Chapter 16

"No one's talking Commissioner," Garcia reported. "They don't care about the witness protection program, getting out of the mob, putting Moreno away, or anything as far as assurances from the FBI and PCPD. As one of the potential witnesses succinctly put it, 'I only care about keeping me and my family alive.'" Garcia's investigation yielded two witnesses to some of Moreno's illegal activities whose stories supported Bannion's statements, but the witnesses were terrified of testifying. Word of Dara's assassination attempt was known in Moreno's organization within an hour of its occurrence. The witnesses reasoned if Moreno had tried that with an assistant district attorney, then they'd end up as various body parts spread across Port Charles after testifying. Garcia stated that they might have a chance of getting one or two people to testify after Bannion testified, because then they'd have more belief in the PCPD and FBI protecting them and they'd believe that Moreno would probably be convicted. But until Bannion testified, it was unlikely that the police would get any cooperation from any other witnesses.

Mac said, "We could get the DA's office to issue subpoenas for these witnesses and force them to testify, but if they're really afraid they'd probably commit perjury."

"You'd better believe it," agreed Garcia. "Our only chance is to get Bannion to testify first."

Turning to Taggert, Mac asked for a report of the activities regarding Bannion's security. "No problems so far, Mac. Four officers are always on duty protecting Bannion. Two are always inside the room with him. One is outside the hotel patrolling the area. And one officer and an FBI agent are in the hotel room near the elevators and stairway on the floor of Bannion's room. No one can get to Bannion's room without passing that room, which is one of the reasons this hotel was chosen. A close circuit camera was attached to the peephole and it records everyone who passes by the door. The officers and the FBI agent can see everything on a monitor in the room."

"Sounds good," observed Mac. "One thing though. Make sure that Moreno's food is carried out from different restaurants which commonly make carry out orders. Absolutely no hotel room service should be used. And I want to get a call every 4 hours giving me a report on anything that occurs with Bannion." Pausing his speech for a few seconds, Mac looked at Officer Richards to discuss Dara's security. Donna Richards was known for being an excellent officer you could depend on in tough situations. But everyone in the office could see the apprehension on Donna's face as she waited for Mac to speak. She was fully expecting to be reprimanded for the shooting attempt and indeed, she was surprised that she was still in charge of Dara's security. In her mind she thought maybe that was about to change.

"Donna, relax," Mac said sensing that she was expecting the worst. "Your job was to keep Dara safe and you did that by giving her the vest. Let's go on and talk about something constructive. What information do we have about the man who tried to kill Dara?"

According to Officer Richards, there were probably up to a dozen professional assassins who were known to have associations with Moreno and more than eight of them could fit the limited descriptions given by Dara and the parking lot attendant. Both the PCPD and the FBI were tracing the whereabouts of the suspects. No one fitting these descriptions had been observed leaving Port Charles and it was most likely that the suspect was still in Port Charles, either to make another attempt on A.D.A. Jensen or to try and eliminate Bannion. It was the general belief of the law enforcement professionals in the room that the assassin would attempt to kill Bannion and that's where their efforts should be focused if they wanted to catch the shooter. Mac agreed, and instructed Officer Richards to continue working to identify the shooter. Also, even though everyone believed that the next attempt would be made on Bannion, Mac wanted the security to remain on Dara until after the trial ended. The security discussions continued for a few more minutes until Mac ended the meeting. Taggert asked for a minute with Mac as Garcia and Richards left Mac's office. When he noted that Garcia had left the door open when exiting the office, Taggert walked to it and closed the door.

Taggert knew that he was going to tread on thin ice. He had debated waiting to speak to Mac after his lunch with Dara today, but he could barely keep his mind on topics at the meeting. He found himself continuously looking at Mac and wondering what, if anything, happened last night in Dara's apartment. Over the last few weeks since Dara had started dating Mac, Taggert thought about his feelings for Dara. He had been the one who wanted to be "just friends" and not to have an exclusive dating relationship with anyone. And during the past 18 months while he and Dara had become just friends, he had been involved with several women. So he was very startled about his feelings of jealousy when Dara and Mac started dating. Rationally, he knew he had no reasons for being jealous; but jealousy itself isn't a rational emotion.

"I called Dara last night after hearing about the shooting, Mac. As her friend I was worried about her and offered to come over and stay with her. It took me off guard when she said that you were on your way to stay with her for the night."

Whatever Mac was expecting Taggert to discuss, it certainly wasn't his night with Dara. Mac's face went completely expressionless as he asked, "Is there suppose to be a question on the table? If so, I must have missed it. Exactly what are you asking?"

