**Okay, this chapter turned out to be super long. Not sure how it happened but there you go lol Hope it is okay. I like writing this story. I also really like writing Britt because she's not a stagnant character. She can be one bad bitch but she also has layers so its interesting to start to peel them away bit by bit, so to speak. Happy reading**
"Do we really have to do this?" Jason asked as he looked over at Sam sitting beside him in the passenger seat of the Escalade. In the back, Danny was chewing contentedly on his teething ring and babbling to himself.
Sam looked over at Jason and nodded. "Yes. We're almost there. You'll be on your best behavior right? Charming and conversational?" She teased.
Jason smirked at her. "I didn't know that was part of our deal."
"I know you don't really do conversational, so how about charming?" Sam asked, returning his smirk.
Jason just shrugged. He smiled at her and then glanced at Danny in the rear-view mirror again. Sometimes it was hard to believe that he had a child with Sam, and such an amazing one at that. It was even harder to believe that Jason had almost been willing to walk away from Danny when they had believed that he belonged to Franco. Jason felt guilty about that every day of his life but was now trying his damndest to be worthy of Danny's love. And Sam's. They meant the world to him.
Jason turned back to face the road but he felt Sam's eyes on him in the near-darkness. "What?" he finally asked.
"I just love how you love Danny," Sam said. "You should see the smile on your face when you look at him. I don't even think you know you're doing it but your face actually lights up. So do your eyes."
"Well, Danny and you ... You're everything to me," Jason said. He felt Sam reach across the seat and lift his right hand, pressing her lips to his palm. He smiled and tried really hard to focus on the road then.
They arrived at The Metro Court in the next few minutes and pulled up to the curb. Jason and Sam climbed in front of the valet's booth and Jason tossed his car keys to a pimply teen who smiled widely as he took a look at Jason's car. "Don't crash it," Jason muttered and then moved over to Sam. Sam lifted Danny from his car seat and settled him on her trim hip. Danny was getting so incredibly big that she probably wouldn't be able to carry him around for much longer.
They walked inside and soon found their group in the dining room. It seemed that they were the last to arrive. Jason sighed as he moved with Sam over to everyone. Laura, Lulu and Dante sat on one side of the table; Alexis and Molly on the other. Nikolas sat at the head of the table and he looked up as the Morgan family approached.
"Sam," Nikolas greeted his cousin. He stood and gave her a brief yet somehow warm hug. "You look fantastic. Motherhood agrees with you."
"Thank you," Sam said, smiling happily. "You look great too. Europe agreed with you."
"Thank you. It was nice to have a change of scenery for awhile but I wanted Spencer to be around family as he gets older."
"I don't blame you," Sam said.
"This must be Daniel," Nikolas said as he stared at the baby now. "He is the spitting image of -" he looked at Jason now - "you."
Jason nodded and pulled anxiously at the collar of his button-down shirt. He had wanted to come in his standard jeans and tee-shirt but somehow Sam had managed to talk him into putting on black trousers and a white shirt instead. He had absolutely refused to wear a tie though, especially the pink one she loved teasing him about so much.
"Thank you for coming, Jason," Nikolas said. He then proceeded to pull out a chair for Sam beside him. Jason took the one on the other side of his wife and son. Greetings were exchanged and Jason couldn't help but think what an odd group they made up. Dante, the cop; Nikolas, the royal; Jason, himself, an enforcer...
Conversation started rippling around the table. Jason looked at Sam helplessly and then reached for Danny, holding his son and whispering to him so that he didn't have to actually talk to the others. He would only speak if he was addressed. Which he soon was, by none other than Molly. "Jason, I can't believe you're not wearing a leather jacket!" she said with a laugh. "What did Sam have to do to convince you to put on that outfit?"
Jason shrugged but he could feel his face color a bit. Alexis, fortunately, saved him by saying, "Molly, let's not go there." She looked across the table at Jason. "I am glad you could come though, Jason." She sounded sincere, surprisingly, and Jason nodded.
"So, Nikolas, tell us all about living overseas," Sam encouraged her cousin.
"Yes, did you meet anyone?" Lulu piped up.
Nikolas shifted on his chair. "Spencer and I met a lot of people."
"Yep," Spencer agreed who was sipping his ginger ale contentedly.
