~ True Love, Eternal Devotion, and...

Four months later

The Aphrodite II rocked gently back and forth along the waves of the Aegean Sea. Stars filled the midnight blue sky and a full moon cast a magnificent glow as far as the eye could see. Nikolas breathed in the salty air and smiled. Finally, everything was right in his world. His children slept peacefully in their rooms below and his wife waited for him in their chambers. He couldn't have imagined a better honeymoon even if he tried.

Sidestepping the remnants of their wedding celebration—roses, streamers, and other party favors—Nikolas made his way down to the lower deck. As he walked past the children's bedrooms, he couldn't resist the temptation to check in on them. He found that Noelle lay curled into a fetal position. A dimpled smile graced her face while she held on tightly to her Teddy Bear. After placing a kiss on her dewy soft forehead, he went to Dominik's adjoining room. Covers were scattered across the floor and the boy's limbs hung over the side. Nikolas shook his head as he pulled the sheet and blanket over his son. He kissed the top of his head and left, closing the door firmly shut behind him.

Over the past four months, their family and friends worked hard to restore order to their respective lives. Shaken but resigned, Tommy returned home to his family, determined to put the past behind him. Lorenzo brought Elizabeth back to Port Charles. She had a nice long talk with Dawn and the two women resumed their friendship while Lorenzo spirited Lynn away to Atlantic City where they were promptly married. With the help of AJ's tender care, Keesha's depression lifted and she returned to her family. Jason and Eve's memory lived on when Keesha named her infant son, Jason Everett. After Vincent was sentenced to three consecutive life terms without possibility of parole, Carly enrolled in night school while working as a Nurse's Aide during the day. Difficult at times, she continued to purse a relationship with Michael. And with Sarah locked away in an asylum for the criminally insane, Nikolas had no reason to fear for his precious family's safety.

Nikolas entered the master bedroom. During his absence, Dawn had been busy. Jasmine scented candles flickered on all around the room. Crimson rose petals covered the silk, ivory sheets on the bed. A bowl of plump, red strawberries rested on the night stand flanked by one bowl of melted chocolate and another bowl of whipped cream. DJLS' latest release, "Anytime, Anyplace" played softly in the background. A slow grin spread across his face as he admired her handiwork. "Oh yes, she's been very busy."

"Nikky?" She called from the bathroom. "Did you say something?"

"I'm appreciating your organizational skills, Mrs. Cassadine." While he shrugged off his black silk robe, he continued to speak. "Do you realize how wonderful it feels to call you by your rightful name?"

"It's not like you ever stopped!" She said with a laugh. "But it does feel good to be your wife again."

Nikolas kicked off his slippers and padded barefoot to the closed bathroom door. He tried the knob, but the door was locked. He knocked on it. "What are you doing in there? Open the door. It's not like I haven't seen it before-"

"Cute," she retorted as she pulled open the door. She pointed her finger at him. "That wasn't a very nice thing to say on your wedding night."

"What?" he stammered, following her as she brushed past him to sit on the edge of the bed. "It was a joke. What happened to your sense of humor?"

"It's being tested," she mumbled.

Her eyes were downcast and her mouth had transformed into a delectable pout. He wanted to kiss her worries away, but opted instead to sit beside her and draw her into his arms. "What's wrong?" he asked, caressing her arm in sweeping strokes.

Her bottom lip trembled slightly as she looked up at him. "You won't believe this."

"Try me," he encouraged softly. His finger brushed across her cheek. "It can't be that bad. Whatever it is, we can handle it."

She shook her and smiled. "It's not even that bad…more like unexpected, but considering our track record, I should have known."

Nikolas' head tilted back as he laughed. "What? Are you pregnant?"


…and they all lived Happily Ever After

~ The End ~

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Darkest Before the Dawn (and all original characters) © 1998-2001 niklovr
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