Truth, Lies and Deception   

Two days after the Deception party, Elizabeth put her plan into motion. Just
before ten o'clock in the morning, Mike arrived at Kelly's, just as she'd
planned. Liz put on her best smile. "Hi Mike, what brings you here today?
Tammy isn't in yet." She teased him. Her eyes kept going through the door.
She needed both parties here if her plan was going to work.

"Actually, I'm here to meet someone else." Mike replied, his eyes scanning
over the room. "Seems like my appointment is running a little late." As he
said the words, Eliana walked in the door. She joined them. Liz was carefully
neutral and Eliana was the same while the three of them made small talk for a
few minutes. Pleased that everything was working so far, Liz excused herself.
"If you two need anything, let me know." She retreated to behind the counter,
keeping a careful eye on them.

"So, Mike, what did you want to talk to me about?" Eliana asked as soon as
they were alone.

"Me? I got a message saying that you wanted to talk to me this morning. At
least I thought so. It was just a message on my machine; saying you wanted to
meet me at ten. The message didn't say where, so I just assumed you meant

Eliana thought hard. "I didn't leave any note for you here. Why would someone
go through all the trouble of setting us up?" Her face got serious. "It could
be a trick by one of Sonny's enemies."

"Maybe it's just a mix-up…I doubt if anyone wants to bother with me. By now,
they already know that Sonny and I don't have the closest of family ties.
They wouldn't waste their time on me."

Eliana shrugged and relaxed a little. She did tend to over-react these days.
Besides, she did have guards on her. Thanks to Sonny and Jason, she was safe.
 "It's probably that ding-bat I have for a secretary. She's nice, but a bit
of a ditz. It wouldn't be the first time she's gotten a message wrong.
Actually there are two Mike C's in my rolodex. Somehow, she mixed things up.
And with the day I've been having, it's just one more thing that could go
wrong that did."

Mystery solved, Eliana sat back into her chair. She was interested in getting
to know Mike better. This was Sonny's father after all. In a weird kind of
way, they were some sort of extended family, weren't they? "Well, I don't
have much time, but as long as we're here, why don't we at least have a cup
of coffee? We never did finish our conversation from the last time we were

Obviously Mike felt the same; he flashed her a grateful smile. The two of
them moved to one of the tables to the side where they could talk in private.
Mike signaled to Liz and she came over to take their orders. In a few
minutes, she had delivered their cups of coffee and they were alone again.

"So." Eliana said. She had a hundred and one questions to ask about he and
Sonny and she didn't know where to start.

"So." Mike answered. "I suppose my first question is, How is Sonny taking all
of this? He and I are not the best of friends on a good day. He doesn't
always confide in me about things."

"I wonder why?" Eliana said. Her tone caused Mike to look at her sharply.
"From what I understand, you walked out on my brother and our mother. I don't
mean to judge you, and I'm sure you're very sorry about that now. But the
truth of it is, your actions had an impact on all of our lives. And it wasn't
a good one."

At first, her words angered Mike, but then stopped himself from his first
reaction, which would have been an angry response. The truth hurt, but he had
to accept it. But that truth went both ways… "Young lady, it occurs to me,
that if things had been different, you and I would not be standing here
having this conversation. Because you wouldn't exist."

Her eyes dropped for a second then rose to meet his. "Fair enough." Eliana
answered. "And I apologize. That remark was uncalled for. It's just that
Sonny has told me some things about you….and Deke. He was not a nice man. And
even though what he did brought me into this world; it still hurts like hell
to know what Sonny went through because of him." The two of them were
momentarily silent at her understatement.

"I can't fault you for feeling protective about him. The truth is, I'm happy
to see it. Sonny needs all the people who care about him to be there for
him." Mike smiled at her and after a moment, she smiled back. "Okay, so where
do we go from here?"

"How about forward?"

"Fair enough." Mike answered. "We can't change the past, nobody can. But we
can try to get along from here on out."

"Sounds like a plan to me. I don't think we'll have much of a problem getting
along. After all, we both care about Sonny." Eliana finished the last of her
coffee and glanced at her watch. "But right now, I've got to get back to
work. Business lunch at eleven." She prepared to rise. "Maybe we can have
lunch sometime or something."

"Lunch or 'something' sometimes sounds nice." Mike rose from his chair and
came around to pull hers out. "Give me a call."

"I will, Mike." Eliana smiled at him. "It was nice talking with you."

When Eliana had left, Liz came over to refresh Mike's cup.  "I bet you didn't
expect that." She said, pouring Mike a fresh cup. "About Eliana, I mean."

 "About Eliana?" Mike said carefully.

"You know I'm friends with Jason and Sonny." Liz smiled at him, sliding into
the chair opposite him. "They trust me."

