AJ couldn't sleep. Tired of tossing and turning, he sat up and gave up. The earlier conversation with Bobbie plagued his mind. Michael's feelings about Carly couldn't be ignored and he was upset that Bobbie could so easily cast them aside. It was his duty to protect his son. AJ took the responsibility seriously. He understood that Bobbie wanted to do the same for her daughter, but dammit! Carly was an adult. Michael's reaction to her was a result of her actions. Did she honestly think that the boy could so easily be fooled just because she suddenly decided that being a mother was important to her? What about Michael? Didn't his wants matter to her at all?
"Tell me," Eve demanded, her voice groggy from sleep. She yawned as she moved into a sitting position. Taking his hand, she pulled his arm around her shoulders and rested her head on his chest. "Tell me what's wrong, AJ."
"I didn't want to wake you," he murmured before he placed a kiss on top of disheveled mass of dark brown locks. Hugging her to him, he added, "Sorry. I know you had a hard day. Go back to sleep."
"I can't sleep with you tossing and turning," she reminded him, her voice gently teasing him. She tilted her head to look up at him. "Did something happen with Michael or was it Carly?"
AJ tossed his head back and groaned. "How did you know?"
She shrugged. "What else could it be? You've been restless since she returned. I doubt if that will change until you and she resolve the past once and for all."
"So, that's the cure?" he asked without sarcasm. "Do you honestly think that will help?"
"I don't know if that's the cure, AJ," Eve answered. "I'm not sure if anything could truly fix what happened between you, but something has to help it. Whether you like it or not, she gave birth to Michael. Now, he's distancing himself from her, but there may come a day when he wants her in his life-"
"I doubt it."
"Well, it could happen," she continued softly. "Resolving as much as you can will help Michael in the long run. He needs to see that you're open about this and then he'll learn how to deal with his feelings for her."
AJ shook his head. "He has dealt with his feelings for her. He doesn't want to see her."
"And you agree with that?" she questioned.
"Don't you?" AJ couldn't believe the words that came from Eve's mouth. She almost sounded as if she was on Carly's side. Had the world flipped and AJ was the only person with a clue in his head? How could she be so diplomatic? This was Carly they were talking about!
"Uh oh." Eva pulled away and turned on the bedside lamp. As light flooded the bedroom, she sat and faced AJ. "You're getting pissed, aren't you?"
He gave a slight nod of his head. "Yeah. You could say that."
"I'm not saying this to piss you off. You know that I love you and I consider Michael my son. What I'm saying is that there comes a time when a person has to put the past behind them and get over anger. It's damaging, sweetheart. You've come so far. I'd hate to see that Carly's return hurts you somehow."
"I won't return to the bottle because of her," he denied.
"I hope not."
AJ closed his hand over hers. His thumb ran back and forth across the satin smoothness of the back of her hand. Her hands had saved a number of lives over the years, but a person wouldn't know that by looking at them. Things have a way of lying just below the surface. People often made the mistake of accepting people and things at face value. He made that mistake once when it came to Carly. He didn't want to make it again.
"You're struggling, AJ," Eve commented. "I want to help, but I can't if you won't let me."
"She's trick me before," he admitted, trying to take control of his growing anguish. "I believed we were friends. I trusted her when I couldn't trust anyone else except for maybe Keesha. When honesty would have prevented so much damage, she used my faith in our friendship against me.
"Sobriety meant everything to me. Having control over my drinking kept me grounded and she used it against me! She took my faith in myself against me and made me believe that I was drinking again. I've never said this before, but I've never been sure what hurt worse…the fact that I considered her my friend and she drugged me, or the act itself. She took something from me that night that could have screwed me up for the rest of my life. If I do what Bobbie asks, how I can be sure she won't somehow do the same to Michael? I couldn't live with myself if I put him in harm's way like that."
Eve looked down at their joined hands. "Did you and Carly ever talk about what she did?"
"If we talked about it, there was the possibility she'd have to admit to wrong-doing. You know her well enough to know she'd never do that." AJ shook his head. "I've tried to bury it and forget, but it's always there…in the back of my mind. I guess I should have let it go a long time ago."
"It's hard to release something so painful," Eve told him. "I think that talking to her will help. Maybe tell her why you're hesitant about Michael having contact with her."
"This won't change anything, Eve. I won't force Michael to see her if he doesn't want to."
