''If I had known you were coming over, Nikky and I wouldn't have been gone for so long. I'm sorry you had to wait,'' Dawn said, as she finished buttoning up her top. She and Carrie were in her bedroom. The black blouse was made of lace and it complimented the long black skirt she wore. The black bra she wore underneath gave the ensemble a sexy look. Dawn smiled at her reflection in the mirror. Her mother was one creative designer and finally, after years of waiting, she had a chance to show off her expertise. Dawn was proud of her.
''Don't worry about it,'' Carrie replied, adjusting the collar of the blouse and smoothing out the wrinkles. ''I was out and I decided to surprise you. I should have called first.''
''You don't have to call. You can come by any time,'' Dawn said, twirling in the front of the mirror. She liked the cut and how the outfit looked on her. The emphasis on her blossoming bosom had been lessened by the fit of the top, and she released a sigh of relief.
''Thanks,'' Carrie smiled. Her eyes narrowed as she admired her young married daughter. On the surface she seemed to be the same headstrong girl who ran around the house singing and dancing, but on the inside, there was a new maturity about her. The way she carried herself when she walked in with Nikolas and the tone of voice she used when she gave Carrie a tour of Wyndemere showed Carrie that her baby girl wasn't a baby any more. Carrie felt a twinge of regret that she would never be able to make up for the years when she wasn't the mother she should have been to her child.
''You're welcome,'' Dawn said. ''I really like this one, Mama. How long do you think I'll be able to wear it? Do you think I'll show soon?''
''I'm not sure, baby, that kind of thing varies from woman to woman. Since you've been losing weight instead of gaining, I can't give you an answer,'' Carrie said. When Dawn nodded in acceptance of her answer, Carrie continued, ''What did Dr. Newman say about your weight loss? Also, did she give you anything for the morning sickness?''
''Mama, you're as bad as Nikky,'' Dawn laughed as she began to unbutton the blouse. ''Dr. Newman was great. Tell Bobbie that I said 'thanks.' And about my weight loss, well, she said that considering my morning sickness it was expected. She gave me a diet to go by and today is the first day I'll follow it. When I go back for my check up, she'll weigh me again and see if the diet will need to be changed.''
Carrie took the blouse from Dawn and placed it on a hanger. As she retrieved the next outfit from the garment bag, she said, ''What about the fall you took? Did she have anything to say about that?''
Dawn stiffened at her mother's softly asked question. The Fall had been the main topic of conversation and she didn't want to rehash it. She had a feeling that her wants were about to be ignored. She sighed, ''She didn't have anything to say. I didn't tell her.''
''Why not?'' Carrie asked with a frown.
''Because I didn't think about it,'' Dawn shrugged as she stepped out of the skirt. She handed the skirt to her mother and took the polka dot pants Carrie offered her in return. As she stepped into the pants, she mentally prepared herself for the lecture she was sure was about to come.
''What do you mean 'you didn't think about it'? You're pregnant! It should have been the first thing you thought about it.''
''I know, but it wasn't. You know how I am about doctors. The closer the time came, the more nervous *I* became. Also, the pain had gone away so it slipped my mind. Besides, I intend to be much more careful in the future. Believe me,'' Dawn said, zipping up the pants. She frowned when she noticed that the pants were much looser than they were the last time she tried them on. She wanted to wear them at the performance the following night, but she wasn't sure if her mother would have enough time to do the alteration. ''Mama, these pants...''
''Yeah, I see,'' Carrie replied, absently. ''Take them off. I'll remove the zipper and replace it with a drawstring. I'll have them ready for tomorrow. Don't forget to try on the top.''
''Oh, yeah,'' Dawn laughed. ''I almost forgot.''
Carrie was silent as she watched Dawn pulled on the matching halter top. The top wasn't as snug as she thought it would be considering Dawn's recent growth spurt in that area. She might make an adjustment here and there, just in case though. ''How do you like the top?''
''It's fine,'' Dawn said as she looked at her reflection from all angles. ''I think it looks okay, but I'm not sure. My boobs are kind big now.''
''Yeah, just a little bit,'' Carrie said with a teasing smile. Her face became serious as she said, ''What did you mean 'you'd be more careful in the future'? Aren't you always careful?''
''Well, yeah, but it's not just me anymore. I have to be more conscious that there's a life inside of me who depends on me now. The next time, I see someone rushing towards me, I'll move.''
