"Where am I?"
The softly asked question was barely audible. In fact, Nikolas didn't hear her speak at all. He was so engrossed by what had been revealed to him—over and over again—by Dawn's discharge papers from Mercy Hospital that he hadn't even been able to focus on much else since he ended his call to Emily.
"Nikolas?" Her voice was hoarse, but it was a bit stronger, too. She raised her head from his shoulder as she repeated her earlier question. "Where am I? Where are we?"
"It's okay. You're safe," he reassured her, shifting in his position to face her. His eyes watched her every movement carefully. The misgivings he'd had about taking her away came back, and again, he wondered if he had done the right thing. He believed with all of his heart that he had done what was best, for both of them, yet the doubt lingered. "We're on the jet?"
"The family jet?" she asked, frowning as she tried to make sense of her surroundings. Little by little, the space began to make sense to her and she recognized the beige furnishings, the paintings and other little knick knacks which made the Cassadine jet a home in flight. Slowly, she brought her eyes back to Nikolas as she felt him watching her every movement and gesture. Still feeling slightly disoriented, she looked down at her hands, which were tightly clasped in her lap. She forced herself to relax as she spoke again. "Where are we going?"
"Greece?" She squeezed her eyes shut as she willed herself to focus on him. She had to remain in control, her subconscious was telling her. She didn't understand the line of reasoning, but she was determined to go along with it. She opened her eyes and found that Nikolas' brown eyes were filled with anxiety. She wanted to reassure him, but she couldn't, especially since she could use a dosage of reassurance herself. "Why are we going to Greece?"
Nikolas drew a long breath as contemplated his answer. Should he remind her of the miscarriage, or should he wait until they were on land? Should he be a coward and hope that the beauty of the land and sea would help them as they grieved for their child? As he tried with all of his might to reach the young woman he still loved dearly? The answers alluded him.
"What's that? In your hand?" Dawn didn't wait for his answer as she eased the tightly held paper from his hand.
"These are my discharge papers," she said in a distant voice. "Where did you get these?"
"I found them," he answered slowly, constantly gauging her reaction to everything he said.
"When?" she persisted. "When did you get these? How could you have found them? They were buried! I buried this! I didn't want you to see this, Nikolas. Not ever!"
The fire, which blazed her eyes, warmed his heart and brought tears to his eyes. She was back. Thank God. She's back. Her admission that she didn't want him to know about their miscarriage was something he would reckon with later, but for now, he would be relieved that the place she lost herself in wasn't strong enough to keep her there.
Sitting up straight, he chose to answer one question at a time. "I found them a few hours ago. I was at your apartment and I-"
"When were you at my apartment?" she asked, suspicion in her eyes and voice.
"I just told you," he replied indignantly. He was about to respond with an even more defensive tone until he remembered the circumstances. Defensiveness was not a warranted emotion. She needed him. Not the sometimes mature Nikolas, but the man. Softening his tone, he gently cupped her face. "Dawn, you don't remember my coming by, do you?"
She shook her head, unable to speak. His change in tone frightened her and she knew that his next words would chill her to the bone.
"I came by your apartment this afternoon. I knocked and banged on your door, but you didn't respond. Come to think of it, your music was loud so there's a chance that you didn't hear me." He took a deep breath as he gave her time to absorb his words.
Dawn lowered her head and blinked by the tears, which stung her eyes. Nikolas hands covered her own, causing her to unclench them. Her voice, husky with emotion, whispered, "Go on."
"I broke down the door to get in. I wasn't sure what was going on with you, and…well, I was frightened. Tommy didn't tell me anything, so I didn't know what to expect." He cupped her chin and raised her head so that her eyes were on his. "He's a good friend. I know you well enough to know that you swore him to secrecy and he didn't betray you. Not for one second."
"I know." The tears began to fall down her face as she swallowed back a sob. "He's wonderful. I knew he wouldn't say anything."
"He didn't," Nikolas said again. "He didn't even want to tell me where you lived, but Emily convinced him to at least tell me that much… So, after I broke in, I saw you there in the middle of the floor, rocking yourself back and forth. Your eyes were distant and you were cold, so damn cold. The windows were wide open and snow flurries were blowing in… Well, after I closed the windows and turned off the music, I went to you. You let me hold you and told me that you were sorry, and you said that…"
"I'd never, ever hurt our baby," she finished for him. "Yeah, I remember that. I remember you."
She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned against him as he squeezed her to him. Gently rubbing her back, he said, "We're getting through this. However long it takes, we will survive this."
"Very well, then. Ready the jet and we will be there within the hour." Stefan ended the call with a quiet click. A smile of satisfaction spread across his face at his prompt attention to the matter at hand and in anticipation of Carlotta's arms as she embraced him from behind.
"You knew I was there?" she asked, disappointed at her inability to surprise him as he swung around in her arms and held her to him.
"You seem disappointed. Would you rather I thought you were another?" he asked, raising an eyebrow as he spoke.
"You'd better not ever think of another!" she told him. She kissed him deeply to remind him as to why he wouldn't even need to think of someone else.
"Mm," he moaned, raising his head. "With a response such as that, why would I even consider another?"
"Why, indeed!" she said, laughing softly as she playfully swatted his behind.
Stefan grinned in response. "Pleasure mingled with pain. Interesting."
"Hush!" she warned him, her eyes sparkling with love. "Now, you're being naughty, and you're trying to distract me, too. Who were you talking to and where are we going?"
"Eavesdropping, Carlotta? Tsk, tsk, tsk." He shook his head, chuckling at the outraged expression on her face.