"I meant, anyone special?" Lulu said pointedly.
Nikolas scratched his cheek. "No, at least not in the way you mean. I still love Emily with all of my heart."
Silence fell over the table for a long moment then. Only Danny's gurgling could be heard. Jason looked at Nikolas and saw genuine emotion in the prince's eyes. Nikolas had been the love of his sister's life and though Nikolas had made mistakes with her that Jason wished he hadn't, Jason knew in that moment - without a doubt - that Nikolas had loved his sister beyond reason and rhyme. That kind of love was not easy to get over. Jason knew that better than anyone. When he had lost Sam - truthfully, when he had stupidly let her go - he had been utterly despondent and lost, almost feeling like he was wondering around in a fog. In some ways, he could never quite forgive himself for hurting her the way that he had.
Laura finally broke the silence. "Everyone's got a water glass already right? What do you say we raise a toast to Emily and her memory? She was an amazing woman, one of the best I've ever known."
"I'll drink to that," Sam agreed. She looked at Jason and he nodded, reaching for the water glass that had already been set out for him.
"Me too," Jason said softly and everyone clinked glasses. He looked at Nikolas once more and saw a single tear roll down the prince's cheek.
At General Hospital, Britt had just finished her shift for the night. She stacked a pile of charts on the nurse's station desk and rubbed her back. It ached terribly and she felt very nauseous too. She was an OBGYN, so naturally she understood that morning sickness was not really exclusive to mornings at all. Still, she wished it would just go away already. She was sick half of the day and night now and no matter how many Saltine crackers she devoured, the need to projectile vomit was not ever far from her.
She sighed as she moved away from the hub and started down the hall. She was halfway to the locker room when she spotted Patrick emerging from a patient's room. For once, his shadow Sabrina was nowhere to be found. Britt was very glad for that.
She watched him for a moment, unnoticed, as he tucked a pen into the pocket of his lab coat and stuck a chart in the basket on the door. He had an intense look on his face. In fact, since she had met him, he had always been rather somber and serious. She had of course heard the stories about what an unrepentant flirt he'd once been. How he was a carefree, Walkaway Joe type, who was quick to flash his dimples and turn on the charm to get his way. Now he seemed worlds away from that wanton person she had heard so much gossip about. She wondered if it was becoming a father to Emma that had changed him. Emma hated her and truthfully, Britt was none too fond of the little girl herself, but there was no denying that Patrick had a wonderful relationship with his daughter. Britt wondered if Patrick could ever love Britt's child the way he did Emma.
"Patrick," she called out to him. She realized it was probably the only time Sabrina wouldn't be under foot and she needed to take advantage of it.
Patrick paused in his tracks but didn't turn to look at her. "Dr. Westbourne, I don't have time for this."
Dr. Westbourne? Anger and yes, humiliation, shot through Britt at hearing Patrick address her that way. As if they had never shared anything, as if they were colleagues and had never made love or went on dates or even talked outside the hospital setting. She wanted to rail at him that he couldn't keep treating her this way, but she didn't. Instead, she said in as even a voice as she could muster, "I know I'm not your favorite person right now, Patrick, but I really need to talk to you."
"I have nothing to say to you, unless it involves a patient."
Britt reached for his arm. "Patrick, come on. I know you're angry at me right now,; I know that I went too far saying that Emma was a brat and that I couldn't stand her, but what I have to say is really important."
"I'm not interested in anything you have to say," he snapped and looked at her with eyes that were cold and hard. "Just leave my daughter and me alone. I don't want to deal with you anymore and neither does she."
Britt bristled. "Okay you don't want to deal with me but I'm not the only one in the picture here. There is someone else that needs your care and concern!" Her hand instinctively moved to her still-flat belly but he didn't seem to notice.
"If it isn't a patient -"
"No, it is not a patient but you need to know -" She was suddenly cut off by the arrival of none other than Sabrina. Sabrina, who came trotting down the hall looking like shit in her thick Coke-bottle glasses, with her hair tied back in that thick, grungy braid, and yet somehow still managed to earn a look of endearment from Patrick.
Sabrina glared at Britt. Britt glared back. Sabrina turned to face Patrick. "Patrick, we need you on a consult please. A patient was just brought in complaining of a severe headache."
