Darkest Before the Dawn


Five years earlier…

Elizabeth glanced over her shoulder. He was still behind her, lurking like a five o'clock shadow. Shaking her head, her long mane of wavy brown hair cascaded around her shoulders. She released a loud, audible sigh. "Um…what exactly do you think you're doing back there?"

"Who me?" Lorenzo asked, looking from side to side as he pointed to the center of his chest.

"No, the other fella. The one with the gorgeous eyes and the drop dead body," she countered with a wicked gleam in her eyes. She grabbed her paintbrushes and went outside onto the veranda. The sea breeze was cool and fragrant. Her hair fluttered around her face and she quickly tied it back. A tiny smile played around her lips as she heard him close the door behind him.

"Very amusing," Lorenzo murmured. He placed their ice-cold glasses of tea onto a nearby table before he moved to stand behind her. His sapphire eyes wandered over her petite frame as she began to work. Her movements caused the tie around her thick mass of hair to loosen and he reached for it. She glanced over her shoulder to take the tie from him and he shook his head. "Allow me," he said with a smile. "Turn around, Miss Webber. I can do this."

Chuckling softly, Lizzie followed his bidding. "So, when will the rest of the gang arrive?"

"Sly and Jordan should be here in another week or so," he told her.

His fingers grazed across the back of her neck and she drew in a sharp, quick breath. Willing herself to concentrate, she asked, "What about Emily and Lark? They're not coming?"

"Not this time around. Besides, it's gonna be too hot for all of that. We're here to shoot a video, not play around." His fingers threaded through her hair, testing its weight. He didn't want to stop touching her hair, but grudgingly he did. He tied the tie around her hair and then moved to stand in front of her. "There. It shouldn't come loose this time."

"Thanks," she said with a smile. She looked at him for a moment and then turned her attention back to her bare canvas. The empty space begged for her to fill it and pursing her lips, she thought of what direction she wanted to take. The painting would be the cover for DJLS' newest LP and as much as she loved them and they her, the quartet could be as picky as hell when it came to their music and their image. A frown continued to crease her brow until an idea came to mind. With a broad grin on her face, she dipped her paintbrush into a dark hue and with broad strokes, began to create.

The pair was quiet as the afternoon sky darkened to early evening. Lizzie worked with a mixture of deep concentration and immense joy. Lorenzo watched her in wonder. Upon returning to Port Charles after being abducted by his father, Lorenzo had distanced himself Elizabeth. It hadn't been intentional, but it had happened. His feelings for Dawn and her declaration to him had left him raw. He needed space. He needed time to find himself. A part of him had known that it would have been easy to go back to Elizabeth and try to find a way to reconnect with her. She was there, and she still cared. He could see that, but he couldn't do that to her. He wouldn't use her. Besides, when had a Spencer ever done anything the easy way?

Lizzie glanced away from her masterpiece as Lorenzo's chuckle reminded her that she wasn't alone. Curiosity shone in her brown eyes as she asked, "What's so funny?"

He shrugged. "Nothing much. I'm just thinking about things."

"What kind of things?" she asked. She set her paintbrush in a glass of murky water. Rubbing her paint stained hands on her once white smock, she went towards him. "Where were you, Spencer?" she asked, with a teasing smile.

"Do you really wanna know?" he asked, placing his hands on her waist as she reached him.

"I wouldn't ask if I didn't wanna know!" she said, laughing.

Rolling his eyes, he groaned softly. "Yeah, yeah, yeah."

"Oh, you!" she said, pouting. "Tell me."

"It's not much, really," he said softly. "Just the past and how much you've grown up. You've become quite a remarkable woman, Elizabeth Webber."

"Oh, please, you sound like my grandmother!" She pointed her finger at him. "Now, tell me the truth. What were you really thinking about?"

He lowered his eyes and coughed to clear his throat. No lies and no secrets had been the promise they made to each other when they were kids. Silently, he had made the vow again to her. As he raised his eyes to hers again, he took a deep breath. Pulling her against him, he answered, "You were right all those years ago...when we broke up. I didn't want to admit it then because it scared me...to know that I didn't know myself as well as I thought. But you were right. I...um...I was more into saving you than loving you, and for that, I apologize."

The teasing light vanished from Lizzie's eyes at Lorenzo's quiet admission. She had wanted him to make that acknowledgment forever it seemed. Maybe a part of her hoped that he would prove what she had said to him as wrong, but as the chasm closed between them and they found their way back together again... Well, she had painfully admitted to herself that she had been right all along. But still, it felt strange to hear him say it. She never thought it would happen. Not in a million years.

