Chapter 21

"I truly do hate alarm clocks," Dara thought as she quickly reached towards the nightstand to silence the nagging ringing. She smiled to herself as Mac's firm grip around her waist just barely allowed her reach and touch the clock. Turning her head to face him, Dara gently brushed her hand through Mac's curly brown hair as he continued to sleep. The intense feelings that she had for Mac continued to bother her somewhat. In some way Dara felt that having these feelings made her more vulnerable, which was a state she instinctively fought to avoid. However nothing she'd felt in the past compared to the happiness and joy at having Mac in her life, so she tried to focus on those positive feelings. After taking a few more minutes to relax, Dara prepared to leave the bed and gently tried to loosen Mac's hold on her. To her surprise, Mac tightened his hold on her, pulling Dara closer to him.

"And where do you think that you're going?" growled Mac with his eyes still closed as he kissed Dara softly on her neck. "I thought that you didn't believe in using alarm clocks, especially on the weekends."

Sighing, Dara said, "I don't. But since we didn't get to sleep until early this morning I didn't want to take the chance of oversleeping." Dara felt her face blush and she broadly smiled when she remembered why they got so little sleep last night.

"Oversleeping?" Mac repeated as his kisses moved from Dara's neck to her cheek.

"Hm Hmmm. I'm going to church this morning."

Still half-asleep, the mention of church and Dara leaving him this morning brought Mac to full consciousness as he opened his eyes.

"You're going to church - this morning?" Mac asked in disbelief staring at her. He always noticed that Dara bowed her head for a few seconds before each meal to say grace and he knew that she believed in God, but he never realized until this moment that religion was possibly important to her. Other than attending weddings or funerals, Mac never entered a church building and he had never belonged to a church home.

Dara smiled gently as she detected the surprise in Mac's face and voice. She could tell that "church" was an alien concept to Mac. "Yes, I don't go every Sunday but today I have a solo part in the choir today and I really need to go."

Curious now, Mac inquired, "What church do you attend?"

"I attended Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Carpentersville, about 30 miles from Port Charles." Knowing Mac would wonder why she would drive 30 miles to attend a church she explained, "The congregation of the church is almost all black. I started attending that church shortly after moving to Port Charles from Chicago and I haven't change my membership to a church in Port Charles, even after I started to know more people here."

Mac could tell that Dara was going to leave, and he knew that he shouldn't try to persuade her to stay. This was obviously an important part of Dara's life. Kissing her softly on the lips and stroking her face and hair, he said, " Even though the members are primarily black, anyone can attend the church, right?"

"Yes." Dara's eyes widened a bit in anticipation of Mac's next statement.

"Can I come with you this morning?"

"Sure," Dara answered looking directly at Mac. "But, why do you want to come?"

Sitting up in the bed, and pulling Dara next to him with her back to his chest and with his chin resting on shoulder, Mac sat silently for a minute before responding. At last he said, "I think there are several reasons that I want to go with you this morning. The first is curiosity. I don't remember ever attending a regular church service. The second is this, religion, is important to you. Religion is a very personal thing. I guess you can classify me as an agnostic. I don't personally believe in God and to be honest, virtually no one who's been close to me has had a strong belief in God or practiced a religious faith. But you are important to me and I want to try and understand this aspect of you. And finally, I don't want to be away from you this weekend, not even for a few hours."

"I don't want to be away from you either," Dara confessed. "Let's hurry and get ready."

The couple arrived at the church about 10 minutes prior to the start of the 11 a.m. service. Even though he wasn't wearing a suit, Mac was thankful that he kept a charcoal grey jacket and matching dress slacks at Dara's apartment. With those clothing pieces and a beige turtleneck sweater he didn't feel as if he was dressed too casually. However, Dara looked great he mused. She was always dressed nicely and professionally at work but he was very surprised at how well dressed she was for church. Her makeup and hair were flawless. Her shoes and purse matched the mauve two-piece suit she wore. And the multi-colored beret went well with her tweed woolen winter coat. As they entered the church Dara explained that she'd be sitting at the front of the church with the choir for most of the service but that she'd try to join Mac by the time the pastor started his sermon. Dara snaked her way though the crowd of people gathered just inside of the doorway of the church as she led Mac to an older woman dressed in a white suit and wearing white gloves. The woman hugged Dara enthusiastically.

"Dara, I'm so glad to see you. I heard about that shooting early last week and everyone was praying for you girl."

"Thank you Mrs. Jennings. Mac, this is Sister Mary Jennings, one of the deaconesses of the church." Pausing briefly, Dara said, "Mrs. Jennings, this is my friend, Mac Scorpio. He's visiting us today." Dara hesitated introducing Mac as her boyfriend with his divorce to Felicia not being final yet. But when Mac took hold of Dara's hand during the introduction, Dara was pretty sure that no one was going to be deceived about her relationship with Mac. "I'm singing in the choir today. Can you seat Mac in the service this morning for me?"

