As the smoke clears, I awaken
And untangle you from me
Would it make you, feel better
To watch me while I bleed?
All my windows still are broken
But I’m standing on my feet
– Skyscraper, Demi Lovato
Wednesday, July 9, 2003
Lansing House: Driveway
Jason put the SUV into park and switched off the ignition. Neither he nor Elizabeth reached for their door handles.
“I can have someone come in and get your things,” Jason said after a moment. He looked at her, but her eyes were still staring straight ahead at the garage door. “Monica would do it for you—Bobbie—”
“I can do this,” she murmured. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the seat. “It’s just…I don’t know. I just got out of the hospital yesterday.”
“We could wait,” Jason told her. “But—”
“But Scott told me Ric has another bail hearing tomorrow and he might be released this time. Yeah, I know. I just want this part of my life over with.” She exhaled slowly. “Okay. Let’s go ahead.”
She reached for her handle and heard Jason get out of the car on his own side. She was unsurprised when he quickly strode around the front of the car and pulled her door open before she could do it for herself. She had worked hard to get her strength and stamina back during the last week, but she still tired easily and Jason had been very worried about her doing too much too soon.
“Jason—” She started to say but then just sighed and let him help her out of the SUV. It was a step down and she was occasionally still a bit dizzy when she stood up. “If you don’t let me do things for myself, I’m never going to get my energy back.” But she softened her words with a smile—she knew how very close she’d come to losing her life and how hard it had been for him to watch it.
“I know,” he admitted. He stepped back and she closed the car door. “I’m working on it.”
It was a warm day but cool in the shadows, and Elizabeth felt the goosebumps rise as she stepped onto the porch out of the sun. Mail had been shoved into the box hanging next to the door until it no longer fit, then had started to pile up on the mat in front of the door. She stared down at it, then raised her eyes to the door.
She really didn’t want to open it.
Jason picked up the mail that had been on the ground and held it in his hands. “I could call Monica,” he offered again.
“I never saw it—the panic room, I mean,” she murmured. She reached into her purse and took out the silver key she had already removed from the key chain. She slid it into the lock and pushed the door open.
The panic room had always been there, opposite of the door, though Elizabeth had not known it. Every time she had walked through this door, Carly had been locked just behind the wall in front of her.
The panic room had been dismantled—the entrance now a gaping dark hole in front of them with the sliding door removed. “I barely remember pressing the button,” Elizabeth said softly. She set the key down on the table and watched as Jason set the mail down next to it. He returned to the mailbox and retrieved the rest.
“I didn’t see it either,” he told her. Their eyes met. “I knew something was wrong—I came in—and you were on the floor.”
She touched him, sliding her fingers down the soft skin of his forearm, then pressed her forehead against his shoulder. “It seems like a dream now—that day. How much happened in just…a few hours.”
They both looked at the panic room, and without discussing it, walked across the room. Elizabeth stayed behind while Jason went inside.
The dual rows of small television screens were on the far side—across from a cot where the remains of a chain were still attached to the wall. A small refrigerator was tucked under the table in front of the screens. On the opposite side of the cot stood a set of sturdy metal shelves, all of which were empty now. Their contents probably taken in as evidence.
Elizabeth knew from her conversations with Scott and Taggert that Ric had kept a lock box there with unlabeled bottles of pills. Not just Valium and birth control, but stronger sedatives. She didn’t know if Ric had ever used them.
She didn’t want to know.
Jason stared down for a long time at the cot, a thin mattress laid over a metal structure. At the chain that had been clasped around Carly’s ankle.
“Let’s get your things and get out of here,” Jason said after a long moment. He walked past her and headed for the stairs.
Everything Elizabeth had brought to the house could be packed into a single suitcase and small cardboard box. When Jason saw the small pile of possessions and frowned at it, she merely sighed. “I kept telling myself I’d bring the rest of it from my studio or get the things from my grandmother’s house out of storage. I put it off. And then obviously, after last week…”
He wouldn’t let her carry anything down the stairs, but Elizabeth counted herself lucky he’d allowed her to walk up them at all. He watched her, though, warily, as she slowly descended.
