Chapter One Another minute rolled by and the downstairs clock tolled the beginning
of another hour. Jax removed his hand from the cordless phone and leaned back against
the king-size pillows, which rested against the wrought-iron headboard. He ran a
heavy hand through his dark gold locks of hair as he came to a decision.
wouldn't call this time. He had to leave her be. At least for now.
to try to rest for a change, he flipped off the light and nestled down between the
covers. The cool sheet brushed against his bare chest, and Jax released a slow,
contented sigh. As he closed his eyes, he thought about his brief encounter with
the woman at the bar.
Two nights had passed, but the
memory of her lilac scent, expressive brown eyes and soothing voice came to him as
if the meeting had only occurred moments before. She was unlike the women he usually
found attractive. This woman didn't have to feign an air of mystery to draw someone
to her. She was a mystery, a beautiful enigma and one he looked forward to solving
The mood had been set for romance. An empty bottle of champagne
rested on the nightstand. The faint aroma of jasmine scented candles still lingered
in the room. Ivory silk sheets lay rumpled at the foot of the vacant bed. With
a robe tied tightly around her nude body, Alexis stood in front of the window. Her
back faced the romantic setting and her mind tried to distance itself from what had
transpired as a result of it.
In the adjacent room, the sound of running water
came to a stop. His shower was over, and he would soon return to the bedroom. Subconsciously,
Alexis stiffened. She did not anticipate facing him again so soon. She wished that
their evening had not concluded with sex and she knew that he wished it, too. To
calm her growing anxiety, Alexis busied herself with removing the reminders of their
night. The bottle and candles were quickly discarded. She was in the processing
of ripping the sheets from the bed when the bathroom door opened behind her.
it that bad?" he asked, his voice quietly restrained. "Has it gotten that
Alexis' movement grew still. She dropped the sheet and turned
to face him. Wrapping her arms around her middle, she shook her head in defeat.
"I don't know. I guess it has, Ned."
Nameless emotions crossed
his face. His eyes narrowed as he looked away from her. "Do you want it to
end this way? Do you want me to just walk and let that be the end of it? Is that
what you want?"
Exasperated, Alexis waved her hands in the air. "What
do you expect? What happened in that bed wasn't love or connecting or anything decent.
It was just barely sex! We were grabbing for something that's not even there anymore.
I'd say we should stop now before we really hurt each other."
he asked with a hint of sarcasm. "I think we're already too late for that."
Ned," she said, shaking her head. "I haven't said anything that you haven't
thought or felt yourself. We lost our connection."
"It wasn't 'we',
Alexis," Ned contradicted. "You became more concerned with destroying
Stefan's relationship than focusing on your own. We had something good, but you
decided to cast it aside. We didn't have to end up this way."
for the living area of the suite. Grabbing his jacket, he stood in front of the
closed door and looked back at her. "Good-bye, Alexis."
Ned," she responded in hoarse whisper. He stared back at her for another moment
and then he was gone. After the door closed behind him, she removed the remaining
sheet from the bed and tossed it to the floor. She then slid down onto the bare
mattress. Curled in the fetal position, she softly cried herself to sleep.
study in grace and elegance, Carlotta glided across the hardwood floors. Her soft,
slender hands lightly brushed across the crystal decanters as she reviewed the bar's
selections. Stefan's goatee twitched as he contained a smile of pleasure. Their
time spent as lovers had long sense passed, but as he watched her prepare their libations,
he found himself longing for a trip through time.
"You mustn't fret so,
dearest," she gently chided.
Stefan left the softness of the settee
to join Carlotta at the bar. "Excuse me?" he asked, accepting the brandy
that she offered him. Intoxicated by her proximity and concerned that his interest
would reveal his thoughts, he turned away from her. He sipped the brandy as he moved
to the fireplace.
The clack of her heels signaled her approach. Standing
just behind him, she said, "Nikolas is young, healthy. He will recover. There
will be no mistake about that."
Thoughts of Nikolas' health tempered
his desires. He took another long swallow and before he set the glass on the mantel.
His hand sought and found a framed photograph of their two children taken during
their preschool years. A bittersweet smile graced his face as he looked at the two
chubby playmates. "It's so easy to protect them when they're small. 'Tis pity
they cannot remain this age for a little while longer."
covered his as she angled the photograph so that she may get a better view. "I
remember this day. The hottest day in Greece, but the waters at the Cassadine compound
could not have been cooler. You're right. It is much easier to secure them from
dangers both great and small when they're young, but there comes a time when we must
Stefan frowned. "That time for Nikolas has not yet arrived."
took the frame from Stefan and set it back on the mantle. "The time will arrive
sooner than you think."
