Chapter 45

"What the hell happened to your hair?"

For emphasis, Lorenzo slammed the door to the suite behind him. His sapphire orbs bored into Dawn and despite the mountain of problems that faced them, she laughed. She couldn't help it. His reaction wasn't what she had expected. She thought he would have greeted her with a lecture for the abrupt end of their earlier conversation. She hadn't expected him to start in on her hair or lack thereof. She should have known he'd do the unexpected.

Dawn ran her fingers through her shorn brown locks as she met his stare head on. "Nikky cut it."

A frown marred Lorenzo's smooth forehead. Crinkling his nose, he went to her and tentatively touched her hair. "Why would he do a thing like that?"

"It doesn't look that bad!" She slapped his hand away and would have said more, but a knock sounded at the door.

Lorenzo strode quickly to the door. He stood to the side of it and called out, "Who's there?"

"It's the bellhop, sir," came a voice from the other side. "I have Mrs. Cassadine's luggage, sir."

"Your luggage?" Lorenzo repeated, frowning at her again. "What the hell is going on?"

Dawn drew in a long breath and slowly exhaled. "I'll explain everything. Just let him bring it in."

He gave a curt nod of his head. "As you wish."

Lorenzo opened the door and the bellhop entered with a dolly full of Dawn's expensive, monogrammed suitcases and garment bags. The young man stared at Dawn as he entered the room and gave her a faint smile before blushing furiously. Lorenzo cleared his throat and the bellhop snapped to attention. He made quick work of unloading her parcels in the bedroom and left before he received his tip. Dawn frowned at Lorenzo as the door clicked shut behind the young man.

"You didn't have to be so mean to him," she advised. "In DJLS, Sly is the grouch. You're the brooder. You shouldn't forget your role."

She turned to go inside the bedroom and he was right on her heels. "Just so that everyone is up to speed, has my role changed? Again?"

Dawn nodded. "You're a time traveler in this game. We're going back to where we came in."

Scratching his temple, he sat down on the chaise lounge at the foot of the bed. "Come again?"

As she began to unpack and put her things away, she answered, "We're back to square one. Things didn't work out between Nikolas and me. He decided that he couldn't live with a woman who humiliated him by sleeping with his brother. He will begin divorce proceedings in the morning-"

"What?" Lorenzo questioned. He jumped from the chaise to grab Dawn's arm, whipping her around to face him. "I don't believe that. Is he an idiot? He knows that-"

"Yeah, he knows that," she said. As she gently caressed the stubble along his jaw line, tears welled within her eyes. Silently, she begged him to read between the lines and to understand what she could not say out loud for fear of eavesdropping ears and unseen prying eyes. "And that's why he can't pretend any longer. I don't want to pretend any more either. I've missed you, Lorenzo. Please hold me and never let go."

His arms snaked around her waist. While sobs wracked her body, he pressed her to him. Against her ear, he murmured, "They'll have to pry me away from you."


"Hello, Alexis," Nikolas greeted as soon as she answered the telephone. "How are you?"

"I'm fine, but Nikolas, how are you?" she asked with concern. "I've been calling Wyndemere and your offices for days. How are Dawn and Noelle? Neither of them was hurt at the park, correct? Please, tell me that they're fine and you are, too."

"I'm fine and they are, too," he assured her. He padded barefoot across his bedroom to the window that looked across Spoon Lake. Miles away at the Port Charles Hotel, Dawn was alone in a suite with Lorenzo. He hoped that their performance as reunited lovers would be convincing, but not so much so that she forgot that it was a role. His brother could be her pretend lover as long as Nikolas was always the real thing. As long as Dawn remembered that Nikolas was the man she loved.

"You don't sound fine," she countered. "You sound awful. Where are you? Was the shooter apprehended?"

"You know as well as I do, counselor, that whoever shot at them has not been caught," he answered.

"What is being done to find this person?"

"Everything," Nikolas clipped.

"Of course," she murmured. "I'm glad that you called and that you weren't hurt. You do know that if you need anything at all, you can always call on Justus or me. We love you, Nikolas and only want the best for you."

"Do you mean that?" Nikolas asked, looking down at his left hand. His wedding band rested around his finger, its weight barely noticeable. In eleven years of marriage, he had never taken it off. He'd never considered it, but times had changed.

