Chapter 31

All I Need

~*~…we don't know where tomorrow ends…~*~

The meeting with the guys proved to be enlightening. They wanted a break. Jordan and Lorenzo anticipated the births of their first child while Sly wanted to spend time with Lark and their kids. Dawn agreed that she could use a breather, too. At least twelve months without touring or recording with the band…wow. Maybe she'd work on that solo album she'd always dreamed of, or maybe she'd set about getting her shit back together. Oh, the possibilities were endless.

She returned to Wyndemere to find the huge home empty of family except for the one person she wasn't ready to see. Nikolas set a thick ream of paper onto the marble tabletop and stood. She hesitated in the doorway. First instinct yelled for her to bolt. Common sense told her that no matter how far or how long she ran, she'd never fully leave him behind. Nikolas Cassadine was embedded inside her deepest heart of hearts. Forever.

Yada, yada, yada.

"The kids are at school." She dropped her purse on the chaise and cautiously walked around him to the mini-bar. After grabbing a small bottle of cranberry juice, she sat beside her purse.

"I came to see you."

Under her breath, she muttered, "If you'd been this enthusiastic after I came back from Genoa City…" Her fingers curved around the bottle top and turned.

"I know."

The top refused to budge. He took the bottle from her and easily opened it. Then, he took a swig and handed the juice back.

She sat transfixed as he licked his lips. Her gaze dropped to the bottle. Its opening beckoned like a secondhand kiss. A combination of irritation and fascination took root inside her. She ignored the emotions and drank from the bottle as if it didn't tear her up to do so. When she had enough, she recapped the bottle and forced herself to meet his eyes.

"Why are you here to see me?"

He grabbed the stack of paper from the table. "Traci finished the script. I read it this afternoon." He jutted his chin toward the empty space beside her. "May I?"

She scooted over, making sure to leave her purse between them.

He sat and then placed her purse on the other side of him. Then, he closed the space between them in one fluid motion.

A thousand objections came to mind. She bit her tongue. Telling him to move would be a lie when she craved his touch. Damn, damn, damn.

She glanced at the script. Yellow slips of post-it notes marked several pages. She set the bottle of juice on the floor and pointed. "What's all that?"

"My notes." He set the script on her lap. His fingers skimmed her stocking covered knee as he opened the booklet. "Traci was very thorough."

The spicy aroma of his cologne and his own delicious scent attacked without warning. She concentrated on taking even breaths and remaining visibly unaffected. Just when she mastered it, his thigh pressed closer to hers. Accusations flooded her mind. She looked to him for confirmation. Her eyes were immediately drawn to his full, parted lips, smooth olive skin tone, and sensuous flame in his eyes.

She jumped from the chaise before she did something stupid. The script fell to the floor. In a hurried escape, her steps faltered. Nikolas rushed to catch her. His strong hands wrapped around her waist. His hard body molded to hers.

She pressed her hands to his chest. "Don't do this. I moved out so this wouldn't happen."

"What's happening?" He tilted his head to the side. His hands locked at the small of her back, holding her close.

"What?" She bit her lip to keep from crying out. "What do you want from me? Do you want me to beg, Nikolas? I can't play this game with you. You're not playing fair and you know it."

A curious frown darkened his brow. "How is that?"

"You're the only man I've ever… And you know that and you're using it against me." She pushed hard and freed herself from him. "You can't have your cake and eat it, too." She pointed at the script on the floor. "How did you get that? You said you weren't going into the office today. Did Gilly bring it out to the house? Was she in my home? In my bed?"

Shit! She shouldn't have said that out loud. A balled fist pressed to her mouth. She spun on her heel. Her heels clacked on the library's hardwood floor as she stormed to the bay window away from him.

"She had a messenger deliver it," he said. His footsteps followed hers, but he didn't crowd her. "Turn around and look at me."

"No." She wrapped her arms around her waist.

"Why? Before the concert, you were willing to give our marriage another chance. Now, you're running away. Sooner or later, you have to stop running."

She shrugged. "Maybe tomorrow. Not today. You don't even know what you want. I'm a convenience and I refuse to be that. Find out what Gilly means to you. Don't try to manipulate our marriage with a seduction."

"Why not?" he asked in a low voice. "You did."

"Well, I was wrong."

He muttered an expletive.

"I agree." Her laugh was brittle and humorless. "I'll read the script, review your notes and then I'll call you. How's that?"

"What it is." A bitter edge of cynicism hardened his voice. "I don't even know what you want from me."

I want you to love me like you used to. I want you to need me.

Of course, she'd die a thousand deaths before she say the words aloud. She swallowed unshed tears and slowly turned to face him. "I want you to be one hundred per cent sure about us. Without a doubt or a distraction. I understand what you're going through. I made my choice years ago. Now, it's your turn."

While she maintained a firm hold on courage, she moved past him and retrieved the script from the floor. As she took her purse and headed to the door, she said, "You know your way out."

~*~…everybody's trusting in the heart…~*~

"Ahoy, Abuelo." Alanna waved at her grandfather from the dock. "May I come aboard?"

Sonny smiled. "Permission granted." Once she joined him on the floating casino, he pulled her into a warm hug "Long time no see. I was about to plan a kidnapping."

She laughed, taking his hand as he led her to his office. "I'm sorry. Life's been a little crazy lately."

"You're missing your sister." He went to his desk and pulled out a bag of treats. Then, he joined her on the soft suede covered sofa.

"Yum! Reese's mini cups."

They dug in. As Sonny ripped the foil wrapping from the candy, he said, "Not a word to your grandmother. She's trying to restrict my sugar intake. Doctors."

She laughed as she chewed. "I heard about it. Shana says your blood sugar was kinda high."

"I'm fine. I just had a little too much chocolate. No big deal." He gently tweaked her nose. "Now, what's wrong?"

"Why does something have to be wrong? Maybe I just wanna visit mi Abuelo. Ti amo."

", I love you, too, and because of that, I know when something's not right." He tossed the bag of candy to his desk. "My door is closed. No one will come in without permission. Tell me what's wrong. Has Tom Hardy bothered you?"

"My other gra--Um, no. I wanted to ask you about…well, about love."

His eyebrows arched. He cocked his head to the side, giving her a long look. "Love, huh? And you're asking me about this."

Her head dipped once in a solemn nod. "Yes. What can you tell me?"

He laughed. "What do you want to know? I'm no expert. You may want to talk to Gina about this."

"Mama…she's only ever loved Dad and vice versa. You loved other women before you married Grandma. I want to know about that."

His laughter faded. "That was so long ago. I don't see how that matters now."

"You were able to love again," she said. "Grandma wasn't your first love. But she is your soul mate, right?"

"My soul mate," he repeated. "She is that. Mi hija, why the questions? Are you in love?"

She shrugged. "I don't know what I am. I thought so."

"Dominik right?"

She nodded. "I need to move on because we're not gonna happen. We've decided to be friends."

"You're so young." He curved his arm around her shoulders, hugging her close. "Friendship can lead to something more. Your grandmother and I started out as friends. Years passed before we realized how we felt. In fact, we were a lot older than you are now. There's no rush to define your relationship with Dominik. And if he's pressuring you--"

"He's not," she said quickly. "Sometimes, it's so hard and so crazy. Why can't there be an easy answer?"

"Alanna, when it comes to love, there are no easy answers." He kissed her temple and continued to hold her. "Don't think on this too much. Enjoy this time. It won't ever come back again."

"So have fun and forget about him?"

"."

She sighed. "I'll do my best."

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