“Can you take that to the car? I just want to go through this stack and make sure nothing is mine.” She gestured to the mail on the table. “Ric put in a change of address for me when we moved. I already canceled it, but things might have come through.”
Jason hesitated. “I’ll wait until you’re done. We’ll go together.” He scanned the room. “I know he’s in jail, but I just—” He paused. “I don’t want you alone in this house. I know that sounds—”
“It doesn’t,” she interrupted. She started to flick through the letters—most of it was junk mail and advertisements from local stores. A battered envelope with her name scrawled—and misspelled—across the front looked as though it had been sent on from her grandmother’s address, then to her studio before finally arriving here.
“This is the only thing that’s mine,” Elizabeth said. She intended to tuck it in the box—maybe open it later back at her new condo—but the return address caught her attention. Pentonville State Prison. She bit her lip. “It’s from the prison.”
“Yeah?” Jason set her suitcase down and joined her, looking at the envelope over her shoulder. “Do you know anyone—”
Elizabeth had already opened the envelope and unfolded the letter before she remembered who exactly she knew in Pentonville. She released the paper violently, flinging it away—it floated in the air for a second before falling to the ground at her feet.
She’d already seen the signature.
Jason reached for it. “Elizabeth—”
“I don’t want to see it,” she snapped. She tore the paper out of his hands, crumpled it up and flung it away—turning before she could see it land just beside the box of her things. “It’s from Tom Baker.”
“Tom Baker—the photographer who—” Jason snapped his mouth closed. “Why would he write you?”
“I forgot—” Elizabeth sighed. “Emily got a postcard from the parole board that he was—he’s up for parole in December, and she told me about it. He probably wants to make sure I don’t show up at his hearing.”
“I don’t want to read it. I don’t—I can’t have him in my head right now—” Of course he already was, but Elizabeth shoved it aside, ruthlessly ripping the envelope into small pieces and dumping them in the wastebasket next to the desk.
“Okay,” Jason said again. “Is there anything else you need?” he asked her, and she appreciated him for not pushing the subject. Not even commenting on it.
She started to say no, then saw the wooden handle of her bat sticking out of the umbrella stand. “Just this,” Elizabeth said. She pulled it out and showed it to him. “I don’t want to leave this behind.” She looked around the room—at the house where she’d nearly died—and shook her head. “There’s nothing else. Let’s get out of here. I never want to see this place again.”
Her bat in hand, Elizabeth left—leaving her key behind on the table. Jason picked up her suitcase and with his other hand, started to reach for the edge of the cardboard box when he saw the letter crumpled up next to it.
Without examining why he did it, Jason picked up the crumbled ball, shoved it into the pocket of his jeans, picked up the box and followed her out.
PCPD: Commissioner’s Office
Scott flipped through some paperwork and handed a copy to the mayor. “Mac already has this, but you should be happy to know that not only are arrests up fifty percent in the last seven days, but Major Crimes at the DA’s office has obtained pleas in about half of the open cases on the dockets.”
Floyd studied Scott’s report with a murmur. “Did your office put together a press release with these numbers? The Herald is still chewing out the PCPD, and in the last editorial, I was name dropped.”
“Can’t have that,” Mac said dryly. “The media liaison sent this over to the Herald, but they said they’ve already got their story for tomorrow.”
Scott got to his feet and shrugged. “Can’t do anything but what we’re doing now. I have a meeting, so…” He left them, closing the office door behind him.
Floyd stared after the district attorney with barely veiled malevolence. “Did you know his popularity numbers are through the roof? What if he tries to run for mayor? The deadline isn’t until the end of the month—”
“Do you ever think about anything other than elections?” Mac demanded as he sorted through paperwork on his desk and considered the rest of his afternoon. He really wanted to get out of here and have dinner with the girls.
“Watch the tone, Scorpio. I may not be able to fire Baldwin but I sure as hell can fire you,” Floyd reminded him, standing up, folding Scott’s report and tucking it inside his blazer.
