Author's Note: First off I want to apologize for not updating this since December. I won't bore you all with everything that prevented me from doing so, but please know that though I can't guarantee it won't happen again, I can promise that I am NOT giving up on this story and will see it through to the end.
Secondly I don't know if I can promise to post a new chapter each week as I did before, seeing as my life has gotten pretty busy, but I am going to try my best so I hope this long hiatus hasn't driven you all away. Again I apologize for the long wait and ask that you all please don't give up on this story.
Lastly I want to address some of things that have happened on General Hospital.
-As much as I hated seeing Ethan go, I have to admit a huge part of me was happy about that because I could never get into the storyline he had or him and this Cassandra he was romantically involved with...Also because my Ethina loving heart believes that he will find his way to Kristina's college where he will finally admit his feelings to her and the two will live happily ever after. Hey a person can dream right =D
-I love that the writers have straightened Elizabeth out and are building her to be a stronger person and more independent because for awhile there even I had trouble watching her scenes and Elizabeth is my girl. I also have to admit that Ewen is a positive influence in her life right now and whether he is actually a good guy or not remains to be seen but for now he seems to be good for her and I don't mind her being linked to him romantically for a little while...giving the writers more time to re-establish her friendship with Jason which will eventually lead them back to each other ;-)
As always, my sincere thanks to everybody who have read, saved in favorites, set to alert or commented on 'Till You Make It'. I really do appreciate it.
Happy Reading and I hope you enjoy!
Chapter 13: Moving Day
There was an unsettling feeling in the pit of his stomach that kept Johnny up most of the night. He didn't know which of the many issues in his life that it had to do with but as the morning drew closer that feeling only intensified. The smile his father greeted him with when he made it down stairs didn't help; it looked suspiciously like the cat that ate the canary. Johnny narrowed his eyes as he looked at the old man but didn't question him. He already had made a call earlier to have his father once again followed by one of his guards. As soon as the old man left he alerted the man outside and reminded him to report everything to him. Looking at the time Johnny saw he still had a lot of time before he had to arrive at Kristina's new place; something he wasn't looking forward to doing.
The atmosphere was bound to be filled with un-comfortableness for so many reasons. It would be surprising if there wasn't at least one argument that broke out today. Though he wasn't looking forward to it Johnny was prepared to take anything anybody had to throw at him if it meant keeping Elizabeth from having to go through anything at all. He knew things would be awkward for her as well; especially after overhearing the brief argument Jason and Sam had down on the docks yesterday. Johnny had every intention on walking away when he came upon the two in a heated discussion but hearing Elizabeth's name stopped him in his tracks and had him shamelessly eavesdropping.
"I understand you putting a guard on Elizabeth. I even understand your concern. What I don't understand is why you are constantly stopping by and seeing her."
"You're making it sound like I am there to see her Sam." Jason sounded tired and Johnny wondered how long the two had been discussing this. "You know I'm just there checking on things with Cody."
"Something you can be doing over the phone." Sam was quick to retort back. "You don't have to physically be there."
"You know what Franco is capable of. I am not taking any chances."
"Then put another guard on her."
"There is nothing you have to worry about Sam. Elizabeth and I have been over for awhile now – it's in the past."
"That's precisely why I'm concerned. Come on Jason, the two of you share this history..."
"I love you Sam. I'm with you."
"That didn't stop you the last time." There was a moment of silence that followed Sam's statement. "I'm sorry." She was quick to make amends. "I know it wasn't completely your fault. I had a hand in it too." A long sigh escaped past her lips.
"We can't change the past. What's done is done. All we can do is look forward and move on with our lives. Can you do that?"
"Yeah, of course. A future with you is all I've ever wanted."
"Then understand that this is about Jake." The tone of Jason's voice lowered. "My son is there Sam and I want to spend as much time with him as I can."
"I know you do."
When a minute passed and there was no response Johnny stuck his head out a bit and saw the two wrapped in an embrace. For the time being all seemed to be fine but he doubted it would stay that way long. Like Sam, he too wasn't happy that Jason was showing up frequently. Elizabeth explained that it was because he wanted to spend more time with his son and that should have appeased him but it didn't; he wasn't sure if that was entirely true. He was unsure of what to expect from Sam today when the two were in the same room but he promised he would keep a lookout because as much as he respected how strong Sam was he didn't entirely trust her when it came to her emotions. Her past actions have showed him what she is capable of doing. Johnny was brought out of his thoughts by the sound of his phone alerting him that he had just received a text message.
From Elizabeth: Have you heard anything from Ethan?
From Johnny: No.
From Elizabeth: I have a bad feeling.
So did he. This was another reason why Johnny was not looking forward to today. If Ethan did not show up like he promised, it would devastate Kristina. For her sake, if his friend decides to extend this adventure he is on then he hopes the man has enough decency to call and explain that to her himself. Today was really going to be a long day.
From Johnny: Let's just hope for the best. What are you doing?
A few minutes passed and Johnny did not get a reply back from Elizabeth. This worried him enough to call Ray and check up on things. "Yes sir." The guard answered on the second ring.
"Is everything okay? Are you still with Elizabeth?"
"Yes to both questions. Is there something I should be concerned about?"
"No. She just didn't reply back to my text."