"Elizabeth?" he asked when her silence began to unnerve him. "Do you...do you have anything to say?"

She slowly nodded her head. A faint smile came to her lips as she said, "Apology accepted. May I ask you a question?"

His sigh of relief was cut short with her softly asked question. "Um, sure. Shoot."

"You told me that you changed your name because you just wanted a change. Will you tell me the real reason now?"

"That was the real reason," he stated, "but it wasn't the only reason. I needed to grow up, Elizabeth. I couldn't be a man with a child's name. And, I needed to be my own man. Lucky...Luke... The names are too close, so close. I grew up wanting to be him, and then suddenly, the thought repulsed me. Lorenzo gave me the chance to be me. Do you know what I mean?"

"Yeah," she said, nodding. Stepping closer to him, she raised her arms and crossed her wrists behind his neck. Her breath whispered against his full lips as she murmured, "Lucky wasn't so bad. Promise me that you won't ever forget that. Okay, Lorenzo?"

"Okay," he said. His soft chuckle disappeared to a faint whisper as he closed his mouth over hers.

Elizabeth accepted his kiss passionately. Her lips parted underneath his, and she became the aggressor. She parted his lips with slow, insistent strokes of her tongue. Once he relented to her silent, passionate demands, their kiss deepened. Their breathing was loud and labored. Their hearts pounded in unison and they very nearly forgot where they were. Until a voice interrupted them and pulled them apart.

"Uncle!" Dominik shrieked as he ran out onto the verandah. He giggled as his uncle and Aunt Lizzie sprang apart. When Lorenzo's arms opened for him, the little boy ran into them at top speed. "Mommy and Papa said you were here!"

"Yep, and here I am!" Lorenzo grinned over the dark-haired boy's head at Elizabeth. "Looks like our host and hostess have returned."

Lizzie laughed as Dominik greeted her as affectionately as he greeted his uncle. Hugging him back, she said, "Yep, I would say they have."

"Tsk, tsk, tsk. And, it was just getting good, too," he murmured. His blue eyes twinkled as a blush colored her cheeks.

"Yeah, but it's gonna get better. I promise you that."


"What are you doing?" Nikolas asked, glancing at his wife as he left their bathroom and stepped into their bedroom. When he had left her to take a shower, he had thought a nap would have been at the top of her 'to do' list. He was surprised to discover her sitting in the middle of their bed, wearing one of his T-shirts and strumming a guitar. He secured the towel around his waist as he went to his dresser. Glancing at her in the mirror, he asked again, "Sweetheart? I thought you wanted to take a nap."

"Hmm?" she asked, frowning as she looked at him. Her eyes widened as she looked at his still damp body. Tiny droplets clung to his back and she subconsciously licked her lips. Nikolas cleared his throat as her eyes continued to wander over his half nude form. A pleased smile was on his face as he shook his finger at her in the mirror. She frowned back at him and asked, "What did I do?"

"Wicked thoughts, woman," he told her. "How many times do I have to tell you that my eyes are up here?" he asked, pointing for emphasis. He grinned as she rolled her eyes and directed her attention back to the guitar. "What are you doing with that? I thought that was a gift for Lucky."

"Sweetie, he calls himself Lorenzo now," she reminded him, a little distracted. "And, if Dominik can remember it..."

"So, can I. Yeah, yeah, yeah," he grumbled, dropping his towel as he stepped into a pair of silk red boxers. She laughed softly and then she began to hum in tune with the chords. Closing his eyes, he listened to her and the music she was making. He wasn't sure if he'd heard the song before, but he knew that he liked it. "Is that a new one?"

"Yeah, it's a new song that I'm working on. Care to hear it?" she asked. Waiting for his reply, she bit her lip to hold back a fit of giggles.

Oblivious to her mirth, he said, "Of course. Serenade me."

As Nikolas dropped down onto the bed beside her, she strummed the chords as she sang in a country twang.

"Me, oh, me oh, my...
I may be crazy, but I can't help wondering why...
My, man he loves me
And, he sure 'nuff loves me right
God knows he loves me
And, he loves me both day and night
And, you know that I don't care
I just want him to love me anywhere
But, my man, he has a deal
He just won't love me in a field..."

