Chapter Nineteen

~ Explosions ~


"I'm sorry, sir. Miss Hunter isn't here. I could take a message if you'd like."

Nikolas sighed. He ran his hand across his face in a gesture of extreme weariness. "No, thank you. I'll try again later."

Carly's announcement threw him. He expected denials of any wrongdoing and a refusal to speak the truth. But he never expected her to tell him she was pregnant with his child! Never in a million years.

Indecision tormented him. Telling Dawn... He couldn't not tell her. He should have told her from the very beginning, but how could he admit that Carly overpowered him and forced him to have sex? Women didn't rape men!

Rape.

His stomach churned. He sat on the edge of his bed and willed the bile to go back down his throat. Succumbing to the disgust he felt wouldn't do him any good right now. He needed to think!

"WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?"

He grabbed the Ming vase from his bedside table and hurled across the room. The priceless antique exploded into worthless shards. The jagged pieces splattered across the floor. Seconds later, his bedroom door swung open. Stefan, eyes blazing, strode into the room.

"Nikolas?" He grasped the younger man's shoulders and pulled him to his feet. His fingers dug into Nikolas' flesh as Stefan shook him. "What is the matter? Tell me!"

The dam of despair, devastation, and sorrow burst. Sudden sobs shook Nikolas. He reached out and Stefan's arms surrounded him. Nikolas clung to Stefan in a way he hadn't since he was a small child.

After the tears subsided, Nikolas dried his eyes while Stefan closed the door. Nikolas welcomed the privacy. It was needed for what he had to tell his uncle. God, how he hated to tell him.

"Is this about Dawn?" Stefan questioned. "Has she ended your relationship?"

Nikolas swallowed hard and directed his teary gaze to the floor. As he squeezed his kerchief in his hand, he said, "Not yet, she hasn't."

"Not yet? Is it possible that she will?" his uncle asked. Stefan joined Nikolas and sat beside him on the bed. "Carlotta and I have been concerned that she's been in Llanview for such a long period of time. I understand this is a private matter, but Dawn means a great deal to me. I love her as if she were my daughter. Please, tell me what has caused this distress between you."

"Anything's possible, Uncle," Nikolas said, his voice strained and hoarse. "There is no easy way to say this. If there was a way to erase the need to say it, I would."

"You're speaking in riddles."

Nikolas tore his gaze from the floor. There was no censure in Stefan's eyes, only his love and concern. Perhaps, his uncle wouldn't judge him. Perhaps, he'd understand that he didn't mean for any of this to happen! "One morning, I woke to find Carly Benson in my bed. Both of us were n-nude. I didn't remember any of it, but she said...she said..." Nikolas drew in a harsh breath. "You know what she said. She said we w-were intimate."

Like a shot, Nikolas clutched Stefan's hands. "But I didn't remember! I didn't ask her to come to my bed. She made advances to me and I rebuffed each one! I love Dawn and I would never, never willingly betray her! I swear on my soul, Uncle, I did not wish for any of this to happen."

Stefan's face grew pale. He pulled one hand free of Nikolas' grasp to gently cup his nephew's cheek. "She forced herself on you?"

Nikolas' vision blurred with fresh tears. He nodded.

"How?" Stefan asked. "When did she do this?"

"I think she drugged me. This happened about a month ago."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Stefan demanded. "Have you told anyone? Dawn?"

Nikolas vehemently shook his head. "Dawn doesn't know. I never wanted her to know. Do you know how that would make her feel? How she would look at me? What if she stopped loving me?" He paused. "But now, I have to tell her. I don't have the words, but I must find them."

"Why would you think Dawn wouldn't love you?" Stefan asked, quietly. "You've done nothing wrong, and you have nothing to be ashamed of! The wrong was done unto, Nikolas. Do not concern yourself with Caroline Benson. We have the means to dispose of this wretched woman, and I fully intend to see this done."

"We can't!" Nikolas jumped from the bed and began to pace. "She says she's pregnant and the child is mine! No matter how I despise her, I cannot harm her. Not when she's carrying my child!"

"Nikolas!" Stefan moved across the room with unnatural speed. He shook Nikolas hard. "The woman's every word is an untruth. You cannot possibly believe her! Even if she is with child, you mustn't think the babe is yours!"

"But what if it is?" Nikolas asked. "I've thought of that, and I know better than to trust her. She's already turned one child's life upside down. The possibility that the child is mine is too great for me to ignore! I know how painful it is to grow up believing you're unwanted, unloved! Uncle, you must promise me that you will not hurt her!"

The muscle in Stefan's neck flickered. Crimson crept across his cheeks in an angry flush. "She's already hurt you. I will make no promises when it comes to this deplorable excuse for a human being! When will you tell Dawn? You must speak with her as soon as possible. Before the wretch does. Dawn must not discover this from anyone else but you."

"I know," Nikolas said. "I will leave for Llanview tonight."

Stefan pulled Nikolas into a warm, fierce embrace. "You are not alone. Regardless, the outcome I will always stand by you."

"Thank you," Nikolas said. "I couldn't live through this without you."

~*~

"Divorce was too good for you!" Fury almost choked Stefan. Bobbie flinched. His rage cracked like a whip, and Stefan didn't give a damn if he terrified her or not!

Barbara Spencer Jones should shake with fear! She should fall to her knees and beg him for mercy. Just to think he foolishly believed the past was behind them. He allowed her into his home! He trusted her to care for his Carlotta! But it was all a lie!

