Keesha woke up refreshed, which was surprising after the uncomfortable evening spent in Jason’s presence. Getting out of bed, she mentally reminded herself to change her plane ticket so she could leave the same time as the newlyweds. Newlyweds, the word left a foul taste in her mouth. But what could she do? The alternative was to break Courtney’s heart and she refused to do that.

Walking into the kitchen, she found Courtney putting breakfast on the table.

“Nene, what’s this?” asked Keesha, pleasantly surprised.

“My last breakfast as a single woman. I’m sure tomorrow, I’ll be too nervous to eat,” Courtney stated, as she motioned for Keesha to take a seat.

“You didn’t have to do this.”

“No, it was my pleasure.”

“No more morning sickness, I take it?” Keesha questioned as they both ate with gusto.

“Shh, don’t say the ‘m’ word,” Courtney cautioned, “so far so good.”

Keesha nodded and they continued eating in easy silence.

“So were you ever going to tell me that Jay Morgan and Jason Quartermaine were the same man?”

Keesha’s chewing came to a complete stop for a second then resumed. If anything, her job taught her how to roll with the punches and be quick on her feet. She gazed into the blues eyes staring into hers.

“No,” she answered succinctly.

Courtney threw her fork on her plate in disgust. “What?! Why not?!”

“Because they’re not the same man. Jason Quartermaine is dead.”

“That’s semantics,” Courtney shouted, jumping out of her chair.

“It’s the truth. Jason Morgan doesn’t remember one single thing from before he woke up in a hospital bed at GH. Me, our relationship, his parents, his brother, nothing, he remembers nothing. What was I suppose to say? ‘Nene, the man you’re going to marry, the father of your child inhabits the same body of the man I gave my heart, love, and virginity to.’” Shaking her head, Keesha pushed back from the table and stood.

“Yes, you could- - you should have said something like that.”

“For what purpose? When Jason Morgan sees me, he looks straight through me because I’m no one to him. I’m not relevant in his life. I died to him when Jason Quartermaine died.”

An irate Courtney paced the floor. “Those are excuses, Keesha Ward. What happened to the Ward motto, ‘Don’t make excuses. Face the truth whether good or bad.’ It’s what you’ve always told me,” Courtney said with disgust.

“I’ve faced the truth. All the nights, I sat by Jason Quartermaine’s bedside, begging, praying, and pleading with God to save him, in spite of Tony’s dire predictions. And he was healed, but with no remembrance of me and I faced that truth. I faced the truth when the man with the identical face of my lover and future husband said, he didn’t know me from Adam and didn’t want to know me, all the while holding the hand of a woman we’d been friends with. I faced the truth and got stabbed in the back, so don’t you dare stand there and tell me I haven’t faced the truth,” Keesha replied, amazing herself by not letting her temper get the best of her.

Courtney shook her head. “No, you haven’t. If you had, you would have told me the second you saw Jay, who he was to you- -“

“He’s no one- -”

“But you didn’t cause you’re still in love with him,” Courtney concluded, with tears running down her face.

Keesha snorted and rolled her eyes at the ridiculous statement.

“It’s true. You’ve never sounded as happy, as carefree as you did when you spoke of Jason. Plus you haven’t been with another man since.”

“I was happy and carefree sounding, Courtney, because I was a young woman in the throws of her first love. You sounded the same way when you talked about AJ.”

“No,” Courtney said vehemently, “it’s not the same at all. AJ and I could never had have what you and Jason had- - Oh my! Everyone knows.” Courtney’s tear filled blue eyes stared at her brown ones in shock and realization. “You all sat at the dinner table aware of the truth and no one said one word to me. Sonny, Jason, Courtney- - did my dad know?”

With a deep sigh, Keesha shook her head. “I don’t think so.”

“Everyone I loved has been lying to my face day in and day out. I’m getting flashbacks of my childhood.”

Keesha opened her mouth, but Courtney raised her hand to stop her.

“Don’t. I know what you’re going to say. ‘It was for my own good. To protect me.’” Courtney laughed bitterly. Waiting a few minutes to let her little sister calm down, Keesha asked, “What do you want from me? I’m not going to apologize for doing what I thought was the right thing- -“

Courtney huffed.

Keesha ignored her and continued. “I’m not going to apologize for acting like a widow and not some whore in heat to make you feel more secure in your relationship with Jason. I am a widow. A part of me died when AJ’s car hit the tree because that’s when my Jason died. So again I ask you, what do you want from me?” She looked Courtney dead in the eyes. “All anyone wanted to do was keep you from getting hurt.”

“I want my life back,” Courtney yelled at the top of her lungs. “The life I had before everyone I knew lied to me and kept things from me for my own protection: my mother, my dad, Sonny, AJ, Jason, you.”

Tears flowed from the younger woman like a raging river.

“Kee, all I wanted was to find my dad, newly ‘risen from the dead’. Michael was just an added bonus as a brother. But now I feel like I’ve stepped into some mob movie. The secrets, the lies. Hell, half the time I don’t know where my fiancée is and am afraid to ask. I wonder when he walks out the door, if he’ll come back through it. Sometimes, I question whether Jason’s lies and omissions of the truth are really better than the ones AJ used to tell me.”

Keesha watched and listened as the woman she loved vented all of her anger and frustration over what her life had become these past few years. She gathered Courtney into her arms and held her close.

Instantly, Courtney collapsed. “Life with AJ was easier. There were no guards, no fear.” Then suddenly Courtney’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Sometimes I wish I wasn’t pregnant. What kind of life am I bringing this baby into? A mob family with a mother with a high school diploma and some college and an aunt that the whole town hates,” she sobbed on Keesha’s shoulder.

Rocking and holding Courtney, Keesha murmured words of comfort that her Granny Mae once said to her. Somehow, finally, she got them to her bedroom and put Courtney to bed. She laid down next to Courtney and rubbed her back. As the tears subsided and Courtney drifted off to sleep secure in the arms of her best friend/big sister/mother, Keesha’s tears began to fall and regret filled her soul at the loss of innocence they’d both experienced in the seemingly picturesque town of Port Charles, New York.