Eve sighed. "I know that, AJ. I'm just saying that you and Carly need closure. Until that's done, the cycle won't ever end." She reached behind her and turned off the lamp. Darkness created a warm, intimate mood in the room. Eve crawled into AJ's arms again and whispered, "Now, let's forget about her for a while and concentrate on us."
A chuckled fell from his lips. Wrapping her within the circle of his arms, he said, "I like your style, Dr. Lambert-Quartermaine."
"So tell me more about this guy you chat with on the Internet," Jason said. He nodded his thanks for the bottle of Heineken that Lorenzo gave him. Raising the bottle to lips, he swallowed. The cold liquid burned down his throat and brought a faint smile to his face. With kids in the house, he rarely brought the beverage home. He also forgot how it tasted.
"Is it that good?" Lorenzo asked with a laugh. He double clicked on the Internet icon on his laptop's desktop. While they waited for the program to load, he answered Jason. "I can't add anything more to what I've already told you. He or she started chatting with me around the time this whole mess started. I haven't sensed any malice from my little informant so I keep chatting with him…or her."
"Don't you think it's all suspect though?" Jason asked. "Just out of the blue some phantom starts giving you tidbits of info here and there. I wouldn't trust it."
Lorenzo bristled at Jason's tone. "It's not like I hang onto every word this person says! Besides, everything is so vague. It could mean something or nothing."
Jason swallowed more of the beer before he replied. "So, why do you keep chatting with 'em?"
"Why not?" Lorenzo questioned with a shrug. "I figure there isn't much to lose." He tapped a few keys on the keyboard and turned the laptop so that Jason could see it. Both men moved to the edge of the sofa and stared at the small screen. "Besides, it was a decent enough way to pass the time when nothing else was getting us anywhere."
The Internet buzzed to life with a hearty welcome message. Jason rolled his head . "George and Grace practically live on this thing. I still don't get the attraction."
"The world is at your fingertips," Lorenzo explained. "Right here, you have the power to learn anything you want and to meet people around the world. Besides, it's a good place to get the latest games."
"Whatever," Jason said.
Lorenzo laughed. "It's not that hard to learn."
"Who said I didn't know how to use it?" Jason set his bottle on the floor near his feet and pulled the small computer onto his lap. He punched in an address and smiled with pride when the picture loaded. "Check this out. Wardhouse.com right here."
Lorenzo took the computer from Jason. "I'm impressed. Keesha did one helluva job with this." He laughed when Jason grimaced. "How is she? I heard that she's pregnant. Congratulations, by the way."
The frown on Jason's face disappeared and his expression softened at the mention of Keesha and the pregnancy. "Thanks. She's good. I talked to her before I came over. The kids are loving life on the island. I may be forced to make it a permanent residence. Have you heard from Nikolas and Dawn?"
He shook his head. "Nah. We decided to keep the lines clear. Nik is coming back tomorrow. Dawn and the kids are staying there. With so many people, I doubt if Casa Corinthos will ever be the same again."
Jason chuckled. "Simone will keep everyone in line, and the other women will help. I wanted to know if there's any news about Dara. I suppose Simone would call Sonny with a breakthrough."
"Yeah, Tommy's mom wouldn't leave us hanging." Lorenzo agreed. He punched more keys on the keyboard before he placed the laptop on the coffee table. Rising from the sofa, he stretched. "I just logged into the chat program. If my buddy is out there, he'll drop me a line. Want anything else to drink? Hungry? I can order room service…"
"Nah." Jason finished his beer and then tossed the bottle into a nearby wastebasket. He stood up and followed Lorenzo's lead by stretching. Through the large picture window, he could see the dark moonlight sky, illuminated by an endless supply of stars. Drawn to the picturesque view, he moved to the window. Careful of the possibility of being observed, he stood to the side of the curtains and looked outside.
He couldn't get over how badly he missed his family. The kids screaming as they ran throughout the house and Keesha's warm body beside his in bed…he longed for those things. Sending them away had been a necessity, of course, but for how long? Just when life had settled down and everything was perfect, mindless chaos crashed down on them and their friends, making them scramble for cover. It just wasn't fair. He finally knew what was important and now, something totally inane and ridiculous blindsided all of them. They needed to get things back on track and they needed it down now!