Mike figured she was right. She'd been friends with the two of them for some
time now, especially Jason, if he remembered right. It wasn't all that
surprising that she would know about everything. "It's strange getting used
to though. Me, a step-father. I never got a chance to be Michael's father,
and now this…"

What was he talking about? Liz wondered.

"They waited for the DNA test results, but it was pretty clear before that
just looking at them. Sonny and Eliana are definitely brother and sister."

Liz was glad she was sitting down. Brother and sister? That was the last
thing she suspected. It took a little more careful questioning, but soon
enough, she'd gotten the whole story from him. The kidnapping, the attack,
the discovery of Sonny and Eliana's relationship. She made her excuses to
Mike as soon as possible and escaped back to the kitchen. Liz was stunned.
How was she going to fight against a connection like that?


Laura had wanted to see Liz later that same day, so late afternoon, the two
of them met in her office. Elizabeth had an appointment with Laura that
afternoon. Laura apologized again to her for not accepting Elizabeth's first
protests against becoming the Face of Deception. "It would have saved a lot
of pain and heartache all the way around if only we had all listened to you."
Laura said. "But I asked you here for another reason besides that. This is
something I think you will like." Laura offered her a position within the
company. She could work in their newly created design department. "I know it
isn't 'fine art' per se, but it could be a good experience for you." Laura
explained. "Not to mention the fact that it wouldn't hurt your resume."

"This isn't necessary, Laura. I was never really happy, trying to be the Face
of Deception. Gia really is the better choice."

"You got caught up in a crossfire between me and Carly. I owe you something
for all the trouble you've been put through because of it. That's what I
asked you here about. I've set up an appointment with Eliana Salazar, out new
design director to see you directly after you leave here. She's promised to
keep her calendar open for you. She'll give you a tour of the design studio,
and explain to you what your duties might be." Laura smiled at her. "I won't
take no for an answer. You're a very talented young woman, Elizabeth, and I'd
like to help you any way that I can. It's the least I can do."

The elevator doors slid open and Elizabeth found Eliana waiting for her.
Under Eliana's direction, the department had expanded to take up half of the
entire floor. The color scheme was pastel tints, not bland, but cool and
lively. The was a hum of activity in the air; Elizabeth felt a twinge of
jealousy as she followed the other woman through the different
sub-departments. It was a bustling place, full of energy and creativity. She
could feel the air of excitement in the air as Eliana took her through and
stopped to introduce her to the various design teams.

They end up in her office. Eliana offered Liz a seat and outlined the
position the company was offering and her duties.

"It's very interesting, of course" Liz said slowly. "But I need a little time
to think about it."

"I understand." Eliana replied. "After all, it is something to think about,
choosing between pursuing fine arts and commercial art. I think it's
something all professional artists have to deal with. Take your time while
you weigh the pros and cons."

"Why are you being so nice to me?" Liz asked suddenly. "Why all of a sudden
do you want me working for you?"

Eliana was surprised by the question. "The job was Laura's idea, and she's my
boss. But I have no reason not to be nice to you. She says you have talent.
Actually, so does Jason."

Elizabeth watched as Eliana's eyes soften and a smile curved her lips
unconsciously as she spoke Jason's name. Her bringing Jason's name into the
conversation sent a searing flash of rage through Liz. Just the way she said
his name, so easily, so possessive.
    "Is this your idea of some consolation prize?" Liz snapped. "You and
Carly got what you wanted. I'm out as the FOD and Gia is in. I never had a
chance once she brought in you for an ally, did I?"

"What are you talking about?" The sudden shift in the conversation startled
Eliana. Staring at Liz's suddenly hard dark eyes, she was puzzled; except for
the ice cream incident, she and Liz had hardly said more than a dozen words
to one another at any time, and that only in passing. She knew that Carly
didn't like her, and why she didn't like her and that the feeling between the
two of them was more than mutual. "Let's forget about that day in Kelly's. I
can if you can. I know that you and Carly are not the best of friends, but
just because she and I are friends doesn't mean that I'm going to be
automatically against you, if that's what you're thinking. I doubt if you'll
see Carly on a daily basis, if that's an issue. I make my own judgments and
that'll be based on how well you work here."

"This has nothing to do with Carly and me and you know it!" Liz said. "Oh,
but go ahead, tell me that Carly didn't get you to make that ad up for her
and get it to Belle magazine? Tell me that from day one, that the two of you
didn't make it your goal to get rid of me. Carly, she's hated me from the
first because she didn't want to accept my friendship with Jason either. But
you, you just want to get rid of me, because you're jealous of my friendship
with Jason, and you can't stand that."

"Jealous….why would I be jealous of your friendship with Jason?" Eliana
looked at her, seeing Liz's jealousy for the first time. "Oh, never mind, I
understand it now. You're the one that's jealous. Of me and Jason. Because
there is a me and Jason."