"I'm waiting," she said, folding her arms across her chest.
Maybe he'd teased her too much, he wondered. Nah, he shrugged his doubts away. "I thought you preferred surprises…"
"No, not me," she shook her head, waiting.
"Not you?" He tapped his index finger against his lips as if he were deep in thought. "If not you, then who?"
He couldn't restrain himself any longer. He began to laugh. "Your face, my love… Your beautiful face…I couldn't resist the urge to tease you." He went to her and with loving hands, cupped her face. "Will you ever forgive me?"
"Depends," she said, enjoying the thrill of his touch against her skin.
"On?" he asked, his voice low as his fingers made tiny circles on her cheeks.
"Where we're going?" she smiled brightly.
"Will a journey to Paris grant me a pardon for my transgressions?"
"Paris? Baby, a trip to Paris will grant you a lot more than a pardon!" She placed her hands inside his jacket and rested them low on his hips. "But, why are we going there on such short notice?"
"The French have a much better knowledge of fertility than the Americans. If we are to proceed with our child, I want the best for both of you. Dr. Jean-Luc Dumont is the best and he happens to reside in Paris. I thought a short sojourn to the City of Lights would be a wonderful setting for conception. Don't you agree?"
"You think of everything. I think it would be wonderful, but we can’t just leave. We have to tell Dara and Ned, and of course, give Jolie another kiss. And, there's Dawn and Nikolas. We have to tell them we're leaving and I still have no idea where she is. I don't think I could even consider having another baby until I can account for the one I have now."
"I was under the impression that Nikolas found her this afternoon. Isn't that what he said?"
"He said he'd go to AJ's, and he did. When he returned to the hospital to visit Jolie, he told me that she had moved out of AJ's and had left. He told me that he would find her and call me."
"Have you tried to call him, and what of her cell phone?" Stefan asked, becoming worried.
"I've tried both of them, but neither have answered. I've even left messages on their voicemail. I'm not one to worry, but I would feel so much better if I knew where they were."
"So would I." He kissed her cheek in a reassuring gesture. As he pulled away, he placed his hand on the telephone. "I'll postpone our trip until we have word from both of them."
As luck or perhaps destiny would have it, the telephone rang. Stefan answered it immediately.
"Father, it's me," came the masculine voice across the airways.
"Where are you? Your voice has a peculiar quality to it."
"I'm on one of the jets. Dawn is with me. We're going away for a while to…rest. We'll call you when we get back."
"Nikolas, wait!" Stefan said. "Where are you going? Why didn't either of you inform us?"
"Father, we'll talk later. Dawn and I send our love to both you and Carrie." Nikolas paused for a brief moment and just as Stefan was about to demand answers to his questions, he spoke again. "We'll call you again as soon as we're settled."
"Settled?" Stefan asked, confused. "Does this mean you have no plans to return? Nikolas-"
"Nikolas?" Carrie repeated after taking the receiver from Stefan, "what's going on? If there's something wrong, your father and I want to help."
"Everything is fine, Carrie," Nikolas reassured her, hating himself for lying. "Dawn and I just wanted to get away for a few days, but we're fine."
Later, as Carrie and Stefan boarded the other Cassadine jet, which was destined for Paris, they both wondered if they were too quick to be placated by Nikolas' reassurances. Silently, they made the same vow. If the doubts persisted, they would investigate their children's flight plan and then they would join them wherever they might be.
The phone rang loudly on her bedside table as she tossed and turned in fitful slumber. Blindly, she reached for the phone as her fingers fumbled for the lamp switch. The light blinded her tired eyes as her voice groggy from lack of good sleep answered, "This is Emily and since you're calling me at this ungodly hour, you'd better have a pretty damn good reason for this call."
"I do, believe me, I do," the weary voice replied.
"Tommy?" she asked, pulling herself into a sitting position. "Is that you?"
"Yeah, Em. It's me."
"Why are you calling me so late? And, why do you sound so awful?" she asked, jumbling her questions together.
"I can answer that in one sentence," he laughed, humorlessly. "I only get one phone call, and considering you were both heads and tails, you won the toss."
"Tommy, what are you saying? One phone call?"
"I'm in jail, Em. I hate to do this to you…ask this of you, but would you please come down here and bail me out?" he choked the words out and his voice was so soft that she barely heard him.
But, she did. She rose from her bed and started flipping light switches as she said, "I'll be there. Just sit tight, okay?"
"Em, there's no other way to sit down here other than tight," he responded with another ill-fated attempt at humor.
"I need to ask you something. Will you be straight with me?"
"I'll always be straight with you," he said, putting emphasis on the word 'straight.' "Sorry about that, Em, but I gotta make sure they know, you know."
"I know," she smiled for a brief moment. "Does this have anything to do with Lucas?"
"Yeah. I was arrested for assault and battery…and possibly manslaughter if he doesn’t make it."
"Oh, my God…but you didn't, right? Tommy, tell me you didn't."
"I didn't, Em. Honest to God, it wasn't me. Now, could you hurry? I swear that this has to be the worst day of my life and I'm not sure I can take much more."
"I'm on my way," she reassured him. "I'll get you out of there, and we'll get you out of this."
Emily hung up the phone after they said their good-byes. In the years, she had known him, she had never heard him sound so defeated and alone before. For all the times she had leaned on him, it was her turn to return the favor.
"I'll get you out of there," she softly promised him as she closed her bedroom door with a soft click.
[Author's note: Tommy and Emily are both 18, thus, Emily can bail him out of jail.] Chapter 36