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Elizabeth walked quickly down the windy street her mind on the phone call she’d received less than half an hour ago. It was the last phone call she’d expected to get and she couldn’t quite grasp that it had been real. Worried that something was wrong she tried not to think of the call and what it might mean. But letting her mind drift it went to where it always went…Jason. She wondered where he was, who he was with, was he ok, was he thinking about her, did he regret them being together, did he regret how they ended. Feeling herself slip into a dark place she didn’t want to think about she forced herself to focus on putting on foot in front of the other.

Stepping off the elevator of the Metro Court restaurant she shrugged out of her coat glancing around.

“Good afternoon Ms. Webber.” Eugene said taking her coat.

“Oh Hello Eugene, how are you?” she asked the maître de while he took her coat.

“I’m fine miss. How are you? Are you meeting someone?”

“Yes…oh there. Thanks.” She replied absently hurrying across the restaurant.

The older woman stood up her face cool and perfectly calm even with the small smile that played around her lips, her dark blue eyes reflected slight dismay as Elizabeth hurried across the restaurant.

Elizabeth stopped and kissed one cheek and then the other. Always the same she thought, not quite contact, not quite touching.

“Hello Elizabeth. How are you dear?” The woman’s smooth rich voice slid over her.

“Hello mother. I’m fine how are you?” Elizabeth said to her mother, Claudette Webber, resisting the urge to explain her jeans and casual top as her mother’s eyes raked over her. She’d been out shopping and running errands today and hadn’t had time to go home and change. Seeing the disapproval flare in eyes identical to her own she bit her tongue.

Claudette sat down discreetly crossing her legs at the ankles before she answered, “I’m fine dear. Do sit down.”

Elizabeth took the seat opposite her at the small table and nodded as a waiter appeared and poured her tea.

“So how is dad?” she asked when the waiter moved away. Elizabeth hadn’t spoken to her father Jeff in a few months since he had gone down to Africa to help Steven at his clinic.

“Your father is in Africa with Steven…I will never understand their need to be in that place. I assume you speak to Steven.” She shuddered delicately.

“Yes sometimes…not often…it’s hard to get a line out most times. And grams how is she?” Elizabeth felt the same thing she usually felt when speaking to her mother that she needed to be extra careful of her grammar.

“Settling in well. You know it really is much better that she moved closer to us…the flying back and forth was getting so tiring for her and well her family…” she stopped and raised a perfectly arched eyebrow, “except for you of course is all in Europe.”

Smiling slightly, internally she frowned that her mother still never commented on how people were just where they were or what they were doing. It was almost like it never occurred to her that she might like to know how they were.

Taking the time to gather her thoughts she sipped at her tea, not responding to the comment about family, she’d heard it before. “And Sara how is she?”

Years of practice made her able to hide both her amusement and her disappointment as her mother’s face lit up for the first time. “well you know the wedding is this fall and it is coming along so wonderfully…Gunther is such a dear…”

Elizabeth tuned out as her mother went on and on about Sara and her fiancé and the wedding, as she’d known she would. Elizabeth was glad for the break. Knowing that she could tune out and not really listen. It wasn’t as if she didn’t care about her sisters up coming wedding, although if she were honest she didn’t care too much, it was just that seeing her mother here was still a shock.

She and her mother had never been very close but they hadn’t spoken at all for two years. Two years ago when Elizabeth had testified at Jason’s murder trial and their affair had been made public knowledge had been the last time. Her mother had said she was disgraced and disappointed at the decisions Elizabeth made and that was the last they had spoken. Her father made excuses but Elizabeth had expected nothing different.

Catching the pause in her mothers voice she blinked and realized that she had stopped speaking. “I’m sorry…is everything all right then?”

“Of course…yes everything is fine,” her mother answered steadily not quite meeting her eyes.

“Then why are you here?” she blurted out.

“Elizabeth. Really…how rude. I had business in New York and your father asked after you when I spoke to him and I thought…” she trailed off.

“How long are you here for and where are you staying?” Elizabeth asked unsure what else to say.

“I’m staying here…I was told it was the nicest hotel in the city and owned by Jasper Jax and I’m not sure how long I’ll stay…a few days at most.”

Elizabeth smiled wondering if her mother knew of her unusual relationship with Jax if she would think she had made any better decisions in life, but probably not.

“Claudette?” Jax’s strong voice suddenly echoed from behind Elizabeth.

Elizabeth turned around as her mother smiled wide and rose from the chair holding out a hand.

“Jasper…we were just talking about you.” Elizabeth noted the warmth in her mother’s voice was considerably more than when she had arrived.

Jax kissed her hand and then glanced down at Elizabeth. “Elizabeth how are you…beautiful as always.”

Claudette gasped slightly, “You two know each other?”

“Yes of course…Liz is an old and good friend…you two know each other?” he said confused.

“Elizabeth is my daughter,” she answered hiding her surprise.

“Daughter? Claudette is your mom?”

“Yes she is…I didn’t know you two knew each other,” Elizabeth answered her smile slipping a little.

“We have been on a few of the same arts committees in Europe,” Jax answered smoothly not betraying his confusion over the fact that neither woman had ever mentioned the other.

“So how is Lady Jane?” Claudette asked politely.

“Wonderful…hornery as always…she always asks after Liz…she adores her.”

“That is so kind,” Claudette answered vaguely while Elizabeth knew she hadn’t won any points with her mother over her friendship with Lady Jane.

“So Claudette are you staying here at the hotel. “ Jax waited until she nodded, “and are you happy with your suite...if not let me know and we’ll you to the west penthouse. And sorry ladies but I need to get going and I’m sure well see each other again before you leave.”

Sitting back down Claudette lowered her voice, “why didn’t you tell me you know Jasper Jax…how long have you known him?”

“ A long time mother…” she started to say but her mother cut her off.

“Before he married this new wife…I understand she is wretched and they are having problems.”

She agreed that Carly was wretched but didn’t say that. “Yes mother before he married Carly…and actually Jax loves her a great deal.”

“Well that is just fine…while you were making a mess of your life you could have been married to someone like that,” her mother said pouting.
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