Darkest Before the Dawn - 34
Chapter 34

The slamming of the backdoor reverberated throughout the Ward house. Glasses shook in the cupboards and a gust of air blew into the kitchen. Keesha arrived at the swinging doors with a quizzical frown on her face. "What was that?"

"That," Jason said as he crossed the room to take her hands in his, "was Thomas Hardy."

"What was wrong with him?" Keesha narrowed her eyes as she added, "Were you antagonizing him again?"

"Me?" he asked, the light of innocence shone brightly in his eyes. "Why would I do a thing like that?"

"Because it amuses you for some odd reason," she responded with a chuckle. She handed him the sweater that she had rested over arm. As she turned around so that he could assist her with it, she said, "Seriously, he's never slammed the door like that before. Is everything okay between you two?"

"We're fine," Jason told her. He righted her sweater and then slowly turned her around to face him. She frowned as he searched her eyes. Her mouth parted to speak and Jason quickly filled the silence with an explanation. "I don't want to worry you."

"Just tell me what's happening. I promise that I won't get upset or anything."

An eyebrow cocked in disbelief, but he answered her. "Little Dominik is missing-"

"What?!" she said, his words taking her completely by surprise. "What do you mean he's missing? Wyndemere is a fortress. How did it happen? When?"

"He's been gone for a little over 24 hours now," he said. "He was asleep in his bed and then all of a sudden, he wasn't there anymore. "

"Did Tommy ask you to help them look for him? I'm sure that Dawn and Nikolas are close to losing it. I hope that they are working together on this."

"They are," Jason said with a nod. He glanced at the clock. "If we don't want to miss your appointment, we'd better get a move on."

They left the house, pausing long enough for Jason to lock up before heading to Jason's truck. Ever the dutiful husband and despite Keesha's protests, Jason lifted her from the ground and placed her inside the cabin. Once he was positioned behind the steering wheel, she spoke again. "So, is that what Tommy wanted? For you to help him?"

"Not with looking for Dom," Jason said, guiding the truck out of their driveway. "He's concerned about his family. His gut is telling him that Gina and the girls may be a target, too."

"Why would he think that?" Keesha asked. "Have they been threatened, too?"

Jason shook his head. "No, but he'd rather be safe than sorry." The truck pulled to a stop at the intersection and Jason glanced at Keesha. She raised her head and their eyes locked. "I told him that they could stay with us so that I could look out for them. Are you okay with that?"

Keesha nodded. Her hand covered his. "Of course. A full house will be fun. Don't you think?"

"A full house of women?" he asked, smirking. "Someone is gonna think I've turned the Ward House into a harem."

"In your dreams, buddy," she said when he started to grin. "Only in your dreams."


"What are you doing?"

Dawn's head whipped around at the sound of Nikolas' voice. He stood in the doorway with an air of barely restrained patience surrounding him. When she gave a slight nod, he stepped into the room. Like two magnets, they came together. Standing behind her, Nikolas wrapped his arms around her waist. His chin rested in the hollow between her neck and her shoulder. "I was watching the telephone."

"Did it do anything?" he asked.

Dawn shook her head. "It was supposed to ring, but it didn't. More hours have passed and we aren't any closer to finding him than we were when he was first taken. What do they want from us, Nikky? Why can't we be a family in peace?"

"I wish I knew the answer," he told her as he slowly released his hold. He moved from behind her to sit on the edge of the desk, removing the telephone from her line of vision. Resting his hands on her waist, he pulled her so that she could stand between his parted thighs. He kept a firm hold on her as he filled her in on the latest happenings. "Father and Noelle have gone to the mainland-"

"What? Why?" she demanded.

"For appearances. She's safe with him. You know that as well as I. Besides with her removed from underfoot, we can concentrate on more important things-"


At the sound of his mother's voice, Nikolas hopped from the desk and moved protectively in front of Dawn. He released a heavy sigh and he realized that his mother stood in the doorway and not another threat. Pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger, he said, "Mother, you startled us. Is something wrong? You sound upset."

She cut a quick glance at Dawn before directing her attention solely on her first born son. Tension radiated from her as she folded her arms across her chest. "I need to speak with you. Now, please."

Nikolas looked from his mother to his wife. Dawn's eyes were dull. Anxiety about Dominik had drawn tiny lines from her eyes, and now, Laura's reaction to her had brought another line of pain to her beautiful face. With the back of his hand, he lightly brushed her cheek with his knuckles. "Mother, can it wait?"

"Don't," Dawn said softly for his ears only. "Just go. I'll be okay here."

His eyebrows drew together into a frown. "Are you sure?"


He pulled her into his arms for a quick hug and then he left her in the drawing room to join his mother in the hallway. With the door firmly closed behind him, he turned dark, angry brown eyes onto his mother. "Laura-"

"When will you stop protecting her?" Laura demanded. She bristled slightly upon the use of her first name, but she held her ground. "What is she doing here?"

