Emily let out a yelp and spun around to face her father, who was grinning at her like a Cheshire cat. She scowled at him.
“You scared me!” she said, petulantly. Alan stuck out his lower lip, like a displeased five year old.
“Aww, it was just a joke.”
Emily sat down on the stairs in the foyer, shakily. To be fair, she was feeling a little high strung.
“Sorry,” she said, folding her arms across her stomach. She was waiting for Lucky. He’d said that he’d come by this afternoon around 1:00. It was only 12:30, but she found herself completely incapable of concentrating on anything else. Whenever she sat down, she immediately felt the need to stand up. When she stood up she felt too weak, and sat down again. Her bedroom had gotten too claustrophobic, so she’d come downstairs where the ceilings were higher. The problem was, now she had to contend with other people. She frowned, letting herself slip off to her own world again. Alan, however, wasn’t going to be easily discouraged. He sat down next to his daughter, putting a paternal arm around her shoulders.
“You’re not eating lunch today?”
Emily shook her head. The mere mention of food was too much for her right now. She didn’t trust her stomach. In addition to that, she’d barely gotten any sleep the night before, her mind wavering between recalling her time with Lucky at the creek, and what Lizzie had told her. She wanted to ignore all the doubts that were swimming around in her head. Whenever she thought of certain moments, like his attempts to smile with his split lip, or the gentle way he’d comforted her, she was overcome with a myriad of emotions from joy to extreme anxiety, every part of her tingling. While this was discombobulating, it wasn’t altogether unpleasant. Then some vicious doubt would pop up out of nowhere and make her feel paralyzed with fear. That she felt horrible about. The most convincing thought that kept circling through her brain was the fact that if Lucky did anything as thoughtless as some of the stuff he’d pulled in the past year now, it would be a thousand times worse. What really made her head spin was the fact that she’d known that, she’d taken steps to avoid it, and yet here she was, more hung up on him than ever.
Alan was frowning at her, clearly disturbed.
“Is something bothering you, honey?” he asked, his voice betraying a trace of distress. She tried to change the subject, forcing herself to smile.
“Does cook know about the diner tonight?”
Alan waved a hand, dismissing the topic.
“Oh, your mother told her about that yesterday.”
Emily frowned. Neither Monica nor Alan had asked her anything about Friday night, so she couldn’t fathom of how Monica had managed to loose the bet without her knowledge.
“Oh,” she said, quietly.
“Look, I’m not to thrilled about it either,” Alan confided. “Are you having problems with Nikolas?”
If she hadn’t been so preoccupied with thoughts of Lucky, Emily would have found her father’s obvious fishing expedition amusing. As it was, she had too much on her mind to concentrate on what she thought of Nikolas these days.
“No,” she answered her father, her voice leaving no room for debate. Alan tried a more direct approach.
“Emily,” he sighed, “I tried. Lord help me, I really did. I have to ask what happened at the dance.”
Emily looked sadly at the floor. There was no way to explain what happened to Alan without making Lucky look bad, and she didn’t want to do that. She took a deep breath.
“Would it be enough to say I was never in any danger, it was no one’s fault and it won’t happen again?”
Alan considered this.
“I don’t think so,” he said finally. “Let me explain something to you about fathers -- they worry. They worry all the time. Do I spend enough time with them? Do they know how much I love them? Are they getting into trouble? If they are, can they talk to me about it?” He looked at Emily, his eyes filled with regret. “Most of the time, I’ve had some bad answers to those questions. I need to know that you can talk to me, Emily. I need to know that I’m still important to you.”
Emily looked back at Alan, her eyes wide. He’d been behaving a little oddly on occasion lately, and she wondered if this could be the cause. Was he afraid that she was going to disappear from his life the way AJ and Jason had? She leaned over and hugged him laying her face on his chest. Alan held her tightly in response.
“I’m not in any trouble,” she told him steadily. “It’s really alright.”
Alan pulled back and looked into her eyes seriously.
“I want you to know, Emily, that it isn’t that I don’t trust you. It’s just that I don’t trust anyone else.”
Emily smiled weakly.
“I know that feeling.”
“So you aren’t going to tell me anything about Friday night?” Alan attempted again. Emily opened her mouth to say something, but was cut off by the sharp click on Monica’s heels on the tile.
“There you two are. You’re aware you’re missing lunch, aren’t you?”
Em scrambled to her feet, thankful for the interruption.
