Chapter 2


"If you think you're lonely now... Wait until tonight, girl." Sly sung the lyrics with unbridled emotion as he pounded the keyboard. Jordan tapped out the rhythm on the drums and Dawn plucked the strings of the bass guitar. She and Jordan exchanged looks while Sly played and sung, but neither said a word until the song was over.

"Just wait until tonight, baby... Just wait until tonight... Just wait..."

Sly finished the song with a low moan and then hung his head. Dawn set her guitar down and crossed the platform to stand behind him. Her hands rested on his shoulders and squeezed. "Wanna talk about it?"

He moaned and shook his head.

"Come on, man," Jordan said, rising from his stool to join them. "We know something's up. What gives?"

"It's nothing," he mumbled. "Just fooling around 'til Lorenzo gets here. That's all."

"That's crap," Dawn replied. "That wasn't fooling. You were pouring out your heart, baby. You can tell us if something's wrong. Are you and Lark okay?"

He shook his head again. "You don't want to hear about me and Lark. Not when you're celebrating 20 years of bliss today."

"It hasn't always been good and you know it," she said. "We're your friends. You can tell us."

"Yeah," Jordan added. "I know that Lark was on the phone late last night with Emily. They talked for hours. I didn't ask her what Lark said and Emmie wouldn't ask me about what you say to me. So, talk to us, man."

Sly released another dramatic sigh and then he looked at both of his dear friends. "We have 6 kids and Lark is determined to not have any more. She says she's not a dog and she's tired of pumping out the puppies."

Dawn sat beside him on the piano stool. "Labor is hard, Sly. I can see where she's coming from."

"I don't know about it from personal experience," Jordan said, "but I can see Lark's point, too. Do you want more kids? Is that the problem?"

"No," Sly grumbled. "6 is more than enough for me."

"Well?" Dawn asked.

"Well!" he repeated, his expression sullen. "She wants me to get a vasectomy!"

"Ouch." Jordan frowned.

"What's wrong with wanting that?" Dawn asked. "It's not like the surgery will make you impotent! Sheesh! Besides, it's reversible. If you change your mind, you can go back under the knife-"

"Stop!" Sly said, squeezing his eyes tight. "You don't say knife when you're talking about that part of a man's body. What's wrong with you women? Are you all sadists?"

"Sly, come on."

"He's right, though," Jordan defended. "There's got to be another way. A vasectomy is too extreme. I can't believe she even went there, man."

"Why not?" Dawn said, a little defensively. "I don't see anything wrong with her request."

"You wouldn't," Sly grumbled. "You're a woman. You're all the same. Insensitive and cruel."

"There's nothing cruel about having a vasectomy!"

"I bet you wouldn't ask Nikolas to have one," Sly retorted to which Jordan added, "Yeah!"

"Oh, no?" she asked, smugly.

Sly's mouth dropped open and Jordan asked, "Did you really?"

Dawn's reply was a shrug.

"He wouldn't do it," Sly said, shaking his head. "There's no way he'd do it. No way."

"Nikolas loves me, and that's all I'm gonna say about that," she said with confidence, as she stood. "Now, we have just enough time for another sound check. I hope Lorenzo gets here in time to make it."


Lorenzo stopped pacing only long enough to look at the wall clock that hung over the fireplace. Lynn tossed a pillow at him. "Stop it! You're making me nervous," she cried.

"What am I doing?" he asked.

"You're pacing and staring at the clock," she complained. "Aren't you late for the sound check? Just go. I'll tell you later."

He shook his head. "I don't want to find out later. I want to know when you do."

"Lorenzo, the test isn't even accurate. It says so on the box."

He went to her and sat beside her on their bed. His fingers brushed the strands of blonde hair from her forehead. "It's accurate enough to let us know if the answer is a maybe or a definite no. Humor me, okay? I want to be here with you."

She took his hand, brushing her lips across his knuckles. Her blue eyes shone with her love for him. "I'll humor you. It makes me happy that you want to stay."

Wrapping his arms around her, he murmured against her ear, "There's no place I'd rather be."

The alarm on his watch buzzed happily and they both jumped. "Time's up," she said as their embrace ended. She rose from the bed and frowned as she looked towards the bathroom. "I'm almost afraid to find out."

"You don't have to be afraid," he said, rising. "I'll be with you, and no matter what it says, we're together, okay?"

"Okay," she said, nodding. "And if it's a definite no, there's no reason why we can't try again. Okay?"

He grinned. "Okay! I especially like that."

Her laughter was shaky and soft. He took her hand and together, they went inside the bathroom. Lorenzo reached for the small strip of paper that would give them the answer they craved. He whooped with joy when he saw the color that signified an affirmative answer.

"We're pregnant!"


Two doors slammed on the second-story of the Hardy home and Tommy looked at his wife. "Let me guess. Dominik's back in town."

Gina nodded. "Nothing gets your girls riled up like the heir apparent," she chuckled.

"It's not funny," he grumbled. "I don't like the effect he has on them. When he's not around, they're sisters. When he's around, they're sworn enemies and if I have to replace another door, someone is in for it!"

"Dominik isn't even aware of what he's putting them through," she lamented, easing herself onto his lap. "Boys are always clueless about that sort of thing."

