Part I: Decisions
A few weeks later
Since Sonny extended his offer, Dara had given it considerable deliberation. Changes would have to be made in both of their lives. Compromise would be key. But could they give up what they'd worked so hard to achieve? She was the Assistant District Attorney. He controlled all of Port Charles. The decision to become his lover had been impulsive. After attending the Nurse's Ball, they found themselves stuck in the elevator. Sparks flew. Nature took its course. Both had been pretty much powerless to stop it. But this decision…to have his child and share a life with him… That was something she couldn't decide on a whim or because her instincts (i.e. her biological clock) were blazing out of control. Their entire lives would change. Forever. Would it be worth it?
Then, the choice was made for her.
Breakfast refused to stay down. Her breasts became ridiculously tender. Her period was late and that was just plain wrong because Dara's cycle came like clockwork. And, then she knew. Even before the test results came back, screaming that she was four weeks along, Dara knew that she was pregnant with Sonny Corinthos' child.
She arrived at his penthouse late, as was their custom. Since their return to Port Charles, Dawn and Jason discovered that Dara's late night visits to the HarborView Towers weren't solely based on her interest in her niece. Vibrations charged the air whenever Sonny came within two feet of her. Her sister and soon-to-be-husband picked up on it. Dara didn't even try to deny it when questioned. The only person within their orbit who didn't know was Keesha. But then the younger woman's whirlwind romance with Jasper Jacks had her on another plane of consciousness. Sonny tensed whenever Dara mentioned the blonde Aussie and his attention to Keesha. He never went into detail so Dara supposed it had something to do with the fact that Jax and Sonny just hated each other. Besides, with a little bundle warming in her oven, she had other things to consider besides Jasper Jacks. She and Sonny had to decide what their next step would be.
Candlelight cast a warm glow over the first floor of the penthouse. Flames flickered in the fireplace. Dara's mouth dropped in surprise. Her arms subconsciously wound around her waist. Butterflies performed a step show inside her tummy. Tonight was turning out to be even more special than she had planned.
Sonny entered the room carrying a bottle of wine and two flute glasses. He set both on the already set dining room table before crossing the room to her. His hands slid around her, pulling her flush against his hard body. His mouth teased hers as he planted kisses at each corner. He drew her bottom lip between his and suckled. As Dara's knees buckled, he finally claimed her mouth with a kiss that made her senses reel.
"Hello," he murmured against her ear as he paused to nibble an earlobe. His hands stroked her rear and dipped between her thighs to increase the intimacy of his caress.
Dara gripped Sonny's biceps and held on for dear life. "Sonnnny," she squealed.
More caresses turned Dara into a quivering mass. When he pulled back, he stared at her with dark eyes that gleamed with passion. "How was that for foreplay?"
"I have no complaints," she murmured breathlessly.
He smiled, dimples flashing. "I didn't think you would."
She took in a deep breath and slowly exhaled. "You certainly know how to greet a woman."
His expression became serious. "Not just any woman." He took her hand led her to the dining table. After he helping her into a chair, he handed her a glass and poured wine into it. "Tonight we celebrate."
Her fingers toyed with the stem of the glass. "What are we celebrating?"
He cupped her chin, tilting her head so that their gazes locked. "Our anniversary."
Dara smiled. "It hasn't been a year, yet."
"Eleven months and four hours," he replied. "But who's counting?"
"Apparently you are," she said with a laugh.
He pulled a chair close to hers and sat. One hand took hers. "Are you happy with the way things are?"
She didn't quite know how to answer that. She came there all set to interrogate him. His interrogation wasn't expected. "Are you?"
"I'm happy with you, but this sneaking around…" He shook his head. "It's not for me, and it's not for you."
She frowned and stiffened. "What is for us?"
"We have to make a decision," Sonny said. "Not necessarily tonight, but soon. About what we want and how badly we want it."
"I'm pregnant." The words tumbled out and Dara cursed her finesse.
