Chapter 6: Second Thoughts
It wasn't easy, but Remy managed to switch his TA for ESS1. He enrolled in the same lab as Marah and they became lab partners. When the new TA glanced at their midterms and offered them extra assignments to bring their grades up, he and Marah jumped at the chance.
After a trip to the library, they decided to take a break at the Student Union.
Remy offered to treat Marah to a frozen yogurt sundae. She volunteered to grab some space on the sofa. They parted ways. As he got in line, he felt someone come behind him.
"Boudreaux, what's up?"
He glanced over his shoulder. "Hey, Reade. How's it going?"
"Not too bad." Ben jutted his head toward Marah. "You've been hanging out a lot lately."
Remy shrugged. "Marah's cool."
Ben shook his head. "She's not cool. She's hot."
Remy looked across the room at her. She had an athletic-type body, not skinny like a lot of the girls at SU. Shoulder-length golden hair framed her heart-shaped face. Her wide blue eyes were always open and expressive. They'd known each other since elementary school. Their mothers were close friends. He'd never considered her as nothing more than a pal, but now that Ben had mentioned it...
Marah was definitely a babe.
"Take it from me," Ben said, "she's a tough nut to crack. And then there's Santos. You gotta ask yourself if she's worth it."
Remy's gaze connected with hers. She smiled. He hated to admit it, but something funny happened in the center of his chest. It didn't exactly feel like he'd been sucker punched, more like shoved.
But Marah was his pal. They complained to each other when relationships didn't work out. Their shoulders were available for the other to cry on. An invisible line had been drawn a long time ago. Would it be wise to cross it? To possibly wreck a friendship? Remy wasn't sure about the answers to those questions. Besides, Marah was white. Although his big sister had crossed the color line and faced their father's wrath, he doubted if he was ready for that kind of challenge.
"I come bearing gifts."
Nikolas raised his head from the growing stack of paperwork on oil and the EPA to watch his wife enter his office at Lewis Oil. Upon noticing the large wicker basket in her hands, he rose to meet her in the center of the room.
"What's this?" He took the basket from her and flipped the lid. Inhaling, he smiled. "It smells delicious." He slipped an arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. His mouth brushed her cheek. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," she said as they stopped. He placed the basket on the marble-top coffee table. She closed her arms around his waist. "Surely, you can thank me better than that."
"Perhaps, I can." He took possession of her mouth, kissing her slowly and thoroughly. When their embrace ended, her brown eyes had that dreamy look that he liked. "Ah," he murmured, running a finger across her moist bottom lip, "looks like I did."
"Stop gloating," she said, teasing him with a smile, "and eat!"
"Yes, Mrs. Cassadine." He joined her on the sofa. Reclining against the plush material, he watched her prepare two plates with falafel and Greek salads. She put extra feta cheese on one plate and handed it to him. "Mmm."
"I thought you'd like it. We have baklava for dessert."
She placed a linen napkin across his lap and waited for him to take the first bite. "Do you like it?"
Nikolas chewed and swallowed. "I have no complaints. I trust this meal wasn't prepared by your beautiful hands."
"You got that right." She speared an olive with her fork. "I picked this up at a restaurant across the street from Cedars."
"Excellent choice, love."
They became quiet as they ate. With his palate satisfied, Nikolas set his plate on the table. "Thank you for the surprise gift. I'll have a surprise for you tonight."
Dawn giggled. "Does Mr. Nikky ever get tired?"
"I should hope not!"
She shook her head. "You are silly." She shifted to face him and placed her hand on his thigh. "How's it going here? With Lewis Oil? Watching Josh work with his nephew? You okay?"
Nikolas took a sharp breath. Anger didn't come to him. His wife's comments came from love. She was concerned.
He covered her hand with his own. "I'm fine."
"It doesn't remind you of Stef-"
"No." He moved quickly, leaning forward to silence her with a kiss.
A short rap came from door. Then, it creaked open. "Nikolas, Uncle Josh wanted us to-- I didn't know you were busy."
Nikolas broke the kiss and muttered an oath under his breath. Dawn gave him a quizzical look and he shook his head.
"My wife decided to have lunch with me." He stood and Dawn also rose to her feet. Nikolas placed his hand at the small of her back. "Dawn, this is Bill Lewis. Bill, this is my wife, Dawn."
They shook hands.
"I'm sure you two have work to do," Dawn said. "I'll be out of the way in a sec." She moved to gather the dishes.
Nikolas' hand closed over her shoulder. "Leave it. I'll take care of it. You needn't rush."
Dawn glanced at Bill and then looked at Nikolas. "You have work and so do I. I'll see you later. It was nice to meet you, Bill."
He nodded. "Same here." After she left, he said, "I didn't mean to interrupt."
"Yes, you did," Nikolas replied. He held out his hand. "What did Joshua want me to see?"
Bill refused to hand over the paperwork. "Do we have a problem, Cassadine?"
"We are business partners, Lewis, with the goals of profit and success," Nikolas answered. "I don't have a problem with that. Do you?"
Without giving Bill a chance to respond, Nikolas took the documentation from Bill and began to study it.
"What do you think?" Rick hovered eagerly behind Mel as she reviewed the Daniker Heights brochure. His breath stopped every time she paused on a page. He placed a hand on her shoulder and pointed at the photo of the security booth and guard. "Twenty-four hours. No one gets in or out without them knowing about it."
"So much for privacy," she commented.
Rick frowned. "It's not that big of a deal. It's protection."
"I know." She patted the hand on her shoulder. "I'm not making a big deal out of it. If we choose this place, having sentinels at the gate will take some getting used to. That's all I'm saying."
"If?" Rick repeated. "You don't like it."
"I didn't say that." She closed the brochure and looked up at him. "But we should keep our options open before we become dead set on a place. We haven't even seen it--"
"I scheduled an appointment. Jessica Bates will meet us at 6:30 this evening."
"Wow." Mel rose and handed him the brochure. "You move fast."
Rick's frown deepened and his chest tightened. "Are you having second thoughts?"
"No, I'd prefer that we kept our options open. Daniker Heights seems great on the brochure, but there are other places to consider." She closed her arms around his waist. "I haven't changed my mind about living with you. I think it's a positive step."
The feeling in his chest slowly returned to normal. He caressed her back in sweeping circles. They were in the staff lounge and so far, they hadn't been interrupted. It seemed that Mel didn't mind if they were. And if she didn't care if they were caught with their arms around each other, neither did he.
"I told Maureen about our plans. She made a suggestion."
Mel's eyebrows lifted in an inquiring manner.
"That we reside at the Bauer house," he said.
Rick nodded. "It's definitely big enough for all of us."
"Living with your stepmother?" Mel's hold around him loosened. "I like her, but living with her... I don't know. How do you feel about it?"
"I haven't really thought about it," he answered honestly.
"You have visions of Daniker Heights in your eyes," she said with a teasing smile.
He laughed. "Well, yeah. But I don't want to wait. Maybe we could stay at the house until we make a firm decision."
"Okay," Mel agreed. "Let's see how the meeting with the Realtor goes and go from there."