Chapter 38

~Love Comes in Different Forms~

Elizabeth looked around the Emergency Room with wild eyes. Lucky's heart ached with every step they took. As they neared the Nurse's Station, she froze and refused to move. Shaking her head, she mumbled, "No, Lucky. I don't want to be here. Just take me home."

"Elizabeth," he pleaded, "we can't go back now. They already see us. Besides, this is for the best. They can help you."

"Everyone will know," she said mournfully.

"Only the doctor and nurses who help you," he told her. "They won't say anything to anyone. Please, let them help you."

A young brunette nurse approached them. "Hi, my name is Grace. Would you come with me, please?"

The nurse held her hand out to Elizabeth, who stared at it. Suddenly, tears spilled down her cheeks and she looked back at Lucky. He nodded. "I'll be here. I won't leave."

His words seemed to comfort her and she followed the nurse inside the examining room. Lucky watched them leave. When the green curtain fell down and hid them from view, he released a long, hard breath and headed for the row of payphones. He called Emily first and explained that something came up, and he wasn't able to talk. She wasn't too upset with him and told him to call her back as soon as he could. Her gentle voice comforted him more than she realized and he promised he'd call.

He then placed the call he dreaded to make. The phone rang in the Hardy home a few minutes before a masculine voice answered. Lucky almost hung up, thinking he had the wrong number until he realized that Liz's cousin was in town. "Hello, this is Lucky Spencer. I'm calling about Elizabeth."

"She's not here. She went to some dance or something," Tommy informed him.

"That's not why I'm calling," Lucky said, trying very hard to remain calm and reasonable. "I'm calling about her. Um…is Mrs. Hardy there?"

"No, my Grandmother isn't here. What's going on with Elizabeth? I'm her cousin," Tommy said. "You can tell me."

"Elizabeth was…assaulted. She's at General Hospital," Lucky said. "She could use her family right now."

The voice on the telephone hardened with dread. "What do you mean she was assaulted? What happened?"

"She was raped, man," Lucky muttered. "Some bastard raped her."


Nikolas left Wyndemere's dock upset and confused. The conversation with Helena was typical fare. She spouted out Stefan' criticism's as usual, but somehow, her words seemed to hold a ring a truth. Stefan's relationship with Laura was strange and the subsequent engagement to Katherine…well, something was bizarre with that, too. For the last few days, Katherine hadn't been around as much and Stefan didn't seem to mind that at all. Nikolas wondered if Helena's warning about Stefan and Laura was true. Continuing up the staircase, he was at a loss as to what to do if it was.

He moved slowly down the hallway on his way to his own quarters. A ray of light shone underneath Stefan's door. He paused for a moment, contemplating whether or not to knock. What would he say, though? Could he repeat Helena's thinly disguised innuendos? Nikolas knew that he could not. Expelling a low sigh, he trudged on down the hall.

Too agitated to sleep, he decided to check on Dawn. If her bandage needed changing or if she was awake and wanted to talk… Why make excuses? In his present state of mind, he needed her presence to help him make sense of things. He needed her.

"Come in," she called out when he tapped against the door. Her lips parted into a smile as he entered and closed the door behind him. "Your Tai Chi exercises are over so soon?"

Nikolas shrugged. He sat down on the edge of her bed and took her hand. "I'd rather be inside with you than outside alone on a cold dock. What were you doing? I hope I didn't disturb you."

"You didn't disturb me," she told him. "I was just sitting here thinking about everything that's happened. Sooner or later, I must face Jason and I'm not quite sure what I should say to him."

Nikolas' mouth thinned into a grim line. "You don't owe Morgan an explanation."

Dawn held his hand between both of hers. "We were close, Nikolai. I owe him…something."

"I won't have you meeting with him-"

"You can't stop me," she interjected. "There's no need for jealousy. You're the man I love."

"But you care about him, too?" Nikolas asked. "You can tell me."

"I know," she said with a faint smile. "I care for him. He always treated me with the utmost respect and…well, Vincent feels that his feelings for me were very strong. If so, I do owe him the truth."

Nikolas nodded. He understood. He owed Sarah the same not too long ago. Deciding to change the subject, he asked, "How are you? Have you tended to the bandage?"

She shook her head. "I couldn't bear to look at it. I'll ask Mother to help me in the morning."

He wagged his finger at her. "We were told the bandage is to be changed every night. I'll be right back."

"Nikolai!" she called out when he jumped from the bed and headed for her bathroom. "It's really not necessary!"

He returned with the First Aid kit. "Ssh," he scolded. "You'll wake the entire household."

"What are you doing?" she asked, watching him as he set the materials on the nightstand and pulled back the covers. He reached for her and she shrank back against the bed. "Answer me!"

"Relax," he said, laughing. "I wouldn't harm you."

"I know, but it's…" She frowned and her eyelids dropped over her eyes. Her fingers gripped the sheet nervously. "The scar is ghastly, Nikolai. I do not wish for you to see it."

She'd never been prone to vanity before. This change surprised Nikolas and made him smile. He sat beside her again and pulled her hand away from the sheet. Tilting his head so that their gazes locked, he murmured, "I've seen scars before, sweetheart. This one will not change how I feel about you. Allow me to help you. I promise I won't run from you in horror."

"Remember, you promised."

Nikolas took her words for acceptance. When she tensed as he pulled away the tape and bandage, he decided to divert her attention by asking her opinion about Helena's comments. "Helena interrupted my exercises."

