This is a follow up to my previous fic 'A Shot in the Dark'. Thank you to everyone who reviewed and a special thanks to zebraboymom and everyone else for the inspiration to continue writing.

I have several half finished fic's that coincidentally all fall into the same story line so if I am able to complete them I will be continuing this series. If anyone has any ideas as to what they would like to see next, I am open to suggestions.

Thanks to my wonderful beta dimplz for saving my fics from poor spelling and rotten grammar. You are a life saver girl.

Key to the Heart


Dani woke slowly with a contented smile pulling at her lips. Last night had been the most exhilarating and completely mind altering night of her life, she decided with a wicked smirk. Lazily she stretched her sated body along the luxurious sateen sheets like a pampered cat. Satisfied that she hadn't pulled any muscles during last nights activities, she rolled over expecting to find a warm body only to be met with empty space where her lover should have been.

Confused and a little upset about waking up alone Dani took a moment to consider what had roused her. After a second or two she heard the faint sound of a piano being played in the other room. Intrigued she glanced at the bed side clock to see that it was barely five am. One look around the room revealed that Nico's slacks from the night before were missing but that his shirt was still draped haphazardly across a fallen lamp in the corner of the room. Perhaps they had gotten a little carried away in their eagerness to become better acquainted, she reasoned with a blush.

Knowing that she wouldn't be getting back to sleep, at least not without her bedmate, Dani made to retrieve her discarded dress but quickly changed her mind. Feeling naughty, she slipped Nico's shirt over her head loving the feel of the material cascading along her overly sensitized flesh. Grasping the collar and lifted it to her nose she inhaled the sweet familiar fragrance of pine and mint. Being surrounded by his scent in such a fashion was incredibly intimate and arrousing to the senses. In an effort to squelch her lusty thoughts she ventured out into the hallway in search of her wayward lover.

She had been too distracted previously to appreciate her surroundings but what she found was not surprising given what she knew of Nico's tastes. Nico is a man that craves order and control. His living space was a good example of this trait, a trait they had in common. The living room had an open floor plan with east facing floor to ceiling windows that would offer a breathtaking view of the city below in a few short hours. She ran a finger over the modern but comfortable looking couch, taking in the clean lines and practical furnishing of the living room. The walls were adorned with an occasional landscape or rod iron piece lending an earthy feel to the space in her opinion. There was no television in the living room but there was a dated sound system complete with a record player situated next to an impressive collection of vinyl albums. The opposite wall was lined with dark cherry wood book shelves filled to the brim with an eclectic assortment of classic fiction and non-fiction novels as well as poetry, autobiographies, and what appeared to be musical scores. To her surprise she also spotted a few graphic novels mixed in. Yet another insight into the enigma that is Nico Careles.

Dani continued on her tour, spotting a row of framed photographs displayed on the fireplace mantle, she vowed to get a look at them later. She continued to follow her ears into another room off set from the lavish kitchen that she suspected was meant to be the formal dinning room. It was there that Dani found Nico.

Her sleep muddled mind had assumed what she was hearing was a recording but she had been mistaken. Nico sat at an exquisite black baby grand piano; strong fingers that had mapped out every contour of her body only hours ago flew gracefully over the keys in perfect time. The vision before her left her feeling breathless in wonder. His dark head was cocked to the side and his coffee colored eyes were closed in concentration. The soft over head lighting danced over the plains of his bare shoulders illuminating his olive skin in such a way that she would believe him a dream had she not felt the cool marble under her feet.

Dani watched him transfixed as the haunting melody came to an end. Her dark eyes traced his every movement in an effort to memorize each detail of this moment. It was a rare occurrence to catch Nico so unguarded, she wanted to tattoo this sight across her heart so that she could cherish it always.

With the last note still hanging in the air he opened his eyes turning his obsidian gaze to regard her tenderly. He had known she was up the second she left the bedroom. Her soft foot falls were easily detectable to his trained ears, and although his first instinct was to cease playing he continued, knowing she would soon find him. This was a side of himself that he had not shared with anyone in a very long time. It was a testament to his growing feelings for Dani that he trusted her enough to share his passion for music with her. Neither his ex-wife nor Gabriella had seen him play. He found it almost cathartic to feel her eyes caressing his skin as he played the last notes of a melody he had memorized long ago.

