Chapter 10

Later that dayÖ Grace was perusing the schedule at the 6th floor nursesí station when Chris approached.

"Have you seen this?" Grace inquired of him as he came to a stop at the desk.

"What?" Chris asked.

"The new schedule," she remarked handing the clipboard that held the schedule to Chris.

"New schedule?" Chris muttered taking the board from her hand. "What the hell is this?!" he snapped. "Mattís off for the entire week and Iím pulling doubles three of those seven days," he fumed, his forehead creasing with anger.

Moments later Ellen made her way up to them. Chris wasted no time in questioning her about the schedule change.

"Dr. Burgess whatís going on with the schedule?" Chris asked trying desperately to keep his ire in check.

"What do you mean Dr. Ramsey?" Ellen queried in absolutely no mood to deal with his overblown behavior.

"Iím on for several days of doubles when it appears Matt is on some extended vacation."

"What?" Ellen remarked in almost a whisper not quite sure she heard him correctly.

"See for yourself," Chris instructed handing her the schedule.

Neither Grace nor Chris missed the look of surprise on Ellenís face.

"So I gather you had no knowledge of this," Chris stated more than asked.

Ellen didnít respond to the statement, she simply took the schedule and retreated to her office.

"Seems the big boss lady knows nothing about Mattís time out. I wonder whatís going on?" Chris murmured under his breath as Grace wondered the same thing.

A couple of hours laterÖ

Ellen picked up her phone for what was the fourth time in an attempt to reach Alan Quartermaine. She harbored hopes that he could shed some light on why Matt went over her head for this time off. Finally Alanís secretary was able to put her through to him.

"Hello Ellen what can I do for you?" Alan asked his voice somewhat distant.

"I see youíve initialed a change on the schedule in regards to Dr. Harmon. Can you explain what prompted that change?"

"Yes, Dr. Harmon came to my office this morning and he was desperate for some time off. His demeanor made me see the matter was urgent so I granted his request."

"Oh," Ellen mumbled as she tapped her pencil against the schedule as it lay before her on the desk.

"I had every intention of reaching you earlier and informing you of the change but I got tied up in things and it completely slipped my mind," Alan explained as he clasped a prescription pill bottle containing several small tablets. That was true enough, it had slipped his mind but it had a lot less to do with his being tied up than it had with being lost in a drug induced haze. Matt could have asked him for ten million dollars and Alan would have let him have it he was in such desperate need for a fix. He would have given Matt anything to be alone with his pills.

"Thanks for explaining that Alan. Dr. Harmon didnít happen to mention where he was going did he?" Ellen asked, certain he didnít but choosing to ask anyway.

"No he didnít, he only stressed that it was very important."

"I see. Well thanks for enlightening me now Iíll let you get back to your work," Ellen said bringing an end to the call. After hanging up the phone she brought the schedule to her hand. "Whatís going on with you Matt and why do you feel you canít you tell me?" she wondered aloud as her concern for him began to grow even more.

~~~****~~~

It was just past the crack of dawn and Ellen was lying awake in her bed. Her gaze blank as it stared up at the off white ceiling. Her fears for Matt were starting to consume her. She waged a valiant battle but only managed to catch a couple of hours of sleep amidst her constant tossing and turning so she gave up hope of getting any more rest and gave her unsettled thoughts the full attention they demanded. The behavior Matt displayed days ago in her office was so unlike him. He was anxious and he seemed withdrawn. Were her worries irrational? Ellen sighed and she shook her head in doubt, she didnít know. What she did know was that she was grateful for her next few days away from the hospital, being there every day with Matt nowhere in sight only manifested her concern for him, and Chrisí constant questioning of Mattís whereabouts was not helping matters. She really needed this time to think. So many things were swimming around in her mind. Winston had phoned her the day before and asked if she was going to come over and visit Alice. Her response to him was the same one she gave her mother, she was not yet ready to make nice; when she was he would know. Matt had suggested that she at least talk to Alice, maybe she should; at least then her mother would know where she stood in regards to their relationship. Matt certainly had no trouble voicing his opinions to her, whether she wanted to hear them or not. He knew her so well. He listened to everything she said and he heard things she herself couldnít or wouldnít vocalize, most specifically her feelings for him and her thoughts of somehow betraying her love for Sam if she were to become involved with him. Glancing over to her bedroom window the rays of the morning sun was bringing about the beginning of a new day and this systematic occurrence would also symbolize a new day for Ellen. Rising from her bed she stepped onto the carpeted floor and walked purposely to the full-length mirror that hung on her closet door. Looking back at her reflected image she began to speak to herself. "You know what you need to do Ellen, youíve put this off long enough." That said she took a deep breath and headed to the bathroom for a shower, she had a full day ahead of herself.

