Monster 40-49

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Chapter 40

Since leaving Marlena’s office, Nick had asked to be taken back to his apartment. He really wanted to be alone, but, of course, Aunt Maggie insisted on staying. Walking to the door, he saw the package from Rich. Quickly grabbing it, he tucked it under his arm and they went inside.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“Nothing,” he quietly said. The last thing he wanted to talk about was Trent Robbins. He put the package on the kitchen bar, noticing that his aunt kept her eyes on it.

“It’s not drugs,” Nick told her.

She looked at him, as if weighing the option to verify his claim and open it. Eventually she left it alone and went to make tea. Nick was glad she changed her mind, but realized his anger was finally subsiding, as no doubt before he would have exploded.

Sitting down in a chair, Nick closed his eyes. He really didn’t want to think about anything. He wanted to just sit there and exist. With his eyes closed, he remembered what he learned of his mother, and his accusations to Hope. Wanting to keep his mind blank, he concentrated on staring across the room.

Aunt Maggie began chatting in her usual chirpy way, she didn’t want Nick to zone out. She reminded him he needed to tend to bills and he hadn’t eaten anything yet. Nick mainly ignored her, just grunting when he absolutely had to.

A knock at the door rescued him from her constant assault of questions, allowing him to stand up. He was relieved to have someone else to talk to, until she opened the door and he saw who was on the other side of it.

“Nick!” came the cry, and out popped his mother. She ran over to him. Looking past her, he saw Chelsea remaining in the doorway, she must have picked her up at the airport.

He allowed Jessica to throw her arms around him, but he didn’t return the hug. Glaring past her at the brunette, Nick said, “Shouldn’t you be at work?”

Chelsea was surprised Nick was focusing on her, not his mom, but she answered, “I got time.”

By now, Jessica knew something was especially wrong. Pulling back, she saw Nick was looking angry. Believing it had to do with Chelsea, his mom defended her, “I thought it very sweet of her to pick me up.”

Nick shook his head and walked away, leaving his mom to stand alone, looking hurt.

“Jessica, Hope was supposed to call you,” Maggie said, looking nervously over at Nick.

“Oh,” she returned, reaching into her purse. “I forgot to turn my cell back on after we landed.”

Nick leaned against the wall, folding his arms, “Well, maybe she had the wrong number too. Perhaps she needed to call Angel or Angelique.”

This stopped Jessica in her tracks. She hadn’t heard those names in a long time, and hearing them come from her son’s mouth was startling to say the least. “Who?”

Nick laughed, “Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten and that’s why you didn’t tell me this.”

Maggie felt compelled to explain, “I’m sorry, Jessica, Nick found out today by accident at Marlena’s.”

Jessica didn’t say anything, which made Nick angrier, “Right, by accident, Mom! Marlena thought I knew. Of course, Maggie realized the other day I didn’t know, but kept her mouth shut, and Hope has known I was ignorant this whole time I’ve been in Salem…”

“What’s going on?” Chelsea asked, confused. She didn’t understand or know what they were talking about, but her worry for Nick brought her into the living room to ask.

Realizing it was time they should be leaving, Maggie said, “Chelsea, we need to go and let them talk. Jessica, you can take my keys here, and Chelsea will give me a ride ho-“

“Oh, no, you two can stay. Chelsea needs to know anyway. It will be such a relief to know the guy she dumped was apparently one trip short from crazyville. That he believed his one trait he had to offer, his mind, was actually a time bomb waiting to go off.”

“Nick, sweetie, I’m so sorry, you had to find out about it this way.” Jessica looked scared now.

Her look didn’t have any effect on Nick, he felt immune to feelings. “No, what you mean is you are sorry I had to find out at all.”

“Nick, please, let me explain why I didn’t…”

“No, I want you to tell us what you did. Come on Chelsea, Aunt Maggie. Sit down on the couch and let’s hear my mom explain how after taking the drug Honazine, the same one I was prescribed with, Mom had not just one personality, but two.” Nick, now on the couch, patted each side for Chelsea and Maggie to join him. Instead they got closer to the door, realizing their presence was making things worse.

“What, you’re leaving?” He asked as they reached for the knob, “You haven’t heard it all yet! One of her personalities took grandma Marie hostage! How about that? Hey, Mom did you hold a knife to her throat too? Cause if you did, that’s just eerie how much we’re alike!”

Jessica waited until she heard the door shut, and she looked back at her son, “Ok, they’re gone, you can stop with the show.”

He chuckled, “No, mom, there is no show. I want to know, did you put a knife up to her throat?”

Putting her purse on the coffee table, Jessica steeled herself. “When Maggie told me that you were taking Honazine, I knew you weren’t in control of yourself. Whatever happened, the drugs were sending you over the edge, even now, this attitude is what’s left of the drugs talking and not my son.”

“No, right now the attitude is my anger at you keeping this from me! Do you realize if I had just known then I’d never had accepted the medication and I would never have…”

“Killed someone, I know, son.” Jessica said sadly, taking the seat on the couch besides him.

Nick was shocked to hear her make assumptions on Trent’s murder. “You think the pills made me kill Trent?”

“Yes,” she said, taking his hand. He jerked it away and got up. Looking over at the kitchen, he looked at the box holding the evidence that proved Trent was capable of anything.

“I see,” he said. “So, then, aren’t you afraid of being alone with me?”

He had his back to her, which kept her from seeing the tears form. Jessica began talking to him about what it was like to be on the drug, something he knew very well. She began explaining the whole story, the circumstances of why she took it.

Suddenly, he didn’t want to hear the story, “Look, I’m tired, I’m going to lay down…”

His mom stood up, knowing what he was doing. “No, Nick, you wanted to hear it. You have to now. I admit it’s strange to talk about, all these years later. I didn’t tell you before because of the shame of explaining to my son the agony I brought on others, including myself. I hoped you would never have to know the time your mother lost her mind. Honazine was no longer used here in the states, I didn’t think there was any reason…”

“Mom, it’s part of my medical history. I needed to know.” He said, still keeping his back to her, tears rolling down his face.

“Nick, please look at me.” Slowly he turned around. “Now, you need to sit down, son. You’re going to have to hear about all of this. Not just Angelique, Angel did some things I’m ashamed of, including dating a guy who became notorious in Salem.”

As he listened, Nick felt numb. His mom was telling him extraordinary stories. It was hard to believe she was the person doing all these things, but then again, he never would have thought himself capable of his own acts this last week.

He heard about how Angel dated a man by the name of Jake who apparently later became known as the Salem Strangler, killing Marlena’s twin sister. He heard that Jessica, as herself, was still dating Nick’s father, Joshua, who was clueless to all these activities. The Angelique stories came next, and the emotions that Jessica told hit too close to home, and he had to get up and tell her to stop.

“I don’t want to hear anymore.”

“Oh, Nick,” she walked over to him, hugging him. “I’m telling you this mainly so you know that no matter what you have done, it can be fixed. We can get through this.”

“Mom, you weren’t yourself during this. I was me.” He saw confusion on her face so he went on, “I never split into a new personality or lived a different life. Why didn’t that happen to me? Why could I do things like this…”

“Because the drug works differently for everyone. And honestly what you did wasn’t so bad…”

“I KILLED SOMEONE DIDN’T I?” he yelled. She was right, it didn’t matter what Trent had done in the past, Nick wanted to kill him all night, even before that night. It was probably hearing the true motive of why Trent murdered Melanie’s mother that drove him over the edge.

“Sweetie, I didn’t say that was the sole reason you did it. Chelsea filled me in on Melanie’s father, he sounded like a real monster.”

There’s that word again, Nick thought. Melanie prefers to think I’m the monster, not her father. Staring at the box, Nick realized that nobody was questioning why he really killed Trent. That it made sense the drugs were enough reason. Maybe the evidence doesn’t have to come out, maybe it shouldn’t.

He grew silent as his mother held him. He heard her reassurances, but they did little to make him feel better.

Chapter 41

Chelsea walked around the people through the crowded restaurant. It was nice of her grandmother to close the pub down so that Kate’s family could gather together before the service. Pulling out her compact, Chelsea checked to make sure make up was ok; she’d been crying earlier but didn’t want to look like it.

Kate had died just two days earlier. Because of how long the cancer lasted, she had made arrangements for everything to happen quickly; she had joked with Chelsea she wanted people to go to the funeral immediately, before they would remember anything she might have done to them. Her granddaughter didn’t think it was funny, but Chelsea was glad to see now that Kate had a good deal of attendance so far. It wasn’t limited to family only, as she had guessed.

Leaning up against a post, Chelsea folded her arms, watching everyone. Her mom was here, talking to Philip and Victor. Lucas was with Chloe who looked uncomfortable. Daniel was here too, he was speaking to Kayla and Steve, but she noticed his eyes kept heading over to where Lucas and Chloe were. Chelsea hadn’t tried to speak to her ex, the lack of any emotion in seeing him further driving the point home how she had misjudged those initial feelings for him.

“Hey,” came a feminine voice. Chelsea turned to see Stephanie standing besides her.

“Hey, thanks for coming.” Both girls hugged.

