Chapter 5

~ Untitled ~


With Dawn's hand in his, Nikolas moved to the center of the stage and spoke directly into the microphone. "Good evening, everyone. Thank you all for joining Dawn and our family as we celebrate twenty years of bliss."

Applause and catcalls interrupted the rest of his speech and Nikolas smiled as he waited for the noise to die down. Beside him, Dawn giggled and whispered in his ear, "Look at our kids. Dom and Noelle faces are getting close to fire engine red. Thank goodness, Adrik is too young to be worried if we're gonna embarrass him."

Nikolas glanced at his eldest son and only daughter. Sure enough, crimson blushes colored their cheeks. A wide grin came to his face as mischievous thoughts came to mind. Embarrassing his children shouldn't be so pleasurable he thought, turning to Dawn and pulling her into his arms. Surprise shone vividly in her bright brown eyes and once she realized his intent, mischief replaced the shock. Her mouth puckered for his kiss and he gave her one that made his heart race and crowd's cheers shake the walls of the tent that housed the party.

The desire to succumb to Dawn's passionate charms came close to overpowering Nikolas. The taste of her lips was sweet as honey and as sinful as chocolate. Her warm, full curves pressed against his hard frame reminded him of how perfectly their fit wasóboth physically, emotionally and mentally. Slowly and with great reluctance, he ended the kiss. He took a moment to catch his breath before speaking again.

"Um...what was I saying?" he teased.

Their friends and family laughed and behind him on the stage, Jordan did a cute drum roll. As the laughter faded, Nikolas became serious. He beckoned for their children to join them onstage. Adrik stood between him and Dawn and Dominik went to Dawn's side while Noelle stood beside Nikolas. "All of us thank you for being our friends during the bizarre times, wonderful times and the painfully horrid times. Without your support, I'm not quite sure where we would be right now. So, lest I say or do something that would cause some of my family to disown me, I will step back and allow my beautiful wife to speak."

"Why, thank you, milord," she said, dipping into a courtesy. When she rose, a teasing grin adorned her beautiful face and Nikolas wondered what she would say or do that would match the playful twinkle he saw in her eyes.

"I agree with everything Nikky said," she said, her expression serious. "We've had our share of turbulent times and sometimes, I doubted if we'd make it to the happily ever after, but we have. We have three beautiful, intelligent children and the best friends and family whom we love and trust with all our hearts. So, here's to twenty wonderful years with the man of my dreams and here's hoping for hundred more! I love you, Nikolas Cassadine and I'll love you forever."

Her speech left Nikolas with a loss for words. Tears blurred his vision. Instinctively, he reached for her and like she'd been for the last twenty years, she was there.

~**~

Later while DJLS performed a ballad, Dominik took a moment to think about his parents. Growing up, he never had to wonder about their love for each other. It was always so clear to him. Even when his Mama went awhile for a little while when he was ten, he didn't doubt that his parents loved each other. Instead, he wondered if his Mama left for other reasons, like maybe they loved each other too much and that caused the problem. When the family reunited, he didn't think about the separation again. In fact, he rarely thought about that time in his life and he was surprised that he was reminded of it now. Seeing them together and so happy, he truly wished that all the bad was behind for them.

"A penny for your thoughts."

His pulses raced at the husky sound of the Alanna's voice so close to his ear. Trying to mask his reaction to her, he frowned and imitated his grandfather. "One simple coin? Surely, my thoughts are worth more than that."

"A lot more," she said softly. "Will you dance with me?"

Her request was flattering. Dominik gave her a smile acceptance and took her hand. The sensation of skin on skin was electrifying. He quickly looked at her, hoping she felt it, too. Her green eyes sparkled like emeralds and he knew she felt it. He also knew that their days of simple friendship and light flirtation would soon come to end. He wasn't ready to wonder if they would have the kind of spark his parents have, but he wouldn't be hesitant about finding out.

~**~

Ciarda watched the exchange between Dominik and her twin and her heart sank. Of course, Dominik would choose Alanna. The fairer twin was the prettier one. Boys always noticed Alanna. None ever paid any attention to Ciarda. Not with her wild, curly hair that refused to hang golden and straight like Alanna's. She believed that her feelings of inferiority had been dealt with long ago, but as the tears filled her eyes, she knew they hadn't. Not when the boy she loved since forever chose her beautiful twin sister.

She fought hard to keep the tears at bay, but one slipped down her cheek anyway. Afraid that someone would see and feel sorry for her, Ciarda spun on her heel and ran right smack into Ben.

"I'm sorry," she mumbled, bowing her head. She tried to brush past him, but he grabbed her arm.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Nothing."

"I think you're lying," he commented quietly. He handed her the handkerchief from his jacket and took her hand, leading her outside the tent. When they were far enough away from everyone else, he pointed to one of the stone bench's in Dawn's garden and they sat. "I know what happened."

Sniffling, Ciarda dried her tears with his handkerchief. "What are you talking about?"

"You know. Dom and Alanna. Don't lie, okay?"

She shrugged. "What's there to lie about? They like each other. Big deal."

"You like Dom and that makes it a big deal."

Ciarda swallowed the lump in her throat. "So?"

"So, I know what it feels like," Ben said. "Facing reality sucks, but you gotta do it sometime. Serena came with Lucas Jones, and she hasn't even looked at me twice. I should have given up on her a long time ago."

"I don't know what you see in her anyway," Ciarda said, her tears drying up as she became concerned about Ben's plight. "She can be bitchy. Let Lucas have her. You deserve better."

"Dom is a cool guy, and you can do better than him, too."

She looked across at the garden that she, Alanna, Noelle and Dominik helped Dawn create. Those were good times and Dominik was always so caring and fun. She wished that things didn't have to change. Another tear rolled down her cheek.

"Come here," Ben said, taking her into his arms. "It's okay to cry on my shoulder."

"Thanks, Benji," she said through her sniffles. Her head rested against his chest and their tears flowed. Ben rocked her gently and stayed with her until she was ready to go back inside.


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