The gentle pressure of Lorenzo's hands kept Dawn's face still as his mouth pressed against hers. Her startled gasp made her mouth open. His lips parted as well and the kiss was on the edge of deepening when she pushed away from him.
Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, Dawn backed off the sofa until she was standing over her brother-in-law, staring down at him. Surprise and anger brightened her eyes. Her breathing became labored as she fought to calm herself. "What the hell were you doing?" she questioned him.
"I-I didn't mean to-" he tried to explain. He rose from the sofa and made a move towards her.
Dawn nearly tripped as she backed further away from him. She held her hand up to ward him off. "Bull! You kissed me! I thought all of that was over with! What about Liz?"
"I love Elizabeth!" he cried, remaining still as he looked at her. "You know that I love her!"
"I know that you say you love her. You can't possibly love her if you're gonna try to make a move on me!" She wiped her mouth again. "You know that I love, Nikolas," she stated firmly. "I would never betray him! How many times do we have to go over this?"
"Dawn, listen to me-"
"Like how you listened to me in the cave?" she cried, her voice rising in her agitation. "You didn't listen to me then, did you? You only heard what you wanted to hear. I thought you understood that I will always love your brother. I'm upset with him—My God! I told you so much...I cried on your shoulder and all the while you were thinking of how to use it against me? Spencer, how could you?"
The shattered look she gave him cut him to the quick. His voice was hoarse with disappointment as he defended himself. "How could you think I'd do something like that? I know that you love him! I'm not blind nor am I stupid enough to believe that I could ever come between you-"
"Not that you wouldn't try," she muttered, accusingly.
"Damn you!" he shouted. "Of course, I wouldn't try! The shit that kept me away from my brother is gone! I wouldn't risk losing him...not even for you!"
"Good!" she ground out. "He would never forgive you and he would never forgive me! Losing him is not something I ever want to have to face-"
"I'm very aware of that," he interrupted with sarcasm.
"So, from now on," she continued as if he hadn't spoken, "I don't want to see you or be around you until you get a grip on whatever compelled you to kiss me."
"I have a grip on it," he bit out.
"The hell you do," she told him, glaring at him. "Your lips were on mine for a lot longer than they should have been. And furthermore, there really was no reason for you to kiss me at all!"
"Dawn please!" he said, releasing a exasperated breath.
"Oh, no," she said, shaking her head. "Don't give me that crap. You know that I'm telling the truth. You find reasons to touch me and from this day over, it stops."
"You think you're that irresistible," he said in a velvet tone, edged with steel.
"No," she remarked in all seriousness, "but you seem to. It ends tonight. Dominik loves you. I won't prevent him from seeing you and I won't tell Nikolas about this. But you and me...No more. Not until it's really over for you."
Lorenzo opened his mouth to utter a biting retort, but none came. Dawn gave him a final steely glare before turning on her heel and going into his bathroom. The door slammed shut behind her. The click of the lock was an insult to Lorenzo's soul. The humiliation of her revelation stung him. His stony resolve to keep his feelings for her at bay shattered into pieces inside him. He fell down onto the sofa and stared sightlessly out of the window. He sat that way even as Dawn stormed out of his bungalow and even hours later after the rain had ended.
Everything in the room trembled as Dawn slammed her bungalow door shut behind her. Shaking with rage, she paced the floor.
She was angry. She had believed that Lorenzo's longing for her was a thing of the past. She was disappointed in herself that she had missed it. She should have seen it. She should have realized it!
But maybe you did see it...
Maybe you even liked it...
Just a little.
"No, no, no," Dawn murmured, negating the tormenting voices in her head. She didn't like his attentions. She certainly didn't influence them.
Or did she?
The silent question made Dawn stand still in the middle of her floor, a puddle forming at her feet as her clothes dripped onto the floor. She was astonished at how the simple question made her feel, question herself.
Could it be true, she wondered? Did on some subconscious level give him signals? Is that why he never gave up on her? Did she give him the feeling that he'd one day have a chance to be with her?
"No," she whispered hoarsely. "Oh, God, no."
Unbidden tears sprang to her eyes. She blinked them away. She needed to search herself! Tears would only cloud her thinking. She had to know for her sure if Lorenzo's attentions were her fault.
Thinking propelled her to movement. Removing the wet clothes and replacing them with dry ones, she thought of every moment she and Lorenzo had spent together. Conversations were replayed in her head as she began to straighten up her rooms. Teasing jokes and heated arguments pounded in her ears as she analyzed each word, tone and gesture for deeper meaning.
When she was done, she was confident that she had done nothing to give him false hope. She loved her husband. Lorenzo was attractive and years before, there could have been a possibility for them. But each day with Nikolas... Every day that she and Nikolas were together and loved each other, the attraction she had felt for Lucky/Lorenzo faded. He intrigued her, challenged her and irritated her. But he didn't love her, not the way Nikolas did. And she certainly didn't love him the way she loved her Nikky. Not by a long shot.
She needed to see him, Dawn suddenly decided. The video shoot be damned! She was going home.
