Nikolas awoke early. If he slept at all. The previous night didn't go the way he planned. He hoped to gain another step in rebuilding his marriage. Their conversation drew them closer. He learned that he'd made assumptions about Dawn. In the early days of their marriage, she dedicated herself to learning about protocol. Her knowledge of Cassadine history was as thorough of his. Her willingness to move outside of her comfort zone just to please him made him love her all the more. And he'd tossed all that effort into the far recesses of his mind. He did them both a disservice with that move.
After a shower failed to wash away his shame, he donned his riding pants. Perhaps time spent in the open air with Sheba II would clear his mind and help him figure out how to make things up to her.
Before heading out to the stables, he felt compelled to check on Dawn. Anger, fear and disappointment glared strongly from her brown eyes before she pushed him out of her room. In the light of day, he accepted it all. But last night...
The door to her suite opened with a quiet sigh. He stepped through the crack and allowed the light from the hallway to filter through. The covers twisted around her in disarray. She lay on her back with one arm resting against the pillows. Her other arm was draped protectively around her abdomen. A frown marred her forehead and alerted him that her slumber was far from peaceful.
A catch caught in his throat. What thoughts tormented her sleep? What caused her to cry out for his brother? He'd have to summon the courage to ask.
"No, no, no..."
Her soft cries silenced the questions in his mind. He moved quickly to her side. Uncertainty took hold in a surprisingly strong grip. He swallowed hard. Should he comfort her? Dare he try?
"Stop... Why are you doing this?"
Dammit all to hell!
He pushed aside his doubts and sat on the edge of the bed. Now, both of her arms wrapped tightly around her abdomen. Her breaths came in ragged spurts. He'd never seen her so distressed while asleep. His chest constricted.
"Dawn, just relax." He gently stroked her cheek. "Relax, sweetheart. Just sleep, love."
His words seemed to calm her. Her hold loosened. A slight smile softened her features. He breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, he'd done something right.
"What are you doing here?" Dara stopped Dawn at the elevator. "You're supposed to be resting."
"Been there. Tried that." Dawn shrugged. "It didn't quite work out."
"You look like shit."
She released a humorless chuckle as she moved toward Dominik's room. "Tell me something I don't know. How's my son?"
"There hasn't been any change." Dara fell into step beside her.
Dawn smoothed down her hair. She'd secured the wayward strands into a ponytail. Make-up to hide the dark circles under her eyes hadn't even been a consideration. A pair of jeans and a white tailored shirt sufficiently covered her body. She didn't care how she looked. None of that mattered right now.
"Any word on Ellen and Matt?"
"Nothing so far." Dara caught her arm before they reached the nurses' station. "Seriously, you look awful. You should get some rest. Where's Nikolas? Don't tell me he's parking the Jag."
She tugged free of her sister's hold. "I don't know where he is and right now, I don't care."
Surprise flickered across Dara's face. "I thought things were getting better."
"What? My marriage?" Dawn rubbed her eyes. Lack of sleep made everything hurt. Discussing the state of her marriage didn't help. "I thought so, too. We're both wrong."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Talking won't change anything, Dara. Talking is just a waste of time and I'm tired of wasting time. Nikolas is resurrecting the past that's been dead and buried for years. I can't get memories about Luke and Helena's abduction from my mind and I can't even talk about it with him. Just when I think we're almost back where we used to be..." She shuddered. The wild look in his eyes when he believed she was crying out to Lorenzo frightened her. But more than that, it made her mad as hell. There were only so many ways she could show and tell Nikolas that she loved him more. If he refused to believe her, damn him. "The last twenty years weren't worth it."
"What? What are you talking about?"
"Nothing," Dawn mumbled. "I need to see Dominik. We can talk later."
Dawn took one step, stopped and turned around to face her sister. "I'm being totally honest. Everything has been a constant battle. I'm tired of fighting. Maybe that's why I can't sleep. Maybe that's why I keep remembering how I was locked away on that island. All because Nikolas and I fell in love and wanted to be together. Maybe we went after something that..."
"What are you saying? You can't believe that you and Nikolas don't belong together. After everything you've been through... Most people would have fallen under the pressure. Each time, you both came out stronger. This defeatist attitude is not like you."
"I don't feel so strong anymore."
Dawn quickly walked away before Dara tried to convince her otherwise. After waking from a few hours of restless sleep, the nagging suspicion that Dominik's illness somehow related back to her hit her full force. She couldn't shake it. Somehow, she had to get to the bottom of it.
"Yes, I want to help them, but not more than I want to be here with you," Lorenzo said. He pressed the phone closer to his ear. Lynn was at the office, giving Tommy support while he traveled abroad. "Sweetheart, I'm not leaving you."
"Of course, you're not leaving me," Lynn argued. "Dominik is your nephew. You helped deliver him. I understand you wanting to do whatever you can to get Matt and Ellen back here."
Lorenzo sighed. When she got an idea, there was no getting it out of her head. "You're too close to your due date for me to leave and that's final. I'm not going anywhere until after our baby is born."
She chuckled. "That's final, huh?"
The doorbell rang. "Someone's at the door."
"Answer it. I'll talk to you later. When you talk to Nikolas and Dawn, let them know I'm praying for them."
"I will," Lorenzo said. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
The doorbell chimed again as the call ended. Lorenzo tugged on a t-shirt and jogged downstairs to answer the door. He and Lynn didn't have regular household staff. Once the baby was born, he planned to hire a housekeeper. Whether Lynn liked it or not.
