Around midnight, Sonny gave his driver the night off. The man's relieved sigh was the only give away as to how nervous he had been maneuvering on the icy roads. If he had said something earlier, Sonny would have let him off sooner. With his mind miles away, he wasn't aware of the weather until they swerved going into the parking structure of the Harbor View Towers. Then, Sonny had been awakened to the winter white world around him and decided that it was time for him to go it alone.
The tinted windows and bulletproof confines of the silver Porsche was home for Sonny for the rest of the night. He came close to going upstairs but he wasn't up for another night of listening to Carly whine and watching her ignore her child. Nor did he enjoy the intensity of Jason's hard stares as the younger man tried to figure him out. He didn't want to be figured out. He just wanted to be left alone. With Dara.
"Damn!" Sonny groaned as he rubbed his hand over his face. Just the thought of her name set him on edge and his body at attention. He was finding it very hard to wait until noon to see her. Maybe he wouldn't.
Dara awoke to the sound of running water and a baritone voice belting out the Eagles' 'Take It Easy.' Mac was a little off key in his rendition, but the feeling he put into the lyrics more than made up for it. Rising with yawns and stretches, she slowly rose from the bed and padded into the kitchen to start breakfast.
The French toast was turning brown around the edges by the time Mac appeared in the doorway. Without turning around, Dara sensed his presence. The clean, fresh scent of Irish Spring drifted towards her and mingled with the fragrant aroma of sizzling bacon and scrambled eggs. "G'morning," he murmured as he suddenly came up behind her. His breath was minty fresh as it tickled the sensitive spot behind her ear and Dara shivered. "Cold?" Mac asked, sliding his hands up and down her arms. "I think I have something that could warm you up."
"Mac..." Dara sighed, "I thought you had to go in early today."
"I didn't think getting your sweater from the closet would make me late." He laughed as she hit him with a dishtowel. Heading towards the door, he said, "Which would you like? The blue or the red?"
"I'm not cold," she informed him with a soft laugh. "Now, get back here. Your breakfast is ready."
"Are you sure?" he asked with his palm on the swinging door. His gaze was intense and twinkled with amusement. "If you're cold, I would be-"
He laughed and then sat down at the table she had prepared for their breakfast. Watching her bustle around the kitchen, he smiled. "I could get used to this."
"I knew you were thinking that," she said, as she poured orange juice into a glass and handed it to him. "I could see it in your eyes and my advice to you is to think again."
"Come on, love." Mac placed his hands around her waist and Dara was on his lap before she knew it. "I didn't mean the cooking part. I like this, the two of us together. This is nice, don't you think? It feels right to me."
Her arm curved around his back while her head rested on his shoulder. "This is nice."
Mac's eyebrow rose at her breathy admission. "Dare I hope you have an answer for me?"
"No!" She planted a lingering kiss onto his lips before rising from his lap. "But I am thinking about it."
Mac didn't comment, but an impish smile spread across his face that made words unnecessary. His blue eyes sparkled with love and Dara felt her heart melt. He was such a good man and she was finding it very hard to resist him or his proposal.
Their breakfast was consumed amid discussions of their plans for the day and the possibility of dinner together at his house. Mac would call her later if anything came up that would make him late. After pulling on his coat and grabbing his gloves in one hand, he reached for Dara with the other. "I hope that your meeting with Brenda goes well. Your voice is as phenomenal as the rest of you. Make sure that they realize this at L&B."
Mac pulled her fully within the circle of his arms for one last kiss before he left to go to work. As Dara closed the door, she pressed her hand to her still tingling mouth. His kisses were always passionate, but lately he'd been adding a zinger to them, leaving her wanting more. Somehow, they had made an unspoken promise not to allow their passions to carry them away until a decision about his proposal had been made, but on this morning, Dara wanted nothing more than to break that vow.
She tried to go about the tasks of putting away the morning dishes, but thoughts of Mac distracted her. She couldn't get him out of her head and found herself drawn to the sparkling diamond that beckoned to her like it was Mac's own little personal beacon. She removed the ring from the jewel case and for the first time, put it on. The band was a perfect fit and as she held her hand up to get a better look at it, she couldn't ignore the rapid pounding of her heart. Maybe the answer was right there in front of her all along and she had been too stubborn to realize it. Closing her eyes, she rested her hand over her heart and imagined herself in a long, flowing white gown and matching veil. Soon, she was floating down a petal-covered aisle to go to the groom who stood near the altar in black coat and tails waited for her. Just as he turned to face her, the doorbell rang and put an abrupt end to her imaginings.
