Chapter 14

Glancing at the clock that just chimed 9 p.m., Dara gathered all of the legal documents spread across her coffee table and placed them inside of her briefcase. She really didn't need to continue preparing for Moreno's trial in the morning, and the legal work that night had not been successful in keeping her mind off of the day's events. Dara had no doubt that today had been one of the worst days in her life. It began badly when Felicia confronted her in Mac's office and nothing she could remember could compare to the sight of that gun pointed at her and the sound of the shots. She was so terrified when the shots rang out that she had actually lost consciousness for a few seconds after the attempt. People say that a person's life passes before their eyes when they're faced with death. Now, from Dara's experience, she knew that that is not necessarily true. When she first caught sight of the gun, she immediately thought of her mother and her sister. Then, when the first shot was fired, she thought how unfair and ironic it was that her life might end now as she and Mac were starting this relationship. Stunned, she realized that when she believed that this was the last moment of her life on earth, Dara's thoughts were about Mac. Dara leaned back on the couch and wrapped her arms around herself. She said a prayer to God to thank him for keeping her safe today. And her conscious mind and heart accepted what her unconscious mind had known for probably a few years. Dara accepted the fact that she was in love with Mac Scorpio. With a wry thought she told herself that it shouldn't have taken a near-death experience for her to accept her feelings.

"Ohhhh," Dara sighed as she stretched her neck from side to side and rubbed her neck. It would be 30 minutes before Mac arrived and Dara decided to use the time to take a bath and try to relax. The telephone rang just as she was rising from the couch and Dara answered the call thinking that it was Mac saying that he was on his way. She was caught off-guard when she realized that Marcus Taggert was on the other end of the call.

"Dara, I just heard what happened. Are you alright?"

The anxiety was palpable in Taggert's voice. He'd heard from colleagues at the station that Dara wasn't injured but he wanted hear and see for himself how she was.

"Yes, Marcus. I'm fine. PCPD finest helped to keep me safe by providing be with that bulletproof vest. I wasn't physically hurt but I was shaken up a few hours ago. But I'm much better now. Thanks."

"Garcia has agreed to take my shift tonight in guarding Bannion. Have you eaten anything? I bet you haven't. Let me pick up some carryout and I'll be there within a hour."

"Marcus, I do have food here and in fact I was going to eat in about a half-hour. But...?

"Great, then I can come right over."

"Marcus, hold on. Thank you, I really mean it, for the offer but you don't have to come over tonight. Mac should be here any minute."

"Mac. Mac is coming over to your apartment tonight?" Taggert blinked his eyes in disbelief as her words sunk in. "Isn't it kind of late for him to come over?"

Dara bit her lip to suppress a laugh. What is it about men? It wasn't too late for Marcus to come over but it was too late for Mac to stop by? She really did cherish her friendship with Marcus and despite what he said a few days earlier about how her new relationship with Mac would not affect their friendship; she chose her next words carefully.

"Actually, I'm getting ready to fix up the pull-out bed here in the living room. Mac was with me immediately after the shooting and he saw my emotional state. He generously offered to stay with me tonight and I accepted." She paused speaking, waiting for Marcus to reply. There was silence at the end of the line. Dara continued, "I'm really blessed that I have great people in my life who care about me. I really do appreciate your offer to come over but I'll be fine tonight."

"I'll bet," was the uncharitable thought that crossed Taggert's mind but he was wise enough not to verbalize it. Instead he asked, "Can we get together tomorrow for lunch during the trial lunch break? I'd like to see for myself how you're doing."

"Of course," replied Dara accepting the lunch date. "I'll see you around 12:30 tomorrow at the courthouse. Goodnight. And thanks again." Dara disconnected the call and took the cordless phone with her as she hurried to the bathroom hoping to get in a few minutes of soaking in the tub in before Mac arrived.


