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Acts of Betrayal

Acts of Betrayal

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Published by doolgirl

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Published by: doolgirl on Mar 14, 2009
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Acts of BetrayalChapter 1Jason guzzled the last of his beer and set the bottle on the table with the restof the empties. He leaned back in the dark corner booth, which he’d made all thedarker by unscrewing the low wattage bulb in the light fixture over the table, andwrapped his fingers around the next long necked bottle awaiting his attention.Numb.That’s all he wanted to be. Not drunk, buzzed, or high.Just numb…. enough to stop the thoughts rushing through his mind and deaden thepain knotted in his heart.The waitress stopped at the table, set two new bottles next to the two alreadywaiting and silently filled her tray with his empties. Jason didn’t bother herwith a glance and appreciated the fact that she didn’t try to start a conversationor fill the silence with chirpy small talk. She obviously had waitressed at Jake’slong enough to recognize what a customer wanted and learned that respecting thosewants earned her the biggest tips, or she could have simply learned that keepingquiet and her nose out of other people’s business went along way to keeping herjob. Either way, Jason made a mental note to leave her a nice tip for her trouble.The crack of pool balls exploded from the far side of the room and a group ofunkempt dockworkers cheered lustily at the break. Jason’s eyes narrowed at thegroup. Most wore dirty sleeveless t-shirts, equally dirty jeans, and black knitcaps pulled low over long stringy hair. Several sported garish tattoos meant tointimidate and he recognized all of them as Corinthos-Morgan dock workers, mostlikely out squandering their weekly wages on cheap liquor and even cheaper women.A loud, crude, boisterous lot laughing and drinking in abandon - they were a barfight waiting to happen.Jason downed half of his newest beer and closed his eyes, willing the numbness tocome. Only in the dark behind his eyelids, he saw the disapproving glare of asmall brunette. Jason sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.Sam hated him. She’d said as much and worse. Her words had cut him to his heartand he still ached from it. He knew she was in pain, the pain of a mother losing achild - losing a child so soon after having lost her own baby - but had she simplybeen lashing out at him in that pain, or had she spoken the truth. Had she onlystayed with him because he could support her and the baby? Had she lied when sheprofessed her love to him? If she had lied, she’d used him and his love of herbaby and baby Hope to manipulate him. But, what if she hadn’t lied? What did thatmean?Jason didn’t want to think about it anymore. He only wanted to be numb.Used or not. Lied to or not. He hurt, and he wanted it to go away.He lifted the beer bottle to his lips and paused as he heard the bar door slamopen. Instinct had him turning to assess the newest arrival. A gust of windbrought in a puff of snow and it swirled around a petite figure in a black leatherjacket. The new arrival was wearing nicely snug blue jeans and boots, which sheput to use kicking the door closed. She pulled off her wool cap, letting loose anavalanche of chocolate brown hair and Jason’s eyes widened in surprise.Elizabeth Webber.
 
