Elizabeth looked up and her eyes locked with his, and in that instant a horrible realization crept over her: she was about to marry Lucky Spencer. She froze for a moment, unsure of what to do, shocked by her simple and utterly inexcusable stupidity. What in God's name had she been thinking?
Run. The command was easy to obey and she turned on her heals, heard the rumple of the red carpeted aisle beneath her feet, and stepped in the opposite direction. She was too occupied by the task of getting herself as far away from there as possible to notice the shocked gasps of the crowd. The walls were closing in, and she could hear Lucky's annoying voice as he called out her name, could almost sense him running after her.
She let go of her dress and forced open the door to the chapel with both hands, using all of her strength to get her to the outside. The doors flew open, and the wind blew wildly, surrounding her, whooshing past her and all around her, sending each of her carefully placed hairs into disarray. She walked forward to the stone steps and let out a sigh of relief. She stepped slowly, carefully down the remaining steps until both her feet were planted firmly on the ground. A storm seemed to be brewing on the horizon and the wind howled again; she opened her arms and lifted her head towards the sky, welcoming it, the freedom it made her feel. She hadn't felt free in ages. She idly wondered what happened to Lucky, she thought he had run after her. Oh well. It was all the better he left her alone, after smothering her until she found incapable of breathing these past months. And she had let him. Why?
She still couldn't answer that question, any more than she could say why she waited until her wedding day to escape him. Maybe it was the belief that there was something of the Lucky she loved still inside him; maybe it was the need to feel secure and loved. He loved her, of course, of that she was sure, as sure as she was that she didn't love him anymore. Not the way he thought, not the way she had led him to believe.
Elizabeth began walking down the sidewalk, her fingers dancing lightly on a flowering rosebush near the side of the chapel. She didn't know where exactly she planned on going but she knew she needed to go somewhere. Actually, she felt like going nowhere. Yes. Nowhere seemed like a good place to be right now. Nowhere, where there was nothing left to feel, nothing to think about, and she wasn't in this ridiculous wedding gown. Right now she couldn't be in Nowhere because nowhere wasn't anywhere and right now she was somewhere, walking down East Peacock Avenue in a dress she wore with all the grace of a wombat in the drizzling rain. It had begun to rain. If Elizabeth had actually wanted to get married, rain on her wedding day probably would have upset her. She just kept walking.
"Elizabeth!" Lucky's voice had a tone of heartbreak, of disbelieve. He watched as she began to run back down the aisle, retracing the steps he had watched her take, the steps to him that had made him feel loved and happy beyond words. Now, she was taking it all back, taking all the happiness and love away from . . . he had to go after her. He began moving forward knowing he would catch up to her soon, after all, she was in the dress and he had the advantage . . .
"Cowboy," He felt Luke's hand on his shoulder, pulling him back, and he growled angrily as he tried to shake it off. "Let her go."
"What? How can I just let her walk away like that? No. Now get your hands off of me!" Lucky could feel the eyes on him as he moved, the pity they exerted filled the room like smoke, suffocating him. He turned away from Luke and looked around the church at his family and friends. "She loves me, you know. She's just scared." His voice boomed and echoed throughout the room, loud enough so even the people in the back pew could hear the touch of madness that edged it. "We're a permanent lock. Nothing will ever break it. You hear me, Elizabeth? No matter what you do, you belong to me!" He spun around as he talked and his face was tilted up at the ceiling, his arms open.
"Lucky!" Laura had stepped up from her seat and stood in front of him, her hands landing on his shoulders to stop him, giving him a gentle shake. "That is enough! Now we are going to sit down somewhere and give Elizabeth some time to herself, okay? She'll be back, Lucky. I promise. Just calm down." Lucky nodded quietly in agreement, felt tears spill down from his eyes as his mother wrapped her arms around him in an embrace.
Elizabeth sat on the slightly moist bench staring at her hands, wondering why no one had come after her yet. She didn't want anyone to, but . . . when the bride runs away, that usually is a little warning something's just a bit off. She was expecting someone by now. Laura, Emily, her grandmother. But no one had come. Maybe they just couldn't find her. She laughed at the thought, realizing she didn't quite know where she was, either. Some park down the end of East Peacock Ave. it was quite lovely, in fact, it had a nice little garden with a path and benches like the one she was sitting on. A tree grew over the bench and it protected her from the rain mostly, except when the wind blew in her direction, sending the tiny water droplets over her, making goose bumps rise on her arms. She was actually getting lonely. There was nothing she really wanted to think about that she hadn't already. Questions still plagued her but she wasn't getting the answers any time soon. After all, Elizabeth remembered, she wasn't really all that good at soul-searching unless she had a companion to bounce things off of. Well, not just any companion.
Elizabeth wished more than anything that her official Soul-Searching Companion, as she christened him that day, was with her. She wished Jason were with her.