Her friend shook her head, “Of course. I’m so sorry about Kate. I didn’t know her very well but I wanted to be here for you. Especially since with what happened to Nick.”

Chelsea almost cried hearing Nick’s name. It had only been a couple of days since she saw him with his mom. If Kate hadn’t died that night, she would have checked on Nick herself. Now, she had too much to do and was worried if she saw Nick she would wind up spilling her problems to him. Maggie consoled Chelsea letting her know they would let Nick know where she was if he needed her. The fact no one had called meant he probably didn’t need her, something that didn’t sit too well with Chelsea.

“So when does the service start?” Stephanie asked.

“We need to head to the church soon. I guess half an hour. Someone needs to make an announcement.” Chelsea glanced at Stephanie while her friend was nodding her head, she was watching Philip across the room. With a smile on her face, Chelsea said, “Perhaps Philip can do it.”

Stephanie’s eyes snapped back to Chelsea and she glared at her. “What?”

“Why are you staring at him like that?”

Rolling her eyes, Stephanie returned, “Not for what you think, Miss NonSubtle. I was staring because…well, I do feel bad. Last week when you were all saying your goodbyes to Kate, I had to overhear some of his.”

Now Chelsea was surprised. It wasn’t like Stephanie to eavesdrop. “You what?”

“Well, he told me to remain outside with his phone so if a specific call came in, he had to take it. So they did. I walked in, and he was…well, he and your grandmother were having a private moment there. He was in no condition to take the call. So I stepped out and asked if there was anything I could do.”

Chelsea flinched, “You took one of his phone calls? He and Victor are really weird about that.”

“Well, it’s business isn’t it? I did take down the information. It had nothing to do with Titan but their warehouse down on the docks. There was some changes to shipments but really the guy was only relaying information. He made it sound like it was set in stone. It was about a meeting down there and he expected Philip to be there. I’m not sure why he couldn’t have just left a message, but anyway, I wrote it all down.

“Philip was still in there, so I went over to speak to my mom who had come down to that floor for rounds. I left the phone in the chair, but I didn’t really leave the room, I was just at the door speaking to her. I actually was telling her how Philip was surprising me when he came out, clearly upset about his mom. I remember standing thinking how hard I have been on him, when he sees his phone, checks the log, and starts screaming at me about this missed call.”

Sighing, Chelsea shook her head. “Yea, that sounds like Philip.”

“Well, it’s amazing how angry he can make me so fast. I swear, if I hadn’t witnessed him being tender and sweet to her with my own eyes just minutes before, I’d never have believed it, because now he was accusing me of chatting my mom up instead of doing my job. I told him what I wrote down, which made him even angrier for some reason like I wasn’t even capable of writing down a phone message. I then went off, and said some things that now I regret.”

Chelsea glanced over to her uncle, realizing for the first time his eyes kept darting over to where they stood.

Stephanie shrugged, “So that’s why I was staring, wondering if I should apologize, if it would do any good.”

Before she could answer, Chelsea heard a cough behind her, and she turned. It was Nick! Before she knew it, she threw her arms around him, kissing his cheek.

“Hey, um, I guess then it’s ok I’m here.” A blush crept to his cheeks.

Chelsea smiled, he actually looked really good. He still was obviously tired, but he dressed in a suit and had finally shaved. She wanted to tell him how great he looked in black, but realized she didn’t need to come on so strong. “I can’t believe you came!”

For a second he frowned, “Well, they do let me outside once in awhile.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean that. I just thought it’s not like you knew grandma that well, and with your mom in town…”

“She left last night.” He said, still frowning.

Stephanie asked, “Already? I thought she just got here just the other day.”

Nick pierced his lips, telling Chelsea he did not want to talk about it. So she took his hand and squeezed it, “Well, I can’t begin to say how glad I am to see you here. I wanted to see you so bad, but, well…”

“Oh, Chelsea,” the shadow crossing his face left, and he squeezed her hand back, “I hate you were worried about telling me that you wanted me here.”

Oh, Nick, you have no idea what I want. She had so much to say but this wasn’t the right time. She wanted to hug him again, but realized she probably wouldn’t let go. She resigned herself to holding his hand.

“What are you doing here?”

Nick turned white at the voice, while Chelsea flinched. Turning around, they saw Melanie. She wasn’t there for the funeral, but she was working the room giving out drinks. Since moving in with Max upstairs, Melanie had taken up waitressing. Chelsea completely forgot she was there.

“I..I…didn’t know you would be here, Melanie.” Nick dropped Chelsea’s hand.

Melanie’s face held contempt and such hatred. Chelsea knew Nick well enough to know, the look itself was killing him and it was all she could do not to throw Melanie out the door. Luckily, Stephanie stepped in, “Come on, Melanie, let’s go into the back.”

“Why should I leave? I’m the one who lives here, and this isn’t his family’s restaurant. I mean, was he related to this wom-“ her voice dropped off as they were gone.

“Nick, are you ok?” Chelsea wondered if maybe he should go home.

He was still staring into the kitchen, but finally he registered that she asked him a question. “I’m ok. I just…didn’t expect to see her and how… how much she hates me now.”

So he thinks about her still. Shaking off that depressing thought, Chelsea took Nick’s hand again and led him over to see her mom and Philip.

——————–

“Melanie, you can’t act like that in a situation like this!” Stephanie calmly said in the kitchen.

The redhead rolled her eyes, “Yes, a murderer can walk in and nobody say boo to him? Seriously? He should be in jail! He killed my father!”

“What’s going on?” Max asked. He had been hanging out in the kitchen, going over the books.

Stephanie glanced at her ex, then gestured to Melanie, “She ran into Nick out there and was starting to upset him.”

“I UPSET HIM??? Give me a break…” Melanie started, but Max stopped her. Stephanie wished she could say more, but figured Melanie needed to just cool off. Making her goodbyes, Stephanie left the siblings alone.

“Will you calm down?” Max said with frustration in his voice.

Melanie felt the tears in her eyes, “Sure, it’s just our father’s killer is walking free, and nobody seems to care.”

Max shook his head, he had argued and argued with his sister about Nick and Trent for weeks now. She was convinced that Nick was not the man she thought, and Trent was still the kind hearted father she imagined. “Melanie, I’m not going to get sucked into another argument. I believe Nick when he said he thought Trent was going to hurt you, but if he was wrong, it’s because those pills confused him. Pills he got, I might add, after saving your butt back in France.”

“Yea, I know, the whole town keeps telling me that. Nick Fallon has some kind of hold on everyone here, and I guess, I was someone he snowed as well. I don’t know why I stay here, I should leave town.”

Max shook his head, “No, I’ve asked you not to say that. You have me. Melanie, I couldn’t stand Trent but I am thankful he came to Salem, because it brought me with my real sister. And I am not letting the little family I have, leave.”

Hearing Max’s kind words tugged at Melanie’s heart, and instinctively she hugged him. But she knew there was another reason to stay. She had no where else to go.

Chapter 42

The service had been beautiful so far. Many said so. The flowers were lovely and each of Kate’s children stood up to talk about their mother, to talk of a woman who many never knew. The happy times before the disease took her. The younger sons spoke of sweet memories of her raising them. Austin and Billie concentrated on the later years when they finally accepted Kate as their own mother, and realized she had to let them go to protect them from their own father. People shook their heads about Curtis Reed, though his name was never spoken aloud. There were whisperings.

He was evil. He terrorized his family. He was a true monster.

Nick struggled in the back of the church. Chelsea wanted him to sit with her, but that was for family, so he chose a seat in the back with Stephanie. It was only right, let other people who knew Kate better sit closer to the front. Now Nick felt himself sweating. His heart was racing. He felt dizzy. From the moment he saw the casket, he wanted to leave.

The memory of Kate left his mind. He imagined Trent lying there, nobody being there but Melanie. He then thought of Willow, another death he was responsible for. Did she even have a funeral? Nick couldn’t remember. Looking around, Nick knew everyone there, but he doubted they even noticed him.

When the minister asked everyone to pray, Nick stood up. Ignoring Stephanie’s questioning look, he walked to the door and outside. He didn’t know where he was going, he just wanted to leave. He stood at the entrance looking out over the parking lot to the busy highway. Lots of cars were going by. People who were driving through town and didn’t know anyone here in Salem. Nick walked towards the street, wishing he could leave too. He wished he wasn’t there. He kept walking.

As he approached the highway, he heard someone shouting behind him. It was Stephanie. She caught up to him. She was asking where he was going, but he didn’t answer. He didn’t even look at her. He just wished he wasn’t there.

————

Chelsea paced up and down the hospital corridor. She wished her mom could be there, but someone had to take care of things after Kate’s funeral and Hope had to get back to work, so Kayla and Steve had gone with Chelsea to the hospital. They had called Maggie on the way there.

“I don’t understand, what happened?” Chelsea asked.

“Marlena will tell us.” Kayla said.

“What’s taking her so long? She’s been seeing Nick up until now. Why did he run off like that?”

Kayla glanced at Steve who responded, “I don’t think he actually ran anywhere. I saw him, it was more like a trance.”

