"And introducing my protégé Elizabeth Webber." Chloe announced her, with an arm pointing in her direction.

Elizabeth blushed and stood stolid.

'You can do this. You can. Just go up there, smile, say a few thank you's and leave. That is all you have to do. Just do it. Oh great, I'm telling myself Nike slogans! What next? My thoughts on cereal brands? Just go up there . . . say something short and sweet. Chloe is counting on you. She put her company on the line for you. Now go up and smile and act the role.'

Chloe looked at the younger woman now with some urgency. Elizabeth gathered up her courage and walked up on stage. She walked to the microphone and looked back at Chloe for some courage.

'Okay, I've been through worse . . . much worse. Just do this and get the hell of the stage and there will be no problems.'

Elizabeth looked out into the audience. It was full of all the top names in fashion from all over the world. They came to see Chloe's new spring line and to see the work of her protégé. She was very excited to get the chance to share her work but at the same time a feeling of dread crept over her. She was silent at the microphone; the flashing bulbs of cameras were driving her mad.

"At first I would like to apologize for my horrible stage fright. . ."

She got a few laughs.

"I would like to thank Chloe for this opportunity. I feel honored just to share the stage with her . . ." She said, looking over at her mentor.

Chloe gazed back with a smile.

"I would also like to thank my husband, Lucky, who continued to love me despite the few hours I had to notice. I would like to thank my friend Emily Quatermaine that convinced me to pursue this aspiration. And I would like to thank Nikolas Cassidine for his continued support and extra hours he put in helping me and his wife Gia for doing justice to my designs. Thank you all for this opportunity." She finished, plastering on one of her best fake smiles and leaving the stage.

She surprised herself by not tripping over her own feet.

'It's over. It's done. Calm down. You did it so now just convince Chloe you want to duck out early.'

Chloe walked up to her looking as elegant as always. She was wearing a sleeveless rose halter dress with a white lace hem that was sewn to look like roses. She smiled at Elizabeth. When the two met she put a comforting arm around her causally.

"It's okay. You did wonderful. The buzz is that your designs were a hit. So pat yourself on the back, you deserve it."

'Okay, she is congratulating you. Thank her and just tell her you have to leave.'

"Thank you . . . I'm sorry Chloe but I don't think I can stay . . . this is all too overwhelming."

Chloe understood immediately. A week before Elizabeth had told her about Tom. She could see that the younger woman was obviously uncomfortable.

"Say no more, go home and get some rest. You deserve it."

"Thank you . . ." She started as Lucky wrapped an arm around her.

She turned to look into his eyes. His eyes stared back at her and she could sense his disinterest. She knew he came over to convince her to leave.

"I'm proud of you." He said, kissing her gently.

Chloe interrupted, "You two head home. Enjoy the rest of the evening."

Chloe left and Elizabeth separated herself from Lucky's embrace.

"I know this isn't your idea of an interesting evening . . ." She began.

'Now he will just give me this lie saying he is proud of me and that he enjoyed the evening. He will compliment one of my designs and then whisk me towards one of the doors and try to convince me to end the night early like Chloe insisted.'

He put his hand on the small of her back and he slowly moved her towards the door.

"No, Elizabeth it was wonderful. I'm so proud of you. I want to take you home and show you how proud I am . . ."

"Lucky . . ." She started, not interested slightly in what he was suggesting.

"Don't speak." He said, putting a finger to her lips.

'Now he is telling me what to do? Ugh! God, all this just to get me in bed! Maybe I should feign illness . . . it worked last night.'

Lucky continued, "You know that deep blue dress with the light blue sheer design you did? I liked that. But Gia didn't do it justice, it would look so much better on you."

'I'm too short to wear something like that . . . and that design was not even mine! Ugh! He cannot even compliment me on the right outfit. Why doesn't he just shout to the world that he was too uninterested to notice?'

"Let's just go home." She said, cleverly concealing her disappointment.

"Sure, whatever you want." He said, smiling at the fact that he had gotten his way. He took her arm within his and started leading her out the door.

'Please, someone, anyone, save me from another night . . .'

Before they could get out the door, Sonny saved her.

"Elizabeth!" he called.

Both her and Lucky turned. Lucky looked at Sonny in disgust. Sonny just ignored his look and focused on Elizabeth.

"You were wonderful tonight." He said, flashing his dimples. He knew all too well about her past and was proud of her.

"Thank you, Sonny." She said, thanking him not only for his compliment but also from saving her from Lucky, if only for a moment.

"She would never admit it but Carly liked your design with the lilacs. I was wondering if you would stop by sometime and we could discuss a way I could buy it."

'Carly likes one of my designs? Interesting.'

But then she saw his eyes . . .

'The look in Sonny's eyes . . . something is up. He wanted her to stop by for another reason. Jason.'

