Chapter 81, Part 2

Dawn breathed a sigh of relief as she slipped unnoticed through the double doors and out into the corridor. Feelings of remorse for her parting comment to Nikolas and Laura had set in and the only thing she wanted was sort out her feelings and to calm her frazzled nerves.

Moving away from the ballroom, she considered going upstairs to her and Nikolas' quarters, but she knew that if she went there, she wouldn't want to come back down, so that sanctuary was out of the question. The chill from the November night air prevented her from going out onto the terrace again. As she rounded the corridor and left the wing, she realized that her footsteps had their own destination in mind. The library. It would be quiet and would grant her the peace she needed at that time.

As her hand reached for the doorknob, a sudden wave of nausea overtook her, and she blindly pushed the door open, unaware that the door had already been left ajar. Intent on allowing a glass of water to put an end to her light-headedness and queasy stomach, Dawn headed for the mini-bar, not bothering to close the door shut behind her. Pouring a glass of water with one hand, while the other hand patted her stomach, she murmured, "Mommy will make it better. Just calm down, okay?"

"So, the rumors on the continent are true."

At the sound of the unfamiliar female voice, Dawn dropped the pitcher of water. The glass shattered at Dawn's feet and water flowed everywhere. Careful of the broken glass, Dawn stepped away from the bar as she turned to face her visitor. The older woman, with the perfectly coifed blonde hair, gazed at her from behind icy, emerald eyes. The sequined dress and the sable coat screamed money as did the jewels which glittered around her throat, wrists, and fingers. As Dawn ended her perusal of the woman, she couldn't help but feel as though there was something familiar about her, but she couldn't put her finger on it. Placing a protective hand on her just barely rounded abdomen, she asked, "Who are you?"

"A very proud grandmother," the woman offered with a smile which didn't extend to her eyes. She allowed her eyes to drift over Dawn from head to toe. Her eyes were unreadable as she ended her own perusal and made eye contact with Dawn.

"Look, I don't want to play twenty questions with you. Either tell me who you are, or get out. Or I will have you thrown out," Dawn said the words with confidence, but inside she was terrified. Her instincts told her that the woman who stood before her was the one she had been warned about on countless occasions, and suddenly her decision to give her bodyguard the slip seemed like the stupidest thing she'd ever done in her life.

"Ah, I see that you not only bear the Cassadine name and heir, but you have also taken claim to the Cassadine arrogance as well."

"Okay, I see that you have no intention of leaving on your own, so I'll have you thrown out." Dawn quickly moved to the telephone, but was prevented from lifting up the receiver when a silk glove-covered hand covered her hand with such an intense pressure that Dawn was unable to lift her hand. Fearful brown eyes flew to narrowed green eyes.

"There is no need for such dramatics, my dear. I can see that I've frightened you and that was not my intention. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Nikolas' grandmother... Helena Cassadine."


"Carrie!" Simone called above the music.

"Hi, girl! I was just looking for you. Are you enjoying yourself?" Carrie asked as she stood close to her friend. The band was great, but as the night wore on, they kept getting louder and louder. She'd placed a mental bet with herself that Stefan would have a little talk with the band leader soon.

"It's been nice," Simone hedged, not wanting to put a damper on her friend's happy mood by telling her about her problems with Tommy and Gina. "I could see that you've been having a good time."

"Yeah, this has been great. I can't remember the last time I've enjoyed myself like this...dancing and laughing... I feel like I've been granted a reprieve and now, I'm finally allowed to have some fun," Carrie said with a smile.

Simone nodded in agreement. "So, life with Robert wasn't all dancing and laughing?"

"Not really," Carrie said, shrugging the memory of her life together with her soon-to-be ex-husband from her mind. Her eyes moved away from Simone to follow Stefan as he motioned towards the band leader. A light laugh escaped her as she watched the two men converse from afar. The conversation was a short one and soon the bandleader went back to his position in front of the band. Within seconds, the music was much softer than it had been just moments before.

Simone didn't have to follow Carrie's eyes to know who had captured her attention. Placing a hand on her friend's forearm, she gave her gentle pat. "You've got it bad, and on that note, I'm out of here."

"I don't have it bad," Carrie said, blushing. "And, you don't have to leave. Besides, did you forget who brought you here?"

"No, I haven't forgotten, but I don't think you're ready to go, yet. No offense, but I'm tired and I need to leave. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

"I thought I saw Gina and Tommy leave?"

Simone shook her head. "You did. Justus offered a ride and I accepted."

"Ah-ha! Justus," Carrie said with a grin.

"Girl, please. Justus is taking me home. That's it," Simone replied, knowing that she had to put a rest to the wheels she could see turning in Carrie's eyes.

"Okay, if you say so," Carrie said, her eyes dancing with merriment.

"I do! Good-night."

Carrie smiled as she watched her friend walk away, but her smile quickly disappeared as Nikolas rushed towards her. He seemed anxious and worried which instantly made her feel the same. "Nikolas, what's wrong?"

