Chapter 78

"Wow! Is that the same girl?"

Eve frowned at A.J. as he continued to eye Dawn from afar. Giving him a powerful nudge in his arm, she said, "Close your mouth before the flies go in."

"Ow!" he said, rubbing his arm. "I doubt if flies would be so bold as to come here tonight. I'm pretty sure the Cassadines don't allow flies on their premises."

"Probably not, and I'm pretty sure that Nikolas wouldn't appreciate you ogling his wife," she said, giving him another poke for emphasis.

"Ouch, Eve!" he exclaimed with a glare. "I wasn't ogling her. She's just a kid, you know... But that change in her hair makes her look pretty grown up."

Eve rolled her eyes at him at him as he began to grin at her. Her displeasure soon disappeared as she realized that her friend was happy and for the first time in weeks, actually enjoying himself. She couldn't begrudge him a few moments of good humor even if his attention was focused on a woman besides her.

A.J. tore his eyes away from the happy young wife to look at his close friend. The frown had disappeared and she was smiling at him. He had a strong feeling that her pleasure with him came from his change in attitude. He felt bad about putting a damper on their evening before it had even begun, but he was more than happy that Eve hadn't held it against him. She was a great friend, and as the band began to strike up a pulsating beat, he began to wonder if she was a good dancer, too.

Linking his arm through her hers, he asked, "Care to dance?"

"I thought you'd never ask!" Eve laughed as AJ pulled her onto the dance floor and they began to dance to the hired band's version of Janet Jackson's "Go Deep."


A pair of brown eyes and two pairs of blue eyes stared at her and Dawn began to feel annoyed at the close scrutiny. A frown wrinkled her brow as she folded her arms and said, "What?"

Jordan playfully tugged on her hair. A teasing smile played across his lips as he asked, "Is all this really yours?"

Dawn slapped his hand away. "Of course, it's mine!"

"I don't believe you," he said, having fun teasing her. "Let me check for the tracks."

"Shut up, you!" she said, laughing at him as she moved away from his inquiring hands.

"Tracks?" Lucky asked, confused.

"Tracks," replied the all-knowing Sly. "You know, for hair weaving. Gosh, Lucky, don't you know anything?"

"Shut up, Sly," Lucky grumbled. He smiled at Dawn. He liked the way the new hair style looked on her. It changed her somehow. Maybe it made her appear a little bit more grown-up. Whatever it was, it was nice. "You look good with your hair like that."

"Thanks, Lucky," Dawn answered, smiling back at him. Turning a reproving glance to their bandmates, she said, "You two could learn a lot from him. He knows how to compliment a woman. Not by staring and not by questioning her."

"Yeah, yeah," Sly and Jordan mumbled before their expressions changed and they smiled at her.

"Your hair looks great like that," Sly replied and Jordan quickly seconded that opinion.

"Have you three finished harassing my wife?" Nikolas asked, moving behind Dawn to wrap his arms around her waist. He had just ended a conversation with Alexis and her escort. Very relieved when it was over, he quickly went in search of his wife. He wasn't the least bit surprised when he found her surrounded by her bandmates.

Dawn leaned her back against him covered his hands with hers. Smiling up at him, she said, "I think they've finished."

"Yeah, we're done, Nikolas," Sly replied as he and Jordan began to move away. Tossing over his shoulder, he added, "For now."

"Butthead," Dawn laughed as Sly waved his hand at them.

"Happy birthday, Nikolas," Lucky said, ending the silence which had overtaken the trio when Jordan and Sly left.

"Thanks, Lucky," Nikolas replied with a faint smile. Wanting to add something more, but not knowing what, Nikolas became quiet.

"Um, Elizabeth and I got you something...for your birthday and a wedding gift, too," Lucky said quietly. "I'd give it to you now, but she has them and I don't know where she is right now. Somewhere with Tommy maybe, I don't know..."

"You didn't have to," Nikolas said.

"Oh, yes, he did!" Dawn said, correcting him. "He'd better give up at least a wedding gift."

Lucky and Nikolas laughed at Dawn's comment. She looked from one laughing face to the other and added, "I'm serious! And when we have the baby shower, I expect some really good stuff."

"Greedy!" Lucky said, shaking his head at her.

"Selfish," she fired back, laughing when he rolled his eyes at her.

"Am I missing something?" Nikolas asked, having the strangest feeling that they were sharing a private joke.

"Not much. Lucky's just a really selfish person, that's all," she said with a shrug.

"Yeah, and Dawn's just really greedy," Lucky added, with a shrug of his own.

"Oh," Nikolas said softly, "I see."

"Yeah, he's also ver-"

"Dawn?" Dara said, unintentionally interrupting Dawn as she and Alex approached them.

Dawn stiffened in Nikolas' arms and slowly turned to face her sister and her boyfriend. "Dara. Hi, Alex."

"Hi, sweetie. Nice do," Alex said with a smile. "Happy birthday, Nikolas."

"Thanks, Alex. Dara," Nikolas said softly.

"Nikolas," Dara said, greeting him with a stiff smile. Directing her attention to her sister who refused to give her the benefit of eye contact, she said, "Dawn, would you mind speaking with private?"

"Dara, it's Nikky's birthday, I really don't-"

"Honey, it's okay," Nikolas quickly reassured her, knowing that she and Dara were long overdue for a talk. "Go with Dara. I'll be here when you get back."


"Darling, really, I'll be fine," Nikolas said after Dawn had turned around to face him. His eyes held hers and soothed her as he spoke softly so that only she could hear, "Go talk with her. Okay? I'll be right here if you need me. Promise."

Dawn released an long sigh and nodded. "Okay. I'll do it."

"Dawn?" Dara prompted again.

"I'm coming," Dawn said through gritted teeth. "Let's go and get this over with."

"Very well," Dara replied. "Let's go."

Dara and Dawn stalked off, leaving three bemused men in their wake.


Laura stood still as she watched the three of them. Lucky, Nikolas and his wife. Laughing and smiling together. When she arrived at Wyndemere, she had no idea that she'd find her two sons enjoying an amiable relationship. Amazing, she smiled to herself.


Laura turned to find Stefan staring down at her. His eyes shone with surprise which immediately set her on edge. Her jaw set, she bit out, "Stefan."

"When did you arrive? Have you spoken to Nikolas? I think he'd be surprised to see you her-"

"You mean you didn't tell him that I was coming?" she questioned, using a defensive tone which surprised both of them. Aware of the curious glances which were being thrown their way, she lowered her voice. "He doesn't know I'm here?"

"Not unless you've spoken to him. I chose not to tell him. I didn't want him to be disappointed should you have decided to change your mind," he replied with a smile which didn't extend to his eyes.

"Look, Stefan, I refuse to be bated. Not today. I'm here, aren't I?" she questioned, her blue eyes ablaze in indignation.

"I suppose, as you Americans would say, 'better late than never'?" he replied with an arch of his brow.

A retort was on the tip of her tongue when she glanced back at her two sons and saw them staring back at her and Stefan in surprise. Thoughts of sparring with Stefan were forgotten as she left him and went to join her two children.

Chapter 79

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