“Oh, you wouldn’t want to do that.” Mac also rose with a quirk of his eyebrow. “Do you really want to fire me right now when Elizabeth Webber is probably being counseled to file charges against this department and the city?”
Floyd scowled. “Do you think anyone is going to care about what happened to a rape case five years ago?” He snorted. “We both made that choice, Scorpio. Don’t pretend that you didn’t agree.”
“Situation’s different now. She’s not just some minor victim who may or may not matter to the Quartermaines.” Mac tilted his head. “Does Edward Quartermaine know just who you sacrificed to make sure Tom Baker pay?”
“He didn’t know the specifics, but we all got what we needed. Baker went to jail.” Floyd shrugged. “We made a strategic decision—”
“If and when Elizabeth sues this department for slander and reckless endangerment, the first thing any lawyer is going to do is subpoena any files with her involvement,” Mac told him. “If Justus remains her lawyer, do you think he’s not going to notice we didn’t follow protocol?”
“Then I guess Elizabeth Webber better not sue us.” Floyd went for the door, then turned back. “Your contract expired in May, didn’t it? You’re working at will for the department.”
Mac hesitated. “What about it?”
“The best thing for everyone is if certain truths never came out. It won’t give Elizabeth Webber any peace to know what happened in her case.” Floyd opened the door. “I’ll look over these numbers.”
The mayor left and Mac sat back at his desk, exhaling slowly. He’d always been ashamed of succumbing to political pressure when Elizabeth’s rape case had had an actual suspect to investigate, but he’d told himself that Baker had gone to jail more quickly, and Elizabeth needed the closure.
He wasn’t so sure anymore that he’d done the right thing.
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Dillon sipped his iced tea and sent his girlfriend of exactly one month a bright smile. She just glared at him, whipped the towel from her apron and bent over to clean a recently vacated table.
“You’re still frosty. Okay, I get it.”
“Why do the Quartermaines always have to be our problem?” Georgie demanded. Her brown eyes crackled with irritation. “Why can’t they just stay on Harborview Road and wallow in their drama away from the rest of us normal people?”
“First, I’m a Quartermaine, so hey. Second, I think you’re overreacting—”
“Overreacting?” Georgie sucked in a breath. “Overreacting? First Maxie, now you. What the hell?”
Oh, that explains how chilly Georgie had been even before Dillon had arrived. Nothing pissed Georgiana Jones off like her elder—by two years—sister, Maxie.
“What did Maxie do now?” Dillon asked, and winced because even he could hear how annoyed he was.
“She’s still dating that idiot Kyle, and every time Kyle comes within ten feet of Lucas, Lucas threatens to kick his ass and it’s just so—” Georgie grumbled. “It’s annoying. I don’t know what Maxie sees in Kyle.”
“I don’t know. He was a complete asshole, but he did apologize—”
“And that makes what he did right?” she demanded, planting her hands on her hips. Her raised voice brought the attention of the diner’s few indoor patrons, but she just glared right back at them.
“No, it just makes it Maxie’s decision,” Dillon said as Georgie went back around the counter. “If you and Lucas left her alone, she’d probably lose interest faster.” He offered her another smile—this one with the dimples—but nothing was working.
“So, they had a huge fight on the way here, and of course, Lucas decided to skip out on his shift which he gets to do since he’s the owner’s kid and now I’m covering for him—”
“At least it’s not that busy.”
“Stop trying to cheer me up!” Georgie said with an actual stamp of her foot. “You’re part of the problem. You get here and tell me that Tammy has agreed to hire Satan’s baby—”
“C’mon, Brooke isn’t that bad.” At Georgie’s disbelieving look, he hurried to correct himself. “I mean, yes, there have been some temper tantrums, but she’s been trying lately.”
“So, the bitchiness comes naturally—”
“Hey. Georgie. C’mon. She feels like her mother dumped her here because she got tired of her, and her father was barely ever around growing up.” He raised his brows. “Does she sound like anyone else you know?”
Georgie sighed, but her pretty chocolate eyes had softened, and he knew he had her. “I don’t need someone else here who isn’t pulling their weight. After Elizabeth and Courtney quit, Penny is like the most experienced waitress and she’s an idiot. It’s basically me, and I’m twelve.”
