“Not a word, Spencer,” Nikolas said, quietly, watching until the Jaguar turned the corner and was out of sight. He then turned and joined Tommy and Lucky as they headed down the sidewalk.
Lucky, never one to follow orders especially orders from a Cassadine, said, “You move kinda fast there, Cassadine. You and Sarah just broke up and you’re replacing her already. By the way, how long has Dawn been in town? I don’t recall seeing her before.”
“Lucky, I know you thrive on being obnoxious, but I’m only warning you once. Don’t say another word about Dawn. Got it?” Nikolas asked through clenched teeth. The decision to be civil was forgotten as soon as Dawn was out of earshot. He was certain of her love for him, but he wasn’t ready for her to see the side of him that came out whenever Lucky was around.
“She must be something special if she’s gotten you so riled up,” Lucky snickered, enjoying the effect his words were having on Nikolas.
In a flash, Nikolas grabbed Lucky by the collar. The two began to struggle and more angry words were exchanged.
Tommy watched them in amazement. Knowing both of them separately, he was surprised at the amount of contempt they held for each other. Both of them were his friends and seeing them resort to violence bothered him.
“Okay, stop!” Tommy exclaimed, moving to insinuate himself between Nikolas and Lucky. “We don’t have time for this.”
When they finally separated, all three were out of breath. The tension continued to be thick as they began to walk again.
Tommy worried about their behavior and decided he had to say something. “Look, I don’t know what’s going on between you two, but if you can’t work together, I don’t want either you of there. We all need to stay focused. If you guys can’t, go home. No hard feelings, but this is my mother’s life. I’m not taking any chances with it.”
Nikolas and Lucky knew that he was right. Their feelings for each other could be ignored for one night. They could work together.
“I can do it. I can work with him,” Lucky said, looking briefly at Nikolas and then focusing his gaze on Tommy.
“I can, too,” Nikolas replied quietly, his eyes on Tommy.
“Good,” Tommy said. He turned to Lucky and added, “By the way, Dawn is someone special. If you’re really lucky, maybe you’ll find out for yourself.”
Nikolas chuckled softly at Lucky’s dumbstruck expression to Tommy’s words. Finally, someone was able to shut him up.
“Look, man, I didn’t mean anything by that. I don’t even know her,” Lucky said, stunned.
Nikolas bit his tongue as a reply came to him. He told Tommy he could work with Lucky and he would. But at Tommy’s reply, he was happy he had kept to his word.
“Exactly. You don’t know her and until you do, would you keep the comments to yourself? Thanks,” Tommy said. “We have enough to concentrate on without adding speculations about Dawn into it.”
Lucky shook his head in amazement, but followed Tommy’s advice. The rest of the walk was done in silence as the three young men thought of what the night held in store for them.
“I’m not sure,” Dara replied into the telephone.
Alex came into the living room carrying a pizza box. They had spent the rest of the night discussing what would happen next between them and now they were on a break.
Alex set the pizza box on the coffee table and sat down on the sofa next to Dara. He pressed his ear against the receiver in a mock attempt to hear her conversation. He laughed softly as Dara pushed his head away.
“Okay…Soon. I don’t know…Good-night.” Dara placed the receiver back on the base. She leaned back against the sofa and let out a long sigh.
“Tough call?” he asked, a teasing smile hinted at the corners of his mouth.
“Yeah, my mother seems to have forgotten that I don’t have a curfew any more,” Dara replied.
“Mothers are like that,” he said, knowingly.
When he didn’t elaborate, Dara looked at him. She realized that she new next to nothing about his family. She wondered what secrets hid in his closet.
“Ready for pizza?” he asked, moving to the edge of the sofa to reach the pizza box. He opened the box and inhaled the rich aroma of the Italian spices. Pepperoni. Italian Sausage. Peppers. Olives. They had ordered ‘the works’ and Alex looked forward to that first bite.
Dara laughed as Alex made a big production of removing the pizza from the box and handing her a slice and then doing the same for himself. “I see you’re ready. Look at you. I bet if I wasn’t here you would have inhaled the entire thing by now,” she said.
“Wait. Hold that thought,” he said. Alex bit into the pizza and his eyes lit up as his savored the bite. “Mm.”
“It can’t be that good. There is no way Port Charles’ pizza is better than New York’s,” Dara said with a shake of her head.
He waited until he swallowed the food before he replied. Leaning against in the sofa with a satisfied smile on his face he said, “It’s way better. Try it.”
Dara looked at her slice for a second and then gave it a quick sniff. She sullenly admitted to herself that the aroma was rather pleasing. Not able to put off the inevitable, she took a bite.
Alex watched her with apt concentration. For some silly reason, he needed her to enjoy the pizza. He laughed to himself at the thought, but he couldn’t help but feel that way.
“Well?” he asked after she had swallowed.
“I think I’ll need another bite to be sure,” she said, lifting the slice to her mouth again.
“Sure, counselor,” he said, taking another bite of his pizza, too.
They spent the next few minutes devouring the pizza. When they were done, they quickly moved to clean up the mess they had created. They worked in unison, but silently. Soon the living room was clean again. Happy with their team effort, Alex took her hand and led her to the sofa again. When he pulled her into his arms, he was surprised when she didn’t pull away.
“You’ve made a decision?” he asked, rubbing her arms with his strong, careful hands.
Dara shook her head and then she nodded. She was so confused. She wanted a relationship with him, but her career meant so much to her. She didn’t want to do anything that would damage it. No matter how good or right being with him felt.
