A/N: This story is AH. Ric and Liz never remarried. She did get pregnant by Zander but never asked him to give up rights. Zander accepted Emily moving on with Nik and is thrilled that he will be a father. Jason and Liz's history is the same up until she married Ric. All the drama about her not believing that Ric had Carly never happened. She saw that Ric was acting funny and knew that he was up to something. Courtney and Jason are married. She never hit Liz with her car though. Sonny will be a good man for the most part in this fic.
If any questions, just ask. Enjoy and please let me know what you think.
Tired and emotionally drained, she sat on the bench in the park and stared at the snow falling from the sky. While she normally enjoyed the first snowfall of the season, Elizabeth could not find it in herself to be happy at the moment. Closing her eyes to blink back the tears that were threatening to fall, she sighed and bit her lip.
Hearing footsteps, she immediately tensed and looked up. Relaxing at seeing Zander, she offered him a slight smile. "Hey. I thought that you were going to the club tonight?"
Watching her closely, he shrugged. "I thought about it, but I figured that it would be crowded. I am not in the mood to be around a lot of people. Are you okay? You look upset."
Resting her back against the bench, she rubbed her neck. "I am fine, Zander. I just had a run in with Ric. He was being himself and..."
"Bothering you," he finished with a shake of his head. Anger quickly rising, he pushed it back, knowing that Elizabeth was stressed enough. "What more does it take for him to get the hint? You two are divorced, have been for awhile now."
Her eyes welled with tears as she rubbed her swollen abdomen. "He wants our baby. He said that you would gladly sign away rights to it. That he would take care of everything. Zander, I am scared that he is loosing it, like he did with Carly."
Pulling her into his arms, he held her as she cried, rubbing her back in soothing circles as he fought to control his temper. "Shh, he is not going to hurt you or our baby, Elizabeth. I promise you. I won't let him hurt either of you."
Easing back and swiping at the tears on her cheeks, she looked away from his dark eyes that were filled with concern. "I am sorry that I fell apart on you."
"Liz, don't be. We may have decided that we are better off as friends, but you are the mother of my child." He rested a hand on her stomach and felt their child rick in return. "I will always be there for you. That is what friends do. Are you okay other than Ric being an ass?"
Giggling, she nodded. "Yeah. Just tired a lot, which is normal."
"Yeah, well, you need to rest. Want to get something to eat?"
She raised an eyebrow and looked at him. "What kind of question is that to a six month pregnant woman? Of course I am hungry."
Pulling her to her feet, Zander laughed as they started out of the park. While he had wanted to avoid the crowd, he had been more concerned about checking up on her. Zander did not trust her ex husband at all. He was concerned that Ric would try something to make Elizabeth go back to him, even if it was by force.
Glancing over and seeing that the strain had left her face and that she looked happy, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Eli's or Kelly's? What does the baby want?"
Pulling her bottom lip between her teeth, she tapped a finger against her chin. "Um, Kelly's. I really want a chocolate milkshake and a grilled cheese with pickles and friench fries with mayo."
Wrinkling his nose, Zander smirked. "I am so happy that you get those disgusting cravings. That just sounds gross."
Entering Kelly's they both stopped as Jason and Courtney stood to leave. Courtney glared at Elizabeth and stomped out of the diner while Jason only shook his head at his wife's antics and threw some money on the table. He glanced at the door and saw that she had stormed off. "Hey. How are you feeling, Elizabeth?"
"Good. Just tired some, but other than that, I am good."
His blue eyes swept over her before he turned to Zander, his eyes cooling considerably. "Take care of her." He looked back at her and smiled before walking out the door to track down his wife.
Holding in his snort, Zander ushered Elizabeth to a table in the corner and motioned to Penny. "Um, I will have a coffee and a meatloaf special. She is being disgusting again."
Tossing a napkin at him while Penny only laughed, Elizabeth shook her head. "I want my usual except for extra pickles and chocolate instead of strawberry."
Winking at Zander, Penny nodded at him. "You are right. It keeps hetting worse. Liz, why not the meatloaf? It's really good."
"Uh uh. I hate meatloaf."
Giving up, Penny looked at her friend and coworker. "Babies need more than grilled cheeses, honey. I'll be back with your drinks."
Waiting until they were alone again, he approached the topic that he knew she was trying to keep from him. Too bad the grapevine in the small town hears all and sees all. "Is your grandmother really insisting that you move out because you are letting me be a part of the baby's life?"
Her eyes widened and she looked at him with sorrow. "I am so sorry about what she is saying, Zander. She has no right to say those things."