"Get out of here!" Bobbie said, racing to her telephone. "If you don't leave now, I'll call-"

"The police" Stefan questioned, "or your lawless brother? Call whomever you choose! No one you call will stop me from telling you how vile and disgusting you are!"

All the color drained from her face. Her mouth dropped open, but nothing came out.

"Don't portray the innocent with me," Stefan lashed out coldly. "We both know all too well exactly what you're capable of."

Her chest heaved as she inhaled a ragged breath. Still clutching the telephone, she stepped back and held her head up high. "What are you accusing me of? I gave Carlotta the best care! If she's taken ill, it is not because of me!"

"You better damn well hope she never takes ill." Floorboards creaked upstairs. He glanced toward the staircase. "Who's up there? Is it your daughter? The one you trained so well to follow in your viperous footsteps?"

"So this current tirade is about Carly?" she asked. A frown marred her forehead. "Can the threats and insults and tell me why you're here."

"As if you're ignorant of your daughter's machinations," he sniffed. "I am certain you were her excellent teacher--"

"STOP!" Carly raced down the staircase. "Stop it! She doesn't know anything! Leave her alone! Go away!"

"Carly?" Bobbie dropped the telephone and crossed the room to Carly. "Do you know why he's here? What have you done?"

"It's always something I've done!" Carly yelled. "Why can't you ever take my side or see things my way? I didn't plan to get pregnant! It just happened! But no matter how the Cassadines scream and yell, I will not abort this baby! No one will ever take my child away from me again!"

"Your child?" Bobbie's face reflected her shock. "Did you and Stefan-"

"NEVER!" Stefan bellowed. "She drugged Nikolas and forced herself upon him!" He stalked toward Carly, but Bobbie blocked his path. "You attempted to drug me once," he said, staring into Bobbie's wide brown eyes, "but I was prepared for your deceit. The dissension between our families... Nikolas is only a child. To involve him in this manner...to do what your daughter did to him...disgusts me. I never imagined you would sink to such depths, Barbara. I was a fool to ever trust you."

He stepped back. His cold glare blazed a beam of immeasurable hatred at Carly. "You will not destroy my nephew. I will see you in hell first!"

~*~

After Stefan left, Bobbie dragged the entire sordid story from Carly. The younger woman resisted, but Bobbie refused to back down. At first, Carly's tale horrified her. How could a child of her own flesh and blood perform such a treacherous act? What would possess her to believe that her actions were right and the ends would justify the means? Nothing could justify what she did to Nikolas. Nothing.

Then, Carly mentioned Michael and how Luke promised to help her get the little boy away from AJ. The puzzle pieces dropped into place. Just as he'd convinced Bobbie to poison Stefan, he'd convinced her daughter to do whatever was necessary to ruin Nikolas' relationship with his girlfriend. Bobbie shook her head. It was time for the vicious circle to be broken.

She helped Carly into bed and gave her a cup of herbal tea to soothe the nausea of morning sickness. Lucas came home and she asked him to watch over his sister. Bobbie had to go out for awhile and wasn't sure when she'd return. Lucas agreed and Bobbie left.

Finding Luke wasn't hard. Since Laura hadn't returned from North Carolina and Lucky rarely spoke to him, he practically lived at his bar. Claude was just closing up the place when she arrived.

"Hi, Bobbie."

"Hi," she said. "Is he here?"

"In the back as usual," Claude replied.

Bobbie nodded her appreciation and went to Luke's office in the back. Cigar smoke wafted in the air and the smell of whiskey turned her stomach. He sat behind his desk and appeared to be lost in thought.

The door slammed behind her and he jumped.

"Bobbie! Doors are expensive, little sister. Don't damage mine unless you can replace it!"

"Shut up, Luke! This isn't a family reunion!"

He frowned. "I can see that. You're not acting like your normal sweet self-"

"Leave off the cute little jokes. They're not funny. They never have been."

He leaned back against his chair. "What's got you so riled up?"

"You!" she said, pointing her finger. "You got Carly to have sex with Nikolas!"

Releasing a short laugh, he shook his head. "Oh, no, I didn't. She cooked that one up on her own."

"Yeah, right. And I suppose she got the drugs on her own, too."

"Drugs?" he repeated, the humor fading just a little from his voice. "What drugs?"

"The drugs she used on Nikolas. Don't pretend ignorance. It's beneath you."

"Look, Barbara Jean," he said, rising from his seat. "I didn't tell her to drug the bastard. She cooked that little scheme up all by her lonesome."

"But you did tell her you'd help her get Michael back if she destroyed Nikolas' relationship," Bobbie countered. "Don't bother to deny it. I know you did. You should be ashamed of yourself and I should be ashamed for letting this get to me. I swore I'd never let my guard down around you again. You lied to me about my child, and you're lying to Carly about helping her with her son."

"I never lied to her!"

Bobbie's hand balled into a fist. She wanted to punch his lights out, but that wouldn't do any good. He was too far gone.

"You're sick, Luke. You're all alone and you'll stay that way until you stop hating! Nikolas didn't deserve this. Whether you want to admit it or not, he's a good kid! Now, you've ruined his life as well as my daughter's." She took in a deep breath and stepped back. "I won't forgive you this time. I know I said that one day we'd sit over Thanksgiving dinner and your lie about Caroline's death would still be between us. I lied. We'll never share another Thanksgiving again. Just like you told me my daughter was dead...you're dead to me, Luke. I don't have a brother anymore."

Bobbie left and quietly closed the door behind her. Seconds later, she heard something slam against the wall. Tears rolled down her cheeks and she promised herself those were the last tears she'd ever shed for Luke Spencer.

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