Tommy wasn't sure what possessed him to go back to Wyndemere. The sun was setting, visibility would be limited and he'd already gone over the place as thoroughly as possible. Yet, there he was again, standing among the ruins as if he belonged there.
Flipping on his flashlight, Tommy walked through the scorched grounds towards the rear of the West Wing of the mansion. Stefan Cassadine's body was discovered in this section. Tommy didn't see it, but he heard it was gruesome. Human remains usually were and Tommy was glad to have missed it. Even though he came from a family of doctors, the sight of dead bodies still unnerved him. One minute the person's alive, talking and living, and the next, there was nothing but flesh and bones. He hadn't learned how to reconcile himself to it and he supposed he never would.
After so much careful review, he knew with full certainty that the fire hadn't been an accident. Someone intentionally burned Wyndemere to the ground and he didn't doubt that the deaths were intentional either. Captain Phillips wasn't ready to reveal their findings to the media, which suited Tommy just fine. Without the involvement of noisy news crews, they'd have a better chance of finding the culprit.
The light floral scent of perfume wafted to him and he paused. Inhaling deeply, the heady aroma filled his senses. The fragrance was intoxicating and he enjoyed it for a few moments before he realized it shouldn't be. Frowning, he swam the beam of his flashlight among the ruins until it rested on a vision in white. The woman's dark eyes flashed angrily as the light struck her face. Tommy directed the light elsewhere and called out. "You know you shouldn't be here. This is a crime scene."
"I'm well aware of that," Dr. DeLane said quietly as he came towards her.
"So, why are you here?" he asked. "Do you realize that I could arrest you for tampering?"
"I assure you that is not what I am doing-"
"Then what are you doing?" he cut in. "What would bring you out here at this time of day? I might have been out of line earlier when I questioned you about your relationship to the deceased, but right now, I'm not so sure I wasn't off the mark."
Sabrina bristled. "Your remark was rude and intrusive, and quite frankly, none of your business."
"True," he admitted with a slight nod of his head. "I was out of line and I apologize for that, but that still doesn't explain why you're here." His voice softened and he stepped closer to her. So many emotions vibrated from her. Pain, rage, and fear were the ones he easily recognized. More were just below the surface, and he wondered about them. "You really shouldn't be here, Dr. DeLane. Please allow me to escort you from the premises. Please."
She lowered her head, and the dark shadows hid her expression from his view. Tommy held out his hand and waited. When her pale, slender hand slid inside his, it felt like a lightning bolt had struck him. His eyes immediately cut to hers and he knew by the sharp intake of air that she'd been affected, too.
Attraction to a prime suspect was a big no-no, but Tommy couldn't fight it. Without a word passing between them, excitement rippled through him and left him disturbed and longing.
Jason stood on the other side of Elizabeth's studio door feeling like a fool, yet unable to turn away. As soon as he and Sonny parted ways on the dock, an unseen force had guided him to her. For the last hour or so, he simply sat on his motorcycle and didn't budge. From his position down below, he watched as the lamp in her window turned on and saw the outline of her body behind the drawn curtain.
An overwhelming ache stirred in his pants at just the bare glimpse of her. The image of her petite form, flawless ivory skin and full rosy lips flashed before his eyes. He swung himself off the bike and paced. Walking back and forth in the parking lot, he drew in deep breaths to curb his racing urges and then before he knew it, his feet were racing up the staircase straight to her.
"What are you doing, man?" he mumbled to himself as he stood outside her door.
"Hello?" she called from the other side. "Who's out there?"
Her voice was hard, but he heard the faint note of fear, too. He didn't want her living in fear. Taking a short breath, he said, "It's me, Elizabeth. It's Jason."
The sound of bolts, chains and latches being removed was heard before she pulled open the door. Dressed in a long t-shirt and a pair of cut-offs, she was a vision of beauty. His throat suddenly became dry and he swallowed hard. "Hi."
"Hi." She smiled briefly and stepped aside. "Come in."
He stepped past her and she closed the door behind him. He noticed fewer paintings in the small studio and wondered where they were. "What happened to your work?"
"I sold a few." She said with a shrug. "Tommy's captain bought one for Allyson, and Mac Scorpio bought one for the Outback."
"Mac?" he asked, eyebrow arched in disbelief. "Commissioner Scorpio?"
