Chapter Twenty-six

*Rapt Attention*

Jason sat outside at the corner bistro. The waitress left his order of coffee and croissants. He tipped his head once in acknowledgment. Pedestrians bustled on the sidewalk. As he watched the French attack their work day morning, he considered his next move.

Keesha exploded like a firecracker within his arms. She tasted as delectable as he imagined. Juicy and fresh. And how her curves molded to him. The hardened tips of her breasts begged to be plucked. Blood flooded to his manhood at the memory. He reached under the table and adjusted his hardening erection, hoping to lessen the ache. He tore into the pastry with pent-up energy. Sooner or later, he would have her beneath him again. Then, she wouldn't think of running away.

"Morgan." A cultured, clipped voice sounded near Jason's ear. "I trust this seat isn't taken."

Before Jason could protest, Stefan slid into the chair across from him. The older man's eyes glittered with the wicked intentions of an alley cat. He crossed one leg over the other and folded his hands on his lap. He regarded Jason with cool, disinterest. The calculating perusal unnerved Jason. He dropped the croissant onto his plate and spoke through clenched teeth.

"What?"

"If you ever come near Keesha Ward again without her express request, I will tear you apart in the same manner as that French delicacy." Stefan barely moved as he pointed at Jason's plate. "I assure you it will not be as painless."

The Greco-Russian stood. Loathing marked the stony mask of Stefan's face as he looked down his nose at Jason. "Enjoy your breakfast."

~*~

Deceiving Steve Jensen had been a spur of the moment decision. Mac didn’t know what came over him. His mouth took over. Deny, deny, deny. Then, the pretense felt real…real easy. The patch wearing man left visibly confused and understandably wary. Mac sighed with relief as Steve and his Harley roared from the Outback's parking lot.

But that wouldn't be the end. Instinct told Mac that. Maybe that's why he'd felt chills ripple through his spine most of the day. He shrugged the sensation off as much as he could and focused on work.

His employees moved quickly to follow his orders. Satisfied that the restaurant would be in top shape for the dinner crowd, he slipped inside the sanctuary of his office and closed the door.

His prized office chair swiveled around. Zarek Cassadine sat with his fingers pressed together to form a steeple and a hard, cold-eyed smile graced his face.

"Get out of here before I have you arrested for trespassing."

Zarek released a scornful laugh. "You don't want them involved."

"You're crazy! I was a cop. I still have friends on the force."

The younger man leaned back in the chair, all traces of humor gone. "Would they continue to be your friend if they knew the real you?"

The chill returned to his spine. Mac's jaw clenched. "Cassadine, if you're referring to Dara--"

"My wife's name is forbidden to pass from your lips," Zarek replied in a low voice, taut with anger. "Not in my presence. Not ever again."

Mac forced himself to ignore the burning fury that vibrated from the other man. He rolled his eyes and said, "This is about…her. Look, I already told Steve, she's living in the land of delusions. I care for her as a friend and maybe we would have dated, but it never happened. A little harmless flirting…I never knew she took me seriously."

"Are you done?"

Mac frowned. "Look, Cassadine, I've had enough of this and you! I want you out of my office and I want you gone, now!"

"Or what?" Zarek asked softly. "You'll deplete my bank account? You'll investigate my background and uncover my lies and receipts for gifts I claimed to have never purchased? Or will you go beyond that? Tell me, Scorpio, exactly what would you do?"

Mac felt the blood drain from his face. "What have you done?"

"None of that, yet." Zarek stood and moved to the door. "You were a good man in this town. People respected you. Don't let your obsession for another man's wife ruin you."

Zarek wrenched the door open. "You may contact my wife one final time, in my presence of course, to apologize. However, your friendship will remain a thing of the past."

After Zarek left, Mac slumped against the closed door, defeated.

~*~

Fortune smiled on Nikolas. He expressed interest in the World Security Bureau just when the agency was planning to have its entrance exams.

Studying consumed his days and nights at the cottage. He closed himself off from his brothers and ignored the fact that Dawn hadn't responded to his phone messages. Internet searches produced invaluable information about the WSB. The agency performed heroic acts on a daily basis. Aside from going after his family in the early eighties, the WSB earned a well-deserved reputation by going after evil time and again. And winning.

An electric surge coursed through Nikolas. He no longer wanted to be a part of this organization solely to be closer to Dawn. No, the possibility of having a true purpose for his life outweighed his insecurities about his love life.

He reported to the test site early. At nine fifty-five, he and the other hopeful future agents filed into the testing room. Nikolas claimed the first chair on the first row. When the proctor passed out the test, Nikolas accepted his with confidence. He was ready for this.

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