"He is incapacitated. I will not abandon
"Did I suggest that you should?" she asked him, keeping
her voice soft even as his rose slightly in agitation. "Nikolas needs love,
and I have never known anyone more capable of that emotion than you. Nikolas needs
you, but there will come a time when he doesn't need you as much. What will you
"Carlotta, what is the nature of this conversation?"
He stared down into her gray eyes, looking for something that would make sense to
him. He found nothing, but friendship and love staring back at him. Confused, he
swallowed hard and asked again, "I do not understand you. You speak as if Nikolas
only has a cold. He's had a stroke. He cannot speak. He may never regain the ability.
What are you suggesting I should do?"
"First," she said with
calm assurance, "I suggest that you calm down. The times we've visited Nikolas,
you've been overly excited. He can sense that. I could see it in his eyes."
you saw in his eyes was his frustration! I am not the cause of-
she stopped in a firm voice and a gentle hand over his, "I am not accusing you
of anything. Dear love, you must know that. I apologize for upsetting you. I think
that it would be best if we continued this conversation at another time, don't you?"
think it would be best if we resolved it now," he said, only marginally abated
by her soothing tone and soft touch. "What is it you would have me do?"
she advised, "and have faith. Nikolas will be fine."
an eyebrow and asked, "And you know this because?"
She smiled at
him. "Because I am a woman. Now," she said, sliding her arm through his
and leading him to the settee, "tell me more about your Katherine. I am quite
certain that upon her return my daughter, our bodyguard and I will no longer be welcome
here. So give me the true story behind your current lover."
a low chuckle, acknowledging that he was fully aware of her not-so-subtle change
in subject. Unable to resist her glowing charms, he leaned back against the settee
and indulged her curiosity.
"Care to tell me why we're skulking
around here at night? Why not visit him when he's awake so that he'll know you care?"
bristled at Vincent's suggestion. In the few months that he'd been working for her
family, she felt a kinship to him. He didn't irritate her like their previous bodyguards
had. Vincent Terranova, despite his colorful background, had proven to be a man
the Christofides women could trust. And they did so Dawn felt comfortable enough
to answer his question with as much honesty as she could muster. "Because it's
better this way."
"Better how?" Vinnie asked in that relentless
way of his. "Better for whom? Carrie says that you two are practically engaged-"
not," she cut in. "He has someone else. The blonde with the big blue
eyes…I'm sure I've seen you ogling her a time or two."
Shaking his head,
he released a loud guffaw. The duty nurse fixed him with a loud stare and the 6'3
man quickly sobered. He closed his hand around Dawn's elbow and steered her closer
to Nikolas' room. In a near whisper, he defended himself. "I do not ogle teenage
girls. I was assessing her threat potential."
"Of course, Vincenzo…threat
"I don't think you do," he said in
an authoritative tone, which caused her to giggle. His stern demeanor intensified
for a moment and then he shook it off. He removed his hand from her elbow and shook
his forefinger at her. "Before I get the urge to put you over my knee, go inside
and visit your friend. I promise that I'll stay here and allow you your moments
of privacy. Capisce?"
"Si. Grazie, signor," she murmured,
her expression demur. Inside, her heart pumped an erratic beat. She turned to face
the door. As she drew in a breath of air, Vinnie's hands rested on her shoulder.
He gave her an encouraging squeeze and when he removed his hands, her apprehension
seemed to drift away. Looking over her shoulder, she gave him a smile of thanks
and then pushed the door open.
The sudden lack of light as she entered Nikolas'
dark room caused her to stand still for a moment. After her eyes had adjusted, she
glanced around the room. Eventually, her gaze landed on Nikolas, as he lay asleep
in the bed. His ashen skin and still form never ceased to shock her. A chill tingled
her spine. She swallowed the gasp that threatened to escape from her lips. Since
learning of Nikolas' stroke, she had read a few books on the subject. She knew that
even while sleeping, he could be fully aware of those around him. She dreaded the
thought of doing anything untoward that would threaten his recovery, including her
reaction to seeing him such a state. Taking a deep breath, she moved across the
floor to stand beside his bed.
Dawn's eyes scanned him. His brown hair presented
a sharp contrast against the pallor of his forehead. Her gazed dropped lower to
his hand, where it lay on top of his blanket. It rested in a curving position, almost
as if he was extending a silent invitation for someone to hold it. Chewing nervously
on her bottom lip, she considered the offer. He wasn't awake, she told herself.