"Dara was really vulnerable last night after that shooting," Taggert plodded on. He knew that he had no business asking Mac about his relationship with Dara but he couldn't stop himself. "I would really hate to see someone try and take advantage of her, in a moment of weakness." Mac interrupted tersely by saying that Taggert should stop talking but Taggert continued. "She's one of my best friends and I don't want to see her get hurt. Do you really think that it's a good idea to get involved with Dara while you're still hooked up with Felicia?"

Taggert saw Mac's nostrils flare in anger as he responded. "Listen, my relationship with Dara is a topic I'm not going to discuss with you. Friendship covers a lot of things but it doesn't cover this. I thought that you and I were friends too." Mac gritted his teeth and asked, "Do you really think that I would try and take advantage of anyone like you're accusing me of doing to Dara?"

"To be candid, I think that you're trying to soothe your ego after what Felicia did by being with Dara and I think that it's only a matter of time before you go back again to Felicia and the girls. What....

Mac bellowed, "Stop! Don't say another word before you make me do or say something that we both may regret. Unfortunately I can't say that I don't give a damn what you think. If I didn't then I wouldn't be so furious with you as I am at this moment. Get out of my office, NOW."

Mac tried to control his breathing and willed himself to calm down when Taggert left his office. What the hell was that all about and where did it come from? As a rule he really didn't care what people thought but it disturbed him to think that some friends and associates believed that he was using Dara until he could get back together with Felicia. He had no intention of reconciling with Felicia; their marriage had been over for some time and Mac just hadn't known it until recently. But he knew it now and he planned to make it official as soon as possible. This train of thought reminded him of Felicia's calls yesterday and he decided to telephone her now. Felicia answered the phone on the second ring.

"Mac, where have you been? Why didn't you call me yesterday?"

"Felicia, I was tied up yesterday but I can talk now. What is the emergency?"

"I need to speak to you in person, not on the phone. Can you come over now?"

Mac responded that he'd be at the house in a half of an hour and he ended the call. He was preparing to leave the office when his cellphone rang.

"Scorpio," Mac answered tersely.

"We need to meet soon. There is something you need to know." Mac was surprised; it was Sonny Corinthos.

They agreed to meet in 90 minutes near the west entrance of Port Charles Park by the lake. Sonny would not call unless he had important information; Mac was guardedly optimistic about his upcoming meeting with Sonny.


At 12:30 Taggert saw Dara exit the courtroom just Moreno's trial recessed for lunch. "You look O.K.," he commented warmly embracing her. "Are you?"

"I am," replied Dara smiling at him. She could see the intense concern in Taggert's eyes and hear it in his voice, and she was quite touched by it. "For a few hours yesterday I was probably in shock but I'm fine now. Let's go to lunch."

Fifteen minutes later they were seated in a relatively quiet booth at the Recovery Room. After placing their orders, Taggert gently took Dara's right hand into both of his and asked, "You're holding up O.K. in the courtroom today? I know that you have a job to do but it wouldn't have been unreasonable to ask to delay the trial today by at least one day."

Dara shook her head vigorously and replied," Absolutely not. That would have given Moreno exactly what he wanted, a delay in the trial. No, the sooner we get Bannion on the witness stand, the better." Dara brought her left hand to the table and clasped both of Taggert's hands tightly as she noted," You're guarding Bannion and even you have to admit that he'll be Moreno's next target. As soon as Bannion testifies then we'll all be out of danger." The thought that her friend may be in the line of fire if an attempt was made on Bannion placed a cold chill around Dara's heart. Realistically she knew that this type of danger was a part of their jobs, but knowing that fact didn't make her feel much better right now. She removed her hands from Taggert's clasp and leaned back in the booth to take a drink on water in an attempt to calm her nerves.

Taggert was staring at Dara wondering how to broach the subject that was on his mind and he decided to try humor as a tactic. "Well, at least I didn't have to worry about you last night. In addition to having the best cops on the force - present company excluded of course - outside of your door, you had the police commissioner sleeping on your couch last night. No one would have gotten to you last night. It even kept me out of your apartment."

Dara was quick to guard her feelings but she couldn't hide the somewhat guilty expression that flashed across her face when she was reminded that she told Marcus that Mac would be sleeping on the couch. While she was thinking of how to respond to his last statement, Dara saw Taggert reading her expression and immediately realized by the surprise and anger in his eyes that somehow he was able to discern the truth from looking at her.

"So I guess Mac didn't spend all night on the couch, did he?" Taggert asked quizzically knowing the answer. "Dara, do you really think that this is a good time to get involved with Mac?"

