Chapter 1


"Did you see the look in her eyes?"

Nikolas took Dawn's hand and led her to his quarters. In a low, comforting voice, he said, "Yes, I saw."

"I've never seen anyone filled with so much hate," she added. "Katherine wanted to kill my mother. How could she be so determined to do something like that?"

He helped her sit on the edge of his bed. Once she was settled, he knelt at her feet and slid her pumps off. "Katherine wasn't in her right mind, sweetheart. She loves Uncle and in her mental stated believed that if Aunt Carlotta was...gone...she would be with him again."

Nikolas' hands moved underneath the long billowing skirt. He unsnapped the garters that held her stockings in place and Dawn barely noticed. She shivered at his touch, but she wasn't really aware that he was undressing her. Her mind was too consumed with the frightful images of her mother almost demise. The scene frightened her and cracked the feelings of security she once had.

He tossed the stockings onto the nearby chaise and stood. "You shouldn't think about it any more," he said gently caressing her cheek. "Just forget about Katherine. She was taken to General Hospital. She won't hurt Aunt Carlotta now."

A fat tear rolled down Dawn's cheek. "I can't forget about it. If Mother hadn't move, Katherine would have stabbed her."

She started to sob and Nikolas joined her on his bed. His arms wrapped around her and his hands stroked her back. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said for you to forget. I can't forget it either. Tell me what I can do to help make it better. I don't like seeing you like this."

"May I stay with you tonight?" she asked, as her sobs died down.

"Of course."

"And will you hold me all night?" Dawn asked. "Just hold me, please, and never let me go."

"I never will," Nikolas told her. He kissed her forehead and cheek. "I'll never let you go."


Simone pulled out a stethoscope and a digital thermometer from her medical bag. She looked at her patient with a smile. "I guess it's strange that I brought this with me to your engagement party. What can I say? I never leave home without it."

Carlotta gave her a half smile. Since Simone and Tom's return to Port Charles, Carlotta gained a physician and the two women became friends. The same couldn't be said for Tom and Stefan, but the two women were working on their husbands. "Where's Stefan?"

"I ordered him to give you a few moments of peace while I examined you," Simone answered. "I wasn't sure if he would listen, but to my surprise, he didn't put up too much of a fuss."

"He's full of surprises," Carlotta said. "Have all the guests left? How is Dawn? She stopped by the room for a few minutes, but we didn't really get a chance to talk."

"The guests are all gone. Dawn is in state of shock. Tom thinks that some bed rest would do her good and Nikolas said that he'd take care of her," Simone answered. "Now, you have to be quiet while I check your temperature and your pulse."

Carlotta opened her mouth for the thermometer and did as instructed. For a full minute, she sat quietly while her mind raced with questions about her family. She knew they were frightened for her, but none of them knew about the baby, yet. She and Stefan wanted to keep it a secret until she was in the second trimester. She was a little afraid that all the excitement would overstimulate the unborn child. Silently, Carlotta prayed that Simone would find nothing amiss.

Finally, the doctor pulled the thermometer from Carlotta's mouth. She read the small device before setting it aside. "Your temperature is a little above normal and your pulse is higher than it should be. That's all to be expected considering what you went through, but I would like to admit you as a precaution."

"Please, Simone. Can't I rest here?" Carlotta pleaded. "I will stay in bed and I will do whatever you ask. I don't want to be too far away from my family right now. Can't I stay here?"

Simone frowned. "I suppose Stefan can obtain round the clock care for you. There's nothing to be alarmed about, but I'd rather to err on the side of caution."

"Of course, he would hire a nurse for me. Is there anything else I would need?"

"I think he's right outside the door. I'll tell you both at the same time."

Simone opened the door and Stefan was in the room less than a second later. He went straight to Carlotta's side and reached for her hand. He stared at the two women, his eyes bright with demands.

"How is she, Dr. Hardy?"

"She should be fine," Simone reassured him. "Her pulse and temperature are higher than I like and I suggest that she be admitted to General Hospital for observation, but she would rather stay here. If you hire a nurse, I'm sure that would be fine. I also recommend that she does not move from this bed for forty-eight hours except to use the restroom, and definitely no work."

"Did you hear her, Carlotta?" he asked. "Will you abide by the doctor's recommendations?"

"From that look in your eyes, I doubt if I have a choice," she said with a small laugh. "Yes, I will do everything that's asked of me. I won't move a muscle unless nature calls."

"I'm holding you to that," Simone said with a smile. "If you would like, I can make arrangements for the nurse unless you have someone specific in mind."

Stefan shook his head. "I don't have anyone specific in mind. My only requirement is that the nurse knows what she's doing and that she understands that Carlotta must be treated with the utmost care."

"I'll be sure to mention that. I'll leave you two alone while I make the call. I'll also leave the name of the nurse with Mrs. Lansbury. I'm sorry about what happened today. Your party was beautiful. Please call me if you have any complications or any questions."

The door closed quietly behind Simone and Carlotta prepared herself for Stefan's interrogation. None came. He simply wrapped his arms around her and rocked her gently in his arms. She fell asleep with him holding her.


