Chapter 34

"Yes...I was checking on the condition of Keesha and AJ Quartermaine. They were in a car accident last night."

Dawn held her breath, waiting. She knew the first twenty-four hours were the most crucial. She spent most of the night praying for them and pacing the floor. Stefan tried to convince her to rest. But she couldn't.

"No, I'm not family, but--"

Suddenly, Stefan appeared and took the receiver from her. "This is Stefan Cassadine. What is the condition of the Quartermaines?"

She watched his face. His expression remained impassive, revealing nothing. Her breath lodged in her throat.

"Very well. Contact me as soon as possible if anything changes." He ended the call and took her into his arms. "I told you to let me handle this."

Her throat constricted painfully. "I didn't want to disturb you."

"You never could." His fingertips brushed her cheeks. "They're your friends. Of course, I care about their welfare."

She sighed. A headache threatened. She began to rub her temple with the pads of her fingers. "Yesterday, they were at the Foundation. AJ spent a good deal of time teasing me about the wedding. Keesha confided in me that they're expecting a baby. Now, today, AJ is... Is what, Stefan? The nurse told you how they're doing." She clutched his shirtsleeves. "Tell me. Don't try to protect me."

His mouth drew into a line. "I'll never apologize for protecting you." He took her hand and led her to the settee. A fire burned in the fireplace to ward off the morning chill. He made sure she received most of its warmth.

"Stefan?"

"The baby was not harmed. Keesha suffered some bruising and a concussion. She should be released within the next two days."

"What about AJ?"

He took her hands between his. "As you know, his injuries were more severe. There was hemorrhaging during the night. Dr. Jones is still in surgery with him."

"Dr. Jones? Tony Jones?" she asked. "He's a neurosurgeon. What aren't you telling me?"

"A blood vessel burst inside AJ's head. Dr. Jones is attempting to repair the damage."

"Brain damage?" The words were hard to form. She didn't want to believe this happened to one of her dearest friends.

"Yes."

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