Chapter 14

~ The Power Principle ~


"Hey, Greedy."

Dawn looked up from the sheet music with a smile. Lorenzo stood in the doorway, a faint blush covering his cheek as he grinned back at her. "What's up, Selfish?"

"Not much." He entered the music room and jutted his chin toward Dawn and the piano. "Sounds good. New?"

"Yeah, just something I've been working on this morning." She slid over on the bench and patted the empty space. "Have a seat."

He complied. Years ago, a moment like this would have been awkward and extremely difficult for them. Attraction—physical and emotional—had plagued their relationship for ten years until they finally dealt with it. Some wouldn't have been able to move beyond everything that they'd experienced together without a relapse or two. But Dawn and Lorenzo weren't like other people. She loved Nikolas with all her heart, and Lorenzo felt the same for his wife Lynn. Now, whenever Dawn and Lorenzo found themselves alone, there was only respect and familial love between them.

"That tune was haunting, maybe even a little dreary," he commented. "Wanna talk before the others get here?"

She shook her head. "Just my form of release. I'm okay. How's Lynn? Any morning sickness?"

He smiled, love for his wife lighting his blue eyes. "She's okay. Lucas prescribed something for her just in case, but she hasn't had to use it."

"I'm happy for you. I'm glad you're happy."

Lorenzo shrugged. "It took awhile, but I'm there now. " He reached for the sheet music and looked over the notes Dawn had written on the page. "Got any lyrics in mind for this?"

"I hadn't thought about it," she admitted. "Do you?"

"I don't know. Let me hear it again and we'll see what we can do."

Dawn struck the beginning chords. Her fingers glided over the keys without hesitation, the music flowing through her. The conversation she and Nikolas had, Ciarda's emotional turmoil, her own...all of it came it out. When she finished, her heart raced and she had to pause to catch her breath.

"I have something," Lorenzo said. He stood and crossed the room to grab the portable recorder they sometimes used in rehearsal. He set it on top of the piano and said, "whenever you're ready..."

"I'm ready."

She played the piece again. This time, Lorenzo came in with lyrics that matched it perfectly. He sung about looking beneath the surface to find the truth and not allowing preconceived beliefs to be used as blindfolds. The song came together magically.

Dawn hit the final note and folded her hands in her lap. She stared at the keyboard, overcome by their creation and its release. When she was ready to speak, she looked at her brother-in-law and smiled. "Thank you."

"Don't thank me," he said, shrugging. "It's the power of the music."

~*~

Tommy and Gina joined Ciarda on the sofa. Alanna sat on the loveseat facing them. The tension felt thick and Tommy could almost believe that he could cut it with a knife. Resentment had seemed to form between his two daughters and he hated it. But he wasn't sure of what to do to erase it. He could only pray and hope that he and Gina had made the right decision.

Gina took Ciarda's hand and cradled it on her lap. "Your father and I have given your request some serious thought. We called the school in Connecticut and told them we'd like to visit. It's highly irregular for a student to be admitted after school has started, but there are exceptions. They want to meet with you to decide if their school is right for you and vice versa."

"We've made arrangements for the three of us to fly down to Torrington in the morning," Tommy added. He looked at Alanna and said, "We would rather you didn't miss any school, but if you'd like to join us, you may."

"I can stay here," Alanna said quietly. "Ciarda wouldn't want me to come anyway."

"That's not true," Ciarda said. "If you want to, you can come."

"Okay," Alanna said after a moment of silence.

The telephone rang and Gina stood to answer it. She smiled when she recognized the voice. "Hello, Keesha. We're having a family meeting. Would it be okay to call you back?" A brief pause and then, Gina said, "Okay. I'll talk to you later."

"This wasn't an easy decision for us to make," Tommy said. "But we're trying to do what's right, Ciarda. We don't want to send you away, and we wish you didn't want to go away."

Ciarda swallowed hard. "I don't want to leave you either. It's just that... I think it may be for the best. At least for a little while."

"Well, nothing's decided until we visit the school," Gina said. "Who knows? You may not like the school. Just because we're going to visit it doesn't mean you have to stay, Ciarda. You know that, right?"

The girl nodded.

"If she does like it," Alanna asked, "will she just stay or will she come back home first?"

Tommy and Gina looked at Ciarda for her response. She nodded. "I'd stay."

"You should warn your friends, then," Alanna suggested before running out of the room in tears.

Gina stood and went after her. Tommy heard Gina catch up with Alanna in the hallway. Their voices became muffled as they moved away from the den doorway. Tommy shifted on the sofa and gently took Ciarda's hand.

"Your sister thinks you're upset with her," he said.

"I know," Ciarda replied. "I don't know what to tell her. She wouldn't understand."

"Maybe she would," he said. "Don't assume you know how she'll react. Alanna loves you. She's hurting, too, because she's blaming herself for your wanting to leave. I think you should talk to her. Give her the benefit of the doubt. She may surprise you."

~*~

"Hello, Carlotta. I hope I'm not disturbing you," Keesha said, balancing the cordless telephone between her ear and shoulder. She sat on the bottom step of the back porch and watched AJ play with her children. It came as a big surprise to her when they actually did find a treasure map in Granny Mae's garden.

"Of course not," Carlotta replied. "How may I help you?"

Keesha laughed. "How did you know I needed help?"

"An older woman's intuition," Carlotta said, her voice warm and filled with humor.

"You're one smart lady," Keesha said. "I've always known that. I'm calling because I am in dire need of fashion assistance."

Carlotta laughed out loud. "Since when?"

"Since I'm getting married and I have nothing suitable to wear."

Silence echoed on the other end. Keesha smiled to herself at Carlotta's lack of comeback. The news would be a shock to everyone. After ten years of mourning, people would be surprised to see that Keesha had finally moved on.

"Did I hear that right?" Carlotta finally asked. "You're getting married?"

"Yes, to—"

"You don't have to tell me," Carlotta answered. "It had better be to AJ Quartermaine. That man loves you and has for a very long time. I saw you together at the anniversary party. You looked wonderful together."

Keesha felt touched down to the bottom of her heart. "Thank you." She paused for a moment before saying, "We haven't told our children, so we'd like for you to keep this to yourself."

"I won't say a word to anyone except for Stefan," Carlotta said. "He likes to sift through my sketches and I don't keep secrets from him."

"Of course not," Keesha said. "I wouldn't want you to. We plan to tell our children tonight and after that, the entire world can know."

"Do you have a particular style in mind?" Carlotta asked.

"Just something that will take AJ's breath away," Keesha said. "I'll leave the particulars up to you."

"Okay," Carlotta said with a laugh. "Come by tomorrow morning. I'll have several sketches ready for you and we can proceed from there."

"I don't expect you to do this overnight!" Keesha protested.

"I don't mind. Sketching keeps me out of trouble," Carlotta confided. "I'll see you tomorrow."

The call ended. Hugging her knees to her chest, Keesha continued to watch AJ decipher the map with Jason-Everett on his left, Marissa on his right, and Ben bringing up the rear. She smiled. When Michael, George, and Grace returned that evening, their family would be complete. Keesha could hardly wait.

~*~

Michael paused on the sidewalk as George and Grace climbed out of the rental car. Questioning Morgan James about Eve would be tricky, and as Michael glanced at George's tight expression, he doubted if his cousin should have joined him for this. George's anger with Morgan was understandable. Michael wasn't too thrilled with the man either, but he could keep his ire in check. He wasn't so sure that George could.

"Why don't you just wait for me here?" Michael suggested. "Or check out the shopping. I won't be long."

Grace shook her head. "Whatever he tells you...I don't want you to be alone when you find out."

"Yeah," George added. "We should be there. I promise I won't start anything. Scouts honor." He held up two fingers as he made his vow.

"You were never a scout," Michael grumbled. "Okay, come with me, but don't let him provoke you. We're just going for information about Eve. Nothing else. We won't veer off that. Agreed?"

"Agreed," Grace and George said in unison.

Michael took Grace's hand and they headed for Morgan's garage. The place looked cleaner than it had the day before. The motor Morgan had been working on was gone and the aroma of oil wasn't as pungent. Michael frowned, wondering if Morgan had closed up shop and bolted.

George led the way to Morgan's private room. He knocked on the door and a terse voice responded.