"Maybe nothing, but I can't seem to find Dawn. Have you seen her?"

"The last time I saw her, she was talking to you and Laura. Maybe she's talking to some friends," Carrie suggested.

"That was a long time ago and most of our friends have left. Are you certain that's the last time you saw her?" he asked again, becoming more agitated.

"Yeah, I'm sure," Carrie said, placing a hand on his arm. "Honey, I don't know what's made you so worried, but I'm sure she's okay."

"She was a little upset earlier and I wanted to make sure she's okay."

"I'm sure she's fine, but if it will make you feel any better, ask Arman where she is. He's been watching her the entire night and I'm sure he knows where she is. Right?"

"Of course. Thanks, Carrie," Nikolas said with a smile.


"There, there, dear. I assure you there's no cause for alarm. You wouldn't want to upset your unborn child, now would you?" Helena asked, giving Dawn's hand a squeeze for emphasis.

"I'm not upset," Dawn said, after taking a deep breath. "But if you're as concerned about my unborn child-"

"Oh, I am concerned," Helena interrupted. "My concern is what brought me here tonight. I wanted to meet the young woman who had bedded and wedded my grandson-"

"It wasn't like that!" Dawn answered through gritted teeth. "I love Nikolas and-"

"Love?" Helena sneered. "You knew my grandson less than a week but that didn't prevent you from warming his bed. And, now you speak to me of love? I doubt you have an inkling of what the true emotion is or means."

"Let go of me!" Dawn said, becoming frightened by Helena's cold stare as she spat out her insulting words. Dawn pulled on her hand and in her surprise, Helena released her, causing her to stumble backwards.

"Such grace," Helena laughed, folding her arms as she watched her.

"Stefan won't be pleased if he finds you here," Dawn said, looking towards the door. She wanted to make a run for it, but she knew that Helena would prevent her from doing so.

"Stefan!" Helena said his name as if it was a curse. "I'm in no fear of what pleases, nor displeases him!"

"But, you should be, Mother."

Tears sprang to Dawn's eyes when she heard the soft voice of her uncle-in-law. Pushing past Helena, she rushed to him and he greeted her with open arms. His arms wrapped around her, holding her trembling form to him as he glared at his mother over the top of her head.

"Stefan, there is no need to look at me with such venom and distrust. I was merely welcoming our newest family member into the fold. I have to admit that my feelings are a bit hurt at being left out of this lively affair," Helena said, unable to keep a smile from her lips as she watched Dawn attempt to recover from their first meeting.

"Your feelings are of no consequence to me," he replied, his voice deadly quiet as he continued to pat Dawn's back, silently reassuring her that no harm would come to her.

"Are you paying attention, dear?" Helena asked. "Have you noticed how my own son treats me? I hope that the child you carry doesn't look upon you with the same regard."

"Do *not* speak of our child!"

"Nikolas, I was only trying to offer-"

"Enough!" he said, raising his hand as he entered the room. He held out his other hand to Dawn and when she came to him, he pulled her into a tight embrace, holding her close against him. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Dawn breathed him.

"Of course, she's fine. What kind of person do you think I am? I wouldn't harm a hair on her head. I only wanted to meet the fine, young wom-"

"Enough, I said! Do not speak to me about what *you* only wanted! What *I* What *I* demand is that you leave right now, or by God, I'll have you bodily thrown out," Nikolas said, barely able to contain his anger. From his peripheral vision, he could see Stefan look at with pride as Dawn gazed at him with unreadable eyes. He could sense that she was frightened and he wanted the reason for her fear to leave. Immediately.

"Nikolas, please," Helena begged. "You mustn't be so harsh. I am your grandmother, after all. Dawn, please tell him that I caused you no harm."

"Dawn doesn't have to tell me anything. The broken glass and the spilled water has told me everything I need to know. It appears to me that you've forgotten who feeds and clothes you. Should I remind you? Or, would you rather I have your income revoked?"

"Nikolas, I..."

"If not, do not come near my wife, our child, nor anyone else in our family again. Do you understand me?"

"Dear Prince, it was not my intention to offend you and especially on a night of such grand occasion. Please, forgive," Helena said with a slight bow of her head.

"You don't understand do you? It's not the offense to me that I've taken issue with. It's discovering my wife visibly shaken."

"Please, believe me. I never intended to upset the Princess. I wanted to personally give my well wishes for a happy marriage, and I also wanted to ask her for a small favor."

"A favor?" Dawn repeated, narrowing her eyes.

"Yes," Helena replied, her eyes glued to Nikolas. She reached into her purse and pulled out a small black, velvet case. "This is for you, my darling grandson, for your birthday. Since I was not invited to share this night with you, I wanted to impose upon the good graces of your wife and ask her to give the gift to you in my stead."

"You wasted a trip and my wife's time. I won't accept it."

"But, you must," Helena insisted, taking a step toward him. She paused when he moved to stand in front of Dawn, protecting her from Helena with his body.

