One week had passed, and Dara had never felt so ashamed. Instead of enjoying herself the way she had intended when she first had first come to the resort, she had spent the past seven days doing just the opposite.

Her plans of exploring the islands, snorkeling and shopping and whatever else tourists did had been erased. The only exploring had been in her little bungalow, pacing back forth deep in thought. Snorkeling had been replaced with repeated cold showers as her thoughts had left her heated and unsatisfied. The shopping and etc were pushed aside in favor of more pondering and against her will, fantasizing about devilish dimples and tantalizing kisses.

"Oh, damn," she grumbled as an image of Sonny's face swam before her eyes once again. Rubbing her hands across her eyes, she tried to rub out the image. The small movement only agitated her further. Biting back more expletives, she pushed herself up from the deep cushioned softness of the wicker chair and strode to the windows.

She pushed the curtains apart and opened the windows. A gust of cool island air flew into her face. The smell of lush greenery, pineapples and other tropical delights met her full in the face. Her stomach growled. Frowning, she admitted that she was tired of room service and being locked in. There was a big island out there and her vacation time was dwindling down. She had paid for the trip and had every right to enjoy it!

What if she saw Corinthos again? A small voice nagged her.

"So be it," she mumbled with forced courage. She could handle seeing him again. Besides, the island was a big place. She didn't have to worry about seeing him again. And for all she knew, he was long gone by now. Right?


On the other side of the island, Sonny paced the length of his balcony. The natural beauty of his surroundings did little to ease his agitation. He had come to the island to relax. To get his head back on straight. How could he mess that up in one night? And why in the hell did he take the coward's way out in the aftermath?

He had spent most of his life avoiding confinement. Now all because of a woman, he had imprisoned himself! And if that wasn't bad enough, it was a solitary confinement. If not for room service, he wouldn't have said a word to a soul.

Sure, Dara Jensen was a fascinating woman, but come on! He was Sonny Corinthos. The Man! He didn't hole up for a week when a huge tropical locale was his for the taking. Hell no. And even if he couldn't stop thinking about her, smelling her and tasting her…well, that was no reason for him to lose his self-respect dammit!

Granting himself a reprieve, Sonny grabbed his keys and wallet from an end table and slammed out of the bungalow. Solitary confinement was over. It was time to join the living again. Besides, Port Charles' justice department would fall apart without the ADA there for a few days. He was sure that she was long gone by now. The embarrassment of the kiss was only alive in his mind. "Forget about it," he softly advised himself and he set off for the island's endless possibilities.


"Checkmate?" Emily asked with an incredulous look on her face and in her voice. Her chestnut brown hair brushed against her face as she stared back at Nikolas. Shaking her head, she said, "No way."

Nikolas smiled. With an almost angelic look, he nodded again. He pointed at his notepad for clarification. The word was clear and to the point. Checkmate.

"Did you cheat?" Emily questioned. Falling back against the soft leather of the library's chairs, she released a defeated sigh. She folded her arms across her chest to complete the picture.

Raising his eyebrows in mock offense, Nikolas vehemently shook his head.

"But as my teacher, shouldn't you let me win sometimes?" she couldn't help but ask.

Nikolas filled his notepad quickly as he scribbled his answer. Smiling, he handed the pad to her. She said the words aloud.

"You can't learn that way." She tossed the pad back at him. Pursing her lips, she commented, "Thanks a lot."

A broad smile continued to brighten Nikolas' face. He enjoyed teasing her and his delight showed clearly on his face. Unable to resist his glee, Emily smiled back at him. Nikolas gestured to the board, silently asking her if she would like another game. Emily shook her head and rose to stand.

She moved around the classically decorated library. With her back to Nikolas, she appeared to him as if she was studying the room. As she and he had spent a good amount of time there, he wondered what new object she had found that could hold her attention so.

When she turned around a few seconds later, he realized that he had been in error. Her thoughts hadn't been on the room, but on him. He bristled. Whatever could bring such seriousness to her eyes could only be something that he did not want to acknowledge.

Or rather someone. Sarah.

Emily offered Nikolas a tentative smile. He stared back at her for a moment before he dropped his gaze down to the chessboard. With measured movements, he reset the pieces. An invisible wall of ice seemed to wrap around him. Swallowing hard, Emily stood up tall. She had told Sarah that she would talk to him. Emily would not back out on her friend now. Either of them.

Her fingers tapped against her legging covered legs nervously. "I think you're doing much better."

A quick nod of his head was the only inclination that he had heard her. His fingers moved over the chess pieces, pressing them firmly onto the board. The wall of ice had thickened.

"Coming here to hang out with you is fun. I don't think I laugh as much as when I'm with you."

Nikolas frowned slightly and then the lines faded. A small smile formed on his lips again. He tore his gaze from the game to look up at her. Resolve shone in his eyes. He looked at her, waiting.