Keeping a serious expression on her face, Dawn finished the tune with a flourish. Once she was done, Nikolas surprised her by taking the guitar from her placing it on the floor beside the bed. "What's wrong? Didn't you like my song?"

"Oh, yeah, I liked it," he said, his voice a low growl. His eyes darkened as he advanced towards her.

"Nikky!" Dawn squealed as she recognized the predatory gleam in his eyes. Giggling, she tried to swing her legs to the floor to make a run for it, but he was too fast for her. Grabbing her by the waist, Nikolas pulled her until she was underneath him. His thighs pinned her lower body to the bed as he rested on his forearms and kept a firm hold on her wrists. "So, does this mean you didn't like it?" she asked, breathlessly.

"Very funny, Mrs. Cassadine," he growled. "You think you're so cute, don't you?"

"Well," she said, innocently. "I've been told...by you...that in addition to being cute, I'm also adorable."

"Adorable?" he repeated. "I told you that?"

"Hmm... Well, I thought it was you. You mean that wasn't you?!" she asked, squealing and moaning as Nikolas parted her thighs with one of his. "I thought it was you. Oops."

"I've got your 'oops'," he murmured, lowering his lips to her neck.

As their bodies shifted and became a perfect fit, she moaned, "I think you've got more than that."


"Mommy! Papa!"

Dawn shook her finger at her five-year-old son as his father picked him up. "Dominik, you don't have to scream."

"Like mother, like son," Nikolas replied for her ears only. He grinned as she swatted his behind. He lowered Dominik to the floor and took his hand and Dawn's. He smiled at their house guests as the three of them stepped down into the den. "Welcome back!"

"How was Paris?" Lizzie asked as she hugged Dawn and then Nikolas. "I've never liked it this time of year."

"You're weird," Dawn laughed. "It's great this time of year...however, I don't suggest getting lost in a field or anything."

"Dawn..." Nikolas said, narrowing his eyes at her.

"Oh, no, Nikolas. There's a story and I wanna hear it," Elizabeth said, taking Dominik's hand as she lead him to a plush, pale yellow love seat. She gave him the option of her lap or the furniture. He chose her lap and she hugged him to her.

"There's a song, too..."

"Dawn, sweetheart, I'm sure they don't want to hear either the story or the song," Nikolas said.

"Well, if you say so."

"I do," he replied, firmly. He soundly kissed her cheek before he turned to his silent brother. "Luc-Lorenzo! What happened to your hair?"

"Nikky!" Dawn said, squeezing his hand.

"Nothing happened to it," Lorenzo replied, moving across the room to greet his brother and sister-in-law. He rubbed his hand through his short, blond curls. "It's just curly now."

After the brothers hugged, Nikolas reached out a hand to tentatively touch Lorenzo's hair. "How did you do that? Why would you do that?"

"Never mind him," Dawn said. "I think it looks nice. It suits you, livens you up a bit."

He beamed. He pulled her to him for a quick hug. As he released her, he said, "Thank you. Might I say that you're looking rather lively, too."

"Parisian fields," Nikolas replied before his wife could answer.

Dawn blushed in response to her husband's tone of voice. She pulled on his hand and they moved to sit on the sofa. Dominik left his godmother to join them. He wasn't sure if he wanted to sit between them or on a lap. His father made the decision for him and pulled his son onto his lap.

Lorenzo replaced his nephew and sat beside Elizabeth. The private joke between his brother and his wife made his chest a little tight. He drew a loud, harsh breath and turned into a cough as the three adults looked at him. "I'm fine," he murmured as he was offered water. He smiled as he took Elizabeth's hand and shifted into a more comfortable position on the love seat. He breathed a sigh of relief when she positioned herself closer to him. As the night grew on and he reacquainted himself with his brother and his family, Lorenzo's momentary lapse was soon forgotten by him.

Unknown to him, Elizabeth had seen the distant longing in his eyes as he had greeted Dawn. As the night grew on, she put the look in his eyes from her mind, but she didn't forget. And, later as they lay in each other's arms, the sight of his dark blue eyes as they stared at her best friend came to her. She frowned as she forced herself to acknowledge what his lips had never told her. Tears threatened to fall and in the dark, she moved away from him. Instinctively, he reached for her, murmuring softly in his sleep. A single tear slid down her cheek as he whispered, "Elizabeth." Wiping the tear away, she breathed a sigh of relief and then she snuggled against him, falling asleep as his arms wrapped around her once more.

Go to Chapter 3.

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