When Nick wakes up, Dottie's still in his arms. Her head is on his chest and her arm is across his stomach. The feeling of her flesh against his makes his heart race. She shifts in her sleep and presses against him even more.
Closing his eyes, he thinks back to the first time she told him she loved him. The first morning he woke up with her in his arms and he knew his life was complete.
New York Hotel Room, 6 months earlier:
Nick couldn't understand why he couldn't roll over. He felt like something was holding him down on the bed, but he just couldn't figure out what. He tried to move again, only to realize someone was lying with him. Forcing his eyes open, he tried to focus on who was with him. His eyes grew wider when he saw Dottie sleeping in his bed, her head on his shoulder, and her arm around his waist. He was holding her close to his body. One of her legs rested on his.
His eyes misted as he realized what this meant. She wanted to be with him. Now if only she loved him, things would be perfect. He gently kissed the top of her head. She moved in her sleep, snuggling closer. He just held her, not believing how good it felt to have her here. Looking down, he saw her looking back at him with a sleepy smile on her face. "Hi Nick."
"Hey D. How did you get here?"
Dottie pulled back a little, looking up into his face more fully. "By plane. And you?"
"OK, Miss Smarty-Pants, you know what I mean. Why are you here in New York?" His question seemed innocent enough, but inside he was hoping for one specific answer.
"I wanted to see you, Silly!" was her reply. She was stalling for time because she was so nervous.
Nick looked a bit confused. "You wanted to see me? Is everything ok?"
"Yes, Nick, everything is fine. Don't worry. I just wanted to see you. I needed to talk to you about something." She was moving her hand lightly up and down his chest as she spoke. He couldn't believe how good her touch felt, even through his shirt.
"Tell me what's going on, D. What's on your mind?"
"You are on my mind, Nick. I missed you so much. I wanted to come and be here for you. I saw you on TV. You looked so tired. You sounded so tired."
Before she could go on, Nick leaned down, covering her mouth with his. His tongue gently licked her lips, begging to move inside her mouth. She hesitated for only a second before her lips parted, allowing Nick's tongue to touch hers. All thought left her mind as he deepened the kiss, rolling over slightly to partly cover her body with his. His arms pulled her closer as her free hand moved to his head, tangling in his hair pulling him even closer.
He moaned in pleasure, his lips devouring hers. When he finally pulled back, they were both flushed with excitement, knowing this was a turning point in their relationship. Nick placed his forehead on hers, staring into her eyes. "Baby, that was incredible. What brought all of this on?"
Dottie knew this was the moment of truth. "Nick, I was just...I wanted to..." When she trailed off, Nick leaned in and kissed her lightly. When he pulled back she whispered, "I love you Nicky. I wanted to tell you I love you. That's why I'm here."
Nick is brought back to the present when Dottie's grip on him tightens. He looks down to see a troubled look on her face and he knows she's having a nightmare. Holding her close, he whispers, "Wake up Baby. It's ok, I'm right here."
She jerks away from him and sits up, screaming "NO!"
Nick sits up quickly and grabs her. He says, "D, come on, it was just a dream. It's ok."
She turns and looks at him, fear etched on her face. She falls against him, sobbing, wrapping her arms around his neck as tight as she can. Holding her and rubbing her back, he whispers, "Baby, don't cry. I'm right here and everything is ok. It was just a dream."
He lies down again, holding her in his arms. When her sobs subside, she lays with her head on his shoulder sniffling. He says, "Sweetheart, what was it about?"
She says, "I don't want to talk about it Nick."
He says, "OK Sweetheart, we don't have to. But if you want to talk about it, you can tell me." They lay in silence. Nick wonders what could have scared her so bad.
Dottie keeps trying to push the images in the dream out of her mind, but she can't. In the dream, she was in handcuffs and they were trying to put her back in prison. Nick kept pushing her into a cell and the rest of them tried shutting the door. Feeling her breathing getting heavier, she knows she's in for a panic attack.
Nick can feel it too. He pulls her up and says, "Baby, look at me." When her eyes meet his, he says, "Breathe, Baby. Come on; take a deep breath for me." When she does, he says, "Good. Now keep breathing for me. Come on, D, nice, deep breaths."
When she's calm again, he says, "Talk to me. You can't keep it in."
She says, "You were trying to push me back into a jail cell. AJ, Howie and Brian were helping you and Amy was screaming for you to stop."
Tears gather in his eyes. He says, "Baby, that's never going to happen again. You're not going anywhere. You're going to be right here with me from now on. You know that, don't you?" She nods and he says, "Sweetheart, I wish I could make the dreams go away. What can I do?"
Putting her hand on the side of his face, she says, "Don't leave me Nick."
Turning to kiss her palm, he says, "Never. I'll always be here for you, Baby. Every day for the rest of our lives, we're going to be together. I promise."
She leans in and hugs him and says, "Thank you Nick."
Holding her, he turns until he's leaning against the head board of the bed and she's snuggled on his side. He says, "Dottie, you don't have to thank me. I want to help you get through this. I want the nightmares to be replaced with dreams of you and me together forever, ok? And I promise you, we're going to be together forever."
She says, "I know, Nick."
She pushes her face into his neck and kisses the sensitive flesh behind his ear before crawling between his legs. Nick holds her close and within minutes, she's asleep again.
Reaching over for the remote, he turns on the TV and finds a movie to watch. Dottie needs to feel safe and if sleeping in his arms sitting up is what makes her feel safe, then that's fine with Nick. He kisses the top of her head and lays his cheek against her hair. Where would he be without Dottie?
Nick dozes off too. An hour later, Dottie wakes up, curled against Nick. Remembering what happened, she feels so guilty. She knows Nick feels bad about what happened and he's worried about her. To be honest, she's worried too. What if the nightmares never go away?
She tries to slip out of Nick's arms but he's instantly awake. He says, "You ok, D?"
Sighing, she says, "Yeah. I'm sorry if I woke you."
He says, "Don't be. I didn't plan on falling asleep. But you felt so good against me, I couldn't help it."
She smiles and leans closer, kissing his cheek. She says, "Thank you, Nick."
He says, "Don't thank me Baby. It's my pleasure to be your bed. I love having you sleeping on me and feeling you against me."
She says, "How did I get so lucky?"
Smiling at her, he says, "It's fate. We're meant to be together."
Smiling back at him, she says, "I love you, Nicky."
He kisses her nose and says, "Good, because I love you. Now, are you ok?"
She says, "I will be, I think. I wish I knew why the dreams won't stop."
He says, "Give it time, Darling. They will stop. Until then, I'll be here when you wake up and I'll always hold you, ok? I promise."
She says, "I love it when you hold me. I always feel safe in your arms."
Kissing her gently, he says, "You are safe. No one will ever hurt you, Baby."
Their eyes meet and she leans in closer to him, touching her lips to his again. She deepens the kiss, putting her hands on the back of his neck and holding him close. As their lips part, she whispers, "I need you Nicky."
Sliding down in the bed and pulling her body over his, he whispers, "I need you too, Baby."