Elizabeth laughed. "Yeah, him. I was surprised to see him, but he called first and then he was here. Both he and Captain Phillips paid in cash so I have no complaints. Losing out as the face of Deception definitely won't be a problem now. My art is taking care of me."
"That's good to hear," he said, standing still as he looked down at her. "You're much too vibrant to sell that make-up junk anyway. I'm glad you're realizing that."
Pink colored cheeks and she looked away. Silence settled over the room until she asked quietly, "What are you doing here? I thought you didn't want to see me anymore."
"I don't know why I'm here," he answered honestly. "I just know that I couldn't stay away anymore."
Her eyes flew to his at that quiet statement. Jason opened his arms to her and she went to him. Leaning towards her, his mouth closed over hers in a slow, exploratory kiss.
Even though the argument with Elizabeth happened days ago, Lucky's heart and mind still reeled. Closing the door on their relationship hurt. He didn't think she'd let him go so easily, but she did. So much for him completing her. He grunted and fell back against the chair.
"What's wrong with him?"
"Gia, don't," Nik said. "Just leave him alone."
"But he's about to destroy our furniture," she countered. "Okay. I know I didn't buy it, but still. He's gotta get over it."
"Gia, please," Nik muttered in his most stern voice. "Lucky?" He kicked his brother's feet. "Come on, man. Snap out of it. Moping around doesn't solve anything."
Lucky continued to stare at the ceiling. Heading out to the cottage had been a mistake, but if he couldn't turn to his brother, who could he turn to? "What's the alternative?"
"I have an idea!"
"Sparky, c'mon," Nik said. "Be nice, okay?"
"I am being nice," she grumbled. "I think I have something that will cheer Clucky Lucky up. Will you keep reprimanding me or will you listen?"
Lucky pulled himself into a sitting position. He looked at her and nodded. "I'm listening. What?"
She dug inside her purse and pulled out a handful of cards. She gave one each to the two brothers. "Carly gave me these passes to Club Retro Rock-It. They're having a re-opening celebration. I say let's go there and shake things up."
He ran a hand through his short sandy brown hair. "I'm not sure about this. A club? I don't know."
She squatted down in front of him. "If you and Ms. Hoity Toity are really splittsville, what better way to celebrate than to go to a club? Who knows? You may actually meet someone who deserves you there. You won't know unless you try."
"I wouldn't use the word celebrate," Nik added, "but she does have a point? What do you say? Wanna go for it?"
Lucky looked at the glossy card in his hand and then at their two inquiring faces. He supposed it couldn't hurt. "Yeah, sure. Let's go."
"Alright!" Gia squealed. "It's boogey time tonight!"
"This is crazy!" Dara announced as she took Zarek's hand and followed him inside Club Retro Rock-It. The place was packed with a crowd of gyrating bodies and she held on tightly to his hand. When he returned the pressure, pleasure points jumped out at her from all over. Dara shook her head in amazement. She'd never been one to let super charges overwhelm her, but maybe it was time she did.
"What are you talking about?" he asked, looking back over his shoulder at her. "This is great fun! You'll see."
Kevin Buchanan, the owner and manager of the club, greeted Zarek with a handshake. "I see you received the invitation, Mr. Cassadine. Welcome."
"Please, call me Zarek. Kevin, I'd like you to meet Ms. Dara Jensen," he introduced. "Dara, this is Kevin Buchanan."
"Nice to meet you, Ms. Jensen," Kevin responded with a warm smile. "Please follow me. I've reserved a special booth for you. It's right this way."
They followed Kevin upstairs to the second floor landing. The Eighties' sound of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" pulsed from the speakers all around them. The rhythm hit Dara and she bopped her head in time to the music. She couldn't remember the last time she felt so alive. It was crazy, but like Zarek said, it was great fun, too!
"I hope you enjoy yourselves," Kevin said after he led them inside their glass booth. He stood in the doorway and added, "If you need anything, there's a phone there in the console. Everything is on the house. Good night."
"Goodnight, Kevin," Dara chimed in with Zarek, who turned to her with a broad smile on his handsome face. Suddenly self conscious, Dara sat back and asked, "What?"
"Nothing," he said, continuing to smile. "It's just that I know you'd love to dance. I'm surprised that you haven't asked me, yet, is all."
"Oh, is that so?" she questioned.
