Prologue

Summer 1996

The sounds of beeps and rubber-soled shoes moving briskly along the corridor greeted Nikolas Cassadine as he stepped off the elevator and headed toward his baby sister's room in General Hospital's Pediatrics Ward. He'd traveled a considerable distance to aid her in her time of need. Of all her immediate family—mother, father, and brother—he was the only person whose bone marrow was the perfect match to hers to save her life. Now, she lay in recovery and on the brink to returning to life as an active toddler. And that was all because of him.

He moved down the hallway. The regal bearing he bore was second nature to him. The medical staff looked away as he approached, as if they too knew his importance in his family's infrastructure. Well, all of them looked away except one. The familiar doctor paused and met his eyes dead on. She smiled and greeted him by name.

"Hello, Nikolas. You're early tonight."

"Yes, Dr. Webber," he said in greeting to his sister's pediatrician, Dr. Simone Hardy-Webber. She discovered that his sister was in dire need of the transplant and this discovery saved the baby's life. He would forever be grateful to her. "How is she?"

"The same as before," Simone answered. "She's improving daily."

Nikolas nodded. As he began to move inside the room, he said, "My visit will be a short one."

"I know, Nikolas," the doctor said softly. "I know."

The door swished closed behind him. He grabbed a sterile gown and mask from a stack before moving inside the inner room where Lesley Lu lay.

She's so precious, he thought, looking down at her sleeping form.

Dark strands of hair covered her head like a tiny cap. Her parted mouth reminded him of a perfect rosebud. Color had begun to return to her cheeks. He ached to touch her, but something kept him still. A faint smile played around the corners of her mouth and he didn't want to disturb whatever pleasant dreams she held.

He watched her for a few minutes more. Tearing himself away was always so very hard. He'd never had a sister or any siblings. He lived his life as an only child for so long. Her existence reminded him how lonely that life had been.

"Excuse me?"

His heart leapt at the sudden intrusion. He spun around, ready to defend himself against the medical personnel. The words faltered on his lips at the first sight of her.

Dear God, she is beautiful.

Her skin, the hue of toasted cinnamon, was flawless. Her mouth, sensual and full, was perfect. And her eyes… One glance into her eyes, he felt overwhelmed and energized at once. It was like a thunderbolt struck him and hit him deep in his heart, down to his very soul. His chest tightened almost painfully as her lips curved into a faint smile.

"I'm sorry," she said, clutching a stuffed animal in her slender hands. "I didn't think anyone would be here."

"Who are you?" His eyes watched her closely, memorizing every nuance. The way she tilted her head. How waves of dark brown hair caressed her cheek. The adorable tip of her nose. An insatiable desire to know everything about her jolted him. The question he asked wasn't merely an attempt to learn her name. He wanted more. He needed more.

"I'm Dawn Jensen," she said. "Who are you?"

"Nikolas Cassadine."

He extended his hand and after a moment's hesitation, she gave him hers. He brought the soft flesh to his lips and gently kissed the back of her hand. An electrifying sensation coursed through him. He heard her gasp and his gaze flew to her. Awareness passed between them and threatened to consume him. Then, she tugged her hand free and stepped back.

"You're Lucky's bro—"

She looked around, as if uncertain about what to do next. She noticed the doll in her hands and hurriedly placed it at the foot of Lesley Lu's crib and then retreated. "I'm sorry for disturbing you."

Before Nikolas could protest, she ran from the room. His first thought was to run after her, but the baby stirred in her sleep. As he went to Lesley Lu's crib and sang a soft lullaby, he decided that although Dawn Jensen ran away from him tonight, there would come a time when she would run to him. And once he had her, he would never let her go.

I will have you
Yes, I will have you
I will find a way
and I will have you
Like a butterfly
A wild butterfly
I will collect you and capture you

(Author's Note: Lyrics are from Animotion's 80s hit 'Obsession'.)

Back | Chapter 1

65