A wave of raw desire crashed over him when he caught sight of the goddess poised against the door frame clad only in his discarded dress shirt that hung to mid thigh and a bashful smile. The stark white of the shirt contrasted dramatically with the bronze hue of her skin. In this moment she was the most exquisite vision his eyes had ever beheld.

Nico was struck by an insane desire to fall to his knees and weep at her feet, he felt so undeserving of her affections but he quickly quelled the urge. Instead he turned to straddle the cushioned bench and beckoned her to join him. He needed to hold her close to ease his turbulent thoughts.

Dani settled comfortably in his embrace with her legs tucked beneath her and her head pillowed in the crock of his neck and shoulder. She all but purred feeling his hands running through her hair quietly. He smiled against her forehead at the sounds she made when his short nails scratched along her scalp in tantalizing strokes.

"I missed you when I woke up." She admitted a few minutes later. "What brought you out here so early? Did I not do an adequate job of wearing you out last night Mr. Careles?" She joked, only half kidding.

Nico chuckled quietly remembering their frenzied love making only hours ago. Yes, he thought devilishly, she had more than adequately worn him out with her enthusiasm and passion, but it had been years since he had slept more than a few hours at a time. Unfortunately tonight was no exception.

The previous night had been perfection in his mind. After months of taking the time to get to know one another and dealing with the scars of the past together and separately, the sexual tension had built to a boiling point. Dani had confessed in exasperation one evening that she was convinced that Ray had somehow cursed her after their divorce. Every time she had attempted to have sex with a man for the first time since her divorce, they had been interrupted. Dani and Nico had been quite happily devouring each other on her living room couch a week ago when Lindsay had called to say that she'd been pulled over for speeding. Never mind the fact that she only had a learners permit. Ray Jay was a licensed driver, but Lindsay knew under no circumstances was she to drive without an adult present. Needless to say their night had not turned out as they hoped. But tonight Nico had gone the extra mile to ensure they would not be interrupted by any unforeseen circumstances.

Nico prided himself on his ability to control his more base urges but he was one hundred percent sure that if he didn't have Dani in the immediate future he was going to spontaneously combust. With that thought in mind Nico had turned off his phone, leaving strict instructions to all parties concerned that unless someone was dead; all situations were to be handled by Xeno for the next 24hours. He had even spoken, with Dani's permission, with both Ray Jay and Lindsay, offering them a second chance at a night alone without adult supervision providing that they did not leave the house or invite any friends over. Both Santino children had readily agreed.

Convincing Dani had been surprisingly easy from there. He had a suspicion that her agreeability may have had something to do with his promise that a trusted associate would be monitoring the Santino residence all night to assure that the children remained true to their word and that there would be no interruptions from unwanted critters.

With a plan in place, Nico had arranged for a night of fine dinning and tickets to a Broadway show, but half way through dinner he knew that they were fighting a loosing battle. Within twenty minutes they were stumbling through his condo, mouths locked in a timeless dance, and ripping at whatever articles of clothing they could get their hands on.

Yes, the night had been more than satisfying, but Nico sensed her fears and pulled her closer. He nudged her chin up before devouring her bruised lips in a hungry kiss, leaving no room to doubt his desire for her.

"You were amazing my love. Never doubt the affect you have on me, but I am afraid I have suffered from insomnia for years." He confided looking into her doe eyes, relieved to see that famous Santino confidence shinning back at him once more. Truthfully the four and a half hours of sleep he had managed at her side had been the most restful in weeks.

The therapist in her wanted to question him further about his sleeping habits, but for the time being she let it go. Snuggling deeper in the cradle of his arms she ran her fingers over the delicate ivory keys. "I had no idea you could play the piano or any instrument for that mater. I guess it shouldn't surprise me considering you're good at everything." She emphasized in an exaggerated tone. Nico just shook his head fondly at her antics. "Where did you learn to play, if you don't mind me asking?"

Nico had confided in her several times since that magical night on her door step after the Hawks Pre-Season Gala. One precious morsel of information he had bestowed upon her was his full name, Nicoli. Dani was always careful not to push to far though, for fear he would retreat. He reminded her of a skittish cult, one misstep and he might flee into the night leaving her alone once more.