Feeling encouraged, Emily moved closer to him. Her fingers ceased their nervous movement. "I saw Sarah. She misses you. She'd liked to come see you, too."

Shaking his head, he pushed himself away from the table. He turned his back to her and went to the window. His grip on the drapes made his hand ashen.

"She's scared Nikolas and she doesn't know what's going on. I won't ask you because I don't feel it's my place, but please… See her or maybe give me a note to give to her. Something. Anything. She thinks you're mad at her and… She just wants to make sure you know that she wants to be here with you."


"So this is where you work?"

Jason remained silent as Dawn settled herself astride his Harley. Her honey golden cheeks were flushed from the brisk air and her eyes glowed with excitement. He couldn't exactly put his finger on it, but despite her carefree attitude, he sensed danger around her. And it excited him like nothing had in a long time.

"Well?" she prompted in her husky voice that held a faint indefinable accent.

His heart picked up speed. Her voice warmed him as winter chilled the night air. He pulled the zipper of his leather jacket down in an effort to cool his warming skin. Sitting behind her on the Harley's seat, he rested one hand on her shoulder and used the other hand to point at the row of the warehouses along the dock. "Those three are all mine."

A half-smile curved her cheeks. She twisted slightly on the seat to look back at him. "You didn't answer my question," she softly scolded.

Jason frowned. What was this effect she had on him? Was he losing his mind? "What was the question?" he asked, genuinely perplexed.

She laughed softly. "I asked if you worked here, but since these are yours, I can assume that you work any of them that you choose. Impressive."

Suddenly hot with embarrassment, Jason coughed to hide his discomfort. After he regained his composure, he raised an eyebrow and asked, "Impressive? Why? I wouldn't think you'd be impressed by a few dirty old buildings."

"Hmm…" Deep in thought, she chewed on her bottom lip. "Maybe impressive is the wrong word." She laughed again when his eyes widened. "Perhaps, I should know what's inside those old dirty buildings before I can make a definite pronouncement."

Jason shrugged. "Coffee. Expresso beans. Kona blend."

"Coffee?" she asked a hint of amusement and disbelief in her tone. "You have three huge warehouses filled with coffee. Who do you ship to? Caffeine Addicts Anonymous?"

A smile tugged the corners of Jason mouth. "Maybe."

"Maybe," she repeated. Shivering, she turned back around on the bike. "Your winters rival England's and I'm almost reminded of a horrid weekend at Dyrkenshire Castle. Say something quick to push the memory from my mind."

"A castle, huh?" Carefully gauging her reaction, Jason rubbed her arms briskly to warm her. She moved back against his hands. Feeling far from discouraged, he wrapped his arms around her and pressed his chest against her back. A purr vibrated through her body and connected with his. His awareness of her intensified and he hoped that she didn't notice.

A moment passed between them before either spoke. She looked over her shoulder at him and in a whisper, she murmured, "What castle?"

It felt like an invitation so he took it as one. Taking a gentle grasp of her chin, he tilted her face towards his. His head made a slow descent and in the next instant, his mouth was on hers.


Carlotta's pen tapped an erratic beat on the table's Marblehead surface. The firm set of the other woman's jaw worried Pamela. Their dinner meeting had been a spur of the moment thing precipitated by a call from her employer. Had she done something that caused Carlotta to be upset? Not one to beat around the bush, Pamela felt she had to speak up now before things went from slightly off to bad to worse.


"Have you ever made a decision about something," Carlotta interjected, clearly not hearing Pamela say her name, "and then have doubts?"

"Yes," Pamela nodded. "I'm sure that everyone has."

"Mm." Carlotta pressed her lips together and the thoughtful expression returned.

Her employer's demeanor was now becoming stranger and stranger. Pamela would have doubt the possibility before, but Carlotta almost seemed insecure. Lines of worry had begun to crease the older woman's unmarred complexion. Her beauty was not diminished in the least, but witnessing Carlotta's agitation set Pamela on edge. The powerful urge to help grew strong, but there were boundaries. She wasn't sure if she should dare to cross them. Her Granny Mae always had words of wisdom on her tongue, but Pamela couldn't recall any that would help her in this situation.

"I'm a bit distracted this evening. My apologies," Carlotta said, slowly returning from her reverie. "My thoughts are with my errant daughter and should not intrude upon your valuable time. Now, where were we?"

"No apologies necessary," Pamela said with a small smile. "I understand."

Carlotta shook her head and gave Pamela a warm smile that lessened her following words. "You can't possibly understand. Not until you have a child of your own. I never understood that until I gave birth. Should you have children, you will know exactly what I mean."

"Well, I guess that is something that I'll have to discover later. Much later."

Curiosity lit up Carlotta's eyes. "You do not plan to become a mother? Don't believe the reports on CNN, Pamela. A woman can have a career and a family. Compromise, balance and common sense are required, of course, but the feat can be accomplished."