She glared at her uncle, “A trance?”

“Chelsea, dear,” Kayla said, walking over to the younger woman, “I think you need to brace yourself as Nick might be having a breakdown.”

Chelsea looked from Kayla to Steve, each giving her a look that she knew she was supposed to understand but she didn’t. “A breakdown? He seemed to be doing better? I mean, he came to the funeral and he was acting like himself…”

“Chelsea, he shouldn’t have come. Maggie didn’t know he had left the house.”

“But..if he wanted to come, if he wanted to be there for me…” Chelsea started to cry. She had been so happy at seeing Nick at the pub, she should have known he wasn’t ready for it. How could she be so blind?

Then Marlena walked out to see them. She smiled but Chelsea recognized it was one she used to break bad news. “Hi, I’m afraid to say, Nick has finally crashed.”

“Crashed?” Chelsea asked.

Marlena nodded, “It takes awhile for drugs to truly exit a person’s system. Honazine will linger longer, due to it’s nature. I know it’s been a week since Nick took the drug, but he’s still been living on it. Now that it’s finally gone, Nick has entered a depressive state.”

Chelsea’s jaw dropped. Depression? “Is it, is it my fault?”

Marlena looked surprised at the question? “No, sweetie, why would you ask that?”

“The funeral is a depressing place, if he hadn’t have come…”

She shook her head, “No, no, he would have gotten to this state on his eventually. The funeral might have hurried it along, but I’ve been waiting for it to hit, and now it’s here we can finally work on trying to cure him.”

Chelsea felt something was still wrong. Looking at her aunt, she asked, “But, there’s a danger he might not come out of this?”

Kayla frowned, looking at Steve and Marlena before answering her niece. “Yes, I’m afraid it’s possible. The real thing he needs is a will to live, to break out of this, but Honazine is known for sucking out such emotions but..this is Nick. He will make it through this, I’m sure.”

Chelsea walked over to a chair to sit down, it was so much to absorb. She had no idea it could be this bad.

Marlena turned to Kayla and Steve, continuing on, “Maggie isn’t here yet because she’s packing a bag for him, I’m admitting him to the psych ward.”

Chelsea didn’t like that, “Wait? How can keeping him in the hospital help him come out of a depression? Nothing is more depressing then a hospital!”

“It’s for his own good, he’s in a state where we can’t…” Marlena paused, wondering if Chelsea could accept what she was going to say, “We can’t take a chance he could hurt someone or…”

“He’s not going to hurt anyone,” Chelsea interrupted, standing up, “the drugs made him do it, and now they are gone.”

Kayla shook her head, “The worry isn’t he might hurt others, the worry is he might hurt himself.”

“You think…you think he’s suicidal?” She glared at Marlena.

“Chelsea, I know he is. That’s why he was heading to the highway.”

“What could he do on the highway…” Chelsea began but quickly realized. “Oh my God, he was going to jump in front of a car?”

“I’m not sure he realized it. He isn’t thinking clearly at all.”

Crying, Chelsea asked, “Can I see him?”

Marlena pursed her lips. “Well, not right now. We need to monitor him overnight but I can arrange for you to come see him before my session.”

Chelsea had to work in the morning but she didn’t care. Looking at Kayla, she remembered their conversation about how things could get worse for Nick, and Chelsea had to remain committed to him. “I’m not going anywhere. He’s going to get through this, I’ll make sure of that.”

Chapter 43

“Right this way, miss,” the nurse said. Or Chelsea at least thought he was a nurse. He looked more like a guard, he was so big and commanding. He probably was hired for his size, to gain control of the more difficult patients when needed. Chelsea frowned thinking these were the types that surrounded Nick. It hardly seemed like he could come out of a depression.

The man escorted Chelsea down the hallways. Chelsea was unfamiliar with the mental wing of the hospital though Steve had been left there for a time before being transferred to the asylum. At least Nick hadn’t been sent there.

She was led into a good size room. It apparently was used to see visitors. In the corner was a couch that looked anything but comfortable. A TV set was next to it, tuned into a local channel. In the center sat a round table with three folding chairs around it, Nick sitting on the far side. Seeing him, Chelsea smiled, in spite of the situation. He offered no reaction to her approach and her smile faded.

“Hi, Nick,” She said, walking up.

Slowly, Nick’s eyes focused on her. And he said, “Hi, Chelsea.”

She sat down, just then realizing the man that led them here was not leaving. Turning to him, she said, “I’m ok, now.”

“Sorry, ma’am, while out of his room, he must be with hospital personnel at all times.”

Very quickly, Chelsea’s eyes teared up, but she willed them gone, Nick was behind her and she didn’t want him to see her cry.

“They are afraid I might hurt you.” He said this without any emotion.

Chelsea turned around, getting a real good look at him. He looked red like he had been crying himself. He also looked worn out. He probably got no sleep in this place.

Looking down, she saw that Nick had marks on his wrists. “What happened here?”

He shrugged, “From the restraints last night.”

“You were tied up? Nick, what happened…”

He shook his head, “Chelsea, why are you here? It makes no sense to see you now. We aren’t a couple anymore, and I’m sure friends want nothing to do with me…”

“Oh, Nick, how can you believe that? We all are here for you. It’s just Marlena feels it would be best if you were given limited access to visitors…”

“Yet, they let you in.” Nick turned his head away, as if he didn’t want to even look at her.

“You don’t want me here?” Chelsea asked.

He didn’t answer, he stared at the wall. For a few minutes, Chelsea sat in silence with him. She couldn’t believe she was with Nick and didn’t know what to say. Finally, she grew courage, “Nick, you used to tell me that even though it might be difficult, telling the truth was a person’s best choice. So I’m going to do it now. I know in the past I’ve treated you horribly, one way or another. Sometimes it was intentional, other times it was just me being selfish and inconsiderate. We’ve both made mistakes but most of the time, it’s been me to screw things up or make things worse.”

Chelsea paused due to tears welling up, she inwardly cursed herself for giving in and letting them fall. “Now, you’re the one who needs help. I think over the past few months and I get angry. If you had known about the Honazine, if Max and Stephanie hadn’t gone to France, if Trent wasn’t such an evil man…but in the end, I can’t deny it’s my own fault you’re in this mess. I never should have let you go. In a moment of haste and foolishness, I dropped the best guy for me.

What’s really stupid is I missed you immediately and began doubting if I had made the right choice. Instead of listening to that voice, I committed to my decision of letting you go, and wound up hurting you in ways I never could imagine. All those times I insisted on trying to remain friends was my heart not wanting to let you go. By the time I finally realized the truth, it was too late and you were with Melanie.” Chelsea bit back the urge to say anything negative about her. Now wasn’t the time.

He still wasn’t facing her, so she reached for his hand and went on. “Nick, I’m not here because I feel guilty or it’s an obligation. I love you. I always will. And I’m not going to let you go again. I remember you once told me you didn’t think you were the man of my dreams but I should give you a chance anyway. Now it’s me letting you know, you deserve better then me, but for now, I’m going to work to get you out of here. You are going to come back, Nick, and be that sweet, smart, endearing, and AWESOME guy again.”

Nick finally turned to her; he had tears in his eyes too. “You shouldn’t be here Chelsea. That guy has been gone for awhile, even before I killed Trent. And tried to hurt Marlena, Maggie and you.”

His voice cracked the last word and Chelsea knew then he didn’t want her to go. Grabbing his other hand, she held them together. “He’s still there, I can see him. He’s why you came to the funeral yesterday. Eventually he’ll break out, and all your friends and family will be with you through it all.”

Nick didn’t smile like she hoped. Instead he shrugged and said, “Except Melanie. She will never forgive me. She believes I’m a monster. She wants me in jail forever.”

Chelsea pursed her lips. Regardless of whatever Nick did, Chelsea couldn’t comprehend why Melanie could believe Nick to be such a man and think Trent was such a saint. Melanie had talked the DA into opening a grand jury into Trent’s death, set for next Monday. Chelsea was not just angry with her over her inability to see Trent for who he was, but for Max not being able to control his sister. “Melanie is wrong, Nick. Trent might not have been trying to hurt Melanie that night, but nobody believes you did a terrible thing in killing him. He was a bad man, Melanie just can’t see it because he was her father. This hearing will prove that.”

“It’s going to prove I killed him, and the autopsy showed he had enough alcohol in his system that it was very unlikely he could have hurt Melanie. I didn’t have to kill him to stop him. Even if that wasn’t the case, no girl should know her father like that. It’s better for her to believe I’m the bad guy.” Nick said, staring down.

“What do you mean?” Chelsea said, “You’d rather go to jail then let Melanie accept what Trent really was?”

He didn’t answer, and the door opened with Marlena walking inside. “Nick, Chelsea.”

“Dr. Evans” Chelsea greeted, Nick didn’t say anything, but pulled his hands away. Chelsea wanted to tell Marlena about what Nick said on Melanie, but knew it would be better to wait and say so later.

“I hate to ask you to leave, Chelsea, but it is time for my session for Nick here.” Marlena smiled kindly towards him. He didn’t look up at her.

