A/N – Thanks for the comments! What a nice welcome. I'm glad I surprised you.
Jason and Elizabeth went to the dining room table where Epiphany had set out a big plate of fried chicken, mac and cheese, and salad.
"That looks so good," Liz said as her mouth watered.
"Lord, thank you for blessing us with this food and thank you for the blessing of good friends. Amen."
"Amen," they said.
Jason and Liz ate until they were stuffed.
"I'm going to have to roll home."
"I need to put some padding on you if you're going to stay in that drafty studio," Piph said.
"It's not that bad. Sometimes, I just have to bundle up."
Piph shook her head. "What am I going to do with you, Webber?"
"Feed me at least a few times a week and I'll let you hang out with me and help me study."
Epiphany laughed. "That's a deal." She is pleased that Jason and Liz are getting along.
"Oh, by the way, Carly Benson comes by the diner every day asking if you've been there," Liz said.
Piph chuckled. "She could have told you before dinner and ruined your appetite."
Liz smiled when Jason almost gagged. "Was she your girlfriend?"
He sighed. "Do I have to answer that?"
Epiphany cracked up. "He was just rocking her world and she got addicted to his—"
"Get your mind out of the gutter, Morgan. How do you know I wasn't going to say your sparkling personality or your bike?"
He shot her a look as Liz blushed.
"His relationship with Carly was complicated. She's a human wrecking ball, so stay out of her way if you can," Epiphany said. If there is anyone that totally lacks common sense and a filter, it's Carly Benson.
"Okay," Liz said.
"When are you leaving?" Jason asked.
"Tomorrow morning. You gonna miss me?" Piph said.
He fought a smile, but it was obvious from the twinkle in his eyes that he is amused. "Yeah..."
Liz is mesmerized by them. It's the most unlikely friendship she has ever seen, yet it is so genuine. When Epiphany approached her, she had been surprised, but the woman had pushed and asked her to house sit and then offered to pay her. When Liz pressed for more details, Piph admitted that she also would have to change Jason's bandages and make sure he doesn't get a fever. She wasn't sure she could handle it, but Epiphany patiently let her practice on her arm and explained everything, only leaving out who it was and how he got hurt.
"I need to finish packing. I left a few days of meals in the fridge and you can have leftovers for tonight."
Stan had come in, hearing the end of the conversation. "Not my leftovers…"
Piph grinned. "I already put it in Tupperware for you. It's on the second shelf."
He kissed her, said hi, and then ran into the kitchen.
"Liz, you can sleep in my bedroom. I'll change the sheets before I go. Jason is in Stan's old bedroom."
Stan reappeared with the food. "Jason, can I talk to you for a second?"
Jason pushed himself up and they went into the dining room. "What's up?"
"Sonny is looking all over for you and he's in a foul mood. Carly stops by and I think they have sex, but he kicked her out twice already. They argue a lot, but I have a feeling they like it." While he's no guru on relationships, theirs is toxic.
"Johnny said that Sorel knew you were coming, so someone snitched."
"You think Sonny set me up?" The plan was supposed to be that Jason showed up and made their stance known and then left, but it had gone south fast.
"Well, he sent you into a bad situation, but I think it was just stupidity and arrogance. He's really upset. He mumbles to himself a lot. I think he forgets I'm there sometimes and he has said that he was just trying to save you from her a few times."
Jason rolled his eyes. "Unbelievable…"
"What are you going to do?"
"Your mom threatened to cut me in a very private place if I leave before she gets back."
Stan grinned. "She means it too."
"I know. After that, I'm going to have to get back out there and clean up my mess."
"Sonny might not let you go."
"He may have no choice. He betrayed me."
"There's a rumor that the Corelli's want the territory. The five families know how Sonny disrespected you. Old man Corelli is going to retire and then Francis will run everything and from what I hear, he's fair and not bi-polar like Sonny."
"Are you implying that Sonny has mental issues?"
"Is the Pope Catholic?"
Jason smirked. "See if you can get Johnny a message to stop by here tomorrow."
This may change things. If he isn't entirely leaving the business, then the five families probably wouldn't have a problem with it. They were never really a Sonny fan because of his arrogance and would realize that having a stable boss in the area would be more beneficial to them.