Pamela laughed softly. Carlotta was full of surprises tonight. Their first real personal conversation and the boss was proving to live up to everything Pamela had heard about her. Wonderful. "I hadn't really thought about it."

"You have plenty of time," Carlotta advised. She sat up straight and tapped her pen against her leather portfolio, signaling that business was on the forefront again. "Have you reviewed the quarterly report for Deception?"

"Yes," Pamela said, rebounding quickly. "The stock still hasn't recovered and seems to be on the verge of dropping another point."

Carlotta nodded. "Ms. Barrett's incident was unfortunate…both for her and the company. The public seems to be under the misconception that using the products will result in emotional disturbances for them as well. Upon acquiring Deception, we will need to engage in an aggressive, yet tasteful, marketing campaign. The products are good. Reminding the public of that shouldn't be too difficult."

"I'm surprised that Mr. Jacks hasn't shown a stronger interest in Deception's ad campaign. He seems to have let it stagnate."

"Appearances can be deceptive," Carlotta said, smiling with her play on words. "I can assure you that during the acquisition, his interest will heighten. Speaking of the Golden Boy, have you met him?"

Pamela frowned. "Was I supposed to?" she asked, going through her mental list of notes and hoping that she hadn't missed something.

"Not by any decree from me," Carlotta said, humor in her tone. "I would suggest that you do so. Not necessarily tomorrow or even the next day, but soon. You should know your opponent, and know him well."

"I've researched him," Pamela admitted, nodding her head in agreement. "I know all about his family, his relationships, his enemies…"

"That's all ink and paper," Carlotta said with a dismissive wave of her hand. "To know the man, you need to be in his orbit. Invade his world. Meet him face to face and then compare that to your documentation. Compare the differences and the similarities. You are intelligent and have a firm hold of common sense, too. I have no doubt that you will prove yourself to be an worthy adversary for Mr. Jacks."


"Finally," Jax said with a smile, "we meet again."

Sighing deeply, Alexis sat down across from him. Luke's was abuzz with other patrons. The anticipation for the night's blues performance electrified the air. Under normal circumstances, a blues bar would have been Jax's last choice for anything, but Brenda was there. And try as he might, he wasn't ready to relinquish his role as protector even if it meant he had to perform his duties from across the room.

"I had my doubts that it would ever happen," Alexis said.

A teasing smile almost overshadowed the sadness that hinted around the corners of her eyes. Jax was sorely tempted to pry, but he opted to mind his business for the time being. "I never had any doubts. Port Charles may be large, but it's not that large. I knew that I would see you again."

"Oh, so you're psychic as well as charming," she said.

"I've been known to do well at both, yes."

Their laughter filled their small table and any unease at being more acquaintance than friend began to disappear. A waitress appeared at their table, offering them a smile and a selection of drinks to choose from. After introducing herself as Gina, she waited patiently for their order.

"Vodka," Alexis requested without any hesitation.

Jax raised his eyebrows, unable to resist the urge to tease. She shrugged in a response as a blush crept across her che
eks. Jax chuckled softly in triumph. "I'll have whatever's on tap."

"Would Amstel be okay?" Gina asked for clarification.

"Perfect," Jax assured her. When Gina left, he turned to his new friend again. "So, how goes everything? Any better?"

"What made you think anything was wrong?" she asked. "We all have moments of melancholy, don't we? And how about you? Is life treating you like a king?"

Jax shook his head. "Not hardly. But like me mum always says, 'when life gives you lemons…'"

"You make lemonade," Alexis said, finishing the well-known phrase for him. "I was a little surprised that you'd want to come here for drinks. A blues bar doesn't seem…um…like you."

"Oh, no?" he asked, grinning at her. "I've spent a time or two in places like this, but you're right. It's not really me. I'm here to watch out for a friend."

She nodded in understanding. "I see. I hope that your friend appreciates the sacrifice you're making."

Jax laughed out loud. "I doubt it."

Wagging her finger at him, Alexis joined him in laughter. A few tables behind them and in the shadows, Robert watched them. The classy brunette had caught his attention the moment she entered his old chum's digs. He was surprised to see her head for a young native from his homeland. Upon a closer look, he was even more surprised to find that he knew the young man. Jasper Jax was all grown up. His parents must be so proud.

Robert swallowed his whiskey with a wince and continued his perusal of the rapidly filling up club. So many new faces, but there were a few that he almost recognized. In the time that he'd been back, he hadn't made his presence known. He wanted to feel his way first. Depending on the night, he planned to reveal himself to Luke. Maybe the good ol' days could return. Together, they had always been a crack shot pair. And to repay Faison for the hell that the man had put him through, Robert would need the all the crack shots that he could get.

The waitress returned with another whiskey. Robert thanked her with a smile and as generous tip that he could afford. And then again as if drawn to her, his gaze went to the classy brunette. She was one helluva beauty!

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