Author's Note: Who's forgotten about this story? Rest assured, I haven't, I just haven't been able to update for awhile because of a few different reasons, mainly, my laptop crashed and I lost everything and it took forever to get the laptop back. If you haven't learned the lesson from Sex and the City yet, my advice to you is always make back ups of your work! That's my advice for the day.
A lot of this chapter will recap the last eight chapters, so if you've forgotten a few things, they'll be explained again here and you won't need to go back and reread anything. I need to thank everyone who's stayed with this story through my frequent disappearances, I promise to try and update more frequently, and of course, I thank all you who took the time to leave the feedback telling me what you think so far. I really appreciate it and I hope you find this chapter to be worth the wait.
The car ride to Carly's apartment had been uncomfortable to say the least. Courtney, on her side of the car, was quiet, making mental lists of what all she needed to get through the next few days before she could get all of her things. Jason sat to the right of her, and spent the twenty minute drive on his phone, giving orders on shipment pick-ups and adding more security to the waterfront. If she hadn't known better, it would have all seemed very innocent indeed, but as she was quickly learning, there was nothing innocent about Jason's world.
He paused between phone calls as the dark sedan came to a stop in front of the building and turned to face her for the first time since they'd gotten in the car. "Do you need any help?" he offered.
She managed to smile as she shook her head in the negative. "That's okay, you keep…working," she faltered. "I'll only be fifteen minutes or so."
He nodded. "Let me know if you change your mind." He waited until she was out of the car, gave her a smile, and then dialed another number into his phone. She stared at him for a moment before turning around and walking towards the apartment building.
"Hello?" Courtney called as she opened the door of the apartment carefully. She was greeted with silence and breathed a sigh of relief. Instead of going for the bedroom she collapsed on the living room sofa and took a deep breath, inhaling the familiar scent of Carly's perfume, of burnt toast, and vanilla from the candles scattered throughout the room. The familiarity of the room rocked her, as it hit her once again, how much her life had changed in less than twenty-four hours. Yesterday morning things had been so normal, she had gotten up, fought with Carly over who got to shower first, and gone to class. A perfectly typical day in her life. This morning however, she woke up and had breakfast with the biggest crime family on the eastern seaboard. Not to mention that in between these two mornings she had not only escaped what was almost a certain death but she had also gotten married. Throw in a few stray threats here and there and Courtney was most certainly thrown into this new world and was quite sure she had no idea how to deal with it.
Which is why she needed to see Carly as soon as possible. Carly would be able to tell her if her plan would work, and if not, she would surely be able to come up with another one to get her out of this.
Picking herself up off of the couch, Courtney made the way to her bedroom and pulled a suitcase out from underneath her bed. Setting it on top of the still-made bed and opening it, she moved to the closet and stood in front of the open door, debating on what she should take. After getting what she needed from the closet she moved to the dresser for a few more necessities. She was almost done when she heard the front door open and she crossed the room quickly, calling for Carly before she was to the door.
"Carly, thank God, I'm so happy you're ho--Oh!" Her heart stopped as she saw that it wasn't Carly coming through the front door after all. "AJ."
"Where the hell have you been?" he demanded as he pulled her into his arms. "Carly called me hysterical this morning saying you hadn't come home at all yesterday. We've left message after message on your cell phone but haven't heard anything. You can't just disappear like that right now, you know better than this!"
Not wanting to be scolded like a child, Courtney pulled out of his embrace slightly. "I'm sorry," she said finally, her mind racing a mile a minute as she tried to quickly come up with what to tell him. She hid her hand behind her back so that he couldn't see her ring.
"You know what? It's okay, you're home, you're safe." AJ smiled and kissed the top of her head. "I'm just home to grab some papers I left in the bedroom that I need for a meeting this morning, but I've got some time," he said with a wink and look at the clock. He grabbed her hand and smiled as he led her back towards the bedroom. "I missed you last night, you know."
Not likely, she thought, remembering that the bed hadn't even been slept in. "AJ, wait," she protested as she tried to keep him from making it into the room.
She wasn't quick enough. "What's this?" he asked, seeing the half-filled suitcase and turning back to her. "Going on a trip I didn't know about?"
"I-" She had no idea what to say and was luckily interrupted as the front door opened again.
"Courtney? Where are you?" Jason's voice floated through the apartment and she closed her eyes, bracing herself for what was coming next.
"What's going on? Is that Jason?" AJ's eyes narrowed as he looked from Courtney to the suitcase and back. "What's going on?"