"No, I don't mind your asking. It's just been a long time since I have spoken to anyone about my music and longer still since I've played for an audience." He rumbled against the crown of her head, his hot breath tickling the copper strands of hair.

Dani didn't miss the implication behind his words. He was trusting her with something that had great meaning to him. She felt privileged to bear witness to this side of him.

"My Grandmother. She was a musical prodigy in her youth. When I was eleven my Grandmother on my fathers side was diagnosed with breast cancer. She under went treatment and thankfully went into remission within a year, but the treatment took it's toll. You have to understand that my Yiayia was a very proud and stubborn Greek woman. She did not take well to my family's insistence that she needed help."

Dani was struck with a mental image of a tiny wisp of a woman with graying hair and Nico's dark eyes scowling in indignation. The vision warmed her heart as she listened intently to Nico's rich voice weave his story.

"My mother would drag me with her several times a week to check on Yaiyia. I was a…rambunctious youth. My parents had a difficult time pinning me down to any one spot for very long. I was constantly on the move and as a consequence I found myself in trouble quite often. One morning my mother and Yaiyia were arguing over medications when I sat down at the piano my grandfather had given Yaiyia as a wedding gift and started pounding at the keys in an expression of my annoyance. My mother came racing into the room yelling at me to stop but my Yaiyia just sat down beside me and started pounding along at the keys with me. Before I knew what was happening she was teaching me the scales. I remember she smelled of sandalwood and rose oil sitting beside me." He drifted off then, lost in some distant memory. Dani said nothing but ran her fingers over his forearms in a soothing patterns. Hoping her actions might coaxe him back to the present. Another second ticked by until his eyes cleared.

He looked down on her with a rare adoring smile before turning his eyes to the picture window lining the far wall.

"From that day on I would spend three afternoons a week learning to play. My Yiayia was a truly gifted pianist. She died two years later of a stroke. My mother always told me that it was our time spent together that kept her with us for so long. She taught me the value of stillness and introduced me to one of my greatest passions." Nico paused when a single glittering tear traced down his cheek unbidden. Dani smoothed it away with the pads of her thumb, her heart swelling painfully in her chest. This was a side of Nico that she had only seen glimpses of before now. He honored her by sharing such a treasured memory from his childhood.

Clearing his throat, Nico tried in vain to hold back a tidal wave of emotion that threatened to over take him. Dani's touch went a long way to calming the storm in his heart. He had kept so much bottled up inside that it was hard to bring the emotions back under control once released.

Once he felt as though he could breathe again he looked down upon her beloved face, her mahogany gaze regarding him with concern. He reached up to caress her face reverently, hoping the touch conveyed his gratitude.

"She sounds like an amazing woman."

He nodded in agreement.

"You remind me of her." He whispered. Seeing her raised eyebrow, he chortled happily.

"Not in a perverse way I assure you. I meant to say that you have her same spirit. Sassy and stubborn to a fault but tempered by an even greater sense on compassion toward those around you. I admire that in you Dani."

It was Dani's turn to cry. There was no higher compliment he could pay her than to compare her to a woman that had helped mold him into the man he was today. A man she was falling hopelessly and irrevocably in love with.

Dani had a moment of panic at the realization. Falling for Nico wasn't like falling for Matt or any other man. To love him was to give not only your heart but your very soul as well. He had given his heart foolishly once before, and it had been dragged through the gauntlet for his mistake. He would except nothing less from her now but she knew he would give nothing less in return. A fact he had demonstrated tonight.

"Please don't cry Dani…" He pleaded on the verge of tears again himself. Her panic dissolved instantly upon the realization that he was falling right along with her.

Beyond words Dani pulled him down to taste his delectable lips. They both tried to convey what they were feeling in that kiss, but soon the passion of the previous night flared to life, burning brighter with each passing heart beat. Nico dragged his lips from Dani's with great effort before he lost control and took her right here on his beloved piano. The thought of her luscious form laid out on the gleaming black surface as he ravished her…he groaned in sweet pain.

They were both panting heavily by then. Their bodies slowly cooling as they watched the sun paint the New York skyline in shades of warm amber and deep rose through the glass wall in front of them.

Just as the sun peeked over the buildings Nico dared to brake the peaceful silence that surrounded them.

"I love you Danielle."

"I love you too Nicoli."

The End

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