Jason went to the bathroom as Epiphany eyed Elizabeth.
"You look like you want to ask me something but are scared to."
Liz wrung her hands. "It's embarrassing."
Her face had already started turning a deep pink which amused Piph.
"Elizabeth, I'm a nurse and a full-blooded woman. What is it?"
"It's just, what you were about to say about Jason and sex. It's hard for me to imagine being that crazy about it." Since her first sexual experience was being raped and then after that Lucky Spencer, she doesn't have a lot of knowledge about the subject nor does she feel that comfortable doing it.
Jason froze in the hallway, hating to eavesdrop, but not wanting to embarrass her.
"I'm getting the picture. I know what happened when you were sixteen, but that wasn't sex. Didn't you enjoy it with Lucky?"
Liz shrugged. "It was okay, I guess." She had shied away from it a lot, so Lucky backed off, figuring it was about the rape and hoping that over time, things would change.
"Well, that is the saddest thing I have heard in a long time. Sex, if done right, can be otherworldly. Have you ever had an orgasm?"
Liz turned a shade of red Epiphany had never seen before.
"I don't know."
"I'll take that as a no."
Even Jason is turning red, so he moves back to the bathroom door and shuts it, making Elizabeth jump and then moves forward.
He notices Liz's complexion but doesn't say a word, choosing to sit in a chair and grab his travel book.
"I probably should be going." She had embarrassed herself enough.
"Are you sure?" Piph is glad that Liz had confided in her and made a mental note to bring up the conversation again when she returns.
Liz nodded. "I'll stop by after my shift which ends at 3:00."
"Let me walk you out."
"See you later.
The women move to the porch and Piph shuts the door behind her.
"Elizabeth, one day you are going to fall for a person that will rock your world and then you'll understand the statement I almost made."
"I hope so. Jason seems nice. He's not like I thought he'd be."
Epiphany chuckled. "Then why were you so nervous?"
"I don't know. He kind of scares me, but not in a violent way. It's hard to explain."
"Let me know when you figure that out…"
Liz doesn't get the hint but gives her a hug anyway and then gets into her beat-up car.
Piph watches her drive off and then mutters to herself. "You don't know it yet, Elizabeth, but you just met the one."
The next morning, Jason puts his hands on his hips. "Piph, just tell me where my gun is, you can't leave me here unprotected."
"Elizabeth will protect you." She pulled her suitcase towards the door.
Piph rolled her eyes. "You think I don't know that you've practically torn apart my house looking for it when you are supposed to be resting?"
"Whatever—please give me back my gun."
"You can go get it."
"In my bathroom…"
"But I already looked in there."
She smirked. "Not in the tampon box."
A look of horror emerged on his face.
"What? It's not tainted now. They are in packages. For a man who has probably gotten blood splattered on him and not even blinked, you sure are squeamish."
"I'll have it decontaminated."
"You are being ridiculous."
"Can you get it for me?"
She gave him the stink eye. "Boy, you better get your ass in that bathroom and get it if you want it."
He shifted on the couch. "Later..." He has a plan.
She shook her head. "Sometimes, I just don't know what to do with you."
"Break a bed?"
"I will if you get my gun for me."
"You have lost your mind."
"I don't really have one, remember?"
"You are not stupid except for right now."
His jaw dropped.
"Don't look all shocked and offended. I can't believe you offered me your body because you don't want to touch a tampon box."
"Uh—I can't believe you didn't accept."
Her loud laughter filled the air. "Normally, I probably would, but I like making you suffer. I'm going to be late messing around with you. Be good for Elizabeth and please don't overdo it."
She chuckled as she got into the car. He is just too much. God, she would love to see him retrieve his gun. It is almost worth missing her flight over.
Liz waited patiently while Nikolas decided what he wanted. Finally, he rattled of his choice and she jotted it down and started to walk away.
"I'm working, Nikolas." Things had been a little tense between them, Emily included because everyone thought they should tell her how she should grieve. It didn't help that something happened that caused them to doubt her sanity.
"I'm sorry if I upset you. If you say you felt Lucky was around, who am I to argue?" He's worried about her. The last few months had been difficult and when she told him and Emily that she thought she was being followed and then thought she felt Lucky, they were instantly concerned and tried to force her to see a therapist, which pissed Elizabeth off to no end.