"There you are." Jason smiled as he appeared in the bedroom doorway. "I just wanted to remind you about dinner tonight, it's slightly formal so--" his voice trailed off when he realized they weren't alone but he quickly recovered. "--you'll need something dressy, if you have it." He stepped farther into the room. "AJ," he said with a nod. He turned back to Courtney who shook her head at him, hoping her eyes conveyed that he knew nothing.
"Dinner?" AJ echoed. "Courtney, what the hell is going on?"
"Oh, you mean she hasn't told you yet?" Jason stepped to Courtney's side and rested his hand on her hip. "I guess she wasn't sure what to say. Completely understandable though, given the circumstances. It's a good thing I came up here then, I can be the one to tell you if Courtney doesn't mind." He used the hand on her hip to pull her deeper into him and smiled down at her. "What do you say Court? We knew we'd have to tell him sooner or later, and you know what they say, the sooner the better." She felt tears prick behind her eyelids as Jason continued on.
"Courtney and I got married last night," Jason said bluntly. "I met with her last night to tell her I was leaving town and well, we realized that this thing we've had for the last few months was more than we were letting on to ourselves and before we knew it, we'd eloped."
"Eloped?" AJ spit the word out incredulously. "Courtney come on, he can't be serious."
"He is," she whispered. "AJ, I'm sorry." She removed her hand from behind her back, the silver of her ring glinting in the sunlight coming in from the window. "I married Jason."
"No." AJ stood there staring at her. "What the hell is this? Why would you say that? Why would you lie to me? What happened, why are you going along with this?"
"I'm saying it because it's true," she said, her voice raising a few octaves. She could see in his eyes that he wasn't going to just take her word on it, and as her eyes fell on the bed again, a story quickly formed in her head. "You haven't been around AJ, you're always gone, I got lonely. I never meant to hurt you, but Jason, he… he was here and you weren't. Things happened, I'm not saying it's right, but it's just the way it happened. I'm sorry, you have to believe that I never meant to hurt you." The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them. She only hoped they sounded believable.
They must not have because the next thing she knew, AJ was flying across the room at Jason. "You son of a bitch, what did you do to her?" he yelled as he swung at him. Jason was quicker, and he deflected AJ's punch, twisting his arm behind him. AJ pulled away, swinging again but this time, Jason threw his own punch which hit AJ's jaw with a crack.
"Stop!" Courtney cried as AJ lunged towards Jason again. This time he connected, hitting Jason in the eye. She rushed forward then, trying to pull the two brothers off of each other. "Jason please!" She pleaded, pulling on his arm. "Stop!"
Jason shoved AJ away and stood back. "It's over AJ," he warned. "Courtney and I married and there's nothing you can do about it."
"The hell there isn't," AJ spat, wiping blood from his chin. "Courtney, this is insane, I'm calling Grandfather, he'll have his lawyers on this and I'll get you out of this mess by the end of the day, I promise."
Jason laughed coldly. "Edward won't do a damn thing. I didn't force Courtney to marry me, she did it of her own free will, didn't you, Court?"
"AJ please," she said softly. "Jason's right, I wanted to marry him. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I wanted you to find out differently, I wanted to sit you down and tell you that--"
"That what? You've been cheating on me for months now?" AJ shook his head. "I'm sorry, I don't believe you, and I don't know what he did to you to get you to agree to this but I'm sure as hell not going to stand here and let him walk away with you."
"It's not up to you," Courtney said. Every word she spoke was painful and she couldn't stand the look on AJ's face. "Please, I'm just here to get some of my things and then I'm leaving with Jason. AJ please, just go."
"I'm not buying this," he repeated. "I'm going to figure out what's going on and I'm getting you away from him as soon as I can Courtney."
"AJ, go!" she pleaded again.
"You heard my wife," Jason said smugly. "Now why don't you do as she says and get out of here before I call one of my men up here to escort you out?"
"This isn't over Courtney," AJ said again, but still he grabbed his coat and started towards the door. "I mean it."
"Of course you do," Jason said. "I trust you'll tell the family I'm a married man now? It's okay, tell them I won't be expecting any gifts. Oh and AJ?" He winked. "Tonight at the bar? Drink a toast to me and Courtney."
AJ slammed the door on his way out and only then did Courtney sink to the floor and bury her face in her hands. As she cried she sensed Jason kneeling down next to her.
"I'm sorry Courtney, I know that's not how you wanted to tell him." She was surprised at how sincere his voice sounded. "I saw him from the car and I knew you weren't prepared, I didn't know what else to do, I didn't want you to have to face him alone."