Minutes passed while Jason stood in front of the window, lost in his thoughts. They needed a solution and a few wins in their home court to shake things up. Dominik's return to his family was good, but they needed something else. Something big! They needed to get Dara well. Sonny had related some of her symptoms to him and Jason still knew of his medical training to be of some help. With Simone, Ellen and Matt working around the clock, he was positive they'd appreciate some relief. And Jason had just the person who'd be willing to help him. In the morning, he'd visit his brother and his wife. Eve was a brilliant doctor and an excellent researcher. Maybe she'd be willing to give him a hand in helping Dara. Besides, the opportunity to be with his family again was too good to pass up. Jason smiled. Eve would say yes and maybe as soon as tomorrow, they could do some good.
"I don't think he's signing on," Lorenzo said. "Sorry you wasted a trip. I thought for sure we'd get something tonight."
Jason left the window. He shrugged as he shook his head. "Don't worry about it. We got some things accomplished anyway."
"Oh, yeah?" Lorenzo asked with a frown. "Like what?"
"There may be help for Dara," he said. "I studied medicine and I've kept up with the journals and advancements. I may be able to assist the others."
"That's great, man. That would be two for the good guys."
Jason chuckled softly as he pulled on his coat and grabbed his keys. "Great minds think alike, kid. I'll talk to you later."
Pitch-black, the sky stretched like an endless blanket across the heavens. The moon, large and luminous, worked alone to illuminate the darkness. No twinkling stars joined it and no clouds hid it. Simply put, the moon was detached and as Nikolas gazed at it, he felt like they were kindred spirits. On the beautiful tropical isle with his entire family finally under one roof, he walked the broad expanse of the beach and had never felt so alone in his life.
After Stefan left him, he kept walking. He paused for a little while to have dinner with his wife and their children. Tears of immense joy lodged in his throat when he watched his son and daughter interacting with each other. Dominik hugged Noelle often much to her delight and tickled her until she squealed with laughter. Under normal circumstances such outrageous giddiness was not allowed at the dinner table, but these were not normal times. And his family needed to release the sheer bliss of being together again. He needed it, too, but unfortunately, release was lost on him. It mixed with the heavy weight of melancholy that settled in the pit of his stomach and refused to grant him peace.
So, as soon as the meal was over, he excused himself from the table and struck out alone. The children were too consumed with their playmates to notice, but Dawn's beautiful chocolate eyes bored into him when he strode past her and slipped out of the confines of the hacienda. Hours later, he couldn't shake the sensation of her unwavering perusal. Her love attempted to envelop him, too. For the first time, he ignored it, consumed by the belief he didn't deserve the eternal devotion she so willingly gave him. God help him, he prayed. He was such a hypocrite. If she didn't still love him when everything was said and done, Nikolas had no doubts that he'd be left the shell of a man he once was.
God, please. Don't let me lose her after all we've been through. Please.
The moonlight illuminated an upcoming dune. Even though Nikolas' body had grown tired, he plunged ahead. Taking a deep breath, he kept going and didn't change direction to return to the hacienda. As he crossed the slight sandy hill, the twang of a guitar carried across the beach to him. The music drowned out the sounds of the crashing waves and the few seagulls that refused to sleep. The song reminded him of happier days and warm summer nights. It pulled him in, making him pick up his pace even as he told himself to turn away. Barefoot, his feet pounded the sand until he could make out her lone silhouette. The music became louder and he was unable to resist its effect on him. When Dawn's soft voice sung the first verse, his throat constricted. His prayers were answered. Her voice and those lyrics welcomed him home.
"I am thinking of you
In my sleepless solitude tonight
If it's wrong to love you
Then my heart just won't let me be right
'Cause I've drowned in you
And I won't pull through
Without you by my side"
He went to her, teardrops streaming down his face. Oblivious to the tears, he opened his mouth to speak. Husky with emotion, he croaked out her name. "Dawn. Sweetheart, I-"
She shook her head and pressed her hand against his mouth. All without missing a beat.
"I'd give my all to have
Just one more night with you
I'd risk my life to feel
Your body next to mine
'Cause I can't go on
Living in the memory of our song
I'd give my all for your love tonight"
With tender strokes, she wiped the moisture from his cheeks. Nikolas sighed. His hands moved on their own volition, grabbing her waist and pulling her to him. Her full mouth curved into a smile as her hands left his face to lock together behind his head. Her soft, cool fingertips drew tiny circles at the base of his hot, bare neck. Electric currents of desire shot through him. His arousal throbbed between them and he couldn't deny his reaction to her. But still, he felt unworthy.
" Baby can you feel me
Imagining I'm looking in your eyes
I can see you clearly
Vividly emblazoned in my mind
And yet you're so far
Like a distant star
I'm wishing on tonight
" I'd give my all to have
Just one more night with you
I'd risk my life to feel
Your body next to mine
'Cause I can't go on
Living in the memory of our song
I'd give my all for your love tonight."