"Sure, is tomorrow fine?"

"Tomorrow is good. I will be there all day."

"Wonderful." She said, smiling, to Lucky's distaste.

He stood silent beside her. He had learned over the years to accept that Elizabeth was friends with Sonny. Instead of stating how he really felt, he kept his mouth shut. It was best for everyone concerned.

The older gentleman hugged her and then turned around to locate his wife in the mess of people.

Just as Lucky got her out the door they ran into Nikolas and Gia.

"Great show, Elizabeth." Gia said, honestly.

"Thank you. And thanks again for agreeing to wear my designs."

"No problem." Gia said as Nikolas wrapped his arm around her.

"How about we all go out and celebrate?" Nikolas suggested.

Lucky looked at Elizabeth and then back at their two friends.

"Sure, we're up for it." He stated, not even asking her opinion.

'What? I thought we were going home? He didn't even ask me. Now he just makes decisions for me!'

"As much as I would like to celebrate, I feel a little under the weather. I think I'm just going to head home."

Nikolas and Gia were both disappointed.

"Then we will do it another night." Lucky stated.

"No, you all go. Have fun. I'm just going home and getting some sleep."

Nikolas sent a look in her direction but she ignored it.

"Okay, if you insist." Gia said, ready to celebrate, even without Elizabeth.

Lucky looked at her trying to discover why she was trying to ditch the trio.

"Go." Was all she said before she wrapped her shawl around herself tightly and left.

Nikolas glanced at Gia and then walked after her.

"Elizabeth, wait." He called, catching up to her. She already had a foot inside the cab.

'Why can't they just let me leave?'

She turned.

"Nikolas . . ."

"What's wrong?"

"I just want to head home, that's all. Just a bug or something."

"Elizabeth, I know you're not sick. What's wrong?" He asked, sincerely.

"Just the cameras and the flash bulbs . . . they gave me a chill."

He understood immediately.

"I should have known . . ." He started.

"Don't blame yourself. . ." She started.

"There is something else . . . something else is bothering you. Please, tell me." He pleaded.

'It's Nikolas. You can trust Nikolas.'

"When you married Gia, did you think marriage would be like this? Did you know that you'd have to put your dreams on hold to please someone else? Did you know that marriage would ruin everything you thought you'd have? Did you think for one second that all this pain, all this heartache, came with marriage? And did you think you'd have to settle into this life . . . a life you never wanted?" She said, pouring out her heart to him.

He was silent.

'Have I said too much? Is he going to run to Lucky and tell him how I feel? I'm surprised I haven't told him before this.'

She started to cry. He took her in his arms and just held her. She pulled away.

"Is this how marriage is supposed to be, Nikolas?" She asked, tears streaming down.

"No." He said in a whisper, feeling as if he was betraying his brother.

She already knew the answer but to have someone confirm it made the truth more real.

"I love him, Nikolas. I have loved him for so long. But why does it hurt so much? Why did I sacrifice so much for this?"

"Because you love him and in a marriage you have to make sacrifices. . ."

"Sacrifice your dreams? Sacrifice the life that you wanted to lead? Sacrifice people you care about just to please a husband that has been gone for a while?"

He said nothing, they both knew his answer.

She climbed into the cab. He blue eyes looked up at him glossy with unshed tears.

"Have you told Lucky this?" He asked, having an idea what the answer was.

"I'm Lucky's wife, Nikolas." She said, before shutting the cab door.

The last words stuck with him as Gia came up from behind. She could tell that Nikolas was somewhere else.

"What is it?" She asked, concerned.

"Nothing." He said, planting a kiss on her delicately.

He felt horrible for having such a wonderful marriage while his best friend was suffering with a terrible one.

He walked back to Lucky and the three friends shared a cab to Club 101. ***

'Why did I come here? I said I was going home. What if he comes home early and finds me not there? He will know I was lying.'

"Hello, Francis. Is Sonny here?"

"Yes, Mrs. Spencer. But Mrs. Corinthos is here."

She cringed.

"That's okay. It is really important that I see him."

He nodded and opened the door, "Mrs. Spencer."

Sonny was in the process of coming down the stairs after tucking Michael in. Carly was upstairs. He had promised he would bring his pregnant wife a snack. He was surprised to find the young woman at his door.

She came in as soon as announced.

"I'm sorry for coming so late . . . " She started to say.

'Maybe this is a bad idea. Carly is here. I'll just come tomorrow like I said.'

He noticed her face streaked with tear lines.

"What's wrong?" He asked, concerned.

He sat and invited the younger woman to sit beside him.

"It's Jason. I know you wanted to see me because of him. What happened? Is he hurt?"

'Is he dead? Don't think like that! He's fine. He's just fine.'

