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Things were not going the way she thought they would, Elizabeth thought again as she rushed down the cold winter street. It had been weeks since the masked ball and since her best friend Emily died. Sobbing beside the body of her oldest and most cherished friend she’d promised to follow her heart…and that was to Jason.

But he wasn’t cooperating. Even since he overheard Lucky tell her that he wanted to protect Jake and raise him as his own son Jason was adamantly agreeing. Elizabeth had argued with Jason for weeks but so far hadn’t gotten anywhere. She knew it was because of Emily and because Monica blamed him, saying it was his fault that Em had died; and Jason believed her. The police asking questions every day about the Zacharas connection to Sonny and Jason wasn’t helping.

Elizabeth had one last desperate gamble and she prayed as she hurried it worked; she could feel Jason closing himself off to Jake…to his son…and maybe to her. She hugged Jake closer in the cold wind as she hurried up the street to Jason’s building. It was late but she’d been fortunate the one babysitter she trusted had been available to watch Cam. She crossed the street carefully double checking both ways before doing so. Unconsciously she knew it was an after effect from being hit by Courtney years before and losing her vision.

The building was warm and she loosened her long dark wool coat and slipped off her scarf, wrapping it around her handbag. She slipped Jake’s wool cap off while his wide blue eyes stared at her. Every time she looked into them she thought the same thing; that they were Jason’s eyes. “Don’t worry baby I promise this is going to work”’ she whispered as she snuggled him close to her and hoped she wasn’t lying.

Jason stomped down the last few stairs of the condo and rounded the corner planning to grab a beer and sit in the quiet, hoping that Spinelli would stay out good and late and he wouldn’t have to try to keep his patience with the boy. Jason knew he meant well but he was getting to the point where every conversation with him centered on Elizabeth and Jake and how he thought Jason was making a mess of things. Not that he was alone; everyone else he knew thought the same thing, they just knew enough not to mention it after he told them to shut the hell up. Except for Spinelli.

He was deep in his dark thoughts when he heard the knock on the door and swore. “What?” he snapped as he jerked the door toward him. He stopped when he saw Elizabeth and his son Jake both staring at him startled. He knew instantly she was here to talk about his agreeing with Lucky about Jake. Jason had already made it clear it was too dangerous for anyone to know about his relationship to Jake; they had been arguing about this for weeks, ever since he had made the decision but lately she had been a lot more aggressive in her arguments.

“What’s wrong? What happened?” she asked as she brushed past him into the warm house. It always took Jason back a little to realize that no matter what mood he was in or what happened she was never afraid or nervous around him, even when he yelled or was angry. Of course sometimes it surprised him that everyone else was.

“Nothing.” He said automatically, clamping back on his frustrations as he automatically reached for Jake while she shrugged out of her coat. He stopped short realizing that was what she was hoping for and let his arms drop to his side taking a few steps back.

“What are you doing here and why is Jake here?” he scowled letting frustration creep into his voice, already knowing her answer.

“Because you haven’t seen him in weeks and you need to.” She snapped back.

“I told you this was NOT going to happen.” He snapped back averting his eyes from his son’s who were identical to his own.

Elizabeth slid Jake from her right side to her left marveling at how heavy he was getting. She hadn’t brought his stroller since part of her plan was that Jason would take him and hold him and that would help him realize what he was missing.

So far that part of the plan was not going well.

“And I told you it WAS going to happen. You agreed with Lucky because you’re grieving and you know it, because you feel guilty about Em.” She snapped back starting to get upset. “But you had nothing to do with what happened to Emily.”

Jason turned away from her imploring words and from Jake and stalked to the large glass doors leading to the patio trying to put some distance between them. Every part of him wanted to hold her and Jake and tell Lucky to shove what he wanted, but he clamped down on that part of himself and told himself again that he was doing this to protect Jake. He already felt guilty about still being with Elizabeth but he hadn’t been able to stay away from her. Every time he was alone he told himself he wouldn’t see her again but when he woke up next to her and she was in his arms he knew he would never be able to stay away.

“I agreed because it’ll keep Jake safe if no one knows he’s mine.” Jason spit out.

Oh, really? What if I just told everyone?” She practically yelled patting Jake on the back as he started to huff and fuss. She knew that she and Jason yelling at each other was just going to upset Jake but she couldn’t help it.

Jason spun around and stared at her taking deep breaths before replying getting himself back under control. “You won’t do that. It won’t work.” He finally replied quietly.

Elizabeth knew he was probably right, everyone would just think she was lying anyway. It hurt her that he knew that and that he was right.

She tried another tact “Jason you said that you weren’t sorry about what happened between us.” She didn’t wait for him to speak but pushed on “You said that when you heard that Jake wasn’t yours you felt like you lost something.”

“I meant that…” he started but she interrupted him

“You said that you wanted to have me and Jake and Cam as your family…that we could be a family.”

“I know…” but she just spoke over him.

“You said that you could protect us and I believed you…I believe you now.” She implored him, tears in her eyes.

“It isn’t that simple…God…you know that I should have protected Emily and didn’t, no matter what I said.” He chocked out knowing that he was hurting her and wincing as Jake started to cry harder.

“I’m…protecting Jake. That’s what this is about. You knew that before…you accepted it before…that hasn’t changed.” He finished clenching his fists to keep from grabbing the crying baby and soothing him.

“I was wrong before Jason. I made a mistake before and you know that.” She said quietly not bothering to try and sooth Jake anymore, his screams mirroring the ones in her head. “Lucky isn’t doing this for Jake he’s doing this to hurt me and you, he doesn’t care about Jake like you do.”

“Please…” she tried chocking but knowing at the same time she hadn’t gotten through to him.

Jason knew she was right but images of another funeral and a small infant casket flashed in his head and instead he moved quickly past her and out the door, not looking back.
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