“Is that a yes or a no?” Alex asked softly. He moved her so that they were facing each other and said, “I know you were concerned about our careers, but I don’t see how it matters. We could be on the brink of something here and I think we’d be stupid to pass it up.”
“You mean, I’d be stupid,” she replied, looking down at his tee shirt as it pulled tightly across his chest. She sighed.
Alex reached for her hand and placed it on his chest where his heart beat was strong and constant. “This is real,” he said. He stood and went to her briefcase. He brought it back and placed her hand on it. “This isn’t.”
“Listen to me, Dara. I know you have legitimate concerns about what this could mean to our careers. I’ve heard the rumors about what happened during the Jones trial. I can’t assure you that no one will talk about us, but I can assure you that I would never do anything that would affect what happens between us personally or professionally.”
"Sometimes things have a way of happening regardless of our intentions and all the assurances in the world can't prevent it."
"Sounds like you're trying to convince yourself because you sure as hell haven't convinced me. Will you answer a question for me?" he asked.
"No 'depends.' Yes or no," he replied, his brown eyes never wavering from hers. When she gave a slight nod, he continued. "Do you want me?"
The softly asked question caused Dara's heart to constrict tightly in her chest. Her mouth became dry and she swallowed hard.
Alex cupped her jaw and his thumb lightly caressed her cheek. "Dara? Yes or no."
She couldn't speak. How dare he put her on the spot like that, she thought.
"Why are you asking me this? You already know the answer," she said.
"Do I? I know that I want you. That I want to be with you and I don't give a damn who knows it. There have been times when I wanted to approach you, but I wasn't sure how you would react. I've kept my feelings at bay for a long time and after what we've shared tonight, I know I can't do it any longer."
Dara was quiet as she absorbed his words. He'd had feelings for her for a long time. How could she have not known, she wondered. Her feelings for him were so new that knowing his weren't caused her to feel intimidated. She didn’t know what to say.
Alex watched the emotions flow across her face. She was surprised. She had no idea how much he cared about her and knowing that he had been willing to wait for her rendered her speechless. He became concerned that he'd said too much so he moved away from her.
At his sudden movement, Dara looked at him. Believing that he was hurt by her silence, without a second thought, the words came pouring out of her mouth.
"Alex, forgive me, but I had no idea you felt this way. I'm surprised because you've never given my any indication that you were interested. I really don't quite know what to say."
When she paused, Alex said, "We don't have to talk about this any more tonight…"
"No, I think we do or rather we should. You asked me a question and now, I'm going to answer it. Yes, I do want you, but all of this scares me. My feelings for you are so new that I'm not quite sure what I'm feeling. I'm attracted to you. I trust you. But I can't help but think of all the other factors to consider. I don't want to rush into anything," she said.
"Neither do I. I'm willing to take this as slow as you want. You don't have to be afraid of what happens because you won't be alone. I'll be with you every step of the way. You say you trust me. Prove it. Together, I know that we can make this work."
Dara considered his words and longed to believe him. After Alexis used her relationship with Justus against her, she had sworn off any serious involvement with anyone in her field. The pseudo-date with Marcus was after work fun and definitely not serious.
Feeling his eyes on her, she made a decision. She hoped she wouldn’t regret what she was about to do. She felt like she was being pulled in so many directions. Her practical side wanted her to walk away. Her adventurous side wanted her to risk it. Her lustful side wanted to make love with him again. She was sure that Alex wanted the same as Ms. Adventure and Ms. Lust, but ultimately she could only do one thing. With her mind made up, she looked into his warm, brown eyes and said,
Dawn's mind was a million miles away as she unlocked the door. The dream of driving an expensive sports car was lost on her as she worried about what was happening to Nikolas. The plan Tommy and Lucky had told them seemed dangerous and risky with guns and mobsters involved. From what Tommy said, the guards were ruthless and wouldn't think twice about killing them. She shuddered at the thought of losing him. She couldn't lose him. He meant too much to her.
"Hi, did you have a good time?" Carrie asked, as she came back into the living room with a bowl of popcorn. She had rented a few movies to keep her company while her girls were out.
"Yes, I had a wonderful time," she said, moving to sit next to her mother on the sofa. She removed her sandals and stretched her feet out in front of her. Leaning back against the sofa, she sighed. Her fingers played with the keys to the Jaguar.
Carrie's eyes had been on the television screen, but when Dawn sighed, she knew something was wrong. She pushed the stop button on the remote and turned to her daughter.
"Why the long face? Did something happen with Nikolas?"
"Not anything bad," she said with a secret smile, remembering their dance to Marvin Gaye's suggestive song.
"I won't ask what that smile is all about, but something must have happened. Do you want to talk about it?"
Dawn wanted to confide in her mother, but she couldn't. There was nothing her mother could do and she didn’t see any point in worrying her. She shook her head no. She smiled at her mother and said, "I think I'll go to bed now. Have fun with your movie. I'll see you in the morning."
She picked up her shoes and rose from the sofa. She was headed towards Dara's bedroom, when her mother's voice stopped her.
"My offer doesn't have a time limit. Anytime you want to talk about what's troubling you, I'm here," Carrie said softly. She wished Dawn would tell her what's wrong, but she knew that kind of confidence would have to come in time. There relationship would take time to progress. She shouldn’t expect changes to happen in one day.
"I know, Mama. Thanks."
Dawn went into the bedroom and closed the door. She quickly removed her dress and changed into her new pajamas. She sprawled herself on the bed and picked up Nikolas' keys where she had set them on the nightstand. Holding them to her breast she said a silent prayer for him and the others who were risking their lives that night.