Darkest Before the Dawn

Chapter 7

Tommy listened patiently as PK went over the details for his sudden trip to Jakarta with him. He was to take the Cassadine's private jet. Someone would meet him at the airport and he would be driven to the former warehouse site. Tommy rolled his eyes as PK, a stickler for details, began to repeat a few of the fine points.

"Okay!" Tommy interjected with a soft laugh. "I got it. I'll be there-"

"Wait!" PK quickly called out.

"Okay," Tommy replied with a deep sigh. He glanced at his watch and grimaced. He needed to pack and contact his assistant before the time was too late. PK was great, but she was also longwinded. He hoped she'd say whatever she needed to and end the call.

"I heard that sigh, Hardy," she said with a good-natured chuckle. "I just wanted to make sure you had my cell number before I hung up with you."

"Ms. Kelly," Tommy said, in a teasing voice, "I have known and worked with you for years. And, unless you've recently changed your cell number, I have it."

"Well, I was checking. You should never assume, you know," she said.

"I would never want to make an ass out of you or me," he replied. "Well, if that's all, I'll see you tomorrow."

"Have a safe trip," she said before disconnecting the call.

Tommy stifled a yawn as he punched in his assistant's home telephone number. He glanced at his watch again and then wondered why he had even worried that the time was too late to call her. Lynn was a night owl through and through. Of course, she'd be up.

"Hello," she said upon answering the telephone.

"Hi, Lynn. Tommy here. I apologize for calling you so late, but there's an emergency."

"The twins aren't hurt, are they?" she asked, concerned.

"No," he responded. "It's a professional emergency. There's been a fire at the Cassadine/Q warehouse in Jakarta. It's arson, but the officials are stating otherwise. I'm leaving tomorrow morning to check it out."

"Am I going with you?" she asked.

"Um...no," Tommy said with a smile. An image of Gina's face if she had heard Lynn's question popped into his mind and he had to swallow a deep laugh. Gina sometimes wondered if Lynn had a more than professional interest in him. Tommy reassured her otherwise and for now, Gina had let the subject drop. "Actually, I'm only planning to be there over the weekend. PK has done a lot of the legwork. I'm just coming in as a second pair of eyes."

"Oh, I understand. So, should I handle business as usual in case you're in Jakarta longer than expected?" Lynn asked.

Tommy could almost see her chewing on the end of her pencil as was her habit as she spoke to him. He nodded as he spoke. "Yes, please. If you have any questions, just call me or e-mail me. If it looks like I'll be there past Monday, I'll call you. If something out of the ordinary comes up, call Emily."

"If I do, I'll forward Jordan's calls to you," she said, laughing softly.

"Oh, I can handle him," Tommy said. "But on the safe side, don't call her unless you absolutely have to. I have faith in you, Lynn. You can handle the office and all that goes with it."

"Thanks, Tommy."

"You're welcome. Well, I'd better sign off now. Goodnight, Lynn."

Tommy waited until Lynn wished him a goodnight and hung up before he disconnected on his end. He then rose from behind his desk, yawning and stretching as he did so. He went through the motions of packing his laptop and necessary cables. He zipped the leather case close and grabbed it. He flipped off the lights as he left his office and made his way down the hall to the den. He set the case on the sofa, as he would be sure to see it before he left in the morning.

He took the staircase two steps at a time. He peeked in on Ciarda and Alanna. He smiled as he saw that the twins were sound asleep. Alanna's covers were bunched at the foot of her bed, and Ciarda's Raggedy Ann doll was on the floor. Tommy left his perch in the doorway and moved to do his fatherly duty. Minutes later, when he closed the door behind him, Alanna was nicely covered and Raggedy Ann was safe within Ciarda's arms.

"You were downstairs for a long time," Gina commented as Tommy entered their bedroom. "Did I hear the phone?"

"Yeah," he said, closing the door behind him. He kicked off his shoes and padded across the floor in sock-covered feet. He sat down beside her on the bed and began to pull off his socks. "There's been a fire in Jakarta. Nikolas called. He asked me to go for him."