"You were incredible back there," Keesha said, her arms closing around Jason's waist. The launch rolled across the waves back to the dock. Some of the guests of the Bacchanalia were inside, but a few enjoyed the cool breezes from the waters of Spoon Lake. Jason and Keesha were among them. "I am so proud of you," she added with a loving smile.

Blood rushed to Jason's cheeks. The cool breeze and Keesha's compliments made his complexion appear ruddy in the waning sunlight. He held her close to him and smiled. "Thank you. I don't know what happened. Everything happened so quickly. I didn't even think about it. I just went to Katherine and the rest kicked in naturally."

"Did it change your mind?" she asked.

He raised an eyebrow. "About becoming a doctor? I'm not sure. It's good to know that my training hasn't left me, but it's still too early for me to say for sure. Did you see the look Mom gave me before she and Dad jumped in the chopper with Katherine? It's like she's already made up her mind for me. If you don't mind, I'd rather not be at home when she gets back."

Keesha shrugged. "It's fine with me. Where do you think you'll go?"

Jason laughed. "Keesha! You know where," he murmured, nuzzling her neck.

Her body trembled within his arms. Jason loved how she responded to him. It was like she couldn't get enough of him and God help him, but he felt the same way, too. He was about to give her a kiss filled with promises of sensual delights when a chill ran up his spine. Unseen eyes bored into his back and made him uneasy. He pulled away from Keesha to look at the others on the launch. Finally, his gaze settled on Robin. She quickly turned away from him and went back inside.

"What's wrong?" Keesha asked him. "You're so tense all of a sudden."

"Robin was watching us," he said quietly. "It made me feel weird."

Keesha opened her mouth to speak. Jason shook his head. "No, don't tell me. If it has something to do with Jason Morgan, I don't want to know about it. Not yet. Okay?"

"If that's the way you want it..."

"It is," he said, brushing his finger down her cheek. "He made a lot of people unhappy. If I tried to right all his wrongs... I'm not ready to, Keesha."

"I don't think anyone expects you to."

"I expect it of myself," he said firmly. "Just knowing how much I hurt you was bad enough, and I'm still trying to make it up to you-"

"You don't have to-"

"I know," he said, "but I want to. And once I feel that I have, then I'll tackle everyone else."


Robin stepped back inside. Her mind was still wrapped around the scene of Jason holding Keesha so tenderly and so passionately within his arms. She didn't like to admit it to herself, but she was jealous. She closed her eyes tight and took another step right into the solid wall of someone's body. Her eyes fluttered open to find Taggert looking down at her with concern. She blushed. "I'm sorry. I should have watched where I was going."

"It's okay," he assured her with one of his warm, bright smiles. "Are you okay? I kinda saw what happened a second ago…"

She shrugged so as to appear nonchalant. "I'm fine," she said in a low voice. "They're happy so I'm happy for them."

"You don't have to lie, Robin," he replied quietly. "No one expects you to be ecstatic."

"I don't care what anyone expects of me. I wish people would stop putting me on some ridiculous pedestal! I'm not perfect and I never claimed to be-"

"Hold on now," Marcus interrupted. "I don't know what 'people' you're referring to, but most of the ones I know don't think you're perfect or belong on a pedestal. Actually, I think you're far from it. Just like the rest of us. Maybe you should take a step back and realize that, too."

"If I needed a therapist, you're the last person I'd go to," she said. The contempt in her voice embarrassed her and the hurt that flashed across Marcus' face made her instantly regret her words. Before she could apologize to him, he saluted and spun away. She shook her head in dismay and went to the far wall. One seat hadn't been claimed and she sat down, thinking about what Taggert had said to her.


Mac paced nervously outside the Nurse's Station. Dara watched him closely and he could feel her concern wrapping around him. He drew comfort from her presence and went to her. "I'm sorry. I hate hospitals and it's showing. If you'd rather go home-"

"I'm not leaving you," Dara told him. "Katherine's your friend. I can see how concerned you are for her. I want to be here for you when you find out how she is."

"Thank you," he murmured against her ear, drawing her into his arms.

She returned his hug. Her hands stroked his back and that slight touch soothed Mac's frazzled nerves. A few moments later, a feminine cough interrupted their embrace. Mac released Dara and turned to face Monica. "How is she?" he asked the doctor.

"She's holding her own," Monica told him. "The fall should have killed her, but she's determined. She's fighting and that's good."

"And her back?" Mac asked. "Did she damage her spine during the fall?"

"There is a great deal of swelling along the spine. Her back wasn't broken, but it came very close to it. We'll know more about her injuries as the swelling goes down. There really isn't anything more to report…"

"Can I see her?" Mac asked. "She doesn't have any family. It would help her to know that someone cares, right?"

"Yes, it would help, but not tonight. She's been through a lot and she needs to rest now. I'll leave a note for the staff that you and Dara have my permission to visit her. Stop by in the morning. You know the time for visiting hours, right?"

Mac nodded. Monica patted his arm before leaving them to speak with a nurse. Dara took Mac's hand and they left the hospital.

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