Life After Dark
Chapter 22

"Come on, Nickie, let me see," Dawn coaxed as she snuggled next to him in the king-size bed.

"No, you've seen it too many times to count. Aren't you tired of looking at it, yet?" he asked, pulling her closer against his chest.

"I'll never grow tired of looking at it. Come on, it's not like it's yours. It's ours," she said, moving her head to flash her big brown eyes at him.

"Ours… That's true it is ours," he said with a teasing smile.

"That's right! And since it’s ours, I want to hold it. I won't hurt it. I promise," she said, trying to maintain a serious face.

"Okay, but remember, you promised," he said before he kissed her nose and left the bed. Naked as the day he was born, he padded to the dresser and then came back to lie down beside her again.

Dawn sat up in the bed and the sheet dropped to her waist. She was oblivious to the look of desire that glowed from Nikolas' eyes as she reached for the present object of her desire. With a sigh, she said, "Isn't it beautiful?"

Nikolas opened his arms to her and she leaned against him. He said against her ear, "Yes, it is. Very beautiful."

"Our marriage certificate. Dawn Elyse Jensen and Nikolas Mikhail Stavrosovich Cassadine… This is legal and everything, right?" she asked, moving so that she faced him.

"Yes. There's nothing either of our families can do. Our marriage is valid and legal," Nikolas said. "We have Judge Mitchell's signature and approval. Because of the pregnancy, she approved us even though we're not eighteen, yet. Everything will be fine. You'll see."

"I hope I could be as optimistic as you. I know that there will be hell to pay today," she sighed.

"We could wait before we speak to them," he suggested. He didn’t want to wait, but if she would prefer it that way, he would do it for her.

"No waiting," she said, shaking her head. "Waiting will only make it worse. I know how my family's mind works. If we wait to tell them, it would give them ammunition later. I can hear Dara now. 'Since you didn't tell us when it happened, you must have known you were doing something wrong.'"

"You do that well," he said with a small laugh.

"So you like my Dara impersonation?" she asked with a smile.

"Not as much as I like the Dawn Cassadine one," he said as he caressed her back with long slow strokes.

"I like that," she beamed. "Dawn Cassadine…Mrs. Dawn Cassadine…Mrs. Nikolas Cassadine."

"I like it, too," he said, lowering his head to kiss her. When he raised his head, he asked, "How do you want to do this?"

"Tell them, you mean?" she asked. After Nikolas nodded his head, she continued, "As quickly and as painlessly as possible."

"If only it could be that way," Nikolas replied.

She sighed and rested her head on his chest. As she laced her fingers with his, she said, "I think we should tell them both at the same time. Get it over and done with."

"Are you up for that?" he asked, looking at their interlaced fingers. His mind drifted to his conversation with Stefan and how he viewed Nikolas' relationship with Dawn. Nikolas didn’t want Dawn to be subjected to those type of remarks from Stefan when he learns of their marriage, but he also knew that there was no way she'd have him tell his uncle without her. God, how he loved her, he thought.

"Yeah. I am. Marrying you and carrying our baby are the two best things in my life. I know that our families won't be happy about it, but they'll have to deal with it," she said as she rested her chin on his chest.

Nikolas smiled at her. He adored her fierceness, as well as, her gentleness. Her protectiveness was one of his favorite things about her. She made him feel safe and that he could trust her. With everything.

"How do you feel about living here?" he asked. "Until the baby comes, that is."

"I think it would be nice…"


"But I won't be this size for long. I think I'd feel better if we moved before I became too big. The dock can be slippery at times," she said.

"That's true. I hadn't thought of that," he said with a frown. "Maybe we could live in the cabin. There's more than enough rooms. The staircase isn't so steep that you would have problems, is it?"

"No, the staircase is fine, but we'd be on Spoon Island," she said. "Your uncle would be right there and my mom would be hurt because we're there."

"It's not really on Spoon Island. It's on it's own island," he said correcting her. "Besides, I plan to tell Stefan in no uncertain terms that if we live there it would be under one condition…that we have space. Also, your mom wouldn't feel too hurt, knowing that you and our baby have a roof over your heads."

She smiled. "You've thought of everything. I'm still not decided on living there, though. I think we should wait and see how this afternoon goes. Who knows, they may disown us both and then the three of us could drift off to sea."

"Now, that's not a bad idea," he said, kissing her forehead. "Are we still going to your mother's to pick up a few more things?"

"Oh, definitely," she said, crawling over him to get out of bed. "I want to be completely moved out before she and Dara get back."

Nikolas stood and pulled her into his arms. He said, "But first, we must take a shower."

He swung her into his arms and carried her into the bathroom where they attempted to clean themselves and make love at the same time.


Alexis bounced into the library with a smile. She enjoyed having Sunday brunch with her brother and her nephew. After she broke up with Ned, she needed a distraction and the intelligent, witty conversation she found at Wyndemere could always get her mind off of her lack of a personal life.

She was surprised to find Stefan alone in the library. Usually, he and Nikolas engaged in a game of chess. This morning, Nikolas was nowhere in sight and Stefan was alone, staring sightlessly out the window at the morning sun.

"Stefan? Is anything wrong?" she asked.

Stefan moved when he heard the quiet voice. Turning to face her, he said, "Good morning, Alexis."

He moved away from the window to give her a gentle kiss on her cheek. "I trust you had a pleasant ride on the launch this morning."

