Liz sat on the window seat, contemplating the photo of Jasper Jacks and Brenda Barrett which she had attached to her sketch pad. Jax asked her to use the photo as a guide for the portrait he had commissioned her to paint. They looked so happy and in love in the photo, Liz thought. Almost as happy as she and Lucky, she chuckled to herself.
She glanced at the grandfather clock which stood in the foyer by the front door. Dawn should be there soon, but maybe she'd have enough time to sketch an outline. Her pencil was poised to begin when the doorbell rang. Then again, maybe not she thought as she closed her sketch pad and sauntered to the front door.
A quick look into the peephole told her that her friend had arrived and with her usual exuberance, Liz opened the door. She laughed when she saw the expression on Dawn's face. "Did I scare ya?" Liz asked with a smile.
"No!" Dawn said, grinning. When Liz stepped aside to let her pass, Dawn walked in, headed straight for the sofa and plopped down. Her brown leather purse landed next to her feet as she rested her head against the back of the sofa. Covering her eyes with her hand, she released a long sigh.
"What's wrong with you?" Liz asked, as she sat in the rocking chair, amused by the drama as it unfolded before her eyes.
"Where should I begin?" Dawn asked, smiling as she removed her hand so that she could look at Liz.
Liz saw the strain in Dawn's eyes and quickly moved from the rocking chair to sit beside Dawn. With a frown, she asked, "What's wrong? I thought you sounded weird when I called you earlier. Is everything okay? How's Wyndemere?"
"Wyndemere is okay. It'll take some getting used to. The long halls. The dark shadows. The nights with Nikky," she added with a faraway smile.
"Okay, I can see it's not Wyndemere," Liz said, amused by the lascivious at came across Dawn's face when she spoke of her Nikky. "I know something is up. Did you have a fight or something?"
"Well, I guess you could call it that," Dawn said, a frown wrinkling her forehead. She sat up straight and looked Liz dead in the eye as she asked, "What do you know about Robin Scorpio?"
"You got into a fight with Robin?" Liz asked.
"In a way. She was there when you called. She's the reason why I probably sounded weird."
"What do you mean 'in a way'? Don't tell me you two were battling over Nikolas," Liz said, laughing softly at the very idea of Dawn having to battle anyone over Nikolas. No woman would ever stand a chance with her when it came to him, especially not Robin Scorpio.
"Why did you say that?" Dawn asked as her frowned increased and worry clouded her eyes. "Is there something I should know?"
"No! Of course not," Liz reassured her. Liz thought for a moment as she began to vaguely recall a few things about her sister, Nikolas and Robin. "Um...well, maybe there is a little something."
"Tell me!" Dawn said.
"I'm surprised you were able to meet with me," Robin said as Nikolas joined her. They were at the Outback. Robin had impulsively called Nikolas to see if he and Dawn could join her for lunch. She could care less if Dawn came, but she wanted Nikolas to think that she cared. In order for her plan to work, she had to get back in his good graces even if it meant being nice to the wife who was nowhere close to being good enough for him.
"Why? Did you think Dawn would forbid it?" Nikolas asked with a smile as he thought of his wife.
"No, not necessarily that. I just thought... Well, it is obvious that she doesn't really like me," Robin said. When she saw his expression darken, she quickly added, "Not that she doesn't have a reason for feeling that way. I acted horribly. I hope she can forgive me."
Nikolas relaxed when Robin clarified her statement. "She's very forgiving. She may not forget, though."
Robin's eyes widened at Nikolas' last comment. When he began to laugh, she allowed herself to loosen up a little bit. She even laughed, but it came more from a release of tension than true amusement. "Well, I'll have to remember that," she said with a bright smile.
"Seriously, Dawn is one the most amazing people I've ever met. I'm sure if you gave each other half a chance you'd find that you have more in common than you think."
"You seem to want your wife and me to be friends," Robin said, taking a sip of her water.
"I do. It would mean a lot to me. You're one of my closest friends, Robin. I'd hate to think you and the most important person in my life don't get along. Dawn may be a little resistant, but I hope you'd try to get past it. She has such a warm heart. You and she are alike in that respect," Nikolas said, his eyes reinforcing the sincerity of his words.
