Life After Dark
Chapter 3

Nikolas glanced at his Rolex. He was running late. If he made the light, he would make it. Pushing the accelerator and the clutch down, he crossed the intersection seconds before the light turned red. Now, if only finding a parking space would be so easy.

"Thank you," whispered as he pulled the Jaguar into the last parking space on the street. He dropped a few coins into the meter and ran into the warehouse/studio.

He said hello to the guys as he made his way into the building. He didnít stop to make small talk as his mind was a million miles away.

"What's up," came a male voice as Nikolas entered the room.

"Hey, Jordan. Where is she?" Nikolas asked, glancing around the room.

Jordan pointed to the room across the hall and Nikolas left to go there.

Nikolas went inside and was immediately accosted by a young male teenager who was the same age and height as he. The guy grabbed him and led him further into the room.

"Boy, Nikolas, am I glad you're here."

"Why, Sly? She is here, right?" Nikolas asked.

"Yeah, she's here. She's here driving us crazy. Would you please go talk to your girlfriend, man? She's holding us up. Liz has a few more touches to add to our poster, but she can't if Dawn won't come out. Go back there and reason with her, man," Sly said, with an exaggerated sigh.

Nikolas went into the back room and saw Lizzie leaning against the door. She had a worried expression on her face, but she brightened a little when she saw Nikolas approaching.

"Nikolas, thank God, you're here," she said, pushing away from the door. "Talk to her."

"What's wrong?" he asked Lizzie, as he moved to the door. He tried the knob, but it was locked.

"I don't know," Lizzie said, wiping brow with the back of her hand. "I was almost finished with adding the last few splashes of paint to their poster when she bolted. She won't come out. I'll leave you two alone to work it out."

Nikolas waited until Lizzie left before he pressed against the door to hear what was happening on the other side. He couldn't hear much of anything, so he tried the doorknob again.

"Lizzie, I'm not kidding. Leave me alone. Okay?" came the voice on the other side.

"Dawn? Honey, it's me. Open up," Nikolas said through the door.

"Nickie?"

"Yeah. Come on. Open the door. Let me in," he said. Then, he seductively added, "Please, darling."

He heard a groan and a quiet click as the door was unlocked on the other side. He sighed and opened the door. He came into the room and closed the door behind him. He thought about the situation and then, locked the door, too.

"Come here," he said with a smile and open arms. Dawn came to him and wrapped her arms around his waist.

She rested her head against his chest and muttered, "It's not fair when you use that 'darling' stuff against me. You know how it makes me feel."

He laughed softly and rubbed her back. Releasing her, he took her hand and led her to one of the over-stuffed chairs that cluttered the room. He sat and pulled her into his lap. After she was settled comfortably against him, he asked, "What's wrong? Nervous?"

"I was fine before. Honest. Then, all of sudden it hit me again and I had to throw up. I barely made it to the toilet in time," she grumbled, nestling against him.

"Thanks," he laughed.

"This isn't funny, Nickie. What made me think I could do this? I can't even make it through the painting session. How on earth will I be able to make it through an entire set? I can see it all now. I go out on the stage, the guys play the intro and instead of singing, I run off the stage to go throw up," she said sadly.

"Dawn, that won't happen," he said, running his fingers through her braids. He placed a light kiss on her forehead and continued stroking her hair.

"How do you know? I've never been like this before. Every time I even think about tonight I want to throw up. When did I become such a wuss?" she asked, placing her hands on this chest. Her fingers began to play with the buttons on his shirt.

"You're not a wuss. You're just nervous. Everybody gets nervous sometimes," he said reassuring her.

"Do you?" she asked in a quiet voice.

"No," he said smugly.

She slapped his chest and laughed, "Oh, stop!"

He started laughing and added, "Finally, she laughs."

She rolled her eyes and groaned against his chest. "But Nickie, I can't go up there and make fool out of myself and the band. I'm sure Sly is ready to kill me. He is, isn't he? Thank God, Lucky isn't here, too."

"Forget about Sly. What's this about Lucky? Has he said anything to you?" he asked, his voice becoming hard with the threat of anger behind it.