Sonny looked at the younger woman with sympathy, hoping her tears were not for Jason.

Please God, nothing has happened to Jason. Please, God. He's okay. Let this not be about him.

"I did not even mention Jason when we spoke. We haven't talked about Jason in . . ."

"Over four years. What happened?"

"Jason is coming back to Port Charles."

'Jason is coming back. Oh my God, he's coming back. Yes! But what will Lucky do? I won't be allowed to see him . . . I want to see him. But I don't want to lie to Lucky.'

"He told me before he left to watch out for you . . . that something was wrong with Lucky. That Lucky had attacked him."

"Lucky was . . . sick then. He's better now."

'Sick. That's a nice way to put it Elizabeth! Sick in the head. How do you explain brainwashing? How do you explain that despite the fact that he's not under Helena's control that he is still wrong. That in his brainwashing state he lost sight of who he was and has become this person you despise and wish had stayed buried.'

"I've kept contact with Jason over the years. I never told him you married Lucky. I never mentioned you . . . and he never asked."

'I hurt him so much, no wonder. No wonder he hasn't asked . . . he doesn't care anymore. He has most likely found someone else and moved on. He would not be single after five years . . . And I'm married. We want to start a family. Lucky wants to start a family. I've changed and he has. It will not be like before.'

"I think that he wanted to ask." Sonny added.

"I hurt him . . . that's why he left."

"Is that why you've been crying?" He asked, concerned for the young woman he considered a friend.

"No, not this time."

"If Lucky is hurting you, Elizabeth . . ." Sonny started, worried as to why the girl had run to him.

"No . . .no. Not how you think." She said, getting off the couch. She walked towards the door but Sonny got up and stopped her.

"I told you this first because I know you, Elizabeth. I know that things have been rough for you. You hide your feelings just like Jason. And like Jason, I can see through you. I can see that you are in pain and you have been for a long time. You can plaster a smile on and tell me that you are fine, that Jason means nothing to you, and that you are happy with Lucky, but I will know that those are lies."

'Just like Jason? He can see right through me?'

"I have to get home." She said, opening the door.

"Is that what you call the walls you've built around yourself?" He asked before walking out with her.

"Those walls are there for a reason." She said before stepping into the elevator and letting the doors close behind her.

When they did, she let the tears come down again.

'Who am I? How did I become so transparent? Why did I allow myself to become this girl that needs a guy to be strong? I do not even recognize myself anymore. Sonny can see right through me, and so will Jason. Jason will come back into town and see right through me. I cannot let him see me. He will know everything and try to make it better. I cannot let him make it better.'

She sighed. Every moment and every touch coming back to her. And with it came the pain.

'I don't want to be free . . . I want to be with Lucky.'

Her thoughts were interrupted when her cell phone rang. She jumped, startled, and then reached into her purse.

"Elizabeth Spencer." She said, answering the phone.

"It's Gia. Nikolas told me to call and tell you that we're heading home so make sure that you're there when we drop Lucky off."

"How much time do I have?" Elizabeth questioned.

"Twenty at least." She answered.

"Thank you Gia and thank Nikolas." She said, glad that her and Gia had become friends.

"No problem." She said, hanging up the phone.

When she got to the bottom floor she stuck her phone in her purse and got a taxi quickly.

"Where ya heading?" The driver asked.

"1202 Liane Way. Hurry." She pleaded with the driver.

'I have to get home before Lucky and make it look like I'm asleep. I cannot bear the thought of making love to him in the name of procreation. He is the one that wants to start a family. I want a family but I do not want to bring children into this household. Children need to be raised in a loving environment not one of dictatorship.'

He took off into the night at top speed, forcing Elizabeth to notice she had been too caught up in her thoughts to remember her seat belt. The driver got to her house in record time. She paid him and tipped him well, thankful for small favors.

She stripped down to her underwear and found her favorite pajamas and slipped into them quickly. Just as the door opened she jumped into bed and quickly covered herself with the comforter.

She closed her eyes.

'Please God; don't let him know where I was. Don't let him know who I've been thinking about. Don't let him know that I was out. Please just have him fall asleep and leave me alone for another night.'

She heard him slip into bed. He put his arm around her and pulled her close. He rocked her gently trying to wake her up. She pretended to wake up and she smiled slightly.

"I'm glad you're home." She said, less then enthusiastic.

"So am I. I thought we could work on creating new life." He said, matter- of-factly.

"Not tonight." She said, "I'm still not feeling well."

He pulled her closer and planted a kiss on her cheek.

"Tomorrow then." He said, holding her close, sounding disappointed.

'Tomorrow I will say the same thing.'

She pulled away from his embrace and separated herself from him with her half of the comforter.

She slowly drifted off into sleep. . .