Nikolas felt energized as he strode into Wyndemere. His early morning runs with Sheba always had a rejuvenating effect on him, but Nikolas knew he couldn't credit Sheba with the spring in his step or the happiness in his soul. The reason for his state of mind still lay in bed, sleeping peacefully.
She looked so beautiful when she slept, Nikolas thought. He didn't want to move from the warmth of their bed or the way her nude form clung to his, but he had. The last few days, he had neglected Sheba and he felt guilty. She depended on him to care for her and he had no right to take her needs for granted. Nor did he have the right to take the needs of his beloved Dawn for granted, he thought, as he reached the bottom of the staircase. If he hurried, he could shower and be back in bed long before she opened her eyes.
His foot was on the bottom step when he heard a noise. Backing away from the step, he turned around to face his uncle who greeted him with a smile.
"Good morning, Nikolas. I trust Sheba behaved herself this morning."
"She did," Nikolas replied, as he moved closer so that he and Stefan stood face to face.
Stefan observed the aggressiveness in Nikolas' stance and in his eyes. Calmly, he asked, "Does something trouble you?"
"Yes. You." Nikolas answered, his jaw tight as he watched his uncle's reaction.
"Me? What have I done now?" Stefan asked, as he moved to sit. "I assure you that I have only just awakened and I haven't had enough time to-"
"Uncle, stop," Nikolas said, raising his hand. "I don't have time for coy word games. I want to make this as clear as possible."
"Please, do," Stefan said. Inside, he was worried that Nikolas had changed his mind about living at Wyndemere, but he refused to voice his concerns. If leaving Wyndemere wasn't on Nikolas' mind, he didn't want to put it there by speaking out of turn.
"Our conversation the other day. I'm sure you recall it. You spoke of the exotic, curiosity, and wild oats-"
"Uncle, please!" Nikolas said, his eyes flashing with the anger he felt when Stefan said the words the first time and the hurt and anger he continued to feel whenever he thought of it. When Stefan made no move to speak further, Nikolas continued, "You are never to speak like that again while Dawn and I live here. You will never speak to her but with the utmost of respect. If you do, and I'll know, we'll leave and you'll never see us again. Helena or no Helena, I will not allow you or anyone to disrespect her. Am I understood?"
Stefan nodded. "Understood."
As Nikolas left him and went upstairs, Stefan again felt a twinge of guilt and regret. His test which had seemed so appropriate at the time, had unwittingly put a wedge between him and his son. He hoped that in time he would be able to repair the damage he had caused. He genuinely liked Dawn and believed she would be an incredible partner for him.
Stefan smiled to himself as he thought of a way that would unite his family. He pulled out his cell phone and began to punch in the ten digits he had memorized. He breathed a sigh of relief when the phone was answered on the first ring.
"Hello, Lasha. I hope I didn't wake you, but I have incredible news..."
Dawn woke with a smile on her face. Her first night in Wyndemere hadn't been as bad as she thought it would be. Nikolas' admission about his relationship with his mother had broken her heart, but she promised herself that she would love him enough to make up for Laura's thoughtless behavior. In fact, she was sure that she already did love him enough.
She rolled over, expecting to find the warm, sleeping body of Nikolas beside her. She was disappointed when she saw that she was all alone. Sighing she rolled back onto her back. Her eyes lit up when she saw a side of Nikolas she could never tire of .
He stood a few steps away. He was deep in thought as he went through his dresser drawer. His backside filled the tan riding pants he wore and Dawn smiled wickedly as she silently watched him.
Her face gave her away when Nikolas abruptly stood and faced her. With a sly grin of his own, he said, "Good morning."
"Good morning to you, too!" Dawn said as she moved to sit up.
"What's wrong?" Dawn asked. Her eyes apprehensive as she looked for the cause of Nikolas' warning.
"Lay back down," Nikolas said, as he moved to stand beside the bed.
"Oh," she said, grinning. "I love it when you're forceful."
"I'll remember you said that," he said, grinning back at her, "but that's not why I asked you to lay down."
"Ask? You asked me? When?" she laughed.
"Okay, maybe not ask exactly, but I had to get your attention somehow."
"Believe me, you had my attention. Those pants... They were calling to me," she said with a giggle.
Nikolas groaned, "Dawn, behave yourself! Well, until after I shower."
"Okay. I'll be good," she said, beaming at him. Her eyes told him to take her words with a grain of salt as they slid over his white riding shirt which clung to him and the pants which left little to the imagination, especially after the way she looked at him.
"There!" Nikolas blurted, trying to change the tone between them as he pointed to her night stand. He wanted to make love to her. Oh, how he wanted to, but he couldn't go to her smelling like a horse. He just couldn't.
Dawn frowned. She knew she was getting to him. She could see it. It stared her in the face until Nikolas pointed to her night stand. Grudgingly, she looked at what he indicated there. She saw a silver tray which held a plate of saltine crackers and a steaming tea pot. "What's that for?"
"Mrs. Landsbury swears by it. I told her of your morning sickness and she suggested that you eat the crackers before you get out of bed. She also made a pot of tea. She says the ginger should help with the nausea, too," he said, he moved closer to the bed and planted a soft kiss on her forehead. Try as he might, he could not just stand there and not touch her.
"That was sweet of her," Dawn said with a smile. She could feel the sting of tears behind her eyes, but she refused to give in to the tears. She had a strong feeling this new emotional roller coaster she seemed to be on came from the pregnancy, but she wasn't sure Nikolas would understand. She reached for a cracker and popped it into her mouth so that she could focus on something else.
Nikolas watched as she chewed and then swallowed the cracker. The morning sickness worried him and he wanted to be sure the cracker would stay down before he left her to take a shower.
Dawn playfully rolled her eyes at him. With a smile on her face, she shooed him away. "Go! Take your shower. I promise to not move from this bed before you come back. I also promise not to move after you return either."
Nikolas laughed at her brazen suggestiveness. The seductress had gotten to him again. He bent over her to lightly brush her lips with his and then he moved away from her. As he went into the bathroom, he quickly calculated that he could be back in three minutes. At the most.