"Hi. Mama? Are you sitting down? Well, I think you should…No, nothing's wrong…Not really…Well, not in the sense that the house has burned down or the car was wrecked…Well, what I have to tell you is…I'm pregnant."
Nope. Not over the phone, Dawn thought. It wouldn't be fair. Her mother deserved better than that.
But how, she wondered. How did she tell her mother that although she and Nikolas made sure to use condoms each and every time something went wrong…
"No, not wrong," Dawn said, with a tender smile, as she patted her abdomen. "You may not have been planned, but you will always be loved. I promise."
Dawn sat on her bed and glanced at her bedside clock. Nikolas would be back in an hour. Earlier, he left to go to a meeting with his uncle. He didn't want to leave her, but she insisted. His uncle was expecting him, she had told him. She reminded him that it would be better to just meet with him and get it over with than cancel it and have Stefan come down on him. Besides, she needed a little time to herself to come to terms with her pending motherhood and she was sure he needed some time alone, as well.
After he dropped her off at home, she tried to take a nap, but she was too restless. She grabbed the keys to her mother's car and went to the public library. She checked out several books about teen pregnancy and pregnancy in general. Now, as she sat on the bed, her hand blindly reached for one, and she began to flip through the pages. The more pages she saw, the more nervous she became and she threw the book down.
How do I tell her, she asked herself. When? As soon as she walks through the door? "Hi, Mama. How was your trip? By the way, while you were gone, I found out that I was pregnant. Oh, and yeah, DJLS got the headliner spot."
Damn! The headliner spot!?!? What kind of band has a pregnant teenager as its lead singer? Great, she thought. Finally, after all this time and all the hard work, my singing career was over before it had a chance to begin. That's just perfect.
Her eyes began to overflow with tears. "Stupid hormones," she muttered, as grabbed the box of Kleenex and blew her nose.
Clutching her favorite teddy bear to her chest, she curled into a ball and gave in to her tears.
"Nikolas, you're late," Stefan said, looking over the rim of his black framed glasses.
Nikolas ignored him and went to the bar. He poured himself a glass of water and drank it all down. When he was done, he poured himself another glass.
"The Jensen household doesn't supply you with refreshment?" Stefan asked. When he saw Nikolas stiffen, he continued, "I know you didn't come home last night. This type of behavior is unacceptable."
"I am not a child, Uncle. You can't keep me on a leash forever."
"It is not my wish to restrain you, my…nephew. My only wish for you is that you are happy."
"Dawn makes me happy," Nikolas replied, as he turned to face his uncle.
"Now. She makes you happy now. I haven't voiced my feelings in regards to your association with this young lady, but-"
Nikolas raised his hand to silence Stefan. "Stop. Don't say any more."
"But I must. I love you, Nikolas, you know that. I only want the best for you, and I can't help but wonder if this Jensen girl is. Since you've become associated with her, you've been attacked in the park, involved yourself in an escapade beneath the city and now, you've added missing important business meetings to the ever growing list. I think you should spend less time with her. You've indulged your curiosity, sowed your oats as the Americans say, and now, it's time for you to move on."
"Indulged my curiosity? Sowed oats? Uncle, I'll pretend that you didn’t just say that," Nikolas said, barely able to hold onto his outrage as his uncle's choice in words.
"Is it not true? Every man finds himself attracted to the unattainable…the exotic. There is no reason why you shouldn't as well. Even I have-"
"The EXOTIC? Are you referring to her skin color?" Nikolas asked, moving away from the bar to stand in front of his uncle.
"Of course," Stefan said, rising. He placed a hand on Nikolas' shoulder and gave him a brief squeeze as he moved to the bar. As he poured himself a glass of wine, he said, "As I've said before, there's nothing wrong with it. In fact, when I was your age, I acquainted myself with a young West Indian beauty who…shall we say…broadened my horizons."
"I don’t believe this. You think my relationship with Dawn is based on my 'curiosity' or my need to 'broaden my horizons'? So everything you taught me about judging a person on who he or she may be rather than skin color has all been a lie?" Nikolas asked.