"You know that I do," Alexis replied. "Is there something that we can do?"

"Actually, it's a one-person job," he told her. "In the morning, I wish to file for divorce-"


"Alexis, please. You just said you'd do anything for me," he softly reminded her. "I trust I could take you at your word."

Alexis answered his accusation with silence.


She released a deep sigh. "I'm here. Are you sure this is your only recourse? Can't you work things out? You were so much in love."

"Were is the operative word," Nikolas replied tersely. "It's past tense and it's over between us. Please draw the documents up as soon as you can and have them sent to me. Show me where to sign and I'll forward them back to you."

"What about the children and the property?"

"She is a wealthy woman and doesn't need a dime from me. They children have survived the past six months without her and I refuse to share custody-"


"Please," he said quietly. "This is best for everyone concerned. Can you do this for me?"

"Yes, if you're positive this is what you want."

"I am. Thank you, Alexis."

He ended the call and set the cordless telephone on the end table beside the bed. He then pulled off his wedding band and placed it beside the telephone. Left with an inexplicable feeling of emptiness, he shoved his left hand inside the pocket of his jeans and strode into the bathroom. Later as the hot spray of water showered down upon him, he wept.


"Thomas." Stefan said the young man's name as he extended a snifter of brandy towards him. "You look as if you could use this to settle your nerves."

Tommy smiled at Stefan as he took the proffered glass from the older man. He swallowed a small taste of the amber liquid. The beverage burned his throat before its flames settled at the pit of his stomach. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he set the glass on Nikolas' desk. He rubbed his hands across his face and exhaled a deep sigh.

Stefan poured vodka into a glass for himself. As he sipped, his emerald eyes studied Tommy closely. Finally, he said, "This will be over soon."

The younger man shook his head. "I'm afraid that it's not over soon enough. Everyone is separated from loved ones and there is no end in sight. We're playing guessing games, Stefan. We need something concrete to guarantee that we're moving in the right direction."

"So you doubt the belief that the abductor has been identified."

"I don't know," Tommy said with a shrug. "It could be true. For what's happened to Dominik and the shooting at the park, it would make sense that Sarah is behind it. But the stuff with Dara and Keesha's doctor...? It doesn't tie in."

"Who says that it must?" Stefan questioned. "I have not seen anything that would lead one to that conclusion."

Tommy fixed Stefan with a hard stare and became very still. "I don't believe in coincidence. Everything happens for a reason. Jason and Sonny believe that Carly or her husband is the culprit. Dawn is convinced that Sarah is pulling the strings."

"I doubt if the two women have any connection," Stefan replied. He swallowed the remainder of his vodka and set the glass down on the counter of the mini-bar. Folding his arms across his chest, he slowly paced the perimeter of the study. "However, my doubts could prove to be without merit. 'Tis possible they have formed an alliance. But why? What is there to gain by doing so? Sarah's obsession for Nikolas could be realized without putting either Dara or Keesha at risk. Why go to such lengths?"

Tommy grabbed a notepad from the top drawer of Nikolas' desk. He pulled his pen from the pocket of his jacket. Sitting in Nikolas' chair, he began to compile notes. "Sarah could retaliate against Dawn by poisoning Dara."

"As if abducting her son was insufficient," Stefan sniffed.

"Dominik was removed after Dara was poisoned," Tommy reminded him. "Maybe she thought if Dara was sick, Dawn would focus her energies on her sister. Taking Dom may have been a last ditch effort."

"And the shooting in the park? Explain that."

Tommy frowned. "Dawn and Nikolas were together again. The abduction didn't get the desired effect so eliminating Dawn permanently was the next plan. How she could do that when Noelle was right there is beyond me, but it's not like I haven't seen that kind of single-mindedness before."

Stefan's expression became solemn. "No, it's not like you haven't."

The two men retreated inside their thoughts and became silent. Tommy continued to scribble notes on his pad. The connection of Sarah to Carly still boggled his mind and he was certain that he was looking at it wrong. There was an angle he had missed and until he figured it out, they'd still be lost as to a solution for the problem. Frustrated, he tossed the pen onto the notepad and rubbed his eyes. Visions of his wife and twin daughters flashed before his eyes. He offered up a silent prayer to their safety and hoped that despite the troubles in Port Charles, their time at Casa Corinthos would be happy and filled with peace.

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