Chapter 33

*Twisted*

"What Carly experienced is known as premature labor," Dr. Neuman said. The doctor held Nikolas' unrelenting stare. "She's been under an undo amount of stress and that is unacceptable."

Nikolas nodded. He was partly to blame. Since Carly's arrival at Wyndemere, he'd made no secret of his disgust toward her. Hiding his feelings was impossible. Every time he looked at her, he remembered how she violated him. Bobbie warned that he'd need to move past it in order to be a good father. It looked as though he'd have to do it now in order to spare the child's life.

"What can I do?" he asked.

"Make sure her life is stress free. This should be an exciting time for both of you," she said. "Enjoy the changes and prepare for the baby's arrival."

He stiffened. An exciting time? Of course, if the woman in question wasn't Caroline Benson. Bile rose to his throat. He swallowed the bitter taste down and averted his gaze. The doctor seemed to see through him. Her dark eyes held questions that he couldn't answer. She made demands that threatened his resolve. But he had to be strong. After all, wasn't that what being a Cassadine was all about?

"Did the baby suffer any injury?"

Dr. Neuman shook her head. "No. I'm ordering bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy to ensure that both mother and child remain healthy."

"Of course." He nodded once. "So, she's being released."

"If her condition remains stable, she'll be released within the next few days."

A few more days of peace, he thought. A faint smile parted his lips. Something to look forward to.

~**~

Jason squeezed Keesha's hand as they crossed the street and headed toward the Port Charles Grill. This was their date night. He took her to a romantic comedy and now, they were headed to dinner. They moved under a street lamp and he seized the opportunity to admire her.

She wore her mass of thick curls pulled away from her face. Her smooth, mocha skin shone clear and beautiful. He didn't want to gloat, but she glowed and he couldn't help but credit himself as the reason. Well, she actually said that being with him was her reward from a hard day at work. The number of victims grew each night and the police were no closer to finding the culprit. Finally, Alex ordered a breather to his two top officers: Keesha and Marcus. And for most of the night, Jason was glad to see that Keesha hadn't mentioned the case once.

"I ate too much popcorn," she complained after they were seated in a secluded alcove.

"Don't even think about ordering a salad."

A frown darkened her brow as she reviewed the menu. "If I have a salad, I don't have to forfeit dessert. My mouth has been dying for their triple layer chocolate fudge cake."

"I'm having a t-bone," he declared, "and the cake, too. That salad won't be enough for you."

"With the dessert? Are you crazy? Do you think I'm a glutton?" she asked, laughing.

"No, you're a woman who'll need energy later." He shrugged. "I suppose the sugar will be enough to keep you going."

Her laughter faded. "Energy for what?"

He reached under the table to caress her thigh. "Guess."

"Where does your stamina come from?" She covered his hand with hers. "If you don't stop, they'll ban us from here forever."

"I doubt it. I have connections. I'm not above using them either. By the way," he pulled a key card from his shirt pocket, "I reserved a suite for us." He slid the card toward her.

"You're spoiling me," she said. "You don't have to do all of this."

"I missed two years of loving you and being loved by you," he said. "I won't miss a second more and if I enjoy romancing you, so be it."

Her eyebrows rose. "And that's all there is to it, huh?"

He grinned. "Just about. You don't enjoy it?"

Her expression turned serious. "I don't want you to overdo it. You don't have anything to prove to me. The surprise seductions, romantic dinners and special dates are all sweet. But just being with you is enough for me."

"It's enough for me, too."

The sudden ringing of her cell phone halted their conversation. She glanced at the caller id before answering. "Ward here."

Unease rippled through Jason as he watched her face and listened to her voice. She was using her official business tone--official police business. He wasn't surprised when she slid the key card back to him after her call ended.

"I have to go."

"It's your night off," he said, fighting the urge to lose it. "You deserve time away from the job."

"Not with a beast out there committing vicious murders." Regret reflected in her eyes. "I'm sorry, Jason. I wish I could stay."

She stood and moved to his side. He accepted her brief kiss and then caught her wrist in a loose grip. "Who is it this time?"

"Lucy Coe was found two blocks from here. Unlike the others, she is dead." She pulled her hand free and lightly squeezed his hand. "Use the suite tonight. I promise I'll be careful. Bye."

~**~

Simone dropped her medical bag in the hall closet and slowly walked to the dark living room. Her last patient decided to go into premature labor. The delivery lasted several hours and now, she moved like a snail, like she was dead on her feet. She collapsed on the sofa and closed her eyes. The smiling, happy faces of several new families flashed before her eyes. She remembered the joy of holding a newborn Tommy in her arms. Tom and she had been deliriously in love with themselves and their baby.

And now the thought of climbing the staircase to join him in bed filled her with dread.

She ran a hand over her face and opened her eyes. He stood in the doorway, watching her.

"I heard you come and when you didn't come up, I got worried," he explained.

"I'm fine. Go back to bed."

"Are you coming?" he asked, folding his arms across his chest.

She hesitated for a moment. "NoÖI-I'll stay in the guest room tonight."

"Again?" he asked. "How is that making our marriage work?"

"It's the best I can do right now."

"All because I made a mistake," he said. "I had an affair. It was wrong and I admit it. At some point, you have to move past it--"

"No!" she said with unexpected force. "I donít have to do anything. I don't even have to forgive you if I don't want to, and guess what! I don't want to."

"That's twisted." He turned and left.

"No," she whispered to herself, "that's the consequence of breaking my heart."

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