Carrie gave a slight nod in response. The fact that Dawn assumed the blame for the fall and didn't mention Helena didn't go unnoticed by Carrie. Carrie didn't know what to make of Dawn's comment. Was Dawn protecting her by not mentioning Helena? Or, did she really believe the fall was her fault? Carrie couldn't be sure and her uncertainty worried her. Damn Robert and his treatment of Dawn, and damn herself for letting him get away with it, Carrie thought.
''Mama, is that it?'' Dawn asked, unknowingly interrupting her mother's thoughts.
''Yeah, sweetie, that's it,'' Carrie said with a smile.
Dawn began to put her clothes back on. After she pulled her sweater over her head, she said, ''I'm visiting Dara today. Want to go with me?''
Carrie shook her head. ''I can't. I have some interviews later today and then, the guys are coming by to pick up their costumes. I wish I could, though. Tell her I said, 'hi' okay? Give her a kiss for me, too.''
''Her limp has all but disappeared, no?'' Stefan asked as he watched Nikolas pace before him. They were alone in Stefan's office. The door was closed as they did not want to be interrupted.
''Yes, it's gone. Her bruise is still there. She says it doesn't hurt, but I'm not sure if I believe that,'' Nikolas said as he moved to stand in front of the fireplace. His foot kicked the floor as his hand gripped the mantle.
Stefan was surprised and pleased that Nikolas would confide in him. He couldn't remember the last time that Nikolas trusted with his deepest thoughts. He was touched that he would make him privy to his concerns about his wife. ''Have you spoken with her obstetrician. Dr. Newman, I believe?''
''Yes, Dr. Newman is her OB/GYN, and no, we haven't spoken with her. I want Dawn to go see her, but Dawn is being stubborn. Her fear of doctors is understandable, but I wish she wouldn't let it stop her from getting the help she may need.''
''Why is she afraid of doctors?'' Stefan asked softly. When he saw Nikolas stiffen, he feared he might have pressed too much too soon. He almost wished he could take the words back, but he could not, so he waited.
Nikolas eyes flashed with fire as he remembered the scared look in Dawn's eyes at Dr. Newman's office. Her father would pay for the damage he did to her. Nikolas would see to it. Sure, she had been strong and she had fought him, but she shouldn't have had to. His abuse of her had seeped into her soul. She had maintained a beautiful spirit despite him , but she was not without a few residual tokens from his treatment of her. She hid most of them well, but there were times when the self-doubt would creep in. ...when she would look at Nikolas in surprise that he loved her so much. He couldn't imagine anyone not loving her and thought that her father didn't made him fill with rage.
''Nikolas?'' Stefan prompted when Nikolas still had not spoken.
''I'm sorry, Uncle. You were saying... Oh, yeah. You wanted to know why she's afraid of doctors,'' Nikolas repeated. With angry and sad eyes, he looked at Stefan and said, ''Because of her father. He was a doctor, too.''
''He didn't...molest her, did he?'' Stefan asked, his eyes almost an exact replica of Nikolas' as he asked the question, mixed with anger and sadness.
''No, he didn't abuse her in that way,'' Nikolas said, rubbing his face. He moved away from the fireplace and went to sit on the edge of the desk in front of Stefan. He took a deep breath before he spoke and then the words came. ''Her father was a cruel man. He went out of his way to make sure that Dawn's life was as miserable as possible. He wanted to control every aspect of her life and nothing she did ever pleased him. There was always something wrong with it. Always something amiss. Finally, Dawn had enough and she ran away. On the night she ran away, he slapped her.''
Stefan's jaw clenched as Nikolas became quiet. His investigators had provided him with detailed information regarding Dr. Robert Jensen, but the report was cold and lacked emotion. Nikolas' heartfelt admission made Stefan's heart ache. It pained him to see Nikolas hurt so. It also pained him to imagine Dawn growing up in such an unproductive environment. He could relate to Dawn's plight. Nikolas' description of Robert reminded him of Helena's sadistic idea of motherhood. His only consolation in regards to Dawn was that she had Carrie. He had no one. Not even Mikkos would lift a hand against Helena when she commenced one of her endless tirades at something Stefan had done wrong. Oh, yes, he could definitely relate.
''I'm sorry to hear that,'' Stefan said, placing a hand on Nikolas' shoulder. He gave him a gentle squeeze as he added, ''She need never fear that type of treatment here. She's a Cassadine now, and we will always protect her.''