“Whatever.” Georgie poured him a refill of iced tea. “Okay. I’ll give her a chance because I know what it’s like to have parental drama. But she makes fun of my hair once and she and I are going to have a fight.”
“You’re the best girlfriend,” Dillon declared. “Because if Brooke is happy, then Ned is happy, and then he leaves me alone. That makes me happy. So, you’re really doing this for me.”
“Mm…” Georgie sent him a suspicious glare but returned to her work.
General Hospital: Gail’s Office
“It was weird,” Elizabeth admitted as she accepted the herbal tea that Gail constantly pressed on her during their sessions. “To be back in that house after everything that happened. To see the panic room.” She shook her head. “Sometimes, it’s hard to believe it happened at all.”
“It does seem rather fantastical,” Gail admitted. “How is your new condo?”
“Good. I like it. It’s one bedroom, but it has a great view and gets good light, so if I ever feel like painting again, I’ll be ready. Emily furnished the entire thing as a divorce gift.” Elizabeth managed a half smile. “I decided not to argue with her.”
“Is it getting easier accepting help?” Gail asked.
“Sometimes. I guess.” Elizabeth hesitated. “I was having some nightmares in the hospital. Are you…did my grandmother tell you that I had some issues last year?”
“She came and she asked me what I would recommend for someone having anxiety issues and panic attacks after being trapped in the dark.” Gail pursed her lips. “I gave her some ideas, but I encouraged her to bring that someone in.”
“Yeah, well, I wasn’t ready, I guess. I had some nightmares—like I did after the crypt. Just…being trapped in the panic room.”
“That’s natural, I would think. Are you still having them?”
“Oh. No, I did the breathing exercises and stuff you told Gram about last year. But, I, um, told Carly. Because she’s dealing with the same thing. I never really told anyone.” She looked away. “I haven’t had a panic attack since last October, so I’m probably in the clear.”
“You’ve been through a great deal of trauma lately, Elizabeth. I wouldn’t rule anything out, but if you’re taking the right steps, I wouldn’t put it high on your list of worries.” Gail waited a moment. “Have you told Jason?”
“No.” She shook her head. “There really isn’t a need to tell him, Gail. I mean, it’s over. I did it. And I don’t want him to have another reason to worry about me—”
“I only suggest it because some of the symptoms—as you might remember—aren’t always detectable by the person experiencing them.”
“Like that day in the hospital,” Elizabeth murmured, remembering. “I’d had a follow-up to remove my stitches. And something—I don’t know—I got trapped in the elevator. It was in the middle of that horrible storm and the power went out. It was so dark, and I was panicking. I kept—I was looking at my phone…” She stared down at her hands. “I wanted to call Jason.”
“But you didn’t.”
“No. He’d…made it clear that we needed to be away from each other, and I just—I didn’t want him to see me being weak. When I got out the elevator—I don’t remember what happened next. Gram said she found me wandering all glassy-eyed—” She closed her eyes. “She could have used the ASD to berate Jason and make it about her being right. But she didn’t. She was just worried.”
“She loved you very much, Elizabeth.”
“Yeah, I know that. I loved her, too. I miss her so much. I don’t know if all of this would have happened if—if she was still here.” Elizabeth struggled to take a deep breath. Her chest felt so heavy and it was still hard to fully expand her lungs. “If she’d been here, I could have—I think I would have told her when I got pregnant. I wouldn’t have felt so scared and alone.” She closed her eyes. “I wasn’t alone. But I couldn’t feel that. Couldn’t see it.
“I, um, guess I should tell Jason what happened, but it’s—” Elizabeth chewed on her bottom lip, scraping it almost raw. “He’s so…worried right now. It’s hard for him to let me out of his sight. He’s in the lobby waiting for me. I get it. I almost died, and he couldn’t do anything about it. He hates hospitals, and he really hates feeling powerless.” She closed her eyes. “And maybe it should bother me the way he’s hovering. But I don’t…it doesn’t feel like he doesn’t think I can do anything. It’s not like before.”
