Life After Dark
Chapter 13

"Are you okay in there?" Lucky asked, standing outside the bathroom door.

"I'm getting there," Dawn called. She had just lost another battle to nausea and she was making herself presentable before she left the bathroom to join Lucky.

"Is there anything I can do?" Lucky asked, as he paced in the hallway. At first, he thought her constant queasy stomach was due to nerves about performing, but now he wasnít so sure. What if something serious was wrong with her, he wondered. "Maybe I should call my Aunt Bobbie."

"No, on both counts," Dawn said, opening the door. "Since Mama and I moved in here, she and your aunt have become quite chummy. I don't want her to call my mom and worry her. She has enough to think about."

"But will you be okay here alone?" Lucky asked, a worried frown, marring his face. "Maybe I should just sit with you for a little while, just in case."

"I'll be fine. Trust me," Dawn said with a smile. She moved past him down the hallway and called over her shoulder, "Come on. I have a surprise for you."

Lucky followed Dawn into the kitchen. She handed him the Jensen cookie jar which was filled with his favorite, Carrie-made chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. A huge grin covered his face and he reached in to greedily grab several cookies.

Before closing the lid on the jar, he said, "Want one?"

Dawn grabbed her stomach and shook her head. "No thanks."

"Sorry. I forgot," Lucky said, placing the jar back on the counter.

"That's okay," she said, taking a seat at the counter. "If you want some milk, you know where everything is."

Lucky placed a napkin on the counter and set his cookies on it. He went to the cabinet and pulled out a glass. Pouring himself a glass of milk, he said, "You know, I really donít feel right about just leaving you alone. You've been sick off and on all day. If you don't want me to stay with you, at least let me go back and get Elizabeth."

"No way. She's setting up her deal with Jasper. Don't you even think about dragging her away. Believe me, Lucky, I'm more than capable of taking care of myself. All I need is a little rest, that's all. I think once all of the excitement from tonight wears down, I'll be just fine," she said, trying to convince herself, as well as, her friend.

"I believe you, but I still feel weird about just leaving you," Lucky said, sitting on a stool at the counter.

"At least somebody does," Dawn mumbled to herself. She didn't want to think about it, but she was upset that Nikolas just took off without telling her. He'd never done that before and she wondered if something was going on that she should know about.

"Want me to kick his ass the next time he shows his ugly face around here?" Lucky asked, half teasing and half serious. He hadn't mentioned Nikolas since they left Jacks, but secretly, he was fuming. Nikolas was stupid to just leave Dawn. She could be a handful sometimes, but she didn't deserve to be stood up.

Dawn laughed for the first time in hours. She shook her head. "That's okay. I'll kick his ass myself."

"Whoa! Prince Nickie had better watch himself around you," Lucky said with a laugh.

"You got that right," Dawn replied. She watched Lucky wolf down his remaining cookies and when he was done, he stood.

"The way you're staring at me, I guess you're ready for me to go," he said, smiling.

"I can't get anything past you, Spencer," she laughed. "Yeah, I am kinda tired. But I don't want you to think I donít appreciate your bringing me home because I do."

"I know you do," he said quietly.

They left the kitchen and went to the front door. Lucky unlocked it and stood in the doorway. Turning to face Dawn, he said, "Lock up when I leave and if you need anythingÖwell, I don't have a phone in the boxcar, but you could give Elizabeth a call."

"I know, Dad," she said, grinning at him.

"Dad? Is that what I sound like? Sheesh, I've got to get out of here," he said, laughing.

He pulled Dawn into a quick hug and said, "I'm serious. If you need anything, let one of us know, got it?"

"Got it."

Dawn waited in the doorway until Lucky drove away. She closed the door and locked it. She went back into the kitchen and prepared water to boil for tea. While she waited, she wiped the cookie crumbs from the counter. She was just about to sit down when the doorbell sounded. She ran back to the front door. After looking into the peephole, she wasnít sure how she should react to her new visitor. Deciding that gut instinct always worked best, she wrenched the door open and said, "How may I help you?"

"Dawn, please, let me explain," Nikolas said, looking contrite and very apologetic.

"Why should I?" Dawn asked, crossing her arms across her chest and not budging an inch from the doorway.

"Because I have a very good reason," he replied.

"It had better be very, very good," Dawn grumbled as she stepped aside to let him in.

