The launch swayed purposefully across Spoon Lake toward the secluded island. The dark shadowy form of the ominous estate filled Dawn with dread. An involuntary shudder ripped through her. Lucky's arms tightened around her waist. He pulled her closer. The heat of his broad, muscular chest seeped in from her back and spread outward. She swallowed hard.
Dear God, how am I going to survive this? What if Lucky sees the truth in Nikolas's eyes? What if I'm not strong enough to resist Nikolas?
Lucky moved at her sudden outburst. His hands caressed her forearms. "What?"
"Ask Windors to turn the launch around. I can check into a hotel. I can use a different name. Helena will never know--"
"No." His tone was firm and without compromise. "That homicidal witch has resources we can't imagine. I won't risk it."
"But how do you know I'll be safe here? Nikolas is her grandson!"
"But he's my brother and I trust him. He won't betray us."
He shifted. His breath fanned her cheek just moments before his warm lips claimed the sensitive spot behind her ear. "I love you, Dawn. I'll never let anything happen to you."
She turned in his arms. Moonlight beamed down upon them. Stars twinkled overhead. His blue eyes shone vibrantly. She traced the rugged line of his jaw. He smiled, but she didn't return the gesture. Trepidation consumed her from head to toe. In a trembling voice, she asked, "Do you promise?"
He nodded. "Of course. Don't you know that by now?"
"Yeah." She gave him a half-smile, trying to downplay the seriousness she felt. "A girl's gotta be sure, that's all."
He cupped her face. His fingers splayed across her full cheeks. "You can always be sure about me."
"I love you."
"I know," he said.
He then slowly lowered his head. The moon disappeared and the starlight dimmed. Her eyes closed and in the next moment, his warm, moist lips parted over hers. Dawn's heart surged at the taste of him. She gripped his rock hard biceps for support. His hands dropped to her backside, pulling her hard and fast against him.
A low moan escaped. Her thighs parted to give room for the bulge creating a tent in his jeans. Liquid heat surged through her. How could Nikolas pose a threat when she wanted Lucky this much? If only they had consummated their love…nothing could tamper with their relationship. Somehow, she'd have to convince Lucky of the same.
The launch docked, but Dawn continued to cling to Lucky. The kiss deepened. Their breathing became ragged. An ache burned deep inside her. She trailed her hand from his arms down to the heat in his pants. His manhood pulsed in her grasp. Then, his large, warm hand covered hers. He groaned into her mouth, making her tongue throb. Slowly, he pulled away.
"Sweetheart, what are you trying to do to me?" His voice was half-moan and half-plea.
"I can't help my reaction to you. I want you. Waiting is so painful. Isn't it for you?"
He released a harsh laugh. "How can you ask? I'm dying and when you kiss me like that--"
"Excuse me," Windors said. "We've arrived."
"Oh, yeah." Lucky coughed once. He took Dawn's hand and with the other, he grabbed her bags. "Thanks."
Anxiety swelled inside Dawn as her shoes touched the wooden platform. Her chest constricted. She felt as if she were dying a thousand deaths. Maybe she was overreacting. For years, she'd thwarted and ignored Nikolas' interest in her. Living under his roof for a few nights would not undo everything she and Lucky had built. They were the endgame. Eventually, Nikolas Cassadine had to realize, prince or not, he could not have everything he wanted.
"Dad is nuts."
Simone tensed at Steven Lars' sudden, quiet statement. Actually, she'd been on pins and needles ever since she accepted his ride home. They stopped at Kelly's for chili and now a walk in the park was supposed to burn off the extra calories.
Damn. She'd been a fool to acquiesce to his suggestion. A walk in the park is never just that. Her stepson's interest in her was obvious and damn near tangible. If she allowed herself one small slip, she'd be able to taste it. Dear Lord, what was she doing here with him?
"He chooses surgery over spending time with his wife," Steven Lars continued as if Simone had responded. "His loyalty to Monica Quartermaine boggles my mind--"
He frowned and turned to her. "All I'm saying is--"
"I know." She rose from the park bench. A sudden breeze chilled the autumn night. She pulled her jacket closer. His footsteps came behind her. Tension claimed her once again. "Steven Lars, just leave it alone and take me home. I'm ready to go."
"To an empty house?" He stood so that his arm brushed her shoulder. "Dad should be there waiting for you."
"Don't tell me what your father should and should not do. That's none of your business."
His silence filled the night. Then, he said in a resigned tone. "You're right. There are boundaries. I shouldn't cross them."
They understood each other. A sigh of relief swept through her. Until…
"But Simone, I'm here." His hand lightly brushed hair from her cheek. "If you ever need someone, I'll be right here. For you."