Chapter 24

"Nikolas! What time is it?!" Emily asked, waking from her slumber with a start.

"Huh?" he asked, rubbing his eyes as he moved into a sitting position. They were in the East Wing library of Wyndemere. A late-night study session had taken turns alternating between passion and seriousness before the two surrendered to the charms of the Sandman and had fallen asleep on the sofa, wrapped safe within each other's arms.

"Em, come back," Nikolas murmured, reaching for her in his semi-wake consciousness. He placed his arm around her waist and pulled her against him as he fell back against the sofa. He burrowed his face against her neck, enjoying the softness of her skin and the lilac scent of her throat.

"Nikolas, no!" she said, sitting up. "Wake up," she said, her voice softer than it had been previously. She cupped his face in her hands, and said again, "Wake up."

"Why?" he grumbled, cupping her face. Gently, he pulled her face closer to his and whispered, "Why, Em?"

"Because we-"

Nikolas captured the rest of her words in a slow, deep kiss. Emily felt lost as she melted into his passionate embrace. Her mouth parted at the insistence of his probing tongue and by the time, the kiss ended, she'd forgotten what they were talking about, not to mention what she was in the process of saying.

"Lay back down," he demanded, his voice low and husky as he pressed his back against the sofa. "There's enough room."

Emily drew a long breath as she contemplated his offer. What he presented was very tempting, but not something she was ready to partake of. At least, not yet. She rose from the sofa and shook her head at him as she did so. "Shame on you, Nikolas. You've gotten me into trouble again."

"Who me?" he asked, yawning as he sat up. He rubbed his hands over his face and grimaced when he encountered stubble. He needed a shave, a shower and good night's rest in a bed. And, more than that, he needed Emily, but he knew that the time for that need to be met would happen eventually.

"Yeah, you," she replied, pointing her finger at him. She moved to the massive cherrywood table and began to shove her notebooks and text books into her leather backpack. "This is the fourth time in the last three weeks that I've fallen asleep over here. My mother is gonna have a fit, and if I have to duck and dodge your parents again-"

"Em, it's okay," he said, rising from the sofa. He joined her at the table and began to place his books and papers into a neat stack. "Your mother knows you're here. I called her, and-"

"You called her?!" she cried, pausing as she grabbed her last binder. "And, what did you tell her? That I was sleeping over? Oh, Nikolas, what have you done?"

"Give me some credit, okay?" he asked, slightly amused by her theatrics. "I simply told her that you fell asleep while we were studying, and that since it was so late, I didn't have the heart to wake you up."

"And, what did she say?" Emily asked.

"She said, 'thanks!'" he grinned. "I then told her it was my pleasure."

"Oh! What am I gonna do with you?" she asked. When he began to leer at her and wiggle his eyebrows, she quickly said, "Don't answer that!"


"I can't believe how blind I was. Will you ever forgive me?" Dawn asked softly.

"There's nothing to forgive," Tommy said with a shrug. He placed his hands around her waist and pulled her close to him.

"I wish I could believe that, but I can't help but felt apologetic," she said as she rested her hands against his strong chest. "All that time I wasted with Nikolas and then with AJ... We should have been together. How could you just shrug it all off?"

"It's not easy," he admitted, lifting a hand to gently stroke her cheek. "But, I always try to focus on the positive, and that means, the important thing is that we're together now. The past is best left there. You're with me now and that's all that matters, right?"

"Right," she agreed. "That's all that matters." Her hands slid up his hairless, muscular chest to cup his face between her two palms. Standing on tiptoe, she pressed against him as she lowered his face to hers. His mouth closed over hers in a hot, probing kiss that promised them both that their passionate desires would soon be fulfilled.


Tommy burrowed his face into his pillow as he tried to ignore the untimely intrusion.

"Tommy, wake up!" Simone called again as she stood in the doorway to his bedroom. "To-"

"I'm up! I'm up," he grumbled into his pillow.

"You don't look up," his mother replied. "Don't forget why you asked me to be your back up wake-up call. You're going out with your friend, Dawn, today."

"Mom, I remember," he said, rolling over onto his back. He raised his knees just in case any telltale reminders of his lustful dream remained. The last thing he would ever want, would be for his mother to see him with a ha-

"Tommy, are you getting up, or what?"

"I'm up, Mom!" he yawned. "I'm wide awake, I promise. Thanks for remembering."

