Life After Dark – Chapter 122

Chapter 122

~ The Plot Thickens ~

Two months had passed since Nikolas had last set foot on Spoon Island. If not for Dawn's impassioned plea and loving reprimand, he would have stayed away indefinitely. Her tears affected him. He hated to see her cry and even more than that, he hated knowing that he was the cause of her distress. So against his desires to the contrary, he now stood at Wyndemere's door and knocked.

Nikolas drew a long deep breath as he waited. After what seemed like an eternity, Mrs. Landsbury greeted him with a smile. "Hello, Mrs. Landsbury." He smiled at her as she ushered him inside.

"Hello, Mr. Cassadine," she said. "I can't tell you how good it is to see you. How is Mrs. Cassadine? I trust that she is well."

"She's perfect," Nikolas said with a smile. "Thank you for asking. Is he here?"

"He's in the study. I shall tell him that you're here."

Nikolas shook his head. "You don't have to do that. I still remember where it is."

"Very well, sir," she said with a nod before she left him alone.

Nikolas' eyes were on her as she left the room, but his thoughts were elsewhere. Now that he was there, how did he make that first step? He glanced around the room in search of the answer. He knew he couldn't turn back. Dawn would be disappointed. She would look upon him with dismay in her beautiful brown eyes. He shook his head. He couldn't disappoint her. He wouldn't.

He found the study door ajar as he rounded the narrow hallway. Taking a deep breath, he knocked once and then entered. Stefan dropped the papers he'd been holding as Nikolas stepped into the room. His eyes shone with surprise and then with a small glimmer of hope. Nikolas spoke quickly in an effort to remove any feelings of hope from Stefan's mind. "I'm here for Dawn."

"She's not ill, is she?" Stefan said, rising from behind the desk. "Is there something wrong with the baby?"

Nikolas shook his head. "I didn't mean to alarm you. She's fine. Both of them are. I'm here because she wants you to attend the surprise birthday party I'm having for her."

"Oh." The soft reply was filled with disappointment. "I see."

"Very well then," Nikolas said. He looked away from Stefan. He knew that Stefan wanted more from him, but he wasn't ready to give him more than that. The lies still hurt and until they stopped hurting, Nikolas couldn't forgive him. "What should I tell her?" he asked, turning away as he placed his hand on the door.

"Tell her that I'll be there, of course," Stefan said. "Nikolas?"

"The answer is no," Nikolas said. "I came here today because she asked me to and for no other reason than that."

"I know that, but isn't there anyway we could just talk?" Stefan asked as he took a step towards him.

Nikolas moved to face Stefan again. "I said what I had to say, but on second thought there's something else I need to tell you."

"Please do," Stefan said. He clasped his hands in front of him as he waited.

"Dawn loves you. I'm not sure if she's told you that, but she does. Don't manipulate her and use her love for you against her-"

"I would never do that. Surely, you know me better than that!"

Nikolas shrugged. "I thought I did, but these days, I'm not so sure. Listen, I didn't come here to argue with you or anything. I came because today is my wife's birthday and she wants to share it with you. I love her and I'm willing to put aside my feelings about everything just for tonight because she asked me to. Now, I'm asking you again…or maybe even demanding it—don't hurt her."

"I never would," Stefan simply said. "So, when and where?"

"The Port Charles Grill at eight. She knows nothing about it and if she should call, I'd like for it to stay that way."

"I shan't say a word, and I will be there."

"Okay then," Nikolas said. "I'll see you at eight."


"So, what did you learn from our stroll in the park?" Helena asked with a smile.

Robin brushed aside a strand of dark, brown hair as she contemplated her answer. Her association with the Cassadine matriarch had formed before she even realized what was happening. At first, she had balked at the older woman's attempts at meeting, but over time, her curiosity had gotten the best of her. She had consented to one lunch on Helena's yacht, and soon, that one lunch had become a weekly engagement. Now, she sat across from the older woman, pondering a question that she hadn't a clue as how to answer. With a slight frown marring her brow, she said, "I don't know, Helena. We were too far away to hear what was being said. I don't think I've learned anything."

"My dear, that is how you error," Helena chastised her with a smile. "You are thinking when you should be feeling. Use your senses and not your mind. What did you see?"

"I saw Nikolas kiss her," Robin said with downcast eyes.

"After that," Helena said, waving her hands in a dismissive gesture, "what transpired after he left?"