Chelsea nodded, understanding, “I know, I’m glad I got a chance to see you today Nick, I promise I’ll be back everyday.”

He didn’t respond. Looking at the guard/nurse, Chelsea said, “I’m going to give him a hug.”

Suddenly Nick did respond, “No!”

Everyone turned to him, surprised at his vocal outburst. Looking down at the table, Nick explained, “My pants will fall down.”

Chelsea didn’t understand and gave him a confusing look. Not making eye contact, he said, “They took my belt away.”

It took a beat to realize what he meant, but Chelsea did her best not to respond too strongly at his comment. Leaving Marlena with Nick, Chelsea walked out the door, and made it all the way into the parking lot before she burst into tears.

Chapter 44

“Thanks for coming with me, Uncle Steve.” Chelsea said. It was Thanksgiving Day, Nick had been on suicide watch for four days, showing no real signs of improvement, in fact, Chelsea thought he was getting worse. Today Steve insisted on going with her, and Chelsea was glad for the company, but wasn’t sure her uncle was prepared seeing Nick in such a state.

“No problem,” Steve replied. They were walking down to the patient waiting room. The good news is Nick no longer needed to have hospital personnel monitoring him with visitors and the visitor list had been opened up. Most people came one time, not being able to stand seeing him in that condition. Everyone that is, except Chelsea.

They got to the door, Steve turned to Chelsea, “Do you mind if I go in there alone? You can come in a little later.”

Chelsea agreed, “That’s fine. I was thinking maybe you should go in first anyway. Sometimes he is ok with my visits and other times he’s not.”

Steve nodded, and went in. He had a plate with a piece of coconut cake in his hand. He was going to offer it to Nick, but not right now. Steve had a plan.

“Hey there, buddy,” Steve said sitting down. He placed the cake on the table but didn’t show it to Nick yet.

“Hi Steve,” Nick said, looking confused at his visitor. Nick could count on one hand the number of times he had a one on one conversation with Steven Johnson, so he was not someone he expected to show up for their obligated visit.

Steve asked, “What’s new?”

Nick gave him a look that proved he didn’t take to sarcasm. “Nothing. Except you visiting. What are you doing here?”

“Oh, I was in the neighborhood.”

“On Thanksgiving?” Nick asked.

Steve smiled, he wanted to hear Nick mention the date. “Yes, it is Thanksgiving. We missed seeing you at the Brady’s.”

Nick folded his arms, “Right.”

Steve now gestured to the cake, “I brought you something to eat, I’m sure it’s ten times better then what you have in here.”

Nick shook his head, “I’m not hungry.”

Not arguing, Steve decided to get serious, “Nick, look, I came because I think I can help you. It wasn’t long ago I went through something very similar, and had to be locked up myself. It was amazing how I could go from being myself to being absolutely crazy next.”

“Steve, Stephanie told me about what you went through, I’m sorry for that, but that was a result of brain programming and specific triggers made to send you out of control.”

Steve narrowed his eye, “Are you trying to minimize what I went through?”

“No, no, not at all. But it’s not exactly the same thing. Especially since you weren’t naturally inclined to hurt anyone.”

“So what are you saying?”

Nick shrugged, “That you were only crazy because someone made you that way, I’m crazy because I was born that way.”

“Nick, you aren’t crazy any more then I am. Uh, well maybe that’s a bad comparison. No more than Kayla is. You have gotten this deal because of the drugs turned you into…”

“The drugs only affect certain types of people. It seems I’m not just susceptible to Honazine, there are other drugs that could have had similar effects on me.” Nick explained.

“Nick…”

The younger man continued, “I look back and see how I was affected by alcohol or that head injury I sustained last year. Especially the head injury where I ‘stalked’ Chelsea to Vegas and then wound up marrying a complete stranger.”

Steve paused before responding, choosing his words very carefully. “Concussions can do weird things to people. But even if your actions were a result of an imbalance of some sort, may I remind you how you got the concussion.”

“By, um,” Nick remembered, “a bomb explosion.”

“A bomb explosion that was meant for Sami and Lucas.”

Nick stared blankly. Since he didn’t respond, Steve went on, “Nick, you’re such a good person. In many ways you remind me of Kayla, you put others first, even complete strangers, while taking no thought the impact it can have on you.”

“I’m hardly like Kayla…”

“And speaking of Kayla,” Steve said, “It’s because of you that I still have her. Remember you were the one who came up with the formula that saved her life after she had that allergic reaction to the antidote.”

“It was my job,” Nick said, “that’s all.”

“I might have thought that, but I’ve gotten to know you too well for that. Ok, maybe we’ve not hung out much, but I remember how much you wanted to protect Chelsea and Stephanie from Ford before we knew what a real jerk he was. I also remember you standing by them after his death came out. And I remember sitting with you during Chelsea and Bo’s surgery. You were besides yourself with worry.”

Nick didn’t get Steve’s meaning, “Steve, anyone would do that. That’s not any extraordinary human emotion, but just what love is.”

Steve smiled, “That’s something Kayla would say.”

Nick rolled his eyes. The younger man wasn’t aware, but Steve wanted to see Nick get angry, it was better then he being apathetic. “So as far as I’m concerned, you are a special person, Nick. The drugs just buried that.”

“Really? Well, how about hurting Melanie? I adored her, yet I almost killed her. How can you reason that away?”

“Nick, I nearly choked Kayla to death. I had her throat in my hands and was squeezing, and I nearly did it…” Steve had to stop. He hated to have to reach inside himself to remember that memory, but he knew Nick needed to hear it.

Steve’s confession left Nick speechless. He obviously never imagined that Steve had the capacity to hurt the woman he obviously loved. After what seemed like a long time, Nick said, “I’m getting tired now. If you don’t mind, I’d like to say goodbye.”

Steve shook his head, “Not before you eat this cake here.”

“I told you I wasn’t hungry.” Nick said, eyeing the cake. He really didn’t look hungry, but Steve wasn’t leaving until he convinced him to have some.

“Well, that’s ok, but Mrs. H. specifically asked for you to have it.”

“Mrs. H? Grandma Alice made it?” Nick said, now giving the piece another look. “She’s not felt up to baking lately, when did she…”

Steve nodded, “She hates you missed Thanksgiving, and wanted you to have something. She thought the least she could do is give you a piece of cake. Don’t worry, I’ll lie and tell her you weren’t interested in eating it.”

“No, no,” the look on Nick’s face almost broke Steve’s heart, he seemed so surprised anyone, even his own family, would bother to go to such trouble. “I’ll have some.”

Nick began eating, Steve nodded watching, but stood up. “Now, I’m going to go in the hall and get Chelsea.”

Nick pretended to be irritated at her visit, but Steve saw the initial reaction, and it was clear he was glad she was there. “Whatever.”

Walking in the hallway, Steve saw Chelsea’s back was to the door, and she was working hard to look busy. He almost laughed, it was obviously she had been eavesdropping. “Were you listening?”

Caught, Chelsea turned around, her eyes proving she’d been crying. “Yea, sorry. I couldn’t help myself.”

“Well, you have to do me a favor. When you go in there, if he asks you to have some of the cake, don’t take it. Make him eat it until he gets to the last bite, and then ask to have some.”

“What? Why would I do that?” Chelsea asked, frowning.

“This was something Marlena wanted to try. I’ll explain it after you do it.”

Chelsea nodded, then went inside. Through the window, Steve studied them. Nick greeted her unenthusiastically but he did offer the cake. Chelsea shook her head, obviously insisting he should finish it.

They spoke very little, and Nick ate the cake slowly, probably because while it was good, he wasn’t hungry. When he got to the end, Chelsea made her move, talking obviously fast and eating the last bit.

What Steve was to look for, was Nick’s reaction after Chelsea ate it. She clearly enjoyed it. And seeing her enjoyment pleased Nick very much. Steve smiled, Nick was getting better, even though he was fighting it hard.

Chapter 45

Melanie stood in the hallway of the courthouse, at the entrance into the courtroom, not able to bring herself in. There in the center of the room, was Nick and company. Melanie watched from afar, trying to glare at them, but failing when she saw how haggard Nick looked.

Since pushing the Salem DA to press charges, Melanie had tried her best not to think about all the circumstances that led up to her father’s death. She knew what they were all saying, Nick’s pills made him do it. Melanie herself had witnessed Nick’s taking of the pills, and occasionally his behavior seemed to alter. But it was unfathomable to believe that he went from the sweet, endearing guy she grew to care for to someone who could kill in cold blood.

The autopsy declared that Melanie was right, Trent was in no state to hurt anyone, so if Nick’s story had been correct and her father was trying to hurt her, Nick could have easily stopped him without resorting to killing.

Now, everyone was saying Nick had been placed in the hospital on suicide watch. To Melanie, that was just another stunt, possibly concocted by Nick’s lawyer uncle, to support the claim he was under mental duress and wasn’t responsible for his actions. Melanie refused to believe it.

But standing here, watching them from afar, Nick’s appearance and mood matched what everyone was saying. He looked like he had just given up on life. Melanie gazed upon her ex-lover realizing that it would be so easy to believe he was in agony. But she couldn’t ignore the knife to her own throat, she clearly saw his eyes, and she honestly believed he was going to kill her right then and there. If Nick was unstable it probably went deeper then just pills.