"Coming," Dara shouted as she raced from her bedroom. It was 9:45 and Dara was grateful that Mac's late arrival gave her 15 more minutes to get ready. She looked through the peephole and saw Mac standing there with a small duffel bag. "Hi, come on in," Dara said as she opened the door and stood aside so that Mac could enter. He had to catch his breath as he gazed at Dara. She was wearing no makeup and her shoulder-length dark brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail. "A die-hard Chicago Cubs fan" is what Mac thought when he saw that she was wearing a short-sleeved Chicago Cubs baseball shirt as nightwear. The shirt came almost to her knees in the front and back, but there were openings at the bottom of the shirt on the sides that exposed the sides of her caramel colored legs to the middle of her thighs. She wasn't wearing shoes but only white ankle-length socks on her feet. Mac blushed as he couldn't keep his mind from wondering what she was wearing underneath the baseball shirt.

Dara noticed that Mac didn't say a word when he entered the apartment but that he just continued looking at her. "I hope that I'm not making you uncomfortable by changing into my night clothes," she apologized. "I was so anxious to relax that I didn't want to change into another set of clothes after getting out of my suit." Prior to Mac's arrival Dara knew that she was very casually dressed - after all, she thought, people wear fewer clothes on outside than I have on right now. However as Mac's eyes slowly rose from staring at her legs to her shirt to her face, Dara began to feel extremely underdressed. She continued speaking, "But it's no big deal, let me go and grab a pair of jeans."

Mac reached out his hand and gently grabbed her arm. "No, please don't. I guess I did have a look of an idiot just now. It's just that you look so, so..." "You look beautiful." He simply said. Mac then pulled her into his arms and kissed her. "And I certainly don't want you to change your routine or anything else because I'm here. Please don't change clothes. Besides, but the time I leave tomorrow I'll be used to the fact that my pulse can operate steadily at a 20% faster rate than normal," he joked.

"You're good for a lot of things Mac Scorpio but you're especially good for my ego." Dara took his coat and told him to make himself comfortable while she brought the simple supper that she'd prepare to the living room. Mac slipped out of his shoes in the foyer and headed into the living room. Coming further into the living room, Mac couldn't help but grin broadly as he saw a pillow, a sheet and a blanket placed next to the foldout couch. "I guess there's no doubt about where I'll be sleeping tonight," Mac thought to himself. While Dara was preparing things he mentioned that they had a few leads on who the shooter might have been and that there should be much more information tomorrow morning. Sensing that at the moment Dara did not want to have an extended conversation now about what happened early, Mac excused himself for a few minutes. He went into the bathroom and washed his face and hands, and he removed the sweater that he wore while leaving on the long sleeved white cotton shirt that was underneath. Lingering in the bathroom for a moment he recognized that it smelled lightly of the scented oil that he could detect on Dara when he kissed her a few moments earlier. "This is bad," Mac thought. He honestly came to Dara's apartment tonight to listen to her, hold her, and provide any emotional support she needed after her horrendous experience today. Instead, all he'd done since stepping foot in the apartment is to daydream and fantasize about caressing and kissing her, inhaling the scent of her as his face would press against hers, and... "Get a grip Mac," he scolded himself. Tonight think only of what Dara wants and not of yourself. After splashing some cold water on his face, Mac emerged from the bathroom just in time to help Dara bring the food and drinks to the living room.

"This smells great," Mac said setting a tureen of soup on the coffee table. "What is it?"

"Hungarian goulash. I actually made it myself this past weekend," Dara proudly replied. Dara didn't cook often but when she put her time and effort into it, Dara could prepare quite delicious dishes.

"Wow, this is really good" Mac commented.

"Hey, don't act so surprised," laughed Dara. "I like to cook when I have time, like on the weekend or holidays. But during the work week it's strictly carryout."

During the rest of supper Mac and Dara kept the conversation focused on lightweight topics and they didn't discuss the shooting. Dara wondered if Felicia ever got in contact with Mac today. However, Mac didn't mention anything and next to the shooting, Felicia was the topic Dara least liked to discuss. After placing the dishes in the dishwasher, Dara asked Mac if he'd like to pull out the bed and turn in for the night. When he replied "Not yet," Dara sat down at the end of the couch and motioned for Mac to sit besides her. As he did so Dara positioned him on his back so that he turned and placed his feet on the couch and his head in Dara's lap.