"Of course, dear. You go on and I'll take care of your friend for you." Gently squeezing his hand, Dara said goodbye. Mrs. Jennings escorted Mac towards the front of the church and seated him. After taking a few minutes to welcome him to the church, Mrs. Jennings excused herself to help other people. Mac noted that the church was filling quickly. As Dara had said, everyone other than Mac at the church was black. He would later learn that there were a few mixed raced couples who were members of the congregation, but none of them were in attendance today. There were more women at the church than men and there were quite a few children attending also. Mac took a few moments to fill out the visitor's card; he was interrupted when he heard someone call his name. Looking up he saw Florence Campbell smiling at him. Moving over so she could join him, he asked her how long she had been attending this church.

"Almost since the day I arrived in Port Charles," Florence replied. "In fact, Dara invited me originally."

"Is your son attending today also?" Mac asked. He was hoping not to have a run-in with Taggert about Dara at the church today.

Mac's mind was relieved when Florence answered, "No, he doesn't attend that often." They stopped speaking as the church service started. Florence Campbell had her own Bible with her and she handed Mac one of the church's Bibles so that he could follow along when someone read a passage. As the choir came in Mac immediately saw Dara and smiled at her as their eyes met. The service itself was about ninety minutes in length and the theme of the service was faithfulness to God's plan. Dara sang a song unfamiliar to Mac that was titled "Trust Me". The choir's and the congregation's singing throughout the service was magnificent Mac thought, but Dara's rendition of the song was truly inspirational and many of the congregation members were moved to shout or clap during her song. Shortly after her solo and during the introduction of the pastor for his sermon, Dara quietly left the choir and joined Mac in the congregation. They listened together as the pastor spoke of Jonah's story and related it to contemporary events. Even though Mac enjoyed the service he knew that his thoughts on religion were not significantly changed after a single visit to church. However, even he could understand the need to believe in a higher power than man, especially considering he'd witnessed some of the terrible things men could do to each other. And he did thank someone earlier this week when Dara wasn't harmed during the shooting attempt. He would think on this in the coming weeks and he looked forward to attending some services in the future with Dara, if she agreed. It took almost twenty minutes for them to leave the church after the service ended because numerous people came up to Dara to say hello. Mac remarked on Dara's popularity as he opened the car door for her. Laughing, Dara said, "People may have come up to me to say hello but believe me, they were looking at you."

"Well, everyone was very nice to me today," offered Mac.

"It is a warm and friendly church, which is one reason that I still attend it. I'm sure that everyone is curious about you. Other than Florence, you're the only other person I've ever brought to church."

"You didn't invite Marcus Taggert here with you?"

"I invited him once but he didn't want to come with me."

"Will you invite me again?" Mac asked, taking one of his hands from the steering wheel and clasping her gloved hand.

Dara's eyes glittering, she replied, "As often as you want to come."

After having a very late brunch at Dara's apartment, the couple decided to view a premium-pay video using the cable T.V. service. They spent the remainder of the afternoon curled on the couch watching "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". Both of them loved the movie. Dara especially liked how strong women were the primary characters in the movie. Mac was thrilled by the martial arts special effects. Both Mac and Dara believed that the movie and the actors would be nominated for many academy awards in February.

"I'll be a little busy for the next 2 nights," Mac remarked as he continued to hold Dara in his arms as they cuddled on the couch. "I need to spend some time with Maxie and Georgie, especially starting tomorrow. Scott Baldwin and I are meeting with Felicia and her lawyer tomorrow, and I'll probably try to spend the next evening or two talking to the girls to explain things to them."

"I understand Mac. I'll be busy continuing to work on the Moreno trial in the evenings myself, but maybe we can get together for an hour or so during lunch this week."

Mac grinned," I hoping for more than an hour or two this week but we'll start there."

Trying to express her thoughts in a nonchalant tone of voice, Dara asked, "If you can't come by tomorrow night, will you give me a call and let me know how the meeting with Felicia and her lawyer goes?"

"Of course I will," Mac said, a bit surprised by her request. Turning Dara so that she was now facing him, he reassuringly stated, "Hey, don't worry. Felicia is not happy about this breakup but she's not blameless in this and I'm not going to let her drag out the divorce."

Biting her bottom lip, Dara responded, "I know Mac. But she said that she's not going to let you go and I don't think that you know what she's going to do."

Puzzled, Mac asked, "She said? What do you mean 'she said'? Did Felicia contact you?"

Nodding, Dara told Mac of her bitter encounter with Felicia in his office on Monday. Remembering how he sensed that something was troubling Dara that afternoon, Mac felt himself becoming angry. Felicia had no right to accuse Dara of interfering with their marriage and he planned to straighten her out on this issue tomorrow. Stroking her back with his hand and capturing her mouth in a passionate kiss, Mac broke the kiss briefly to vow, "Don't worry, sweetheart. I love you and I plan to make it so that when we go back to your church in the near future, you're going to feel comfortable introducing me as something other than your friend." His green eyes twinkled teasingly as he placed emphasis on the word friend.

Dara laughed when she realized Mac had noted her wording when introducing him earlier. She loved the way that he could understand what she was feeling without her explicitly telling him. Leaning in to kiss him she said," I know. I trust you, Mac."

Back | Next