“Melanie.” She turned to see her brother. She really had had enough of Salem, after her father being stabbed and then attacked in a public restaurant with many witnesses, people were still treating her like she wanted all of this to happen. If they only knew how much she missed Nick and what he meant to her. Max was the one person who was standing by her in this.

“Max, I’m glad you came.” She said, hugging him. She didn’t see the guilt cross his face.

Pulling back, Max took her by the hand and led her further down the hall. “Melanie, we have to talk. This has gone far enough.”

Sitting down on a bench, Melanie felt her heart sink. He wasn’t there to support her but to talk her into letting her father’s killer go. “I’m only doing what’s right.”

“No, you aren’t, Melanie,” Max said, still holding his sister’s hand. “You know Nick well enough to know he wasn’t responsible for his actions, and sending him to jail is not going to bring your father back.”

She pulled her hand away, angry that Max thought he still could try to talk her out of this. “Nick killed him, Max! I don’t know why everyone insists Trent deserved to get what he got, that for some reason being drunk is enough reason to damn you in eternity around here…”

“Melanie, you know there was more to Trent than just that. Stop acting like he was a saint.”

Tears welled up in her eyes. She had tried to keep from crying, at least in public, but having the same conversation for the hundredth time was taking it’s toll. “Max, he was to me. Look, I’m sorry he abandoned you, I really am. I would have liked to have grown up with an older brother, believe me, it was really lonely growing up.

“Whatever you think of him, he put me in very expensive places to live and whatever I wanted he would buy. He wasn’t home all the time, he couldn’t be, he had to pay for it, but when he did, he made sure we always had fun. He told me I was his princess and that the king had to go out and take care of his kingdom so it would be good enough for his little girl. How can…how can you think I would ever believe him to be what Nick says he is?”

Max shook his head, being careful, “Melanie, people put on false faces for children all the time, and you’re old enough to know that. He never thought you would come to Salem, so he acted like himself to many of us here, including me before he realized I was his son.”

“Well, being a jerk doesn’t mean he deserved to die or be killed.”

“I can’t deny that,” Max said, “but Nick doesn’t deserve to go to jail. Do you really believe he’s lying when he says he thought Trent would hurt you?”

“Actually, I was ready to believe him, I wanted to, that’s why I went to speak to him at the pub. But what he did then, it’s clear to me, he’s unstable and out of control and needs to be punished.”

Again, Max shook his head, “He needs help, Melanie, not punishment. Can you walk in that courtroom, take one look at Nick and not see the personal hell he’s in? He’s in misery and as his friend, it breaks my heart to see him like that. But to think he could also go to jail for something that he’s not responsible for…”

Melanie stood up, she couldn’t listen anymore. She was still crying and she had to fix her makeup before heading into the courtroom. “I’m sorry, Max. I know he’s your friend, I thought he was mine too. But I need to do what’s best for me and my father and it’s to make sure he’s locked up. I hope,,,I hope you can still be my brother when this is all over. It’s nice to have family.”

She practically ran away from him. Inside the courtroom, she sat down in a row in the back. It wouldn’t be long before the hearing started. She tried to keep from glancing at Nick but it was difficult. Instead of focusing on his appearance, she did note that someone was missing from his usual entourage, who had just been there a few minutes ago.

“Where the hell did Chelsea go?” Melanie wondered.

——————-

Chelsea unlocked the door, running inside Nick’s apartment. While they were preparing for the hearing, Mickey realized frantically his clerk forgot to bring the Honazine prescription. They had asked Nick where he kept it, but he was refusing to answer, insisting he should just plead guilty. Chelsea knew where Nick kept all his important papers and told them she could run to his apartment to look for it.

Inside, she knew the first place it might be would be on his kitchen counter. There were a few new bills and one box that was from a Rich Brown in Memphis, TN. Next, she headed to the alcove he used for his office. Sitting down at the desk, Chelsea flinched seeing how messy it was, Nick was always so tidy and neat. She wondered if clues like this would have alerted her faster that something was wrong with him.

Working through the paperwork, Chelsea had to just start reading whatever was in front of her. There was a lot of information on the fuel project, which sadly Nick’s arrest forced the university to rescind the grant. Pushing that into a separate pile, she found some of his insurance information, and began looking for the prescription that never was refilled. She finally saw it, it was sticking out of a folder marked “Memphis.”

While retrieving it, she couldn’t help but notice the front page had a name on it that sent a shiver up her spine: Trent Robbins. Looking it over, Chelsea realized it was a police report, but the date was from the 80s. In spite of being pressed for time, she started to pore over the papers. There was a clipping to a murder at Memphis State, with the name of the victim highlighted. Chelsea didn’t recognize her, but then she found more information and realized this was Melanie’s mother. Why was Nick looking into…

“Oh my God,” Chelsea said when she realized what she had. Melanie’s mother had died in suspicious circumstances and it was clear Trent was the prime suspect. Standing up, she wondered if she should take this with her? She wanted to, but perhaps it would hurt Nick’s case, that it looked like he was obsessed with Trent.

She then saw a name with attached phone number that sounded familiar. “Rich Brown, didn’t I just…oh…”

Heading to the package on Nick’s kitchen counter, Chelsea saw his name displayed. Without thinking, she opened it. It revealed a CD with “Confession” written across it. Her heart beating furiously, Chelsea ran to Nick’s laptop and fired it up, practically jumping up and down wishing it would boot up faster. She kept checking her watch, she didn’t have time for this, but if this is what it looked like…

Finally, she was able to put the CD and listening to the voice, she nearly fell out. Trent’s own confession to murdering Melanie’s mother came out in crystal clear digital audio! Immediately she grabbed everything, as well as the prescription, running out the door.

As she locked up, she knew the hearing had already started, she didn’t have much time.

Chapter 46

Melanie forced a smile at the progress of the hearing. Things were not looking good for Nick, no doubt the judge would rule in favor of having him tried for Trent’s murder. Finally, justice could be served.

Then why does this make you feel sick? Melanie wanted to ignore the voice. She told herself she was having doubts because of stupid Max and his questions before. Her brother had joined Nick’s side of the courtroom, leaving Melanie to sit by herself. That’s ok, I’m used to being on my own, and thanks to Nick, there isn’t anyone left to look out for me.

The judge was asking if there was anything else the defense wanted to submit to support Nick’s defense the drugs made him do it. Mickey Horton, kept staring back to the back of the room, at the door. Finally, he lowered his head, apparently giving up on whomever he was waiting for. Slowly, Mickey got to his feet to answer the judge. Before he could open his mouth, however, Chelsea Brady burst through the door. She was yelling, interrupting the proceedings and running down the aisle.

When she got to Mickey, she threw all her stuff at his clerk besides him. Chelsea began whispering to Mickey’s whose face went from surprise to utter shock then to a broad smile. Melanie didn’t understand what the heck was going on, but she knew this couldn’t be good for the prosecution.

By now the judge was tapping his gavel, asking for the room to come to order. He insisted Mickey answer his question.

Mickey turned to the judge, “I’m sorry, your honor, I’ve just gotten new evidence that changes everything. May we approach?”

This got Melanie to stand up in horror. She watched as Mickey and the DA headed up to speak to the judge directly. Nick looked confused, and was turning around asking what was going on. Chelsea patted him on the arm, and whispered in his ear. His reaction wasn’t what she expected.

“You did what? How dare you? I…”

Chelsea didn’t seem too fazed at Nick’s reaction. Before anything else could be said, the judge hit his gavel again, “We are going to my chambers, Mr. Fallon, and you need to come too.”

Nick shot up faster then he had in a long time, clearly whatever was going on upset him. Melanie was confused, if Chelsea uncovered new evidence to help Nick why would that upset him?

Melanie walked over to Chelsea, who was talking very quickly to her father, Hope, Steve, Stephanie, Maggie, Marlena Evans, and Max. She only caught the tail end of what she said, “As soon as I listened to the CD, I knew now what was really going on! Nick wasn’t as crazy as we thought! He had ever reason to believe…”

“Oh my God,” Bo said, looking ashamed. “You know, Nick came to see me a while back, Rich Brown is a friend of mine. I completely forgot I gave that to him!”

“Oh, Bo,” Hope said, “You mean he spoke to you about this woman, Celia?”

“Well, not so much, just about her case. Seriously he was in my office for five minutes. I remember him asking if I knew anyone in Memphis so I gave him Rich’s name and then completely forgot about it!”

Maggie was crying but these were tears of joy, “But now, it makes perfect sense. Even with the pills, I still didn’t see why Nick would have attacked Trent in such a way since we didn’t know…”

She couldn’t take it anymore, Melanie walked in front of the group, “What is going on? What could possibly make you all happy about Nick? And why doesn’t he look happy?”

Everyone’s smile faded when they saw her. Remaining silent, they all looked to Max to explain. He stood up, “Melanie, listen, this is not good news for you, I’m afraid. See, what Chelsea found at Nick’s apartment was evidence against Trent for…um, several crimes.”