"I'm not worried about me, Liz. I can handle whatever she wants to say. I just don't want you stressed. Are you going to move out?"
She nodded. "I already did. I moved into the studio last night."
Hearing that caused him to stop and stare at her in disbelief. "Elizabeth, that place is one room. It has no bathroom except for down the hall that everyone uses. No way are you staying there. The elevator doesn't even work!"
Lowering her eyes, she sighed. "I can't afford anywhere else right now. Not with only working part time. It's fine. I like my studio."
Zander reached over and captured her hand under his. "No, it is not safe right now. And you will need more room. Why don't you move in with me at the Towers? Sonny gave me a three bedroom apartment because it was available at the time. He takes rent and utilities out of my check already." Seeing her hesitate, he flashed his charming smile. "Let me help. After all, I am the father of this baby. It will also keep Ric away. You know how tight security is at the building. Please let me help, Liz."
Knowing it was the best solution for now, she gingerly nodded. "Only until I can get back to work after the baby is born though. I don't want to ruin your dating life."
"You mean the nonexistant one. Yeah, wouldn't want to scare away no one," he teased as he stole one of her fries. "And even if I would meet someone, if she can't accept that I am helping the mother of my child, she doesn't need to be with me. I have screwed up a lot in my life, especially recently, but I will do this right. I am going to be a good father. I promise you that."
She smiled at the sincerity in his voice. "I don't doubt that for a minute, Zander. You have been terrific since you found out that I was having your baby."
Sonny eyed him as he gave his security report and waited until he was finished. "So, Francis said that Elizabeth moved in yesterday. Did she get settled okay?"
"Yeah. I hope that it was alright."
He waved his hand. "Of course it is, Zander. I was just making sure that you had everything that you guys needed. I heard what Audrey did. It was wrong. I also know that my brother is bothering her. The guards have been told that he is not to make it off the lobby floor if he would show up here."
Zander released a breath, relieved that he didn't have to ask that Ric be kept away. "Thank you. I appreciate that more than you know." He paused as Jason walked into the penthouse. Turning back to Sonny, he continued, "She settled in fine. We are going tomorrow to get some things that I figured that she would want to have. Such as a tv."
Smirking, the mob boss nodded. "Especially since she will be on maternity leave soon and is only working part time now."
Hearing that remark, Jason looked between the two. "Elizabeth moved in to the Towers?"
"Yeah. She is living with Zander. I was just making sure that they had everything they needed."
The enforcer looked at Zander but remained silent, causing the younger man to start toward the door. He knew that Jason despised him and Elizabeth sharing a child and wanted no reasn to argue over it. After all, Morgan was his boss too. And Zander knew that he really needed the income that this job supplied. Saying goodbye, he slipped from the penthouse.
Seeing the anger under the surface, Sonny sighed. "Are you and Courtney fighting again?"
Caught off guard by the question, he shook his head. "No. She is actually out shopping with Carly. Why did Elizabeth move in with Zander? I thought that she was staying with Mrs. Hardy?"
Sonny's eyes darkened. "She kicked her pregnant granddaughter out because she refused to cut Zander out of his child's life. She was planning to stay in her studio, but thankfully, Zander convinced her to take the spare room in the apartment. That studio is not safe for her, let alone a child. Then factor in Ric is basically stalking her, it is much safer that she is here. Security will make sure that she is safe, especially when Zander is out."
As the topic switched to what needed to be done in the business, both men discussed the threats they had been recieving from Alcazar. "He is a viper. There is no telling what could happen."
Nodding in agreement, Jason started for the door. "I will see what intel we can gather. After we are informed, we will decide what course of action needs to be taken. But until then, we should up security."
"Fine. Carly and Courtney will go to the island if things become too tense. However, I think that Elizabeth should have a guard. She was once connected closely to both of us, Jason. Now she is with one of our men and living here. She could be targeted. And if things do get dangerous, she will need extra guards. With her pregnant, she cannot just take off for the island, especially this late in the pregnancy."
"I agree. Francis or Johnny?"
"O'Brien. Francis will be her backup. Until then he will stay Courtney's. Marco and Max are Carly."
"Courtney's second, is Milo okay? He is moving up and learning quickly."
"That is fine. How about Emily?"
Jason frowned as he thought of sister. "Nik refuses to let our guards on the island. So only at the hospital."
"That prince is a putz," Sonny said with disgust. "If it gets too bad, she can stay with Elizabeth."
Jason smirked at the idea. "Yeah, I am sure that Nik would love Em staying with Zander."
"Why would he care? Zander obviously cares a great deal about Elizabeth."