"Lucky and Dawn were together and their conversation seemed intense, but that's nothing new. Lucky has always been intense," Robin said, shrugging.

"My dear, my dear," Helena laughed softly. She rose from the sofa and as she moved past Robin she patted the younger woman's shoulder. "You have so much to learn, and fortunately, I am a patient teacher. Today's lesson is 'The Importance of Understanding Body Language.' Now, pay attention because I loathe repeating myself.

"A single touch can be as passionate and revealing as a kiss. Words are of no consequence because…well, let's admit it, shall we? People will lie with words, whereas, our bodies will always reveal the truth. Now, Robin, tell me again that you learned nothing from the little scene in the park."

"I can't tell you that," Robin said, smiling. The pupil had paid attention to the lecture and she understood the question that her instructor had asked. "She touched him…several times in fact. She hit his arm twice and…"

"And, her hand ever so gently and ever so sweetly caressed his face…"

"And he covered his hand over hers and she didn't move away from him!" Robin exclaimed in her enthusiasm. "Now, if only I could show Nikolas this…if he would just believe me-"

"No, no!" Helena vehemently shook her head. "You mustn't strive too quickly for your goal. Besides, do you fully understand what Lucky and Dawn's touches meant. I think you're close to understanding, but not close enough."

"Well, it means that they're attracted to each other," Robin said. "I knew that months ago."

"Hmm…" Helena moved towards the window. Clouds were beginning to form. Their reflection appeared in the lake, making the water seem dark and murky. A faint smile crossed Helena's lips. The meteorologists had been accurate for once. Bully for them. She said, "In time, Robin, I believe that you will understand. Perhaps, we mustn't move too quickly for you. Your desire for Nikolas will prevail and his for you will return. Everything will happen as it was meant to."

"What do you mean?" Robin asked. A feeling of unease tingled up her spine and she rose from the chair to stand next to Helena at the window. "Are you planning to go to the party?"

"No," Helena said. Her voice became sad and filled with regret as she said, "I wasn't invited and I must respect my grandson's wishes. No, my intentions aren't anything as vulgar as going where I'm not wanted. I made that mistake once, and I shan't make it again."

Off Robin's confused expression, Helena patted her arm. "You mustn't concern yourself with the burden I bear. My grandson doesn't know me. He's been fed lies about me since he was a young lad, and it will take time, love and patience for him to accept me. What you must do instead, my dear young friend, is consider what we've spoken of today. Think of how it can be utilized to your advantage."

"Okay," Robin said as she slowly nodded. "I think I'll go home now. I have some homework I need to review. Thank you for lunch."

"My dear, I thank you for sharing it with me. Now, don't forget, same time next week."

"Of course."

Helena waved at Robin as the younger woman left. Once Robin was gone, Helena called for Ari to come to her. As she waited for her lover and top assistant to arrive, her eyes remained glued to the changing weather. A delighted smile came to her rosy lips and when her door opened behind her, she quickly turned with her smile still in place.

Delight turned to joy as she greeted her visitor. "Well, good day to you! What do I owe to be so wonderfully honored by your presence?"

"Let's cut the small talk. I'm here for a reason and it's not to listen to you rattle off," her visitor told her.

"My, my, my!" she chuckled softly. "Such an ungracious tone, but perhaps it's due to the weather. I've read that lack of sunshine in one's life and can make a person very disagreeable indeed. Perhaps even severely depressed." Knowing that she was about to go too far with her teasing, Helena changed the subject. "Should I believe that your darkening my doorstep means that you've had a change of heart?"

"Yeah, that's why I'm here. Let's deal."

Helena smiled again. Linking her arm through her guest's, she said, "Let's indeed!"


With her back to the darkening sky, Dawn sat on the window seat. Facing her was the wooden rocking chair, and its inhabitants—Mickey Mouse, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Paddington Bear—stared at her intently.

She had come into her child's nursery with the intent of making a firm and final decision on the stuffed animal dilemma, but her thoughts kept drifting away from stuffed animals and onto another dilemma. Lucky. She wanted to believe him when he told her that it was done. She needed him to find a way to forget about how he felt for her. She hadn't admitted it to him, but his interest scared her. She didn't understand it and she was afraid that if she questioned him about it, he would take it the wrong way. She had meant it when she told him that there could never be anything more between them than friendship, but her nagging thoughts made her doubt if he truly understood her.