“No. It’s…it’s like he knows I’m going to try to do much. That I won’t stop when I should. Because I’m too stubborn.” She managed a smile. “And he’s really worried after what happened this morning at the house. I got a letter…from Tom Baker.”
Gail drew in a sharp breath. “Tom Baker.”
“Yeah, um, Emily told me last winter she got a letter warning her that he was up for parole in December. I guess he’s thinking about that—maybe he thinks I’ll come to the hearing and try to derail it. “
“I didn’t read it. I couldn’t. I can’t have him in my head. Though I guess he’s already there.” Elizabeth shifted in her seat. “It’s just something else I don’t really have the energy for, you know? I know what I can handle, and bringing the worst thing that happened to me—outside of this—”
“That’s fair, Elizabeth.” Gail pursed her lips. “So, it’s time to talk about your homework. How have your assignments been going?”
“Well, I did what you told me, and I unpacked my art supplies first. It was nice—Nikolas bought me a new set of brushes—a really nice set—he said it was a divorce gift. I feel like he and Emily are conspiring against me. And Jason is going to stretch a bunch of canvases for me.” She smiled, a genuine one that she felt down to her toes. “He’s good at that. I don’t know if I’ll be ready to paint, but when I am, I’m set up.”
“Good. I’m glad to hear it. And it’s lovely that your friends are helping you find your inspiration again. Now for this week, I want you to think about telling Jason about what happened last summer.”
“Because of the symptoms?” Elizabeth asked.
“Because you didn’t want him to think you were weak and that’s why you didn’t tell him. Because part of you still thinks that’s true,” Gail said softly. “I can see it, Elizabeth, I can hear it. You know he doesn’t think you’re weak now. But I’m not sure you convinced he didn’t think that last year.”
She exhaled slowly. “And…what does that do for me? I mean, I know I wasn’t weak. That should be enough.”
Elizabeth managed half a scowl but sighed. “I’ll think about it. It’s just that Jason and I have done nothing but think about the past and I just…I want to be done with it. I want to think about the future.”
“Then be done with the past, Elizabeth,” Gail told her. She closed her notebook and set it aside. “I didn’t tell you to do it. I just want you to think about why you won’t tell him and to consider doing so. Whatever decision you reach will be right for you.”
General Hospital: Lobby
Elizabeth stepped off the elevator, and Jason immediately got to his feet. Her eyes weren’t rimmed with red and he couldn’t detect any tear stains on her cheeks, so it looked as it had been a less intense session. He knew they were helping but hated that she often looked drained and exhausted afterward.
“Hey.” He slid his arm around her shoulder and tugged her close as he kissed her, long and slow—he couldn’t believe he could do this now—that she was back in his life.
“Mmm…what was that for?” Elizabeth asked as she drew back, her voice a bit husky. “It was only an hour.” She wrapped her arms around his waist, linking her fingers at the small of his back. “What do I get if I’m gone longer?”
He managed half a smile. “Is that a dig at me not letting you out of my sight for more than an hour at a time?”
“I would never.” But she smiled and kissed him again. “C’mon, I want to get out of this place.”
As they walked towards the parking garage entrance, his phone rang. He pulled it out of his back pocket, careful not to dislodge the crumpled-up paper in his pocket. “It’s Sonny.”
He answered his partner’s call and grimaced after a moment. “Okay, yeah, I’ll be in. I just have to drop Elizabeth off at her place.” He put the phone back in his pocket. “I’m sorry, I gotta put in a few hours at the warehouse.”
“Considering you’ve barely been to work since Carly went missing, I can’t really argue.” They stepped on the elevator. “Hey, Monica caught me on my way down. She said I’m clear to drive again.” She slid him a look from beneath her eyelashes. “You want to go somewhere after work?”
“I don’t think Monica meant you were cleared to drive a motorcycle,” Jason said dryly. They had exchanged the SUV for Jason’s bike after unpacking things at her condo. He handed her a helmet. “But yeah. I’ll call you if I’m going to be too long.”
