Night of Deception

The Deception party was going full blast as Jason stepped into Luke's place.
Luke's usual blues music was playing, overlaid with the buzz of conversation.
The place was crowded already, the mood excited. His eyes raked over the
crowd with caution born of practice, then he made his way through the growing
crowd and found a spot near the bar.

Luke spied him and came over. "Should I paint a bulls-eye on my jacket?" he

"No. I've never needed a painted target to help my aim. But what is it they
say? It's the thought that counts." Jason answered. "But thanks for the

"Hey, you've developed a sense of humor along with some fashion sense." Luke
said, making a point of looking Jason up and down from head to toe. The
younger man was looking slim and dangerous in a well-tailored midnight blue
suit with a deep blue shirt and matching slim tie. "Did we send the leather
out to be cleaned?"

Jason fought the temptation to look down at himself.

"I trust that my place is not going to turn into a shooting gallery tonight."
Luke poured himself a shot and downed it quickly. "You're not expecting
trouble, are you?"

"No Luke, tonight is about Carly. Remember her? Your niece?"

"Oh yes, how is the little darlin'? I thought she'd be here already, soaking
up the applause. Or are they waiting for you and the private swat team to
give them the all-clear?"

Jason shrugged. Some days there was no thing of talking rationally with Luke
Spencer. This looked like one of them.

"Fine." Luke said at last. "Since my BS detector is not registering on the
scale tonight, I'm gonna chill. You keep an eye on things, and I'll just keep
an eye on you."

"It's your place, Luke. Do what you want."

"I usually do." Luke said just before he sauntered away.

As Jason watched the door, more people came in and out until finally, Eliana
entered. He watched as she paused by the door, her dark brown gaze searching
the crowd. Jason looked for Carly and Sonny to enter behind her, but they
weren't there. Eliana saw him by the bar and crossed the room.

"Hey." He said. "You look great."

"Thanks, you're not looking too shabby yourself." she replied.

"Must be the tie." Jason said with a small smile. "What happened to Carly and
Sonny? They running a little late?"

Eliana exhaled slowly. "I hope they get here soon. Alexis dropped by the
penthouse just as we were all getting ready to leave. She found out that
Sonny had that Zander Smith kid stashed away all this time and didn't tell
her about it. To say she was furious is an understatement. I'm assuming you
knew about it." He nodded. Eliana sighed. She went on to tell Jason about the
slap and the rest of it.

"Man." Jason said. He shook his head. "I hope they make it here."

"Me too. But in the meantime, I've got to go mingle and make nice. It's part
of the job." Eliana said. "Catch up with you in a while?"

"You bet. Go make nice."

She flashed him a brilliant little smile that promised much more after the
evening was done. "I'll make nice with you later on."


Laura came up to her as she moved through the crowd of people.
"Eliana, do you know anything about this?" She opened the magazine she held
in her hand and there was a full page Deception ad, with Gia Campbell as the

"Did you change your mind?" Looking at Laura's carefully neutral expression,
Eliana shook her head and studied the picture. "This is one of the mockups I
did, but I didn't know anything about it actually being published."

"I know that you and Carly are friends, but I need to know how this
happened." Laura said.

Eliana could feel the other woman watching her closely. "Carly never talked
to me about a finished print. I had the design department come up with
several mockups for both Gia and Elizabeth." It was true. She studied the
picture with a practiced eye. "I'll give you my professional opinion thoughif
you're interestedthis looks very good. Better than I would have thought. The
camera has caught all of Gia's fire. The girl is good at this - a natural,
maybe. And the lighting and the ambience.your son caught the essence of the
campaign I worked up. This is better than what I hoped for."

"All right." Laura sighed. "I won't lie. I'm impressed with Gia too. But I'm
not happy about this. In fact, I'm actually furious. But I'll admit, this,
from an objective standpoint, it does look good. Great, even. But when you
see Carly, tell her I want to talk to her about this, immediately." Glancing
around, Laura spied Elizabeth in the throng. "I'd better go tell Elizabeth
about this."


Already uncomfortable from all the attention, Elizabeth was glad of the
moment's respite as she escaped to a corner of the room. Her face felt stiff
from all the makeup they'd insisted that she wear and the smile she felt was
by now plastered on her face permanently was making her face hurt. All these
people, constantly asking her questions, or asking her to pose this way and
that made her more than uncomfortable.

Elizabeth watched Jason from across the room while Lucky was getting them
both some champagne. It had been a welcome surprise to see him here. It was
sweet of him to want to show his support for her. She had never seen Jason in
a suit before and he looked stunningly handsome in it. The dark suit was
impeccably tailored on his muscular frame and the dark cobalt shirt and tie
only accentuated his blue eyes.
She wanted to go over and say hello, say anything, but she noticed Laura
coming her way. Before she could catch Jason's eye, Liz turned away. Laura
greeted her, looking at her concernedly. "I didn't want you to be blind-sided
by this, so I thought you ought to know." She showed Elizabeth the Deception
"I didn't know anything about it until tonight, when Belle magazine's
representative showed it to me, thanking me for the exclusive promo."

"Carly." Elizabeth said. It wasn't a question. That witch! Her and Eliana
had this planned from day one!

At the same time, she had to admit, Gia looked magnificent. Confident, poised
and totally at ease. She'd felt her own pictures stiff in comparison. Not for
the first time, Elizabeth wondered if she really had what it took to be a
professional model. But she couldn't disappoint Lucky. This was his dream,
and she'd do anything to make him happy. Anything. Suddenly, she dropped her
"Maybe you made the wrong choice, Laura." She said quietly. "Gia looks like a
winner. A natural. Not me."