"She's here because I want her here-"

"Nikolas! Why can't you open your eyes? You deserve so much more. Someone who will love you-"

"No one could love me the way she does," he interrupted with in a quiet restrained voice. "I understand that you're speaking out of love and concern for me, but my relationship with Dawn isn't something that I wish to discuss with you-"

"But she hurt you! She slept with your brother, and now she's back again. And you're falling for her spell once again. I don't understand you, Nikolas. Sarah would move the earth for you and you cast her aside in favor of-"

"The mother of my children, Laura," Nikolas said. "I care about Sarah, but I wish that you wouldn't make our relationship more than what it is. We're friends." Shaking his head, he drew in a long breath. "Laura, I'd rather not be rude, but if this is the nature of your visit, I can't do this right now."

"I don't say these things to hurt you," she said quietly as she lowered her arms to her sides. "I just want what's best for you, and when I see how upset you are…"

"I assure you that Dawn is not the cause of my distress." He reached for his mother's hands and held them. "Dominik was abducted."


After Dawn's cryptic telephone call, Lorenzo's heart rose while his ability to concentrate dropped significantly. With his mind creating unimaginable scenarios, he stared at the computer monitor. Absently, his fingers would press on the mouse, clicking on it out of habit. He could feel Lynn's eyes on him, but he didn't have the energy to look at her.

"Is something wrong?"

Lorenzo jumped. Lynn stood right next to him and he hadn't even heard her move from her desk. He released a deep sigh. Digging the heels of his palms into his eyes, he wondered how much he should tell her. After a second of soul searching, he decided that it would probably be better not to tell her anything at all. If Dominik's life was put further at risk because him, he'd never forgive himself.

"My searches are coming up empty," Lorenzo said, removing his hands to look up at her. "That's all."

An expression of disbelief crossed her face, but she didn't press him further. She nodded her head and said, "Okay. If you need anything, let me know. I'm right over here."

Lorenzo murmured his thanks and Lynn headed back to her desk. Just as she was about to sit, the office door opened. Tommy entered. The tight smile on his face faded as he noticed Lorenzo sitting at Emily's desk. "Lorenzo," he said, standing still in the doorway.

"Tommy," the other man greeted. "I hope you don't mind my using some space."

Tommy shrugged. "That's Emily's desk. It's not a problem with me if it's not a problem with her."

"Tommy," Lynn said, "I told him that he could use her desk. I didn't think it would be a problem since she's taken a leave of absence."

"It's fine, Lynn," Tommy said. He moved to her desk and briefly patted her shoulder. "How is everything going? We should be fairly light, correct?"

"Yeah, we are," she responded. "Is something going on?"

"Yeah." He nodded, his expression grim. "I need you to work on something for me."

"Of course." She swiveled her chair around and faced him, giving him her full attention.

"I need for you cross reference the list of the opposition to the Jakarta deal against the list of the Cassadines' known enemies. I need this done immediately. Also, until further notice, I won't be in the office. If you need me, I'll have my cell phone with me at all times. Once you get the list done, email it to me."

"Sure thing. This sounds big. Is there anything else I can help you with?" Lynn asked.

Tommy shook his head. "Just that, for now. I wish that I could go into it, Lynn, but I can't. I really appreciate your help with this. Thank you."

"No thanks needed," she told him, offering him a faint smile as he headed toward the door.

"Tommy!" Lorenzo called out as the other man opened the door to leave. He rose from behind the desk and indicated that he and Tommy should speak outside. Once they were outside, he asked, "The instructions you gave Lynn were about Dominik, right?"

"Lorenzo, I can't go into that with you-" "Tommy, please," Lorenzo said with a deep sigh. "Dominik is my nephew. I have a right to know. Despite what's happened between me and Nikolas, you can't deny that I have right to know what's going on. I love that little boy! Tell me what's happening."

"Did Nikolas tell you what happened?"

Lorenzo winced. He didn’t want to let Tommy know that Dawn had called him, but he wasn't about to lie either. When seconds passed and he still hadn't responded, Tommy shrugged.

"It doesn't matter," Tommy said. "We don't know anything. That's why I've asked Lynn to do all of that and I'd appreciate it if you would keep what you heard to yourself-"

"Of course!" Lorenzo bit out, irritated. "Well, where are you looking? How are Nikolas and Dawn? Are they okay? And, Noelle? Is she aware of what's happening?"

Tommy shook his head. "She doesn't know and I doubt if they'll tell her anything unless absolutely necessary. Nik and Dawn are holding in there. As far as where to look, we don't have a clue, but we're working on it."

"If I find out anything, I'll let you know," Lorenzo offered. His first inclination was to offer to help, but he remembered the earlier conversation with Dawn. Nikolas wouldn't be receptive to his help and he wasn't ready to force the issue. Yet. He'd bide his time, but he wouldn't be idle. The invisible man had made his presence known; Lorenzo would stop at nothing to bring this person to light and to get his nephew back.

Chapter 35