"No, but when he and his cousin team up, look out," she said. When she felt Nikolas tense underneath her, she moved away to look at him. She said, "Lucky has always been great. Honest! He, Sly and everyone else are counting on tonight. I can't blow it."

"Is that what they told you?" he asked, with a frown.

She caressed his face and said, "No. That's what I told myself. We've come to far over the last few weeks for me to blow it now by embarrassing us onstage. I thought I was over this flu bug, but it seems like it has gotten worse."

"You donít have the flu," he said, deciding to change the subject about Lucky and his cousin, Sly, and their treatment of her. He'd have a little talk with Lucky later about it.

"Well, what's wrong with me, Dr. Cassadine?" she asked, teasing him because of his matter of fact attitude.

"You have a bad case of nerves, but Dr. Cassadine has the cure for that," he said, licking his lips.

"Oh, yeah?" she sighed, her eyes never leaving his mouth.

"Yeah," he said as he lowered his lips to hers. Later, when he raised his head, Dawn was convinced that Dr. Cassadine knew what he was talking about.

~*~

"Why is everybody standing around?" Lucky asked as he entered the studio.

"We're waiting for the prima donna," Sly said, rolling his eyes.

"That's not fair. She's really nervous about performing," Lizzie replied.

"Yeah, whatever," Sly said, moving to look at the poster Lizzie was painting for them.

"What happened?" Lucky asked, glancing around at all the dejected faces.

"She skipped out," Jordan said, plopping down on the old, velvet sofa.

"She left?" Lucky asked incredulously.

"Nah, man. She's in the back. We were posing for Lizzie and she baled. She grabbed her mouth and ran for it. I think she upchucked," Jordan said.

"Well, why aren't any of you with her? You guys are callous, man," Lucky laughed as he moved to go to the back room.

"Lucky, no!" "Don't go back there!" came the voices all jumbled together.

Lucky stopped and turned around, "Why not?"

"Lover boy is back there with her. Soothing her nerves," Sly snickered.

Lizzie threw a spare paint brush at him and said, "Shut up, Sly."

"Nikolas is here?" Lucky asked.

"Yeah, he's here," Lizzie said. "Let's give them a few minutes. If he can't calm her down, no one can."

Lucky nodded and ran his fingers through his hair. Tonight was very important for all of them. They, DJLS, had made it to the finals as one of the featured bands at the new night spot for the younger crowd. Jacks, a new nightclub owned by Jasper Jacks, was THE place to play. The clientele was great and if DJLS made it, they could be the headliner.

Lucky looked to the back room. He wanted to go back there to see for himself that all was well, but he thought better of it. He and Nikolas had come a long way since their time in the catacombs together. They weren't what anyone would exactly describe as close, but they were better than they were before. However, there were a few things which were off limits. Two were Dawn and Elizabeth. By unspoken agreement, they had decided to be civil to each other's significant others, but never to butt in.

Come to think of it, Lucky actually liked Dawn and got along well with her, but he knew better to flaunt it front of Nikolas. The same could be said of Nikolas and Lizzie. Nikolas had remained true to his word and never said a thing about Elizabeth's rape and gradually over time, she and he had come to an understanding about his former relationship with her sister.

Considering that Lizzie and Dawn were fast becoming best friends, Lucky and Nikolas really had no choice but to be civil with each other. Whether they liked it or not, they were in each other lives and if either of them would admit it, at least to themselves, they didnít mind the close contact.

However, some things were still off limits.

Lucky sighed. He glanced at his watch. Time was wasting. Dawn needed to come back and get over the jitters. DJLS needed one more practice session before the night's activities.

"Thank goodness," Sly said. "She returns."

"Sorry guys," Dawn said, as she entered the room, holding Nikolas' hand.

"Are you better now?" Lucky asked. He could feel Nikolas' eyes boring into him, but he chose to ignore him. He had more important things to think about than to wonder why young master Cassadine was upset.

"Yeah," Dawn said with a smile.

"Well, get into the position. You guys know the drill. Sly, Dawn, Lucky, Jordan. Move in close. That's it. You look fabulous," Lizzie said with a smile, as she put the finishing touches on their Elizabeth Webber original poster.

Chapter 4

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