He stared at her with a stunned expression. Then suddenly like the sun appearing after a powerful downpour, he smiled. Dara swore it was the most beautiful sight she'd ever seen and her decision was made.
"I think it's already been decided," he said. He dropped to one knee and continuing to grin at her asked, "Will you marry me? Before you answer, don't forget that you're having my baby and that Faith already considers me an uncle and that you love me, Dara. You know you love me, and I love you, too. We can make everything else work."
Part II: New Beginnings
Three months later
Lucky slammed the cordless phone down onto its base. He heard Emily's sharp intake of breath behind him, but he didn't bother turning around. He knew what her reaction would be. She was glad that he and Nikolas hadn't spoken in months. She thought that the distance between the two brothers could be ignored. Hey, Jason was back in Port Charles. He, his wife, and their baby where a happy little family. What did it matter to Em that his older brother was going through something and Lucky was being shut out of it? Closed off from helping him?
The heels of her shoes clicked along the hardwood floor. He smelled her fragrance of wild flowers and felt her heat just behind him. His hand balled into a fist at his side. His throat constricted. Then, she touched him.
"I'm sorry," she said.
"Are you really?" he bit out.
"I know what it's like to love someone and have him push me away," she answered. "I don't know what Nikolas said—"
"It wasn't Nikolas," Lucky replied. "I spoke to Stefan. It's always Stefan. He's become a brick wall. Protecting Nikolas from me. I'm his brother, Em," he said, his voice cracking. "I love him. I wouldn't hurt him."
Her arms closed around him from behind. He felt the curve of her cheek press against his back. Her palms flattened against his chest. He reached up and covered her hands with his.
"Maybe it's Stefan who's protecting you from Nikolas," she suggested.
"You don't know that. You're making assumptions," he argued.
"Jason's bruises weren't an illusion nor were his broken fingers. His hand had to be practically reconstructed," she said, gently. "No matter what he or Dawn says, I know that Nikolas had something to do with that. We were rushed off the island after the birthday party. Don't you ever wonder why?"
Silently, Lucky answered in the affirmative. All the time, he wondered. When he called for answers, he hit the brick wall known as Stefan Cassadine again and again. But he couldn't give up. And if he knew where they were, he'd be there--demanding answers and the truth about his brother. If he had truly lost his mind or…what?
"I'm sorry that this is hurting you," she said with a fierce hug, "but I can't help ease your pain if you won't let me. So, I'm gonna do what's best for us…" She released him and stepped back. "I'm gonna let you go—"
"No!" Eyes wide, Lucky whipped around. He grabbed her hand and held it in a gentle, but firm hold. "No, Em, don't leave me."
"I don't want to," she admitted tearfully. "We used to say that we wouldn't let our family come between us, but they are. And I can't compete anymore. I won't."
"That's not… You don't have to compete against Nikolas." He cupped her face and moved close until barely an inch separated them. "Emily, I love you, and I'm sorry about pushing you away. I didn't mean to. Please, don't go."
"I don't know," she said. "I don't want to."
He seized the moment and claimed her mouth with passionate intensity. The taste of her mouth fed his hungry soul. Lucky devoured her sweetness, his tongue exploring the recesses of her mouth. Her low moan sent his pulses skyrocketing. No one else had ever had the effect on him. He rained kisses along her jaw line and to her ear where he whispered, "From this moment on, I promise you a new beginning. I won't ever stop caring about my brother, but that can't stop us from being together…not unless we let it."
"A new beginning?" she asked, pulling away to search his eyes. "Can you really make that promise?"
He thought about her question and answered honestly, "I can promise to try."