Lucky set a shot in front of one of his regular patrons and smirked when he saw a familiar brunette slide into the stool at the quieter side of the bar. He’d met the new Assistant District Attorney Kelsey Joyce at work a few weeks ago, but for the last week she’d shown up at Luke’s nearly every time he was scheduled to work the bar.
“Back again?” he asked, setting a napkin in front of her. “You like jazz?” he asked over his shoulder as he turned to grab the bottle of gin she favored.
“You know, I’ve never really understood it,” Kelsey said with a shrug. “I get that a lot of people like it, but it just sounds like noise to me.” She wrinkled her nose. “Isn’t this more of a blues club?”
“Nominally.” Lucky set her drink in front of her. “That was my dad’s vision when he opened it. B.B. King played opening night. But it’s a night club in upstate New York. We’ll let anyone in who wants to play.”
“This is exactly what I need after a day like today,” she said after a long sip of her drink. She closed her eyes. “Did you have to work today?”
“Yeah, mostly finishing up paperwork for Lansing.” Lucky leaned against the bar back, folding his arms. “Taggert and Mac are determined not to screw this up. Which would be nice, all things considered.”
“Scott feels the same way. He feels bad about what happened—” Kelsey frowned. “Why do you do that?”
“You grimace when I mention Scott. This isn’t the first time you’ve done that—” She hesitated. “Is—is it about your mom?”
“How—” Lucky scowled. “How do you know about that case?”
“I looked over all the open cases when I took over Major Crimes. Rick Webber’s murder is still an open file.” Kelsey hesitated. “I mean, until your mother is released from the hospital in London and it gets officially discharged.”
“I—” He stared at her. Swallowed. “I thought that was done.”
“Your mother was found not competent to stand trial,” Kelsey said, tilting her head slightly. “Once she is, I’ll revisit the case and see if it’s worth filing charges—”
“Wait—” Lucky shook his head. “She had a psychotic break—”
She bit her lip, glanced around her as if to see if anyone was paying attention to them. “I shouldn’t tell you this, but honestly? I don’t plan to do anything with the case. The scene got screwed up, your mother didn’t confess on record. And I know Scott’s behavior during all of it was awful. He thought your dad did it and went after your mother for protecting him.”
“So, if you know all of that, why do you ask why I make a face when you talk about him?” Lucky went to the other end of the bar to fill an order.
When he returned, he continued, “Look, you want to come in here when I’m working, sit at my bar, talk—that’s all fine.” He folded his arms and leaned over the bar. Leaned in close until their faces were a few inches apart. She smirked. Lifted a brow. “But Baldwin is not something I want to talk about—”
“We work together. All of us. How are we supposed to…” Her smile deepened. “Talk—if we can’t talk about our day?”
“Oh, talking is what you’re interested in doing?” When Kelsey only continued to smile at him, Lucky’s stomach clenched. It had been…a long time since he’d felt even mildly interested in a woman.
“We should probably start there.” Kelsey’s eyes dropped to his mouth for a moment before meeting his gaze again. “But I don’t want to pretend I do something else for a living.”
“Fair enough.” Lucky straightened and pulled back. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Dante walk through the front door, a younger brunette following him, talking animatedly. Her eyes were heavily lined, her lips painted with a deep slash of red, and she wore a lot of chunky jewelry.
Kelsey followed his gaze and frowned. “Isn’t she underage?” she asked. “I’ve seen her at Kelly’s.”
“Yo, Falconieri, you trying to get my license pulled?” Lucky called as his friend sat down next to Kelsey, the girl sliding onto the stool on his other side.
“Just don’t serve her,” Dante offered with a shrug. “This is Brooke Lynn Ashton, my god sister from Bensonhurst.”
“God sister?” Kelsey repeated. “Is that even a thing?”
“We take it very seriously back in the neighborhood,” Brooke offered. She jerked a thumb in Dante’s direction. “Plus, this guy got a call from my ma asking why he hasn’t checked up on me like he promised.”