She sighed. "Fine, I forgive you, but don't do it again."
"I promise that I won't."
"What are you doing this weekend?"
"I'm house sitting for Epiphany."
"Well, if you want to come, we're going to a rave Saturday night."
"Emily said she won't go without you."
Liz rolled her eyes. "I'll think about it."
"Let me know."
She put in the order and then cleaned off a table, thinking about what Epiphany said. If she didn't put herself out there, then she'd never know what it would be like to be addicted. Her heart still hadn't healed from her loss and she's not sure that she is ready to move on yet, but the aching loneliness is almost overwhelming. Somehow, she needs to find some relief.
Jason opened the door to find Johnny standing there with a smirk.
"What's up? You look like shit," he said before moving past Jason with a bag in his hand.
He placed it on a table. "Alright, I got you some more bullets, a few travel mags, beer, a couple of t-shirts and a pair of jeans, sweatpants, and some underwear."
"Where's your gun?"
"Funny you should ask, follow me."
Johnny eyed him curiously before following him through Piph's bedroom into the bathroom.
Jason opened the cabinet.
"Okay…where is it?"
"In that box…"
Johnny's head tilted. "You put your gun in a tampon box?"
"Hell no. Epiphany hid it from me and finally told me where right before she left."
Johnny grinned. "She's a fucking genius."
"Can you get it for me? I shouldn't bend down."
The guard let out a loud laugh as Jason's face contorted.
"Stop being a wus, Jason, and just grab it. They aren't used."
"Shut it, O'Brien. You don't know her, it could be booby-trapped."
Johnny doubled over laughing and then had to regain his balance when Jason shoved him.
Jason sucked in a breath and leaned over and grabbed the box. "Women…" he muttered. He ripped open the top and there it was, his favorite gun surrounded by possibly his least favorite object. Tampons meant no sex, so they sucked in his opinion unless, of course, the girl is more adventurous.
"They won't bite."
Quickly, he grabbed it and a few tampons flew out and hit him in the face and Johnny had to wipe his eyes from laughing so hard.
"You better not tell anyone else about this."
"I've killed for less."
"You're so tough. Maybe you should hang one off the barrel."
Jason shook his head. "Asshole…"
"But you still love me."
They went into the living room after Johnny cleaned up.
"Stan told me that the Corelli's are looking to take the territory. Does Sonny know?"
Johnny nods. "I think he suspects it and that it's part of the reason he has been looking for you.
"This stays between us."
"Always..." His loyalty will always lie with the man sitting next to him. Jason had been a raw nerve when he first started, but he learned quickly and had exceeded their wildest expectations.
"I might defect."
"Wow. I wasn't expecting that."
"I can't work for him anymore. Epiphany helped me see a few things more clearly. Sonny demanded loyalty from me but gave me none in return. This business is too cutthroat to not be able to trust someone and I don't believe that he cares about my best interests." Sonny's excuse just didn't cut it. He slept with Carly because he wanted to tame her and when Sonny wants something, he takes it and doesn't consider the consequences.
Johnny stares at the man he considers a friend. Jason hadn't said so many words at once since he had met him. Something had changed and Johnny is glad. If Epiphany is the one responsible, then she's going to get a big kiss very soon.
"How do you want to approach Francis?"
"I don't want to bring anyone else to this house. Epiphany means too much to me."
"You've gotten pretty close to her fast."
Jason softly smiled. "She doesn't put up with any shit and I like that she's straight with me. To her, I'm family and she has my back."
"I'm happy for you, but for the record, I have yours too."
"Ditto." Friendships don't come easily to him due to his lifestyle and personality, but Johnny always had a way of eventually dragging things out of him. He just isn't as scary as Epiphany.
"No one is going to know how special she is to me. I can't put her life in danger, so we'll need to meet somewhere else without Sonny getting wind of it."
"Leave that to me, I'll make it happen. Now, are you sure you are alright? You look a little pale."
"Maybe you're missing Epiphany."
Jason rolled his eyes. "Nice try. Can you stay for lunch? Piph's mac and cheese is really good."
Johnny grinned. "You stay there and I'll heat it up."