~~~~****~~~

A hotel room in PhiladelphiaÖ

It was a little after noon and Matt was sitting at the desk located in the corner of the sparsely furnished room. A current issue of Sports Illustrated magazine was opened before him but he had long ago given up trying to read the words of the periodical. Despite the harrowing forces that brought him back to the city of his upbringing Matt couldnít keep his mind from drifting to thoughts of Ellen. She was all he could think about. During their last meeting he was detached with her, but that was not without reason, it was for her benefit and he was in no position to answer questions. Knowing her the way he did he knew she was full of even more questions. He also knew that in spite of herself she was worried about him and probably very upset that he went to Dr. Quartermaine for the time off instead of explaining this need in more detail to her. His being aloof kept her safe so he did what he had to do but it didnít ease his heartache any less. There was something so bewitching about Ellen, something that caused him to break the solemn vow he made to himself to never fall in love again. He was missing her and the fact that he left so abruptly and without any real explanation was sure to obliterate any headway heíd made with her. In the end it didnít matter anyway, because despite whatever advances he had made with her it had to end. He couldnít and he wouldnít jeopardize her life by bringing her into his crazy world. He knew it was selfish to even have considered it from the beginning, but Ellen had made him want to try. He loved her so much and although it was the last thing she wanted to hear or accept he knew she felt the same way too. Just when he thought he could have a happy existence with her, when she was finally beginning to inch closer to accepting what was happening between them cold hard truth slapped him back to reality. They had no future and with all the work he had done to convince Ellen otherwise he now had to find a way to make her see she was right after all. "Why was life so damn unfair?" Mattís head shouted as he absently tapped the ink pen he held in his hand against the desk.

"You want to cut that out Harmon," U.S. Marshall Ron Bristow forcefully requested of Matt as he continued to tap the pen against the desk.

"No as a matter of fact I donít. What I want is to get back to my life and put this all behind me but I doubt Iíll ever get my life back. If I canít have what I want why the hell should you have what you want," Matt snapped bitterly as he continued to tap the pen even more furiously against the desk.

"You know weíre keeping you alive. You might want to show some gratitude," Bristow suggested before turning his attention back to the card game he and his partner was in the middle of at the small round table in the room.

"Gratitude?" Matt repeated the snap of the ink pen in his hand from the anger he was feeling not even registering. "You want me to be grateful to you for having to lie to the one person in this world that means a damn to me? You want me to be grateful to you because at the snap of your fingers you can uproot me from the life Iíve tried to build for myself and have me come back to this place?!" An incredulous look darkens his handsome face. "Where the hell are my manners?" he spat angrily. "Iím so sorry, thanks bunches!" Mattís acerbic tone dripping in sarcasm was extremely cutting as he flung the broken blue ink pen into the nearby wastebasket.

"You ungratefulÖ" Bristow growled as he slammed the cards he was holding to the table.

"Drop it Ron," U.S. Marshall Ted Rogers advised. "Heís been in this great mood since we got here just let him stew, this will all be over soon," Ted commented gathering the cards into a pile once seeing the game had come to an end.

"Iím gonna go wash this ink off my hands. Try not to have too much fun without me," Matt remarked sardonically as he made his way into the bathroom.

"Take your time," Bristow grumbled under his breath.

A couple of minutes after Matt departed there was a knock on the room door.

"Thatís probably lunch," Rogers remarked as he made his way to the door. "Yeah?" he called out.

"Room service," the male voice behind the door replied.

"Leave it there and go," he instructed.

"Yes sir."

After checking the peephole to make sure the attendant had left, Rogers opened the door and pulled the loaded food cart inside.

"Soupís on Harmon," Bristow informed Matt knocking on the bathroom door.

"Go on and start without me, Iíll be out in a sec," Matt returned.