"You're welcome. I'll see you downstairs for breakfast. Justus is making waffles, so don't make us wait too long," Simone replied, closing the door behind her.

"How long is too long?" Tommy asked softly as he lowered his knees back down onto the firm mattress. He folded his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling. His thoughts turned to the woman he'd dreamt about almost every night for the last week or so. How long, he wondered, before Dawn realized how he felt about her. And, how long before she maybe, just maybe started to feel the same way?


Not that same dream again, Dawn groaned as she squeezed her eyes shut. She'd dreamt about white, sandy beaches, blue skies, fruity drinks and emerald green eyes which sparkled whenever Tommy smiled...


She groaned again when her sub-consciousness actually came out and uttered his name. She could pretend the strong hands, perfect, bronze chest and deep, wet kisses belonged to someone some fictitious dream man...but when her treacherous subconscious actually said the name...

"What am I doing?" she whispered, hugging her pillow tightly to her chest. "What kind of woman am I? Why am I dreaming about a little boy?"

"You dreamed about me, Dawnie?" piped a little voice a few inches from her head.

"Mikey?!" Dawn said, sitting up in the bed. She rolled over onto her side and beckoned for him to join her. He came without hesitation. Still dressed in his teletubbies pajamas, Mikey was the picture of childhood innocence. Looking at him made Dawn long for the days when her life wasn't so complicated. When she didn't dream about one man, while staying with another. Where did she go wrong, she wondered with a long sigh.

"What's wrong?" Michael asked, picking up on her sadness.

"Nothing, babycakes," she said, giving him a loud kiss on the cheek. "Nothing a good morning hug from you wouldn't cure."

"Good morning, Dawnie!!" he giggled as he wrapped his arms around her and gave her big hug.

"I thought I'd find you here," AJ said, standing in the doorway. "Michael, what did I tell you about waking Dawn up?"

"I'm sorry, Daddy," Michael said, releasing Dawn from his hug. "I forgot. I'm sorry for waking you up, Dawnie."

"You didn't wake me up, sweetie. I was wide wake," she reassured him.

"No, you weren't," Michael said, shaking his head. "Your eyes were closed like this."

As Michael recreated how Dawn had been when he came into the room, it was all Dawn and AJ could do not to laugh. Dawn shook her head and shrugged. "Okay, I might have been a little asleep," she admitted. "But you didn't wake me up. I did that all on my own."

"But, I did wake you up," he said, opening his eyes as he concluded his demonstration.

"Oh, did you?" AJ asked, as he entered the bedroom. He folded his arms across his chest and looked his small son. "Michael, Dawn is a guest. It's not polite to wake her up. If and when she wants to play, she'll let you know."

"AJ, he didn't wake me up. Honest."

"Dawn, don't. He has to learn-"

"No, AJ, really. I woke up and he was here. I was mumbling to myself and he asked me a question. I was wide awake the entire time. I think he knows. Don't you, Mikey?" she asked, ruffling his hair. "You know better than to wake me up because you know what happens to little boys who wake me up, right?"

"Right!" he grinned. "They get tickled! Tickle! Tickle!"

"No, tickle, tickle for you, young man," AJ said, picking up his son. "Bath, bath and then breakfast, breakfast." AJ placed Michael on the floor and told him to make sure that his backpack was packed with his favorite toys and was ready for playschool. As Michael roared like an airplane back to his room, AJ turned to Dawn and said, "I'm sorry I can't go with you this morning."

"It's okay," she shrugged. "I understand."

"I wish I did," he said, running a hand through his dark hair. "This meeting with GH's board doesn't make any sense."

"Keesha seems to think it does," Dawn said, struggling with herself to keep her tone even and void of distrust.

"Yeah, she does," he answered. "But enough about that. I'm glad that Tommy is going with you to see the apartment. I'm not too sure about that neighborhood. I'll listen to his report and decide whether or not it's safe for you."

"Oh, give me a break!" she said, tossing her pillow at him. "I never figured you for a chauvinist, Quartermaine!"

"Only when it comes to the woman in my life," he grinned, holding the pillow out to her. When she grabbed it, he held on to it, pulling her up as she tried to grab it from him. As she reached him, he lightly brushed her lips with his own. He deepened the kiss for a brief second before pulled away. His hand briefly caressed her face as he said, "Just promise me that you'll use common sense. That's all I ask. Promise?"

"Promise," she smiled.

Chapter 25