"Why didn't you tell me before? What happened?"

He shrugged while he dabbed the reddened wound with antiseptic. "I wasn't sure what to make of her visit, so I was still thinking about it. She spoke of Uncle, of course. She also mentioned my mother. Laura's returned to the States. She's in North Carolina."

"Will you visit her?" Dawn asked.

"I haven't decided," he answered. He cut off a strip of gauze and pressed it against her. As he began to apply the tape, he said, "Is this too tight?"

"It's fine," she replied. "What did Helena say about Uncle this time? Did it upset you?"

Nikolas pulled her nightgown over her thighs, pausing her a moment to stroke her legs. She shivered underneath his caress and he groaned. It was best not to start something, which couldn't be finished, he decided and covered her with the sheet and comforter. In a husky voice, he asked, "I'm sorry. You asked a question. What was it?"

Dawn patted the space beside her. "Lay beside me." He did and she shifted onto her uninjured side to rest her head on his chest. His arms closed around her and they both sighed. "We can be together soon."

"We can also wait until we're married," he said with a kiss to her forehead. "I think that would be best and the sooner we're married, the better."

She laughed. "I agree. Now, back to the current dilemma. Why did Helena tell you about Laura? What was her purpose?"

"It does come back to that with her, doesn't it?" he murmured. "As usual, she was casting dispersions on Uncle. She inferred that he had…feelings for Laura and that's why he pursued Katherine. Because she reminds him of my mother."

"Do you believe her?"

Nikolas shrugged. "I'm not sure what to believe. Uncle holds his heart close to his chest. It could be possible that Helena is correct in her assumptions."

"Perhaps you should speak with him. You mustn't allow your grandmother to divide you," Dawn advised.

"Excellent advice, my love." He kissed her forehead again. "Perhaps, I will follow it."


Stefan stood before Carlotta with his hands behind his back and a determined glint in his eyes. She frowned in response. "Don't hover over me!"

"Do you have an answer?"

She bristled. "An answer to what? What was the question?"

His mouth twitched and humor lit up his emerald eyes. "An answer to my proposal of marriage, Carlotta."

She rose from the chaise lounge then. Moving frantically, she paced across the beautiful Persian rug. Her hands flexed at her sides. "You invited me to your quarters under false pretenses and I do not appreciate that!"

Stefan threw up his hands. "What false pretenses? I requested your presence so that we could have a private discussion. My invitation was sincere as is my offer of marriage-"

"Enough!" She crossed the room to stand in front of him. Her index finger poked his chest. "You knew I believed you wished to discuss the children-"

"I had no idea, Carlotta," he answered.

Her eyes narrowed. "You're lying. I can see it in your eyes. You tricked me!"

"I would never," he replied.

"You would if you thought you could get what you want," she retorted.

Stefan hands shot out and grasped her waist. He pulled her against and made it impossible for her to move. "Deception is not a ploy I would use with you. Seduction would be much more pleasurable for both of us, don't you agree?"

Her pulses raced wildly at their close proximity. Breathing became difficult, but she refused to succumb to his charms. She fought hard to remain some semblance of control as she asked, "So your proposal is based on sex?"

He shook his head. Lowering his head so that his mouth brushed against her ear, he said, "You know there is more than sex between us."

Carlotta trembled. His seduction techniques weakened her. He knew her better than anyone else, including Dawn's father, Quentin. For years, she made herself forget about the passion she and Stefan once shared, choosing instead to focus on their friendship. Now, he wanted her to switch gears again. Could she? What if she lost herself? Fear made her hesitate.

"Carlotta…" he began when she didn't speak, "surely, you know that I have always lov-"

She pressed her hand against his mouth. "No, Stefan. Don't say that word. I know you quite well. I've witnessed what that emotion can do to you and I don't believe you feel that way about me… I will not be a substitute for Nikolas' mother."

"I'm not asking you to be," he quipped. "This has nothing to do with her."

Carlotta's fears wouldn't die. She tried a different tactic. "What happened with Katherine? How do I know once I agree you won't change your mind as quickly as you changed your mind about her?"

"You know me better than that," he said, his emerald glittering with indignation.

"I'm not sure," she murmured. "I thought I did."

Slowly, Stefan released her. "What can I do that will convince you?"

"Give me time," she said before making her exit.


"What God has joined together, let no man put asunder," Mac said, raising his glass of champagne in a toast. He clicked his glass against Dara's and smiled. "Did you hear that, Mrs. Scorpio?"

She set her glass on the table and reached for his hands. "I heard you. From your mouth to God's ears. This has been a magical day."

"It has," he agreed as he slid his hands around her waist. "Marriage agrees with you. I'm not sure if I've ever seen you look more beautiful and I've seen you look very beautiful on a number of occasions. We will be good together, Dara."

"I want to apologize for getting so scared before," she told him. "I should have trusted that everything would work out the way its supposed to."

Mac nodded. "Yes, you should have, but it doesn't matter now. Nothing else matters tonight, but you and me. Tonight, we will officially become one."

Then, he lowered his head and kissed her.

[Author's note: A Honeymoon chapter for Mac & Dara follows this one. If you're of age and want a copy, let me know!"]

General Hospital and Port Charles ©ABC
Wiseguy © Stephen J. Cannell Productions
Magnum, PI © Universal Studios
Spenser: For Hire © ABC
The Right Way(and all original characters) ©2000-2001 niklovr
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