“I’m going out,” she blurted.
“Now?” Alan asked, confused by this sudden admission.
“I’m just waiting for Lucky. We’re probably going to grab lunch, or something,” This was not exactly the truth. What Lucky had suggested was just that they get together and go for a walk. If he did want to throw food into the bargain, she was pretty sure she’d have to bail. She didn’t feel like she’d ever eat again. Monica was smiling at her in a way that made her feel even more queasy, if that was possible.
“I take it you and Lucky have mended fences again?”
Emily shrugged. Alan looked down at her.
“You and Lucky weren’t getting along?”
“Oh!” Monica gasped. “I completely forgot to tell you. Lucky stopped by yesterday.”
“Since when are you two not getting along?” Alan asked, still stuck on the previous discussion. Emily chose to ignored him in favor of focusing on her Mother’s revelation.
“When?” She felt her heartbeat speed up.
“Just after you’d left with Raoul. He just wanted to say.... oh, what was it?” Monica frowned, in an attempt to recall Lucky’s message. “Well,” she said, brightening. “You must have spoken to him since then, he probably told you himself.”
“Why doesn’t anybody ever tell me anything?” Alan complained.
“Come have your lunch, Alan.”
Monica turned back to the dining hall, Alan following behind her muttering under his breath. Emily told herself to stay where she was, but she felt pulled by an outside force to follow her parents.
“Mom?” she called out, running after Monica. “Wait!”
Monica stopped and looked back at her daughter in surprise. Emily shifted her weight uncomfortably.
“What is it, Emily?”
“Um,” Emily bit her lip, then chastised herself for appearing so nervous. She crossed her arms across her chest, and leaned against the wall in an attempt to look casual. “What did Lucky.... Did he say why he stopped by?”
Monica and Alan exchanged a look.
“Just that he was looking for you. Did you see him yesterday?”
“He didn’t tell me he’d been here. I just....” she made a face. “It’s not important.” She turned quickly and headed back into the foyer. This was infuriating. She didn’t know what bothered her more: that Lucky had left her a message that was now lost in the recesses of her mother’s brain. -- sure, she can do heart surgery, but she can’t remember a message! -- or the fact that it agitated her so much. She wanted to be able to just shrug it off. There was no way to ask Monica again without tipping her hand -- if she hadn’t done that already. She flopped down on the stairs in frustration, only to hear the clip on Monica’s shoes coming down the hall again.
“I remembered what he said,” Monica told her. “He wanted me to tell you ‘thanks’. Is that what you wanted to hear?”
“Depends. Is that what he said?”
Monica sat down beside her.
“That is definitely what he said.” She smiled at her daughter knowingly. “Is there something you want to talk about?”
Emily looked at her mother, uncertain. She wanted to be able to talk to someone about this, and Monica was as good a candidate as any. Her mother was very good at listening, and saying the right thing when she had the time and inclination. The problem was, Emily couldn’t even think of the words she wanted to say, let alone get her mouth to form them. She shook her head, and looked down at the ground. Monica patted her back reassuringly.
“Well, In that case, why don’t you come and have a little bit of lunch. Just to make me feel better.”
Emily smiled wryly.
“I’ll try,” she said finally.
* * * *
Lucky pushed back his chair a little too quickly, sending it sprawling behind him. Luke eyed his son inquisitively.
There was a problem. Lucky had just caught sight of the clock behind Ruby’s counter, and realized he was supposed to be at the Quartermaines in twenty minutes.
“I’m late,” he muttered. Luke raised his eyebrows.
“Since when is that a problem for you?”
Lucky had left things really vague with Emily after he’d walked her home yesterday. He’d tried to be casual about inviting her out, like it wasn’t a big deal, mostly because he didn’t want to make any rejection too uncomfortable. Emily, however, had enthusiastically agreed to see him, and he’d been thinking about it ever since. After all of this stuff, things had finally worked out. And he wasn’t going to mess them up again.
“I gotta go see someone,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. Luke, as always, took the cue calmly.
“What about your lunch?”
“I’ll ask Ruby to wrap it up for me.”
Luke shrugged. As long as the kid wasn’t slamming doors or staring moodily at the floor, he wasn’t going to push.
“See ya back at the ranch.”
Lucky picked up the chair and set in on it’s feet. He moved quickly up to the bar, where Lizzie was cleaning glasses. He hit the service bell three times for emphasis, trumpeting his arrival. Lizzie gave him an odd look.