Nikolas was wide-awake. He had gone to bed hours ago, but sleep continued to evade him. He closed his eyes and he saw Dawn's face and heard her voice. They had never gone to bed with anger between. Now after five years of exquisite bliss, not only was there anger between them but miles, too. He hugged her pillow to his chest. He the anger between them to disappear and he wanted her in his arms. Now!
Sleep would never come in the state that he was in, Nikolas grudgingly realized. He rolled out of bed and padded to the terrace doors. With her pillow in his arms, he stared out at the crashing waves down below. Still tormented, he pushed the glass doors open and went outside. The sea breeze cooled him and the loud waves drowned out the dejected thumping of his heart.
The tender endearment drifted out to him. He doubted if the voice was real, but he had to be sure. He turned around and stepped back inside the bedroom. Reality was heaven. He opened his arms to her. Dawn ran to him and he crushed her to his bare chest.
"I love you," she murmured against his flesh. Her fingers clawed into his back as she held onto to him.
"I know," he whispered to her. "I love you, too." He slowly relinquished his hold on her. His hands fell to the small of her back. He leaned back slightly so that he could look into her eyes. "What are you doing back? I thought you had another week."
"I couldn't be away from you for another week," she admitted. "These last few days have been weird and agonizing. I don't want to be apart from you like that again."
"Me either," he said.
"Nikky, I...I need to tell you something," she slowly said. "Something happened today-"
"Are you hurt?" he asked, immediately alarmed..
"No, I'm fine," she answered. "It's just that I realized how important my family is to me. I understand why you're so protective of Dom and me. I don't always agree with it, and I'm not sure if I ever will... But I do understand."
"I'm terrified of losing you," he simply stated. "I'm not proud of how I hold on so tightly and want everything to be perfect, but I...can't...lose...you."
"I know," she said, nodding in understanding. "I can't lose you either. I'll do whatever it takes to make sure that it never happens."
"It never will," he vowed.
"No, it won't."
Her hands rested on his broad shoulders, her fingers drew tiny circles on his bare flesh. Nikolas pressed her closer against. His full lips pressed against hers, then gently covered her mouth. His tongue slipped from between his lips to lightly trace her lips.
His inquisitive tongue moved back forth until her mouth parted for him. Desire heated them both as their tongues met. Devouring her lips hungrily, Nikolas lifted her from the floor. He carried her to their bed where they reconfirmed their commitment to each other again and again.
Nine months later...
Noelle Carlotta Dominika Cassadine entered the world with a resounding wail, which soon turned into a dimpled, watery smile as her mother spoke to her. The newest edition to the Nikolas Cassadine household weighed in at full nine pounds and six ounces. Her birth was an easy one and the joy she brought to her family was instantaneous.
"She's beautiful," Dawn murmured, holding the sleeping newborn in her arms.
Nikolas smiled as he sat on the bed beside his recovering wife. Her hair, long and curly, rested on her shoulders in waves. Happiness made her eyes shiny bright and a smile was never far from her lips. He gently brushed his knuckles against her full cheeks. "She's the image of you."
Dawn turned her head and kissed Nikolas' knuckles. Noelle stretched her tiny body as she yawned. The little baby shook her tiny fist before settling down again. Dawn laughed softly. "She's feisty."
"Yes," Nikolas agreed, looking down at the small bundle, "as I said, she's the image of you."
Rocking the baby in her arms, Dawn looked at her child and then at Nikolas. "Do you really think so?"
"The dimples, the cute little pug nose, that mouth...yes, Noelle is her mother's child, a ray of sunshine to brighten my dismal world," he commented softly.
"It's not dismal," Dawn said, frowning with concern. "Nikky..."
"No." He shook his head. "Not anymore." He tenderly caressed Noelle's tiny hand with his index finger. The baby opened her eyes and stared him. Aquamarine eyes stared at Nikolas in wonder. His chest became tight as their eyes held. Her eyes were so unlike his and Dawn's...
An astonishing suspicion began to form. Lorenzo and Dawn weren't as close as they had once been. She didn't talk about it and neither did his brother when questioned. Nikolas wondered if perhaps something had changed between his brother and his wife. Lorenzo had blue eyes. Perhaps, he was the fath—Noelle smiled. A smile that was just for Nikolas and his suspicions were pushed aside. He reached for Noelle and Dawn handed her to him. The baby continued to smile and stare at him. Nikolas imitated her as he held her close to his chest. As he pressed his lips to her soft forehead, he decided that she was his. She would always be his daughter...even if DNA could prove otherwise.
"She loves you," Dawn said. She bent forward and kissed Nikolas' cheek. "Look at how she smiles at her Papa."
He looked up at Dawn. Nodding his head, he said, "She's her Papa's little girl, and I love her, too."
In his heart, the words were a vow. He continued to hold the baby as Dawn lay back against the pillows. She soon fell asleep. He bent towards her and kissed her cheek. "And, no matter what, I love you, too," he whispered. "Always and forever...no matter what."
He watched over his sleeping wife for a few minutes more and then he rose to introduce Noelle to her anxious older brother, grandparents and aunt and uncle.
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