Life After Dark
Chapter 31

“If not Wyndemere, where?” Stefan asked. A slight frown darkened his features as he stared at the couple.

“Here, of course,” Carrie replied as she too stared at the pair.

“No, Mama, not here,” Dawn said.

“I don’t understand. If you don’t plan to live at Wyndemere and you don’t plan to live here, where exactly do you plan to live?” Carrie asked.

“On The Aphrodite,” Nikolas answered.

“Your boat?” Carrie asked.

Nikolas and Dawn nodded.

“This is unacceptable.”

“Why, Uncle? Because you don’t like it?” Nikolas asked, keeping the anger from his voice only because of Dawn’s calming presence beside him.

“Your uncle is right,” Carrie said before Stefan could speak. “What you and Dawn suggest is unacceptable. A boat?! For goodness’ sakes!”

“You can’t raise a family on a boat,” Stefan said moving away from the window to stand closer to Carrie as the two of them glared at the newlyweds.

“We don’t plan to raise our fam-“

“Do you realize how dangerous life on a boat could be for a pregnant woman?” Carrie asked, interrupting Nikolas.

“We understand the dangers and we’re prepared to-“

“You can’t prepare for anything when you’re at sea. Surely, you realize this, Nikolas,” Stefan interrupted. “Anything can happen and does. Putting your wife and unborn child’s lives at risk is grossly irresponsible.”

“I have no intentions of putting their lives at risk! If either of you would listen-“

“We are listening. We’re listening to two kids who are in a rush to grow up that they refuse to act responsibly,” Carrie said.

“I agree. Have either of you considered how hazardous a boat could be to an infant?” Stefan asked.

“Or how easily a pregnant woman could lose her bearings on a slippery dock?” Carrie added.

“We have taken everything you’ve said under consideration-“

“I seriously doubt that you have, Nikolas,” Stefan replied. “There seems to be many things which you’ve neglected to consider.”

“I’ve neglected nothing. My number one priority is and always will be Dawn and our family. Our living arrangements-“

“Your living arrangements need to be modified. I cannot allow either of you to leave here with the preposterous notion that you’ll reside on a boat!”

“Allow us?” Dawn asked. She had remained silent as long as she could, but as the argument began to escalate, she couldn’t sit back and have Nikolas bear the brunt of their parents’ disapproval. “We haven’t asked either of you for your permission, so we don’t need you to allow us to do anything.”

“You need to watch your tone, Dawn Elyse Jensen,” Carrie said, her eyes flashing with anger.

“My tone? What about the tone you and Mr. Cassadine have been using,” Dawn said, moving to stand. “Also, my name is Dawn Cassadine, now.”

Dawn paused for a moment and after taking a quick breath, she continued. “The two of you have gone back and forth, talking about responsibility, dangers, hazards, what’s acceptable and what’s not. Have either of you paused to consider or even realize that Nikolas and I are the ones who make these decisions now? Not either of you. Not anymore!”

As Dawn finished speaking, her eyes moved from Stefan to rest on her mother. She released a long breath when she felt Nikolas stand beside her and wrap his arm around her waist.

“We’re leaving now. You know where the boat is docked. Feel free to contact us there.” Nikolas place the empty plate on the coffee table. He took Dawn’s hand and turned to leave.

“Have you considered Helena?”

Dawn almost stumbled when Nikolas stopped in his tracks. He felt her misstep and he abruptly turned. Protectively pulling her into his arms, he softly asked, “What about Helena?”

“Her threat is a constant one. You know this, Nikolas. Add the possibility of a new heir and her threat becomes even greater,” Stefan said, his voice deadly quiet as his gaze never wavered from the pair.

Carrie saw the hesitation and the trepidation which caused Nikolas to hold Dawn even closer to him. Stefan’s demeanor had changed as well and she needed to…no. She had to know why. “Who’s Helena?”

“My mother,” Stefan replied, as his eyes never left the couple.

“She wouldn’t hurt us,” Dawn said as she saw the worry cloud Nikolas’ eyes.

“I can’t be sure of that,” Nikolas answered.

“Why would your mother want to hurt my child?” Carrie asked, her voice stern as she rose to face Stefan.

“Because she’s crazy,” Dara answered quietly. Her concerns over Dawn’s new status as a Cassadine had grown as soon as Stefan mentioned Helena.

“Dara!” Carrie exclaimed, scolding her oldest daughter.

“Miss Jensen is correct,” Stefan replied. “My mother’s tyranny knows no bounds, and it is exceeded only by her lunacy.”

Carrie felt as if her heart would explode in her chest. Her throat constricted as she said, “You still haven’t answered my question. Why would she want to hurt Dawn?”

“To get to me,” Nikolas answered as his eyes held his wife’s. “Uncle’s right. I can’t protect you on the boat.”

“Why would she want to get to you?” Carrie said, turning to face Nikolas. “You’re her grandson! Would somebody please say something that makes sense?!”

“Nikolas is worth millions. He is the sole heir of the Cassadine fortune. Mother…Helena’s life dream is to be the person who holds the key to it. Thus far, she has been unsuccessful in getting to Nikolas, due mostly to my protection. Now, that Nikolas has produced a new heir, her attention will be drawn to this child,” Stefan explained.

“Do you really think she’d come after the baby?” Dawn asked Nikolas.

Nikolas shivered at her question, but he knew he had to answer it, no matter how horrific his reply may be. “Yes. There is no doubt in my mind.”

“So we can’t live on the boat?” Dawn asked, the unshed tears made her bright and caused them to glisten.

“No, we can’t,” Nikolas answered.

“So where?” Dawn asked in a hoarse whisper.

“At Wyndemere,” Stefan answered. “I can assure that you will be safe there.”

Nikolas felt his chest tightened as a single tear rolled down Dawn’s cheek at Stefan’s suggestion. He knew how she hated the thought of their child being raised there and silently he promised it would never happen. He caught the tear on the pad of his thumb. He leaned against her so that only she could hear and whispered, “Only for a little while.”

After Dawn nodded, Nikolas placed a tender kiss against her ear and then, he raised his head. He looked at Stefan and said, “We accept. We will live at Wyndemere.”

Chapter 32

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