“What kind of crimes? Look, if you’re worried about scaring me, don’t be, my father had told me he did some less then reputable things in the past, things he wasn’t proud of, I’m sure all of you did.”

Everyone still looked nervous about the news, even Chelsea did. Max realized their present location wasn’t the ideal place to break the news of what Trent really was. Reaching out for Melanie, Max said, “Here, let’s go out to the hall, there are some meeting rooms I bet we can find that we can talk about this.”

“I’m not going anywhere, just tell me what…” before Melanie could finish the door opened, and out came everyone. Melanie noted that while Mickey looked happy, Nick still seemed upset. It was all perplexing.

The judge hit his gavel, and everyone sat down. “The information presented to me makes it clear that Nick Fallon, though probably not in complete control thanks to the drugs, had every reason to believe Trent Robbins was capable of hurting his daughter. The hearing finds the death of Trent Robbins to be an act of defense.” He then hit the gavel again, making the ruling final.

Melanie sat in shock. Nick’s family and friends stood up again, hugging as they were before at the good news, only Nick still didn’t look pleased and he was staring at Melanie with what appeared to be regret. He tore his eyes away from her, and began talking to the people in the group. Melanie made a beeline to them to try to listen to what he said.

“Just don’t let her know what he really did. She doesn’t have to know the truth, just let her believe whatever she wants, that I did it and Mickey got me off. Can’t we do that?”

Melanie had enough; she pushed through the crowd, demanding to know what her father supposedly did.

Max finally told her the truth, “Melanie, I’m afraid Nick found out your father…killed your mother.”

“Max!” Nick yelled.

“Listen, she wasn’t going to just let this go, Nick. And I’d rather her hear it from me, look, Melanie, the stuff at Nick’s apartment makes it very clear that..”

Melanie was still digesting the news, and she jumped away from Max. “I don’t know where you got that idea, or what Nick has, but that isn’t true. My mother died in an accidental fire.”

“Melanie,” Nick said in a whisper. She turned to him. He looked so defeated. He walked closer to her. She backed away; she still didn’t want to be near him. Accepting the distance, Nick explained. “When you told me how little you knew of Celia, I did want to find as much information as I could. So you could learn about your mother. But everything that kept coming up was that her death in that damn fire.”

He paused at the look she gave him. He glanced at the evidence behind him, remembering now what he tried to forget. Turning back to her, he went on. “Trent lied to you about that fire. It didn’t happen because of lightening as he had you believe, the newspaper articles published in The Commercial Appeal clearly declared arson. They mention your father as prime suspect, but the case never was proven.”

“That’s because he didn’t do it, maybe he might have been a suspect but they always suspect the closest to the…”

“Melanie,” Nick interrupted, “he did do it. He was in massive debt to the local mob for gambling. He formed a prostitution ring with the girls from the university that became very lucrative and was paying off the debt. Unfortunately your mom found out about it, she was especially sickened by his pimping out the young girls and was going to turn him in. So he put a hit out on her, after making sure he had an iron-clad alibi with one of the girls for himself. From there, he was indebted to them, and that’s why…”

Nick had to stop for a moment, the sheer horror of it all was getting to him. “He’s been sending women to these people for years. For the more important ones, he’s been using…you.”

“That’s not true, I…what a horrible thing to say…” Melanie was crying. Nick couldn’t be telling the truth. “How dare you make up such a thing…”

“Melanie, he admitted all of this after he knocked you out.”

She still didn’t want to accept it, looking at the others, their pity making her want to throw up. “No, that’s his word against my dad’s, Nick is just making that up! I’m telling all of you, my dad was not a…”

Now Chelsea stepped forward, “Melanie, we have his confession recorded. He admits to using the mob to kill Celia.”

“But he told me he loved her, and I look like her. How could my dad…” Melanie began shaking. She felt sick. She started to fall but Max was right by her side. He asked her what she wanted.

“I just want to go home.”

Chapter 47

Chelsea got off the elevator, heading down the hall to Stephanie’s small office. Since Stephanie worked in the executive part of Titan, most people weren’t allowed on this floor without an appointment, but being a Kiriakis herself, Chelsea was free to come anytime.

Arriving at Stephanie’s desk, Chelsea smiled as her friend was finishing up a call. Sitting down, Chelsea thought about that morning. It had been a week since Nick’s hearing, and in spite of Nick coming together to explain everything to Melanie, he had reverted back to his depressive state when returning to the hospital. Marlena didn’t call it a setback, but Chelsea saw it that way. Marlena said that Nick could come out of the depression anytime, but it was up to him now. That morning Chelsea went as usual, but nothing had changed. At this point, she had run out of platitudes to say or cheery banter, now she would just talk about her classes winding down and exams were coming up. She felt like a failure, she had hoped that somehow she’d be able to get Nick to come around and be himself, but so far it hadn’t worked.

“Sorry about that,” Stephanie said, putting the receiver down. “Trying to wrap this up for Philip before we go to lunch.”

“Is he joining us?” Chelsea teased, expecting Stephanie to roll her eyes at the thought.

Instead, her friend blushed, “No, he had a meeting to go to, well, you know, the one I took the information down for a few weeks ago when he was in there with Kate.”

“I remember, you were going to apologize I think.”

Stephanie reached down and picked up her purse. “Well, I didn’t get a chance to. Philip beat me to it on the day we got back to work. He thanked me for getting the message and for seeing he was in no shape to answer the call. He said he should never have yelled at me.”

Chelsea’s eyes arched, “Wow, Philip apologizing? We should twitter that and see how fast it goes around the world.”

Stephanie laughed. “Well, I guess you are right that he can be sweet when he wants to. As a peace offering he took me out to lunch yesterday.”

“Really?” this got Chelsea’s attention.

Now Stephanie rolled her eyes at Chelsea, “Oh please. You know it wasn’t like that at all.”

Chelsea’s face broke into one of her incorrigible grins, “I know nothing. You are single, Philip is single. Both of your good looking, are you telling me you never thought about…”

“Yes, I’m telling you I’ve never thought about it. I won’t deny Philip is good looking but the attraction wears off pretty quickly when he’s yelling or rude at you all the time. It was just nice yesterday to not sit with that version while instead get to know the one you must know. He even opened up a little about losing his mom, which was touching.”

Chelsea stood up, hoping Stephanie was ready to go. “Hmm, well, I’m glad he wasn’t talking about business for a change, and he probably needed to talk about Grandma, but I hope it wasn’t too depressing for you.”

Stephanie stood up too, pushing her chair in, “Actually, he did talk about other stuff. Did you know he’s a Hitchcock fan?”

Chelsea nodded her head, “Oh, yes, you get him started he won’t shut up about it.”

“Yea, I know, it was funny. I got a full lecture on a MacGuffin.”

The girls walked down the hallway, laughing. Chelsea agreed, “Yes, I know all about Hitchcock’s term for a, let me see if I can get this right, ‘a plot device used to push the story in a certain direction.’ “

“Don’t forget that ‘it’s usually unimportant to the story itself and sometimes will be forgotten after it’s fulfilled it’s usefulness.” Both girls laughed.

Suddenly a ring got Chelsea’s attention, “Do you hear that? Is that a cell phone?”

Stephanie stopped and listened. The sound was coming from Philip’s own office. Because she knew he was out, she opened the door to look inside. His cell was ringing on the desk.

“Oh, he must have forgotten this! That’s so unlike him.” Stephanie said as they walked over to it. The phone already stopped going to voicemail.

Chelsea nodded, “Yea, I know, he wouldn’t leave it even for grandma’s funeral.”

Checking her watch, Stephanie said, “You know, he should just be getting down to the docks. Maybe we could go down there and drop it off to him.”

“Trying to score brownie points or do you want to just see him again?” Chelsea again teased.

“Will you stop!” Stephanie said, though her cheeks flushed slightly, “I just figured it was a good excuse to take an extra long lunch and then we can go to that delicious seafood place near there.”

“Oh, even better!”

—————

As the girls got out of the car, Chelsea was a bit concerned. She had never been to this side of the shipping district before and there were very few people out. The ones she did see, were eyeing them in such a way it was making her nervous. “Are you sure this is where Philip said he would be?”

Stephanie nodded, but looked very nervous as well. “Yea, I didn’t realize…well, I didn’t imagine it would be in this part of town. Why would Philip need to meet way down here?”

Chelsea shrugged, not sure either. Walking up to the warehouse, there stood a man outside the door. A very big man who didn’t seem friendly in the slightest. Seeing them, he turned and opened the door, speaking to someone inside.

Both girls stopped when he shut the door, he was walking towards them. “I don’t like this,” Chelsea said.

“Neither do I.”

Without speaking further, they turned around and tried to walk away, which is when they realized there were two guys right behind them. Both girls gasped when one pulled out a gun.

“Here, just take our purses,” Stephanie said with a shaky voice.

“Who are you? What are you doing down here.”

Not wanting to mention Philip’s name, since a rich, influential businessman was probably someone else they would target, they both tried to come up with excuses. Chelsea mentioned they were going for a walk while Stephanie said they were lost. The men were not fooled, and within a few minutes, were dragging them inside the warehouse.