Nikolas' hand covered Stefan's hand and Nikolas gripped it tightly with the depth of his emotion. His voice was hoarse with emotion as he said, ''Thank you, Uncle.''
Dara frowned at D.A. Shultz's back as he left her office. He had just piled ten more cases on her docket. Months ago she would have been happy to see so much work. The more cases she had mixed with convictions would help her career and maybe give her an added push for the D.A. position. But, that was months ago. Now, she didn't want the cases. Well, she wanted the cases, but not so many of them. What she wanted was to spend more time with Alex.
A huge smile crept across her face as she thought of him. Her hand reached for the framed photo of the two of them. The picture had been taken at the Port Charles Annual Carnival. They had smiled happily for the camera and their faces shone with the love they had for one another. Dara proudly displayed the photo on her desk. She wanted the world to know that she had been fortunate enough to find love and happiness with Detective Alex Garcia. Her misgivings at the start of their relationship had long since been forgotten. The only thing that mattered was now and the joy they had found together.
Call him, a small whispered to her. ''Okay,'' Dara bounced as her hand reached for the telephone. She was taken aback when the telephone began to ring as her hand touched it. Thinking Alex had called her through some kind of cosmic will, she picked up the receiver and cheerily said, ''Dara Jensen, ADA at your service.''
''Hello, sweetheart,'' came the deep masculine voice.
''Daddy?'' Dara asked with a frown. She was surprised to hear from him. Since his and Carrie's separation, he had made himself scarce. The few times Dara had tried to make contact had been ignored by him and she wondered what he wanted now.
''Yes, it's me,'' Robert said softly. ''''How's my girl doing?''
''I'm fine,'' Dara replied slowly. ''How are you? I hadn't heard from you in a while...''
''I know and I'm sorry about that. Some things came up and I wasn't able to keep in touch the way I should have.''
''So, is everything okay?'' Dara asked with concern.
''Yeah, everything is great,'' he replied, lying through his teeth. ''I just wanted to make sure that everything was good with you.''
''Why wouldn't it be?'' she asked, as her eyes moved to the other frame which sat on her desk. It held a Jensen family portrait which had been taken a few years back. She gazed at each face. Her mother's face glowed with a beautiful white smile as did Dara's. Her eyes then moved to her father's face. He glowed with a one thousand watt smile of his own. Finally, her eyes drifted to Dawn's face. She smiled a perfect smile, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. Her eyes were strained and held a sadness which Dara had never allowed herself to acknowledge before. I'm so sorry, baby girl, Dara silent apologized. Very sorry.
''...not a reason. A father can't call to see how his daughter is doing?'' Robert said, unaware that most of his words had been lost on Dara as she thought of their family's past.
Dara heard the end of his sentence and she prickled at his comment. With thinly disguised anger, she said, ''Daddy, you have two daughters. Or, did you forget about your youngest?''
''Of course not!'' Robert replied gruffly. ''How is she?''
''Why don't you ask her yourself?'' Dara asked angrily. This time around she didn't bother to mask her feelings.
''Dara, wait a minute. Just because your mother can talk to me any way she pleases, don't think you can, too. I'm your father-''
''You're not just *my* father! You're Dawn's father, too!''
''You don't have to tell me that, and you need to watch how you talk to me, young lady!'' Robert said, becoming upset. He took an audible breath and continued speaking. Using a softer tone, he said, ''I didn't call to fight with you, honey. I just wanted to hear your voice.''
A reply was on the tip of Dara's tongue as her second line lit up. She asked Robert to hold on as she answered the call. She listened carefully to the voice on the other end and when the conversation was over, she went back to her father. ''Listen, Daddy, I have to go now.''
''Really. I have to go. My boss wants to meet with me and I have to go. Right now.''
''Well, I understand. When duty calls, you've got to go. I don't want bad feelings to be between us, Sweet Potato,'' he said, using the nickname he gave her when she was small child. She loved sweet potatoes more than any other food, hence, the nickname. The endearment was special as he was the only one who called her that.
''Daddy...'' Dara sighed at the use of her old nickname. She wanted to fight it, but his charm was getting to her. Bad feelings between them would do neither of them any good, she decided. ''Neither do I.''
''Good, I'll call you back, okay?'' Robert asked.
''Okay,'' Dara replied with a slight nod.
''I love you, Dara Louise Jensen.''
''I love you, too, Daddy.''