"They found you at the crime scene. Carly's blood on your hands," Dara said, still in shock that she'd signed on as his attorney. "Bail will be denied."
"That's what I hired you for." Sonny's dark gaze followed her as she paced the length of the table.
Dara grunted. "I'm not that good."
"You'd be surprised." He sat up straight and continued to watch her. "You're the best. I'm not worried."
"You should be. You're charged with a capital offense. Do you realize you could die?"
He shook his head. "It won't get that far."
"Your confidence in me is insane." She stopped mid-stride and returned to her seat.
His eyes narrowed. "Thatís not the defense I want."
Dara begged to differ. Only a man not in full control of his faculties would marry Carly. But she didn't go there. Instead, she grabbed her pen and began to make notes. "You're a flight risk. I doubt if they'll let you out."
Alarm bells rang inside her head. She caught herself glancing uneasily over her shoulder. "Don't even joke about that."
"I'm not," he answered, his jaw set.
She began to gather her notepad and pen. Hastily, she shoved everything inside her briefcase.
"What are you doing?"
"Getting the hell out of here while I'm still a member of the Bar."
"Dara, it's not what you think--"
"Oh, yes it is." She moved quickly. "You don't need a real attorney. Any plain old puppet will do. You can't pull my strings like that. I won't jump. Goodbye, Sonny and good luck."
"Dara." His chair scraped across the floor as he stood. The noise echoed loudly in the room. "Wait. I don't need any attorney or a puppet. I need you."
Her hand clenched the briefcase handle. She gave a choked, desperate laugh. Without turning around, she said, "I'm not that easy."
Maybe last year, but not now.
"I'm innocent." His voice faded, losing its steely edge. "I need you, Dara, to prove that."
She slowly turned to face him. "Why me?"
"Because you're the only one who cares."
She heard the news on the grapevine. Her sister took the mob boss's case. Shit. Did Dara stop to think for a second how her decision had a snowball effect? The crap hadn't hit the fan at the precinct. Yet.
Twice in one year. Dawn sadly shook her head. She might as well start looking at the want ads now.
Her partner nudged her as he claimed the barstool on her left. "Don't take it so hard, kid."
Detective Lenny Briscoe, NYPD's voice of reason. Dawn released a humorless chuckle. "You have my back?"
He shrugged. "Sure."
"Aw, Lenny, come on," she said. "With me gone, Ed has a clear shot back."
"Who says he wants to come back?" The bartender placed a club soda in front of the seasoned Detective who took a healthy swallow. "Ed's good in Las Vegas, working with CSI. He won't come back here."
"Do you think they have an opening out there?" She put on a smile that she didn't feel. "Maybe he'd put in a good word for me."
He gave her a long look. "It's not that bad. We protect our own. You'll be okay."
"Famous last words." This time, the smile was real.
The bell over the cop bar rang. She didn't look. The wild berry wine cooler trickled down her throat. AhÖ
Someone settled on the other stool. Familiar cologne created an old response. Her skin prickled. Her pulse quickened. She clamped her jaw tight and stared straight ahead at the mirror on the other side of the bar. She met the jackass's gaze in the reflection.
He cut his eyes to Lenny for a moment and smirked. "I know you dig older guys, but this is ridiculous."
Lenny stiffened. "You want me to take care of this butt wipe?"
Dawn shook her head. "Nope." She reached inside her jacket for her weapon.
Fox Mulder hopped from the stool. "Come on! Put the gun down. I'm here as a friend."
She kept her hand on the gun. "A friend? You have no idea what that word means."
"How about husband?"
She swallowed the bile that rose to her throat and returned her piece to the shoulder holster. "Ex."
"Not quite," he reminded her as he returned to the stool. "The divorce isn't final until the end of the month."
"Ah, yes," she said with as much sarcasm as she could muster. "The light at the end of the tunnel. I see it now. Free. Dom. It looks beautiful. I can hardly wait to experience it."
"Let's not do this." Sincerity lit up his hazel eyes.
She didn't want to be sucked in again. Dawn dropped bills on the counter to pay for her drink and stood. "See ya later, Lenny. Thanks."
"Don't mention it." He jutted his head at Fox. "Sure you don't want me to pistol whip him? Out back? Quick and easy."
She patted her partner's shoulder. "Nah, but I'll take a rain check on the offer."
Dawn left the bar. To her utter dismay, her not quite ex-husband followed. She turned on him. "Go away, Fox. Leave me alone."
"I can't," he said. He moved as if he wanted to touch her. She flinched. "Dawn, give me a break! I just wanna talk."
"What's under the jacket?" She slapped at the opening of his calf-length leather jacket. "Where's the wire?"
"I won't dignify that with a response. That was a misunderstanding."
"We could have lost the case because of you! You betrayed me and it was a misunderstanding?" Pain squeezed her heart. "They put me on desk duty for a month! I could have lost my badge."
"That's not what I wanted--"
He raised his hands in mock defense. "Look. I didn't come to fight."
"What do you want?" She folded her arms across her chest.
"I heard about Dara's newest client--"
"No!" Fox cut in. "I'm not here as a reporter. I just want to know how you are."
"You know why," he replied, "but you're too mad and stubborn to admit it."
Jack waited on the steps of the brownstone. Half a dozen times, he almost walked away. Unethical and stupid. He knew better, but he didn't want the first time they saw each other to be inside a courtroom.
Her petite frame strode purposefully down the sidewalk. He straightened. This was it. Do or die.
"You didn't let me know you were back in town," he said. "I had a job waiting for you."
Dara moved up the steps. "I've been back a year and in court too many times to count. You've known I was back for awhile."
Jack stood aside as she unlocked the outer door. When she held it open, he took it as invitation and followed. "I didn't know what to say."
"You? Jack McCoy at a loss for words?" Dara chuckled. "I find that hard to believe. What about that job offer? You could have started with that."
"I didn't think you'd take it," he said. They reached her apartment. Again, he followed. "You were the DA in Port Charles. Any offer from me would be a step down."
"Don't be so modest." She set her briefcase near her desk and shrugged out of her suit jacket. "Want a drink?"
"A whisky if you have it."
She left and returned with two shot glasses and a bottle of Jack Daniels. "JD okay?"
Jack smiled. "I've never had a problem with him."
Quick as a flash, she poured the liquor. Jack took one glass and Dara grabbed the other. They lifted the glasses.
"To old times," he said.
They clinked glasses and swallowed the alcohol. The whisky burned Jack's throat, but it was a good burn. He noticed that his former clerk managed the shot without a flinch. In the old days, he could barely get her to drink root beer. A lot had changed.
"We've toasted and chatted." She settled against the cushions of her plush, ivory easy chair. "Why are you really here? It's about the Corinthos case."
He nodded. "It's a Mafia murder trial, Dara. Are you sure you want this?"
"Do you think I can't handle it?" Her lips barely moved.
She misunderstood him. He anticipated that. "No, not in the courtroom. I've seen you in action. You're good. This one is dangerous."
"I'm not afraid."