talk to,” she muttered, starting across the room. She turned around. “Right now, you’re blaming me. You’re blaming Elizabeth for not staying. Me for calling the police. Look in the goddamn mirror, Sonny. The only person here to blame is you!”
Courtney stabbed a finger at him. “You put Carly in danger, Sonny. Just like you do to everyone in your life. How lucky are we that Michael wasn’t grabbed, too? You couldn’t protect Carly any more than you could protect him. He’s traumatized and you’re down here getting drunk. Some fucking father and husband you turned out to be.”
She slammed the door behind her as she left the penthouse, the door frame cracking.
Sonny opened his eyes and blanched. “You’re not here. You’re not here,” he told himself, squeezing his eyes shut. But when he opened them again, Lily just smiled at him. That sweet smile.
“You couldn’t protect me either, Sonny. You’re not supposed to be a father.” Lily tilted her head. “You should have known better.”
General Hospital: Monica’s Office
Elizabeth stared at the lab report and swallowed hard. “How-how long did you say you could trace the…” She looked up at met Monica’s kind but worried eyes. “Not…not just a month…”
“The hair follicle test suggests it’s around January. Not in great doses—”
Elizabeth closed her eyes as Monica continued, remembering the home cooked dinners he’d made her once he’d moved into his own apartment in February. The spontaneous pastries and treats he had brought to work. The wine he’d brought to her the night her grandmother had been buried.
“Why…why would he—” She swallowed hard. “Why would someone use Valium to drug someone? You said the doses weren’t—”
“It’s used to treat anxiety mostly,” Monica told her. “Panic disorders—” She pressed her lips together. “I don’t know why he started to drug you back then. To keep you calm?”
“I guess.” Elizabeth slid her fingers over the report. “I haven’t felt well since my grandmother passed away. I’ve—I’ve had trouble sleeping. Eating.”
“He might have been trying to help you at first, but at some point—” Monica hesitated. “It’s possible you’ve developed a tolerance, and he had to keep increasing the dosage—”
Her breath seized. “Oh, God, is this why I had the miscarriage? Does this—”
“Valium use during the first trimester can cause malformations, defects.” Monica shook her head. “But not necessarily a miscarriage, though it’s likely—” She bit her lip.
“It’s likely for the best that it happened because my baby would have been damaged.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “It just never stops. He’s been drugging me for months—I nearly died—and if our child had lived—” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “What—what happens next? I mean—I don’t know—I don’t understand it—He let me drive—I could have killed someone on Saturday—”
“Elizabeth—” Monica stopped as her intercom beeped. “Yes?”
“Ah, Dr. Quartermaine, your son is here. He said he’s expected.”
“Oh, right, I asked Jason to meet here because Ric’s at the house.” Elizabeth sighed.
“I can have him wait, Elizabeth, while we talk—”
“I’d just have to go over this with him—he knows I’m here for my results.” And even if she didn’t want to tell him—somehow, she knew she had to. She couldn’t live with this on her own.
“Send him in.”
A moment later, Jason entered the office, his expression hesitant. “I didn’t mean to interrupt—I could still wait outside—”
“No, it’s…” Elizabeth handed him the lab report, knowing Jason would understand it. “It turns out he turned me into a drug addict.” She looked back at Monica. “Because I can’t sleep. And—I feel—” She held out her hand which shook slightly. “I think I’m in withdrawal.”
Jason scowled. “He’s been drugging you since January?”
“Well, what I’d like to do, Elizabeth, is to check you into the hospital overnight and we could talk about some things you could do—” Monica nodded. “But I can see from your expression that’s not going to happen.”
“Ric would find out if I was in the hospital overnight,” she told her. “He’s leaving the house more. Looking for office space, but maybe he’s looking for a place to move Carly.”
Jason grimaced. “Elizabeth, this is about your health—”
“We knew Ric was drugging me. We knew it wasn’t just on Friday,” Elizabeth interrupted. “This doesn’t change anything—”
“Your symptoms could get worse, Elizabeth,” Monica pressed. “They can last up to two weeks—” She bit off her words. “I can’t watch you walk out of here, knowing that you risk that animal doing this again—”
“Keep the lab report.” Elizabeth took it back from Jason and handed it to Monica. “Because I might—we might need proof later. But—this can’t keep going on, right? He’ll move Carly this week. We’ll find her. And then, I promise, Monica, anything you want me to do—I’ll do it.”
Monica scowled. “Elizabeth—”
“I’ve made it this far.” Elizabeth took a deep breath, fought back the urge to just scream at them both. She was a goddamn adult and could make her own decisions. “Thank you. I know you’re worried.” She looked at Jason. “I know you’re both worried. But knowing that he’s been doing this to me—I have to help take him down. I have to be part of it. I can’t just fly away to California.”
“If he hasn’t moved Carly this week,” Jason said slowly, “we’ll figure out something else. But this is it, Elizabeth. After Friday—” He swallowed hard, likely upset at the idea that Carly could continue to be missing for that long— “We try something new.”
“Thank you.” She looked back to Monica. “Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me yet.” Monica sighed and looked at her watch. “I have to make my rounds. You can use the office as long as you need to. And keep my number on speed dial, Elizabeth.”
With another unsure sigh, Monica left.
“I know you don’t agree,” Elizabeth said when she was gone. “But—”
“The only reason I’m not throwing you over my shoulder and dragging you kicking and screaming onto a plane is because you’d just turn around and come right back.” Jason swallowed. “I don’t know if Carly is even alive, Elizabeth. And every minute you’re in that house, you might end up dead, too—”
“She’s alive.” Elizabeth touched his arm. “She has to be. There’s no reason for Ric to do anything to her. I think—I think he’s trying to replace our baby.”
