Chapter 6

It was December 28th when Dara returned to the office. She returned home late the night before from Buffalo. She hoped to get a fair amount of work completed in the quiet days between Christmas and the New Year. Dara sat in her desk chair taking a few minutes to daydream before diving into work. Upon arriving home and listening to her answering machine, she heard 2
messages from Mac asking her to call as soon as she got in town.

Dara picked up the telephone to call Mac at work and dialed his telephone number. Someone knocked at her office door. As she looked up Mac entered the office.

"Hi," Dara said as she hung up the telephone. "I was just calling you."

"Oh, you were, were you? Welcome back," Mac said as he came behind her desk, leaned forward as he braced his hands on the armrests of Dara's chair, and kissed her. Dara was surprised but didn't resist and immediately responded to the kiss, which lasted several seconds. Slowly Mac broke the kiss and pulled back a few inches from her face so that he could see her clearly. His
eyes were twinkling as he smiled and said, "You didn't think that I forgot that challenge you made at the elevator about how I needed help when kissing you, did I?"

Dara laughed, "You know that I didn't...." She never had a chance to complete the sentence because Mac leaned forward and kissed her again. This time he put his hands on her waist and lifted her and himself to a standing position without breaking the kiss. Dara's hands went from Mac's shoulder to his hair as she caressed him. His hands went from her waist to just above her hips and he held her close to him. Within a few seconds Dara gasped and pulled her head back as
she caught her breath.

"Mac," Dara said breathlessly as Mac's lips moved from her lips to her cheek and neck.

"Yes.... Dara...what is it...that.... you want to say?" Mac said between each passionate kiss to her
face and neck. Dara could not form a single coherent thought, much less speak a complete sentence. As she moved her head to look at him Mac captured her lips again and quickly deepened this kiss. Dara's whole body was beginning to react from Mac's kisses and touch and standing against him, she knew that his body was reacting to the kisses also. She also knew that
they would regret it if they didn't stop soon. Dara pulled her head back and placed the fingertips of her right hand on Mac's lips to stop him from beginning another kiss. Mac looked at her and immediately thought that Dara was right to break the kiss. His plan to ?thoroughly kiss her? as payback for her remark at the elevator was quickly getting out of control. Dara's office was not the place for the actions that were starting to occur. Mac released his grip on her and walked back a few steps.

"I'm sorry about that Dara. I didn't mean" Mac was at a loss for words. He ran his right hand through his hair inadvertently indicating his frustration. "I really missed you," he finally said, with a slightly sheepish grin. He walked around to the front of the desk and sat on the edge of it. He thought that it was safer at this moment to have a large heavy object between himself and Dara.

"Gee, I would have never guessed," teased Dara in an attempt to use humor to cover both of their
embarrassment. "I missed you too Mac," she said in a more serious tone of voice. "How was the rest of your holiday?"

"A mixed bag," Mac replied as he thought of Christmas night with Felicia and the girls. "Some of it was tense, but most of it was o.k. How about your trip to Buffalo?"

"A mixed bag could describe my trip also," Dara thought as she reflected on her conversations with Janice about Mac. Aloud she said," Oh, it was great seeing my friends. It's just that they're a settled married couple and my girlfriend continuously rags me about my personal life. She's worse than a mother hen."

"Isn't she the woman who visited you several months ago here? I think that you did introduce her as your best friend."

"Yes, she is my best friend. Her son is my godson."

Mac was on the verge of saying that maybe they could go to Buffalo together to visit them but he backed off of that statement. He didn't want to push his relationship with Dara. He really cared for her but even he wasn't sure himself where their relationship was headed. In addition to giving her time, he needed to give himself time also.

"Well, I'm glad that you're back in Port Charles. I'll let you get to work and I'll give you a call this evening before you leave, O.K.?

"O.K. I'll see you later, Mac."

Around 6 p.m. that evening Mac called Dara and asked her about her plans for the evening. When she asked what he had in mind Mac suggested that they go ice-skating in the park.

"Ice skating? What made you think of ice skating?" Dara quizzically asked.

"Well, I think that is a fairly safe activity, don't you agree?"

"Safe compared to what? That depends on the person's ice skating ability," laughed Dara. "And mine is pretty limited."

"Great, then I can teach you. We can grab something to eat once we get to the rink. What time do you want me to pick you up from your apartment?"