"I'm coming!" He called out when the bell sounded again.
He pulled open the door and was surprised to find his brother on the other side. The look on Nikolas's face scared him. "What's wrong?"
"We need to talk." Nikolas pushed inside without waiting for an invitation. "I need to know everything."
"Everything?" Lorenzo closed the door and followed Nikolas into the living room. His brother stood still as a statue. His brown eyes locked onto Lorenzo as if he had all the answers. "What everything? What are we talking about?"
"You and my wife—"
"You've got to be kidding me!" Lorenzo rubbed his face. This was not happening. Again. "I saw that look on your face at the hospital. I hoped you wouldn't go there again. That's the past, man. Dead and buried."
"It's not so dead when she's calling your name in her sleep."
Time stopped for a moment. Lorenzo found his brother's admission hard to believe, but Nikolas's tone was sincere as hell. "I don't know why she'd do that. She's not in love with me."
A muscle flickered at Nikolas's jaw. "I know she's not."
"I don't think you believe it. When she called out my name, what did you do?"
Shame glimmered briefly on Nikolas's face. "It doesn't matter."
"If you hurt her—"
"Lorenzo, nothing happened. Nothing that you can fix."
"So, why are you here? Why are you raising something that's been dead and buried for years? I love Lynn. We're happy and we're starting a family. I don't want Dawn and I haven't for a very, very long time." Lorenzo drew in a deep breath. "Your son is fighting for his life. Are you sure this is where you should be?"
"Yes," Nikolas said with full conviction. "I'm not a doctor. I have no medical training. I can't sit there watching him slip further away when I know there's something else..."
"The something else can't possibly have anything to do with Dawn and me."
"That's where you're wrong."
Lorenzo dropped onto plush cushions of the sofa. He stared up at the ceiling. When Nikolas got that pompous know-it-all edge, there was no getting through to him. Lorenzo decided to play along until Nikolas went too far.
"How am I wrong?"
"She hasn't been sleeping well. Even before Dominik became ill and before we...our marriage...hit a bump. She talks in her sleep and she doesn't sound the same."
"What do you mean?" He turned his head to read his brother's face. "Sit down. You look ready to break something. Lynn would kill both of us if that happened."
Nikolas joined him on the sofa, but he didn't relax. He sat on the edge and his hands shook slightly. Lorenzo patted his shoulder. "What is it? I'm listening. How doesn't she sound the same? What does she sound like?""
"Her voice is younger and very tense and frightened. I can't remember her ever sounding like that."
Lorenzo frowned. "I can. When Luke and Helena kept us locked away on that island, we were both tense and frightened. They put her through hell, but she never gave up hope that you were alive and that you'd reunite. She was courageous, man."
"That island...you were with her for months. Just the two of you."
"No," Lorenzo bit out. "It wasn't just the two of us. Ginnie, the cold hearted bitch, kept watch like a tyrant. I remember walking in on them one day and that terrified look in Dawn's eyes. I don't know what Ginnie had said to her, but I know it scared Dawn." Lorenzo released a low breath. "Wow. I'd forgotten about that time. So much has happened since. When Dawn went into labor, I'd never been so scared in my life. Then, you found us and it was like all her fears went away."
"Too much has happened." Nikolas stood. "I have to go."
"Already?" Lorenzo followed his brother to the door. "You rushed in here like a lion. You said we needed to talk."
"Is that all you wanted to know?" Lorenzo couldn't believe this fast retreat. What was going on inside his brother's head? "Did you get your answer?"
"No, I'm not sure I've asked the right questions."
"Where are you going?" Lorenzo caught his arm. "Let me come with you."
"I'm going home. I don't need you to come with me."
Dawn turned at the almost familiar masculine tone. "Oh, hi, Griffin. What are you doing here?"
"I heard about your son. I came to see if you needed anything."
She gave him a faint smile. Seeing her son in a comatose state reminded her about priorities. There was only one thing she desperately needed right now, but she doubted Griffin could provide it. "Thanks for the offer."
"You look exhausted—"
"Dear Lord, not you, too." She shook her head. "I'm fine."
"Don't knock my head off if I disagree."
A nurse moved past them. Dawn watched the other woman disappear inside a patient's room. Was that patient's ailment diagnosed? Was the nurse helping that person? What would Dawn give to solve Dominik's health problems. Why was he going through this?
"Are you sleeping?" he asked.
"No. I try but it's not quite working out, so here I am."
"How long do you think you'll last without proper rest?" The tall, handsome man cocked his head to the side as he regarded her.
His interest produced a small spark inside Dawn, but it wasn't enough to really register. She had more important things to think about than why a gorgeous, single man cared about her personal well-being. "Probably not long, but I'll do the best I can for as long as I can."
"What if I could give you something that would help?"
Shaking her head, she stepped back. "I don't think so."
He released a short chuckle. "I'm not offering drugs. That's not my thing. It's music. An instrumental CD. Actually, it's the sound of rolling waves. Whenever I can't sleep, I put the disc in and I'm out like a light. I was about to head out of town for a photo shoot. The CD is packed downstairs in my car. You can have it."
"What if you need it while you're gone?"
He shrugged. "I have it downloaded on my PDA."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah." He extended his hand. "I can give it to you right now."
"Okay. Thanks." She grasped his hand for a brief moment. "My mother and sister have been nagging at me to leave. I had better tell them they've won. I'll be right back. Thanks, Griffin. If this music works, I'll be forever in your debt."
He smiled. "I like the sound of that."