Love and happiness rocked Hera as the yacht set sail for Port Charles. Through his telescope, Luke witnessed in abundance what he no longer would allow himself to feel.
He saw his son grab the Jensen woman in a fierce hug. Her arms closed around and she held him tightly to her. He moved the telescope a little to the right and discovered Dara and her baby sister embracing with as much love as his son felt towards their mamma. Moving the telescope again, he encountered the beaming faces of Audrey Hardy's grandson and Garcia. Their eyes were glued to something that wasn't within Luke's sight. Curiosity got the better of him and he readjusted his lens again. A tiny brunette bundle wrapped in a blanket was the object of their attention. He moved the lens upward to see that his nemesis held the child while his bastard looked on in pride. Luke pushed the telescope away from his face and viciously spat over the side. "To hell with them both," was his bitter reply.
Luke bristled at the sound of her faint voice. The tumble into the sea would have been Helena's undoing if Luke hadn't come along when he did. She was fortunate that he had found her, and he intended to remind her every day. "What?" he barked out as he pulled out a thick, rich Cuban cigar.
"It's cold," Helena whined. She tried to move into a sitting position, but she was too weak. She lowered herself back down onto the makeshift bed and looked at him. The waves rocked the boat and wrecked havoc on her vision. She rapidly blinked, trying desperately to focus on him. "How much longer?"
"Not much more," he told her, lighting the cigar. He inhaled the strong scent, discovering that it was now his only one true joy. The life he had before no longer existed. He couldn't go back to Port Charles. After signing his soul to the devil, there had been no turning back. He knew that and he resigned himself to his fate. He sat down on the cushioned bench across from her and regarded her behind hooded eyes.
The intensity of Luke's gaze frightened Helena just as the scent of his cigar offended her. She didn't dare to voice either sentiment, except to ask, "Do you intend to kill me?"
Luke's thin lips turned upwards. He gave her a smile that nearly took her breath away. Gone was the dullness as his blue eyes sparkled back at her the way she remembered. He reached towards her and lightly brushed a stray golden lock from her forehead. "No, I don't intend to kill you," he told her as he leaned back into a reclining position.
"Thank you," she replied, realizing that maybe a little humility would go a long way for her.
Luke puffed on his cigar before he answered her. He inhaled deeply, allowing the nicotine to seep into his veins. When he had his fill, he replied, "Don't be so gracious so soon. Wait and see if I deserve it."
"Luke?" she asked, a faint quiver in her voice.
"Go to sleep, Helena. You had a rough night."
"But, we shou-"
"Sleep," he advised her. "Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite." Luke threw his cigar into the water and turned over onto his side. Within seconds, his snore was the only sound between them.
Helena's slumber didn't come as quickly. She clutched the blanket he had given her and listened…to his snoring, the seagulls' cries, the waves lapping against the small boat, and the joy that was shared in her boat and somehow carried back across to her. She hadn't been victorious this time, but that didn't mean she would never attain victory. She would, she promised herself as she followed Luke's advice and drifted off to sleep.
One year later…
"Yes, sweetheart?" Nikolas replied. He pulled his shirt on and joined her in their bedroom. He stood still in the doorway as he watched her dress their fidgety son. Dom kicked and giggled every time she touched him. True love, eternal devotion and happily ever after… they all co-existed inside his home with his family. Nikolas never took any of it for granted or his family. He went to the bed and lay down beside his son who immediately responded by rolling over onto his side. "What's on your mind?"
"Double distraction," she mumbled. Her eyes drifted over his bare torso into his dancing brown eyes. Dom had crawled away from her and was now heading for his father. She narrowed her eyes at both of her men. "The least you could do is button up your clothes-"
"Why don't you come over here and button them up for me?" he suggested. He fanned the sides of his opened shirt, revealing more of his body to her greedy eyes.
"Insatiable," she muttered. He grinned at her in reply. An arched eyebrow dared her and she took the challenge. Like her son, she crawled towards him. Dom claimed his father's chest and began to drum a beat while his mother straddled Nikolas' lap. She wasn't surprised by the treat she encountered and she shook her finger at him.