Britt rolled her eyes, irked by not only Sabrina's mere presence but the fact that she got away with calling Patrick by his first name as if they were actually equals. "Get the patient an aspirin and move along. Patrick and I are trying to talk here, Sabrina."
"I believe I told you I had nothing to discuss with you," Patrick said. "Come on, Sabrina."
Britt could have punched Sabrina for her intrusion but the little bitch was already being spirited off by Patrick. Britt called after Patrick and he kept walking, acting as if he hadn't heard her.
"Oh you are losing your hearing all of a sudden, huh, Patrick?" Britt snapped. "I will just have to get louder then."
She immediately stalked towards the currently abandoned hospital switchboard where the intercom was located. Her fingers closed around the device and she prepared to broadcast everything. She was going to cause a scene and why not? She was already known around here as The Britch so she might as well act the part.
Her index finger pressed down on the button. She heard the intercom crackle to life. She was about to speak, really let it all out, when suddenly she remembered something Sam had said a few weeks ago when they had discussed her urge to rip Sabrina's bratty head off.
"Okay I get it, you want to lash out. You're hurting and you're angry. You have every right to be but just think about what you're doing. Think about just how many people you might alienate with your actions. I spent so many years being a person who would act first, think later and then regret it all afterwards. I don't want that for you. You're becoming my best friend, Britt. If you really have a homicidal urge or just an urge to self-destruct, call me first please. I don't want you to go down the same miserable path I did. It took years for me to even begin to make amends for some of the things I did in the heat of the moment. I don't want you to suffer that way too."
Britt sighed as her finger continued to play on the intercom button. It would feel so nice to just release all that anger on Sabrina and Patrick but Sam was right - at what cost?
"Dammit, Sam," Britt muttered. "Why are you getting into my head right now?"
She sighed again and slowly released the button on the device. Sam was becoming Britt's best friend too. In fact, she was the only friend Britt had in the whole world. Maybe she really should call her. Sam was the only person she trusted, after all.
After dinner, Lulu and Dante took to the dance floor and held each other tightly as Etta James's "At Last" played on the speakers. Sam watched them and Jason watched her watching them. Danny was asleep on her shoulder and she was lightly rocking him in time with the soulful strands of music.
Eventually Molly asked her cousin Spencer to "cut the rug" with her and they went out onto the dance floor as well. Their moves were far from graceful but they were smiling and laughing. It was a nice sight, Jason had to admit - if only to himself.
Sam must have felt him watching her because she turned to look at him, her head lightly resting atop Danny's. "Dance with me?" She asked.
Jason thought of at least a million reasons to say "no" but only one to say "yes" - because he wanted her to be happy. He loved seeing her smile. He loved the way her doe eyes lit up when she was enjoying the moment.
He finally nodded. "Okay."
Sam grinned. She looked over at Alexis. "Mom, would you mind -"
Alexis shook her head. "Definitely not. I've been waiting all night for my chance to cuddle with my grandson."
Sam smiled and moved out of her chair. The long black dress she wore swished around her legs as she walked around the table to Alexis and handed her Danny. Danny sighed but continued on sleeping. Alexis kissed her grandson's head and then she and Nikolas turned to watch the rest of their party on the dance floor.
Jason reached for Sam's hand and they found a quiet corner of the dance floor. He tugged her into his arms and they began to sway slowly in time. Her head came to rest on his chest and he buried his lips in her soft hair for a moment.
"Thank you, Jason," Sam whispered.
"For coming to dinner or for dancing with you in front of everyone?"
"Both. But mostly, thank you for loving me. You do it better than anyone ever has."
Jason smiled and kissed her forehead gently. "It's not exactly hard to love you." In fact, if he were honest with himself, it was easier than breathing. She was a part of him. The biggest part. She and Danny were everything.
Sam looked up at him and smiled. She tugged on the sleeve of his white dress shirt. "I don't suppose I could talk you into dancing with me at the Nurse's Ball next week."
"No, you can't."
"Okay, if you're sure," Sam said. Her eyes twinkled with mischief. "Good thing I have big, strong Anton there to be my dancing partner."
Jason growled. "Don't remind me. If he tries anything -"
"I love it when you're jealous," she said. "It's very sexy."
"I am serious though. I don't like the idea of any man dancing with my wife but me."