With a smug look on his face, he nodded. Dara's breath caught and held. The man was rich, fine and classy. How could she deny herself what she really wanted? Especially when he was offering it to her. Her gaze swept over him one more time. Dressed head to toe in classic black, he presented one helluva vision. On impulse, she grabbed his hand and said, "Come on! Let's dance."
Zarek laughed and held on to her, as she led them out of their booth. "Yes, ma'am!"
"Hey, boss. There's a Ms. Philana DiMitri here to see you. You want I should show her in?"
Joseph Sorel nodded his head and Vito stepped aside to allow the Ms. DiMitri entrance. Sorel kept his face void of expression as she swept inside the private chambers of his den. "That will be all," he advised without taking his eyes from the stunning brunette. Vito closed the door and Joseph shoved his hands into the pockets of his pants. "Do what do I owe the honor, Miz Philana DiMitri?"
"Tsk, tsk, Joseph," she said, gliding across the floor to him. "Must you resort to formalities?"
He nodded. "Yes, I must. Especially when you send your kid to 'keep me in line'. What the hell is that? I thought you were helping me out because you wanted to."
She smiled. Her hands slid inside his pockets and entwined their hands. "Zarek has a mind of his own. You know how he is. He gets that from his father."
"Well?" Sorel inhaled sharply. Her roaming hands were getting to him, but he was damned if he showed it. They'd danced this dance before. He knew the steps, but the music was offbeat this time. He wasn't sure if the tango was to his liking tonight or the hustle. Depending on her actions, he'd have his answer.
"Well, what?" she repeated. "Zarek has goals. I have goals. You have goals. We all have our hopes and dreams. There's no reason why we can't all...what's the phrase you American's use? 'Just get along'?"
He released a short laugh. "Very cute, Philana. Very cute. So why are you here? Trying to maintain damage control?"
Her hands grew still in his pockets. She gave him a hard stare. "What do you mean?"
Sorel rolled his eyes. "Don't tell me you don't know about your kid's little visit to me today."
"I don't. What happened?"
He pulled away. Turning his back to her, he went to his picture window and looked out across the Port Charles skyline. "Today, in front of my men, he takes me to task. I don't appreciate it, Philana, and I won't stand for it-"
"I'll handle it-"
"I'm serious," he continued. "Your kid has connections. I'm aware of that, but dammit, he won't disrespect me-"
"I said I'd handle it," she interrupted again. Her arms suddenly closed around him. First, they clutched his solid chest before sliding down to cup the hardening bulge in his pants. Her hands squeezed and caressed him until he groaned. "There, there. Philana will take care of everything. Would you like for Philana to take care of you, first?"
Sorel's hand closed over hers and guided her to the pace he wanted. In a low growl, he said, "Yeah, take care of me first."
Wearing only a pair of boxer shorts and his Cassadine medallion, Andrčsj lay back against the pillows and tried again to sleep. He closed his eyes, folded his arms across his bare chest and waited for slumber to come. Eventually, it arrived and his dreams carried him back two years ago to happier times.
New York City
April 20, 1999
"Happy birthday, baby brother," Nikolas said, grabbing him a warm hug. "You're fifteen years of age today, young man. What will you do with your life?"
"Brother, no. Stop," Drč pleaded, laughter in his voice. "You sound like Father-"
"Excuse me?" Stefan asked, appearing from nowhere. Sabrina's hand rested in the crook of his arm and a tiny smirk played around her mouth. "I will assume you said such as a compliment, Andrčsj. Correct?"
He looked to his brother for help, but Nikolas was too busy laughing. Sabrina shook her head, too, and he knew he was on his own this time. Drč nodded and smiled. "Of course, to sound like you is to sound like a man wise beyond his years."
Nikolas and Sabrina shook with laughter while Stefan maintained a straight face. "Is that so?" he questioned. "Wise beyond his years, you say?"
He vigorously nodded his head while giving Nikolas a hard elbow to his arm. "Yes, Father. Of course."
Stefan's mouth twitched. The lights in his emerald eyes twinkled, but he showed no other signs of humor. "Very well. Your recovery was well done, my son. In the future, t'would be prudent if you were fully aware of your surroundings before you make sport of someone. Be careful that unfriendly ears do not overhear your thoughts. Enemies are everywhere. Lesson learned?"
Drč sobered. "Yes, Father. Lesson learned."
Stefan smiled. "Good." He cupped Drč's face between his palms and gave a hard look. "You're becoming a man. Do so honorably."
