Chapter 61

like roaches they scattered...

Six months later...

Spring made a grand entrance into Port Charles. Beautiful flowers bloomed and the sun shone brightly in the sky, illuminating what was once dark and dreary.

For Keesha, the dazzling sunlight and the blooming flowers mocked the pain and sadness that filled her heart. Jason's death in the plane crash was almost unbearable. A sob lodged in her throat and she closed her eyes tight. A gentle hand brushed against her cheek and then AJ's husky voice murmured, "He's a beautiful child, Keesha."

She didn't speak. She couldn't. Finally, Jason had a child of his own to love, but he would never know him. Her heart ached.

AJ refused to be deterred. He took her hand and sat beside her on the hospital bed. "His cry is louder than anyone else's and with those big blue eyes, the nurses are fawning all over him. Keesha? Keesha sweetheart, talk to me. You can't stay like this forever."

"Why not?" she asked in a choked whisper. "It hurts too much to do anything else."

"I know," he responded. "Going on without Eve and Jason hurts, but we have to. They wouldn't want us to shrivel up and become shells of our former selves. Keesha, your children miss their mother. I miss my best friend. Come on back to us."

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she opened her eyes. "It isn't fair. I've lost him twice now and this time, it's forever."

Sobs wracked her petite frame. AJ gathered her close against him. Rocking her gently back and forth, he stroked her back as Keesha finally allowed herself to mourn.

"I'll be here for you and the kids," he vowed. "We'll get through this together. I promise."


"It's not fair they ran out and left you to take the blame for everything!" Carly cried. "You shouldn't be alone in that courtroom. Dillon and Sarah should be right there with you!"

Vincent sighed. He'd heard that rant before. Carly's heart was in the right place and it touched him that she cared so much. The fierce wildcat performance on his behalf warmed his heart, but it didn't change the facts. He knew the risks when he joined Dillon and Sarah, and now, he had to pay the piper.

"Look on the bright side," he said, rising from the loveseat to join her in the doorway of the terrace. "I'm not cooped up in jail anymore. I'm here with you and we can enjoy this time together until I'm sentenced."

He laughed and she turned on him. "How can you laugh like that?" she demanded to know. "This isn't funny. We're lucky you're not being held still, but the charges against you... Conspiracy. Abduction. Attempted Murder. And three counts of murder in the first degree! Vince, this isn't funny at all."

His expression sobered. Swallowing hard, he nodded. "I know it isn't, but nothing will change things now." He gently caressed her cheek. "Whatever happens I want you to know that I loved you, Caroline and I want you to be happy. Be a good mother to your son. You've made good progress with him. Don't mess it up by being a hardass."

Carly averted her eyes. Sadly, she whispered, "I don't like this. It sounds like goodbye. I don't like good-byes."

"Oh, sweet Caroline," he murmured, wrapping his arms around her. She trembled against him, causing him to close his eyes to block out the dark sadness that enveloped them both. "I don't like them either." He brushed his lips across her forehead. "Come with me. There's another woman I must bid farewell."

"Who?" she asked, holding his hand in a tight grasp as he led her to their car. "My mother?"

Stopping to look at her, he shook his head. "No. Mine."


Tommy and Lorenzo's search led them to the City of Lights. Somewhere hidden in the depths of 'Gay Paris', they were certain they'd find Elizabeth and Dillon. Months of searching couldn't prove fruitless now. Success wouldn't slip from their grasp this time.

"The only way to this is divide and conquer," Lorenzo said as they took an afternoon break at outdoors bistro.

"Agreed," Tommy said with a nod. "I'll grab Dillon and you can take Lizabeth."

Lorenzo shook his head. "It would never work. She wouldn't listen to me and you know it. He's probably got her convinced that I'm a big liar and made my testimony up. She'll listen to you before she'll hear a word I say. You have to grab her. I'll get him."

"He's dangerous, Spencer," Tommy warned. "You don't know how to handle a man like him. I do. I have before."

The other man sighed and ran a hand through his short, blonde curls. "Hornsby doesn't scare me."

"He should," Tommy said quietly. "He grew up with Juan as a father figure and that bastard was evil. Hornsby should terrify you. He started this whole thing to get back at me and so far, he hasn't struck, yet. He's mine, Lorenzo."

"Man, you shouldn't even be here. I don't doubt he wants you, but you can't go after him. You have a family-"

"And you don't?" Tommy questioned.

Lorenzo blushed. "Lynn hasn't even given me an answer yet, so don't even go there. She knows that nothing is concrete until this settled anyway. Hell, everyone in Port Chuck is adamant that I watch out for you. I have half a mind to ship you back home."

Tommy half smiled. "It would never happen. Okay. We've come this far without driving each other crazy. We can go all the way. Jason and Eve's deaths won't be in vain. If it takes all night, we'll find them. Dillon will be captured and we'll bring Lizabeth home."




Dawn wrapped her arm around Nikolas and squeezed. His body was still weak from the nights spent in Dillon's torture chamber so many months ago, but his mind never functioned better. He looked down at her and smiled. "I'm fine."

"It's crowded and hot." She frowned. "I think we should go back to the hotel for until the sun goes down."

He regarded her behind narrowed eyes. "That's a likely excuse. You want to take me back there to have your way with me."

Dawn smiled. "Can I help it if being with you makes me have a one-track mind. Seriously, let's get out of this heat. Sarah's out there and she thinks she's safe. We'll get her."

Nikolas didn't speak as Dawn elbowed their way through the crowd back to their cool, air-conditioned suite. Since she, Stefan and Lorenzo discovered him in Dillon's upstate hideaway, she'd displayed a protective streak he wasn't aware she possessed. Her eyes watched him constantly and her love shielded him and made him well. God, how he loved her.

After guiding him to the sofa, she left him to go to the fridge. She pulled out two bottles of water and gave him one. "Drink up, sweetie."

He playfully rolled his eyes. "Yes, dear."

She smiled in response and swallowed half of the bottle in one gulp. When she had her fill, she pressed the bottle against her smooth forehead and sighed.

Nikolas set his opened bottle on the end table and pulled her legs into his lap. He tossed her shoes onto the floor and gently massaged her feet and toes. This time, she purred. "Time for a siesta, darling," he murmured softly. Watching her, he enjoyed the emotions that flickered across her face.

"Don't tempt me."

"I can't help it. Tempting you is irresistible." His hands slid up her bare calves. Smooth and supple, her caramel legs felt like silk to his warm palms. "Have you an answer for me? A date?"

"After we catch her," she mumbled, almost asleep.

"How soon after?" His hands continued to glide over her, caressing...stroking...massaging. He felt himself stir, but ignored the insistent throbbing, choosing instead to concentrate on her. "Darling..."

" fair," she protested. "That 'darling' stuff sidetracks me."

He smiled. "I know. A week after?"

Dawn shook her head. "Too soon. I don't have a dress, you don't have a tux, and I want Tommy and Lorenzo there like they were the first time."

"Okay," Nikolas slowly agreed. "After they get Dillon and bring Elizabeth back. How soon then?"

"ASAP," she promised with a smile in her eyes.

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