"Oh," Gina said, quietly. "When do you leave?"

"Tomorrow morning," he said. He reached for her hand and laced their fingers together. "He'd go himself, but things are weird right now. The kids...Dawn... You do understand, right?"

"Of course," she said, cupping his face with her free hand. "I'm not upset. I just... Well, you know I'm gonna miss you."

"That goes double for me," he said in a husky voice. "If there was any other way, I wouldn't go, but the officials are giving PK the runaround. I hope to be back by Monday. I want to be with you for the meeting with Mr. Golden."

Gina placed her finger against his lips. "Don't worry about it. I want you to be focused on what you're doing in Jakarta. You can think about the other stuff when you're back here. Now, tell me the truth, Thomas Hardy, Jr. Will you be in danger? The honest truth!"

Tommy kissed her fingertips. "The honest truth, huh?" he asked with a laugh. "Well, honestly and truthfully, there may be some danger, but I doubt it. I'm just checking to see if the fire was an accident or not. If it wasn't an accident, Nikolas and I will discuss what happens next. Besides, woman, you know that I can take care of myself! So, don't you worry!"

She shook her head at him and her auburn curls swayed softly against her cheeks. She laced her fingers behind his head and pulled him closer to her. Murmuring in a throaty voice, she said, "What am I gonna do with you?"

"I have a list," he said as he lowered his mouth to hers.


Nikolas wasn't sure how long he sat in his dark, quiet office. Creaks and moans bounced against the walls as he slowly rose from his leather chair. Tingles shot up his legs as he moved from behind his desk. His shoulders and neck muscles were stiff, he discovered as he moved his head from side to side. Apparently, his body had fallen asleep even though his mind had not. If only it had, he silently mused.

Red and blue flickering embers still burned in the fireplace. A loud crackle from the fireplace put a temporary end to his musings. He moved quickly and with purpose as he approached the dying flames. He reached for the iron poker and used it to push at the ashes, embers and flames. The fire was almost a memory when a sudden flash of a ten-year-old remembrance swam before his eyes.

Memories of first falling in love with Dawn and making love with her came to him in quick succession. The images and feelings overwhelmed him. Dizzy and spent, he dropped the poker on the hearth and fell down onto the nearby armchair. His heart constricted in his chest and he closed his eyes to ward off the pain.

To his left, the door creaked open. The hard pounding of his heart drowned out the sound and when a pair of hands touched his shoulder, he was startled. His brown eyes fluttered open to find Sarah standing beside him. A tender smile was on her face and her blue eyes were filled with understanding. He reached for her hands and opened his mouth to speak. The words refused to be uttered and the only thing Nikolas thought to do was look away.

"I understand," Sarah told him. She moved to kneel before him. Her straight blond hair brushed across her shoulders. The faint light from the fireplace turned her hair into a halo before Nikolas' eyes. He lifted a hand to lightly touch her hair. Sarah closed her hand over his and pressed his hand to her. "It's okay," she whispered. "You don't have to be alone now. I'm here for you. I won't leave you."

The warmth and tenderness were his undoing. He croaked out her name. "Sarah."

"Yes, Nikolas," she murmured.

His strong fingers threaded her silky golden locks. He pulled her to him. As their heads moved closer, Nikolas closed his eyes. He missed the triumphant gleam in her blue eyes as her lips claimed his. He didn't know anything except that he needed to be touched and held by someone who wanted him. The look in her eyes had told him that she wanted him, and in that moment, that was enough.


Dawn wasn't sure how she felt when Mrs. Landsbury had told her that Nikolas wouldn't come back to resume their conversation. She had gone through the motions of thanking Mrs. Landsbury and leaving as graciously as she could, but deep down in the pit of her stomach, there was a mixture of humiliation and sadness. She had wanted to continue with Nikolas. Feeling his arms around her again...hearing him tell her that she didn't have to be afraid of him... Why was life so unfair? She questioned as she choked back a sob. Why did the good only last for a little while and the bad went on forever?