"That may be because she ran into a friend and the two of them are talking outside of Kelly's."
"Thanks." Later he finally received a reply from her.
From Elizabeth: Sorry about that. We are heading over to the Lake house now. See you later.
From Johnny: Okay.
Johnny headed over to Kelly's himself for breakfast. Afterwards he stopped by the Haunted Star hoping to find Ethan there but instead found the place locked up. He called a few times only for it to go to voicemail each time. After the third try he left him a message reminding his friend what day it was and the promise he made before he hightailed it out of town. Looking at the time Johnny realized he could no longer prolong the inevitable and hopped back into his car to drive straight to Kristina's new place but before he could start the car his phone rang.
"Yeah." He answered when he saw it was the guard he had tailing his father.
"Sir, your father and Mrs. Corinthos were just in an altercation that I believe may result to him being hospitalized."
"What the hell happened?"
"Mr. Zacchara crossed paths with her and her son while they were at the park. When Mrs. Corinthos tried to leave, your father blocked her path and whatever he said angered her enough to punch him down to the ground where she then kicked him in the ribs and I think may have broken one or two of them. He looked like he was in a lot of pain. Detective Falconeri happened to pass by with his girlfriend and has called for an ambulance."
"That must have been one hell of a sight." Johnny couldn't help but applaud Sonny's new wife. The beeping sound alerted him that another call was coming through. "Hold on a minute."
"I thought you would like to know your father is being transported to General Hospital with possibly a broken rib." Dante informed him.
"I'm on my way." Johnny wasted no time switching back to his guard.
"I want you to follow my father to General Hospital and make sure you guard him. I have a feeling Sonny Corinthos will be showing up and I don't want him anywhere near him. I will be there shortly."
Johnny leaned his head back against the car seat and closed his eyes allowing himself a few moments of peacefulness because he knew once he arrived at GH, peace would be the last thing he would be getting. Sonny was bound to rant and rave and no doubt be in his face making threats; something he was really not looking forward to. Damn you Pop's! Once again he had to stir up trouble. Johnny had to admit that before he would have looked forward going toe to toe with Sonny but now that no longer had the same appeal. He was tired of it all. Tired of this path he now walked on. How the hell did I get here? Once upon a time ago he wanted nothing more than to be free from his father and the crazy life he lived in. Now he not only found himself smack in the middle of it - but living it willingly.
What he told Elizabeth in the back of the limo, that night on their first date, he meant it. Johnny wanted nothing more than to take his father down and finally be free. That revenge that drove him so passionately, that he jumped right into the world he once tried to escape from, had waned and now justice had taken its place; for no matter what Claudia had so cruelly done, she was still his sister and as long as he lived he will always hope that Sonny Corinthos will get what he has coming to him. Of course Johnny wasn't naïve enough to think that all he had to do was say he's out and everything would be okay. As long as his father was alive he would never truly be free and Sonny would never leave him alone but with his father gone then at least he and Sonny can keep the truce they have made intact.
Suddenly Johnny remembered what Elizabeth had suggested to him that same night; about asking for Dante's help with his father. After she made it he never gave it another thought, mainly because he was too preoccupied with the heated kisses they were exchanging. Now it was on his mind and as he drove to General Hospital, he seriously began to think if it was something he should consider doing. By the time he arrived and had parked the car, Johnny had come to a decision.
"Detective Falconeri." Dante answered his phone.
"It's Johnny Zacchara. Can we meet somewhere privately?"
"What is this about?"
"My father." He answered truthfully. "I won't say anymore over the phone."
"If this about the incident...?"
"It isn't." He cut the man off.
After a long pause, "Where do you want to meet?" As Johnny climbed out of his car he gave him the name and address to the location and let him choose what time tonight to meet up. "I don't get off duty till seven so make it eight."
"Eight it is."
Detective Falconeri will quickly jump on board to help him take his father down if he makes the man believe that he would be completely in charge. Anything he learns he will gladly hand over allowing the man to build a strong case against Anthony Zacchara. Only what Dante won't know is that his father will never make it to prison because Johnny has every intention to killing him. It was the only way for him and those he cared about would ever be free. It would also be the last time blood would ever stain his hands.
Things at home have been awkward. What was once her haven was now a place she dreaded returning to; she missed the peacefulness. Elizabeth knew none of this would be happening if Kristina had never walked into her life but as much as she hated things now she couldn't find it in her to regret becoming friends with the girl. She enjoyed their friendship too much to do that. The past four days they have hardly seen each other and if it weren't for the fact that Elizabeth drank her coffee at the same place Kristina worked at then they wouldn't have seen each other at all. Things have been busy for the both of them. For Kristina she was spending most of her time with her family and packing before she moved into her apartment. In the evenings they did call each other and shared how their day went but unlike her friend Elizabeth didn't tell her everything.
How could she tell Kristina that her sister's boyfriend was making it a habit of stopping by way too often?
