Chapter 4: Consequences

The restaurant Nikolas hired to cater the dinner did a wonderful job. The set up crew stayed behind to act as servers, which gave the host and hostess time to interact with their guests.

Dawn spent the first few minutes reacquainting herself with the other members of the Boudreaux family. Felicia was her usual warm self. Clayton gave her his typical bear hug, which lifted her off the ground. But Remy seemed distant. Whenever Dawn tried to approach her former childhood playmate, he gave her a faint smile and walked away.

"Great party."

"Thank you." Dawn smiled at Rick's friend. "I hope you're enjoying yourself."

Philip smiled. "I expected to see fireworks."

She released a short laugh. "Are you disappointed?"

"No. I'm relieved." He jutted his chin toward Mel and Rick. "They deserve a break. I understand that you and Nikolas went through the same."

"Not exactly. The Cassadines were more opposed to us because of the class issue. He comes from royalty. I don't."

"How did you work it out?" Philip asked, acutely interested.

"I'm not sure if we ever did," she confided. "Nikolas and I are pretty stubborn. When it's meant to be, you work to keep it together."

A faint smile parted his thin lips. "That's true."

*~*

"What would Nikolas do if Philip made a move on Dawn?"

"Rick, you're changing the subject," Mel complained.

The handsome doctor smiled. "I know."

"But I asked you a question," she persisted. "Daddy hasn't--"

"Stop," Rick quickly whispered. "You're gonna jinx it!"

"Jinx?" she repeated. "You're a doctor, a scientist. I know you don't believe in that crap."

"Jinxes aren't crap!" he argued, his eyes twinkling as she laughed. "Jinxes are real. You have to be careful, and you must never, ever tempt fate. Agreed?"

Mel laughed again. "Sure."

His eyes narrowed. "That didn't sound right, but since you agreed, I'm holding you to it."

*~*

"Do my eyes deceive me or is that a smile I see on your face?" Felicia couldn't resist the urge to tease her husband.

Clayton shook his head. "Not you, too. Every time Mel looks at me, there's a huge grin on her face."

"She wants you to be happy for her," Felicia said.

He swallowed hard. "I want that, too. I wish I could believe that she will be."

"So seeing how happy Dawn and Nikolas are hasn't swayed you?"

He cocked an eyebrow. "I thought I was being shanghaied. Now, itís confirmed. I love Dawn, and I want her happy, too. This Cassadine kid adores her, but adoration wonít see them through the tough times."

Felicia gasped. "You can't believe that marrying into the Cassadine family was easy."

"That's not what I saidó"

She shook her head. "You are so determined to see things in black and white. What happened to the man I fell in love with? The one who viewed the world in vivid Technicolor and loved it?"

"Felicia, come on," Clayton began.

"No, I'm not the one who's being unreasonable," she said, moving away from his outstretched hand. "Our daughter has always gone out of her way to please you. Isn't it time that you go out of your way to make her happy?"

"That's not fair," he said as anger threatened to erupt inside him. "You know why I have reservations about her and Rick. I want Mel to be happy just as much as you do, but I refuse to pretend something I don't feel! I've never lied to our children. I'm not about to start now."

Clayton stormed away and out of the Cassadine home, leaving Felicia and the other guests staring behind him.

*~*

"Is your father ill?"

Remy somehow found himself standing next to Dawn's husband. He'd done his best to avoid both Cassadines for most of the dinner, but somehow he slipped up. Damn!

"I don't know," Remy answered. "I was standing here. Remember?"

The former Cassadine prince frowned. "Have we done something to offend you?"

"We?" Remy repeated, his mouth a slight curl of contempt. "Is that the royal we or are you actually referring to more than one person?"

"I refer to my wife and myself," Nikolas stated. "I've noticed how you've ignored her tonight."

Remy stiffened. He didn't need Cassadine in his face. He began to move away.

"So you resolve your problems by walking away," Nikolas said. "Like father, like son."

Remy turned quickly on his heel. His heart rate thudded inside his chest. "You don't talk about my father!" he said through clenched teeth.

A muscle flickered at Nikolas' jaw. Dark patches of red colored his olive-toned cheeks. "And you will not disrespect my wife."

"Your wife," Remy said. "It's about ownership with you. She's a possession. That's all you think about. Divide, conquer and possess. I'm outta here."

He made it to the door before his mother stopped him. "Where are you going?"

"I'm leaving," he said. His anger and irritation with himself for being unable to keep his emotions in check made him see red. He had to focus in order to keep from lashing out at his mother.

"Remy," she said, her voice as firm as her grip on his arm, "you will not walk out of here."

"Dad did."

"Don't use that tone with me," she snapped. "You will stay with me until the end and later, you'll tell me what happened."

Remy groaned. "Mom, I don't need a shrink."

"You've never been insolent before which leads me to believe that you are in need of something," she countered. "When we're alone, you'll tell me what's going on. I won't take no for an answer."

*~*

"That went better than expected," Rick said as he and Mel joined the Cassadines on the terrace. The other guests were gone and the servers were inside cleaning up.

"Better?" Nikolas handed Mel and Rick glasses of non-alcoholic champagne. "I would hate to see worse."

"It was worse than I expected," Mel said. She took a sip of the bubbly liquid before adding, "I don't know what got into Daddy and Remy. I've never seen Dad storm away like that or Remy... Nikolas, I won't ask what happened, but I'm sorry."

Nikolas sat beside Dawn on the wooden swing. His arm curved around her shoulder, pulling her against him. "An apology isn't necessary, Mel. You're not responsible for your brother's actions."

"You're not your brother's keep," Rick said, pressing a kiss to her temple. "You're not responsible for your brother nor your father. The dinner was a bust, but it's not the end of the world."

Mel shifted to look at Rick. Her hand rested comfortably on his thigh. "You're not disappointed?"

"Me?" Rick pointed to his chest. "I, um, didn't have my hopes up about tonight's dinner. No offense to our hosts."

"None taken," Nikolas said. He looked at Dawn. "You haven't said anything."

"I don't know what to say," she said. "I had high hopes. I'm sorry, Mel."

"Oh, boy, is this the Sorry Club?" Rick asked. "Ladies, you have nothing to be sorry about. We tried. It didn't work out."

"I'm not giving up," Mel said. "If Daddy and Remy can't be happy and supportive, they'll just have to learn to accept us."

Rick smiled. "You sound determined."

"I am."

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