He need never know that she had succumbed to a moment of weakness. That she had
given into the constant need to touch him and feel his warm skin on hers once again.
she chided under her breath. He is only a man. Nothing more. Nothing less.
slid into his. His warmth filled her and his touch sent shockwaves through her.
How could holding his hand cause her to feel so many things…to desire him so completely?
Why couldn't she get over their past and move on? Obviously, it was easy for him.
It should be for her, as well. It wasn't fair!
Suddenly, her love for
him was unbearable and touching him brought an excruciating pain to her chest. The
need for escape overwhelmed her and she moved her hand, intent on setting herself
But he wouldn't let go. His hand tightened over hers, firm and determined.
She tugged hard and his grip tightened even more. Her eyes flew to his.
He looked back at her with a blank look on his face. She wasn't sure if he was
aware of what he was doing or not. Guilt overrode her need to escape. Willing herself
to relax, she took a deep breath and allowed him to hold his hand…for just a few
Morning came faster than usual, Keesha thought as
her alarm sounded and she dragged herself out of bed. The deep, energetic voice
of KPCO's disc jockey teasingly mocked her and the rest of Port Charles who had also
been awoken by him. Laughing good-naturedly at the DJ's morning commentary, Keesha
began to anticipate the promises of the new day.
By the time, she had showered
and dressed, her usual chipper mood had returned. After locking her bedroom door
and bounding down the stairs to Kelley's first floor, a smile was on her face. However,
it soon disappeared when she saw who waited for her just below the bottom step.
she said, unable to silence the contempt she felt at his recent career change.
he said, stepping aside as she brushed past him. "You can't keep avoiding me-"
morning, Ruby," she said. Ignoring her cousin, she focused her attention on
the older woman. "I'm running a little late. Could I get a coffee and a cranberry
muffin to go? Thanks."
"No doughnuts?" Ruby asked with a smirk.
something that I don't even want to start," Keesha said, offering a soft chuckle
as Ruby smiled at her and then disappeared inside the kitchen.
bad enough that you're wearing blue," Justus began as he slid into the stool
beside her. "Now, you're picking up on Taggert's personality traits and adding
rudeness to your bag of traits."
"I guess it's better than being
an errand boy for the mob," she countered.
Justus' eyes narrowed. "I
am not an errand boy. I offer legal advice-"
"To the mob,"
she finished for him. "Granny Mae would be so proud."
with a bag and a steaming, large Styrofoam cup. She waved off Keesha's attempt to
pay her and said, "This one is on the house. Have a good one."
Ruby. You, too." Keesha grabbed her breakfast and headed for the door. Behind
her, Justus moved quickly to catch up to her before she left.
isn't over. I don't want you to end up dead. The uniform is not as safe as you
think," he cautioned.
Keesha's movements stilled. She raised surprised
brown eyes to his. "Is that a threat? Are you threatening me?"
Keesha!" He grabbed her upper arms in a loose hold. "I'm trying to get
through to you. I just want you to be careful. That's all."
nodded her head once and pulled herself from his grasp. "I will. You see that
you do the same. Goodbye, Justus."
"Dad, wait!" AJ called
out as soon as he saw Alan step from the elevators. The older man kept moving and
AJ jogged to reach him. "Dad," he said, grabbing his arm, "I called
you. Didn't you hear me?"
"AJ? Um…uh…no." Alan vehemently
shook his head. "I'm very busy this morning. I don't have time for idle chat."
know. It's just that I wanted to ask you-"
"I really don't have
time right now," Alan said, a thin line of perspiration shone on his upper lip.
"I don't understand why you-"
"Dad!" AJ said, interrupting
the lecture he knew that was sure to come, "I just wanted to know if you were
free for lunch. That's all."
Alan frowned. "You stopped me for
that? My duties come before lunch or being stopped for ridiculous reasons. Lives
are on the line here every day, AJ. When will you realize that the world does revolve
around you? Will you ever grow up?"
With his words hanging in the air,
Alan stormed off in the opposite direction he had been headed. AJ watched his father
move down the hallway until the older man was no longer in sight. Stunned by Alan's
response to him, AJ shuffled slowly back to Physical Therapy room.
rest of the morning, his mind was on his father and pondering the reasons for his
hostility. The familiar feelings of worthlessness crept over him by noon and he
made a mental note to add an evening AA meeting to his schedule. When the demons
threaten to haunt him, it was always better to exorcise them as soon as possible,
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The Right Way(and all original characters) ©2000 niklovr
All Rights Reserved
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