"Then change your mind."
Jason sighed. "Don't ask me, please. You know I'd do anything for you."
"I know. That's why I'm asking." She giggled softly. "But since you are being a good sport by coming here with me, I won't pressure you anymore. At least not for the rest of the night."
He smiled. "Thank you."
"Nikolas, I'm really glad you're home," Alexis said as she slowly rocked Danny back and forth.
"I am glad too for the most part," Nikolas said. "I admit though that it's still not easy to be here; to be back at Wyndmere with all those memories. I am still avoiding going near the ball room. I don't think I'll ever go in that wing of the estate again."
"I wouldn't blame you but you are incredibly brave to come back here and face so many of your fears."
"I am trying to anyway."
"You miss Emily a lot." It wasn't a question.
Nikolas nodded. "Every minute of the day and every minute of the night as well. Alfred told me today that he wants me to find someone else but -"
"You can't imagine it."
"Maybe someday it will happen - if you were to meet the right woman. She might never replace your Emily in your heart, but there are all kinds of love, Nikolas. And if this girl were to make you really smile again -"
"This phantom girl," Nikolas said with a dry smile.
"You never know. She could be right around the corner. She could be waiting for you now."
"Aunt Alexis, I never realized what a sentimental type you are."
"I want you to be happy."
"I know. But who is making you happy these days?"
Alexis looked at her grandson who was now slumped in the crook of her arm, lightly snoring zzzz's. "My family."
"Do you ever think of falling in love again?"
"If the right man came along, maybe. I guess we just need to keep our eyes peeled and our ears open."
Nikolas was about to reply when suddenly a cell phone began to ring. He looked over and saw his cousin Sam's phone flashing a number in red across the screen. He looked at Alexis. "Should I -" He asked. He didn't really want to interrupt Sam and Jason when they looked so content dancing together.
"Sure. It could be important," Alexis said. "Plus, I know Sam won't mind."
Nikolas nodded and finally snatched the cell off of the table and put it to his ear. He didn't even have time to say "hello" before a feminine voice was speaking.
"Sam, thank god I caught you! I am tempted to do something potentially really, really stupid. Can you talk me down?"
Nikolas raised an eyebrow. "Um, this isn't Sam."
"Well who is it?" The woman snapped.
"Nikolas. I'm Sam's cousin. I will go get her. She's dancing with her husband but -"
The woman sighed loudly, just as Nikolas was about to rise from his seat. "No, don't. She told me that they get so little time together to 'just be' so I'm not going to ruin their moment, even if I really want to."
"Should I tell her you called though - er, uh -"
"It's Britt. And that would be nice. But just tell her it's not urgent."
"Even if it is?"
"I'll just have to learn to curb my self-destructive tendencies, won't I?"
"Nikolas, that's your name, right?"
"Nikolas, I'm already feeling more calm. Seriously. No need to send for the paddy wagon."
"If you're quite sure..."
"I'm sure," Britt said. "Bye."
"Good bye. Best wishes to you."
Nikolas heard a dial tone and closed the phone, setting it back on the table where it had been sitting before. He looked at Alexis, who was watching him curiously. "It was someone named Britt."
"That would be Britt Westbourne, Sam's new buddy." Alexis's voice sounded a bit facetious in nature.
"Why do I sense that you're none too thrilled about this 'buddy' of Sam's?"
"Well, don't get me wrong here. She's the doctor who first examined Danny when Jason and Sam got him back from that crazy woman Heather Webber, so she helped calm Sam in some ways and was very good to Danny. She's bright and sophisticated too from what I can tell but she also has a certain... reputation."
Nikolas smiled in spite of himself. "Well, don't we all?"
"I suppose that's a fair way to look at it but well, Sam is one of those people who give so much. I have to worry that a person like Britt will take advantage of her goodwill."
"Well, I doubt this Britt person can be so treacherous as to lead Sam down the wrong path. Perhaps you should give her and your daughter the benefit of the doubt."
Alexis sighed. "Why do you have to be so rational?"
"Honestly, I rarely am."
"But you're making sense now."
"It will pass," Nikolas said with a chuckle.
Alexis smiled. "I'm glad you're home, Nikolas, I truly am. I hope you stick around for awhile."
"That's my plan," Nikolas agreed.