“Hey Boss, these girls were sniffing around.”

The man who the henchman answered to was a stranger but there was little doubt he was not someone the girls would want to spend time with. He had two more guys around him, who were holding guns out for all to see. But it was the man sitting down at a table, counting money that got their full attention.

“Philip!” they exclaimed in total shock.

Chapter 48

“Stephanie, Chelsea, what are you doing here?” Philip asked, glancing at the dealers he was meeting. Annoyance that marked their faces was not a good thing.

“We could ask you the same!” Chelsea said, obviously angry. Stephanie’s look was different. There was anger and fear, but something else Philip couldn’t define. Disappointment?

“Listen, George, we can just wrap this up…”

“Who are these girls, Kiriakis?” The main guy said while standing behind his henchman. He was glaring at the girls, looking most unhappy at their presence.

“It’s not what you think, why don’t you come back here and we’ll finish our business and…” Philip tried to reason but George wasn’t having it. He waved for the guy by the door to come in and they began closing in on everyone.

Philip realized things were falling apart, and cursed himself for the situation. He usually had his guards to stand around for protection but today he only brought the one. Looking back, he was glad to see Goodman standing by with his finger on his own gun.

Chelsea and Stephanie were pushed over to where Philip was, and told to sit down. Seeing how scared they were, Philip said, “Relax, I can take care of this.”

Through gritted teeth, Stephanie snarled, “Really? Cause it looks like they are eating out of your hand so far!”

George noticed the conversation and asked quickly, “What are you saying? I warned you, boy, if you tried to con me…”

“My dad said you were a paranoid freak but this is ridiculous. I’m not trying to con you, George. One of them work for me, and the other is my niece, that’s all.” Philip was getting worried. He couldn’t let anything happen to Stephanie or Chelsea.

“Your niece?” George thought. “The one related to Bo Brady? Yea, I see the resemblance now.”

Chelsea inched closer to her friends, wondering how could things get any worse. As if on cue, the one by a window said, “Hey, there’s a squad car driving by.”

“There’s always a squad car driving by,” Philip said, frustrated. “We have to work our way in here so they won’t see us coming in. Don’t you remember?”

George was walking to the window, “Yea, but now they must have seen us escorting the girls in though cause they are pulling up. Wait, they are pulling up by another car. Dammit, those girls brought them here.”

“No, we didn’t,” Chelsea said, not sure if she should say anything. “Look, we just came by accident, and this is all a big misunderstanding, we’ll go outside and tell the police we were just fishing and he’ll leave, then we’ll leave…”

The look Philip and Stephanie gave her shut her up. It didn’t matter, George wasn’t listening as he and two of the other goons were whispering. Philip decided enough was enough and looked over to Goodman to do something. His guard complied by pulling out his gun…

The gunfire inside was deafening.

————

Nick walked into the hospital waiting room. He was told he had a visitor so Nick waited on the person to show up. Glancing at the clock, Nick guessed it was Chelsea coming for her afternoon visit. She’d been visiting at least three times a day and stayed as long as a visit allowed. Nick could almost set his watch by her. He wondered how long it would take before Chelsea would get bored and give up.

She’s not given up yet. Nick ignored the voice. He was getting better at it.

The door opened and Nick glanced up, preparing himself to see Chelsea’s smile. Instead, it was Melanie. The shock at seeing her made his jaw drop.

“Hi, Nick,” Melanie said. “I hope it’s ok for me to come and see you.”

It took a few seconds for Nick to recover and answer, for so long he had been wishing Melanie would walk through that door. When she finally did, he wasn’t prepared. “Of course, please, sit down.”

Where’s Chelsea? Nick flinched at the curious thought. He was not going to sit here and think about Chelsea with Melanie in front of him. “I’m surprised to see you.”

“Yea, I’m sure. I thought maybe I should give you a call first, let you know it was me but then I thought you probably wouldn’t want to see me…”

Nick shook his head, “Melanie, of course, I want to see you. Why wouldn’t I?”

Melanie couldn’t look him in the eye, “Because of these last few weeks and the way I treated you. Nick, I’ve come by to ask for your forgiveness. I’m so sorry…”

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” Nick said.

She smiled sweetly, that smile that used to make his heart flutter like crazy. He noticed this time, the smile had little effect. “You almost went to jail because of me. You were willing to go to jail rather then me knowing the real man my father was. I still can’t believe you would do that.”

He blushed. “Well, I don’t know if I preferred going to jail, but, now that Trent is dead, I wanted to spare you finding out the real truth. If that meant I looked worse in your eyes for it, then fine.”

She smiled again. “That’s actually what Chelsea said.”

“Chelsea? She spoke to you?” He wasn’t expecting that.

“Hmm? No, not really spoke. It was right after the hearing and you were taken back to the hospital. I was still in shock after hearing the news. We were outside by the steps. I asked Max why you would do that. I didn’t understand. Chelsea overheard me and answered.”

Nick leaned in, “What did she say?”

Melanie thought, trying to remember the exact words, “Basically she said that Nick, um, you don’t hold back when protecting those you care for, even when doing so hurts you all the more. I wish…I guess I didn’t realize that for myself.”

Nick leaned back now, imaging Chelsea saying such a thing. Again, he blushed and quickly looked away. “Well, I hadn’t ever thought about it like that I guess. I just wanted to help you the only way I could.”

“Even though I was trying to send you to jail,” Melanie said, regret coloring her face. “Nick, some of the things I said, to you, about you. I’ve been wrong before but never have I wished so much that I could just take it back.”

“Sure, Melanie, it’s ok. You were going through your own personal tragedy. One that I was responsible for with investigating Trent and making him become unglued like that.”

“You were looking out for me, more then anyone else.” Melanie smiled, she reached out her hands to take his, squeezing them. “I miss you.”

Nick looked down at her hands, waiting for the gesture to initiate something. Instead, he just felt empty. Though her hands were warm, touching them didn’t feel the way he remembered. They don’t feel like Chelsea’s hands.

“Melanie,” Nick said, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but, while I have missed you and will always care about you…we can’t go back…”

Seeing where he was going, Melanie jerked her hands away, then waving for him to stop. She looked like she might cry, Nick flinched, he always seemed to make girls cry. “I’m sorry.”

“No, Nick,” she replied, “I’m sorry. I mean, I’m really sorry. I came to really…I don’t know if I loved you. I’ve never been in love before. I know I cared more for you then any other guy I’ve ever dated.”

He nodded, “I know. I care very much for you too. You came into my life at a time where I needed someone to look at me for me, and you did just that. Maybe if I had not taken the pills, things might have gone differently, we could have gone further.”

A tear ran down her cheek. Not sure how to respond, he wasn’t used to being the heart breaker. “If you ever need anything, you just have to ask.”

She wiped the tear away, but decided to go ahead and ask now. “How about you getting out of here?”

“Oh, well, I don’t know, I just…” Nick’s eyes darted over to the TV and he saw the news had broken into the regular programming. While the sound was off, the closed captioning was on. Apparently some kind of raid was happening down at the docks.

“What?” Melanie asked, following his gaze. “Oh, is that here?”

Nick shook his head, he was watching to see if he could get a glimpse of Bo or Hope, sometimes they had the police doing interviews. What he didn’t expect was the reporter’s words, “Since shots ran out earlier, the police are taking no chances with risking any innocent lives. One of the of gunmen shouted out they had a few hostages including the acting police commissioner’s daughter.”

“What?” Nick shouted, jumping up, the force of his move sending the chair he was in far back. “Do they mean Chelsea?”

Melanie didn’t know, and was watching helplessly as Nick was. He walked over to the TV to turn the sound back on, so they weren’t forced to read everything on the prompter. No more information was given on whoever was being held, but Nick couldn’t sit by and let this hang in the air. Walking over to the door, he looked out down the long hallway, past the male nurse to the non-secured side of the hospital.

“What are you doing?” Melanie asked.

“Ok, I can see one of the rooms down that hall is a janitorial closet, maybe I can switch my robe and gown for a uniform, that is if I’m lucky.”

She was looking at him like he was back on Honazine, “What are you talking about?”

Nick took a breath, he wondered if Melanie could help him. “I need to get out of here. I have got to get down to the docks to make sure Chelsea is all right. She may need me.”

“Chelsea? Nick, if she is taken hostage, do you think you can break into a warehouse while the whole police department watched on?”

He flinched at Melanie’s tone, her comment perfectly reasonable. “No, no, of course not. But, look, she’s in trouble and I have to get down there. I want to be as close as I can…do you understand?”

Melanie’s face looked incredibly sad when she answered, “Yea, I’m afraid I do.”

“Good, can you help me?”

“What, how?” she asked.

Nick smiled, “Well, I thought you could distract the guard that keeps checking in on us. He’s over there. I think his name is Nathan. If you can get him to leave his post…”

“Nathan? Why would I do …oh, I see.”

