Chapter 41

~Haunting Tales of Regret~

"My apologies for interrupting your evening," Vinnie said when he entered the study. With his head turned while he closed the door behind him, he could feel Carlotta and Quentin's eyes boring into him. Taking a deep breath, he prepared himself for the disappointment he'd find there and turned to face them. He was momentarily stunned when he saw that their expressions held no censure. Both of them actually had smiles on their faces. His prepared speech disappeared from his head and he didn't know what to say.

"Terranova," Quentin greeted. "Come in. I was just talking about you."

"Yes, Vincent," Carlotta added, "have a seat. Would you like a drink?"

Vinnie shook his head. "No thanks. I don't mean to sound rude, but I didn't come to socialize. I came to give my resignation-"

"I don't think so," Quentin quickly disagreed. "You can't quit now."

"I wouldn't imagine either of you wanting me to stick around," Vinnie argued. "Dawn was stabbed. Her bodyguard shouldn't have allowed that to happen."

"Neither of us blame you for what happened," Carlotta said softly. "You were with her and you did the best you could-"

"With all due respect, Carrie," Vinnie interrupted, "my best wasn't good enough. Nikolas saved her life. I didn't."

"Yes, you did," Quentin told him. "You taught her how to defend herself. Your lessons saved her life."


"Listen to me, for a minute," Quentin interrupted. "Go ahead and sit down and listen." After Vinnie grudgingly sat, Quentin continued, "Dawn would have played undercover agent no matter what. Sticking with her and teaching her how to take care of herself was the smartest thing to do. She told us you were with her every step of the way and I believe her. Loccoco and I go way back, man. He referred you to me and I don't trust just anybody when it comes to my little girl. You did your best, and we want you to stay."

Quentin's words came close to soothing the guilt Vinnie felt at not moving fast enough to protect Dawn from Patroni. He knew that the other man wouldn't lie to him, but he also knew that he needed time to deal with his disappointment in himself. He gave them both a thin-lipped smile as he nodded his head and rose. "Thank you. I appreciate it. I'm gonna have to think on that."

Carlotta smiled. "We understand. Believe us when we tell you that we hope you'll stay. Dawn's grown very fond of you and so have I. We'd miss you if you left."

Vinnie paused at the door. "I'd miss you both, too."


Beads of perspiration formed on Dawn's forehead as she covered the last few yards to the downstairs solarium. Just off the library, she hadn't realized how far the terrace was from her second-story bedroom. It became quite an undertaking, but her determination fueled her footsteps. She wouldn't turn back until she reached her destination, and she'd think about the return trip much later.

Dawn pulled her floor length wool coat close around her and inhaled the brisk night air. The temperature had dropped significantly, but the cold air felt good on her cheeks. After being tucked away in bed for so long, the exercise and the fresh air revived her senses. She lowered herself onto an overstuffed chaise lounge and enjoyed the night sky.

The door creaked open behind her. "Who's there?" she called out, refraining from turning because of the pain in her side.

"Dawn?" Nikolas tall form loomed over her as his dark eyes glared. A purplish bruise darkened his cheekbone and his breath came out in white puffs. He planted his hands on his lean hips and shook his head. "What are you doing out here? Do you realize that it's too cold for you to be outside?"

"Stop stewing over my change in environment and snuggle with me-"

"You wish to snuggle?" he repeated. He pointed a finger at her and seemed to be on the verge of a tirade. Then, suddenly he lowered his hand and laughed. "I thank you for your invitation and I accept."

Dawn took his hand and kissed his fingers. A soft sigh escaped her when he brushed his knuckles along her cheek. "Come on. Join me and tell me who you've fought with this time."

He rolled his eyes. "I am not a brawler, dearest, as you well know. I'll tell you just as soon as I return with a blanket for us. Would you like anything else?"

She shook her head. "Your warm body beside me is all I need."

Nikolas' cheeks reddened and lascivious gleam darkened his eyes. His voice lowered to a husky murmur as he said, "Your wish is my command. I'll be right back."

His moist, firm mouth closed over hers, kissing her with urgency and hunger. By the time he pulled away, her mouth burned with fire and her flesh tingled with longing. "Hurry back," she requested as he went back inside.

"I shall," he promised right before the door closed behind him.

Lost in the memory of his drugging kiss, Dawn pressed trembling fingers against her swollen lips. His touch set her aflame. Waiting until marriage would be quite a chore, she decided, and one she wasn't sure she wanted to undertake. Thoughts of broaching the subject with Nikolas closed her mind to everything else and she didn't hear the approach of footsteps on the stone patio until the dark form stood over her and a hard voice interrupted her musings.

"So, it's true. Everything they said was true. You love him."

She jumped at the sound of his voice. "Jason!"

"I didn't want to believe it," he continued in a tone void of emotion. "I couldn't. I thought we had something, but it was just a game to you, wasn't it?"

"You shouldn't be here," she quickly told him. "If they find you here, they'll kill you."