Stefan opened his arms and hugged Drč close to him. "No more reprimands. Today is your birthday. Let us celebrate."
Nikolas and Sabrina took turns hugging him and then the quartet spent the rest of the day and night enjoying the vibrancy of New York City together.
**End of Flashback**
That was the last time the family was together. Andrčsj wept in his sleep.
Dawn and Nikolas stood outside the entrance of Club Retro Rock-It. His disguise of beard, wig and glasses hid him and both were fairly confident that he would be unrecognizable. But still they lingered outside the door.
She chewed nervously on her bottom lip. "Are you sure about this? Maybe I should do this alone."
Nikolas frowned. "What? You don't think I could pass muster? We've been around town today. No one will recognize me, and I promise to behave myself. And with my very own guardian angel at my side, I shouldn't have any worries, right?"
"No, I guess not," she mumbled. "It's just that..."
He tilted his head until their eyes locked. He inhaled a sharp breath and then smiled. "What is it?"
"Gia's never called me before to hang out with them," Dawn answered. "It feels a little strange that it happened now."
He shrugged. "Maybe fate is giving us a helping hand. We should take it, don't you think?"
"I just don't want this to be some kind of set up-"
"Listen to me," he said, closing his hands over her shoulders. The warmth of his touch burned her bare flesh and his fingers flexed against her, caressing her gently. His voice was low and husky when he spoke to her. "She told you that they're going out to cheer up Lucky, right?"
Dawn fought hard to concentrate on his words, but his stare was unwavering and the burning light she saw in his dark, soulful orbs made her knees tremble. She moistened her mouth with her tongue and nodded. "Yeah," she whispered. "Lucky."
Nikolas' eyes had followed the path of her tongue and it took him a few seconds before he spoke again. He coughed once and cleared his throat. "Um...Lucky...and you and he are friends, right? She said they called Sly, too. It's only natural for them to include you. We shouldn't look at this with suspicion if we don't have to, okay?"
"Okay," she agreed.
He smiled as he slowly removed his hands from her shoulders. His gaze swept over the multi-colored tube top she wore and down to the jeans that hugged her hips. His bold perusal weakened her knees even more and her hand shot out to grab his for balance.
"Is something wrong?"
"Um, no!" she said, thinking fast. "Well, actually...you're my date. I'll need a name for you."
Nikolas frowned. "Something close to my name would work best. I doubt if I'd remember to respond to anything else."
Dawn didn't have to think hard before a name came to mind. "Nikky."
His eyebrows shot up. "Excuse me?"
"Nikky," she repeated a little breathlessly. "Nikky."
A slow, sensual smile curved his full lips. "That's what I thought you said. I like it."
'Baby, baby when I look at you
I get a warm feeling inside
There's something 'bout the things you do
That keeps me satisfied
I wouldn't lie to you baby
It's mainly a physical thing
This feeling that I got for you baby
Makes me wanna sing
I feel for you
I think I love you
I feel for you
I think I love you'
Sly didn't know what he was doing there. With a broken leg, clumsy cast and cumbersome crutches, he should have stayed his butt at home. Lucky was down in the dumps and he wasn't much better. The only people enjoying themselves in their merry little crowd was Nik and Gia. If it was anyone other than Lucky, Sly would have stayed home.
"Why don't you go hit on some unsuspecting chick?" he suggested to Lucky. "A few girls were checking you out when we came in. Take advantage of that."
Lucky rolled his eyes and grumbled. "I'm not like that, man. I'm not into using."
"Who's suggesting that?" Sly asked, offended. "I'm talking about having a good time. That's why we're all here. Look at your brother and his girl. They've been on the dance floor ever since we got here. Go have some fun, too."
"What about you?" Lucky asked. "You're just gonna sit here and drink beers all night?"
Sly shrugged. "Better here than at home. I hate this damn cast. My leg itches all the time. It's aggravating."
Lucky smirked. "Too bad it won't stop you from trying again. One day, you'll break your fool neck."
Sly picked up his bottle of Guinness and saluted. "That's the prediction, right?" He swallowed some beer and then set it back down on the table. As he did, he looked around. The bright, bouncing disco ball reflected light from all directions and made visibility somewhat easier to manage than in most clubs. A shapely form in a red halter top and matching hot pants came towards them and Sly smiled until he recognized her. "Damn!"
