Chapter 7

"Nice threads."

Jason finished with his tie and turned away from his reflection. He nodded once at Sonny in acknowledgement.

"So you're actually going." Sonny folded his hands across his chest as he regarded his friend. "I can't believe it."

"Believe it," Jason replied. "Lila asked. I told her I'd do it."

"All those Quartermaines under one roof." Sonny grimaced. "If you're sure about it."

Jason shrugged. "I'm sure. The benefit will help people. I'm sure about that."

"So says AJ."

Jason didn't miss the tone of Sonny's voice. His efforts to expand his network into the Charles Street area were always met with heavy opposition by AJ and a few of the other Council members. Sonny voiced his doubts of AJ's sincerity, but Jason didn't. He knew Keesha inspired his former brother's diligence.

Sonny unfolded his arms and headed for the door. "Don't be surprised if they kick you out," he said over his shoulder.

Jason didn't respond. He had no intentions of letting that happen.

* * *

Dawn and Keesha moved around the tables, double-checking the seating arrangements. Last year, Lucy Coe was placed near Eve Ramsey. Hell nearly broke loose. They didn't want another scene marring the opportunity to raise money for CSF and its scholarships. This year, they only wanted their patrons to remember how organized and worthy the Foundation was.

A chill suddenly swept over Dawn. She shivered and looked for the source of the draft. Her breath caught when her gaze connected with a pair of warm, liquid brown eyes. She glanced away for a split second to compose herself. When she looked again, Nikolas had moved to stand just inches from her.

"How can I help?"

"We have everything covered," she said.

He raised his eyebrows. "Not everything." He looked around the room. "You've done a wonderful job. The mural is inspired."

"I haven't done anything on my own. CSF is a living and breathing foundation, which requires all of us to give one hundred percent."

"I'm sure it does and you do," he said.

"Here." She dug into her pocket and pulled out an index card. "This is everything you'll need to know about Alix." She turned to leave.

He caught her wrist. "I'd rather learn about Alix from you."

Electricity shot from her wrist and up her arm. She pulled free and wrapped her arms around herself. "Everything you need is there. I don't have time to teach you."

Nikolas stepped back. "Very well. I'll see you at the dinner."

Dawn nodded, but her gut told her the battle of wills was far from over.

* * *

"Hi, sweetheart," AJ whispered into the phone. "I wish I was zipping you up right now."

Keesha sat heavily on the king size bed in the hotel suite. She'd already bathed and dressed Maya. Monica came a few minutes before and took Maya with her for some quality grandmother-granddaughter time. Keesha appreciated her mother-in-law's help. Maya tended to chatter nonstop when excited and right now, Keesha needed a little quiet time. But, she was glad to hear from her husband.

"Hi there, stranger," she said with a smile. "Does this mean you're on your way?"

"From your mouth to God's ears." He released a loud groan. "No, we're taking a short break. This is ridiculous."

"What are you meeting about now?"

"I'll tell you later. I think they're ready to start again."

Keesha frowned. "Will you make the benefit?"

"Yes," he said without hesitation. "This is our big night. I have every intention of spending it with you." He paused a moment and then asked, "Keesha? Is everything okay?"

"It's fine. Dawn found a presenter just in case. Nikolas Cassadine."

"I wasn't referring to CSF. I'm talking about you. You sound tense. Do you need me?"

Her heart swelled. This man truly loved her. She had no doubts she didn't deserve him. "I'm okay. Just one of those days. I'll tell you about it later. Go back to your meeting and get here as soon as you can."

"Will do. I love you."

"I love you, too."

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