She hadn't allowed herself to think of Jason at all the past few months during all the wedding hoopla. Aside from a few extremely pleasant dreams, Elizabeth had done an okay job of keeping Jason Morgan and his motorcycle out of her head. How she had managed, she didn't know.
Her hand brushed over the surface of the empty space beside her and tried to imagine what it would be like if he was here. What it would be like to see him again, look into his eyes, feel his smooth skin under her fingertips. The ache inside her became too much and she remembered another reason why she had tried not to think of him; it caused pain. Just the thought that she had once had him, had the chance to touch him, kiss him, feel his arms around her, and she had let it go. For what? For a love that didn't exist, for a man she didn't even want, for a life she'd rather die than live. "Stupid, stupid girl." She muttered. Well, she was paying for it now. Stuck in a storm in a park on Peacock Avenue, a trail of broken hearts and a chapel full of questions behind her, she was paying in full. "All right, Jason," she spoke aloud, not caring if anyone could hear her. "I've learned my lesson. This is the part where you come in and save me, remember? You ride in, looking as gorgeous as ever, sweep me off my feet and whisk me away on your motorcycle, whisper I love you in my ear and we never look back. C'mon, Jase, crying Elizabeth, this is your cue." Tears began to fall, but she didn't really feel them slide down her cheeks, only felt them well up in her eyes before masking themselves as raindrops. Her ears caught sound of something amongst the howling of the wind and the pitter of the rain and she stopped talking, tilted her head sideways. Could it be? She paused a moment longer before shaking her head. It was only her mind playing tricks on her; a phantom motorcycle had made the sound she just heard, not her knight in a leather jacket. She began to sob quietly when she realized, even though he had always saved her in the past, Elizabeth would be the only one to save herself from the mess she created.
Laura found herself sitting on the steps of the chapel, a cigarette hanging between her fingers. A cigarette, of all things. She had never smoked a day in her life. But today, she didn't know what else to do so she went to the store and bought a pack of cigarettes. Luke was out in the church yard somewhere, having a man-to-man with Lucky, Nicholas, Emily, Bobbie and Audrey were out canvassing the area, and Elizabeth . . . Elizabeth was God only knew where. Laura couldn't believe what the young woman had done, felt anger well up inside her at how she had hurt her son, and humiliated him in front of his friends and family. She didn't know what had gotten into the girl. Actually, Laura thought as she took a drag from the cigarette, coughed when the smoke filled her lungs, and prominently put it out on the stone step, she did have an idea of what had gotten into the girl.
The love of a bad boy had gotten into Elizabeth Webber. And once a good girl falls for a bad boy, there ain't no going back, that Laura knew for sure. First hand expiriencer of the love of a bad boy and the love of a good one, she was an expert. There was Scotty: the good boy, future lawyer, smart, honest, responsible. Then there was Luke: the bad boy, out of control, wild, reckless, free. She had chosen Luke. And now, some thirty years later, here was Elizabeth, stuck in basically the same scenario. There's Lucky: the good boy, future photographer, smart, honest, responsible. And then there's Jason: the bad boy, out of control, wild, reckless, free. And Elizabeth, Laura thought sadly, was about to follow in her footsteps.
"I mean, why would she do this, Dad? I thought . . . I thought Elizabeth loved me." Lucky kicked a stone from the dirt parking lot behind the church and watched it go skipping away.
'She does, Lucky, I'm sure she does. Just give her time." Luke sighed and rubbed a hand over his baldhead. To be totally honest, he had no idea what to say. Elizabeth's actions had confused Luke and what he knew to be true. He had seen the look in Elizabeth's eyes before, the look of love she had for his son. Yeah, he countered, but could he name the last time he had seen it? He hadn't really seen Elizabeth look anything but nervous in the past few months, but he hadn't really seen her that much at all.
"Why would she walk away like that?"
"Maybe she was scared."
"What getting married is all about. Commitment. Maybe she's just got a bad case of pre-wedding jitters." Luke looked up as he felt raindrops begin to pelt his head.
"Uh-uh." Lucky shook his head in disagreement but kept his face to the ground as he stepped away from Luke, kicking another stone, scuffing his shoe. "We talked about this before. We've made promises before. Elizabeth isn't scared of commitment." Luke followed him and at the sound of footsteps, Lucky jerked around. Luke stared at his son, felt his heart go out to him. Lucky had been through so much and Elizabeth was like his rock, his one true thing, and he thought she was slipping away.
"She loves you, Cowboy. Remember that." But as Luke said those words, he felt something in the pit of his stomach that told him, somehow, this time, he was wrong.
"Do you see her?"
"Well where could she be?"
"If we knew that, we wouldn't be looking, now would we?" Nicholas and Audrey shot Emily a look that told her the best thing for her to do would be shut up. Emily didn't want to be in the car. It was hot, it was stuffy, and she knew they wouldn't be able to find Elizabeth. Even if they did, what would they do then, run her down in Audrey's Volvo? She didn't think so.