"It's open."

George opened the door and stepped aside to let his sister and Michael in first. Michael glanced at George as he passed him. Crimson rode high on his cousin's cheeks. Just hearing Morgan's voice had made him angry. Michael hoped that scout's honor or not, George would be able to keep it together until they got what they wanted.

"What in the world?" Grace murmured under her breath.

Michael stopped just behind her and surveyed the scene. The room was packed up. The bed was stripped and only a single duffel bag rested on the table. Morgan stepped from the bathroom and stared intently at his three guests before his eyes finally rested on Michael.

"Are you going somewhere?" Michael asked.

"Yeah."

Michael felt George stiffen. "Where?" George asked, the question biting and cold.

"Where do you think?" Morgan clipped. "I'm going back with you. You say I have a son. I want to see him for myself."

~*~

Nikolas glanced at his watch as the driver parked the limo in front of the twenty-story granite building. He left Port Charles a short while after his discussion with Dominik. The Cassadine Enterprises leer jet was an incredible invention. In less than three hours, he crossed the States and was on the West Coast. He'd leave for home as soon as his meeting was concluded and the entire day would be equivalent to his normal work routine. He smiled. There were numerous perks to being a Prince.

The driver opened the back door and Nikolas stepped onto the sidewalk. The afternoon sun was warm on his neck, but the ocean breeze quickly cooled him. A couple of women whose beauty seemed more artificial than natural smiled their appreciation at him. Nikolas nodded his head once and strode to the front doors. The women on the sidewalk didn't compare to the woman who waited for him at home.

He passed several security guards who stood at attention as he passed. Nikolas was used to that reaction. Whether he tried to or not, he exuded power. And rarely did he ever attempt to exert it. He never felt the need. Until he held his crying wife in his arms that morning. Then, he became to compelled to use his resources to their fullest extent.

Nikolas rode the elevator to the Executive level of the building. He knew where it was without having to check the directory on the bottom floor. In the last few hours, he learned quite a good deal about this building, the company that owned it, and the man who controlled it all. Well, the man who had controlled it all. There was a new man in control now. Nikolas smiled coldly in anticipation. He couldn't wait to introduce the new owner to the old.

Hurried, worried movement greeted Nikolas as he stepped out of the elevator. The entire space bustled with restless, nervous energy. Nikolas shook his head. Running around now would be futile. Didn't they realize that?

He strode straight to the office of Goldwyn Shapiro, former Chief Executive Officer of World Rep Studios. A hushed silence fell as Nikolas pushed the door open and walked inside.

"Who the hell are you?" Shapiro, a red-faced blonde, asked. His forehead glistened with sweat and papers were strewn across his desk. Assistants stood beside him, their faces contorted in shock and dismay.

"That's him!" one of the assistants, a tall redhead with wild curls, whispered. She pushed wire-rimmed glasses up the bridge of her nose. "That's Nikolas Cassadine!"

"Who?" Shapiro asked again. He straightened his shoulders and tried to send Nikolas a withering glare. It didn't work. Nikolas simply stared back.

"You heard her," Nikolas said. "She is correct."

"You sonuvabitch!" Shapiro cried, spittle running from the corner of his mouth. "You can't take my company, you bastard! My great-great grandfather built this studio! Who the fuck do you think you are?"

"I'm the new owner of World Rep Studios," Nikolas calmly answered. "And you are confused. I've already taken the company from you." He pulled a sheet a paper from his breast pocket and tossed on top of Shapiro's desk. "You and the people on that list have exactly one hour to clear the premises."

Nikolas turned on his heel and headed out the way he'd come in. He left without giving an explanation. Goldwyn Shapiro didn't deserve one. One of his employees made a bad judgment call which in turn made Dawn cry. Every day people like Goldwyn Shapiro and those who worked under him made decisions that were erroneously based. Decisions that caused his goddaughter Ciarda to doubt and find fault with herself.

Nikolas climbed into the backseat of the limo and thought about his latest acquisition. A movie studio. He knew he wouldn't be able to right the wrongs that years of ignorance had committed, but he definitely planned to make changes. And lots of them.

He leaned back against the soft, leather upholstery and smiled. Being a Prince definitely had its perks.

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