Nikolas' knuckles became stark white as he gripped the railing inside the elevator car. Hidden from the other passengers' view, Sarah's hand slipped underneath his jacket and roamed relentlessly over his backside. The assault irked him. For days, he was successful in avoiding her advances. He should have known that it would only be a matter of time before she tried harder. Mercifully, the car stopped and the doors opened to Nikolas' top floor office at Cassadine Enterprises. Sarah extricated her hand from his rear, left the elevator and Nikolas followed.
"This suite is very lovely," she commented as they entered his expansive office.
He looked around at their surroundings. Various pieces of art, including many of Elizabeth's creations adorned the walls. The furniture was sleek, elegant and comfortable. Dawn picked every piece for his Greek office. When he moved the headquarters to Port Charles, he didn't have the heart to go with a different look. If Sarah knew her words complimented his wife, she would undoubtedly trip over herself to recall them. An image of her in that predicament brought a smile to his lips. "Thank you," he said warmly. "I'm glad you like it."
"Did you hire a designer?" She lingered beside his desk. Her cool blue gaze raked over him, watching his every move.
"Not really." He shrugged. "I apologize for the detour. This shouldn't take long." Nikolas sat behind his desk and flipped on his computer. "Make yourself comfortable."
"I like this spot," she murmured coyly. "Do you mind?"
Nikolas bit back the first response that came to mind and gave her a bland smile. She slipped off her heels and her stocking covered foot brushed against his thigh. He forced a low growl to sound from his throat as he said, "I don't mind at all."
He typed in a series of commands and waited for his database to process the information. In truth, there was no need for them to make this detour. He could have done this work at home, but with her advances coming more brazen, he needed a change of scenery and a good excuse for not taking her to bed again. Urgent work at the office provided the perfect excuse until her foot inched further up his thigh.
"Sarah," he said, closing his hand over her wandering body part, "you're distracting me."
"That's my intention." Golden locks fell onto her shoulders as she released the clip that held them in place. With the tip of her tongue, she moistened her lips. "I want to distract you. You've been so tense," she added with a pout.
"Work requires a great deal from me," he explained. "I'm responsible for my family's fortune."
"I understand, but all work and no play isn't healthy, Nikolas," she cooed. Sliding from the desk, she slithered behind him. Her pale, slender hands gripped his shoulders before slipping underneath the gray silk shirt he wore.
Nikolas quickly brought an end to her unwanted caresses by grabbing her hand. "Just a few more minutes and I'll be done."
"Fine," she said quietly. She pulled her hand free of his grasp, slid her shoes back on and sat in the guest chair facing him. A smile that didn't quite reach her eyes spread across her face. "Very well. I can wait."
The front door slammed and the usual shout bounced through the house. "Dad! What's for dinner?"
AJ handed Michael an apron as soon as he entered the kitchen. "Whatever you decide to make. Wash up first."
"Yes, sir!" Michael laughed while he washed and dried his hands. Pulling open the refrigerator door, he peered inside. "Are you up for lasagna tonight?"
"Sure. Should I make the call to Mario's or you?"
"Come on!" Michael exclaimed as he set the ingredients on the counter. "I can make lasagna. Nothing to it."
AJ threw up his hands and assumed his usual perch on the stool at the counter. "Go for it."
Conversation filled the room while father and son discussed their day. From time to time, AJ's mind thought back to his conversation with Carly and the AA meeting he attended with her. She didn't say anything, but the expression on her face seemed like she was taking everything in. Afterward, they discussed the meeting and AJ did something he didn't think himself capable of. He volunteered to be her mentor. Carly's eyes widened in disbelief and then quietly, she accepted. They were both changing and AJ wanted those changes to affect his son in a positive manner. Maybe now it was time for another discussion with him.
As they sat across from each other and began to enjoy their meal, AJ began, "This is great, son."
"Thanks! When Mom comes back, I'll make it again."
AJ chewed another forkful and nodded. "Sounds good."
"Your Mom and I talked about a few things before she left."
He set down the fork and pushed his plate aside. Resting his chin on his steepled hands, he replied, "Carly, you and me. She said that we need to let go of the pain and I agree. We need to move on."
Michael's face fell. He sat back and muttered, "What does that mean?"
"That means the three of us work together to bridge the gap."
"What if I don't want to?"
AJ released a deep sigh. "I can't force you to do anything, but I think this will be better for you in the long run."
"So I just forgive her for what she did to me and for running out on me?" Michael asked through gritted teeth. "She doesn't deserve my forgiveness."
"Only God can make that judgment call, Michael," he said sternly. "Carly's done horrible things. I have, too. I hope that you won't, but you may. At some point, you may want forgiveness for something you've done. How would you feel if someone said that you didn't deserve forgiveness?"
Michael shrugged. His face reddened. "I wouldn't care."