“They always know,” Dante said, shaking his head. “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Ma has a GPS on my ass. Anyway.” He looked at Brooke. “You come in here, you don’t mess around. Lucky’s a friend of mine. You take that underage drinking to the other dives around town, got it?”
Brooke rolled her eyes. “Like he never bought me any forties back home,” she muttered. “Anyway. I only got caught once—”
“Do you want something to drink?” Lucky asked, raising his voice slightly as the night’s featured jazz band began their first song. “Water? Lemonade?”
“God, this town is boring,” Brooke sighed. “Can I get a soda? Dr. Pepper if you have it.”
“Sure.” Lucky turned around to fill the drink.
“This is Kelsey Joyce, the new ADA in Major Crimes.” Dante leaned back so Kelsey could shake Brooke’s hand. “She’s going to clean up the filthy streets of Port Charles.”
Kelsey snorted. “Sure. Because that’s a thing someone fresh out of law school can do. What does it say about this town that five minutes after I pass the bar, the DA puts me in charge of the entire Major Crimes division?”
“Yeah, but good news—” Lucky folded his arms and grinned at her. “You can’t possibly be worse than what’s come before.”
Kelsey arched a brow and sipped her drink, before turning back to Brooke. “What brings two Bensonhurst kids to Port Charles anyway?”
“My ma married a guy from here,” Brooke offered. “She lived here for a little while before they got divorced. She got irritated with me, shipped me up here so my dad can deal with me.” She peered at Dante. “I’m less clear on how you ended up here. Why aren’t you making time in the NYPD?”
“You work in a large department like New York, you gotta be in uniform for five years before you can take the detective exam. But I heard that Port Charles only makes you do uniform for two.” Dante shrugged. “Plus, you know my cousin Vinnie? He came up here in ‘95 for the same reasons. Your ma recommended it.”
“Two years?” Kelsey repeated. She blinked and looked at Lucky who just shrugged. “You only have to do two years on the street before you qualify for detective? That explains a lot.”
“How’s Port Charles treating you?” Lucky asked Brooke. “You’re staying with your dad, so I guess you’ve been hanging out with Dillon and my sister.”
“Dillon, yes, Lu, no. She went to London before I decided to give Dillon a chance. I’m actually starting at Kelly’s this week,” she told Dante. “Dad thinks it’ll be good for me and I can earn my phone and car privileges back.” She shrugged. “We’ll see. But I’m glad you called, Dante.” She bumped a shoulder against him. “It’s good to see a friendly face.”
“Grab your drink,” Dante told her. “We’ll go get a table closer to the band. Brooke’s an incredible singer. You should get her to do a set here.”
“Dante,” Brooke hissed, smacking him as the duo left the bar and worked their way to the front of the club.
“You know, if the rest of the PCPD were like the two of you,” Kelsey told Lucky once they had gone, “this job might not suck so much.” She picked up the second gin and tonic he put in front of her. “Back to the subject of our illustrious DA—”
“I read the file, Lucky. I know he bungled the case.” She shook her head. “What’s more—he knows it, too. He’s trying to do better. I mean, you guys got along on the Lansing case. And he did good work—don’t roll your eyes. He did. He got his ass handed to him in court over Elizabeth’s medical care.”
“Do you really think that Scott is one hundred percent to blame for what happened to your mother?” Kelsey asked. She raised her eyebrows. “What about the stepfather who lied to her? Or the ex-husband who took her on the run rather than getting her help—”
Lucky grimaced, looked away. “Okay, fine. Nikolas said that my mother’s breakdown was about a lifetime of trauma. And maybe Baldwin isn’t the only bad guy in all of that. But—” he shrugged and moved to refill the mug of another customer. “He’s here. And the rest of people who hurt her aren’t.”
“Fair enough.” Kelsey waited a long moment. “But we can still be friends, right?”
“Yeah.” Lucky smiled at her. “Yeah, we can still be friends.”
Corinthos-Morgan Warehouse: Sonny’s Office
Sonny was scowling at Johnny O’Brien when Jason came into the office later that night. “That’s not the answer I was looking for.” He nodded at Jason, then jerked a thumb at the other man. “He’s telling me that security is still tight at the county jail.”