Thinking that Mac had returned, Dara went quickly to the door and pulled it open. "Mac!" She said before she realized that it wasn't him.
"Hello, Dara," Sonny greeted as he brushed past her inside her apartment. "I'm not Scorpio, but I hope that doesn't matter."
"What are you doing here?" Dara asked as she slammed her door closed. "You have no business coming to my home."
"You're right and I apologize," he said. His warm voice oozed with sincerity that matched his dark, glittering eyes. "I shouldn't have come here, but I couldn't help myself. I couldn't wait until noon to see you. I had to see you now."
"Jax sure can throw one helluva party," Brenda commented. Her fork pierced a slice of cantaloupe and she brought it to her mouth as she fixed her roommate with a hard stare. "Don't you think so?"
"Sure," Robin shrugged, distracted by adding cream and sugar to her coffee. "He's always been good at that."
"Oh, really?" Brenda questioned between chews. "So, where were you? I saw you for a split second and then you were gone. Where did you go?"
"Brenda, please." Robin tucked a wisp of dark, brown hair behind her ear. "I thought you wanted to go over the presentation for Dara."
"That can wait. First, I want to talk about you and what you missed when you disappeared. You left because Jason was there, didn't you?"
Robin stood abruptly and her chair screeched across the hardwood floor. "I've told you before that Jason was off limits. I wish you'd respect that."
"I wish I could, too," Brenda sighed as she looked at her friend's rigid back, "but I can't. He hurt you. I didn't realize how much until last night. I can't believe that bastard cheated on you. And with that skank of all things! What an ass-"
The dishes Robin had been holding fell from her grasp and clattered to the sink. She turned around to face Brenda. "What are you talking about? Who's the skank?"
"Carly...Caroline... Dammit, I'm not sure what she's going by."
Robin sighed and rolled her eyes. "I know all about them. It was over before it began."
"If he told you that, he's a liar," Brenda stated in no uncertain terms. "It couldn't have been over. Besides, did you know about the baby?"
The room grew still and thick with tension. "What baby?" Robin questioned. "Whose baby?"
"Carly. .Caroline...whatever has a baby, and Jason's the father."
Robin shook her head. "That can't be. I don't believe it."
"I'm sorry," Brenda said, rising from her seat behind the kitchen table to join her friend near the sink. She wrapped arms around Robin. "This is what I've been wanting to tell you since you came back. I couldn't keep it from you any more especially considering what went down last night."
Brenda squeezed Robin's arm. "The mother of Jason's child is also Bobbie Jones' daughter and she's been using a dead girl's identity for the past two years. The adoptive mother, something Benson... I forget. Anyway, she went into shock when all of this came out and had a stroke. You made the right decision when you ended things with him. I admire that. I wish I had been as smart as you."
"And all of this happened at Jax's party?" Robin asked, frowning as she looked at Brenda for clarification.
"No, this happened afterwards or maybe during. Downstairs in the Grille. Ned and I went down to get some air and got a front row seat." Robin pulled away from Brenda and headed towards the swinging doors that led to the living room of the cottage. "Where are you going?" Brenda asked.
"I'm just going out for a while." Robin said, her voice sounding distant. "I just need some air. I'll be back in a little while.
"Want some company?" Brenda offered.
She shook her head. "No, thanks. I'll be all right. See you later."
Overhanging branches, bushes and a forgotten wooden swing protected Robert's hiding place as he watched his daughter leave the cottage and walk aimlessly into the woods. Even from this distance, he could sense her heartache. He longed to go to her, let her know that he was there and wanted to help. But he couldn't. It was too soon.
Days passed too quickly, Robert lamented, watching as Robin moved carefully over the ice and through the snow. He needed more time to make plans for vengeance, but looking at her, he knew that she needed him, too. A twig snapped underneath his feet and Robin stopped. She looked around and Robert slipped back, hoping that she didn't see him. She didn't. She gathered her coat close around her and headed back towards the cottage.