Nick smiled as he watched Melanie walk over to the other door and lean up against it. Nathan looked up to see her waving at him to come over. He opened the door, and Melanie coughed, “I’m sorry, could you help me find some water please. I’ve gotten choked up a bit.”

He was a young kid, he had told Nick he was hoping to get accepted into medical school soon, but he took a job at the hospital to get as much experience as possible. Melanie pretended to have a hard time standing, and leaned on his strong arm. Nathan glanced behind her to look at Nick who had ran back to his seat and looking bored. As soon as he walked out of sight, Nick jumped up and ran down the corridor.

Chapter 49

Philip, Stephanie and Chelsea were now tied up, Goodman lay dead on the floor in the corner. The goon Philip was meeting, George, was freaking out, upset the police had arrived so quickly and had no plan to get out of there.

As the three watched on, Chelsea thought about Nick, realizing she might never see him again. Even if he wasn’t still in love with her, she knew the news she was killed would upset him, and probably make his condition worse. All she wished for now was he would come out of it.

Stephanie scooted back a little, shifting her weight to her side. Philip was trying to concentrate, but Stephanie’s movements was pressing her up against him, thus distracting him. “Stephanie, please, I’m trying to think.”

“We could remain here all day waiting on you to think,” she said with confidence, taking both Philip and Chelsea surprise. At their looks, she said, “My bracelet is broken so it has a sharp edge to it. I’m trying to use it to cut through these ropes.”

“Why would you keep wearing a broken bracelet?” Philip asked, realizing at once it was a stupid question.

She just shrugged, “Because it’s pretty. There, I’m free. I’m going to slide it over to you, Chelsea, so you can get free.”

Philip shook his head, “Let me have it.”

“Why? So you can run away and leave us alone?” Stephanie glared.

“Do you really think I would…”

“I don’t know what to think of you, Philip, but clearly you weren’t the man I thought you were.” Stephanie’s icy stare remained on Philip who returned it. They didn’t realize Chelsea had worked through her ropes. She cleared her throat so she could scoot the makeshift tool to Philip.

After he was free, they worked on their plan. Philip wanted the girls to run once he distracted the guards, but both girls weren’t sure about that. Stephanie wanted to push the closest guard into the stairwell, then run behind some storage containers while Philip try to take out the guard closest to them. Philip cursed, realizing his handicapped leg would prevent him from making it over there in time. Stephanie took the setback in stride and they reworked a plan that hopefully would get them all out safely.

————-

“Nick, I swear, if you don’t sit down, I’m going to handcuff you in a squad car!” Bo yelled. Against his better judgment, he allowed Nick to stay, instead of returning him to the hospital.

“There has to be something I can do, Bo, and my imagination is going crazy at what they could be doing in there to her!”

Taking her cousin by the arm, Hope said gently, “Nick, we feel helpless too. Don’t forget Chelsea is Bo’s own daughter not to mention Stephanie and Philip are his family as well.”

“Sorry,” Nick said, a little shamefaced. “I just…I can’t believe Chelsea could die and the last thing I said to her…” Tears came to his face.

A gunshot was heard, and everyone started reacting. Bo was screaming into the radio, asking who fired and could anyone see anything. The snipers said they had a clear shot and could take them out now and immediately, Bo allowed the order.

Nick felt himself tense up until it hurt, the sound of additional gunfire adding onto the constant worry that Chelsea could get into the crossfire. She’s never one to remain stationary during times like this.

With silence from the warehouse, everyone stood waiting to see if anything else happened. It was the longest few moments of Nick’s life. But the door opened, and out came Philip, leaning on Chelsea with Stephanie next to them. They looked tired and scared, but appeared overall fine.

Upon seeing Chelsea, Nick ran out of Hope’s arms, leaping over the car to get to her. She was so shocked (but happy) to see him, she rushed forward, forgetting Philip who was apparently needing her for support. Stephanie rushed forward then, allowing herself to be leaned on.

“Nick! What are you doing here?” Chelsea exclaimed, though overjoyed to see him here.

“I had to come, you were in danger, I had to come…” he had to stop talking. The hug he was giving her felt so good, and she gladly returned it.

Stephanie smiled as she watched her friends embrace. Bo and Hope came over, asking if everyone was alright. Chelsea and Stephanie appeared ok, it was Philip who was the one limping.

Hope frowned, looking down at his legs, “We have an ambulance over there, we’ll call them over…”

“No, no, I’m ok. During the fight my artificial leg got damaged, but I’m fine.”

Bo nodded his head, trying his best to look at Chelsea who still was in Nick’s arms. Deciding his daughter was alright, he let his temper go. “Philip, what the hell is going on down here? And how did my daughter and niece get sucked into this…”

Philip didn’t really respond, he had no real excuses. He didn’t have to, out of no where, Victor appeared with his lawyer by his side. “Say nothing, Philip. Bo, I’m sure my son was just as much of a victim as the girls were.”

Philip looked upset at his father appearing to bail him out, but Bo was not having it. Immediately he and Victor began arguing. Nick and Chelsea finally let go of each other, and moved off to the side. Philip was starting to get heavy, so Stephanie steered him over to the side as well so he could lean up against the wall.

Sitting on the ground, Nick took Chelsea’s hands, still happy she was ok. Chelsea smiled shyly, she wasn’t sure if Nick was really back or not. “So they let you out of the hospital?”

He laughed some, “Um, not exactly. See, I…”

“God, Philip, honestly, you think I want to stand here by you?”

Both Nick and Chelsea stopped to watch the other two. Stephanie had moved away from Philip who looked shocked at her outburst. He couldn’t walk towards her, he had to use the nearby wall as support. “Stephanie, I was just trying to apologize and thank you for your help in us getting out of there…”

“You know, Philip,” Chelsea could see tears in her friends eyes. “Even when you were acting like the biggest jackass around, I still defended you to my father. He said you were just a gangster. I told him you were wrong, that while you might have made some mistakes in regards to Morgan’s dad, you weren’t like your father, and were trying to take the Kiriakis name and make it completely legit.”

“Stephanie…”

“Let me finish, the thing is, my dad was right. And I’m standing here wondering why I ever defended you. Or how I could even feel like there was more to you then just the business suits and charming smile. I spoke to one of those guys on the phone, not to mention me and Chelsea could have been killed. God knows how I might have contributed to this.”

Philip shook his head, “I’m sorry, you two got involved like that…”

“But not for the crime that was going down?” she walked closer to Philip, getting in his face, “You know, you really are like your father, Philip.”

She turned around, walking off, and yelling, “By the way, I quit!”

Before Philip could decide how to react, Bo appeared again, apparently he was done with Victor. He was furious, that was clear. The lawyer that had come with Victor now appeared, trying to help Philip leave. “Come along, sir.”

Philip kept staring at his older brother, then said, “Bo, trust me, I know how you feel.”

“Do you?” responded Bo. “Besides putting everyone in danger, you do realize you have placed Chelsea and Stephanie in a position now where they have to testify against you?”

Philip’s face made it clear he had not considered that. Bo shook his head, “That’s what I thought.”

“Chelsea, sweetheart, are you ok?” Victor asked. Both Chelsea and Nick were so wrapped up in the scene before them they didn’t realize her grandfather had approached them.

“I’m fine, Grampa,” she said awkwardly, not sure how to respond to him.

“I’ve got the car if you want to go home now…”

She shook her head, knowing that while she didn’t know where she stood with Nick, the last thing she wanted was to go to the Kiriakis house. “No, um, thanks. I’ll be ok.”

Victor nodded, giving an odd look to Nick who tightened his arm around Chelsea. The two watched as Victor walked away.

“So, are you sure you’re ok?” Nick asked. In spite of everything, Chelsea chuckled, surprising him. “What?”

“It’s just…I’ve been asking you that for so long. Missing you, wanting you back. Now, with today’s events over with and everyone basically safe, I am so happy to hear you ask that.”

He smiled, leaning in and kissing her cheek. Chelsea’s heart raced. She pulled back, she wanted to kiss him so much. He tilted his head and began to lean in. She could feel his breath.

“So good news, Nick,” they heard Bo’s voice. Immediately they split apart. Bo stood smiling while Hope rolled her eyes. “I just got off the phone with Marlena, she’s not sure you have to go back to the hospital tonight, if you didn’t want to.”

Nick’s eyes widened, “Um, no, I don’t want to. I think…it would be good to finally sleep in my own bed again.”

He wasn’t facing Chelsea to see her smile but Hope could. “Well, there is a catch though. She didn’t want you to be alone tonight. We need someone to volunteer to stay with you…”

“Oh, I will!” Chelsea spoke way too fast. She blushed as Nick looked back at her. Luckily, his face broke out in a grin which made her respond in kind.

“Yea, that will probably work. We’ll have a squad car take you two there.” Hope said. Bo tensed up besides her, and she pinched him to keep silent.

As Chelsea and Nick got into the car, while still holding hands, Bo turned to his wife, “Marlena didn’t say he had to have someone. And I really wanted Chelsea to spend the night with us.”

Bo looked so earnest, Hope couldn’t resist chuckling herself. “Oh, Bo, you really are dense sometimes, but that’s ok, I love you anyway.”

50-55

Title Page

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