"What?" Lucky asked. "You see somebody you owe money to?"
"Ha, ha," Sly grimaced. "No, it's worse. Allyson is headed this way. Maybe she'll leave when she doesn't see Tommy."
Lucky laughed. "Does she have it that bad?"
"It would be okay if she wasn't such a bitch."
Then, she was there. She smiled brightly at Lucky. "Hi." Her gaze darkened when she looked at Sly. "Hello."
"Hi, Allyson," Lucky greeted.
"He's not here," Sly said by way of greeting.
"I won't dignify you with a response." Lucky snickered as she turned her back to Sly and looked at him. "Would you like to dance, Lucky?"
His expression sobered and he frowned. "I'm not sure…"
She shrugged. "It's just a dance."
"I guess…sure." He stood up. Looking at Sly, he asked, "Will you be okay?"
"Dammit! I'm a baby. I'll be fine. Go, but be careful. Watch out for her feet."
"Jerk!" she muttered as she walked past him.
"Witch!" he retorted before he took another swig of beer. Once they were out of earshot, he laughed. Getting a rise out of Allyson always made him laugh, and God knows he could use a few laughs.
'I get up, and nothing gets me down.
You got it tough. I've seen the toughest around.
And I know, baby, just how you feel.
You've got to roll with the punches to get to what's real'
Sly's fingers tapped to the beat of Van Halen's 'Jump' and he was really getting into the music when another lovely vision came into view. His heart lodged in his throat as Dawn, looking amazingly hot in a clingy tube top and tight jeans, and some dork with a grizzly beard came towards him.
What the f-?
He'd denied his attraction to her for so long that when it hit him full force, he wasn't prepared. Who was this jerk? She'd never mentioned him before. Why did she have to show up with him now, tonight of all nights? Damn!
"Hey, Sly. How's it going?" she asked, her hand firmly attached to the guy next to her. "This is my friend, Nikky. Nikky, this is Sly. Where's everyone?"
Sly's eyes narrowed as he looked at the silent dude next to her. "They're around," he muttered. He looked up at her and asked, "You okay? What happened with you know that problem?"
She shrugged. "It's been resolved, I guess. Anyway, it's over now. I see Nik and Lucky on the dance floor. I can't believe it. Nikky, would you like to dance?"
"Sure." He gave Sly a hard stare as they walked past him. "Nice meeting you," he muttered.
"Same here, buddy," Sly returned. "Same here."
'I'm tired of playing on the team
It seems I don't get time out anymore
What a change if we set the pace face to face
No one even trying to score
Oh oh I can feel the magic of your touch
And when you move in close a little bit means so much
Ooh yeah, you've got to understand baby
Time out is what I'm here for'
When they reached the dance floor, the lights dimmed to almost black. Nikolas' hand tightened on Dawn's and he heard her whisper to him, "I don't see them anymore. Do you?"
"I can barely see anything in here-"
Someone jostled them and his arms instinctively closed around her. "Are you hurt?"
"No," she said, as her hands settled at his waist. "Are you?"
"I'm fine. What should we do? Would you like to dance?" he asked, holding his breath as he waited for her answer.
There was a brief pause and then she said, "Okay. Let's dance."
'One on one I wanna play that game tonight
One on one I know I wanna play that
One on one I wanna play that game tonight
One on one so slow
That's all you need to know now'
The sensual lyrics brought sensual thoughts to the forefront of Nikolas' mind. With the heat of their mutual attraction between them, they moved on dangerous ground. The kiss kindled the flames and now, holding her so closely in his arms with thoughts of becoming one with her on his mind, the flames roared out of control.
Putting an end to the dance would have been the wisest move. Such much of his life hung off balance. An Impostor had taken over his life. His youngest brother was God knows where. And worse of all, his father—his guide and guardian—was dead. How could he entertain thoughts of making love with this beautiful woman when nothing else was right in his life?
The song ended and the lights became less dim. Their movements slowed and he looked into her dark brown eyes with those tiny flecks of amber and had his answer. Quite simply, he had fallen in love with her and he believed with all his heart she felt the same.
Later, he decided he would find out for sure and if his suspicions were correct, this was one area of his life he was determined to see go right.
[Song credits: "I Feel For You" by Chaka Kahn; "Jump" by Van Halen"; and "One on One" by Hall and Oates.]
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