"I'm not afraid of the Cassadines or their bodyguards," Jason rasped. "I just want the truth from you. Tell me the truth. Was it just a game?"

"Nikolas is coming right back!"

"I don't give a damn about Nikolas!" he exclaimed. "This is about you and me. Was it a game?"

Frightened by what would happen if Nikolas did return or if someone else found him there, she quickly answered him, "No, it wasn't a game. What happened to Nikolas was serious and I was serious about making sure that someone paid for their crimes."

"You should be proud. Someone has paid." Hurt reflected in his sapphire eyes for a split second before emptiness masked it. He then stepped back into the shadows and disappeared.

Once she was sure he was gone, Dawn released the breath she'd been holding, but she was still shaking when Nikolas returned with the blanket. Without a word, he climbed in behind her and encircled her within his arms. The thick blanket covered them from their necks to their feet. Nikolas began to tell her about his recent squirmish and in time, her body stopped trembling.


Mac and Keesha sat at table in a darkened corner of the Recovery Room. They sat with their backs against the wall and with an excellent view of entrances and exits. Since they'd been there, nothing out of the ordinary had occurred, but every time Mac glanced at his watch, he hoped that something would give soon. He had a wife waiting for him and a honeymoon to enjoy.

"It's crazy for you to be here," Keesha commented after he glanced at his watch against. "Taggert or Garcia could have manned this stakeout with me. Why are you here?"

He grunted. "It beats the hell out of me, Keesha. I got a phone call, ordering me to be here or else. If this jerk wasn't involved with that shooting on the docks, I wouldn't be here."

"You could call Taggert for relief," she suggested. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind."

"Nah," Mac replied, shaking his head. "I'm here now. There's no point in interrupting his night, too. We'll handle this ourselves and give the call when we need backup."

"Yessir!" she said with faint smile and mock salute.

He chuckled softly at her response. "How's it going for you? Any complaints or suggestions? For the record, I want you to know that I think you're doing one helluva job."

"I disagree," she murmured after taking a sip of coffee. "The docks incident could have been avoided if I'd paid closer attention to the signs. The Hunter girl could have been killed."

"The point is she wasn't," he reminded her gently. "Some things are unavoidable. The longer you're on the force, the more you'll understand that. It will be hard to accept, but things happen. As much as we want to, we can't control everything. You did good under the circumstances, Officer."

"I suppose so," she replied, "but I wish things were different. But you're right. I'll just have to learn how to accept certain things. What do you suppose Mancusi is up to? He's been sitting at that bar for hours and hasn't budged an inch. Do you think he's trying to shake down Mike?"

"Nah," Mac said, his gaze narrowing on their prey. "This would be a waste of time. He's after something. We just have to keep watching and waiting."

He glanced at his watch again and groaned. Dara, darling, he thought, take care 'til I return.


The swinging kitchen door swished softly behind Sonny as he released it and stepped around the dining room table. Eyes wide with unreadable emotions, Dara pulled her dressing robe close around her and moved to the far end of the sofa. The sofa became a buffer between them as Sonny stood at the opposite end. In the background, an infomercial droned on from the television. "We meet again," he murmured, his voice just a notch louder than the TV.

"You broke into my house!" she accused. "That's hardly a meeting. It's forcible entry, and if Mac finds you here-"

"He won't find me here," he interrupted quietly.

"What's that supposed to mean?" she choked. "What have you done?"

"Why all the accusation?" he countered. A muscle flickered at his jaw and he swallowed hard. "I come to you out of concern and you hurl insults at me. I don't understand that, Dara."

"You're not concerned about me," she sniffed. "You're here because of your ego! Get this, Corinthos. I am not one of your possessions. You do not own me and when I say it's over, it's over! Now, get out of my house. Right now!"

Sonny ignored her words, focusing instead on her voice and the beauty of her face. She was angry with him, but even in anger, her features were flawless. Her passion was raw. He was intrigued and his body ignited with the heat of desire and the urgent need to be with her again.

He moved towards her and she stepped back. His movements ceased when he noted fear in her dark eyes. Fear was not an emotion he wanted her to equate with him. Perhaps, he was handling this wrong. He wanted her to remember what they shared and realize that Scorpio couldn't give her what she needed. The last thing he wanted was for to be terrified of him. The call to the mayor had been a good move. It gave him this night, and now, his eyes were opened. Unexpected visits to Dara wouldn't win her back. He'd have to find another way. Maybe get Scorpio out of the picture completely... Of course, he couldn't be tied to it. She'd suspect him immediately. He'd have to find a way.

He rested his hand over his heart. "Dara, you're right. I had no business coming here. You married the man you wanted. I lost. I can see you're fine and he's treating you well, so I'll leave now-"


Sonny felt the blood rush to his face at her fierce outburst. The single word hurt him deeply, but he knew she didn't mean it. She was confused so he'd let it slide. This time. He took a deep breath and gave her a half smile. "Whatever pleases you. Have a good night."

He then turned and left the way he came.

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Spenser: For Hire © ABC
The Right Way(and all original characters) ©2000-2001 niklovr
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