He lowered his bottle back to the table and folded himself further into thedarkness of the booth. What has she doing here? He watched her make a bee-line forthe bar. He could tell she was angry by the way she sharply yanked off her jacketand threw it on the bar. Her soft pink sweater molded her like a second skin andwas attracting stares from several men around the room, stares which made Jasongrowl in disapproval. Then, she plopped down on a bar stool and he physicallytensed as behind the bar Coleman sauntered over to her, leaned on his elbow to getin close and gave her one of his brand of slippery smiles and sly winks.He couldn’t hear their conversation over the song grinding from the jukebox andthe rowdies at the pool table, but Coleman nodded and winked, which made Jasongrit his teeth, and then filled a shot glass with vodka and placed it on the barin front of her. Elizabeth lifted it in a mock toast, then tipped her head backand downed it in one swallow.Jason frowned. He didn’t like this. This wasn’t like Elizabeth. Granted theyweren’t as close now as they had once been, but he still felt he knew her wellenough to know when something was wrong.Elizabeth downed her second shot and Coleman was lining up a third when Jasonnoticed that the dock crew at the pool table had taken an interest in her. Threeof the burly men were huddled together, leaning on pool cues and ogling her fromacross the bar. The one in the middle let out a long wolf whistle and a nod ofapproval.Jason swore to himself. Elizabeth was raising her third shot and wiggled ever soslightly on her stool as she raised her arm. The men at the pool table hootedtheir approval. Yet she still hadn’t a clue what was going on around her. Jasonshook his head, the woman had no idea what kind of havoc she was raising justbeing here. He ran his hand through his short spiked hair and sighed. All he’dwanted to do was to come and drink himself into oblivion, then crash for the nightin his old room upstairs. So much for his well laid plans. It seemed they’d goneout window the minute Elizabeth Webber stepped into his world again.He pulled a couple of hundreds out of his wallet and tossed them on the table forthe waitress, then drank the bottom half of his beer and grabbed a full bottle totake with him. He slid out of the booth and stood, feeling the floor pitch underhim a moment as he got his bearings. How many beers had he drunk? Apparently morethan he’d realized.The men at the pool table immediately saw him emerging from the corner booth andtheir faces told Jason all he needed to know. They saw him, they recognized him,and with their back-stepping and raised palms, showed they had no intention ofcrossing him. Jason pulled himself straighter and inhaled deeply, meeting eachman’s gaze in a silent affirmation of his place as the alpha male in the room.The dock hands nodded mutely and went back to their pool game. Then Jason slowlycrossed the room, headed directly towards the brunette at the bar downing herthird shot of vodka.She hadn’t noticed his approach, because when he leaned one hand on the bar nextto her, she jumped in surprise and her eyes widened in recognition.“Jason.” She said, the word slightly slurred, and reached up to tuck a strand ofhair behind her ear.Her eyes were red-rimmed and slightly puffy, from crying no doubt, and she wiped
 
at her reddened nose with a wadded tissue in her hand.Jason tipped his head at the chair next to her. “Do you mind?”She shrugged and turned back to Coleman who had just arrived to fill up her shotglass.Coleman had a vodka bottle in hand and propped in on the counter top beforefilling her glass, “Hey, baby-doll, are you sure I can’t interest you in somethingwith a cute little umbrella in it, like a frozen daiquiri?”Elizabeth shook her head and rapped her knuckles on the counter. “Nope. Just fillme up again.”Coleman sighed, and shot Jason a knowing look, twisting the bottle for him to geta good look at the label. Jason saw and tipped his head in approval. It was thebottle they kept watered down for patrons who were obviously out of control.Coleman filled Elizabeth’s shot glass and she stared at it for a long minutebefore picking it up. Jason watched her bring the glass to her lips and tip herhead back, slamming the drink in one shot. Watered down or not, she was going toget drunk fast at this rate.“You want to talk about it?”“No.”Elizabeth rapped her knuckles on the bar again, looking for Coleman, who wassuddenly nowhere to be found.Jason took a swig of his beer and a long hard look at Elizabeth. She was staringdown at her glass and as her eyes fluttered closed, a single tear spilled out andtrailed a glossy line down her cheek. Then she turned and met his gaze and hisheart constricted in his chest. So much pain. He recognized the anguish he saw inher sapphire eyes because it was a reflection of the pain he felt own heart, andsuddenly the years fell away. It felt natural again, just the two of them like ithad been before - in her studio, on the docks, here at Jake‘s - one of themneeding, the other knowing how to just be.Jason reached over and cupped her chin, gently gliding his thumb over her cheek,catching the tear and wiping it away. Elizabeth closed her eyes and turned hercheek into his hand. Her breath hitched as she inhaled and she opened her eyes tolook at him.“Jason.”She said his name on an exhale and in it he heard a plea for help.Jason pushed away from the bar and stood, this time the floor only mildlyteetering under his feet. He looked down at her, her eyes wide and glistening withunshed tears. He held out a hand to her.“Come on.”“Where?” She wiped her cheeks with her fingers and for the first time since she’dentered, she glanced around at the bar.“Trust me.”

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