"It is," Nikolas said, as he crossed the threshold. He leaned towards her and placed a gentle kiss against her cheek. He was amazed at how relieved he felt when she didn't turn away.

He was on the verge of pulling her into his arms when she backed away and left the foyer to go into the living room. Plopping on the sofa, she said, "I'm waiting."

"Well, I was coming backstage when I was-"

He was interrupted by the sound of a shrill whistle. "What's that noise?" he asked.

"The kettle. I almost forgot. Be right back," Dawn said, heading for the kitchen.

Nikolas followed her and rested his forearms against the counter as she moved about the kitchen. He smiled a secret smile to himself. He loved to watch her when she was not really aware. She moved with so much grace. And the concentration she put into everything she tackled excited and pleased him, causing him to love her even more. Especially, when he was what she was concentrating on.

"Donít stare, Nikolas. It's impolite," she said, her back to him as she stood on tiptoe to reach her favorite blend of herbal tea. She hid it on the upper shelf because Dara liked the blend, too, and every time she visited, the container was usually left empty.

Hmm, 'Nikolas', he thought. Usually, he was called 'Nickie.' He must really be on her $hit list, as she called it. He hoped his explanation would help improve his status.

Nikolas enjoyed the view of her derriere that her struggling gave him for a few seconds more before he moved to stand behind her. Trapping her from behind with his body and the counter, he reached into the cabinet and pulled out the container of tea. He placed it in front of her on the counter, but didnít move away from her. He whispered, "Sometimes, I can't help myself."

Dawn wanted to stay mad at him, but it was too hard with him standing so close. She could feel the heat from his body as it surrounded her from all sides. When he began to trail tiny kisses along the back of her neck, she moaned and lowered her head to give him better access. She was just about to close her eyes when she noticed something on his hand. She picked up his hand and brought it closer to her. When she saw what was on it, she dropped his hand and said, "Stop."

Nikolas didn't hear her and continued to nibble on her ear.

"Nikolas, I said stop," she repeated, forcefully.

Nikolas heard the anger in her voice and pulled away. "What's wrong?"

Turning to face him, she said, "You have lipstick on your hand."

"No, I don't."

"Yes. You do. Look," she said, placing her hands on her hips.

Nikolas looked at his hands. When he saw the telltale lipstick, he sighed. He went to the sink and quickly washed his hands. He grabbed a napkin and dried them off. As he threw the napkin away, he turned to face Dawn. He hated the pain and distrust he saw in her eyes and he wondered if telling her about Robin's attempt at seduction would be a good thing.

Dawn watched him and when he didnít say anything, she picked up her mug of tea and went back into the living room. As she plopped herself on the counter, she made a pact with herself. She wouldnít cry until he left. Then, she'd give in to the tears that could hardly wait to pour out.

Nikolas came into the room and crouched before Dawn, whose eyes were glued to the tea. "Hey there," he said the words softly. "Would you look at me? Please."

Dawn swallowed hard and against her better she did as he asked. Nikolas continued.

"Thanks. I know you're upset and you have every right to be, but I want you to know that nothing happened. I have no intentions of being with anyone else except you. I love you, Dawn Jensen and no one else."

"So, why did you have someone else's lipstick on your hand?" she asked, the unshed tears causing her eyes to appear brighter than usual.

"Because someone kissed me and I wiped it off," Nikolas said, slowly.

"Who?"

"Robin."

"Why?"

"Because she was upset and confused. She didnít mean it and it didnít mean anything to me," he said.

"Is that where you were? With her?" she asked.

He nodded. "She was upset because something happened with Jason and she begged me to take her home. I wanted to come tell you, but she was too distraught. Honestly, my first thought was of you. Do you believe me?"

She placed her mug on the coffee table. She then cupped his face and said, "I believe you, but you are never to be alone with her ever again. Understood?"

He laughed and pulled her to him. Joining her on the sofa, he said, "I stopped by Jacks before I came here and Liz told me that you were sick again. I thought that was over."

"Me too."

"With Mrs. Jensen and Dara both in New York for the weekend, I donít think you should be alone," Nikolas said.

"Me either," she said with a smile. "Interested in taking care of me?"

"HmmÖlet me think," he said. He laughed at the surprised expression on her face and then sobered as he said, "I'd love to."

Chapter 14

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