Robert continued to watch her as she went back inside and closed the door after her. He had wanted to call out to her and promised himself that the next time, he would. Slowly and carefully, he made his way back to his car. As he sat behind the steering wheel, he made a decision to see an old friend and perhaps to make a new one. Then, he'd be able to be a father to his little girl again.
"How are you holding up?" Jax took Alexis' hand as she joined him on the dock. The wooden platform had patches of ice all across and Jax silently questioned their decision to meet there. Frowning, he tightened his hold on her hand and led her toward the bench, hoping that the nearby building would block any chilly winds that would blow on them.
"You always ask that," Alexis joked. "I'm beginning to get a complex."
He smiled and patted her hand. "I'm concerned. I apologize, but I guess I have a habit of becoming overbearing when I worry about someone.
Alexis waved his apologies away with a leather glove-covered hand. "Don't apologize. I like it. Besides, it's nice to know that someone cares."
He didn't know what to make of her quiet admission. She had family there and he was sure that he had seen her and Ned together on several occasions. He didn't want to pry so he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and steered her towards the staircase. "Let's see what's on the menu at Kelly's. I'm not too keen on freezing my bum or yours out here."
She wrapped her arm around her waist and leaned on him as they left the docks and walked the short distance to Kelly's. The homey restaurant was warm and cozy. The perfect antidote for a cold, February morning. Jax directed them towards a table on the far side of the room. After she was settled in her seat, he removed his coat and gloves and sat facing both her and the door. A personable waitress with blonde curls waited on them. She quickly brought their order for coffee and muffins and left them alone.
Jax remained silent while Alexis prepared her coffee and sampled a bite of her muffin. Her fingers trembled slightly and as the small movement subsided, he began to speak. "I've been researching the information you've given me about Christine, Mikkos and the child she had."
"What did you find out?" Her face grew pale as she waited for his response.
"So far, what you were told was true. Mikkos Cassadine had an affair with the American opera singer. She became pregnant and gave birth to a child. Soon after, she was found murdered. No one was convicted, but it was rumored that Helena was involved. Nothing ever came of those rumors and Helena was never questioned.
"Figures," she muttered. She brushed her bangs from her eyes and then asked, "What happened to the child? Have you found any information about that?"
Jax shook his head. "Not so far. The hospital where the child was born has since burned down. I'm collecting a list of Christine's friends and acquaintances from that time. There's a possibility that I will have something more definite by the end of today. If so, I will follow up on it and I will let you know. How has everything been on your front? No one has threatened you, correct?"
"Correct." She nodded her head. "I haven't heard from Helena nor any of her goons. So far, the coast has been clear."
"I'd like to hire a guard for you-"
"I'd rather you didn't," she quickly interjected. "It would only bring attention to me and make her curious. I think it would be best to leave well enough alone."
Jax shrugged. "You know her better than I do. Just say the word and I can have protection for you. You can even stay at my place if you'd feel safer. I have plenty of room and I think I'd like the company.
His chuckle brought a faint smile to her face. "You are a good friend. I wouldn't want to wear out my welcome, but I will keep that option open. Just in case."
Jax smiled. "You will always be welcome and don't hesitate to call."
"I won't," she promised.
Matt awoke to the smell of percolating coffee. His vision was blurred due to deep sleep, but he could make out feminine curves and dark brown locks. Rubbing his hands across his eyes, he wondered about the time and if Ellen had stayed all night to be with him. The first thought didn't really matter to him, but the second meant everything. He smiled through the pain in his chest and called out in a hoarse whisper, "Good morning."
The movement in his kitchen area stopped and then the figure came towards him. She stood over him with a mug of coffee in her hands and said, "Good morning, Dr. Harmon. How are you?"
"I'm great, especially since you're here so early... or is it so late?" he asked, staring up into her dark, brown eyes. "Did you stay here last night?"
Ellen shrugged and turned away from him. "Someone had to. You really shouldn't be alone in your condition."
"And you volunteered?" Matt grinned. "I'm touched."
A pair of dimples deepened as she smiled behind her hand. Averting her eyes for a moment, she opened her medicine bag and began to search through it. She gave him only a view of her profile as she asked, "How are you feeling? Is the wound causing you any discomfort?"
"It hurts," Matt admitted, "but I can live with it."
"Anything else?" she asked turning around to face him with a thermometer in one hand and a stethoscope in the other. "And don't be inventive because I'll know."
