Life After Dark
Chapter 29

ďHi,Ē Dawn said with a small smile as she closed the bathroom door behind her. Another bout of nausea had sent her on a mad dash to the upstairs toilet. With Nikolas right behind her, she made it just in time. He wasnít too thrilled when she made him wait outside the door, but he did. Now, as her warm brown eyes met his worried and concerned ones, she reached for his hand and smiled. ďItís okay.Ē

ďNo, this isnít okay. I canít believe how thoughtless Iíve been. You havenít eaten today and I know that canít be good for either you or the baby. I should have made sure that-ď

ďNickie, really, Iím fine,Ē Dawn said, interrupting him. ďMorning sickness is natural.Ē

ďI donít care how natural it is,Ē he said as he pulled her to sit beside him on her bed. "I can see the toll the nausea takes on you. I can see the strain in your eyes."

"What are you doing?" Dawn asked, as he reached for the telephone.

"I'm calling GH," he said, as he began to punch in the numbers. "I'm taking you there and I want to make sure that someone who knows what to do will be there when we arrive."

"No, you're not," she said as she took the telephone away from him. "Morning sickness is normal for some pregnancies. I read about it. In time, it should go away. I just have to ride it out."

"I donít want you 'to ride it out,'" he said, wrapping his arms around her to pull her closer to him. "There has to be something that will make it go away. When was the last time you kept any food down?"

After she shrugged, he continued, "That's what I thought. You have to eat. Besides, I know how much you like to eat-"

"Hey!" she said, playfully punching him in his ribs.

He laughed, "What did I say?"

"You never tell a woman that you know that she likes to eat," she said, joining in his laughter.

"But what if it's true?" Nikolas asked, his eyes dancing with mischief.

"It doesn't matter. Never!" she said, placing a kiss on his cheek before she moved to stand.

When she tried to walk away, he pulled her to stand before him as he continued to sit on the bed. His hands stayed on her waist as his gentle, brown eyes bored into hers. Her hands strayed to his neck. Her fingers laced together, while her thumbs caressed his jaw line. "Are you sure you're ready to go back down?" he asked softly.

"We might as well, right? Get it all over with," she said with a small smile.

"Say the word and we can just walk right out of the door. Darling, you donít have to prove anything to me or to any of them. We've faced the hardest part. If you don't feel like facing the rest, we can leave," he said.

"One word and we're out of here?" she asked, considering the possibilities. "But what about my stuff?"

"One word," he said, rising to stand. He pulled her into his arms and said, "I can come back for your things later, or we can go shopping. The choice is yours."

"I'll need new things soon, but I donít think it's necessary for us to go shopping right this minute. The pants still fit, but my tops are pretty snug."

"I'll say," he said with a wolfish grin.

Dawn found herself blushing at Nikolas' reaction and she grinned at him. "Cut it out! I'm being serious."

"I'm serious, too," he said indignantly. "I like the way your tops fit, especially the one you wore last night." His hands moved from her waist to rest on her firm bottom, where he pulled her closer to him.

"Nickie! My mother is downstairs!" she whispered as she scolded him with a teasing smile.

"Sorry," he said, grinning at her.

"Sure, you are," she said, laughing. She sobered after a few seconds and added, "I think I can make do for a little while."

"Make do? Mrs. Cassadine, you will never have to make do. That settles it. We're leaving right now. First, we're having lunch. There has to be something you can keep down. Second, we're going shopping," he said. He released his hold on her and reached for her hand, leading her to the door.

She tugged on his hand to stop him. "Nickie, wait."

"What's wrong?" he asked with a frown.

"If we go shopping today, I'm paying for it."

"DawnÖ"

"No, I mean this. I donít feel right about using your money. I accepted the dresses you bought for me and Lizzie as a wedding gift, but I can't let you-"

"Ssh." He placed a finger to her lips to silence her. "I see we need to settle a few things, now that we are husband and wife."

He led her back to the bed. After they were both sitting, he began. "I've known that you had a few misgivings about the Cassadine wealth and I've respected them. When we were dating, we took turns treating each other. I understood that it was important for you to exert your independence-"

"Exert my independence? Excuse me?" Dawn said, raising an eyebrow as she crossed her arms under her chest.

"That came out wrong."

"Hmm," she said, looking at him as he struggled for the words he meant to use.

"I was kind of condescending, wasnít I?" he asked with a small smile.

"Just a tad," she said, indicating the amount with her thumb and index finger.

"That was not my intention," he said, he reached for her hand.

She squeezed his hand and said, "I know."

"What I'm trying to say is that you're a Cassadine now. The money isn't mine, but ours. Darling, you'll never have to want for anything or make do with anything. I'm not trying to be a braggart, but our funds are sufficient. Anything you wish for is yours," he said, as his other hand tenderly caressed her face.

Dawn was silent as she considered his words. Nikolas' wealth had never been too much of an issue for her, as she chose to ignore it. She loved him and not his abundant cash flow, but now that she was a Cassadine, too, she could no longer ignore the wealth or how Nikolas expected her to react to it.

She'd be a hypocrite if she didnít admit to herself that she didnít enjoy the benefits of Nikolas' wealth. Their beautiful wedding would never have taken place had it not been for the Cassadine fortune. Not to mention their present living arrangement on the magnificent Aphrodite. But even with everything the money could provide for her and their unborn child, the misgivings would not disappear.

"I know, butÖ"

"No 'buts.' Dawn, you're a Cassadine now," he said with love and pride in his eyes. "If you're worried about what others will think, donít. No one else matters. We're together because we love each other and not because of anything else. The important thing is that we know that. People will see what they want to see and to that I say, the hell with them."

"You're right. People always see what they want to see," she agreed with a smile. "This money thing will take some getting use to. Be patient with me."