"If it means that much to you, of course, I'll try," Robin said, reaching across the table to give Nikolas' hand a gentle squeeze. She would have held on longer, but he removed his hand from hers and picked up his menu.
Robin picked up her menu, too, and secretly watched him as she pretended to read it. He seemed happy, but she couldn't help but wonder. The quickness of the marriage without so much as an announcement or engagement party made her suspicious. She wondered if Nikolas might have been forced to the tie the knot. If he had been, he didn't seem unhappy about it, but she knew from experience that anything forced didn't last. She'd bide her time until Nikolas realized Dawn wasn't the person he truly wanted to be with and if she had to help him along with this assessment, then so be it.
"So, she insinuated herself between your sister and Nikolas?" Dawn asked, taking the lemonade Liz offered her. In anticipation for her OB/GYN appointment later that week, she had done some research on the internet about morning sickness. Tart substances such as lemons were suggested as possible cravings for pregnant women. Dawn couldn't be sure if her craving came from having read about it or from herself, but whatever the reason, she couldn't seem to get enough of the citrus beverage.
"Like a snake," Liz said, placing the pitcher of lemonade on the coffee table.
"And she was the reason they broke up?" Dawn asked. Somehow, she couldn't see Nikolas two-timing anyone. He was too honest and caring to be as devious as that. Robin, on the other hand...
"Sarah didn't give me the specifics, but I think she had a lot to do with it. After Nikolas was shot-"
"WHAT!? Back up. Nikky was shot? When did this happen?" Dawn asked. Her hand began to shake, and afraid she might spill the lemonade, she placed her glass on a coaster on the coffee table.
"Yeah, I thought you knew. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Why was he shot and where and when?" Dawn asked, the questions coming out rapidly.
"Okay, if you're sure. I don't want to upset you especially since you're pregnant."
"Liz, honest. I'm fine. Please, you've got to tell me. Nikolas hasn't said a word to me about him being shot. I need to know. So please, tell me."
"Okay. It happened last December. In front of Lucky's dad's place. Some guy was shooting at Jason and he missed and hit Nikolas instead."
"How serious was it?"
Liz paused before she answered Dawn's question. She wasn't sure if she should continue. True, Nikolas was fine now, but she could tell that Dawn wasn't even taking that into consideration. Dawn's mind was on the thought of Nikolas' being hurt and her not being there for him. Liz knew what Dawn thought because she would have felt the same if they were talking about Lucky instead. She reached for Dawn's head as she softly answered Dawn's question. "He was shot in the throat and he later had a stroke."
Dawn clutched Liz's hand while her other hand went to her throat. Her eyes clouded over with tears as she visualized Nikolas lying in a pool of blood. She swallowed back her sobs as she pressed Liz for more answers. "Is there anything else I should know? About what happened to Nikolas and how Robin became involved?"
"He couldn't speak for a while. That's when he pushed Sarah away. Emily tried to help him, but my stupid big sister said some stuff to Em's parents and they made her stop. That's how Robin began to help him regain his speech," Liz said, wondering now if she'd said too much. She's never seen Dawn look so sad before. She hoped her admission wouldn't cause any problems between Dawn and Nikolas. If anyone was meant to be, it was them. She wouldn't want them to break up because of her interference.
"So, she's a speech therapist, too?" Dawn asked, sarcastically. She moved to stand, suddenly feeling stifled by sitting on the sofa.
"She's many things," Liz said. "But she's not the one Nikolas loves. You are. Don't forget that."
"I haven't," Dawn said, wrapping her arms around herself and her unborn child. She drew a long breath and asked Liz the question that burned in her mind. "Why do you think he didn't tell me? Not just about how Robin helped him, but everything else, too?"
"I don't know, girlfriend," Liz said with a small smile. "I wish I did. I don't think you should dwell on it. I'm sure he planned to tell you in time."
"You're probably right," Dawn said with a small smile of her own. She hoped she was right, Dawn silently added. Now that she knew that Robin and Nikolas' friendship was more than she previously thought, she began to wonder why Nikolas had failed to tell her so many important things. She refused for there to be any secrets between them. She intended to talk to him about it the next time the opportunity presented itself.