"Let's take a recess for 30 minutes and the trial will
resume at 2:30," Judge David Marshall announced. The
trial against Anthony Moreno opened Thursday morning
with the prosecution questioning Al Gwynn, the hitman
Moreno hired to kill the bank officer. Gwynn discussed
in detail the meeting where Bannion was a witness to
Moreno ordering Gwynn to kill the banker and he
recounted several meetings where Moreno talked about
his illegal dealings with the banker. Moreno's lawyer,
Barry Roberts, started cross-examining Gwynn after the
lunch break and tried to present him as a known hired
killer who had made a deal with the prosecution to
benefit himself. Gwynn freely admitted that he was
testifying against Moreno for the deal but that didn't
affect the truth which was that Moreno hired him to
kill the banker. Dara wasn't worried that the defense
was successful in swaying the jury. Everyone, even the
defense, acknowledged that Gwynn was a hired killer so
the only question was 'who hired him?'. The defense
offered no credible evidence that someone other than
their client hired Gwynn and tomorrow, Bannion would
support Gwynn's testimony that Moreno hired Gwynn to
kill the banker. These were the points that Dara was
going to emphasize in her closing statements to the
jury. The courtroom was quickly emptying for the
thirty-minute recess. Sitting at the prosecution's
table reviewing her notes of Gwynn's testimony, a warm
hand lightly caressed the back of her neck as Dara
heard Mac's voice whisper in her ear, "How's it going,
beautiful?" Dara looked up to lock her eyes on Mac's
"Hi." Dara motioned for him to sit down beside her as
she confessed, "I've missed you." Both Mac and Dara
had been very busy the past few days and they hadn't
really had time to discuss what was happening to their
"Me too," replied Mac as he let his finger trace her
jaw. Remembering that they were 'at work' in the
courthouse he lowered his hand to the table and leaned
back in the chair remarking, "I was sitting in the
back of the courtroom for the last 30 minutes. It
looks like the trial is going well for us."
"It is," Dara agreed. "Normally I would like to have a
prep session with a key witness such as Bannion the
evening before he testifies, but I have his original
statement and that will pretty much be the basis of my
cross-examination of him tomorrow. With the security
issues, I'll just forgo reviewing his testimony with
"Even I don't anticipate seeing Bannion tonight but
both Taggert and I will be at the decoy safe-house
where Bannion was previously held. If Griffith plans
to stop Bannion from testifying then he'll have to
make his move tonight, and we'll be waiting for him,"
Mac stated grimly.
Dara visibly tensed when Mac mentioned that he and
Taggert would be waiting to trap Griffith tonight but
she tried to mask her feelings with Mac sitting there
observing her. As much as she wanted her would-be
assassin captured, Dara couldn't help but worry that
both Mac and Marcus would probably have an active role
in trying to apprehend him. She cared deeply for both
men and silently prayed that they both would remain
safe throughout the stakeout.
Hoping to assuage her concerns, Mac moved the
conversation to issues beyond the upcoming stakeout.
He took Dara's small hands into his and offered, "Hey,
I know that we won't be able to get together tonight,
but let's plan to meet tomorrow night. I think that we
have a lot to talk about, don't you?"
Her face brightening, Dara smiled, "Yes, we do have a
lot to discuss. Do you have any specific plans this
"How about spending every moment with you starting
tomorrow evening?" Mac said seductively as he leaned
forward and kissed her lightly on the lips.
"Sounds great to me," Dara murmured as she nuzzled her
face against Mac's ear and neck and held him closely.
She fervently wanted to tell him that she loved him
but now wasn't the time or place to make such a
statement. Instead she pulled back looking directly in
Mac's eyes in hope that he could see how much she felt
for him and she said, "Keep safe tonight Mac."
Disregarding their surroundings Mac pulled Dara to him
and deeply kissed her. Fighting to suppress a moan and
fearing that she was being swept away by Mac's
insistent kiss, Dara right hand moved from Mac's neck
to his cheek in an attempt to pull away. But Mac
continued to hold Dara tightly and kiss her as if he
was using this possessive kiss to dispel any worries
she had. A few seconds after feeling her relax and
give into the kiss, Mac finally broke the kiss. He
cupped Dara's chin with his thumb and forefinger and
said, "Don't worry. I'll see you tomorrow morning."
Nodding her acknowledging response, a speechless Dara
gave a tentative smile as Mac released her and left
It was almost 10 p.m. and for the last 3 hours few
words had passed between Mac and Taggert as they
waited in Bannion's former hotel room. The tension of
waiting during this stakeout was bad enough but the
added tension because of his earlier comments about
Mac and Dara made the situation unbearable to Taggert.
Finally he started to speak.
"Look Mac," Taggert began slowly. "I know that I might
have been out of line about what I said about you and
Dara. But I really said as a friend, to both you and
A flash of darkness that Taggert was unable to detect
in the dimly lit room appeared in Mac's eyes. After
their argument a few days ago he knew that it was
inevitable that his relationship with Dara would be
mentioned during the night. Taken aback by Taggert's
comments in his office Mac had unwittingly let himself
be placed in a defensive position during that
confrontation. That situation would not repeat itself
tonight. "Taggert, who are you kidding? I don't have
to be a psychologist to say that you sounded more like
a jealous ex-boyfriend than a friend the other day."
"What?" sputtered Taggert as he sat straight up in his
"You heard me," Mac continued letting Taggert know
that he knew exactly what was going on here. "I know
that you and Dara dated previously. Did you think that
I wouldn't ask her out because of it?"