Dara was puzzled and blinked her eyes when she heard Taggert's last question. "What do you mean? You knew for the past weeks that Mac and I have been dating. Why are you questioning now whether I know what I'm doing?"

"I don't know. I was hoping that it would blow over quickly and I wouldn't have to say anything. Maybe I thought that you guys would have a couple of dates and go back to being friends."

"You mean like we did?" Dara asked with an edge in her voice, remembering being hurt when Taggert didn't want to date only her.

"And that still will probably happen Dara," Taggert continued, ignoring Dara's remark. "Do you really think that Mac and Felicia are finished? He's angry with her and at the moment he wants to 'move on' with his life. But I've seen guys like that who will take an amazing amount of crap from someone he loves and eventually they ALWAYS go back. Mac falls into that category. Alan Quartermaine is another. The reason we didn't get together when we dated was that you wanted a serious relationship; that's the type of woman you are, and I wasn't at that point in my life then. Knowing you and the type of woman you are, why would you want to get involved with Mac?"

"Marcus, we are friends. You're certainly entitled to your opinions. And I'll even give you credit that maybe you're right about me," Dara conceded. "But you have an opinion of what Mac is like and I have another. I see someone who is patient and can love deeply but in the end he wants his love returned. I see someone who will give a person every opportunity to return that love but when he decides he's waited more than long enough and given them more than enough chances, he moves on - permanently. That's the type of man I think he is." Indicating that she wanted to change the topic under discussion by signaling for the waiter, she said, "Only time will tell which one of us is right."


Mac entered the house where he used to live with Felicia and the girls and sat down on a chair in the living room waiting for her to speak. She was obviously upset about something and he waited for her to tell him what it was.

"Mac, Scott Baldwin met with my lawyer two days ago and presented what he considered the 'final' version of the divorce papers to be drawn up. I want to let you know that I'm not going to be bullied or rushed into breaking up our marriage. Neither the girls nor I want this divorce. I want for us to go to a marriage counselor."

Mac sucked in his breath and waited a few seconds before speaking. This day had started off so great with Dara and it had gone downhill every since he'd left her in the courtroom. He was grateful at least that he made the right decision and decided not to contact Felicia until he got to work. There was no way he wanted to have heard this before now.

"Felicia, it's too late to talk about going to a marriage counselor," Mac responded bitterly. "Last year there was a marriage to save; this year we just need to sign the divorce papers. You and the girls can have the house and I'm willing to help you out financially while you get your PI business going, but...?

"Stop talking about financial settlements," cried Felicia as tears filled her eyes. "Why are you determined to end our marriage quickly? Is Dara Jensen putting you up to this?"

Taken completely aback, Mac thought that he couldn't be hearing correctly. How did Dara's name come up in this conversation? "What are you talking about? Dara has nothing to do with me getting this divorce. You and I were separated before Dara and I even started dating."

"I saw her yesterday, looking smug in your office," Felicia said bitterly. "I bet she uses every opportunity she can to tell you how badly I've treated you and how you deserve better. She's just trying to break us up and you're can't see it because you're still angry with me. You were with her last night, weren't you," accused Felicia. "She?s the reason you didn't contact me yesterday."

Exasperated with the direction of this conversation, Mac said, "Felicia, in all honesty I think that Dara avoids talking about you because she doesn't want to influence me one way or another. I can assure you that you are not the topic of conversation when Dara and I are together."

"Well, maybe I should be considering that I'm your wife," she retorted.

'Not for long,' Mac thought. There was no way he was going to let Felicia hang the breakup up their marriage on Dara and he was going to state in clear, succinct terms so that even she could understand why their marriage was over. He responded, "Which brings us back to the original topic of the conversation. Felicia, I'm not coming back. I won't be your second or third choice any longer behind Frisco and Luke. No real marriage can survive under those conditions."

"Mac, I love you."

With disbelief clearly expressed on his face, Mac looked Felicia directly in the eyes and asked, "Felicia, if Luke Spencer showed up today and asked you to live with him, would you immediately tell him absolutely no, that you loved me?"

"Yes, Mac. Yes I would," Felicia anxiously replied.

Mac didn't believe her for a second. "You've gotten so good at lying I can't tell whether you're lying to me or you're lying to yourself by giving that answer. Either way it doesn't matter to me, not anymore." Mac rose to make his appointed meeting with Sonny. "We're scheduled to meet with the lawyers on Monday morning next week. I'll see you then but now I have to go. Tell Maxie and Georgie that I'll call them tonight." Mac didn't look back as he departed from the house.