Part III: Confessions
Five months later
Keesha exuded confidence. The threat on her life hadn't been lifted. Justus was still at large, and there were still men out there who would love for nothing more than to kill him. And if they couldn't get to him, they'd use her as a means to an end. She knew all of that, but still she wasn't afraid. Not like she had been when Sonny first took her in. Back then, she'd been afraid as well as hurt. Mad at the world for being dumped on and losing…her family, her man and worse of all, her ability to love. Then, Jasper Jacks entered her life. His attention, affection and later his love helped her reconnect to the loving, confident woman inside. The one who'd always been there but had buried under layers of pain and sadness to protect herself. And now, the real Keesha had returned and she had never felt so complete or whole in ages.
Jax took her hand. They left their mountain bikes and climbed the rest of the way to their favorite spot on top of the world. He found a decent enough spot and they sat. He shifted until he was behind her and she was between his rock solid, golden tan thighs. Keesha rested her back against his chest and sighed.
"Content?" he asked, trailing his finger along her arms. Keesha shivered. His touch did that to her.
"I like it up here," she said. "You know that. It's quiet and peaceful. Safe."
"Do you feel safe with me?" he asked.
She released a short laugh. "Safe enough to ditch Rinaldo and on more than one occasion." She shifted, leaning back at look at him. His jaw was now set and it was hard to tell what was going on behind the black wraparound sunglasses he wore. Her fingers traced the dimple in his chin. "Jax? Is something wrong?"
He took her fingers and raised them to his mouth, kissing each one. "Trust didn't come easy for you, did it? I mean, when we met. You were finding it hard to trust people."
"What did your instincts tell you about me?"
Keesha was halted by the tone of Jax's voice. "Why are you asking me this?"
"If they told you not to trust me, they would have been right on target," he said, with an edge of steel in his voice. "I did not have your best interest at heart when we met."
As casually as she could manage, she asked, "What? You wanted to have sex with me. Was that it?"
"No," he replied, "I was to kill you."
She pulled back. "That's not funny."
"It’s not meant to be."
Keesha flinched. She scrambled to her feet. "Jax?"
He stood. His six feet plus frame towered over her. For the first time since she'd known him, Keesha felt the fingertips of ice cold fear press along her spine. She swallowed hard and forced her mind to think.
They were on an isolated bike trail.
Sonny warned you not to trust him.
Could she ride fast enough to escape him?
Sonny warned you not to trust.
If she couldn't make it to the bike fast enough, she could defend herself, right?
Sonny warned you.
"Justus and Jerry are up to their necks in organized crime," Jax said, coming towards her as she backed down the trail. Clouds of dust billowed around them. "Both were players on opposite teams, but that didn't matter. They had information that could bring two families down. Did you know that the same day your cousin lost her life, my mother lost hers? Coincidence? I don't think so."
"Why kill me?" she cried, hating the tremor in her voice.
"To get to Justus, to make him come out, to get him off my brother," he said, his accent thickening with each word. "Justus is gunning for my brother, Keesha. He thinks if he kills Jerry, the heat will be off of him. He has no idea how deep the river of betrayal runs."
"I'm learning it runs pretty deep," she said, accusation in her voice. "You could have done it long before now. I trusted you, Jax. I l-loved you."
"You still do." He stopped and extended his hand. "I love you, too. I won't hurt you. I can't…not even to save my brother's life. Trust me, Keesha."
She hesitated only a fraction of a second. Praying that she made the right decision, she slipped her hand against his. "I do."
Part IV: Love Rules
A month later
They had the two-story house, a white picket fence and were trying to decide if they wanted a dog, too. A happy eighteen-month-old baby ruled their hearts and their home. And Nikolas Cassadine was no longer a threat. Jason and Dawn couldn't have been happier.
Dawn and Faith sat in a bath of warm, sudsy water. A yellow rubber ducky floated by. Dawn kept a firm hold around her daughter's waist as the baby reached for the toy and giggled.
"You're getting so big!" Dawn exclaimed, kissing her baby's cheeks. "Pretty soon you'll be able to do this yourself."
"She thinks she's doing it all on her own now," Jason said as he entered the bathroom. He wore a pair of swimming trunks and nothing else except for his wedding ring. He ran a hand through his buzz cut and smiled as Faith waved at him. "Mind if I join you?"