Having Cody around is still taking some getting used to for her and the boys. He was pleasant and very polite but he was all business; Elizabeth envied Kristina for having Ray. He was warm and fun and often had her laughing. Still she had to admit that her guard proved himself to her more than once. The first time was when Lucky showed up unexpectedly by the house. He wasn't there to apologize for how he treated her the last time they saw each other. He was there because he had just discovered from Sam about Elizabeth's situation and he began laying into her about turning to Jason instead of him. The way he was behaving reminded her of the days when they were married and he would set off on a jealous tirade over her closeness with Jason. It confused her as to why he was so angry about it now. After all it was Lucky who had been spending so much time working together with him for the past three years; not her. When Elizabeth heard herself apologizing to him she stopped midsentence and became angry. There was nothing she should be sorry for; she did nothing wrong.
Elizabeth reminded him that they were no longer married and that he had no say so when it came to her life. She told him he can visit the boys but that their discussion was through. This didn't settle well with Lucky and Cody had to step in and ask him to leave. When her ex pulled the 'I've got a badge' card it didn't sway her guard one bit and Lucky ended up storming away without seeing the boys. The second time her guard was helpful was when a man came into the hospital ranting and raving trying to look for his wife who was in a room being tended too after he had beaten her up. Elizabeth tried to get him to calm down but he was beyond reasoning with and when he roughly grabbed hold of one of her wrists Cody stepped in and showed the man out. When Jason heard about the incident he stopped by the hospital to check up on her. She assured him she was fine and tried to get him to leave but he spotted the red marks on her wrist and gently grabbed her hand to inspect it. The act was innocent; just a friend showing concern but her heart mistook it for something else and it began beating fast. Scared that he could feel her pulse she snatched her hand back and excused herself to tend to a patient.
That same night Jason showed up at her house to talk with Cody. Elizabeth didn't know what the two were discussing or whether she should be concerned; all she knew was how it made her feel seeing a glimpse of what could have been with Jason on the floor playing with Jake and Cameron. Every so often he would look up and their eyes would meet and she would remember other moments they shared like this. The next day he showed up again at the hospital and the house then the day after that. Elizabeth had to wonder how this made Sam feel because if it were her she didn't know if she could be so understanding. If she wasn't happy about it then it worried her because she knew firsthand what the woman was capable of when threatened; trouble from Sam was something she didn't need to add to her already growing list.
When Sunday rolled around Elizabeth was relieved. Not only did she have the day off and the boys were spending the weekend with Lucky, but today was the day Kristina was moving into her new place and she was going to help her out. They met up at Kelly's to have breakfast before starting but when they sat down Elizabeth noticed that her guard was still standing by the door unlike Ray who was sitting with them. She tried to encourage the man to join them but he kept insisting she didn't have to worry about him.
"Have you had anything to eat yet?" She asked Cody.
"That's not what I was asking." She cut him off. "Have you had anything to eat yet?" She already knew he hadn't.
"Then sit down and don't argue." Elizabeth blamed the stress of the past week as her reason for snapping at the man like that. Cody paused for a brief second before occupying the fourth chair. "Thank you." She smiled sweetly at him and was pleasantly surprised when a small smirk formed on his lips. It gave her hope that the man could loosen up; maybe with a little help.
"Thank you for doing this." Kristina told her after they all had placed their orders.
"It's no problem." She assured her.
"At least she asked you." Ray complained jokingly.
"You mean you would've turned me down if I had." Kristina asked him with raised eyebrows.
"Of course you know I wouldn't."
"Then stop complaining." Elizabeth had to laugh at Ray's expression.
"Neanderthal." The two were at ease with each other and Elizabeth wondered if she would ever feel that comfortable around her own guard.
"So who all will be helping out today?" Elizabeth asked Kristina after their breakfast had arrived.
"Actually I think it will just be us, my brother and Johnny helping out with the actual labor but I have no doubt that everybody else, but my father, will be stopping by." Kristina looked directly at her. "Will you be okay with being with them all at the same time?"
"Of course I will be." Elizabeth assured her though inside she knew she was dreading it; had been all week. "We are friends and it was bound to happen sooner or later."
"Are you sure? Because I would understand if you want to bail out. We can always have our own get together another time."
"That isn't necessary. I promise you I am fine."
"My mom and Molly already had plans they couldn't get out of so they won't be showing up till much later. Then of course I don't know what time Ethan will be showing up." Ray's head snapped up at the same time as Elizabeth's did. The two of them looked at Kristina then each other. It was clear the guard was thinking the same thing as she was. Would Ethan be showing up today because he hadn't called anybody? This caused her much concern, not just for his safety but for what it would do to her friend if he didn't show up like he promised he would. Part of her wanted to give her some kind of warning so that she wasn't blindsided by that but Elizabeth knew her friend would refuse to believe that so instead she chose to stay quiet and hope for the best.
After they had finished breakfast and paid the bill Elizabeth stepped outside with Cody to wait for Kristina who excused herself to use the restroom. The day was already showing signs that it was going to be a warm one and it made her thankful that she thought to buy a case of bottle water for them all later. Elizabeth pulled out her phone and texted Johnny, asking if he had heard anything from Ethan. He hadn't and that worry for her friend intensified. She averted her gaze to the clear blue sky and got so lost in her thoughts that she didn't notice when somebody positioned themselves by her side.
"Beautiful isn't it?" The Aussie voice startled her.
"It is." She agreed. "It makes me want to bring out my brushes and paint; of course I already have plans today so I won't be able to do that."
"I'm sure there will be other days like this."
"I think so too."
"How have you been Elizabeth?"
