Chapter Two

All was quiet at Wyndemere Nikolas discovered upon his return home. It suited him just as well. Having to converse with Uncle after the day he'd endured in New York with his brother would have been too much. Stefan wasn't a hard man to deal with, but he was insightful. And in Nikolas' present mood the last thing he wanted were unsolicited words of wisdom from someone whose romantic past was as dismal as his present.

The engagement ring Lucky chose for Dawn was beautiful. Given his brother's income, the diamond would create a considerable dent in Lucky's bank account. Nikolas would have gladly given his worldly possessions to trade places with Lucky. Sliding a ring onto Dawn's finger… Making her his by word and deed… Those were the thoughts that consumed and ravaged him until he felt he was on the verge of exploding.

Exploding…

God, what wouldn't he give to explode inside her!

His heart quickened. His pants became too tight. A long, cold shower provided a quick fix, but after the ice-cold spray, his body still charged with restless energy. He needed something to quell his burning desires. Something that would tire him and then reward him with dreamless sleep. He knew just the thing. Tai Chi.

He threw off his robe and dressed in a pair of black, form fitting exercise trousers and matching shirt. The workout room would be too stifling so he headed to Wyndemere's dock at Spoon Lake. The fresh air would help. He hoped.

Two hours later and drenched with perspiration, Nikolas returned to Wyndemere. The exertion worked him. Although he'd rather be drained from another type of physical activity, the Tai Chi served its purpose. Now, he could shower again and go to bed. He prayed that sleep would come and that tonight, Dawn Jensen would not invade his dreams.

He had reached the bottom of the staircase when a loud chime rocked the mansion. At this hour, Mrs. Lansbury would have retired to her quarters. Not wanting her rest disturbed, Nikolas turned on his heel and answered the door before the next chime rung.

The dissatisfied face of Elizabeth Webber stared back at him. Brushing past him, she said, "My world is falling apart and you're here sweating like a pig! What is wrong with you?"

Only sheer force of will prevented him from grabbing her by the collar and flinging her from his home. She was, after all, the sister of his closest friend. Nikolas doubted, however justified his actions might be, if Tommy would forgive him for manhandling his sibling. He took in a deep breath and closed the door. After counting to ten, he turned to face her.

His gaze found her at the bar, pouring herself a liberal glass of Vodka. He crossed the room and wrenched the tumbler from her hand. "What do you want, Liz? If you've come here to liberate us of our supply of spirits, I suggest you go elsewhere."

"No one will serve me! I'm not legal," she complained.

He shrugged and smirked. Continuing to hold the glass, he looked at her. His arched brow spoke for him. She had two options: leave now or state her piece.

"I don't understand you, Nikolas!" she fired, obviously choosing the latter. "He bought the ring for her today. Why are you standing around with your nose up your ass? Do something!"

Leave it to Elizabeth Webber to attack wildly and maliciously. His jaw clenched and without realizing it, his grip on the glass tightened. Choosing to feign ignorance lest he lost control, he said, "I don't understand you. Who are you ranting about?"

"That little innocent act doesn't work with me, Nikolas Cassadine." Her eyes gleamed with a wicked shade of brown. "Lucky bought Dawn an engagement ring today and I know it's tearing you up inside--"

"You know nothing," he cut in. "I'm happy for my brother."

"That's crap. Do you really expect me to believe that you're as cool as a cucumber with the fact that Lucky will marry and bed the woman you crave with your body and soul?" she taunted. A wild laugh escaped her. "Don't deny it. I wouldn't believe you even if you did. I know you want her. You want her just as much as I want Lucky and I canNOT believe that you're so blasé about this! The woman you want is probably all hot and sweaty in your brother's arms as we speak! If he gives her the ring--"

He had enough!

"Nothing will happen if he gives her the ring," Nikolas bit out. "They are not lovers." He spat the word out. It was bad enough to ponder Dawn in Lucky's arms, but for her to lie with him… Oh, no!

