Chapter 19

Enjoy?? I always did?!

The words came back to Nikolas in a rush and stopped him in his tracks. He'd said that. Out loud. In reference to Dawn. The woman he'd loved for the past two years. The woman he still loved, but in a completely different way. He was stunned and very disgusted...with himself. She'd angered him with her ridiculous accusations, but still... He had no right to insult her in that manner. He had to make it up right somehow. And, he had to do it that very minute.

With his decision to right his wrong, Nikolas turned on his heel and headed back towards the waiting area. The pep talk he gave himself as he walked briskly back down the hallway was simple. He'd ignore A.J. and focus all of his energy and attention on Dawn. He wouldn't allow himself to wonder how long A.J.'s protective nature towards Dawn been in place or why it was so strong. He wouldn't consider that maybe Dawn and AJ had been closer than he'd thought while he and Dawn were a couple. Nikolas subconsciously shook his head. They weren't a couple anymore and whatever relationship she had with AJ wasn't really any of his business... Well, not really.

Rounding the final corner, Nikolas was shocked into stillness. Again. His eyes blinked rapidly as if they were betraying him, but upon the final blink, he knew that what he saw was true. Dawn and AJ still stood in the same spot where he left them, but this time, there was something a little different about their positions.

Dawn was in AJ's arms. And, AJ's lips were touching her.

Under normal circumstances, a kiss on a cheek was nothing more than that. It wasn't deep and lingering was usually out of the question. But, not so for the kiss AJ placed on Dawn's cheek. It lasted much too long for Nikolas' peace of mind, and before he could change his mind, he turned around and went back down the corridor.


"Who's Keesha?"

"I am."

Dawn turned at the sound of the soft feminine voice. She was beautiful, Dawn thought, as she eyed the older woman. Okay, maybe she wasn't *that* much older, but she was at most AJ's age and that would give her a good ten years on Dawn. Older was indeed the appropriate word.

He's moved on...maybe, Keesha thought as she looked at the young woman who had the pleasure of being in AJ's arms. The pleasure I once had came the fleeting thought before Keesha abruptly pushed it from her mind. A stern silent voice reminded her that her move from Philadelphia back to Port Charles had more to do with her inability to pass up a one in a million offer from Stefan Cassadine to head GH's Youth Outreach Counseling Center than a desire to reconnect with the man she left behind. Of course, reminding herself was the key word because as her brown eyes stared into his hazel ones, it was all she could do not to run to him and throw her arms around him. Keesha had no idea that seeing him again would be that powerful.

"Hi, AJ," Keesha said, softly, allowing her feet to bring her closer to him. She smiled at the girl who stood beside his and was almost certain that the young woman tightened her hold on AJ as she neared. She thinks I'm competition, Keesha thought. She had to fight to keep a small chuckle from escaping her.

"Keesha," he said again. Dressed for success in a grey Donna Karan pantsuit, she looked formidable. She also looked beautiful. Amazingly so, he decided. A slight squeeze on his hip caused him to end his perusal of her. His hold on Dawn, which had gone a little slack upon Keesha's arrival, tightened around her shoulders and in a warning to himself and to Keesha, he made sure to keep it that way. Offering Keesha a polite, yet, distant smile, he said, "I didn't know you were back in town."

"Neither did I," Dawn replied, looking from her AJ to Keesha and back again. She rememberd that AJ once dated a 'Keesha', and the more they stared at each other, she knew that this once was the woman who had trampled on his heart by walking away. She wouldn't get the opportunity again, Dawn firmly decided.

"I'm sorry," AJ said, aware that he'd behaved inappropriately by gawking like a teenage boy. Dawn deserved better. Besides, Keesha was his past. Dawn was his soon-to-be present...right? "I'm not sure if you two know each other. Dawn Jensen, I'd like for you to meet a friend of mine, Keesha Ward."

"I remember seeing you around a few years ago. You moved away, right?" Dawn asked.

"Yeah, I did, but I'm back now," Keesha said with a small smile as her eyes took in the younger woman and then drifted back to AJ, where they lingered.

"Oh, really?" AJ asked, trying his best to appear indifferent, as he offered her a small smile of his own.

"Yes, I am. I came back to head the new Youth Outreach Center."

"I didn't know they'd hired you," AJ replied, surprised.

"Well, why would you know?" Keesha asked, confused.

"Well, because Strength-N-Recovery will be working closely with the new center, and I although I'd heard someone had been hired, I had no idea the person was you."

"Why would it matter to you?" Keesha asked, still confused. "Is your family one of the investors in SNR?"

"No, they aren't," Dawn replied. She looked at AJ with a smile filled with pride and affection. "SNR is AJ's. He has a few investors, but he owns the majority of, and he runs it, too."

"And, with your help, of course," AJ said, softly. "SNR would still be a dream if you hadn't seen its possibilities."

"I had no idea that you were behind SNR, AJ," Keesha said her voice filled with awe, as her eyes took in the picture the couple before her presented. With a secret smile of her own, she said, "Well, looks like we'll all be working very closely together."