"I'm good." She smiled at Jax. "What about you? How are you enjoying fatherhood?"
"I love every minute of it." A huge smile adorned his face. "My daughter has brought me so much happiness."
"Children will do that." Elizabeth felt the vibration of her phone alerting her that Johnny had texted back but she didn't want to be rude so she ignored it. "I am happy you finally got to be a father."
"Thank you. So were you arriving or leaving?"
"Leaving. I am just waiting for..."
"Hey Jax." Kristina greeted the man when she walked out the door.
"Kristina, hi." She watched them hug and immediately sensed the two had a close relationship. "I hear you are moving into your own place today."
"Is there anything you need?"
"Are you kidding? Between my mom, my dad, Jason, Sam and Nikolas I have everything and then some."
Jax laughed at this. "I imagine you do."
"I didn't know you knew Elizabeth."
"We're old friends." Jax smiled warmly at her. She always liked the man. "But I wasn't aware you two were as well."
"It's something that happened recently." Kristina answered.
"Well I have to say you couldn't find a better friend."
"I think so too." Kristina agreed, beaming a smile Elizabeth's way. "I wish I had time to chat with you longer. It's been awhile. But I have a lot to do today." She apologized.
"That's fine. We can get together another day."
"Bye Jax." Elizabeth agve him a little wave. "It was good talking to you."
"Same here." She turned around to walk away when Jax called out to her. "Elizabeth before you go, can I ask you something?"
"Have you been by at all to see her tree?" Instantly she flashed back to a memory of the two of them kneeling in the dirt.
"I wish I could say I have but...honestly I haven't." Elizabeth felt guilty admitting that and immediately dropped her gaze from his.
"Same here." Jax admitted. "Life goes on and we find ourselves busy."
"Yeah." She agreed.
"Maybe we can go and visit her one day." He suggested. "You know let her know that she hasn't been forgotten."
"I'd like that. I can only imagine what the tree looks like now." Elizabeth tried to envision it. "Call me so we can set up a day."
"I'll do that."
Elizabeth knew Kristina was curious about the exchange she just had with Jax so when the two of them made it to their parked cars she opened her mouth to tell her but her friend beat her to it. "What was that all about? Who is she and what is this about a tree?"
"When Jax was married to your Aunt Courtney they asked me to surrogate them a child. Only thing was that her eggs were not viable and so I offered to donate my own. The procedure was a success but I had a miscarriage and though the baby was supposed to be for them, their marriage had ended during the pregnancy and it made me began thinking of her as mine and Jax. So when we lost the baby we planted a tree in honor of her."
"You were having a girl?"
"Actually we never knew the sex of the baby. It was too early to tell but we both felt it was a she and just stuck with that."
"I'm sorry Elizabeth."
"It's okay. It happened a long time ago."
"I think it's a great idea for you both to go visit her."
"I think so too...but enough about this. Today is about getting you all moved in so how about we head on over to your mom's so we can load up the truck." Before pulling out of the driveway Elizabeth relied back to Johnny's text.
When they arrived at the Lake house Kristina's mother and sister were still home. Elizabeth greeted Alexis who kindly returned it despite the worry the woman could not disguise behind her eyes. She understood where she was coming from; after all she was just a mother showing concern for her daughter and Elizabeth knew she was well aware of the history between her and Jason. If she were in her place she would probably be concerned too. Molly was a sharp one; a combination of both her parents. Immediately she sensed something was amiss and soon began staring at her questionably. Thankfully she was never given the chance to ask any questions because soon Alexis was ushering her out the door with a promise to Kristina that they would be stopping by later.
True to her word Kristina had everything packed up nicely and the four of them were able to load everything up. When they arrived at the apartment Michael and Abby were there to help unload. Both of them were surprised to see Elizabeth. Abby was sincere when she greeted her; she thanked her again for stitching her hand up. Kristina's brother was a different story. He was not rude and even greeted her but she could see he wasn't happy by her presence. It made her wonder just how much he knew about her and her relationship with Jason.
Between the six of them they were able to unload the truck and soon began to unpack the boxes. Elizabeth volunteered to take the task of getting the kitchen set up. In all their conversations they had over the past days she noticed that everybody had gotten Kristina everything she needed; everything that is except for the kitchen. So as a housewarming gift she bought a 12 piece plate set, oven mitts, decorative towels and pots and pans. Of course she hadn't told her friend any of this; she planned on surprising her when she was done. Alexis and Molly arrived earlier than they thought they would with arm loads of groceries; following behind them carrying bags of their own were Jason and Sam.
"The kitchen looks nice." Molly complimented when she took in what Elizabeth had already done.
"It really does." Alexis agreed. "I wasn't even aware Kristina had gotten all of this."
"Actually it's my gift to her." Elizabeth admitted.
"That was really nice of you." Alexis thanked her.
"Yeah, that was cool of you Elizabeth." Molly praised.
"It was no problem at all." The two then excused themselves and joined Kristina.
"Thank you for this." Sam surprised her by saying.
"Sure." Elizabeth watched her join her mother and sisters ignoring the man who still lingered in the kitchen.
"Hey." She returned.
"In the bedroom." She answered. "He is in charge of putting some of the furniture together. He started with the desk but I am sure by now he is almost done."