“I’m right here.”
“I see that,” Lucky smiled at her broadly. “I need food.”
Lizzie narrowed her eyes at him. Lizzie had been watching him carefully since he’d walked in, and he wasn’t acting like she’d expected him to. Her stomach began to churn.
“It’s coming. I’ll be right over.”
Lucky shook his head.
“Gotta get it to go. I’m late.”
Lizzie surveyed him, looking for some clue as to where he was going. She’d expected that the next time she’d see him, he’d be moodily staring at table tops again, but this was quite the opposite. She felt almost certain Emily had to be behind this. Ruby’s head appeared in the widow to the kitchen.
“Where are you going?”
“For a walk,” Lucky said simply.
Lizzie dropped the glass she was holding to the floor.
“Lizzie!” Ruby barked. “Not again!”
“Sorry,” Lizzie muttered, her voice uncharacteristically distraught. She sank to the floor and began to shakily pick up the pieces. This couldn’t be happening, she told herself, but there was no doubt in her mind. Lucky was going to see Emily. She had done everything, short of hand cuffing herself to this guy, and what had it gotten her? An order to wrap up his lunch because he was rushing off to see some other girl?
Speaking of the devil, Lucky appeared beside her with a dust pan. He silently began to pick up the glass, looking at her, a smile playing on his lips. Lizzie stared back at him, feeling like she was about to completely loose it. She looked down at her hands, cradling the shards of glass, like they were precious possessions. Lucky swept the smaller pieces of glass into the pan, then held the pan out to her. Lizzie didn’t move.
“Hey,” Lucky said, his voice soft. “Are you alright?”
Lizzie didn’t respond. What did it matter? He didn’t care about her. She was the person he hung around with when his wonderful Emily wasn’t around. Emily didn’t even want him, and she had him. Lucky reached out and gingerly picked up the large pieces of glass she was holding. His fingers brushed hers, and Lizzie felt an almost electric current shoot up her arm. She looked back at Lucky, eyes wide. She couldn’t believe he hadn’t felt it, but his face registered nothing.
“Don’t sweat it, Lizzie,” he told her, obviously assuming this mood was due to Ruby’s admonishment. “Give her ten minutes, she’ll have forgotten all about it.”
Lizzie considered grabbing the dustpan and beating him over the head with it. How could he be this slow? Sure, she’d denied having feelings for him when he’d asked her, but that was only because the timing was wrong. She’d thought things were moving in her direction, it had been so close! At the dance she’d been sure he was coming around. And then Tim the Moron had pointed out Emily and everything had fallen apart.
“I’m fine, Lucky,” she muttered tersely, pulling herself to her feet. Lucky shrugged and emptied the dust pan into the garbage.
“Alright!” Ruby hustled out of the kitchen, carrying a brown paper bag. “Here’s your sandwich. Enjoy your walk.”
Lizzie repressed the urge to scream. She picked up a cloth and began to scrub the counter top. Lucky took the bag from Ruby, and gave Lizzie an odd look. He didn’t get what was up with her. Out of everyone he’d known in his life, she was, by far, the most incomprehensible. One minute she was one way, and then, she’d suddenly have a instantaneous mood swing, and he’d be completely in the dark. This was one of those times.
“See ya, Liz.” he called halfheartedly, preparing to make his exit.
She looked up at him, angrily. She couldn’t stand to see him this upbeat. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. She was the person who was supposed to make him happy -- she’d be better at it. Emily might be able to lift his spirits temporarily, but mostly she made him miserable. She didn’t know how to make Lucky see that he’d be happier with her. At least not while he was still gazing up at Emily on her little pedestal.
“You’re not helping her, you know.” She called after him. Lucky stopped in his tracks and turned back to her. His father, now talking to Ruby, was obviously attempting to figure out what was happening over here. Lucky walked over to the counter and leaned across it.
“What are you talking about?” he asked, his voice low. Lizzie felt possessed. She leaned towards him, eyes on fire.
“You think that you’re helping her by ignoring what I saw yesterday, but you’re wrong.”
Lucky looked confused.
“How do you know...”
Lizzie cut him off.
“I was talking to my sister last night. Do you know what’s going on with your little friend Emily?” Lizzie could see the weight of the world come down on Lucky’s shoulders with a thud.
“If you’ve got something to say, Lizzie, you should just say it.” he said coldly. Lizzie took a deep breath, trying to get the angry edge out of her voice.
