Chapter Twelve

***Again***

Laura left several messages for Justus. When she didn't hear from him, she became worried. She got into her car and headed to the old fire station that also served as his apartment. After pressing the doorbell and knocking for ten minutes, she gave up and used the extra key he kept in the flowerpot near the front entrance.

As she entered, she called, "Justus!"

A faint grunt sounded from the sofa. She pushed the door closed and headed in that direction. Laura found Justus sprawled across the furniture that wasn't nearly wide or long enough to accommodate his large frame. He looked uncomfortable with his arm covering his eyes and his legs hanging over the arm rest, but his deep, even breathing signaled that he was at rest. She decided that she shouldn't disturb him. Taking a step back, she bumped into the chair behind her and fell.

"Ow!" she muttered.

"What!" He woke and sat up in one fluid movement. His gaze landed on her. He frowned. "Laura? What are you doing here?"

She brushed long, wayward strands of blonde hair from her eyes as she tried to right herself on the chair. "I came to see how you were. You never called me back. I used your extra key."

"Oh," he said. Then, he yawned. "I'm sorry. I've been busy with Stefan and the police. When I came home, I just crashed. I planned to return your calls…"

She shook her head. "You don't owe me any explanations. I know you're helping with the investigation. I should have been patient."

He gave her a faint smile. "I'm glad that you weren't. It feels like days have passed since I've seen a friendly face. Thank you for not waiting for me to call."

Butterflies danced like Ziegfield Follies inside Laura's stomach as Justus' smile widened. She swallowed hard, but that didn't squelch the feverish excitement that rippled through her. Finally, she gave into the blush and nodded. "You're welcome. I hope you know that if you need anything, I'm only a telephone call away."

His dark eyes widened in surprise. "I wasn't sure, but I hoped. Thank you, Laura."

The butterflies' rapid beat continued.

***

Lucky had just left a very interesting afternoon spent with Emily when he bumped into his kid sister at Kelly's. As he watched Leslie Lu tie on an apron, he realized he made it just in time for her shift. He headed straight for the counter and claimed a stool.

"Hey, there."

She smiled, a bright happy smile. "Hi, bro. What's up?"

"Not much," he answered. "Can I get a root beer float?"

"Sure. Hold on."

Leslie Lu slipped through the swinging doors and Lucky used the alone-time to think about Emily. Kissing her in front of Zander had been a bold move, but it wasn't one he regretted. In the days since, everything seemed to move smoothly between them. It was like he and Emily were always meant to be. He smiled, knowing that it was true because they were.

The doors swished open as his sister returned with his huge float. She planted it on the bar in front of him. "I suppose you won't be paying for that."

He nodded and sucked on the straw. The concoction of root beer and vanilla ice cream made an icy trail straight to his stomach. He loved it. "Mmm."

She laughed and tended to another customer. The person had an order for takeout. Leslie Lu rang up the sale. After the customer left, she said, "Have you seen Nikolas lately?"

"Yeah," Lucky answered. "Why?"

She frowned. "Did he seem…I dunno…sad to you?"

Lucky twirled the cold mug around as he thought of his sister's question. "Lu, of course, he's sad. His aunt is missing."

"I know," she said. "But it seems to be more than that. Andrèsj and I were talking about it. He thinks Nikolas is upset about Zander."

He stiffened, and his ears perked up. "What about Zander?"

"Well, you know he's Nikolas' cousin. According to Andrèsj, he's been in one helluva mood lately, too."

Lucky hadn't told Leslie Lu about his and Emily's changing relationship. He hated to admit it, but he was scared that talking about it too much would jinx it. So, he changed the subject. "You and Nikolas' kid brother have been spending a lot of time together. What's up with that?"

She turned a vivid scarlet and Lucky's eyes widened. Then, he grinned. "Oh, so that's it. You're messing around with the youngest Cassadine." He shook his head and chuckled. "Lil sis, I hope you know what you're getting yourself in to."

Her dark eyes flashed violently. "What is that supposed to mean?"

"It means that you associating with Nikolas as his little sister is one thing. Luke will freak if he finds out you're romantically involved with a Cassadine."

"Who says that we're romantically involved?" she questioned angrily. "And so what if we like hanging out. It's none of Dad's business!"