"You don't get me and Jason…" Liz began hotly. "Our friendship is something

"I don't get your friendship with Jason? I don't care about that." Eliana
interrupted her with a short little laugh. She got up from her desk and came
around to face Elizabeth. "I think you don't get me and Jason. Or more
precise, you don't want to. But I get you, little girl. You couldn't make up
your mind which of them you wanted, Lucky or Jason. So you thought you could
keep them both. But you didn't count on me."

"It wasn't like that." Liz insisted.

"You used Jason. You used him no matter what lies you tell yourself. He
understood you, when no one else did; he stood by you. He's your special
friend.' That's what you told yourself…" Eliana said to her. "The truth is,
he filled a need in you, a part of you that your boyfriend couldn't, and you
let him. You knew just how much to give him to keep him there with you. To
keep feeding that need. You were like a junkie, and just like any other
addict, you'd do anything to get what you needed. But then I rocked your nice
little equation, didn't I?"

"It wasn't like that!" Elizabeth cried again. She had it all wrong. She never
used Jason, she didn't!

"Did you ever tell him that you cared about him?" Eliana was going to make
one certain little girl grow up right now. "You knew he felt more than
friendship for you. Did you ever even stop and think what your words and
actions did to him? Using the excuse that you care about someone doesn't give
you the right to play with their heart."

"I never played with his heart." Liz began to feel sick to her stomach. She
turned away from Eliana. "Stop it. Just stop it, you are so wrong."

"No I'm not. I'm right. So right, you can't stand to hear it. Every time you
came around Jason and let him hold you and let him comfort you and then ran
back to Lucky Spencer when you were done, you were playing with his heart.
You kept giving him hope. The worst thing is that he believed in you and you
broke that trust."

Elizabeth didn't want to listen to the words the other woman was saying. She
would never hurt Jason that way and she said so.

"But you did hurt him. You made him think he might have a future with you.
That one day, you would choose him. But that was never your intention. He was
your escape. Your fantasy. Well, I'm his reality, so get used to it. What was
it, were you too busy worrying about what other people might think of you?
Were you unable to accept who and what he is? You weren't worried about that
too much when you needed him."
"But it was all just a game to you. You cried and he came running. But what
about when he needed you? Were you ever there for him? Even once? Did you
ever, one time, think that he might need you? Where were you then, back in
your boyfriend's arms?"

Liz closed her eyes…the truth of her words were too close for comfort. She
hadn't meant to hurt Jason, she never did. She wanted…she wanted…she didn't
know what she wanted. But she couldn't lose Jason; not to this woman. Who did
she think she was? Elizabeth spun around to face her, her expression twisted
with anger. "Who do you think you are? You think you know Jason better than I
do? You're nothing --  you're just one of Carly Benson's trampy friends,
that's all you are. And Jason is going to wake up and see right through you
one day, just like he saw through her!"

"Jason is still Carly's friend, or hadn't you noticed? He accepts her for all
that she is. And so do I. I don't care what other people say about her. Carly
hasn't done anything to me."

"Just wait long enough - that will change! Carly destroys everything and
everyone she touches."

"And if that happens, that will be between me and her. And that's none of
your business. Right now, she's my friend, and that's my business. Not
yours." Eliana stood face to face with the younger woman. "And this is none
of your business either, but Carly had nothing to do with the two of us from
day one. But that doesn't matter; I accept him as he is; I see Jason for
everything he is. And unlike you, I want him as a priority in my life. Number
one in my life, not second best. Jason knows that. When it came down to my
choices, I let Jason know that he is the man I choose to be with. In the
light, not in the dark. That's what a woman does. He's done with you,
Elizabeth Webber. You and your little girl games."

Elizabeth was furious. What was she trying to say? That she was a woman, and
that she, Elizabeth was not? She was twice the woman this stuck up tramp was!
She'd show her…and Jason too.

The both of them stood a few feet from one another. The words they had said
to one another had drawn the line between them. They'd never be friends. They
glared at each other, the anger between them an almost tangible thing. They
barely heard the first gentle knocking at the door. When it came again, the
two of them moved, a little startled at what had just happened. Each of them
quickly schooled their faces into composed expressions.

"Come in." Eliana moved back towards her seat behind her desk as Laura
entered the room.

"I thought I'd find you two still together. I'm sure you have so much in
common." She said, not realizing the double meaning to her words. Both
Elizabeth and Eliana did; they looked everywhere but at one another.

"So," Laura continued, unaware of the tense air in the room. "Elizabeth, are
you going to take us up on our offer and come to work at Deception?"

Elizabeth hadn't really wanted the job, but now she got a perverse sense of
pleasure as she looked directly at Eliana. "I'd be glad to work for you,
Laura…and Deception."