"C'mon you guys! We have to think. Where would Elizabeth go?" Bobbie was trying to be helpful and every time they hit a red light she would give them little pep talks. No one was in the mood for pep talks. Audrey was getting worried, with good reason, the storm was getting pretty bad outside, Nicholas was angry, really angry, and Emily, well Emily had seen this coming. She knew her best friend, inside out. She knew whom she loved and who she didn't, could see through the façade even if she didn't say anything or mention it. And she knew no matter how much Elizabeth claimed to love Lucky; it was quite obvious to her that the girl was in love with her brother. Of that she was sure. If she had any doubts they had all been erased when Elizabeth ran out of that church
"Okay," Audrey said, "We tried Kelley's, we tried her studio, and we tried the boxcar. Where else could she be?"
"Maybe we should just go up and down that street again, the one near the church. I thought there was a park at the end or something." Nicholas suggested.
"Sounds good to me." Bobbie took the next turn and began heading back to the scene of the crime, also known as the chapel.
"Did anyone else notice how strange Lucky was acting?" They gave her the look again, the look that said she was bringing up all the wrong things at all the wrong times.
"The love of his life just left him at the altar, Em. I'd be pretty upset myself."
"I'm just worried about him, Nicholas." She adjusted her dress and looked out the window, fed up with the whole situation. If only Elizabeth had been honest from the beginning, all this could have been avoided. And Emily really wished she could've avoided this bride's maid's gown. It was bugging the heck out of her. The radio had been playing softly in the background, and a familiar tune caught Emily's ears.
"Goin' to the Chapel and we're gonna get married, Gee I really love you and we're gonna get mar-" Nicholas turned the radio off with one quick flick of his wrist and sat back in his seat.
The clouds had begun to break and the storm had let up just in time for sunset. Elizabeth had a perfect view from her bench, the good old bench; witch had provided her a place to sit during the past few hours of loneliness and despair. Maybe it was the many hours of loneliness and despair would cause her to loose her marbles. There was always the possibility. She kept hearing the damned sound of the roaring of an engine, even though she knew it wasn't there. Jason would not come and save her and she just had to accept that and work on getting up off of the bench and facing The People. The People, formerly known as her friends and family, would not be happy. She could imagine the steam that would be blowing from Laura's ears, Nicholas's face turn a cartoonish shade of red with anger. If the fear churning in her stomach wasn't so upsetting, she might be laughing.
She sighed, turning her attention back to the sunset. It was truly beautiful. The sky looked as if it had been set on fire, bright oranges and reds swirled around the disappearing sun. Moving further way from it, the colors turned cooler, with jungle greens and sky blues and plum purples. She began to loose herself in the beauty, forget about The People and Lucky and Jason almost. The only thing Elizabeth wished for at that moment were her sketchpad and colored pencils.
But then that annoying little proof of her insanity began to sound again, only louder this time. She could hear it roaring in her ears, and she was confirmed of her mental state when she actually saw a motorcycle on the path in the distance. Felt sure that whatever was left of her brain was slipping away when she even saw Jason on the motorcycle as it came to a halt in front of her. "It can't be . . ." She whispered, her words escaping her as she finally relieved the bench of her weight and stepped towards the mirage. Jason stepped towards her, and she reached out to touch him, expecting her hand to come in contact with nothing, for him to disappear . . .
But he didn't, and her hand came into contact with the flesh of his cheek. "You're real." She whispered, a tear falling from her eye.
"Yes." His voice was filled with emotion, with the same longing she had felt every time she thought of him.
"But how . . ."
"Shh." He pressed his finger to her lips, quieting her wonder filled question. "I'm here. That's all that matters." Elizabeth let herself collapse into his arms, felt them encircle her, big and strong. She leaned her head against his chest and listened to his heartbeat as tears slipped past her eyelids, quiet, almost unnoticeable tears. She had needed him and he had come to her. How could she have ever doubted him? She pulled very slightly away from him and looked into his eyes, felt herself get lost in his intense cerulean gaze. Jason dipped his head and drew her towards him, his fingers moving to trace the light line of her jaw. She leaned into him and closed her eyes, feeling a wave of emotion rise in her as her lips brushed his, lightly at first, then with more urgency as the kiss progressed. Elizabeth broke away when the need for air became undeniable. She looked at him a she tried to get oxygen to fill her lungs, studied him. Wanted to burn his image in her brain so that if he was ever forced away from her again, she could pull out this memory and hold onto it. She could know that for this one moment, she was his and he was hers and all was right with the world. Elizabeth rested her forehead against Jason's and they stayed like that for what seemed like an eternity before he spoke. 'So," he murmured softly, "does this mean I need to buy another ticket for that flight out to Italy tonight?" She smiled, unable to contain her happiness.
"This means, Jason Morgan, that you are never traveling alone again."