Dara agreed for Mac to come by her apartment at 7:30 to take her to the park. There were probably a dozen people skating when they arrived at the park. It wasn't very crowded since it was a weeknight. Mac brought his skates with him (a sure sign that he's a good skater, thought Dara) and they rented a pair for Dara. They got onto the ice and Dara, slowly and cautiously, started skating along the edge of the rink. Mac watched Dara as he skated within a few feet
of her. After a few minutes Dara started gliding in smooth, even movements. She only skated going forward and she wasn't performing any fancy moves, but she was skating comfortably on the ice.

"Hey, what was all that talk about not knowing how to ice skate?" Mac asked Dara. "You don't look like a beginner to me."

"I've never ice skated previously but I have roller skated all of my life. Plus, I used to study ballet
for quite a long time so that helped to strengthen my ankles for this. I really just needed to become comfortable skating on a single metal blade."

"Come on," said Mac. "Let's try skating together. You just keep skating and I'll adjust to your pace. Don't think about me, just concentrate on your skating."

"Right," thought Dara. "I can really keep my mind on my skating if you hold me Mac." But it actually wasn't hard for Dara to skate with Mac. It was a lot of fun and she enjoyed it. As long as she looked straight ahead and did not look into Mac's eyes, she could still skate reasonably well. After a while he started showing her how to skate backwards by herself. Dara make a good effort in mastering the technique but asked for a break after 45 minutes. Ice skating was still new to her and she was starting to feel the new movements in her leg muscles. As they skated to the exit for the rink, Mac and Dara saw Maxie and Lucky Spencer standing there. Mac greeted them, introduced Dara, and asked how long they had been at the ice rink.

"About 10 minutes," replied Maxie. She just looked at Mac, then at Dara.

"We were going to drop into the park restaurant for a sandwich when Maxie saw you," Lucky volunteered. "You guys looked really great on the ice, like you were having a lot of fun." Maxie winced at Lucky's comment.

"It was fun," Dara replied. "It was my first ice skating lesson."

"Dara and I were going to get something to eat also. Why don't you two join us?" Mac asked.

Before Lucky could reply Maxie said, "No, I didn't know how late it was getting. I need to get back home."

"Well, O.K., if you're sure," Mac said. "We're still going to get together tomorrow after school, right?"

"Sure Mac, if you have time," Maxie replied. "Lucky, let's go." Maxie and Lucky headed out of the park while Dara and Mac entered the restaurant.

After getting a table and placing their order, Mac noted, "Maxie is going through an adjustment with the divorce and everything. I won't let her be rude or disrespectful to you, but I can't force her to be friendly. Give her a bit of time Dara."

"Of course Mac. I can only imagine what she's feeling now. But it isn't as if I'm going to run into her all of the time."

"I don't know about that Dara. I'm hoping that you and I will be spending quite a bit of time together, that is, if you want to," Mac said as he reached across the table and took her hands into his. "So I think that she'll be seeing you more often than not. Anyway, if there are any issues you have with Maxie or Georgie or even Felicia, let me know. I want for us to be able to talk about anything, O.K.?"

"Felicia is an idiot," Dara thought. "I'm sure that Mac isn't perfect but Felicia trashed her relationship with Mac to be with Luke Spencer? Oh well, her loss is my ... Whoa Dara, slow down. Take it one step at a time." Dara smiled as she looked at Mac and replied aloud, "O.K. Mac. I will."

They had their meal and afterward decided not to go back on the ice that night. Instead, Mac took Dara back to her apartment and they briefly talked about getting together on New Years Eve.

"Thanks for another great date Mac."

"Yeah, let's see extend this great date streak to New Years Eve. Let's talk over the next few days and come up with some plans to start 2001 off well," Mac said in a hopeful tone of voice. "Goodnight Dara," he said as he kissed her goodnight.

"Goodnight Mac," Dara said. She lightly touched his face and smiled. Then she went into her apartment for the night. Dara stood with her back leaning against the apartment door, thinking about the evening and waited to hear Mac's footsteps as he left. She didn't hear a sound. After a minute she quietly turned around and looked through the door's peephole to see Mac still standing outside her door with his hands in his jacket pockets and with a look of indecision on his face. Finally he took a deep breath, turned around, and left the apartment building. Dara turned the lights off in the living room and headed to her bedroom. "No, this is not going to be easy," she thought.