"You have a short memory. I told you *never* to come near-"

"Nikolas, please! Just take it," Helena pleaded, handing the case out to him. "It was your father's. It would have meant so much to him if you had it. Please."

Nikolas took the gift from her and looked at it. After what seemed like an eternity, he slowly opened the present. "My father's Medallion?" he asked, softly.

"Yes," Helena smiled. "Had he lived, he would have placed a very special one around your neck today, but... Well, he's not here, and as your grandmother, it's my honor to give this to you today. I miss, my dear Stavros, so much...especially, today. Please, take his Medallion and wear it with pride...until the day comes when you pass it down to your son." Her hand briefly cupped his cheek as she said, "Good-night, my sweet Prince."

Dawn moved closer to Stefan as Helena brushed past her. Once Helena was gone, she went to Nikolas and placed her hand on his back. "Are you okay?" she asked, concerned by how still he had become.

He snapped the jewelry case shut and looked down at her. "I should be the one asking you that. Are you certain, she didn't harm you?"

"I'm fine. Shaken, not stirred."

"What?! She shook you?" Stefan asked.

"No, Stefan...a bad choice of words," Dawn said, shaking her head. "She surprised me. Really, I'm fine, now. Thank you."

"Uncle, would you please make sure she's left the island and that extra guards are placed with Laura, my brother and sister, Carrie, and Dara."

"Of course," Stefan replied, patting both of them on their backs. "I'll leave you two alone."

"Thank you, Uncle," Nikolas said, with a small smile. After Stefan left, he pulled Dawn into his arms again. "You gave me quite a scare, disappearing like that. Even Arman didn't know where you were."

"I didn't mean to scare you. I just wanted to be alone for a few minutes," she replied, lacing her fingers at the back of his neck. "I'm sorry if I hurt you before... I..."

"Ssh," he said, resting his forehead on hers. "That's not important right now. I just want to look at you and make sure you're okay. She didn't touch you, did she? And, the broken glass and spilled did that happen?"

"I dropped the pitcher when she came in behind me. She startled me and I dropped it..." she said, softly, unsure if she should answer his other question.

"Dawn? Sweetheart, did she touch you? You can tell me. I promised that there would be no beheadings tonight and I meant that," he said, trying to coax her with a small attempt at humor. "Did she threaten you? I can't ignore the look on your face when I came through the door, nor how you clung to Uncle. Please...just tell me what happened. I need to know."

Dawn released a long sigh and nodded. "I told her I'd call for security and when I tried, she stopped me by covering my hand with hers. As for threats...there weren't any. I was scared...just because, and that's why I clung to Stefan. Oh, Nikky, I'm so sorry..."

Dawn stopped speaking as sobs overtook her. Nikolas pulled her closer to him and tried to soothe her discomfort with his gentle touch and his soft voice. "You don't have to apologize, love. Helena is the one who was out of line. She shouldn't have been here and she definitely shouldn't have touched you. You had every right to be frightened-"

"But, I shouldn't have been!" Dawn said, passionately as she raised her head to look at him.

"And, why not?" Nikolas asked, confused by her reaction.

"Because! Well, because it gives her an edge over me. I've done plenty of stupid things in my life but I think my reaction to Helena tonight takes the cake-"

"She doesn't have an edge over you," Nikolas said. When she shook her head in reply, he continued. "Did you see her reaction to me? Baby, she's afraid of me. She would never come near you now. Never."

"I saw how she reacted to you, but... I still say that I should have been fearless. I should have handled her the way you did instead of trembling like a child," Dawn mumbled, unable to hide her disappointment in herself.

"And, I say you handled yourself just fine!" Nikolas said, his voice strong and firm. "You had every right to be frightened by her, considering the things we've told you about her. You didn't do anything wrong, and I forbid you from thinking that you did."

"You forbid me?" she asked, arching a perfect brow as she folded her arms across her chest.

"Yes, I do!" he grinned at her, desperate in his attempt to lighten the mood. "As of this moment, I, Nikolas Cassadine, hereby forbids Dawn Cassadine from ever thinking that she ever did anything wrong. From henceforth and forever, this decree will rule and govern all things Cassadine, et cetera, et cetera."

Nikolas' attempt worked and Dawn began to giggle. "Henceforth and forever, huh? Oh, Nikky..."

"Oh, Nikky...what?" he asked, happy to see her beautiful smile again.

"Oh, Nikky... Oh, I know! Oh, Nikky, let's go back to the party and dance a couple of slow dances?" she suggested, wrapping her arms around him again.

Nikolas shook his head at her suggestion. "Why don't we go upstairs and dance a couple of slow dances there instead?"

"But, what about our guests and the party?"

"What about them?" he asked, laughing softly at the surprised expression on her face. "They'll be fine without us. Besides, most of our guests have left and if I remember correctly, I'm supposed to get some hanky panky when that happens."

His lips closed over hers in a tantalizing kiss which promised her that there was more to come. She responded in kind.

[The last Nik & Dawn e-mail only chapter follows this one. If you would like a copy, please e-mail me at Thanks!] Chapter 82

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