Jason grimaced as he sat down in front of Sonny’s desk, stretched out his legs and cracked his neck. They’d been trying to find a way to get to Ric Lansing since he’d been arrested and held without bail a week earlier, but the cops had kept him in protective custody.
Why the hell they were protecting such a scumbag, Jason couldn’t understand. He thought Elizabeth and Carly would sleep easier once they were able to take care of him. “He’s got a bail hearing coming up. They’ll have to move him—”
“We can try to get someone to get him in transport,” Johnny suggested. “But there’s a lot of eyes on this case, Boss.”
“Scott Baldwin probably wants the good press of nailing him in court,” Sonny muttered. He sighed. “Carly hasn’t talked much about the bail hearing. Has Elizabeth? Does she know the chances he might be released?”
“She’s hoping he won’t be,” Jason admitted. “Baldwin told her it was a fifty-fifty thing. It’s not a murder case but it’s still a felony. Depends on the judge. It’d be easier to get him if he was out on bail, but—”
“PCPD would have jurisdiction, not the county police, if he dies on the outside.” Sonny looked at Johnny. “Keep trying to find someone—”
“Got it,” Johnny said. He left then, and Sonny turned his attention to Jason.
“Elizabeth get settled in the condo all right?” Sonny asked. “The security upgrade was done in time?”
“Yeah.” Jason leaned to one side to tug his phone from his back pocket, a ball of paper falling to the floor as he did so. He stared at it for a moment, remembering where he’d found it.
“I also wanted to let you know that you, ah, might want to avoid my place for a few weeks. Courtney wasn’t able to get back into her lease at the loft—” Sonny frowned. “Jase?”
“I—” Jason leaned over to grab the paper from the floor. He left it in the palm of his hand. “I forgot. Tom Baker sent a letter to Elizabeth. She threw it away, but—” He shook his head. “I picked it up. Kept it.”
“Tom Baker,” Sonny repeated. He squinted. “That was before I moved back, right? The asshole who went after your sister?”
“Yeah.” Jason cleared his throat. “Emily was being blackmailed by a photographer. Emily and her friends—including Elizabeth—tracked him down and he was supposed to have confessed to—” He paused, forcing the words out, “—raping Elizabeth earlier that year.”
“Jesus Christ,” Sonny murmured, sitting back in his chair, looking a bit shell shocked. “I knew what had happened to her—but I didn’t realize they’d caught the guy—”
“They didn’t. I mean, Baker denied making the confession, and the cops told Elizabeth there wasn’t enough evidence to go forward. They just prosecuted him for the blackmail, and then I guess Elizabeth had…she had a break down in court. Accused him—the DA’s office made him a deal to get at least some jail time. I don’t—I don’t know a lot of the specifics.” Jason exhaled slowly.
He looked at the crumbled ball in his hands. “Elizabeth didn’t want to read it. I guess I thought she might change her mind—”
“Did you read it—?”
“No.” Jason looked at his friend. “No. If there was something in there—I don’t know. She didn’t want to read it. It’s not mine to read.” He clenched his fist, the paper rustling as it was compressed. “She’s been through so much. I just didn’t want anything to come out and surprise her. Hurt her.” He shook his head. “He’s up for parole in a few months. I went to see him before I left town that first time—to remind him to stay away from Emily…and Elizabeth.”
“Maybe it’s time pay him another visit,” Sonny suggested. “Remind him who might be waiting on the outside if he comes anywhere near her.” He shook his head. “Don’t tell Elizabeth if you go.”
“What?” Jason frowned. “Why not—”
“Hey. Look, she didn’t even want to read the damn letter which is probably nothing more than asking her not to show up at his parole hearing. She doesn’t want this in her head. I know you can’t sit back and ignore this letter, but there’s no reason she needs to know.”
“Yeah.” Jason shoved the letter back in his pocket, then scrubbed his hands over his face. “Yeah. You’re right. She doesn’t need this. I’ll keep him away from her, and we’ll just…we’ll focus on finding a way to get rid of Lansing. For good.”