Chapter 13

As they ran in the parking garage Mac and Officer Allen saw a dark blue Lincoln Continental drive away from an area near Dara's parking space and head toward the exit. "Dara, are you in here?" Mac shouted as he ran toward the parking space where her car was still parked. There was no response to his question. Officer Allen raised her weapon to fire at the Lincoln but Mac ordered her to hold her fire because there was a possibility that the departing car contained Dara. He instructed her to immediately contact the parking garage attendant at the exit and have him detain the car as it tried to exit the garage. When Mac reached Dara's car he saw Dara's motionless body slumped on the garage floor next to the car. He didn't observe any blood but her body was completely still. "Dara," his voice cracked with emotion as he held her and turned her body from off of her side to her back. She was breathing laboriously as her eyes started to flutter open. Mac sat on the garage floor holding her.


"Dara, stay calm for a moment." Mac examined the tweed winter coat that Dara wore. There was one bullet hole on the side of the coat near her waist and two bullet holes through the front of the coat in the chest area. Mac's right hand shook at he unbuttoned the five buttons on the front of the coat. Holding his breath as he opened the coat he was shocked and thrilled to see that Dara was wearing a bulletproof vest. The three bullets were lodged in the vest and none of them
completely penetrated the vest.

"Thank God," Mac whispered as he saw the vest. "Dara, Dara, are you alright?"

"Yes. Mac, I don't think that I have even been more terrified in my life." Dara swallowed as she relived that previous moment in her head. "When I saw the gun at the opened window of the car and it started to fire..."

Mac interrupted her. "Stop, wait. Don't talk about it yet. Just lie here for a few minutes." Mac asked for those few minutes of quiet for himself as much as for Dara. He needed to calm down himself and he needed to steel himself before hearing the account of the shooting. Mac had never considered himself a religious person but during the next few seconds he fervently thanked whatever higher power existed for keeping Dara safe. The three moments Mac and Dara sat there in silence holding each other ended when Officer Allen and two other PCPD officers approached them. The officers helped both Mac and Dara to their feet and they relayed the most recent news.

Officer Allen reported that the parking lot attendant tried to detain the Lincoln but it sped out of the garage breaking the barrier at the exit. The attendant couldn't get a good look at the occupants of the car, but a description of the Lincoln had been broadcast to patrol cars. When Mac told the officers that Dara hadn't been injured in the shooting, Officer Allen told him that Officer Richards had just given Dara the vest this afternoon. Also, Officer Allen reported the call that misled her to believe Dara's security had been eliminated was placed from a telephone in the squad room. The phone belonged to an officer currently on vacation. Someone impersonating the mayor's assistant placed the call. Mac informed them that Officer Allen couldn't reach Mac by cellphone to confirm the status of the security because he was on a call with Councilman Reynolds discussing the very same subject of Dara's security. "This attempt was planned down to the minute," Mac noted. "But they couldn't be sure that Dara wouldn't return to the office with you. Joan, did anyone get on the elevator with you at the second floor of the parking garage?"

Officer Allen's eyes widened as she remembered, "Yes, a man did enter the elevator with me. He continued on when I left the elevator on the ground floor."

Mac told Officer Allen to get a description of the man to everyone so that he could be found, since it was possible that he was involved in this attempt on Dara's life. They all went up to Mac's office where Dara gave a limited description of the driver of the car. He had been wearing tinted glasses but Dara did her best to give the police artist a description of the shooter.

Despite Mac entreaties, Dara would not go to General Hospital for a checkup. "I'm fine, just a bit shook up, " she said. It was obvious that she was still in shock but Dara believed that the best thing that she could do was to go home. Before Officer Allen and another policeman escorted Dara home, Mac pulled her aside to speak to her for a few minutes alone.

Mac took both of Dara's hands into his as he said, "Dara, I know that you're O.K. and you want to go home. But I really don't think that you should be alone tonight."

"There will be an officer watching my apartment as usual, right? And you don't really think that they'll make another attempt tonight, do you?" Dara asked.

"No, I don't think so. But Moreno is desperate and who ever missed in this attempt may try again because his own neck may be on the line for failing. But it isn't just that." Mac paused speaking a few seconds so that he could gather his thoughts and prepare for a rebuttal in case Dara didn't agree with his proposal. "This was as you said yourself a terrifying event and I just don't think that you should be alone tonight. I want to come over tonight and stay with you in your apartment."

Dara's eyes shined and she held Mac's hands tightly. She was so touched and happy that Mac made this offer. She had thought that he would. That's the kind of man Mac is - a caring and sensitive person. But she had been prepared to ask him if he could stay with her tonight before she left the office, just in case he didn't ask. She thought that there was a possibility that he wouldn't ask because he didn't want to hear her refuse his gesture of kindness. Dara replied, "I'd
like for you to be with me tonight. Thanks for offering." She grinned slightly at the look of surprise that Mac could not suppress. "Oh, did you ask out of courtesy and didn't think that I would accept your offer?" Dara teased.

"No, not, not at all." Mac stammered. "It's just...."

Dara teasing expressive face turned serious as she looked at Mac and said, "I know that I'm still feeling the effects of what just happen. It isn't weakness or fright that is making accept your offer. It's not wanting to be alone for the rest of the evening and being grateful that someone cares enough to want to be with me."

"Great," Mac said as he pulled her into his arms for a hug. "I just want to be near you tonight. I don't think that I could sleep one minute tonight if we weren't in the same apartment." Mac earnestly made the suggestion with the thought in mind that he would sleep on the couch in the living room. But the thought of possibility seeing Dara in nightwear started flickering through his mind and he honestly wondered if he could keep his feelings in check. But upon reflection he really didn't want the first time they make love to occur when Dara was emotionally raw after
an assassination attempt. He really did just want to be close to her tonight.

Mac kissed her lightly on the lips and then said, "I have some things to wrap up here and I need to pick up a few things from my apartment. I'll be with you in the next 90 minutes." He then turned her over to the officers who escorted Dara to her apartment.