Lucky held up his hands in mock defense. "Whoa, nelly. I like Andrèsj. He's a little stiff, but considering Stefan, Nikolas and Zarek are the same, I consider it an upbringing trait. Anyway, as long as Andrèsj treats you right, I'm okay with…whatever you two are up to. Luke won't be."

She grabbed a dishtowel and began to vigorously rub the counter down. "That's too bad for Dad."

He reached out and covered her hand. She looked at him and he smiled. "It'll be okay, Lu. I'm learning that everything works out in the end. Don't worry about Luke. If I can, I'll keep him off your back. Okay?"

She released an audible sigh of relief and nodded. "Okay. Thanks, Lucky."

"Don't mention it."

***

"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me today," Stefan said as Tommy entered Hotel's conference room that served as his office space.

"You said this had something to do with Sabrina's disappearance," Tommy said.

Stefan nodded. He gestured toward a chair. "Please sit." As Tommy did as he suggested, Stefan continued, "Yes, I asked to meet with you in regards to Sabrina. I understand that you have been removed from the case."

Tommy's jaw tightened. His green eyes darkened and he nodded. "A conflict of interest."

"Because you and my sister were romantically involved," Stefan said rather than questioned. "I understand your superior's reasoning."

"You didn't have to call me down here to tell me that."

The young man's forthright statement impressed Stefan. Sabrina had often spoken about Thomas Hardy, Junior with fondness. Stefan wondered about their age difference but didn't voice his concern. He knew his younger sister well enough to know that any questions he held would be regarded as him questioning her judgment. And considering how her first serious relationship ended, he dared not do or say anything that would cause the memory to return.

"You care about Sabrina a good deal--"

"Mr. Cassadine, we both know that Sabrina and I were seeing each other. Frankly, I don't see what my relationship with her has to do with what's happened to her now. If you're trying to suggest that I had s-something to do with—"

"No, of course not," Stefan interrupted. He stood and began to walk around the room, collecting his thoughts as he moved. "I asked you here to see if you would be interested in taking a leave of absence from your present employer. The police are doing what they can, but their resources are limited. The WSB are assisting as well, but still their endeavors are not enough."

"They don't care about her the way we do," Tommy stated quietly. He rose from the chair and went to Stefan. "Yes, I'll help. I'll do whatever I can."

"Thank you."

***

Nikolas headed for the WSB training center in anticipation. Since Dawn's training began, they hadn't spent as much time together. She needed rest after her grueling sessions with Frisco Jones and he was busy with Stefan, investigating the family's enemies. Today, he decided to surprise her. Well, his motives weren't entirely selfless. He needed to be with her. His sense of being out of sorts wouldn't leave him. He hoped that time spent with her would help him get his bearings again.

Dawn had left his name with the guard, and he passed the security clearance without any problems. As he neared the warehouse, his heart rate increased. Loud music pounded from the open doorway. Nikolas crossed the threshold and looked inside.

She'd described the room and its equipment and Nikolas found that her descriptions were accurate. The WSB spared no expense when it came to training their agents. He was mildly impressed. Regardless of how much training they received, he didn't relish the idea of his Angel being put in harm's way.

Forget about that, a silent voice advised.

Nikolas forced himself to relax. Dawn's training would last for quite a while. Perhaps before it reached its conclusion, she would change her mind. After all, they still had a wedding to plan. But he couldn’t quite focus on that. Not when his aunt was still missing. He swallowed hard and cleared his thoughts. Worrying about Sabrina wouldn't make her reappear. Only hard work and determination would produce results.

"Ow!"

Dawn's loud cry brought his attention back to her and his reason for surprising her. His eyes scanned the room until he found her in the center on the bright blue mat. Perspiration glistened over her copper skin. Her tank top and shorts were dark with sweat and clung to her supple curves. Desire bubbled in his veins. He stepped forward, watching closely as Frisco demonstrated several advanced moves in Tai Chi.

"Focus," Frisco said.

"Yes," she answered.

Frisco moved behind her. He closed one arm around her upper body while the other wrapped around her waist. He whispered something in her ear that Nikolas couldn't hear, but he saw the reaction it caused. Dawn blushed and in the next instant, she flipped Frisco over her shoulder and straddled him.

The maneuver was a simple exercise, but Nikolas was disturbed by it. He didn't like seeing his fiancée in such an intimate position with another man. Even if the other man was a close family friend and old enough to be her father. There were times when Frisco Jones didn't seem fatherly towards Dawn. Well, not in Nikolas' opinion.