"I did," she said. With a frown, she added, "Is everything okay? You seem distracted."

"You know me too well, Little One," he said, using the pet name he gave her when they were children.

"Would you care to discuss whatever's bothering you? I'm an excellent listener," she said.

Stefan patted her cheek and said, "That you are, Natasha."

He indicated that she should sit and after she did so on the leather sofa, he moved to sit beside her. "Nikolas is the source of my contention."

"How so?" she said, prodding him to continue.

"He and I had words last evening and I nor any of the servants have seen him since," Stefan said.

"And the words you shared… Did they have anything to do with Dawn?" she asked quietly.

Stefan looked at her in surprise. "Yes. How did you know?"

"I know Nikolas, and I've seen them together. He's in love with her, Stefan, and she is with him. I hope you didn’t say anything that would make it seem like you are against her," Alexis said, shifting on the sofa to look at the emotions in his eyes that he was never quite able to conceal from her.

"It's not that I'm against her," Stefan said, becoming defensive. "Actually, I like her. I think she's intelligent and has a quick wit about her; however, this does not make her a suitable choice for him."

"And why is that?" Alexis asked, not sure if she knew what his reasoning would be, but she had a very strong suspicion. She hoped her suspicions would be proved incorrect.

"Because of her background, of course," Stefan said, rising from the sofa to move to the window again.

"What's wrong with her background? Her sister is an ADA. Her mother is an entrepreneur, and her father is a plastic surgeon. Her family is strong, as I'm sure your investigators told you," Alexis said as she left the sofa to join him at the window.

"Her father drove her away and her mother did nothing to prevent it," he said, fumbling for the words.

"Helena drove you away and Mikkos did nothing to prevent it," Alexis replied softly.

"It's hardly the same thing!" Stefan bit the words out.

"I think it is. Or maybe it's not… Tell me, Stefan. What are your true objections to their relationship? What did you say to him last night?"

A knock at the door prevented Stefan from answering her question. Stefan said, "Yes, Mrs. Landsbury?"

"You have a call, sir," she said. After Stefan thanked her, she left.

Stefan picked up the receiver and said, "Yes…Very good…Expect a bonus for your excellent performance."

When he hung up, Alexis looked at him.

Upon her questioning gaze, Stefan said, "You must excuse my absence from brunch this morning. Nikolas has been found and I intend to reach him before he disappears again."

"Stefan, maybe you should give him some breathing room," Alexis suggested.

"No, Alexis! This is a matter which should be dealt with now before it's too late. He will listen to me and heed my advice…"

"Or else?" Alexis asked.

"Or else suffer the consequences. The universities in Europe would be better suited for him than Port Charles University. Time away will open his eyes to new experiences and the infatuation he feels for Miss Jensen will disappear."

The busy movement inside the airport terminal annoyed and irritated Carrie. She was ready to go home. Home…Port Charles. There was a time when New York City was home, but not anymore. She anticipated returning to Port Charles so much so that she had Dara change their reservations so that they could take an earlier flight. Their luggage had been claimed and waited next to Carrie's feet. The only thing she and Dara needed now was a ride.

Dara pushed her way through the crowd to reach her mother. She smiled at her and said, "I was able to reach Alex. He'll be here in about fifteen or twenty minutes."

"Thank goodness! Dara, honey, you really need to do something about that cell phone," Carrie said, with a small laugh.

"I know," Dara said. "It always seems to stop working at the wrong time."

"We might as well sit down," Carrie said, as she picked up her garment bag and moved to claim an empty seat. Dara picked up her luggage, as well, and followed her mother to sit beside her. After they were seated, Carrie continued, "So why isn't your sister picking us up?"

"She didn't answer the phone," Dara said, biting her tongue so that she wouldn't add her unsolicited two cents.

"She wasn't home last night when I called either. I hope nothing is wrong. Did Alex say whether or not he'd seen her this weekend?" Carrie asked, concerned.

"He didn't say," Dara said, looking at her hands.

Carrie was not fooled by Dara's short answers. She knew her oldest daughter had something to say and was dying to voice it. She didn’t want to hear it, but she couldn’t stop herself from saying, "Okay, Dara. Out with it."

"Well…I think she needs a good talking to," Dara said. "She spends entirely too much time with Nikolas and I think that's where she was last night and this morning."

"Dara, Dawn is responsible and Nikolas is a good young man. I don't think their relationship is cause for concern."

"Mama, why are you being so naďve where she's concerned? When I was her age-"

"Oh, please! You and Dawn are two completely different people," Carrie said, brushing off Dara's statement.

"What does that mean?" Dara asked.

"It means exactly what I said! You can't judge my rearing techniques for her against the ones used for you. It's not fair."

"What's not fair is how you try to compensate for Daddy's treatment of her by being so lenient. This is not helping her. She needs to slow down," Dara said with conviction.

"What needs to happen is for you to have your own child and for you to raise her your way," Carrie said. "And until that day comes, I'd appreciate it if you would be a little less judgmental with your sister. Can you do that?"

"Sure, Mama."

"Thank you." Carrie patted Dara on the back and said, "I know you mean well, but Dawn isn't like most teenagers. She has a good head on her shoulders. A little faith in her wouldn’t hurt, you know."

"Okay, Mama, I'll try," Dara said as she smiled at her mother. She rested her head on her mother's shoulder and repeated her words, "I'll try."

Chapter 23

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