Chapter 17

Do or Die

"The music has stopped," Dawn said, squeezing Jason's hand tightly. They were on the staircase that connected the second and third floor. "The music never stops until the party is over. He said he'd come for me after the party!"

Her voice became increasingly agitated. Jason wouldn't tell her to not be afraid. She had every right to her fear. He just wanted her to know that Nikolas' reign over their relationship had come to an end. After tonight, he refused to live his life in fear of what Nikolas Cassadine would do.

"He'll be in for a surprise if he does," Jason said. He pulled her close and pressed a kiss to her temple. She trembled. When he looked into her eyes, he knew that her body's reaction wasn't based on fear, but on her desire--and love--for him.

"Are you ready for him?" she asked. "These men you brought with you… Are they ready?"

"I'm as ready as I need to be," he replied. "I have you now, and I'm not about to let you go."

$*$

Nikolas' heart pumped with excitement. Everything was going in tune to his well-orchestrated plan. Lucky and Emily had retired to their suite of rooms on the West wing of the estate. Stefan had taken Hermes out for a late night ride on the Aegean's soothing waves.

Nikolas glanced out the window. The lights from Stefan's yacht glittered brilliantly in the night sky. The prince breathed a sigh of relief. With his father and brother tucked away, no one and nothing could prevent him from having his final victory over Jason Morgan. And once it was done, Dawn would realize that Nikolas was the better man.

Of course, he was prepared to face her wrath upon her lover's death, but after she weighed her options, she'd know that life with Nikolas as his wife and the mother of his children was better than the alternative. In time, he might even become generous enough to offer her daughter with Morgan a home. From the photos he'd seen of the child, her resemblance was closer to Dawn than to her lover. He could tolerate a mini-replica of Dawn in his home, but not a child who would be a constant reminder of Dawn's tryst.

"Sir," Milo said as he joined near the window, "they are on the second floor landing."

Nikolas smiled. "Thank you. I trust the men are prepared."

"Of course, your Highness," the servant said with a slight bow. "Everything is as you requested. We await your word."

Nikolas nodded. "I have given it. Tell them to proceed. Remember, no harm is to come to my wife and Morgan is to be saved for me."

"As you wish, sir."

Nikolas' smile widened. The moment he waited for was upon him, and it was the best birthday gift he could ever have hoped for.

%*%

Dawn knew Nikolas wouldn't let her go so easily. She expected him to do something. In the back of her mind, the thought to be prepared for anything wouldn't leave her. But still, the armed men who suddenly blocked their path came as a complete surprise. Jason's grip on her hand tightened, but it wasn't enough. She was ripped from his side. An arm, as hard as steel, closed around her waist and lifted her from the floor.

Jason tried to come to her. Other men came and blocked his path. He fought them. The shiny glint of a blade slashed through the air as he attacked their assailants. The Mylonas cousins did their part in helping, but Dawn's attention wasn't on them. She couldn't tear her gaze away from the man she loved. He put up a brave fight and wounded at least five of Nikolas' men. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough because more kept coming. They crowded around Jason. He screamed with rage as they bound him and dragged him down the staircase.

"DAWN!!!!!"

"JASON!!!!!"

Dawn's scream tore a hole inside Jason's chest. Struggling in Nikolas' henchmen's hold, he swore that if they hurt her… If they caused her to spill blood or wince from one scratch, he'd kill them all. Nothing would stop him from it. Not the men Nikolas had doing his dirty work and certainly not the arrogant bastard himself. Nothing!

Alarm shot through Jason as he noticed that Dawn's cries began to fade. The men had separated them. Jason's struggle intensified. An elbow here and a kick there. His captors stumbled but their hold on him never weakened.

"Where are you taking me??!" he demanded.

They answered him with silence. Jason became quiet. He knew the answer. They were under orders to deliver him to the prince. He muttered under his breath, "Sonuvabitch."

$*$

"We found this on him," Galen, the largest of the guards, said. He held a switchblade and gun in his hand. "There were no other weapons."

"Release him and leave us alone," Nikolas ordered.

Galen and the other men did as they were instructed. The door closed behind them, but without the click of a lock falling into place. A locked door wasn't needed. This fight would be to the death. Only one would be the victor when it was done and that man would walk out free and invigorated because he had fought for what was his and had won. Nikolas had no doubt that he would be that man.

"You're a sick son of a bitch," Jason said, pronouncing each word with venom. Then he lunged for Nikolas and the war began.

Nikolas embraced the art of Tai Chi as he defended and attacked. Jason utilized his street skills to jab and wound. The older man landed a powerful blow to Nikolas' solar plexus. Taking a split second to catch his breath, he moved with the speed of lightning to fire his hand against Jason's windpipe. The hit wasn't as hard as Nikolas would have liked, but it was enough to give Jason pause.

"N-Never," Jason panted, holding his throat. "H-Have her. You won't. E-Ever."

"I already do," Nikolas grunted. "Mine! She'll always be."

"NO!" Jason rasped, then he charged again.

They fought until they were both bloody and swollen with bruises. Nikolas refused to give up and Jason seemed to never consider it. The idea of their brawl being to the death seemed inevitable with each strike of their fist. Nikolas felt himself grow tired. He summoned his willpower and reserves of strength. Failure was not an option. Love had nothing to do with his resolve. Dawn would remain with him because she was his! Losing to Morgan was unacceptable. Then, he saw his opening. Jason stumbled. Nikolas landed on him. He wrapped his arm around Jason's neck and squeezed.

Seconds later, the door flew open and a shout shook the walls.

"ENOUGH!" Stefan's green eyes blazed with outrage and fury. "Nikolas! Unhand him at once!"

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