"That was good," Frisco said, his voice low and husky. "How was it for you? Did you experience any strain? It was hard for me to judge your form while flying through the air."

Dawn chuckled as she stood. She extended her hand to Frisco and pulled him to his feet. "I feel okay, but I'm doubling up on the Ben-Gay tonight just in case."

"Ben-Gay?" Nikolas repeated, interrupted the repartee between student and teacher.

"Nikolas!" Dawn's blushed deepened before transforming into a beautiful smile. She went to him and carefully kissed his cheek. "I didn't know you were coming."

"It was a surprise," he said. He placed his hand at the small of her back and drew her closer to him. The touch became a hug.

She pulled back sooner than he liked. "I'm sweaty."

"Really?" he asked, looking her up and down. "I didn't notice."

Nikolas smiled at her and then looked at Frisco. "Hello. I noticed you were using Tai Chi."

"Yes," Frisco nodded. "Dawn has picked it up faster than anyone else I've ever trained."

"I have a good teacher," she said. "Two wonderful teachers."

"Two?" Frisco asked with a frown.

"Nikolas practices Tai Chi," she explained. "He's shown me a few moves."

All expression left the older man's face as he nodded.

"Frisco!" A voice called from the second landing. "You have a call. It's the PCPD. They say it's important."

"Should I stay?" Dawn asked. "Maybe it has something to do with Dr. DeLane."

"Go ahead and take a shower," Frisco said. "I'll let you know."

As he headed toward his office, Dawn turned to Nikolas. "Would you like a tour?"

"Of the shower?" he asked, giving her a teasing smile. "Yes, I think I'd like that very much."

She laughed and grasped his hand. They headed for the locker room and showers. "I'm not sure if that would be a good idea. How about you give yourself a tour of the locker room while I take a shower."

"That's not exciting, but I suppose it will suffice."

Nikolas waited in the locker room. He wondered about Frisco's reaction to Dawn's comment about her two teachers. It was as if Frisco wanted to be her only teacher. Nikolas frowned and shook his head. That couldn’t be right. He was reading into things that weren't there. Too much time apart had clouded his judgment. When Dawn returned fresh and clean from her shower, all thoughts of Frisco Jones left his mind.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him. "This is what I've been missing. Thank you for coming."

His arms encircled her. Her body felt warm and heavy. Her nearness was overwhelming. Ignoring their surroundings, he answered the call of passion that screamed inside him. His lips caressed her mouth. Her flesh was pliant and sweet. Her mouth opened beneath his. He accepted her invitation.

Their tongues collided. The soft curves of her breasts pushed against his chest. He felt her heart beat, fast and hard against his. A low groan escaped him as her hands grasped his biceps and moved to his back. His lips left hers to nibble at her earlobe. "I've missed you."

"Me, too," she said. "When we leave here, let's go to your cottage. Will we be alone there?"

"Yes."

Their eyes locked. Lust mingled with love mingled in her chocolate brown orbs. They had decided to wait until marriage before they made love, but there were many ways they could please each other. He couldn't wait.

"Let's leave now," he said. He took her hand and strode to her locker. She pulled out her jacket and bag, and without stopping, they left.

Frisco watched their hurried exit from his second floor office. The more he worked with Dawn his feelings for her changed. He'd always known that she was a smart kid, but that was what got to him. She wasn't a kid. Dawn Jensen was now a beautiful, vibrant woman. And today when she straddled him…

God!

Only by mentally repeating the WSB code of ethics did he prevent his body from responding to her close proximity. He supposed he could have another agent serve as her trainer, but he couldn’t do that. He promised Steve that she'd have the best. He was the best for her because he had a vested interested. She was one of his best friend's daughters and he cared for her…maybe a little more than he should.

"I'm sorry about keeping you on hold like that," came Captain Frye's voice over the speakerphone. "We have more information about the car that was found."

"I'm listening," Frisco said, his mind now completely on the task at hand.

"The vehicle was completely trashed. The VIN number was removed, but there was a small bit of evidence left in the trunk. Despite the large amount of pig and cow blood that was left at the scene, we can identify the latest abductee."

Frisco sucked in air. Another victim in Port Charles? He released a harsh breath. "Okay. Go ahead, Captain."

"Jasper Jacks."

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