"Dawn?" Lorenzo said softly upon her choked cry. "Are you okay? What happened back there?" He pointed over his shoulder toward the dock and Wyndemere.

She looked at him. Because of the moonlight's pale glow, she could clearly see the concern etched in his dark blue eyes. She offered him a watery smile as she stared back at him. "I'm not ready to talk about it, yet. Respect that, okay?"

"As much as I can," he mumbled. She nodded and a tear rolled down her cheek. He caught it with the pad of this thumb. "I'm sorry."

"I know," she said after drawing a long breath. "Me, too."

They walked away from the dock and towards his parked car in silence. Despite her voicing the contrary, Lorenzo had waited for her at the launch. His lone figure was still as he stood on the dock's edge. With his hands stuffed in his pockets to ward off the cold and his blond curls blowing in the wind, he presented an incredibly handsome and sexy picture. If only his presence made her breathless...or his voice caused shivers to go up and down her spine... None of those things happened when he came to her on the dock and greeted her with some witty comment. Instead, she only felt relief and comfort that he was there.

As they settled themselves in his car, Dawn looked over at Lorenzo. She gently placed her hand on his forearm. He turned to her with questions in his eyes that they both knew he would never ask. "Did you unpack everything?"

"Yes, ma'am!" he said, responding with an affable grin.

"Good!" she said. Unable to resist the grin on his face, she started to laugh. The laughter eased the tension that had been inside of her since leaving Wyndemere without saying goodbye to Nikolas. She was able to smile as they drove to the hotel.

"Did you eat?" Dawn asked as they rode the elevator up to the twentieth floor.

"Yeah, I ordered in," he told her. The elevator doors opened and they stepped out. Lorenzo's hand rested on the small of her back as he guided her to their suite. "I had a burger and fries. What did you have? Filet mignon and-"

"Hush!" She elbowed him and laughed as he groaned.

Laughing, he pulled out the security card for the door. He swiped it through and the door unlocked. He opened the door and stepped aside so that Dawn could go in before him. His eyes followed her as she looked around the room. Behind him, he pulled the door closed.

"Do the accommodations meet your satisfaction?" he asked.

"They're nice," she called out from the other room. In the next breath, the brevity had left her voice. Anger and a glimmer of mistrust darkened her brown eyes as she came through the doorway again. "What's going on, Spencer?"

"Think about it-"

She didn't allow him to finish his explanation. "I don't have to think about it. I can see it. There's only one bed in there. We agreed on two. I'm not-"

"You're right!" he said, interrupting her. "You're not sleeping with me. I got it, okay? I'm taking the sofa out here and you can have the bed. No big deal."

"It is a big deal," she said, shrugging off her coat. "I don't understand why you couldn't do what I asked you to do. What we had agreed upon! Dammit! I need to know that I can trust you and when you pull a stunt like this-"

"This was no stunt!" He waved his arms around in his excitement. "I made the reservations and no one asked if I wanted two beds or not. I came close to requesting them and then I thought about it. What if the hotel people start talking? What if someone mentions that the most infamous lovers to hit the planet aren't sleeping in the same bed at their little lovenest? What do you suppose would happen then, Dawn? Did you think about that?"

"No," she said quietly. "I hadn't thought about that."

"Well, it's a good thing that I did, right?" he said, folding his arms across his chest. His gaze was unrelenting as he stared at her.

Dawn strode across the room to stand before him. She folded her arms across her chest and met his stare. "Yeah, it's a good thing, Selfish." She held the stare a moment longer and then she smiled at him. She cupped his face and lowered his face to hers. Her lips pressed against his cheek. "Thanks," she murmured before she left him and closed the connecting door behind her.

Chapter 8

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Dawn Cassadine, Alanna & Ciarda Hardy, PK & Lynn ©1998 niklovr
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