"He doesn't believe me," Courtney said finally. She lifted her head and turned to look at him. "He won't believe it, I told you, I couldn't lie to him and I tried to anyways and it didn't work and he's not going to sit back and let this go."
"I don't mean to sound crass, Courtney, but so what? There's not much he can do to touch this." He sighed. "I'm not blind, I know you love him. I know this is hard for you. But you need to look at the big picture. He's hurting now, you're right, but you've saved his life."
Courtney closed her eyes again. Jason's subtle reminder of how she held the lives of her friends in her hands didn't go unnoticed and in that brief moment she hated him more than she ever had. She hated the position she was in, she hated having to live yet another lie, and she hated that she had no more control over this situation than she had over the previous one.
She opened her eyes again, more determined than ever to go through with her plan. Her gaze landed on Jason again and her mouth fell open. "You're bleeding," she said, tentatively touching the cut just above his eye. He winced and she chuckled. "I would have thought your reflexes were better than that."
Jason shrugged. "I let him hit me. Figured I could give him at least that."
"Of course." She inspected the cut more closely this time. "Well, I don't think you'll need stitches, but this still needs to be cleaned up and it's starting to swell, so I'll get some ice." She rose from the floor and busied herself getting the first aid kit and ice from the freezer.
She knelt down in front of him again and pressed the peroxide-soaked washcloth to his forehead, trying not to smile as he hissed and then grunted.
"You enjoyed that, didn't you?" he asked, as she pulled the washcloth away and carefully applied the bandage.
"A little," she admitted. "It's nice to know you've still got some feelings like normal people." She dropped her hand from his head and he caught it before she could stop him.
"Actually, I don't," he said. "Not since the accident, but that still hurt like hell."
She pulled her hand away and turned away from him. "I still have a few things to pack. You said I need something for dinner tonight?"
"Holy hell, you are alive!" Carly's voice rose over the quiet chatter of the dining room and she flew out from behind the counter to grab Courtney by the arms and look at her closely. "I thought for sure you were dead! I've left you like, thirty messages, you're dad didn't know where you were, AJ didn't even know you were missing. Where the hell have you been?"
"It's a long story," Courtney said quietly. It was later that day, she had just finished classes for the afternoon. She had suggested to Jason that it would be easier to talk to Carly if she did it on her own and had been surprised when Jason readily agreed and told her the car was hers for as long as she needed, provided she be home in time enough to be ready for dinner.
"It better be a long story. And a damn good one too. I mean, my God Courtney, you just took off without a word. I just knew I would turn on the news tonight and see that the PCPD had fished your body out of the water." She pulled Courtney into the small office and locked the door behind her. "Okay, let's hear it."
"Jason knows we were responsible for Bobby's death." She didn't have the energy to mince words. "Actually, the whole Corinthos family knows. And none of them are very happy at all. In fact, Adella sent Jason to kill me last night. And he almost did. He had the gun to my head. But he didn't kill me."
"Did he kidnap you? Oh my God, Courtney, did you escape? Do we need to get you out of the country?" Carly's eyes were wide.
"He didn't kidnap me." Courtney held up her left hand. "He married me Carly. I'm married to Jason Morgan. I'm the wife of a enforcer."
Carly's mouth opened and shut wordlessly a few times. "I… I'm speechless," she said for what was likely the first time in her life. "You and Jason are married?"
Courtney nodded. "If I'm his wife, he doesn't have to kill me. And more importantly, no one else can. And it gets better, by agreeing to marry Jason to save my life, I saved you and AJ from being killed as well.. As long as I stay married to him, we all get to keep our lives, isn't that grand?" Her last words were bitter, but this went unnoticed by Carly.
"I guess this means I need to get you something other than a blender as a wedding gift, huh?" Carly saw the look on Courtney's face and raised a hand defensively. "Kidding! I'm kidding. Damn Courtney, this is huge. I.. Thank you. I mean, I know that sounds lame, but yeah, thank you. If there's anything you need, just let me know. Seriously, I owe you my life right now, whatever you need me to do, you've got it. No questions asked."
Courtney took a deep breath. "I'm happy to hear you say that," she said. "Because I have a huge favor to ask you. I need you for this, Carly. You're the only one I can trust. But before you agree, I have to warn you, nobody else can know about this. Not AJ, not Jason, especially not Jason," she reiterated. "All of our lives depend on keeping this just between us."