"What else needs to be done?"
"A bookcase, two shelves, a small entertainment center and her bed. He probably could use some help." She suggested.
"Sure." With a small nod Jason headed to the bedroom leaving Elizabeth to resume what she was doing.
There was a knock at the door and Elizabeth hoped it was Ethan. It didn't escape her notice how often her friend's eyes strayed to the door. She immediately knew who Kristina was waiting for and it made her steal glances towards the doorway herself willing the man to walk through it for her sake. Molly was the one to walk over and answer the knock and though she prayed it would be Ethan standing on the other side, she knew it wouldn't be him. Something was telling her that he will be a no-show today; which meant that it was probable Johnny at the door and though Elizabeth knew he wouldn't exactly be welcomed by the others, he would by her and so with a smile she waited to greet him. Only it wasn't him on the other side. The smile she had on her face quickly disappeared seeing who it was that had just arrived.
As soon as Ray saw the blonde woman walk through the door, he knew that there would be trouble. How he knew, he couldn't say – it was just a gut feeling. When he saw the way Kristina's eyes widened and glance in Elizabeth's direction and the way Ms. Webber's body seemed to have tensed confirmed he was right. He knew who she was, recognized her from all the newspaper articles he had seen her in, but other than that he didn't know much else about Carly Jax. He watched as the woman greeted Kristina enthusiastically with a hug and handed her a large gift bag. It was apparent the two had a good relationship but by the way his charge continued to glance nervously towards Elizabeth who was unpacking in the kitchen and watching them with a wary expression alerted him that that may not be the case with them. Others greeted Carly as her presence became known and everything seemed fine but Ray had the sudden urge to be by Elizabeth's side; which was exactly what he did.
"Hey." He greeted her softly, distracting her attention from the group who was watching as Kristina pulled out whatever it was inside the bag.
"Hey yourself." She returned the greeting.
"How is it going in here?" Looking around he saw the counters littered with groceries, dishes, pots and pans.
"It's going good."
"How have you been holding up with this threat that's suddenly been thrust on you?"
"Surprisingly I haven't really giving it much thought. You would think I would knowing how dangerous and not to mention how crazy Franco is."
"Everybody reacts differently. How are you adjusting to having Cody as a guard?" The two glanced in the direction of the bedroom where they knew the man was with Jason putting together some of Kristina's new furniture.
"Honestly." Elizabeth leaned closer and whispered. "He's nice and he has helped me on more than one occasion but he really is a stiff shirt. Too bad there isn't another you." Ray chuckled.
"As long as he is good at his job, than that is all that should matter."
"I believe he is good and that he takes his duties seriously."
"But...?" He encouraged her.
"There were these two guards that Jason had assigned to me at one time or another – Johnny and Francis; two really great guys who I trusted with my life because we connected on a personal level and that is really important to me. With Cody it all feels so...robotic; impersonal."
Ray could understand where she was coming from. After all she was putting her life and that of her boys in this man's life. Elizabeth wanted to just be reassured and she had every right to feel that way. For those like his boss, Sonny Corinthos and Jason Morgan it wasn't necessary to establish a relationship – as long as you did your job accordingly then that was all to it. "Continue to nudge him like you did this morning. He will come around eventually." Ray encouraged her. "So, what's the story between you and the blonde?" Ray couldn't help but ask. He was really curious.
"Ugh, the woman hates me." Elizabeth made a face before smiling sweetly. "And the feeling is mutual." Ray had to smile at that. He couldn't understand how anybody could hate her. "As for why, well the answer is simple – Jason Morgan. It doesn't matter what man she is currently married too, when it comes to Jason she has to be the center of his world."
"Ah." Ray understood perfectly. "So I am guessing when you entered the man's life..."
"She was not a happy camper and made absolutely sure she let me know that at every opportunity she got." Elizabeth stopped what she was doing to turn and face him. "But please don't let me influence your opinion of her because even though we don't get along, Kristina does."
"I tend to form my own opinion...but duly noted." Elizabeth resumed to what she was doing and Ray was about to step away and do the same when he saw that Carly had spotted her and the look in the woman's eye had him rethinking that.
"What on earth is she doing here?" Carly posed the question to no one in particular and loud enough for everybody to hear.
"Here we go." Ray heard Elizabeth mumble to herself.
"I invited her." Kristina was quick to answer.
"Because we are friends." Kristina's head hitched up a notch in a defensive matter; ready to defend her action.
"Since when did you two become friends?" Carly turned to look at Sam. "How the hell did you let this happen?"
"My sister has no say-so when it comes to who I am and am not friends with."
"Please don't tell me you're okay with this." Carly went on talking to Sam, ignoring Kristina.
"Carly this is not the time and place for this." Sam tried to warn the woman off.
"When is it a good time; when she has dug her claws into Jason again?"
"Not one more word Carly." The sharp reply came from the man who had just stepped out of the bedroom. Standing next to Jason was Cody who quickly spotted his charge and began to make his way across the room. Out of respect, Ray stepped aside so that the guard could position himself beside Elizabeth. Though all he wanted to do was jump in and help protect her he knew it wasn't his place. Still he didn't step too far away.
"So now you're using Kristina to get close to him huh." Carly ignored Jason and began to stalk towards Elizabeth. Cody immediately blocked her from getting any closer.
"That is close enough Ms. Jax."
"Excuse me." The woman's eyes narrowed. "Get out of my way?" The guard stood firm.
"Carly we are all here for Kristina so let's not make a scene." Elizabeth finally spoke up.
"Oh please don't act like you care. This is me here, I see you for who you are and I know you are just using Kristina..."
"You don't know anything." Elizabeth was quick to retort back; anger flashing in her eyes.
"Nobody wants you here so why don't you do us all a favor and leave."
"She is my guest here Carly." Kristina was quick to remind the woman.
"Trust me Kristina; she is not someone you want to be friends with."
"You don't know her like I do..."
"You're just too young to see the truth but believe me – you will thank me for this later."
"No I won't. She is my friend and I'm asking you to respect that while you are in my home."
"Are you serious?"
"I'm asking you to push aside whatever feelings you have about Elizabeth so that this important step I am making in my life is not ruined by any bickering. Can you do that for me?"
Carly stood there looking like that was the last thing she wanted to do. "Sure." She finally answered then flashed a tensed smile and turned away only to walk towards the bedroom Jason had just walked back into.
Ray couldn't believe that, of everybody in the room, Kristina was the only one to stand up and defend Elizabeth. Sure Jason stepped in once but it was futile and the man never attempted again. Though Carly Jax promised she would be on her best behavior, he didn't believe it for a second and when he saw Cody walk back into the room behind Carly, Ray didn't hesitate to take the man's place. "You okay?" He asked her.
"I'm used to it." It didn't really answer his question but he wasn't going to push her on it. He could see how much of an outsider Elizabeth was amongst these people and the last thing he wanted was to make her any more uncomfortable than she already was. All he could do was stand alongside and help her set up the kitchen.
This was supposed to be one of the best days of Kristina's life. She was moving into her own apartment surrounded with family and friends and yet Kristina was not happy. How could she be when those around her were not very welcoming towards Elizabeth? If anything she was disappointed by her family. It started at the Lake house where her mother voiced her displeasure with having Elizabeth being part of the 'moving crew'. Of course she was polite in front of her friend but when Kristina found herself alone with her mother in her bedroom she made sure to inform her that her presence could be uncomfortable for others. She chided her mother for trying to make this a bigger deal than it really is but now she had to admit that her mother was right. Kristina was thankful both guards had stayed outside until Kristina and Elizabeth were alone; she could only imagine how not so thrilled her mother would be with them.
When everything was loaded up and they made it to her apartment, her brother was outside waiting with his girlfriend to help them unload. Unlike Abby, who greeted Elizabeth friendly; not to mention enthusiastically, Michael was very distant with her friend. Not to say he was rude or said anything to upset her but he didn't have to; his mannerism spoke volumes and it had Kristina wondering how much her brother knew about Elizabeth. Was there something else she didn't know about? When Sam and Jason showed up the tension in the room kicked up a notch and once again she was wondering what exactly she was missing here. Sure, she and Elizabeth had been too busy to sit down and really talk but she would like to think that if something had happened her friend would've confided in her. She vowed to invite her friend over for a visit so that she can question her but for now she couldn't question things with others around.
Molly immediately picked up on the atmosphere and it didn't take her long to pin-point the source. Kristina knew her sister was about to go Nancy Drew on her unsuspecting friend so she planned on taking her aside and making sure that didn't happen; only before she could do anything there was a knock on the door and her sister took it upon herself to open it. Any other day the sight of Carly standing on the other side flashing a smile would have been welcoming but today it was not. She knew how much she and Elizabeth disliked each other and could only imagine what a scene the blonde would make once she sees her friend is there too. Quickly, Kristina's eyes darted over Elizabeth's way to give her some kind of an apologetic gesture but her attention was already focused on the new arrival and it was clear by the expression she couldn't mask how much she disliked it.
Kristina did not know why Carly was there at all. Yes, she shared all the newest developments in her life with the woman but told her that she did not have to be part of the 'moving crew'; then promised her that she would invite Josslyn and her over for dinner once she was settled in. It didn't take much to convince Carly. The thought of lifting boxes didn't appeal to her and knowing how many others would be there to lend Kristina a hand she knew she wasn't needed. So why did she have to show up now? It was because of a gift she claimed she wanted her to have now, rather than later. After pulling it out from the gift bag and opening it up, she had to admit it was a really thoughtful gift. It was a Hall Gallery frame set designed to hold eleven pictures that hung from a bar with hooks. In each frame was an individual picture Carly had already placed inside of her mom, dad, Michael, Molly, Morgan, Josslyn and Grandpa Mike. Then there were those who were coupled in one; Sam and Jason, Carly and Jax, Nikolas and Spencer, Brenda and Alex.
"This way everybody you love; who loves you back, will always be smiling at you in your new home."
"Wow." Kristina was really speechless by this gesture. "I love it. Thank you so much." She hugged the woman tight.
She always liked Carly; thought she was cool and even admired her fierceness. She knew others didn't like that about her and never before had it gotten to her – that is until now. Hearing the way she talked to Elizabeth brought a frown to her face and set off the first spark of anger she had been suppressing all day. Kristina had been doing a fairly good job of holding it all in because though her family wasn't exactly warm towards her friend, neither were they rude. Carly on the other hand had no problems voicing her displeasure at her presence and discovering that they had a friendship. When she ignored her and talked over her head to Sam, that anger sparked a little stronger because she hated when people did that; especially when she knew that was done because she felt Kristina was still too much of a child to make up her own mind. But what really disappointed her were the things Carly said.
How could she accuse Elizabeth of being her friend only to get close to Jason? Carly didn't know how their friendship started or that it was her was actually the pursuer here. If Kristina had chosen not to show up at Java Junkie that next day then Elizabeth wouldn't have been here. She also may have never gotten this apartment, met Ray or have the closeness she now shared with Ethan and those were moments she treasured. Those accusations hurt Kristina. After Carly had disappeared into the bedroom, where she knew Jason was going to get an earful, she wanted to walk towards Elizabeth to check on her and apologize but before she could take a step her family surrounded her.
"I knew something like this would happen, sweetie." Her mother was the first to use the 'I told you so' card.
"I know the two of you are friends Krissy but honestly I think this should have been a family affair." Sam threw in with a soft tone.
"How long have the two of you been friends and why wasn't I aware of it?" Michael asked then continued on before she could answer. "You know what forget it. Clearly now you know our family is not happy about it so you should just end it now. It's bad enough you're friends with Ethan and Johnny – don't add another one to that list."
"What's wrong with Elizabeth?" Molly asked. "She seems nice." Thank you Molly.
"Appearances can be deceiving." Michael mumbled but refrained from saying anything else after the glare Kristina threw his way.
"There is nothing wrong with her." Kristina defended her friend. As much as she hated to admit it but she was thinking that Sam might have been right about having kept this family only; not for their benefit but because she was concerned about how uncomfortable Elizabeth was feeling right now. Clearly it was too soon to have them all together; she had to ease them into it.
"Elizabeth is not a bad person." Her mother agreed. "But due to histories she has with certain people here, it really was not a good idea for her to be a part of this" As if she thought of how it may have sounded she quickly added, "Not just for them but for Elizabeth herself."
"Everybody has history with each other and not all are pleasant. What makes hers any different?" Kristina could hear her voice rising so she paused long enough to take a deep breath. "I think you all need to grow up and get over it because your behavior today was unacceptable not to mention disappointing."
"Kristina you have to understand..." Sam began but she cut her off.
"No you all need to understand that she is my friend whether you like it not, just as Ethan and Johnny are. That will never change." There was nothing more for Kristina to say or wanted to hear so she walked away from them and headed to the bathroom to give her a minute to splash some water on her face and compose herself. When she walked back into her living room and saw her family still grouped together talking, Kristina chose not to rejoin them; instead she walked towards the kitchen where Ray and surprisingly Abby were there with Elizabeth helping out. The three were talking and though she didn't know what it was they were discussing she knew it was pleasant because each of them had smiles on their faces.
"That sounds like it was a lot of fun." Kristina could hear Abby saying when she was close enough. "Do you all not do that anymore?"
"No." Elizabeth's answered with a sad look on her face.
"Of the five of us only Robin and I are still here. Kelly and Lainey moved away and...Emily was taken away from us at too early of an age."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that." Abby was sympathetic.
"Thanks. After Emily was gone we all got together again with a few new faces but it wasn't the same and as if in silent agreement we didn't continue it on. But now I'm thinking that was the wrong thing to do and ever since a friend of mine moved back to town I was thinking of starting something like that again."
"That sounds like a good idea." Abby agreed.
"I agree." Kristina jumped in alerting them of her presence.
"Great." Elizabeth seemed excited about the idea. "I'll talk to the others about it and when we decide on a day I would love for you to join us Abby." There was surprise on her face.
"Yeah. I think it will be fun and I know you will get along with Robin and Nadine and you already know Kristina. There is also someone else I'm hoping will join us but I don't know if she will right away but eventually I think she'll come around." Kristina knew she was referring to Brook Lynn.
"I'd like that. I will have to give you my number so you can call me with the details." As the two exchanged numbers Kristina couldn't help but feel gratitude towards Abby. To think of everybody here it was the woman she had hated for so long that was the nicest to Elizabeth. Ever since that day she visited her, Kristina had to admit that the hatred she felt for her was slowly starting to disappear. First Abby helps her get this apartment, then helps her move in even though her hand was still bandage and now she was going out of her way to make Elizabeth feel welcome.
How could I have been so wrong about her?
"So, what do you think?" Elizabeth's voice broke into her thoughts.
"I'm sorry?" Kristina asked.
"About the kitchen." She looked around and for the first time noticed all the new decorations that decorated the space; things she knew she didn't buy herself.
"Who...?" Kristina didn't finish asking the question because she already knew the answer.
"And that's not everything." Elizabeth grabbed her hand and led her over to one of the cupboards, opened it and showed her the plates she apparently got her as well. "Your cups are in the cupboard on the other side and if you open the one at the bottom you will also find your new pots and pans."
"Thank you." Kristina gushed out happily as she pulled her friend in for a hug. "You didn't have to do that...but I really do appreciate it." She quickly finished when she saw she was about to say something about that. "And yes I absolutely love it."
Once the kitchen was finished Elizabeth decided to say her goodbyes. Kristina really wanted her to stay longer but she understood her need to leave so she didn't try to change her mind. She just thanked her again for everything she did today and apologized to her for any un-comfortableness her family may have made her feel. With a promise that she would call her tomorrow Kristina watched as her friend got in her car and drove off with Cody trailing behind her. Instead of turning around and going back inside she chose to stand there and scan the area hoping to spot a familiar figure emerging around from one of the corners because her family's treatment towards Elizabeth wasn't the only thing that was weighing on her mind. Ethan's absence was the other.
It was starting to really worry her that Ethan hadn't showed up or even called. She didn't know what exactly he and his father were doing but knowing the two she had no doubt risks and danger was involved. Since the day he left, not once had she tried to call him even though she so badly wanted too. The entire week Kristina kept replaying his promise, that he'd be back in time to help her move, over and over in her head. Those words always re-assured her but now as she replayed them in her mind and saw that it was already beyond four they brought her no comfort. Ethan was not one to break promises to her; especially since he knew just how important this day was to her. He knew this was a huge step that she was making in her life and even if, for some reason, he knew he couldn't make it back in time then she knew that he would've at least called to tell her that.
Did something happen to him? That question had her scrambling for her phone to call Ethan's cell. When it just rang and rang before going to voicemail she tried again with the same results. After the third call Kristina gave up and re-tucked her phone back into her pocket.
"Haven't heard from him, huh?" Ray's voice startled her from behind.
"How long have you been there?"
"The whole time. Have you forgotten that I am your bodyguard?" She really had.
"I guess my mind was elsewhere."
"I know he promised you he would be here but whatever he and his father are out there doing may be taking longer than he expected it too."
"Believe me I thought of that but I also know that he would've at least called to let me know that."
"There's still plenty of time. Who knows, he may still show up." Ray tried to give her some kind of hope but the tone in his voice clearly said he didn't believe that.
"I'm worried about him." Kristina admitted. "Luke is known for going on dangerous adventures and that, as well as keeping his father safe, would be enough to keep Ethan going along with him."
"Maybe he's called Johnny." Ray suggested; sounded more like he was grasping at straws.
His name brought a frown to her face. "Wait, he didn't show up either."
"No, he didn't." Ray slowly agreed as though he was just realizing that himself.
"Did Elizabeth mention why he hadn't? She didn't say anything to me."
"No. I know the two texted each other this morning after breakfast but I don't know if they've talked since."
Immediately Kristina pulled her phone back out and called her friend. "Now I know I just left you." Elizabeth joked when she answered her phone.
"Have you heard from Johnny? I just realized he didn't show up and was hoping that he may have called you and said something; like why he didn't come."
"You know what, no, he didn't call me. I know he said he would be there but...wow, I hadn't even thought to question his absence. I think the whole Carly debacle really messed with my head."
"I know you probably want to call and check on him but can you give me time to call him first. I also want to question on whether he has heard anything from Ethan."
"Sure. I am still driving so I will call him when I get home."
"No problem. Make sure you call me should you not be able to reach him." She heard the worry in Elizabeth's voice.
"I will." Kristina hung up then dialed Johnny's number.
"I am so sorry I didn't make it Krissy", was how he answered the phone. "Something came up with my father that needed my attention immediately and unfortunately it is taking much of my time."
"Are you still with him?"
"Okay, then I'll make it quick; have you heard from Ethan?"
There was a long pause before he answered, "No, I haven't. I take it he hasn't shown up either?"
"Hey, I'm sure he's okay but I tell you what. If he doesn't get in contact with either of us then tomorrow I'll look into it." Relief spread through her body.
"Thanks Johnny, that makes me feel better."
"Sure thing. Now I hate to be rude but I really do need to get back to what I was doing."
"Okay, but one last thing. Elizabeth is worried about you too..."
"Damn, I didn't think to call her."
"She plans on calling you as soon as she gets home. Did you want me to call and tell her you're fine and that you will call her later?"
"No, I'll call her myself and you and I will get together tomorrow. Again I'm sorry Kristina."
"That's okay. I'm just glad you're okay."
Night time rolled in and Kristina was now alone in her new home but instead of excitement and happiness, she felt nothing but worry and loneliness and she knew it had everything to do with the fact that Ethan was not beside her sharing the pizza she ordered or watching the movie she had put on. This was what they were supposed to be doing right now; how they were planning on celebrating her new place. Instead the pizza sat untouched and the T.V was muted leaving the apartment in complete silence. Kristina's eyes filled with tears but she did not allow them to spill because though she may have given up that Ethan would show up tonight, she refused to believe that he wouldn't tomorrow.
Instead she sat in her darkened apartment staring down at her cell phone willing it to ring and tried not to let the fear take over. Easier said than done. Her stomach was in complete knots and the later time passed the worse it got. When midnight rolled around Kristina got up and put the pizza away then switched off the T.V. She changed into a night shirt and slipped between her cool sheets but sleep would not come. It was hard to when all she kept picturing were different scenarios; all in which end with Ethan hurt – or worse. For a long time she laid on her side staring out the window with tears streaming down her face as she prayed for the man she loved.
Author's Note: Thank you for reading. Comments, criticisms and suggestions are always welcomed.