"Of course," he said as he bent his head to cover her lips with his own. He didnít intend for the embrace to be a passionate one, but his intentions were soon forgotten as soon as Dawn opened her mouth to his.

~*~

Stefan paced in front of large picture window. Nikolas and his bride had been upstairs for quite some time and he was worried. What if something was wrong with her? What if she miscarried the baby? A small part of him felt that a miscarriage wouldn't be such a bad thing. Nikolas and Dawn could end this farce of a marriage and Stefan could see to it that Nikolas would forget about her. But another part of him, the part he refused to acknowledge, anticipated the birth of Nikolas' child. His grandchild. A young Cassadine to continue the legacy.

Dara watched Stefan as he moved back and forth. She saw a small smile hint at the corners of his mouth and she wondered what devious plan his brain was formulating. She told Dawn to watch herself around him, but as she watched him, she wasn't so sure her young sister was savvy enough to anticipate the machinations of her in-law's mind. His acceptance of the marriage happened a little too quickly for Dara's peace of mind and she doubted its sincerity. She was certain that he had something else up his sleeve. And if he thought, she'd let him get away with causing her sister or her unborn child any pain, he had another thought coming.

Dara abruptly stood from her seated position beside Alex on the sofa and moved to the stairs.

"Dara, don't," Carrie said softly as she returned from the kitchen with a tray of tea and crackers. She smiled at Alex as he took the tray from her and placed it on the coffee table.

"Mama, they've been up there for quite some time. I just want to check to make sure that everything's okay," Dara said and then took a step.

"Dara, donít go up there. Give them some time alone. Besides, everything is fine," Carrie said as she moved to sit next to Alex on the sofa. She poured some tea into a cup and offered it to Dara who had moved away from the staircase to sit on the other side of Alex.

"How do you know that?" Stefan asked quietly. His reverie broken by the interchange between mother and daughter.

"That everything is fine, you mean?" Carrie asked, as she paused to look into his green eyes, which she was surprised to find were filled with concern.

"Yes."

"Morning sickness is a family trait," Carrie said with a faint smile. "In a few weeks, it will be long forgotten."

"Are you certain of this?" Stefan asked.

"Not completely certain, no. Each pregnancy is different. I'm sure that Dawn's morning sickness is not cause for alarm."

"A professional opinion would be better suited to make assurances, I believe," he said quietly.

Carrie refused to be bated by his arrogant demeanor and condescending tone. Instead, she said, "I agree. Would you like some tea?"

Stefan shook his head and turned his thoughtful gaze back to look out of the window. Carrie watched him for a brief moment. Maybe his concern for Dawn and the pregnancy meant that he had a change of heart. Like Dara, she was not the least bit fooled by his acceptance of his nephew's marriage. But deep inside, she refused to give up the hope that he did not intend to do anything that would cause the newlyweds any harm.

"Hi, Bright Eyes," Alex said as Dawn and Nikolas left the staircase and entered the room.

Dawn smiled at Alex's nickname for her. Nikolas' breath tickled her ear as he whispered, "Should I be jealous?"

She laughed and shrugged. When he placed a possessive arm around her shoulders, she whispered, "Of course not. I only have eyes for you."

"Are you feeling better?" Dara asked, placing her teacup on the coffee table. She wanted to go to her and see for herself, but she knew that shouldnít. Her baby sister had a husband who seemed to delight in taking care of her.

"Much," she said with a smile.

"Have you consulted with a physician?" Stefan asked. "Your mother says that this type of ailment is common for your family, but I doubt if it's good for either you or your child." When he heard them enter the room, he had turned his gaze to look at them. Try as he might, he could not keep the concern from filling his green eyes as he looked at the newest addition to the Cassadine family.

"I plan to make an appointment with an OB/GYN tomorrow," Dawn said, surprised by Stefan's reaction to her. She looked at Nikolas and saw that he was as surprised as she was. Could Stefan's acceptance be genuine, she wondered.

"Dawn, I made some tea for you," Carrie said. "It, with the crackers, should help to settle your stomach."

Dawn looked at Nikolas. They had decided to leave, but if crackers and tea could settle her queasy stomachÖ He smiled at her and led her to the loveseat. Looking into her eyes, he said, "Allow me."

He took the tea Carrie offered him and the plate of crackers. He handed the teacup to Dawn and sat beside her. He held the plate steady on his lap with one hand while the other moved to rest behind Dawn on the back of the loveseat.

Five pairs of eyes watched Dawn as she sipped the tea and later bit into a cracker. Watching them, watch her, amused her and she almost started laughing. She forced herself to remain serious and lowered her eyes to the plate as she concentrated on consuming a few more crackers.

Nikolas' hand moved to lightly stroke her back. He softly asked, "Okay?"

Her eyes were bright with unleashed laughter as she smiled at him and said, "Yeah. I'm okay."

"Good," Stefan said softly with a slight nod. "Now, that you're feeling better we can go back to Wyndemere and help you get settled."

Carrie's eyes flew from to Stefan to rest on the couple. Even though she harbored the hope that Stefan meant no ill will toward the couple, she did not, by any means, want her daughter to reside with him at Wyndemere. Under any circumstances.

Alex's hand moved to rest on Dara's back as he felt her stiffen beside him. She relaxed under his touch and he hoped she would bite back whatever she wanted to say. Bright Eyes was strong, but he doubted if she was ready to endure another Cassadine/Jensen war so soon.

Nikolas felt the tension inside the room escalate at his uncle's softly spoken words. He knew that Stefan meant them as an olive branch, but like the others he had misgivings about life at Wyndemere for him and his family. Nikolas' eyes held Stefan's as he said, "We're not going back to Wyndemere."

Chapter 30

Home Page