"You're lying," AJ responded. "I said the same thing years ago and I lied then, too. Hating Carly does nothing for you. It makes you hard and you're too young to harbor so much pain. She's not perfect and getting to know her won't be easy, but you won't be alone. I'd be there with you."
"I can't forget it, Dad," Michael said softly. Tears clung to his lashes. He tried to brush them away, but they rolled down his cheeks. Sniffling, he went to his father's outstretched arms and hugged him. "I was so scared when she made me go with her."
"I know." AJ kissed the top of his son's head. "I know and I told her. I think you should tell her, too. Let her know how you felt and still feel. She should know that it won't be easy and then you'll see that she's changed and that she's willing to try. Can you do that?"
Michael sniffled again and tightened his hold on his father. Nodding, he mumbled, "Yeah. If you're with me, I can do it."
"They'd have to tear me away."
"You and Keesha have a remarkable family," Eve complimented Jason as she joined him near the window in Dara's bedroom. Across the ocean breeze, the laughter and joy of the children filled the air. Grace waved at them and they waved back. "She's so grown up. I can see why Michael adores her."
"You've noticed that, too, huh?" Jason asked with a soft laugh. "I gave him my blessing before I left. I didn't give him permission to date, but I won't stop them from hanging out at the House. I hope you and AJ won't mind."
"It's fine with me." Eve answered.
The door behind them creaked open. Simone entered with a printout. She beckoned for Jason and Eve to join her outside. They closed the door behind them. Simone's heels tapped a staccato beat on the hardwood floor as she moved briskly down the hallway. Jason and Eve followed her inside the office to find Matt and Ellen waiting for them with wide smiles on their faces.
"What?" Jason asked. His expression controlled even as excitement darkened his eyes. "What's going on?"
Eve went to Matt. Peering over his shoulder, she looked at the computer screen. "Oh, my God!"
"What?" Jason almost yelled.
"The strain..." Ellen began with a smile. "We've pinpointed the strain that's infecting her as well as the antidote that will cure her."
"We've found the cure," Matt repeated. "With five heads working together, we discovered what we needed."
"How long will it take for the serum to be ready to administer?" Eve asked. "This is still kinda experimental. Do we have Alex and Dara's permission?"
"In another forty-five minutes, the vaccine should be ready," Simone answered. "Alex and Dara are willing to try anything at this point. They're not afraid of the side effects. This is the closest they've come to having their hopes realized. Believe me, they're okay with this."
Jason released a low breath. Looking at the others, he said, "I don't know about anyone else, but these may be the longest 45 minutes of my life."
In total agreement, the others smiled.
"Reports, people." Dillon instructed as he casually strode across the floor of the hotel suite. He poured brandy into a snifter as he regarded his comrades. "Well?" he prompted. "Anything new and exciting transpire in my absence? Bring me up to speed so that I can delight in our enemies' downfall."
Vincent shrugged as he downed a poured a club soda for himself. "There's nothing new on my end. The destruction of Cassadine Enterprises is still going ahead as planned." He sat at the bar and directed a pointed glance in Sarah's direction. She bristled.
"Everything is fine," she clipped.
"Just fine?" Dillon asked. "You finally bedded your heart's desire and the outcome is merely fine? Doesn't sound very promising to me. All that brooding makes up for losses in other area's I presume."
As Dillon snickered, Sarah hopped up from the sofa. She marched to the bar and poured a shot of whiskey for herself. "Nikolas is not lacking. I assure you!"
Dillon's expression hardened. His eyes became glacial and in a crisp British accent, asked, "What's the problem?"
She whipped around, giving the men a view of her rigid back. "Who says there is one?"
"You are," Vincent remarked with dry humor. "Just tell us what you did so we can fix it."
She muttered an expletive to which Vincent denied the offer. "No, thanks. One blonde is enough for me."
"Enough!" Dillon slammed his glass down on the marble tabletop. Liquor poured everywhere as the snifter exploded into shards of glass. Ignoring the mess he made, he leapt over the table and grab Sarah's upper arms. He spun her around in his vicious grasp. "What happened with Cassadine? Did you give him the boy?"
"Of course not!" She shrieked. "Let go of me!"
He released her quickly and she nearly fell. Regaining her balance, she rubbed the red handprints that shone darkly on her pale skin. "Dominik is still at my cabin! Nikolas won't get his son back until I get him!"
"Well, what's wrong?"
"He's become a little cold since we slept together, that's all," she answered. "Nothing to worry about."
"It had better not be," Vincent muttered. "That shooting spree in the park was bad enough-"
"Handle him," Dillon interjected coldly, "or I will."
He lightly caressed Sarah's cheek with the back of his hand. He lifted her hand to his lips and brushed his mouth across her knuckles before turning from her. Vincent handed him another snifter of brandy and he smiled. "Does everyone have a drink?" He looked around. Seeing that both Sarah and Vincent held a glass, he continued, "Let's raise our glasses to toast our upcoming triumph. Everything has been set in motion and the fallout shall begin momentarily."
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