Chapter 76, Part III

The man behind the angry, resentful eyes watched silently as his 'querida' moved away with the cackling hyena. An all-consuming rage grew inside of him as he saw what he considered as his and his alone drift away with another. She would be his again, Juan decided, his eyes trained on Simone. Soon. Very, very soon.


Juan raised an eyebrow at the server who dared to interrupt his thoughts. Realizing that the man only wanted to offer him a glass of champagne, his features softened a bit and he nodded in acceptance. Taking the glass, he raised his hand, silently telling the server to be still and wait. Juan swallowed the contents, placed the empty glass back on the tray and walked away in search of his companion who had been away from his arm for far too long.



"Excuse me?" Carrie asked, an amused expression on her face. She knew very well what Stefan was referring to, but she so wanted him to say the words.

"Everything. Your imagination is wonderful. I find it incomprehensible that I would have doubted your ideas for this affair," he replied, smoothly, unwilling to offer the words she wanted to hear.

"Thank you," she said, nodding her head. "And, so do I. I guess it would be too much for you to actually say the words. I'm sure that you've come as close as your pride will allow you."

"Excuse me?" he countered, a twinkling light shining in his vibrant green eyes. He folded his arms and moved to stand before her, effectively blocking everything and everyone else out except for the two of them.

"Oh, come now," Carrie replied. A teasing smile hinted at the corner of her lips as she continued, "You know what I mean."

"Maybe you should refresh my memory," he suggested. He smiled as she raised an eyebrow in reply and lifted her chin. After greeting former acquaintances from his native land, he enjoyed the light conversation he now shared with Carrie. Over the weeks, he'd discovered that, like her younger daughter, she had an engaging and incorrigible sense of humor. She liked to tease and to torment. There had been times where he wondered in what other areas of her life did teasing and torment crossover, but he had been hesitant to making that discovery. Maybe one day he would. But, then again, maybe he would not. Until the time presented itself, he was content to enjoy her friendship.

"And, maybe I shouldn't," she replied. "I understand the male ego, Stefan. I know how difficult it is for your gender to say those three little words. Really, it's okay. I would expect nothing less."

"Oh, you would not?" he asked, finding immense pleasure in their light flirtation. "I suppose you would be surprised if I did offer the 'three little words' my gender find ourselves incapable of uttering."

"Surprised? No. Try shocked," she replied. With a toss of her head, she continued, "However, I know that will never be. As I've said before, your ego refuses to allow you to comprehend the words let alone say them. No, Stefan, surprise wouldn't even come close to how those words coming from your lips would affect me."

Images of how he would love to affect her came into his mind and his eyes darkened with the thought of his lustful thoughts. Deciding that maybe this line of conversation would be better served for another time and another place, he deftly changed the topic. "I think our guests of honor have decided to forego their celebration," he said, after glancing at his watch.

Carrie found herself releasing the breath she hadn't been aware she had been holding. She'd have to be careful when she engaged in the irresistible urge to flirt with Stefan. She could see herself falling under the Cassadine charm as easily and completely as her daughter had, and that really wasn't something she wanted to have happen. Thankful for the change in conversation, she said, "I don't think so. They'll be here. There's no way Dawn would pass on the opportunity to shock so many at one time with her little surprise."

"You mean the change in her hair style?"

"Yes. She said that she wanted to surprise Nikolas, but I know my little girl. She'll get a wicked little jolt from surprising everyone else as well," she said, shaking her head and offering a small laugh as she thought of her daughter's penchant for mischief.

"I've noticed that in her," Stefan replied with a smile. "She has an interesting sense of humor. She brings it out in Nikolas, as well. They compliment each other quite nicely."

"I agree. They make a beautiful couple."

"Yes, they do," Stefan replied with a slight nod. They remained quiet as they enjoyed each other's company. They observed the guests in a companionable silence, their earlier banter nearly forgotten. Nearly, but not entirely. Unable to resist, Stefan leaned close against Carrie's ear and breathed, "You were right."

Carrie's eyes widened in shock at his admission and the heat generated from his proximity. A witty reply escaped her for a moment and when one came to mind, Stefan had walked away, unknown to her, with a satisfied smile on his face.



"Well, be still!" Dawn fussed as she tried to adjust Nikolas' tie. They stood in the corridor. After attending a brief photo session with the Port Charles' various newspapers, they were headed for the ballroom.

"We've already taken the pictures. I'm sure it's fine the way it is," he replied with a groan as she tugged on the tie again.

"It's not fine. I don't understand how you did this. I hope it wasn't this messed up when we took our pictures," she grumbled, her attention on the red tie which complimented his white tuxedo.

"You sure are in a peculiar mood," he said, frowning down at her. His hands moved to her waist and pulled her closer to him. As his hands moved lower and pressed her intimately against him, he said, "I have something to help you with that."

"Nikky, please..." she murmured when he began to kiss and nibble her neck.

"I intend to," he whispered against her throat.

Dawn indulged in his sensual caresses and tender kisses for a few seconds more before she forced herself to pull away...slightly. Lacing her fingers behind his neck, she looked into his sultry brown eyes and said, "Later. They're waiting for us, and we're already behind schedule..."

"Schedule? It's a party! I say we should start our own little party right now," he said, grinning at her seductively.

"You are insatiable!" she giggled as his hands began to roam again.

"Maybe," he said, his eyes twinkling at the effect they were having on each other. His expression sobered as he said, "I love you, Dawn Cassadine."

"I love you, too," she said, caressing his face, her voice soft with emotion. "Happy birthday, baby."

Nikolas lowered his head and captured her lips in a deep, imploring kiss. They kissed hungrily and passionately as they pushed thoughts of everyone and everything else from their minds, concentrating only on each other. When the kiss ended, they gave themselves a few seconds to regulate their breathing and then, hand in hand, they proceeded down the corridor to the ballroom where the festivities had already begun.

Chapter 77

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