"Inventive?" he repeated. His appreciative gaze roamed over her from head to toe before his dark eyes locked with hers, giving her an open view of his interest in her. "I'm always inventive, Dr. Burgess. Do you have something against inventiveness... and creativity?"
Ellen shivered, as if his perusal affected her physically. She averted her eyes by fussing with her equipment. After settling the stethoscope around her neck, she shook out the thermometer and then aimed it for Matt's mouth. "Open up unless you'd like this somewhere else."
With eyes still gleaming, he opened his mouth and accepted the thermometer without protest. He watched her as she counted the seconds on her watch. Even as the waves of pain and discomfort washed over him, he felt tremendous pleasure simply from looking at her and having her finally fuss over him. He wished that the circumstances had been different and that his health was better so that he could take full advantage of the situation, but he wouldn't worry about that too much right now. He'd rather stare at her and catch glimpses of her deep dimples that tantalized him so. Time to worry about his health and well being would come later. Much later. As for now, he'd simply enjoy the scenery.
He held her in his arms all night long.
After finding Dawn in her private den with tears streaming down her face, Nikolas had wanted nothing more than to make her tears go away, ease her pain and hold her for as long as she would allow. Sometime during the night, he decided that having two of the three wasn't bad. Her pain was privately held, but with the break of day, he hoped that she would give him that as well.
Deep in slumber, she smiled and then expelled a deep sigh. A moan threatened to escape and he bit down on his lower lip to quell the spontaneous sound. Her soft, precious mouth was just inches away from his bare chest and her breath felt as tender as a caress. A kiss.
God help him, she shifted again, sliding her bare thigh across his. Electric currents shot through him and his flesh tingled wherever their bodies touched. All night long, he had been awake for this sweet torture, holding her near and reveling in the fact that she trusted him enough to fall asleep in his arms. The agony came not with loss of sleep, but with her innocent caresses. Even now, her body rested more on top of him than on the mattress. The urge to pull her wholly on top of him was powerful, but he resisted. He wanted her, but he would never take advantage of her. Closing his eyes, he began to list chess pieces, hoping the distraction would soften his immediate reaction to her close proximity.
"Pawn, pawn, pawn...
"Rook, knight, bishop-"
"Ssh!!" Dawn pressed her fingers against his mouth and snuggled against him once more, burying her face in the curve of his neck and shoulder.
Nikolas instantly became quiet. Frowning, he wondered how she heard him. He hadn't been speaking out loud. Had he?
"Rook, knight, bishop-"
"Nikolai! I'm trying to sleep," she murmured.
Her thigh moved again, sliding into contact with his rigid hardness. Nikolas held his breath and waited.
"Nikolas!" Dawn sat up as much as their tangled limbs would permit her and pierced him with a wide-eyed stare. "Oh, my!" She tried to pull free again and ended up falling on top of him again. His arms wrapped around her waist and his fingers laced together, keeping her in place. Her liquid brown eyes filled with questions. "What happened to our clothes?"
"Shush." He removed one had from her waist to press his thumb to her mouth. He held it there for a millisecond and then he just lowered his head to hers.
The kiss began, as slow and thoughtful, but soon became hungry. Her lips parted beneath his. Nikolas shuddered when her tongue and mouth suckled his bottom lip. A shock wave shook him from head to toe as her tongue sought and raked against his. He couldn't stop the moan that escaped him when the kiss ended. Burying his face against her neck, he placed a kiss there.
"Nikolai..." she murmured dreamily, "the things you do to me.
I love you.
"What?" she whispered hoarsely. She became still and asked him again. "What did you say?"
She heard him again? Nikolas moved so that he faced her. He was scared to say it again. What if the words came out wrong'? His heart was so full and filled with wanting her, loving her. He couldn't endure disappointing her or making a fool of himself. He looked away and made a move to leave the bed.
Dawn reached for him before he could get very far. "Don't turn away from me. Please, try to say it again. Please."
"I...you... Love." The words didn't come out quite the way he hoped and tried to move away.
She wouldn't let him. "One more time. Please, try it again. I need to hear you try. Just once more. Please?"
He could try and silently, he prayed that the words would fit this time. "I love you."
Tears filled her eyes. She cupped his face within the palms of her hands. "Truly?" she demanded to know. "Really?"
"Honestly," he admitted. "I do."
[Author's Note: "Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith]