Chapter 46

"Elizabeth, think about what you are doing."

Elizabeth placed a folded shirt into her bag and took a deep breath. She didn't want to have this argument again with her grandmother. "I'm moving back to my studio. That's all. Nothing more. It's time I started living my life again."

"Darling, you just got out of the hospital," Audrey said.

"That was three weeks ago," Elizabeth said as she placed another shirt into her bag. "I've done everything my doctor has told me to do. I've rested enough. The summer semester has already started. I need to catch up in all of my classes. I was lucky the dean allowed me to stay in the program considering all the time I've missed."

Audrey moved to sit on Elizabeth's bed. The brochures she had given her granddaughter were lying on the bedside table. "Have you even looked at the other schools I talked about?"

"No, I haven't," Elizabeth said as she continued her packing.

"Elizabeth," Audrey said her voice laced with a combination of disapproval and disappointment.

"Grams, I'm not having this conversation again. We have gone over this a thousand times since I was released from the hospital. I'm not leaving Port Charles."

"What about your dream of attending The Art Institute in New York?" Audrey asked taking the brochure in question off the table.

Elizabeth stopped her packing and stared at the book in her grandmother's hand. "My dreams have changed. I want to stay and finish the art program here at PCU."

"No, you want to stay here to be closer to Jason Morgan," Audrey said not even trying to hide the distain she felt from her voice.

Elizabeth sighed. "Jason has nothing to do with me moving back to my studio and going back to art school."

"He has everything to do with your decision to move back to your studio and attend PCU. If you weren't infatuated with him, you wouldn't be refusing the money I offered to go to the school you've always wanted to go to," Audrey insisted. "He is the reason you don't want to leave this city."

"Even if that was true, which it isn't, so what?"

"So what?" Audrey asked incredulous at her granddaughter's deliberate ignorance. "Jason Morgan is a cold, unfeeling mobster that has no conscience and kills with no thought to the fact that it is wrong."

Elizabeth shook her head disappointed in her grandmother. "If you knew Jason, you would know that he isn't the man you just described."

"What do I have wrong, Elizabeth? You cannot stand there and tell me that he is not a mobster, a hit man, who kills whenever Sonny Corinthos orders him to. Just because he has never been convicted for his crimes, doesn't mean he doesn't commit them."

"Gram, that is his job, not who he is."

"Is there a difference?"

"Yes, there is," Elizabeth insisted, a smile forming on her face. "The Jason I know is gentle and patient. He lets me be myself with no façade. With him, I don't have to pretend about who I am. I don't have to be afraid of him turning me away when he sees the real me. Jason knows everything there is to know about me and he loves me anyway."

Elizabeth moved to sit beside her grandmother. "He loves me, Grams. Really loves me. He would do anything for me even if it meant hurting himself. And I love him. Isn't that what you've always wanted for me – someone who loves and respects me, someone who will do everything he can to make me happy?"

Audrey took the younger girl's hands in hers. "Yes, I want that for you. I want you to be happy and have all your dreams come true, but I don't see how that could possibly happen if you're with Jason Morgan. You say he is all these wonderful things, but that doesn't change the fact that his job is dangerous – not only for himself but also for those around him. You have already been shot. You almost died. I don't want to think about what could happen the next time there is a shooting."

Elizabeth's shoulders dropped in disappointment. It was clear her grandmother was refusing to listen to what she had to say. "You know Jason's job was not the reason I was shot."

"I know, dear," her grandmother said. "As much as I would like to, I can't blame him for you getting shot. I'm just saying that you've been though enough – the rape, Lucky's kidnapping, the shooting, Lucky's death and the trial. You shouldn't have to deal with anything else. You shouldn't have to constantly worry that the man you love could be arrested at any time. You shouldn't have to worry that you or he or both could be killed when you're walking down the street."

"I trust Jason to protect me," Elizabeth told her honestly. She couldn't lie to her grandmother about the possible danger she would be in.

Audrey stood and crossed the room. She needed to put as much distance between her and her granddaughter as she could to stop herself from trying to shake some sense into the younger woman. "Elizabeth, you can't seriously be that naïve. Not after everything you've been through."

Elizabeth shifted on the bed to look at the older woman. "But that's just it. All of those things happened to me and they had nothing to do with Jason's job. Bad things happen, Grams, but goods things happen, too. And the one thing I've learned from everything I've been through is to hold on to the good things because you never know what the future will bring."

She stood and walked over to her grandmother. "Jason is my good thing, Grams. Please give him a chance to show you the side of him that I know. Please. I know I'm asking a lot, but you are the two people I love the most in this world. Please, can you try to see past his job to the man inside – the man that I love?"

Audrey sighed. She wanted to do what Elizabeth asked but she didn't think she could. "He's a killer, Elizabeth. How can you ask me to accept him in your life? He breaks the law every day.

"I'm sorry but I can't ignore what he does and I can't understand how you can," she said and walked out the room. It was either that or continue an argument that she was sure would end badly. Audrey could almost feel the ultimatum rising up her throat, and she knew she would be the loser if she had let it out.

She couldn't do it. She just couldn't accept Jason Morgan in Elizabeth's life. But she couldn't lose her granddaughter either. What was she going to do? The idea of Elizabeth with that man sent chills down her entire body. The constant danger, the illegal activity, the hounding by police – that wasn't the life Audrey wanted for Elizabeth. Not for her precious granddaughter.

As she descended the stairs, she wondered what else she could do to change Elizabeth's mind. The universities didn't work. Neither did the offer to go travelling across Europe. She was running out of ideas and Elizabeth would soon be leaving. Would her son be of any help?

As much as she would like to think Jeff would come running if he heard his daughter needed him, Audrey knew differently. Jeff had shown very little interest in Elizabeth over the years and she didn't think this new development was going to change that. Her biggest disappointment was her son's treatment of his youngest daughter simply because she didn't fit with the rest of the family.

A knock on the door brought her out of her ponderings only to find the cause of her stress standing on the other side of her front door.

"Mr. Morgan," she said trying to keep the disdain from her voice. Audrey wanted to slam the door in his face, to scream at him to leave her granddaughter alone, but she didn't. She did the only thing she could. "Come in. Elizabeth is packing."

"Thank you," Jason said quietly as he entered Elizabeth's childhood home.

An awkward silence passed between them. Audrey wasn't sure what she should do. The idea of asking a mob hit man to sit and have coffee seemed just too absurd to contemplate. Instead she left him standing by the door and walked back to the staircase to tell Elizabeth of his arrival.

At the base of the stairs, she stopped. If she couldn't convince her granddaughter, maybe she could reason with Jason Morgan.

"Mr. Morgan," she said as she made her way back to where he was standing. "You must realize that I'm not particularly happy with this relationship you have with my granddaughter?"

Jason hesitated. He didn't want to speak to Elizabeth's grandmother. He dreaded where this conversation would lead. Memories of confrontations with Mac Scorpio came to him and he knew history was going to repeat itself. He'd hated that his life had caused Robin's only family to turn against her, and he didn't want the same thing to happen again. He just didn't know how he was going to prevent it.

Seeing Jason's quiet response, Audrey continued, "Is there anything I could say that would possibly change your mind?"

"No, there isn't," he replied.

"I don't think I need to tell you how dangerous your life is," she said. "Why would you want Elizabeth to have to deal with the constant violence your life brings?"

"It's not up to me," he told her. "This is Elizabeth's decision."

"Elizabeth doesn't know what she is doing," Audrey said trying unsuccessfully to keep her voice from rising. "She isn't thinking clearly. She has been through a lot in the last year - Lucky's kidnapping and return, Helena, the shooting, the trial. She's not in her right mind and you are using that against her."

"Grams!" Elizabeth interrupted from the top of the stairs her suitcases at her feet. "Is that what you think? You think I'm crazy."

Audrey shook her head as her granddaughter descended the stairs. "No, darling, I didn't say that."

"You said, 'she's not in her right mind,' what else could you mean by that?" She asked dropping her bags at her feet. "You think I'm crazy to want to reclaim my independence and be with a man who loves me."

"No, I don't," Audrey insisted. "I just think you need more time to think things through."

"What do I need to think through? Jason loves me and I love him."

"Elizabeth, this man kills people for a living," the older woman said pointing to Jason. "He lives in a world of kill or be killed. Do you really want to live like that? Do you want to live in constant fear looking over your shoulder wondering when one of his enemies will take their chance and gun him down only to hit you by mistake?"

"Audrey, that's enough," Jason began but the other woman continued turning her attention on him.

"If you love her, how can you bring her into your life? How can you risk her life on a daily basis? And don't tell me you can protect her all the time. We both know that is impossible."

"Grams, stop it. This is my decision, not Jason's," Elizabeth argued. "If I didn't want to be with him, he would keep his distance even though he loves me."

Elizabeth sighed. "I know this isn't exactly what you wanted for me, but in a way, it is. You want me to be happy and Jason makes me happy."

"It is not that simple," Audrey said knowing it her heart she wasn't going to win this argument.

"It is that simple," Elizabeth responded. "For me, it's all that matters." She turned to the man she loved. "Jason, take me home." She didn't wait for his reply. Without looking at her grandmother, Elizabeth picked up her bags and walked out the door.

Jason gave Audrey one final look before following Elizabeth out the door. She had gotten as far as the porch steps. Even with her back was to him, he knew she was crying. He came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"It's not your fault," she told him whipping the tears from her eyes. "I knew this wasn't going to be easy. I knew Grams would have a problem with us, but I didn't think she would think I was crazy because I love you."

"She doesn't think you're crazy," he said. "She's just worried. You almost died, Elizabeth, and she doesn't want that to happen again. I know how she feels."

"Don't," she said turning to face him. "Please don't let what my grandmother said make you change your mind about us."

"I'm not," he said. He looked around him and sighed. "This isn't where I wanted to have this conversation."

"Jason, what is this about?"

"Yesterday was great, but today, we have to talk about what being together really means," he said.

Elizabeth didn't want to do this. She wanted them to go back to their statue and leave all of their problems behind. She wanted the real world to leave them alone. "Can we wait until we get to my studio please?"

"That's what I want to talk about," he said. "When we get there, Francis will be standing guard. He will be your guard from now on. He will be going with you to work and to school. The only time he won't be with you is when you're with me." He gave her a pointed look. "Are you okay with that?"

"Yes," she said without hesitation. "He was my guard after Sorel put the bomb in my studio. I like him. He was nice to me."

Jason nodded glad she wasn't opposing his choice. "Good. I also needed to secure your studio, so I had Johnny replace your door, lock and windows, and put in security cameras in your hallways."

"You did what?" She asked stunned by what she'd just heard.

"I needed to make your studio more secure," he replied. "We both know the lock on your door can be picked without any difficulty."

"Why didn't you discuss this with me before you did anything?"

"I wanted everything ready for when you moved back in," he answered.

"Jason, I know I said that I didn't want to be involved in your business, but that doesn't mean I want to be excluded from decisions that specifically concern me, either." She sighed. "Please don't take this the wrong way, but I don't need another Lucky in my life."

"That's not what I am doing. I'm not trying to control you," he said shocked that she would think such a thing. "I'm just worried about your safety."

She sighed again knowing he wasn't being another Lucky. "I understand that and I love you for it, but I'm not some delicate flower that you need to shield from your world."

"Elizabeth, your grandmother is right. My work is brutal and violent, and I don't want it to ever touch you," he said.

"She was also right when she said, you can't protect me all the time," she told him. "I'm in this, Jason, all the way. I know the risks involved and I know you will do everything you can to keep me safe. But that doesn't mean you get to make decisions about my safety without discussing them with me first. We're in this together, okay?"

"Okay," he replied taking her into his arms.

Knowing they couldn't stay on her grandmother's porch forever, he released her and picked up her bags. They quietly walked to his SUV. It wasn't until the bags were loaded and he was about to open the driver door that he noticed Elizabeth was staring back at the house.

"Do you think she'll ever accept us being together?" She asked thinking of the Sunday dinners she wanted to have with Jason and her grandmother.

"I don't know," he answered honestly. "It's been over five years and the Quartermaines still haven't accepted I'm not the son they knew."

She nodded and opened the passenger door. Before getting in, she gave the house she grew up in one more look.

"Do you want to go back and talk to her?" He asked.

"No," she said as she got into the truck. "We'd only start arguing again. I'll give her a few days to cool down and then I'll go see her. I'm sure she'll be willing to listen by then."

He took her hand in his and gave it a reassuring squeeze. He hoped for her sake she was right. He didn't want Elizabeth to lose her only real family because of him. He may be okay without having the Quartermaines in his life but he was sure Elizabeth would not be if Audrey didn't come around. He started the truck and drove away wondering what he could do to fix the situation.