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The lights were too bright. The music was too loud. His clothes were too fancy. She was too clingy. He didn't want to be here, but Carly was his best friend and this was important to her. Of course, Carly thought everything she did was important. This time, she was celebrating the birth of her daughter, Josslyn. He stayed in the corner hoping for a little peace and quiet, but she wouldn't stop talking. He was still trying to figure out how she was back in his life, but he had no energy to get rid of her.

He knew it was pointless, but he came to see Elizabeth. He knew she would be with Lucky. He knew he wouldn't get to talk to her. He knew she would be out of his reach. He wanted to see her anyway. He looked around discreetly, but he didn't see her.

Carly loved big parties and this one was no exception. She had really gone all out and invited friends and enemies alike. He wasn't surprised she had invited her enemies. He was surprised, however, that Carly's enemies had accepted and attended. Almost everyone he knew was there.

Jason looked up to see Lucky enter the party. He waited for Elizabeth to follow him in, but she never came. That didn't make sense. They were engaged and would have come together. He tried not to worry, but he knew something was wrong. He could feel it.

The next ten minutes were spent working on a plan to find Elizabeth. In the middle of his musings he sensed her presence. cHe looked at the door and was alarmed at her appearance.

Her hair had originally been up, but one side looked like it had been pulled out of the bun and was now wild and hanging free. Her make up was smudged and her eyes red and puffy from crying. The look in her eyes made his heart stop. One strap had been ripped from its seam in the back and was now hanging down the front of her dress. On her arms were spots hinting at bruises that looked suspiciously like fingers. Her dress was dirty, mostly in back like she had been rolling around in the dirt. One side of her dress had been ripped creating a slit from knee to upper thigh. Her hands and legs were scraped and raw. She was limping because she had lost a shoe, but he suspected it was more than that. The knot in Jason's stomach grew.


She made it to the party and breathed a sigh of relief. She believed she could be safe here. There was safety in numbers. Someone she knew would have to believe her, right? She knew there were some who would ridicule her and label her a liar, but she had to believe that number was few. She felt safer already as she quickly scanned the crowd looking for someone, anyone, who would help her. She knew he would help, too, but she would have to find him first.

Moments later she saw Robin and hobbled towards her. She could feel the looks of people watching her, but she kept going. She had seen Patrick's horrified face before finding Robin's shocked face in the crowd. She turned as she reached the corner of a table at the end of the room and felt someone coming from behind. She turned all the way around and raised her voice with her hands in front of her.

"Don't touch me!"



She took a step back and turned and walked away. She could feel others coming closer, too, but put her hands up again to keep them away. She made it to Robin and turned so that Robin would have to put her back to the door to talk to her. Robin got close, but made sure not to touch her. Elizabeth's voice was a whisper and her eyes pleading.

"I need your help, please. Please take me to--"

She looked behind Robin to the door when it opened. She started shaking and almost grabbed Robin's arm, but stopped before touching her. She knew the moment Nikolas saw her. He slowly followed her original path she had taken to get to Robin. She was frozen in place until he turned at the same table she had earlier. He was now less than twenty feet away and finally her legs obeyed the frantic command in her head. For every step he took toward her she took one to the right. She had some trouble getting around the tables and chairs because she never took her eyes off Nikolas. It didn't help her shoe was still strapped to her foot. She tried to not get hysterical, but she could have sworn he was closing in on her. Her breath hitched. She continued to stumble and pitch around the tables and chairs trying to keep her distance and make it to the door. Nikolas moved quickly and when he was about five feet away Elizabeth whimpered.

Suddenly her view of Nikolas was blocked by a breathing wall of solid man. She could feel the anger, strength and even security that radiated off of him. She stepped closer to him, but stayed behind him.

"Get out of my way, Jason." Silence. "I'm here to talk to her, not you."

She moved even closer to Jason's back and clutched his suit jacket between his shoulder blades with her right hand. Jason's voice became menacing.

"You can see why I'm not about to let that happen."

Nikolas scoffed and Elizabeth felt Jason tense.

"What's it to you, Jason? Elizabeth isn't even a blip on your radar. Don't bother pretending now."

"I don't care what you believe, but you are not getting near Elizabeth."

Nikolas bellowed for Lucky. Elizabeth shuddered and moved even closer to Jason. Her hand still clutched the back of his jacket. Her left hand unerringly found his left and he closed his hand around her small fist. He gently squeezed in reassurance, but her hand was ice cold and made him angrier with the person in front of him. Lucky came up next to Nikolas.

"Make Jason move."

"What's going on, Nikolas?"

"It's just a misunderstanding, Lucky. I just need to explain. It was just an accident. It was an accident!"

"What happened?"

"I just wanted her to listen to me, but she just kept saying no. I like her, Lucky, but she just kept saying no."

Jason almost took a step at Nikolas' words, but he felt Elizabeth's forehead on his back and she was shaking. He looked at Lucky.

"You deal with him....or I will."

Jason reached behind Elizabeth with his right arm and gently slid his hand across her back. He nudged her with his fingers to get her moving, but she refused to let go of him or even move at all.

New plan.

"Elizabeth, I'm going to turn around slowly, okay?" He felt her forehead rub his back, up and down. "You're going to have to let go for just a minute, okay?" There was hesitation and then her head moved again. He waited and would wait as long as she needed. However, just a few moments later she let go of him, but didn't step back.

He slid his right hand from her back to her right hand and held it. He turned slowly toward her and then moved to cup her elbows. As she leaned in and grabbed his lapels he caught Sonny's eye and jerked his head towards Nikolas. Sonny nodded.

"You ready?"

She nodded and he scooped her up into his arms. He refused to look back on the man who did who knows what to Elizabeth and as he left the room he shielded her view and took her to safety.
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