She reached for Winnie-the-Pooh and set him on her lap. As she adjusted his bright red T-shirt, her birthday gift from Lucky caught her eye. She placed Winnie beside her and raised her wrist to her face. She lightly fingered the charm bracelet he had given her. There wasn't much to the bracelet. He had added the band's name to it so that the small gold letters, DJLS, hung down, and he had also included the symbols for love, peace and happiness. As he said good-bye at her doorstep, he pointed to the symbols and said that was what he wanted for her and Nikolas. Before she could respond or even protest, he had lightly kissed her cheek and then he was gone. Her hand now covered her cheek and she closed her eyes. A single tear slid from her closed lids and she blindly reached for Winnie, hugging him to her breast.

Downstairs, the front door opened and Nikolas entered his home. After leaving Wyndemere, he had stopped by the Port Charles Grille and was pleased to know that everything was going according to schedule. He then went upstairs to greet and to thank the special guests. Chris, David and Gillian were polite and charming much to Nikolas' relief. Gillian had even commented on DJLS' music video and how her daughter, Piper, liked it. Nikolas had smiled and told them that Dawn would be very happy to hear that. Soon after, he had taken his leave and was behind the wheel of his Jaguar.

His thoughts had turned towards Stefan and he had known they would. He hadn't wanted to think about his father, but seeing him again brought everything back. He felt the sting of betrayal all over again, but this time it was mingled with something else. This time, he felt regret, too. For eighteen years, he'd had a father and he couldn't help but wonder how differently his life—and Stefan's—would have been had the truth been revealed a long time ago.

If the truth had never been concealed in the first place, wouldn't they have had a better life? Would it have made Stefan a more relaxed man, perhaps less bitter and distant? Not that he had ever treated Nikolas with bitterness nor had he been distant with him, but with others. Stefan had an air about him that didn't endear him to others…unless he chose otherwise. Nikolas smiled as he remembered how happy Dawn was when she and Stefan connected, and through 'The X-Files' no less. Maybe Fate was playing a hand in getting all of their lives on track, Nikolas thought as he jogged up the staircase.

He found her in the same place where he often did. The nursery was her haven it seemed. She always found a reason to be there, and she never looked lovelier than when she was surrounded by their baby's things. He smiled as he saw who her companions were. He moved the rocking chair aside and then sat beside her on the window seat. He brushed his lips across hers and as he leaned away from her, said, "Wake up, Sleeping Beauty."

Dawn smiled as she opened her eyes. "I wasn't asleep."

"Sure. I suppose that was Winnie whose snoring I could hear down the hall," Nikolas said with a teasing grin.

"I told you before that I do not snore!" She laughed softly for a moment and then she slid her hand inside Nikolas'. She squeezed his hand lightly and said, "Kiss me again."

Her parted lips were an invitation that Nikolas couldn't ignore. He leaned his head down and she covered his mouth with hers. He gently cupped her face as he deepened the kiss. Their tongues met again and again. Just as Nikolas pulled her closer to him, she pulled away and ended the kiss.

Dawn kept her eyes averted as Nikolas stared at her in haze of passionate confusion. His hand gently massaged her back as he began to speak. "Sweetheart, what's wrong? Is it the baby?"

She shook her head. "No. It's just that…" She wanted to talk to him about Lucky, but she couldn't find the words. Uneasiness had settled deep within her soul and she was worried. Salty tears sprang to her eyes and before she could blink them away, a few rolled down her cheeks. Nikolas immediately responded by pulling her into his arms.

"It's okay," he murmured against her hair.

"What is?" she asked, leaning against him. She felt safe and at home within the circle of his arms. What the kiss hadn't provided, the warmth of his embrace had. She was content, and for the time being, all thoughts of Lucky were removed from her mind.

"Everything," he told her. "I spoke with Stefan and you'll see him tonight. Everything will be perfect. I'm making sure that your eighteenth birthday is one that you'll never forget, Mrs. Cassadine."

Dawn smiled. She lifted her head and stared into his brown eyes. "Have I told you lately that I love you?"

Her barely audible question brought a smile to Nikolas' face. "Yeah, but I wouldn't be opposed to hearing it again."

"I love you, Nikolas Cassadine." "I love you, too," he said before he kissed her again and again.

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Chapter 123