Laura watched Liz carefully, seeing the play of emotions running over her
face. Elizabeth never really wanted to be the Face, she realized suddenly. We
all pushed her into it. Me, Lucky, everyone. She tried to resign once and we
wouldn't let her. We didn't hear her at all.

"Liz, you never really wanted any of this, did you?" she asked gently.

"Lucky wanted it. It was his dream for us" Elizabeth began.

"But be honest, Liz not yours." Laura watched as slowly Elizabeth nodded. "Oh
honey, I'm so sorry"

Elton bustled up to them. "Mrs. S - it's show time!"

Laura nodded at Elton, but turned back to Elizabeth. "You never wanted any of
this, did you?" Laura asked her directly.

"No." Liz admitted at last. "I tried, I really did. But this just isn't me.
Not me at all."

"Liz, I'm sorry that I didn't hear you before. But it's going to be alright.
I'm going to fix everything." Laura said. She grabbed the younger woman's
hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.


Sonny motioned for Carly to go on in ahead of him. "There's going to be a lot
of press there. I want it to be about you and Deception, not you and me."

Carly shook her head and linked her arm through his. "I don't care about
that, Sonny. You're my husband and when I walk through that door, I want you
by my side."

Sonny shook his head, but smiled in spite of himself. "Anything you say,
Mrs. Corinthos."

"Remember that, Mister Corinthos." She flashed him a million watt smile.
Sure enough, when they entered, the flash bulbs began popping and the hum of
conversation rose, but Carly kept her head up and smiled at the crowd. Every
question that came her way, she steered back into Deception. Sonny squeezed
her hand, then stepped back. He watched his wife as she showed everybody what
she was made of. This was a night when he was proud of her.

Soon after they arrived, Laura caught her eye from across the room. Carly
recognized the glint in them. She'd seen the ad then. Well, Carly was more
than ready to go toe to toe with Laura about it. She was puzzled when Laura
simply gave her a short, sharp nod, then turned and stepped up to the podium.
She thanked every one for coming and asked if they'd been enjoying
themselves. The answer was a round of enthusiastic applause.

"This is your night, sweetheart, go on and grab the brass ring. You deserve
it." Sonny motioned for Carly to move towards the front of the crowd.

Laura saw her and motioned for Carly to take her place beside her on the
podium. "Well, I'm glad to hear that you are all here tonight. I'm very proud
to be announcing the rebirth of Deception. With that in mind, I'll come
straight to the point of this gathering. The announcement I know you have all
been waiting for." Her eyes met Carly's. "Ladies and gentlemen, the new face
of Deception is. Miss Gia Campbell."

The room erupted in applause. Carly chanced a quick look around. Gia was
surprised, but that expression was quickly giving way to a triumphant grin.
Nikolas Cassidine, standing by her, was looking just as amazed as she was.
They disappeared from view as the reporters and photographers swarmed around

Lucky looked outraged. She could see him already beginning to mouth off, but
he'd get over it. As for Liz, was that a look of relief on her face? God
forbid she did Little Miss Perfect any favors. Carly turned around to see
Laura standing in front of her.

"You may have won this one, Carly." Laura said. She held the Belle magazine
open to the Deception layout page. "But this isn't over yet. You went behind
my back to set this up, and I'm not going to forget it." She smiled at her
briefly, for the benefit of those watching. Her smile didn't quite reach her

"I was right, Laura. Elizabeth Webber was not the girl we needed for
Deception to succeed." Carly said evenly. It didn't matter much what Laura
said though; she had won! "Look at her."

They both turned to see Gia in the center of attention. She was graceful and
at ease with the barrage of questions being thrown at her.

"Monday morning, Carly." Laura said. "We have a few things to get straight."

Carly smiled and shrugged as Laura walked away. It didn't matter; she was
right and Laura was wrong, and come Monday morning, she'd tell her so to her
face. Tonight was a triumph for the both of them, even if she was the one
who had brought it all about,
she thought to herself. Everyone had
complimented them on choosing Luke's place for their reception, instead of
some generic, sterile reception hotel reception hall. And they had raved
about the music and the food. Carly looked around with pride. Everything was
going perfectly and she couldn't be happier.

Elizabeth's head was starting to pound from the stiff smile she still had
pasted on her face. On one hand, she was actually relieved that she hadn't
been forced into the modeling appointment. Balancing that was the fact that
Gia had won. With all the tricks she had pulled, she didn't deserve to win.

Lucky going on and on in her ear wasn't helping anything. It was his dream,
she finally admitted to herself. His dream and not hers, to work together,
model and photographer. He never saw that she was ill at ease when he wasn't
there, that she wasn't prepared for all the make up and primping and
attention that the make up people and costume people and hair people and
photographers and photographers assistants, and everyone. She wouldn't miss
any of it. But Lucky wouldn't let it go.

Jason would have understood, she thought to herself. He would have known
instantly that her heart hadn't been in it. He already did.
She chanced a glance across the room and her heart skipped a beat
unpleasantly. Jason wasn't even looking at her. Instead, his eyes were on the
woman approaching him in green. Eliana.

Elizabeth watched, almost sick with an emotion she didn't dare put a name to
as she watched the other woman walk up to Jason and smile up at him. She's
already got her claws in him, she thought. She's got her act down pat. Look
at her, some two-bit hustler that Carly handed a plum job to so she could run
Deception the way she wanted. And the two of them could work on Jason in
their spare time. Nothing but schemes and more scheming. Just like Carly
schemed to take away the FOD from her, Liz thought, conveniently forgetting
for the moment that she never wanted the job in the first place, she is
scheming to keep Jason away from her.