Chapter 1

October 2004

Car horns blared. Pedestrians moved en masse, claiming the intersection. Granite and glass extended toward the sky in the form of skyscrapers. Nikolas stared sightlessly through the tinted windows of the Mercedes Benz limousine. Normally he enjoyed his trips into New York; however today, thoughts of his brother distracted him.

Lucky refused to tell him anything over the phone. He just gave him the address: 259 Broadway, New York City. As the limousine smoothly pulled up to the curb, Nikolas noticed his brother standing on the sidewalk. When the driver stopped the car, Nikolas glanced up at the building, and his heart began to pound violently in his chest. He knew this establishment very well.

Tiffany's & Company was one of the most renowned jewelry houses in the world. Lucky being here could only mean one thing. Lucky and Dawn had decided to take their relationship to a new level.

Dawn.

Just the thought of her made his hands shake. Nikolas tried for years to put his feelings for her aside but nothing seemed to work. He dated countless beautiful and fascinating women. Many of them bore a distinct resemblance to her, but they weren't Dawn.

From the moment he laid eyes on her, he knew she would be his. He craved her. She was like a primal urge. His soul called out to her. He had long since given up the struggle to fight the connection he felt, to her, for her.

Somehow, his relationship with Lucky remained unaffected, but he was sure Dawn sensed something. She never seemed comfortable around him, and she always managed to avoid being alone with him.

His patience had now reached its limits. Her infatuation with Lucky be damned. If Fate refused to acknowledge the obvious, Nikolas planned to break through Dawn's walls. No, he wasn't a Cassadine monster. But standing aside while his younger brother married the woman Nikolas was born to possess and who so totally possessed him was out of the question.

*)*

"Sorry the welcome party isn't what it should be."

Steven Lars Webber smiled at his stepmother and waved her apology away. "It's fine. I didn't want a party. I'm sure I told Dad that."

They exited the black SAAB convertible and moved to the trunk. Simone slid the key into the lock, but the trunk refused to open.

"I don't know what's wrong with it," she said.

"Let me see."

He reached for the key. Their fingers touched, and something like an electrical current charged him. His eyes cut to her, searching for clarification. She looked away and he knew she felt it, too. The keys dropped into his hand with a loud jangle as she stepped aside. Without a word, he inserted the key and turned. The trunk popped open. He grabbed his bags and followed her inside the house.

The kitchen was warm and cozy. The aroma of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies filled the space. Steven Lars inhaled and smiled. "Grandma's been here."

"That is her handiwork," Simone commented. "No one bakes like Audrey. I never know where or how she finds the time."

"I guess since Gramps died she's had some free time on her hands," he commented, grabbing a cookie. A crumb lingered on his bottom lip. Subconsciously, he licked it away. Simone's sharp intake of breath caught his attention. Funny how he never noticed how attractive his dad's wife was. Boarding school could make a guy miss out on a lot.

"Um, well," she said, her voice a little husky, "this is it. Do you remember the layout of the house? Your room is next to Tommy's and across from Lizzie's. You have free reign. Anything you want is yours. Your Dad and I want you to feel at home here."

"Anything I want is mine?" he repeated. His gaze raked over her from head to toe, taking in everything. The sporty leather jacket, well-worn jeans and the bright red sweater that molded to her curves. When his eyes met hers again, he was nearly breathless. The perusal hadn't been intentional, but it had been educational. Damn.

"Look, Steven Lars," she began.

Embarrassment and anger radiated from her. She looked ready to burst with anger. He couldn't help but be a little relieved when his father stepped through the door.

"Son!" Jeff pulled Steven Lars into a bear hug before speaking hurriedly. "Surgery ended sooner than I thought so I rushed home. How are you? How was the flight? We have a room for you upstairs, but there's also an apartment above the garage. Did Simone show them to you? I can't tell you how happy I am you decided to come home. I've missed you."

"I've missed you, too, Dad," Steven Lars replied with a smile and as he glanced at Simone, he added, "and I know that coming back was the right decision. I'm gonna love it here."

*)*

Dawn sighed contentedly as she closed the door behind her lunch guests. She really loved having her twice-monthly luncheon dates with Laura and Lesley Lu. Laura was a great listener and Lu Lu was a wonderful subject to draw. The little girl was so animated and full of love and life. Nothing was more precious to Leslie Lu than her two older brothers.

Nikolas Cassadine and Lucky Spencer.

Dawn sighed. Laura's sons were so different. Not just in appearance, but in every other way imaginable. Lucky was free spirited, open, very mischievous. He wore his heart freely on his sleeve. But Nikolas… Nikolas was intense, brooding, and soulful.

Dawn crossed the room to her desk and grabbed a sketchpad. Walking over to the couch, she sat down and tucked her legs underneath her. She flipped the pad open to the first picture she ever sketched of Nikolas. The drawing was done after their bizarre introduction in Leslie Lu's hospital room. Although she'd heard about him, it was the first time she had ever seen him in person.

The sketch was nothing more then his eyes. The two dark orbs revealed so much. A sense of recognition, as well as hunger. A visible hunger that Dawn continued to feel eight years later. She sensed it, felt it…and was terrified of it.

Nikolas wanted something from her and the fact that she was involved with his brother and had been since high school didn't seem to stop him. She flipped through the pad and glanced at various sketches of him over the years. Dawn had never shown them to anyone. She knew that they revealed too much of Nikolas, as well as, too much of her connection to him.

She sighed and closed the sketchpad. Hugging her knees to her chest, Nikolas continued to claim her thoughts. Whenever she was around him, he stirred something in her. Nikolas Cassadine called to her, but she ignored it and would continue to ignore it because she was involved with his brother. She loved Lucky. He was the son Dawn was destined to spend her life with, but a little voice deep in her heart mocked her with the question.

Are you sure about that?

"Yes, yes I am sure." Dawn spoke the words aloud, but wondered why her voice sounded so unsure to her own ears.

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