Part 3

Keesha couldn't believe this was happening. She hadn't seen Jian-Wa Chang in years. They shared a few magical moments in Philadelphia during the time she helped care for her sick father. Their parting was mutual and upon her return to Port Charles--and subsequently Jason's arms--she forgot about him. A bad mistake as she could tell by the murderous look in Jerry's steely eyes.

"What are you doing here?" She forced her voice to sound light and carefree. The look in Jian-Wa's face told her she hadn't succeeded. Unable to answer the questions in his eyes, she retrieved her son as she waited for his response.

"You know me. I can never stay in one spot for too long." He looked from her to Jerry to Jacob and back to Keesha. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," she said, grateful that a tremor hadn't crept into her voice. "Just great."

His eyes narrowed and a muscle worked at his jaw. Then, his gaze cut to Jacob. "What about you, little man? Are you okay, too?"

The little boy answered with silence and leaned against Keesha for protection. Instinctively, she held him close. No doubt, the child sensed the tension. All of his young years, she and AJ tried their best to protect him. Now, it was her sole responsibility. It amazed her how quickly she boggled the job.

Jerry moved to stand between her and Jian-Wa. His voice hardened and he assumed an aggressive stance. "Now, that we've established that everything is fine, state your business here."

"I saw the help wanted sign," Jian-Wa said. He stepped to the side so that he spoke to Keesha. "I'd like to apply for the position."

"That won't be necessary." Jerry cut in before she could respond.

"He's right," she quickly added. "You don't need to apply. You're hired. You can start tomorrow. And if you don't mind…"

He understood the hint and left.

Jerry moved fast as lightning to remove the sign from the window and lock the door. Using a calm voice, he asked, "Have you lost your mind? Why didn't you tell me about him? This blows everything. We'll have to start over again."

"No," she said. To Jacob, she added, "Pull out your favorite game and I'll be there in a minute to play with you."

"Okay, Mommy," he said.

After he left, Jerry unleashed his frustration. "Keesha! Surely, you can see that we need to leave now. You should have told me that you had ties in Connecticut. I would have located you somewhere else."

"I don't have ties here. Well, I didn't think so. I didn't know Jian-Wa was here. I haven't seen him in six years," she explained. "It's just a coincidence."

"A dangerous coincidence," he muttered. "Tell me about him."

"His name is Jian-Wa Chang. He's a violinist. He moved to the states in the early nineties after the uprising at Tianemen Square. He's a good man, Jerry."

"Where did you meet him?" He continued with his interrogation. "Does he know Jason?"

"I met him in Philadelphia," she said with a deep, defeated sigh. "You may as well know we dated."

The former mercenary grunted. "I gathered that from the way he looked at you and at Jacob." He stormed across the soon to be opened florist shop. Shaking his head, he ran a hand through his hair. "If I allow you to say here, it will go against all my instincts."

"Allow me?"

The hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Ire rippled through her. The words and his tone reminded her of Jason. After a misguided relationship with him, she broke things off and narrowly escaped being drawn into his world. Ward women didn't allow men to rule them. Keesha wasn't about to change that tradition now.

"Jerry, let's get a few things straight. Justus hired you to assist in protecting my son and me. Your work has been remarkable and deeply appreciated; however, don't ever think for one second that you own me and can tell me what I can and cannot do. I left Port Charles and assumed a new identity because ultimately it was the only choice I had. I have a choice now. I choose to stay here. My instincts tell me that Jian-Wa is not and will not be a threat. And I trust that."

"Understood," he said. He headed to the door. "You have my card. I hope you won't need to use it. Give my regards to your son. Good-bye."

*/*

In the end, Dara decided not to visit her parents. She called them and told them something came up. Her reasons weren't one hundred per cent clear to her. Not that it mattered. Finally a break in her schedule! Of course, she'd rather spend the time relaxing instead of being interrogated by her parents. Ever since Sonny's case made headlines, Clyde and Carlotta Jensen had been on her case about the clients she represented. Walking into a forty-eight hour lecture session wasn't on her list of fun things to do. She'd visit them when her sister could provide back-up.

She made quick work of cleaning her apartment. Then, she headed out. Manhattan always bustled with energy. Finding something to do would just happen. And if not? Well, she still had thoughts of the mystery man to keep her entertained.

"Wow," she murmured under breath. He was something.

At least six feet tall, he had presence and demanded attention. Impossibly long lashes framed his vibrant green eyes. If given a chance, she knew that falling wouldn't be too difficult. Not for the first time, she supposed just sharing one dance with him was more than enough. The element of danger seemed to hover around him, too. And after Sonny Corinthos, that was the absolute last thing she needed in her life.

Childish laughter drifted from the end of the block. Dara welcomed the distraction and moved toward it. A group of preteen girls and a jump rope brought back memories of her childhood. Double Dutch on a lazy Saturday afternoon always filled her with delight. Many times, her mother had to call her inside after spending all day 'throwing rope' or jumping it. Dara released a wistful sigh as she assumed the role of spectator. The girls noticed and beckoned her over.

"You guys are doing a great job," she said, looking each of the three girls in the eyes. "I used to jump double Dutch when I was your age."

The shortest girl spoke first. "Oh, yeah? Wanna jump with us?"

Dara smiled. "I'm a little rusty now, but if you want, I can turn the rope for you. I noticed you weren't jumping."

"Okay." The girl handed Dara the rope.

Just like riding a bike, Dara hadn't lost her rhythm for Double Dutch. The girls laughed and called out their jumping rope songs. Dara didn't recognize the words, but the beats hadn't changed. For a moment, she wondered what she'd missed by not having kids of her own to play with. With Dawn reconciling with Fox, maybe she wouldn't have to wait long to play with a little niece or nephew.

But damn if she didn't want her own little bundle of joy.

"You're good at that."

She jerked at the sudden male voice. She looked away from the jumping girls to find the stranger leaning against a lamppost. He smiled. "Hi."

"Hi, yourself," she said, continuing to turn the rope while her heart performed a perfect somersault. "This is a surprise."

"Tell me about it. I got turned around in the neighborhood and came down when I saw the girls jumping. I've always been a fan of Double Dutch. It was a good surprise to see you here. By the way, my name's Alex."

She nodded. "I'm Dara."

And just like that, her Saturday took an interesting turn for the better.

*/*

Fox cringed as Dawn pulled the flaps open on another box. "You don't have to do that. I don't need to have all this stuff unpacked in one day."

"No," she said, digging in, "but it'll feel more like home if it's done."

"It'll feel more like home if I were in the bedroom with you."

She swallowed hard and raised her head to meet his gaze. "Fox… We made a deal. Remember?"

"Oh, that's not something I can easily forget. Sharing a home with you, but not sharing a bed." He frowned. "Yeah, I can remember."

"Sex would only cloud the issue." She directed her attention back to the box and removing stacks of CDs and cassettes.

"It wouldn't be sex and you know it. We've never had sex. I don't want sex from you. I never have."

A low moan escaped from her parted lips. She sunk to the edge of the bed and mindlessly brushed stray strands from her cheek. He swiftly moved to join her. Taking a giant leap of faith, he placed his hand on the small of her back and slowly rubbed up. She trembled beneath his touch. He took it as a sign of encouragement.

His fingertips skimmed her neck. He leaned close, his mouth just inches from the delicate curve of her ear. God, how he loved her ears.

"I want you. But I'm willing to wait. You'll come to me," he whispered. "We'll make love then."

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