"I'm talking to Nikolas-"

"No, no, no," she said, pressing a finger to his mouth. "I promised the girls I wouldn't say a word to Nikolas or Dawn, and by extension, you're a part of that promise, too."

"So, we're supposed to just sit back and watch our daughters battle over someone who doesn't even know the torture he's causing them?" Tommy asked. "Sweetheart, that doesn't make any sense. Why can't one of them be interested in Ben and the other one in Brad? Why do both my girls want the same boy?!"

"It's called Fate, sweetie." Gina kissed his cheek and snuggled against him. "Besides, I think that Dominik is actually interested in one of them, but because he's been around both of them so much, he's not sure which girl he fancies."

Tommy laughed. "I'm sorry, but that doesn't make any sense. Ciarda and Alanna are twins, but they are by no means identical."

"And that makes it even harder for him," she said, in an all-knowing voice. "I'll have a talk with them before we leave for the party. They'll behave themselves or else they'll have me to answer to!"

He pouted. "Why not me?"

"Because you're a pushover," she teased, "and I'm not."


"Mama, it's too hot for me to wear a tie!"

Keesha shook her head as Jason-Everett's voice yelled from his bedroom. She studied the two dresses that were laid out on her bed as she called out to him, "Then, don't! But you will look presentable, young man, and that means no shorts!"

"Yes, ma'am!"

She reached for the black dress and held it to her body. Moving to the mirror, she stared at her reflection. The dress would look nice, but she wasn't sure if she wanted to wear something that teetered on the borderline of sexy. "Hmmm..."

"It looks nice, Mom," Ben said from the doorway. He brushed his long brown hair from his eyes and stepped inside. "I think you should go for it."

She frowned. "Are you sure it's not too short?"

He shrugged. "I don't think so. Besides, you have great legs. You'll knock all the guys there dead and flat on their feet."

She laughed. "I'm not sure about that. Maybe I should go with the brown one-"

"No, please don't." He held the dress out of her reach. "This is something Grandma Monica would wear. Wear the black dress."

"Okay," she said, almost feeling confident with his suggestion. She hung the dress up in her bathroom and asked, "What about you? Shouldn't you be dressed?"

Ben grunted and shoved his balled fists into the front pocket of his jeans. "I'm not sure I'm going. I should probably just stay here."

"The invitation was for all of us and I said we'd all come. If you're not sick, you should go," Keesha scolded gently. She went to him and pressed her hand against his forehead. "Your face is flushed, but you don't feel warm. What's wrong, honey?"

"I don't want to bum you out," he said sadly. "You have enough to think about-"

"Benny, I'm your mother. You don't bum me out. Just tell me what's wrong."

He sat on the edge of her bed and she sat beside him. "I guess you should know it's about a girl."

"Yeah, that would help," she said, trying not to smile.

"Well, there's this girl... She's gonna be at the party and she hates me."

Keesha shook her head. "I'm sure she doesn't hate you. No one hates you. You're one of the nicest, funniest guys I know. Trust me."

He laughed without humor. "You're my mom. You have to say that."

"You're also one of the most handsome," she said, cupping his face. "And I wouldn't lie about that even if I am your mom. I won't ask who the girl is, but listen to my two cents, okay?"

He nodded. "I'm listening."

"Don't sell yourself so short. If this girl is too blind to see how great you are, there's another one out there who won't be so blind."

Ben gave her a half smile and stood. "Thanks, Mom. I'll take your advice and I want you to do the same. Just because Dad's not around anymore doesn't mean you should be alone. You're great, too, you know. I'd better get dressed."

He closed the door behind him and Keesha barely noticed. Was her son right? Maybe it really was time for her to move on. How did that old saying go? She wondered. "From the mouths of babes..."


Carrie gripped the letter so tightly that her hand shook. Stefan took the parchment from her and gently tilted her face until she looked at him. "Just because a request was made does not mean you must honor it. You owe nothing to Robert Jensen."

"He's Dara and Dawn's father," she said. "I can't ignore that."

"I don't suggest that you do," he replied, "but even so, you should do what you feel is best for you."

"Robert says that there was never any closure-"

Stefan sniffed and his goatee twitched. "I beg to differ."

"I know you do," she said with a faint smile. "I hope you don't think just because we're talking about this that I have any feelings left for him. I don't. You're the man I love. You know that, don't you?"

He paused for a moment and then he finally answered, "Yes."

Carrie's eyebrows lifted in surprise. His slow response wasn't what she expected. "Stefan... Any feelings I had for Robert died well over 20 years ago. When Dawn ran away, in my heart I knew that he was behind it. He hurt her with his negativity and cruelty... If it wasn't for your son, she may have been damaged forever. I'm not sure what Robert wants. A part of me wants to rip this letter into a million pieces and send it back to him. The other part is so damned curious that I'm almost ashamed to admit it."

He pulled away from her and took a step back. "Then you should go. Visit him at the penitentiary."

"If I decide to go," she said, moving to his side, "I hope I won't be alone. You will go with me, won't you?"

His mouth tightened for just a moment and then he smiled. He slipped his arms around her waist and drew her to him. "I would follow you to the ends of the earth. Of course, I will go with you."

She raised her head for his kiss and just before his lips claimed hers, she murmured, "Thank you."

[Song Credit: "If You Think You're Lonely Now" is a song sung by someone whose name I can't remember. LOL! Sorry.]