"Only because Lucky turned her down," Elizabeth said quietly. Nikolas flinched and she pounced like the malicious wildcat he knew her to be. "Oh, yes. You didn't know that, did you? The woman you're sitting here pining over wants to do the nasty, but she doesn't want to do it with you. She wants Lucky! This is all your fault, Nikolas! I have waited too long for Lucky to lose him now! I won't lose him!"

She flounced to the door and fired back over her shoulder, "They're not married, yet. I'm not going out without a fight and if you're half the man I think you are, you won't either."

The door slammed shut behind her. Nikolas barely noticed. The only thing that registered was Liz's voice telling him that Dawn wanted to be with Lucky. The thought of Dawn lying naked and spent in his brother's arms made him see red. His hand squeezed. The glass exploded. The jagged edges dug into his fingers and palm, but the pain didn't compare with the agonizing rip of his heart splitting in two. Something had to be done. He couldn't delay a moment longer.

*)*

The insistent ringing of the telephone brought Dawn out of her slight musing of the picture she was working on. She didn't know what it was that she was drawing, so the telephone interruption was a welcome distraction.

"Jensen."

"Spencer," he murmured. Hey, beautiful, are you sketching?"

"To be honest I don't know what I'm doing." Dawn sighed into the phone, walking over to her bed she laid down propping herself against her pillows. Reaching for a stuffed bunny that Lucky had won at a fair for her years ago. "I missed you today. Where were you?"

"Out handling some business."

"Really, what kind?"

"Never mind that, tell me again how much you missed me."

"You know, if you came over I could show you how much I missed you."

"Oh really, and just how would you do that?"

"Well I would start off by welcoming you with a long, slow thorough kiss on your lips. Then I would place kisses all over your neck, working my way to the front of your shirt, kissing my way down your chest as I slowly, unbutton each and every button."

"And what would I be doing?" Lucky asked on a dry raspy note.

"I would hope that you would be caressing me, Say running your hands under my tank top, surprised and delighted to note that I'm not wearing a bra."

"You're not?"

"No, I'm not."

"What else are you not wearing?" he croaked out.

"Let me see...oh, I know, panties," she stated smiling seductively into the phone.

"You're killing me. Don't you know how badly I want you?"

"Yes, just as badly as I want you…that's why I don't think we need to wait. I love you and I want to be with you, and only you. I don't need you to put a ring on my finger to feel committed to you."

"Baby, I know. It's just that I want forever with you. There's nothing casual about us. Do you understand?"

"Yeah, I do, but if you ever change your mind…"

"Uh huh. Sometimes, I think you only love me for my body."

"Actually, I adore your body, your gorgeous eyes and that delectable dimple in your chin. Mmm…" She managed a low, throaty groan. "You're my personal Adonis and I wanna sculpt you from head to toe."

His voice dropped to a husky rumble. "I love it when you get all artistic with me. It drives me wild."

"So you're coming over?"

"No, beautiful temptress. I'm going to take one really, long cold shower."

"You wouldn't have to if you were here," she stated with a giggle in her voice.

"Dawn."

"All right I'll stop. Goodnight, baby, love you."

"I love you, too."

After the call ended, she lay in bed thinking about Lucky and their conversation. But damn, how she ached for him!

His stubbornness threatened to undo her. His parents' strange courtship and marriage left its mark on him. He wanted their relationship to have a storybook ending. She indulged his wishes because of her love for him, but bringing a premature end to their passionate encounters left her longing for more.

Give it up, Jensen.

Thinking about how her body craved completion only made matters worst. Her flesh burned and the emptiness mocked her. She remembered his plan to find relief in a cold shower and decided to do the same. After toweling dry and donning a tank top and boxers, she crawled under the covers and drifted to sleep.

Harsh pounding on her door awakened her a short while later. Had Lucky changed his mind? After throwing off the covers, she raced downstairs to the door and yanked it open.

"Baby, I'm so glad you changed your mind," she said, opening the door.

"Were you expecting my brother?" Nikolas asked. "Planning to welcome him into your bed?"

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