Mac had struck a nerve when he accused Taggert of
being jealous. "No," Taggert countered in a spiteful
tone of voice, "I thought that you wouldn't ask her
out because you're still married. I don't want to see
Dara hurt Mac."
Mac's jaw clenched as he willed himself to control his
temper. "Not that it's any of your concern but I've
filed for divorce from Felicia and I'm not using Dara
to 'get over' Felicia. I'm finally following through
with something that I wanted to do years ago and I'm
thankful to have this second chance with Dara. And I'm
sure that if you've broached this subject with Dara
she's told you that she's more than capable of taking
care of herself. So don't bring up this subject with
me again, O.K., friend?" Mac said with obvious sarcasm
as he spoke the word 'friend'.
Mac took Taggert's non-response to his question as an
unspoken yes and they both sat in silence as the
stakeout continued. At 10:40 p.m. the lights and heat
suddenly stopped operating in the room. Immediately
Mac used a police radio to communicate with the law
enforcement officials in the hotel room near the
elevator down the hall. That room was without power
also. Taggert in the meantime was busy using the room
phone to contact the front desk. He was informed that
there was a temporary power outage on 2 floors of the
hotel and the maintenance people were working on it.
Just at the moment when Taggert ended the call the
power was restored and the room was lighted again. The
power couldn't have been out for more than 2 minutes.
After looking through the peephole at the door Taggert
slowly opened the door and saw no one in the hallway.
Mac didn't believe that the power outage was an
accident and immediately he called the officers in the
room near the elevator to ask if the video
surveillance equipment was in operation during the
power outage. As he suspected, the equipment had not
been operational during the outage.
Mac knew that certain systems in the hotel, such as
emergency hallway lighting and the electronic key card
systems for rooms, were usually run on backup
electrical systems so that they would be operational
during power outages. Placing a call to the hotel
security officer, Mac asked him to review the log of
electronic key card usages for the hotel rooms on the
6th floor where they were located and report any rooms
that were entered with a key card during the power
outage. The hotel security officer reported that only
one room on that floor was entered during the power
outage using a key card; it was room 621, which was
currently listed as unoccupied.
After quickly coordinating the team of officers on the
6th floor and giving them last minute instructions,
Mac stood with 4 other men outside of room 621 a few
moments later. It was Mac's desire to apprehend
Griffith without any violence but that all depended on
what waited for them on the other side of the door. On
Mac's signal, the officers used a battering ram to
break down the door. With their guns drawn, Taggert
and Mac were the first to step into the room and the
other officers quickly followed.
"Don't move!" shouted Mac and Taggert simultaneously.
Seated at a table near the window was the hitman Roger
Griffith. His right arm was stretched over small round
table that was covered with a large backpack. In his
hand was a 44 caliber semi-automatic gun that he had
just retrieved from the tabletop but it was pointed
towards a side wall and the palm of his hand was
facing downward towards the table as he held the gun.
"Drop your weapon now!" Mac sharply ordered. "This
will be your only warning."
Griffith's eyes immediately locked with Mac's and he
recognized Mac's face and voice from the city garage
two days earlier when he attempted to kill Dara. He
grudgingly gave Mac a brief glance of admiration.
There was no one else that Griffith had encountered
during his 20 year 'career' who had prevented him from
killing his target not once, but twice. For Griffith,
surrender and prison were not options. At best he
thought that with a stray bullet from one of the
officer's guns he'd be able to take out every in the
room with him. He started firing his gun immediately
as he swung it around to point it at Mac and he used
his left hand to grab the large backpack and use it as
a shield against his chest. As Griffith made his first
move Mac immediately shouted "Temple!" Jack Ribisi,
the best target shooter on the PCPD, was given his
signal by Mac to kill the suspect immediately with a
single shot to the head. He had been standing a few
feet to the left of Taggert with a clear shot at
Griffith and the one shot he fired did not miss its
mark. Mac swore under his breath a mere few seconds
later as Roger Griffith sat in front of them, dead,
still holding the blue backpack. Griffith was only
able to fire two shots before being killed and they
injured no one. Gingerly touching the backpack, Mac
briefly glanced inside of it and saw that it contained
a large amount of explosives. It was clear that
Griffith's plan was to use a bomb to kill Bannion.
After instructing Taggert to contact the bomb squad
and the coroner's office, Mac walked out of the hotel
room to the end of the hallway to place a call from
his cellphone. His call was answered after the first
"Mac?" Dara whispered nervously. She'd recognized
Mac's cell phone number on the caller id display. Dara
had been hoping that he would call her tonight but she
also knew that she wouldn't receive a call unless
something occurred. "Are you O.K.?" she asked waiting
anxiously to hear his response.
"Hi Sweetheart," Mac sighed, realizing that Dara had
no idea how just hearing the sound of her voice made
him feel so much better. " I'm O.K. Griffith is dead.
He made an attempt to get Bannion tonight and he left
us no choice in the end."
"I know," Dara said wanting to console him.
"I'm going to go and be with Bannion for the rest of
the night just to make sure that everything is O.K.
and I'll bring him to the courthouse tomorrow. I just
wanted to let you know what has happened and..."
pausing as he reflected on what he wanted to say, Mac
continued, "I just wanted to hear your voice. I needed
to hear it tonight."
"Me too," Dara acknowledged. "I wouldn't have slept at
all tonight if I hadn't heard from you. Thanks for
calling Mac. I... " Biting her bottom lip, Dara
decided that she could wait one more night before
telling Mac how she felt about him. " I'll see you