Chapter 40

*New Beginnings*

The weeks that followed brought significant changes to Port Charles and its citizens. The inhuman deaths caused by the vampires caused many to reexamine their lives. Many reconciliations and marriages were conducted. Gossips didn't know which to report first.

~**~

Marcus appeared at V's doorstep bright and early with coffee and croissants. Felicia's deaths as well as the others hit her hard. He understood she needed time to sort through them. But in the end, he planned to be the man at her side once she was ready to move on.

"This is a surprise." She tightened the belt of her robe and stood aside while he grabbed plates. "You don't have to check up on me. I'm doing okay."

"I know," he said, "but my day just isn't right unless I see you."

Dots of pink colored her cheeks as she smiled at him. "Me, too."

They sipped coffee and ate in silence.

"How is Gia?"

He found solace in her caring, warm eyes. "She's adjusting. Art and Mama are working together to help her. Father O'Reilly says the best thing we can do for her is pray. And that's what I've been doing."

V nodded. She reached across the table and took his hand. "I'll light a candle for her."

"Thank you."

She smiled, and so did he.

~**~

Mac took the news of Dara's pregnancy better than she expected. He offered to help, but she decided that a clean break was better for both of them. With Katherine's plea of guilty by reason of insanity winning the case for her, Dara understood that Mac wanted nothing more than to be at the other woman's side during her recovery.

Mac carried the last of her boxes to the truck. At the curb, she handed him the keys to his house. "I'm sorry it didn’t work out."

He gave her a tight smile. "Me, too."

"We rushed," she said. "We should have taken things slowly."

He pulled her into a hug. "There's no need for explanations. We're still friends, Dara. Anytime you need me…. I'm still not sure about your relationship with Sonny. I don't trust him."

"You probably never will."

"Be careful with him," Mac advised as he released her. "If for any reason you need me, do not ever hesitate to call. I'll come. No questions asked."

Sudden tears brimmed her eyes and clouded her vision. She blinked them away. "Mac Scorpio, you are one in a million. I hope Katherine is good enough for you. Be well."

He kissed her cheek. "Goodbye, Dara."

~**~

After Carly's death, Nikolas and Bobbie agreed to share custody of Charles Robert Cassadine. Within days, he and Dawn married in a private ceremony at Wyndemere. They journeyed to the Christofides estate in Kavalla, Greece for their honeymoon.

He emitted a low groan as Dawn massaged his back. "I should do this for you."

She kissed his neck. "You will. My back, my neck, my feet. I had no idea how pregnancy attacks your entire body."

He rolled onto his side to look at her. His hands clasped hers. "Is it really so painful? Come. Lie beside me."

She carefully lowered herself onto the bed. "It's really not so bad. The sensations are different, and the cravings… Nikolai, the things I desire…if you knew, you would not believe me."

He cocked an eyebrow. He'd spent many a midnight expedition in search of sardines, pickles and ice cream. Surely, there could be nothing worse than that.

"Tell me." He rubbed her swollen abdomen, enjoying the feel of the baby inside. His baby. Their baby.

"Well," she began slowly, "the thing I desire the most is a huge sundae with lots of whipped cream, chocolate syrup and cherries."

He slid a finger across her cheek. "That's not so bad."

"I haven't told you what's beneath the whipped cream, syrup and cherries," she said in a conspiratorial whisper.

"Oh," he said with a grin, "do tell."

"You!" She pointed at him. "Without a stitch of clothing. Naked and glorious. Nothing covering you but whipped cream, chocolate syrup and cherries. And I don’t use a spoon to enjoy my dessert."

Excitement raced through his bloodstream. His voice croaked, "What do you use?"

She leaned close. Her breath tantalized his parted lips. "My tongue," she confessed.

"Well, my dear wife, it is my greatest wish that you have that sundae." He hopped from the bed and grabbed his dressing gown along the way. "Right now!"

~**~

"Whatever I can give you will never be enough to repay you." Stefan clasped his hands behind his back in effort to say the words as clearly as possible. "You saved their lives. I never imagined that you would. Tell me, Helena, what can I do to thank you."

She moved to him. Her hand, for the first time in his life, tenderly stroked his jaw. Her emerald eyes shone clear and void of malice. "It's quite simple," she said. "Call me Mother. Then, we can begin again."

He drew in a deep breath and nodded. "Very well, Mother. Thank you."

THE END

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