“Sarah told me about Emily’s affection for opiates. Plus, she said she’s been moody, and distant and tense. Plus I saw her with you-know-who yesterday... come on, Lucky. You’re not being a friend to her by pretending nothing’s going on.”
The color drained out of Lucky’s face.
“Emily wouldn’t do that.”
Lizzie raised her eyebrows.
“Really? Is that what you said last time?”
Lucky felt himself beginning to panic. This can’t be happening, he told himself. He’d seen her yesterday, and.... well, she wasn’t fine, but she wasn’t high. He knew that. On the other hand, Emily had told him almost nothing about that part of her life, and if there was one place he had doubts, it was about her drug use. Right up until the minute his father had told him she’d overdosed, he would have sworn on his sister’s life that she wasn’t capable of ever doing anything that monumentally stupid. He couldn’t believe she would do it twice.
“No,” he said firmly. “No, you’re wrong.”
Lizzie managed to force an empathetic look onto her face.
“I know it’s hard to hear, and I wouldn’t even tell you if I didn’t care about both of you, but I know what I saw. Addicts do this stuff, Lucky. They lie, they cheat.... They pull away from their friends....”
Lucky looked up at her sharply.
“You’re out of your mind.” he hissed at her. Lizzie felt her anger bubble up to the surface. She folded her arms across her chest and looked at him disapprovingly.
“You are so crazy about this girl you can’t see what’s right in front of you.”
She watched his reaction carefully. Lucky just shook his head.
“Lizzie, back off, ok?” he muttered.
Lizzie’s whole body went cold. She’d said it out loud -- accused him of having a thing for Emily, and he hadn’t denied it. This was it. She didn’t care anymore. All she wanted to do was mess up his life.
“Fine. You can just stay there in denial until she jumps off another roof.”
Lucky looked up at her angrily.
“You don’t know her, Lizzie.”
“Oh?” Lizzie mocked. “And you do?”
Lucky gave Lizzie such a disgusted look that she felt a momentary wave of fear, as if his opinion of her had permanently shifted. Lucky turned and walked out of the restaurant without a word. Lizzie sank down to the floor in shock. What had she just done? All she’d meant to do was plant a seed of doubt. After all, when she’d tried to tell Lucky about what was going on with Emily and Nikolas, it had completely blown their relationship apart. Obviously these two lacked some basic communication skills. She wanted to get Lucky to doubt her again -- since she’d somehow gotten back into his good graces again. But the look he’d given her before he left was terrifying. She didn’t know if he was ever going to talk to her again.
She looked up to see Ruby standing over her, looking concerned.
“Yeah?” she said, trying to pull herself to her feet.
“Are you alright?” Ruby asked, giving her a hand. Lizzie looked at her boss, confused. This was the nicest she’d ever been to her. She put a hand to her head, and stumbled dizzily.
“All of the sudden, I’m just not feeling very well.....”
Ruby regarding her gravely.
“I’m calling your Grandmother,” she informed her.
Lizzie looked away, her eyes immediately falling on Lucky’s father, who was watching her unblinkingly. She felt that same cold feeling she’d had when Lucky had glared at her. Suddenly this family was giving her the creeps.
“I’ll call a cab,” she said weakly. “I think I just need some rest.”
Ruby nodded, accepting this. She picked up the phone and began to dial.
“Have a seat, Lizzie,” she instructed. Lizzie moved with emphasized unsteadiness around the counter, and slid onto the stool by the cash register, ensuring that her back was to Luke Spencer. She put her head down on the counter, miserably trying to think of what she should do next.
* * * *
Cook had prepared Spinach quiche for lunch, and Emily just couldn’t fathom of how she was going to swallow the tiny bit she’d been chewing for the last minute and a half. She simply didn’t trust her body to accept any form of sustenance right now. She looked across the table at her mother, who was attempting her best to enthusiastically consume her lunch. Emily was aware that her mother hated spinach, and that was probably why this particular quiche was so plentiful in that department. Cook was really annoyed this time.
The conversation over the meal was, once again, the Cassadine dinner. Edward couldn’t possibly have hated the idea more. The longer he had to stew, the angrier he got. And the angrier he got, the more jocular Ned got, until the whole thing had escalated to monstrous proportions, with Edward blustering at the top of his lungs and Ned’s cold smile spreading further and further across his face. Emily’s head spun. At least Grandfather’s eyes weren’t fixed on her plate. She surreptitiously picked up her napkin and spit the quiche into it. The taste stayed stubbornly with her, and she picked up her water glass, sipping from it carefully. One bite. One bite she felt like she’d be regretting it for the rest of her life.
Emily was immensely relieved when Reginald stole into the room and discretely informed her that Lucky had arrived. She looked at her watch -- 1:05. Impressive. She stood up, and attempted to excuse herself, but Monica was the only person who seemed to notice. Instead, she silently followed Reginald out of the room.
Lucky was waiting for her in the living room, looking uncharacteristically uncomfortable. Emily’s stomach immediately let her know that it was a good thing she hadn’t actually swallowed any of the quiche. She forced a smile.
“Hi,” she said, coming into the room. Lucky looked up, obviously feeling jumpy.
“Hi,” he said, and mirrored her own forced smile back to her. There was a long silence. Finally Lucky spoke up. “Should we just go?”
Emily nodded, and walked back into the hall. She grabbed her coat out of the closet, and was outside in seconds, Lucky following, confused.
“I’m so glad you came when you did. Another minute and my head would have exploded.” She turned back to him, and grinned. “I’m totally stressed.”
Lucky searched her face for any clue as to her true state of mind. Actually, she just looked stressed. He told himself to relax.
“Static on the home front?” He said, as they headed down the drive.
“It’s so oppressive sometimes,” she said, taking a deep breath. She just had to keep breathing, she told herself, and everything would be fine. “So, where do you want to go?”
Emily hated it when Lucky didn’t care about something. He either had a firm idea about what he wanted to do, or he had no clue at all. And when he had no clue, he was completely unenthusiastic about anything she suggested. She began to wrack her brain for ideas.
“We could go....” she said slowly, “to the boathouse.”
“On the grounds?”
“Sure!” Emily said, forcing the enthusiasm. She didn’t feel like she had the strength to go far. “It’s really nice down there in the fall, and no one ever goes there anymore.”
“Ok,” Lucky said slowly. Emily looked over her shoulder to ensure some irate relative wasn’t coming out to admonish her for leaving the lunch table so abruptly. There was no one. She smiled at him, and headed off around the side of the house. Lucky walked a few paces behind her, watching her carefully. She looked fine. A little tense, but fine. He shook his head, and tried to ignore the anxiety that had formed in the pit of his stomach.
* * * *
Lizzie really wasn’t feeling well by the time the cab dropped her off at home. The more she thought about what had happened with Lucky, the more distraught she became. She’d under-estimated Lucky’s feelings for Emily, and that fact alone made her feel hideous. She practically crawled up to her room, where she found Sarah curled up on her bed, reading a book -- The Little Princess. Lizzie hated that book. It was all about a perfect little girl named Sara who thought of herself as a little princess. She befriended a bratty little girl named Lottie, and her mother had drawn the inevitable parallel when she’d read it to them. She’d said it as if it was a great joke, but Lizzie had never found the humor in it. More than that, she recalled, Sara had a perfect little doll named Emily, who she confided all her secrets too. Lizzie felt the corners of her mouth pull down into an unintentional frown, a sure sign that she was going to cry. She threw herself down on the bed, and buried her face in the pillow. Sara looked up from her novel, concerned.
“Liz?” she queried. “Are you ok?”
“No,” Lizzie’s muffled voice was barely audible. Sarah put down her book.
Lizzie sat up, purposely keeping her back from her sister. She pulled the covers back on the bed, and crawled under them fully clothed. She did not want to deal with her sister, and she didn’t want to feel this way anymore.
“I’m sick,” she muttered, hoping Sarah would scurry out of the room at the prospect of a cold cutting down on her make out time with Nikolas. No such luck.
“What kind of sick? Is it from the rain?”
Lizzie threw the covers over her head.
“Sure, blame me.”
Sarah’s sigh could be heard even burrowed beneath the bed clothes.
“I’m not blaming you, Lizzie. I’m just asking.”
Lizzie sat up quickly.
“Well, don’t, ok? I’m tired and I don’t need your whiny, obnoxious voice ringing in my ears. You’re the one making me sick!”
Sarah stared at her sister in shock.
“Fine,” she said tightly. She hugged her book to her chest and walked quickly out of the room, her head bowed. Lizzie fell back down on the bed, buried her face in the pillow and released the pent-up tears that she’d been accumulating since her arrival in Port Charles.