"I think she's already extended an invitation." Dawn kept a firm hold on their baby who started to bounce as Jason stepped inside the huge tub. "No funny stuff in front of the baby. Agreed?"
He cocked an eyebrow, offering his forefingers for Faith to hold on to as she waded through the water to him. "Would I try the funny stuff as you call it in front of our little chaperone here?"
"You've tried before."
Jason shrugged and Dawn's breath caught. His chest was a work of art, hard and chiseled. Subconsciously, she moistened her lips.
"I saw that," he responded in a husky voice. "Not in front of the baby, remember?"
"You should have worn a t-shirt," she scolded with a teasing smile. "You're tampering with my resolve to be a good mother."
His blue eyes darkened to midnight. "You are a good mother. You're the best."
"Mommy!" Faith said, bouncing on her father's lap.
He nodded toward the happy baby. "See, your daughter agrees."
"You're a good daddy."
"Daddy!" Faith chirped. Her parents laughed and she joined in.
Later after everyone had dried off and dressed in sleep attire, Jason rocked Faith to sleep. He read to her about the wilds of Africa and promised to take her there one day. Faith repeated her new favorite word--"zebra"--before finally succumbing to slumber.
Dawn stood in the doorway and watched her family. Finally, she and Jason were free to love each other. Tears filled her eyes. Not wanting Jason to become concerned, she headed to their bedroom and slid between the covers. When he joined her, she had regained control of her emotions and greeted him with a bright smile.
"What will you do when she wants to go to Africa?" Dawn asked, teasing him about his favorite travel book.
"Take her." He rolled onto his side, resting his weight on his bent elbow. His other hand cupped her face, his thumb brushed the swell of her cheek. "You were crying."
"It's nothing to worry about. It happens."
Jason didn't appear to be satisfied with that response. "You spoke with Stefan today. What did he say?"
"Nikolas… He's still battling his delusions," she said after a moment. Jason pulled her into his arms. Her head rested on his chest that she admired for its beauty and strength. Her fingers splayed his rock hard abdomen. "I feel sorry for Stefan, taking care of him but powerless to make Nikolas see reason."
"He still believes that Stavros Cassadine really existed?" Jason asked.
She nodded, snuggling closer to her loving husband. "Yes and what's worse he believes that Stavros, not Stefan, is his father. Helena planted the ideas inside his head and told him stories about a perfect son. I know that Stefan allowed it because he thought it was safer for Nikolas if Helena was allowed to believe her little fairy tales. When they came to the states, Stefan used the Stavros lie to his advantage. He could pull strings without anyone here being the wiser."
"He used people," he stated quietly. "But you hold Stefan blameless."
"For what happened to Nikolas, he is blameless. He loves Nikolas and I think he believes that what's happened is his fault. Helena's first child was stillborn, and for her, Stavros did exist. Because of how Helena harped about it, Stefan never wanted to be the prince. When Nikolas became of age, Stefan allowed Nikolas to rule and for a long time, Nikolas did a good job. Nikolas knew the difference between the lies and the truth. Then, Helena re-entered his life and he lost his grip on his sanity… His hunger for control became a living breathing entity. He fell in love with power and only wanted to control me. I hope for Stefan's sake that Nikolas will get better."
Jason's hand stroked the length of her back. "I don't want you to cry for him anymore."
"I wish I could say that I won't." She rested her chin on his chest. Their eyes smiled at each other. "You know it's not because I love him. I'm in love with you."
"You'd better be," he said, seductive gleam lit up his eyes. He took hold of her waist and pulled her on top of him.
"Why?" she asked, her voice a low murmur. Her fingertips circled one of his tiny, hard nipples. Jason sucked in a sharp breath. She smiled. "Because you're in love with me?"
"Yeah," he grunted in a voice thick with arousal. As he rolled them over so that he was on top and his throbbing erection slid between her parted thighs, he added, "And because you're my baby's mama."