"Of course not!" Stefan said, slamming the glass down on the counter. "Nothing I've taught you has been a lie."
"So why all the racist comments, Uncle?"
"Racist? I've not made any racist comments. Is this what she's been telling you? That I'm a racist?" Stefan asked, moving to stand in front of Nikolas.
"No. The words have never come out of her mouth. It's unfortunate that I can't say the same for you," Nikolas said, as his eyes reflected the hurt and sadness he felt.
"Nikolas…" Stefan said, placing a hand on his shoulder.
Nikolas moved away from Stefan's touch and said, "No, Uncle. I think it's a little too late for soothing words now. And just to clarify a few things for you, I'm in LOVE with Dawn. It has nothing to do with her being 'exotic', my 'curiosity' or a need to 'broaden my horizons.' I love her because of who she is and how she makes me feel."
Nikolas turned away and ran upstairs to his room. After slamming his door shut, he wiped at the tears that had clouded his vision. Stefan's admission had shocked him. If Stefan thought of his beloved in that way, what would he think of their child, Nikolas wondered.
Nikolas had never thought that Stefan's objections to his relationship with Dawn had anything to do with her being African-American. He thought Stefan still harbored a few negative feelings for Dara in regards to Katherine's death and had extended those feelings on to Dawn. He always believed that in time, Stefan would allow himself to get to know Dawn on her own terms and would grow to love her, too, but now, Nikolas wasn’t so sure. Nor was he sure, if he wanted his child to be subjected to Stefan's ignorant beliefs.
"Hi!" Dawn beamed when she opened the door for Nikolas. Seeing the dejected look on his face, she frowned and asked, "What's wrong?"
He shook his head and came into the house. He went into the living room and sat on the sofa. Dawn closed the door and followed him. She caressed his face and said, "Tell me. Did you tell him about the baby?"
Nikolas took her hand and kissed her palm. He continued to hold it as he said, "I didn’t tell him."
"Well, something's wrong. I've never seen you look like this before. Did you have an argument with him?"
"You could say that," Nikolas said, looking down at her hand as it lay in his. He saw the differences. Her hand was small. His was large. Her hand was the color of the most delicious chocolate imaginable. His was much paler in comparison. The differences weren't a curiosity to him. They were home. They were love.
"You can tell me about it," Dawn said softly. She gently placed a finger under his chin so that his eyes met hers.
"I don’t want to talk about it," he replied.
"Okay," Dawn said with a frown. She knew that he was upset about something and his refusal to talk about it worried her. What could his uncle have said that would make Nikolas so distracted and distant? And why wouldn’t he tell her?
"Hey, there," he said with a gentle smile. "No frowning. I'm fine. Really, I am. There's really nothing to talk about. Well…there is this one thing, I want to talk to you about."
"Okay. What's on your mind, Nikky?" she said, forcing herself to smile. She didn’t believe him, but she would go along with his sudden change in conversation. When he was ready, he'd tell her. She was sure of it.
Nikolas took off his leather jacket. He reached inside his pocket for something he had put there earlier. He then moved to the floor and balanced himself on one knee.
"Nikky, what are you doing?" Dawn asked, as he took her hand in his.
"Ssh!" he said. "I'm the one who asks the question. Promise me. No, interruptions until I'm done, okay?"
She slowly nodded as Nikolas captured her eyes with his.
"Every night before I fall asleep and every morning after I wake up, I thank God for you. You've given me so much. I never thought I could truly trust or believe in another person until I met you. You've proven to me that I could. You've given me joy, laughter, passion and love. Sometimes, I feel like I haven't given you nearly as much as you've given me-"
"Ssh! You promised," he said. When she nodded her head, he continued. "I love you. So very much. This is not an infatuation or temporary or a whim. This is forever. I want us to be forever." He paused briefly to take a deep breath and then, softly he added, " Will you share your life with me? Will you allow me to grow old with you and love you for the rest of our lives? Dawn Elyse Jensen, will you marry me? "