"Isn't there anything you'd like to do?" Emily asked as she looked at her young cousin. She had been making attempts at drawing Brook Lynn out for quite some time, but every attempt was met by a strong wall of resistance which Emily found odd in someone so young. Later, she decided, she and Ned would have a little talk about his little girl. Something was off, and Emily wondered if it had something to do with the upcoming birth or if it went deeper than petty jealousy.

"I don't know," Brook Lynn shrugged. Her feet kicked Emily's teddy bear, Mr. Snuggles, with more force than she intended and the stuffed animal went sailing off the bed. Brook Lynn knew that she should pick the doll up, but her legs wouldn't budge, so she remained where she was.

Emily contemplated her small companion with a frown. Of course, she'll pick it up, Emily thought. When seconds passed and nothing happened, Emily said, "Brook Lynn, you just kicked Mr. Snuggles off the bed."

"So," she said with downcast eyes and a pout.

"So, you should pick him up. It's not nice to treat other people's things badly," Emily gently scolded.

"You're too big for a teddy bear," Brook Lynn mumbled.

"No, I'm not. You can never be too big for teddy bears," Emily replied, determined not to let the little girl's disobedience get to her. "Now, be a good girl and pick him up."

"But, I don't want to be a good girl!"

"And, why not?" Emily asked.

"'Cuz Dara wants me to be. I don't want Dara to be my step-mommy! I want my real mommy!"

Emily slid across the bed and placed her arm around the little girl. Brook Lynn held herself stiff, but Emily didn't allow her rigid demeanor to sway her. She kept her arm around her and her voice was gentle as she said, "But, your real mommy is away. You know that, and Dara's doing the best she can. She's never had a step-daughter before. You're both new at this. Besides, Dara's gonna give you a little sister or a little brother. Just think how much fun you'll have being the big sister."

"I don't want a little sister or a little brother! I don't want to be a big sister. I just want my mommy and my daddy!"

Emily sighed and looked upwards for strength. Now, as she dealt with her impudent cousin, the night spent talking with Nikolas seemed like a distant memory, and oh, how, she wished it had never ended. But, there would be others, she quickly reminded herself. Taking a deep breath, she turned her attention back to Brook Lynn. Perhaps a different approach was in order.

"But sisters and brothers can be fun," Emily said, hoping that Brook Lynn would consider her logic. "AJ is my brother and we have lots of fun. Your Uncle Dillon is your daddy's brother and they have fun together whenever Dillon comes to visit. And, you know how much fun Dawn and Dara have when they're together. Weren't they together yesterday? Didn't they have fun with each other?"

"I don't know. Maybe," she shrugged.

"Well, of course, they did! Dara's Dawn big sister, just like you'll be for the baby. I bet you'll have as much fun being a big sister as Dara has."

"She didn't look like she was having much fun, yesterday," Brook Lynn said, as she slid off the bed to pick up the teddy bear. Emily smiled as she handed her the toy and Brook Lynn allowed a small smile to spread across her lips, too.

"Oh, no?" Emily said, stifling a yawn as she place Mr. Snuggles on the far side of the bed.

"Help me up, Emily," Brook Lynn said, struggling to reclaim her seat next to Emily. Emily pulled her up and once she was comfortable, she reached for her coloring book and colors. As she tried to decide if the cloud should be blue or white, she said, "No. Dawn was sad and then Dara told her to ask Nikolas about his pajamas because pajamas don't just disappear. Do you think Nikolas did a magic trick and that's what made his pajamas disappear?"

"Huh? What?" Emily asked, stunned by Brook Lynn's information. Nikolas' pajamas disappeared. The idea that came across her mind was ludicrous. Maybe they disappeared in the wash or something. Or, maybe they were his favorite pair...he and Dawn argued and in anger, Dawn threw them away. But, if that was the case, why was she sad? Emily needed more information. She knew she'd hate herself later for pumping information from a child, but...she *needed* to know!

"I said that maybe Nikolas knows magic and that's what happened. Maybe if Dawn is nice to him, he'll show her the trick. Grandpa Edward says that there's no such thing as magic and that it's all a trick. I don't think Dawn knows that it was a trick. I think that was why she was so sad," Brook Lynn replied, demonstrating the logic of a five-year-old Quartermaine.

"So, Dawn, was sad, huh?" Emily said, silently scolding herself as she began to start pumping for info. "Did she say where they were when his PJs disappeared? Maybe we can figure out the trick."

"She said they were in Nikolas' bed," the little girl replied innocently, unaware of the effect her words had on her older cousin. "Do you think Nikolas kicked them off when she wasn't looking and then, when she turned around they were gone? Maybe that's the trick!"

"I...I don't know," Emily stammered. They were in bed?! They had sex after they broke up? Why, Nikolas, Emily sadly wondered. Why? And, was everything we talked about just a ploy to...? No! He wasn't like that, Emily denied. He was Nikolas, her dear friend. He wouldn't do anything like that, but if not, why was Dawn sad, Emily wondered.

Why, Nikolas, why?

Chapter 20

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