"He doesnít have to tell me twice," Ron remarked without another thought his focus completely on the recently arrived food. "So what do we have in there?" he inquired looking over Rogersí shoulder as the other gentleman prepared to open the warmer located on the bottom half of the cart.

"Weíre about to find out," Rogers answered.

Matt was preparing to make his way back into the outer room as Rogers turned the handle of the food warmer. It was in that next moment an explosion rocked the hotel room to its very core.

~~~***~~~

After an uneventful plane ride Ellen arrived at the first of her two destinations of the day, it was now a few minutes past the hour of ten. Spring was still several weeks away but it was an unusually mild day. The sun was shining bright and the snow from the winter storm that had pounded the city the previous week was now just a memory. Stepping out of the taxi Ellen took a deep breath and proceeded down the walkway at an even pace until she reached her desired location. Kneeling on the perfectly manicured and still amazingly green grass Ellen sat perched on her heels as she placed the bouquet of flowers she had been carrying onto the ground in front of the marble headstone that sat before her.

Placing her hand on the cool smooth stone as tears rolled down her dimpled cheeks, "Hi Sam itís me. I know I havenít come around in a while but a lot has been going on. When I first lost you I never imagined I would be coming back here to do what Iím about to do," her fingers splaying against the engraved lettering. "For so long after you were gone the focus of my life was my schooling and then my work, it was all I had and all I thought I needed. Somehow when I wasnít looking that all changed." Brushing the tears from her eyes, "I guess I should preface this all by saying Mother has reentered my life. Iím still reeling from that but Iím trying to put it into some sort of perspective. I also need to tell you that IíveÖIíve met someone Sam. His name is Matt, Matt Harmon. Heís infuriating, frustrating, stubborn, kind, caring, and understanding. In short heís a lot like you, but heís not you and I know there will never be another you. Still, this man has awakened something in me that I thought died when you did and Iíve come to realize that," taking a deep breath she continues, "I have fallen in love with him." Ellen couldnít believe she had finally admitted that out loud. Taking another deep breath she proceeded with her words. "I didnít plan this, in fact it was the very last thing I expected but fighting this truth, and Sam I have tried, has proven to be nothing more than an exercise in futility because Matt is in my heart and he steadfastly refuses to go away. Heís a wonderful man Sam, he makes me happy and I think Iím finally ready to tell him that. Iíd like to think youíre happy for me too, that you donít hate me for moving on or think my loving someone else is a betrayal of our love. In my heart I believe youíre okay with this Sam, I guess I just need some sort of confirmation of that; some sort of sign or somethingÖanything." After a few quiet moments passed Ellen sighed deeply and standing to her feet admonished herself. "What were you expecting Ellen, Samís voice to come out of nowhere and give you the go ahead?" Shaking the thoughts from her head, "I guess Iíll just have to trust my instincts," she whispered. Once again placing her hand on the headstone, "Goodbye Sam, know Iíll always love you and Iíll never forget you."

As Ellen turned to leave a breeze came through and a piece of paper the wind carried landed at her feet. Ellen bent forward and retrieved the piece of paper that appeared to be a flyer of some kind. The words Samís Clock Palace was written in bold letters across the top but what caught her attention first was the jumbo size perfectly centered bold letters that covered most of the rest of the page which read ITíS ABOUT TIME!!!! Tears pooled Ellenís eyes as she turned to face Samís headstone. "Thank you Sam, thank you." After spending a few more minutes there Ellen departed for the taxi, keeping a firm grasp of the now rolled flyer in her hand. Once settled in the backseat she asked to be taken to the airport. Unrolling the flyer Ellen reread the words then closed her eyes for a few a seconds and released a breath.

"Be happy Ellen," she heard whispered. "Be happy."

Her eyes pop open, "Did you say something?" she asked the cabby.

"No maíam I didnít say a word," the cab driver answered.

She glanced down at the flyer again as she whispered to herself, "Yes Ellen it is about time."

The flight back to Port Charles took off at 11:45. Ellen found she was more tired than she thought and ended up taking a short nap. Her restful sleep was brought to an abrupt end when she felt a frightening chill run down her spine. "Matt," she uttered as she awakened with a start.

Placing a concerned hand on Ellenís shoulder, "Is something wrong dear?" an older lady seated next to her asked.

"Yes," Ellen answered her voice barely above a whisper. "I have a feeling something is very wrong."