Life After Dark
Chapter 9A

"Have I told you how incredible you look in that dress?" AJ asked as he reached for Keesha's hand across the table.

"Yes," she said as a bright smile lit her face, "several times in fact."

"That's all? Only several times? I must be slipping."

"Oh, AJ," she laughed.

So beautiful, AJ thought. How could he be so lucky as to have such a beautiful, smart and sexy woman at his side, he wondered.

As they watched the stage crew clear the stage, AJ subconsciously caressed the back of Keesha's hand with his thumb. When he felt her squeeze his hand, his eyes flew to her smiling face. He felt his entire being tingle at her small gesture. Looking into her smiling face, he felt reassured that tonight would do wonders for them. Already, she was willingly reacting to his touch and she seemed more relaxed. He looked forward to what the night had in store for them.

"So what did you think?" she asked.

"About what?" he asked. His thoughts had been only of her. None other had entered his mind.

"The band that just finished. Do you think they have a snowball's chance?"

"The band?" he asked with a slight frown.

Keesha laughed and said, "Yes, silly! The band who were just onstage? The reason why we had to scream at each other when we first came in."

"Oh, them!"

"Yes. Them," she said with a smile. Keesha laughed at AJ as he tried to come up with a diplomatic description of the horrible band they just heard. She realized that she hadn't felt this relaxed and happy in a long time. She was happy that she and AJ had decided to attend the opening. Obviously, a night out was all that they needed to get their relationship back on track. She smiled at him and said, "Well?"

"Well, what?" asked the person who stood beside their table.

"Emily!" AJ said with a smile. He rose from his chair and moved to embrace his sister in a warm hug. "I'm surprised to see you here. Does Grandfather know where you are?"

"AJ, stop teasing her," Keesha said. She reached out a hand to Emily and smiled. "Please, have a seat."

"I don't want to intrude," Emily said.

"You could never be an intrusion, my dear. Here sit right here, next to me," AJ said, pulling out a chair for her.

Emily sat and she began to glance around the room. The place was packed with so many people. She was sure that if she didnít know Brenda personally she would have never been able to get in.

"You look very nice tonight," Keesha said, admiring Emily's hair and wardrobe.

Emily looked down at her fitted pink tank dress. The square cut was low enough to hint at her cleavage and the length was short enough to emphasize her long legs. She wore pink platform shoes which only made her legs appear even longer. Her hair hung straight down her back and her make-up was applied sparingly to give her a natural look. She smiled back at Keesha and said, "Thank you. So do you. That color looks good on you."

"Thanks," Keesha said.

"Hey, what about me?" AJ asked with mock sadness.

Keesha laughed and placed a light kiss on his cheek. She whispered, "You look scrumptious."

Emily laughed as a blush colored her brother's cheek. He seemed so happy. They both did. She silently wished that she would find someone to share a moment like that with.

"Hello, Emily."

Emily's head turned when she heard the voice say her name. A bright, excited smile covered her face when she saw who had greeted her. "Hi, Nikolas."

"Hi, Keesha. AJ," he said and smiled at them. Turning his attention back to Emily, he said, "I didn't know you were back in Port Charles. How was the South of France, was it?"

"Yes, it was France. I came back today. France was wonderful," she said. "I sent you a few postcards. Didn't you receive them?"

He nodded. "I did. Things have been a little crazy around here. I had almost forgotten."

"Oh," she said biting her lip. She wondered what he meant by that. Deciding that there was only one way to find out, she said, "Would you like to join us?"

"Well, actually, I'm with a few people. I just stopped by to say hello."

Emily's smile faded and she said, "Oh, okay. Well, it was nice seeing you."

Nikolas turned to leave and changed his mind. He looked at her and said, "If you would like, you're more than welcome to join us. That is if your brother doesnít mind."

"Fine by me," AJ said, looking forward to spending more time alone with Keesha.

"Okay, I'd like that," Emily said.

Nikolas moved behind her to help her from her seat. He offered her his arm, which she accepted, and they left.

"Alone at last, sweetheart," AJ whispered against Keesha's ear. When he felt her stiffen, he pulled away and asked, "What's wrong?"

She shook her head and smiled. Nothing's wrong, she thought, except that's the endearment your brother used the last time I saw him. She had to stop thinking like that, she scolded herself. Tonight was a night of new beginnings for her and AJ. Jason was and always would be a part of the past. A past which was best left forgotten.

The second band began to play an upbeat tune. She squeezed AJ's hand and said, "Would you care to dance?"

AJ returned the squeeze and said, "I thought you'd never ask."

He rose from his seat and helped her with hers. Taking her hand, he led her to the dance floor where they began to vigorously move their bodies to the beat.

~*~

"So, where's the fire, Robin? Brenda didnít seem too upset when we came in," Jason said, stiffly. He couldnít help but wonder if Robin made up Brenda's crisis just to get him to go out. Somehow, he wouldnít put it past her.

"You know how Brenda gets," Robin said, trying to shrug off Jason's thinly veiled accusation of trickery.

"No, I donít know 'how Brenda gets.' Listen, Robin, I'm not in the mood for this. These people. The music. I'm going back to the penthouse. You can find me there when you're ready to talk," he said, extricating his arm from Robin's hand.

"Jason, please donít go. Listen to the music. You love this kind of music. Maybe we could dance and then see how you feel afterwards," she pleadingly suggested.

Jason sighed. He never realized how tired he was of her telling him what he loved and didn't love. How he felt and how he should feel. He ran his fingers through his hair and allowed his eyes to scan the dance floor. Maybe he would give her one dance. A final dance to seal the ending of their relationship.

His eyes flew over the many dancers who were grooving to the pulsating beat of the rock tune. He saw a flash of a vision in a plum-colored dress. His eyes moved back to get a better look. He felt his heart pound in his chest when he realized that the vision in plum was Keesha. God, she looked beautiful, he thought. His blue eyes lit up as he devoured her from afar.

"Well, what do you say?" Robin asked. "Will you stay for a little while?"

Jason was startled by her voice. Dragging his eyes away from Keesha's gyrating form, he looked at Robin and said, "Yeah. I'll stay."

As he watched Keesha and AJ leave the dance floor and go back to their seats, he silently added, but I'm not staying for you. I'm staying because I can't help myself.

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