The CD player at their feet shut itself off with a resounding click. Nikolas jumped and Dawn took his hand, pulling him down onto the blanket that was spread over the sand. Her large brown eyes stared up at him with so much longing. Nikolas wanted to fulfill her every desire, but he hesitated. How could he make love to her after having sex with Sarah? It didn't feel right. Regardless of the number of showers he'd taken since the loveless act, he still felt dirty and going to Dawn unclean defiled their love. He couldn't do that to her or to them.
Nikolas fell to his knees but made no move to touch her. Silently, he pleaded with her to understand. "I can't. I want to, but I...I just can't, sweetheart."
Dawn moved across the blanket until she faced him. Standing on her knees, she looked into his eyes. While she spoke, her fingers undid the buttons on his shirt. "Yes, you can."
She pushed the shirt from his shoulders, tugging until it was completely removed. Her fingers skimmed his chest and abs and he shivered. When she took his hands and placed them on her breasts and held them there, a scream of frustration lodged in his throat. In a strained voice, he tried to explain. "You don't understand. So much has happened since we parted. There's something I need to tell you and if I could find the words..."
"Nikky," she said, "I know and I understand-"
"No, you don't!" he interrupted. "You have no idea!"
"You had sex with Sarah."
Shame washed over him. There was no censure in her tone, but that didn't alleviate his humiliation. He found himself unable to look at her. Lowering his head, he asked, "How did you know?"
"I figured it out," she stated quietly. "Look at me, Nikky." When he did, she continued, "I'm not upset with you. I know why it happened. You slept with her to keep us together. Don't let it break us apart when we've come so far."
"I close my eyes and I remember it. I didn't enjoy it-"
"Baby, you don't have to give me the details," she interrupted. "I trust you."
"I know, but I have to tell you this," he said. "I couldn't bear the thought of you thinking that betraying our marriage vows was easy for me. It wasn't-"
Dawn cut in with a quiet laugh that was void of humor. "You didn't betray our marriage vows. We both signed the divorce papers. You're not my husband. I'm not your wife."
"Paper and ink don't change what I feel in my heart, Mrs. Cassadine," he told her. "I'll always belong to you. If our child's welfare hadn't been at stake, I never would have touched her. Tell me you know that."
Water glistened in the corners of her eyelids and clung to her thick, curly eyelashes. As she nodded, Nikolas thumbed away the tears that rolled down her cheek. "I know that," she whispered. "I love you, Nikolas Cassadine. Tell me that you know nothing will ever change that."
"I want to believe it," he quietly admitted.
"Then do. Please, do," she begged. "I sung that song because it was our first song. Do you remember? We danced to it in that old cabin so many years ago. We almost made love that night. Don't you remember?"
"I remember." He nodded. "I remember everything."
"Well, how can you remember everything and not know that I will always love you?" she questioned. "I feel like we're going around in circles. I don't want to do that anymore. I just want us to be together...to finally have that happily ever after we've always wanted. Don't you want it, too?"
"Of course," he told her. "You know I do."
"Then release the past, Nikky. Don't let Sarah and her buddies win. We have our son back, but we're still incomplete. Let it go and make us a family again. Please."
Dawn's impassioned plea broke down the walls. They reached out, grabbed and shook Nikolas until he couldn't deny that she was right. Their family wouldn't be whole again if he let one unpleasant night with Sarah hang over his head for the rest of their lives. He had to let it go. Tonight!
He took a deep breath. As he slowly exhaled, his hands spoke first. They caressed and kneaded her full curves until she trembled then he removed her blouse and bra so that her chest was bare like his. He slipped his arms around her waist and before he lowered his head to plunder her mouth with a deep, exploring kiss, he murmured, "I want to feel your body next to mine. I want to love you for the rest of our lives. I want us to be real family again. When this is all over, I want you to be my wife again. Will you marry me?"
Her squeal of happiness warmed his soul. Nikolas didn't deny himself the pleasure of it. He thrived on her happiness with his own shout of joy.
Then, he kissed her and they made love underneath the glow of the solitary moon.
[Author's Note: "My All" by Mariah Carey was also used "In the Dark of Night." Click on Dawn & Nikky to read the excerpt from "In the Dark of Night".]
Home | The Stories | The Dark Series | NEW Message Board | NEW Forum | Email Me