“What?” Jason demanded, his face draining of color. “What do you mean?”
“Before—before we moved,” she said. “When I came home after losing the baby—he wanted to try again. Immediately. For a couple of days, it was all he could talk about. I think he thought I’d leave him.” She sighed. “He was right. I only married him because I was pregnant, scared, and alone. But then he stopped talking about it. And he bought the house. And now…I basically told him I don’t want to get pregnant again. I don’t sleep in the same room. And he keeps telling me everything will be fine—that we’ll have our family and I’ll understand.”
Jason sat down in one of Monica’s chairs. “You think—”
“I think he’s got Carly somewhere—alive—and he’s planning on taking her baby. It would be justice. Taking Sonny’s child because he thinks Sonny took ours.” Joke was on Ric—Ric had murdered their child long before Elizabeth was pushed down those steps. “I don’t know who pushed me—”
“That’s who I should be looking for. I should have been looking for them all along.” He stood back up. “Because the police report said you were pushed, they just didn’t have any suspects.”
‘The report—” Elizabeth shook her head. “No, Ric said the police didn’t—” She huffed. “Of course, he lied about that, too. He said the police weren’t interested—but they did look into it.”
“Taggert likes you,” Jason said plainly. “And he thought he could get Sonny. But Sonny was caught on camera in the parking lot. He questioned Sonny, but—he seemed to think it wasn’t likely Sonny would use you to get at Ric.”
“I never thought he would.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “But someone did. I—I don’t know why I haven’t really—could finding that out help us find out where Carly is?”
“I know Ric kidnapped her on his own, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been working with someone since he came to Port Charles. “Jason hesitated. “What do you know about Ned working with Ric?”
“Ned?” she repeated. “I mean—I think Ric handled some property stuff for ELQ after Sonny and Carly fired him—” She hesitated. “But Ned hates you. And—And I know Ned has…worked with Faith Roscoe. She…. really hates me.”
“Faith?” Jason shook his head. “Why?”
“Because—” Elizabeth looked away. “Because I—of Ric. I don’t know if they were—I don’t know. But she’s been…. around.”
“Okay.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “Okay. I can look into them. Is—is Cody working out okay?”
“Yeah, he’s great. And it’s been—” Her throat felt thick as she tried to continue. “I’ve felt a lot safer knowing he was right outside if I needed him. Thank you.”
“I wish like hell you’d just leave, but I don’t have time to argue that again. I have to meet Justus and Sonny—” Jason hesitated. “You’ll call or text me in an hour?”
“Yes.” Elizabeth nodded. “I promise.” She picked up her purse. “I should get going. If I get home first, I can order dinner in and not have to make excuses.”
Jason followed her out, but they split up at the end of the hall. She took the elevator down to the lobby, and he took the stairs.
Corinthos Penthouse: Hallway
When Jason stepped off the elevator, he was surprised to find Justus waiting outside the door with Max. He frowned. “Is there something wrong?”
“Sonny isn’t letting me in,” Justus said with a sigh. “He’s…Max said he’s having a rough day.”
They looked at Max, who just shrugged. “Miss Matthews was over earlier, and they had words.” Jason scowled at the thought of his fiancée—whatever good sense he and Sonny had attributed to Courtney had disappeared since Friday night and her call to the cops.
Courtney had done nothing but be a nuisance for four days straight.
Jason stepped past Max and knocked. “Sonny—”
Sonny jerked the door open, his black hair disheveled, his eyes red. “Did you find her?”
“Don’t come back until you do.”
He slammed the door. Jason glanced at Justus, who looked as troubled as Jason felt. It had taken only days for Sonny to hit the edge of what he could handle—
And Jason wasn’t sure he had the time or energy to drag Sonny back from the abyss.
“Is—anyone home at my place?” Jason said hesitantly. The fact that he was dreading the thought of facing Courtney told him he had some decisions to make when this was all over.
“Miss Matthews went to the Brownstone. She took Michael to see his grandmother when he woke up from his nap.”
“We can go to my place,’ Jason told Justus.
“It’s fine,” Justus said, with a wave of his hand. “I just wanted to let you know that we got the injunction against the search warrants of the commercial properties. It’s going to give us some breathing room to get things in order, but there’s a hearing next week.”
“By then, this should be over. “Jason didn’t want to think about how horrible it would be for all of them to be living in this nightmare much longer.
“If it isn’t,” Justus continued, “the odds are that they’ll grant the warrant. Should—should I let Johnny O’Brien continue taking care of what needs to be done?”
“Yeah.” They looked towards Sonny’s closed door. “Yeah. Johnny and Tommy know what to do. You—you can touch base with me for a few days. I think we need to give Sonny some space.”
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
The room was dark—the only light slipped through the curtains he’d drawn across his windows. Sonny sat on the floor in front of the unlit fireplace, his knees drawn up, a bottle of whiskey at his side—he’d gone through the vodka once Courtney had taken Michael to Bobbie’s and moved on to what was left.
Courtney was right. They were all right. He was a drunk who couldn’t protect his family. Why did he think he could have children? Why did he think God would stop punishing him?
“That’s right,” Lily said, her smile warm and encouraging. She slid the whiskey closer to him. “That’s right, Sonny. You will never be a father. Everything you touch dies. You’re poison.”
“You’re not real,” Sonny muttered, bringing the whiskey to his lips, desperate to make her go away, even if he had to black out to do it.
“No, I’m dead. And it’s your fault. It’s your fault your son is dead. All of your sons.” A smile spread across Lily’s face—a malevolent smile that his sweet wife had never had in real life. Was he being haunted? Was he being tortured? “For all you know, Carly is already dead. So, drink up Sonny, until you’re too drunk to care.”