"Well, I'm trying to live up to my title as Mr. Insatiable," Nikolas grinned at her. The skirt of the pale yellow mini-dress she wore crept up her stocking covered chocolate thighs. Nikolas kept one hand on his son as the other lightly caressed her upper thigh. "I hope you're not wearing that dress this afternoon."
"I am," she told him. His reaction to her became stronger and firmer. Her eyes widened and she said, "Nikky, we don't have time for that."
"Did I ask? Who's on top of whom, Mrs. Cassadine?" he countered. "Now, about this dress. How are you and Dom gonna play on the floor with his toys with a skirt up to your waist?"
"It's not up to my waist. It rose when I sat down," she explained in an offhand manner. His hand slid underneath her skirt and she grabbed it before he could cause a scene that their one-year-old son would never be ready for. She laced their fingers together and she said, "About the party…um… Are we sure we want to do this? He's so little that he won't even remember it anyway."
"Sweetheart, it's gonna be okay," he said gently.
Dawn's throat tightened as her son looked at her and said, "Mama." He crawled towards her and pulled him onto Nikolas' chest. He sat down and began to bounce. Nikolas' hand held him steady and Dawn's hand smoothed down his dark, brown locks. Dom giggled at the joy of his parents' attention.
"We don't do well with birthday parties," she said, her fingers sliding through her son's hair. "Something weird always happens. Maybe we should just have a get-together later."
"Dawn, I understand what you're saying, but sweetheart, this will be different," Nikolas reassured her.
"How?" she asked, frowning. "If something happens to him…"
"I will never allow anything happen to either of you ever again," Nikolas told her. "You do believe me, right?"
"Of course, I do, but…"
"There are no butts when it comes to this." He placed Dom on the bed and sat up. He held onto Dom's chubby tummy as his other hand cupped Dawn's cheek. "Only our closest friends and family will be here. No one even knows where we live, sweetheart. Today, the tides will turn and from now on, all of our birthdays will be happy. Believe me."
"I do," she whispered. She moistened her lips and Nikolas quickly covered them with his own. When the kiss ended, she said, "How do you put up with me?"
Nikolas shrugged. "I figure someone has to so it might as well be me."
"Oh, gee, thanks," she laughed as he began to laugh. She rose from his lap and stood beside the bed. She planted her hands on her hips and looked at the scantily clad men who lay on her bed. "Get dressed, you two, or else!"
Nikolas swung Dom into his arms, and as the baby giggled, he said, "Methinks Mommy means business!"
"She does!" Dawn told him. "Now, hurry up!" With that said, she left the keepers of her heart alone to do as she said."
"I hate to say it," Nikolas said against Dawn's ear as he wrapped his arms around her from behind.
They stood in the doorway of their son's playroom. Dom accepted his role as the center of attention with surprising ease as he passed from his Uncles Lucky, Alex, Tommy, Sly and Jordan and to his Aunts Dara, Lesley Lu, Elizabeth, Gina, Emily, and Lark. He giggled softly as the Ward-Morgan-Quartermaines took their turn with him and then handed him to the Lambert-Quartermaine family. By the time he graced his Grandmothers Laura and Carrie and Grandpa Stefan with his presence, he was one very mellow one-year-old.
"Then, don't," Dawn said, leaning her back against his strong chest. His arms tightened around her waist and she released a dreamy sigh.
"Oh, but I must," Nikolas teased.
"I'm afraid so," he replied.
"Well, if you must," she said with a shrug and a deep sigh, "you must. Go ahead. Say it."
"I told you so," he said, his breath tickling against her ear. She giggled softly at the glee in his voice, and he just had to add, "I love you, Mrs. Cassadine."
"I love you, too, Mr. Cassadine," she said, turning her head to look into his dark brown eyes. "Forever and always."
Nikolas released her waist and reached for her hand. He pulled her from the doorway and into the hall. Impatient hands pulled her against him as her fingers laced behind the back of his neck. His lips closed over hers, reminding her again that true love, eternal devotion and happily ever after was theirs forever and always.