Chapter 4

Dawn's engagement ring, resting inside its black velvet box, burned a hole in Lucky's pocket for a week. A whole freaking seven days? Lucky shook his head in disbelief and pulled the box from his pocket. He opened the small jewelry case, set it on the dresser and squatted down to stare at it. The diamond was exquisite. The sparkle and glitter reminded him of her shiny brown eyes.

He imagined sliding it on her finger but he couldn't imagine asking her the all-important question. Why? Why wouldn't the words come? Why didn't the time feel right?

A knock sounded and the door opened. He barely had time to grab the box before he faced his guest.

"Em! Don't you ever knock first?"

"I did knock," she said, closing the door behind her. "If you don't want visitors, lock your door."

She tossed her purse onto his bed and extended her hand, palm up. "Hand it over."

"What?" he asked, frowning. Returning her inquisitive, all-knowing stare with a glare.

"Don't play coy with me," she said with a laugh. "I saw it. Now, I wanna closer look. See if you have good taste."

He swallowed hard and handed the box to her. "Let me know what you think. But don't try it on!"

Lucky's worries faded as Emily oohed and aahed over the ring. When she was done, she closed the box and gave it to him. "What?" he asked, as she stared at him.

"You're acting like a basket case," she commented. "When are you gonna pop the question?"

Lucky moved his guitar from his bed and pointed to the empty space. The single room above Kelly's didn't offer much more than a place for him to lay his head. He rarely had visitors other than Dawn, but when he did, he tried to be hospitable. Emphasis on tried.

She accepted his invitation and joined her purse on his bed. She glanced at the guitar. "Rehearsal tonight or a gig?"

"Rehearsal," Lucky answered. "There's not much in the fridge. Want a Coke or water or something?"

"I'm fine," she said. "Stop pacing and sit down. Tell me why you haven't asked her."

He sat on the floor, resting his back against the bed. "We've been busy this week. She's working on designs for Miguel's CD while finishing up her own stuff. I've been rehearsing with the band. The time hasn't been right."

"Time waits for no one," she advised. "Ned told the designs are due today. Why not ask her tonight?"

Lucky knew that. He saw the finished product last night. Dawn's artwork was amazing. Miguel definitely had an eye for talent. Come to think of it, he could have proposed to her last night. But he sensed that something had changed between them and it scared him. Quietly, he asked, "What if she says no?"

Emily's hand closed over his shoulder and squeezed. "What if she says yes?"

She slid down the side of the bed and sat beside him on the floor. "You've been together forever. Why would you say something like that? Are you two okay?"

He couldn't tell her no. "We're fine. Taking it to the next step… I'm ready, but I want it to be perfect."

She laughed. "Take it from me, anyway you ask will be perfect! She'll remember the moment, how she felt, and the look in her eyes. Just ask her."

"I suppose you're right," he said. Emily's pep talk gave him the nudge he'd needed. Now, he figured he should return the favor. "So, what's the deal with you and Mr. Thomas Hardy, ELQ Exec Extraordinaire?"

Averting her eyes, she looked to the floor and shrugged. "We're taking it one day at a time."

"He's a good guy, Em. I like him for you."

"Thanks, dad," she said with a hint of sarcasm.

"Hey, you look out for me. I look out for you. That's what friends are for, right?"

"That's right."

*)*

Dawn glanced at her watch. She was running late. Again. Damn! Ever since the strange momen with Nikolas, she'd been off balance. Nothing made sense. Dealing with the real world felt strange so she retreated into her art. Thank God she for the L&B project. Creating designs for Miguel's CD gave her an easy escape from facing the obvious--

Not right now. She cut the idea off in mid-thought. She had too much to do. Lunch with Dara and a meeting with Ned took top precedence. Everything else simply had to wait. She grabbed her keys, portfolio and jacket and headed for the door only to find Helena Cassadine on the other side.

She swallowed a curse and a deep breath. What is it with these Cassadines showing up at my home uninvited? "Mrs. Cassadine?"

"Good afternoon Miss Jensen. I wish to procure your services."

"My services?" "Yes, ah, may I come in? I would rather not conduct my business with you like a common door to door salesman."

Dawn stepped aside. "Yes, of course, please come in."

"I recently attended a gallery showing where your work was prominently featured." Helena fixed her with a smile that didn't quite reach the older woman's emerald eyes. "Miss Jensen, you are one very talented young woman."

She nodded once. "Thank you."

"And that is why I'm here today….to commission you to do a portrait of my grandson."

Startled, Dawn's eyes flew to Helen's face. "You want me to paint Nikolas?"

"Yes, you are quite an accomplished artist and I'm sure my grandson would enjoy the pleasure of sitting for you."

Dawn got the feeling that more was going on then Helena just requesting a portrait of Nikolas. However, she didn't care what was really up with this woman. She wanted no part of Satan's twin sister or her grandson. "I'm sorry Mrs. Cassadine but I can't do a portrait of Nikolas."

"Why ever not? You know that cost has no bearing on the matter."

"It has nothing to do with money. I just don't have anytime in my schedule to take on a new client. I'm very sorry."

"Miss Jensen, Nikolas is not just any client, he is a Prince. Can you even imagine the number of artists who have requested the privilege of painting my grandson? I am presenting you with an extraordinary opportunity."

"That is very kind of you, but as I said before I really don't have the time. Now if you would excuse me I have several appointments I must keep."

Suddenly all pretense of politeness, slipped from Helena's vestige. "You know Miss Jensen, it really isn't wise to refuse a Cassadine request. Deadly consequences could arise."

When Helena Cassadine showed up at her door, Dawn was surprised to say the least, but now that had been replaced by fear.

"I want you to leave right now or I'm calling the police."

"Miss Jensen, such behavior is really not called for. I was just giving you a little advice, garnered from my years of experience."

"Yeah, sure, whatever," Dawn stated as she yanked her door open, "please leave now."

"As you wish but Miss Jensen, we will be in touch." With that parting shot, Helena Cassadine left.

"Not if I see you first," Dawn mumbled under her breath. Deadly consequences? Because of a simple painting? A chill crept up Dawn's spine. Her hands shook as she grabbed the phone and dialed seven numbers she knew by heart. Unfortunately Lucky's voice mail was on, she tried to keep the fear from seeping into her voice.

"Lucky, it's me. I need you."

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