Chapter 27

"Congratulations."

Stefan stood in the doorway to Nikolas' suite of rooms. His son hadn't turned around. He simply said the word, never pausing in his task.

"You're packing," Stefan said as he entered and closed the door. "You're leaving."

"Very astute."

"This isn't the time for flippancy."

"Ah, so there is an appropriate time."

"Nikolas."

His son tossed a pair of socks into the open suitcase. "Yes, Father. I am leaving."

"Because Dawn accepted my proposal of marriage." Stefan sat on the bed beside the open valise. "I hoped you would stay for the wedding."

A muscle flickered at Nikolas' jaw. Color drained from his face. "I wish you two well, but even you cannot expect me to stay and watch the festivities."

"You're not in love with her," Stefan stated. It wasn't a question. He knew his son and he knew the woman who agreed to become his wife. Love hadn't formed between them.

"What I feel for her cannot be defined," Nikolas stated, "nor is it anything you would understand. I don't understand it myself. My well wishes were sincere. I hope she makes you happy. Even more than that, I hope you give her the world."

Stefan sighed. Nikolas was incorrect in his assessment, as was Stefan. He understood all too well. Nikolas did love her.

He rose and placed a hand on his son's shoulder. "Will we ever see you again?"

"Perhaps." A moment passed. Nikolas laughed and embraced Stefan. "Yes, you will. Be happy, Father."

"You will find your happiness, too, son. I am certain of it."

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