"Mmmmmm," sighed Mac as Dara stroked her slender manicured fingers through Mac's curly hair. "Mind you, I'm not complaining but shouldn't I be doing this for you?" To Mac it almost seemed as if Dara was taking care of him instead of Mac taking care of her, which is what he had planned for tonight.

"You mean that I should have my head on your lap instead of you having your head on mine?" Dara suppressed a chuckle; she couldn't help herself. It seemed so easy these days to tease Mac and he walked right into that one with his question. Sure enough, Dara observed that Mac was starting to blush again as he stared up into her face.

As payback for her continuous teasing, Mac decided to turn the tables. "As I remember, this morning in my office you said something about needing more practice kissing," he challenged her sitting up and twisting his body so that he was now facing her. "Let's start now with practice session number one." Mac wrapped one arm around her waist and used his other hand to pull Dara's face towards his so that he could capture her lips. As much as he wanted to deepen the kiss, Mac only kissed Dara softly with slightly parted lips. He wanted Dara to take the lead on any intimacy that might occur tonight and he was surprised that he didn't have to wait long for Dara's response. She used her tongue to lightly graze it over Mac's lips. The fingers on her right hand stroked the area of his shirt over his chest. Mac inhaled his breath sharply as he became aroused by Dara's response and at that second Dara's tongue entered Mac's mouth to deepen the kiss. All thoughts of restraint immediately disappeared from Mac's mind. While still kissing Dara he wrapped his arm under both of Dara's knees and pulled her legs up onto the couch and under his body. Dara couldn't suppress a moan as Mac pressed his lower body into hers. They kissed each other passionately and fervently as the moments passed. Mac sprayed kisses on Dara's neck and collarbone as he reached between them to unbutton the button on her shirt. By the time he had undone the third button the baseball shirt was open almost to Dara's navel. He spread the shirt open wider and confirmed his suspicion that Dara wasn't wearing a bra. Mac kissed and tasted and caressed Dara's breast until she screamed his name and he pulled himself up until they were face to face once more. Mac made a conscious effort to keep his hands above Dara's waist because he didn't trust controlling himself if they ventured lower down her body. Dara however had no such apprehensions and she kissed him deeply as she shifted Mac's body a bit and placed her hand between their hips to touch Mac.

"Dara, wait." Mac gasped breathlessly as he clasped her wrist, stilling her caresses. Mac wanted nothing more than to make love to Dara, but he had to know how she felt about it. Looking into her eyes he asked earnestly, "Do you want to make love tonight?"

Dara returned Mac's gaze hoping that the love she felt for him could be expressed through her eyes. She would tell him soon but tonight she wanted to act on all of the feelings for him that she'd been suppressing. "Yes, Mac. I do. I can't say that the events today have nothing to do with me wanting to take this step with you tonight. I wouldn't be completely honest if I said that. But I've been holding back expressing my feelings for you and I don't want to do it anymore. I can candidly say that this moment probably would have occurred days from now even without the attack today, but since you're actually here tonight, I don't want to wait anymore. Do you?"

No more encouragement was needed for Mac. He stood from the couch and kissed Dara as he lifted her and carried her to the bedroom. After he settled Dara on her feet, he quickly started to remove his clothes. Dara walked to the door, closed it, and turned the bedroom light off. Immediately Mac opened the door again so that the light from the living room illuminated the bedroom. Staring at her he first removed the tie in her hair allowing Dara's hair to hang loosely and softly frame her face and neck. He then hungrily kissed her as he opened the baseball shirt completely and let it slip from her shoulder to the floor. Leading her to the bed he murmured between kisses, "I want to make love to you tonight using all five senses.? And for the better part of the night Mac explored with Dara how to completely possess a lover's body using sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.