Chapter 22

After hearing Mac?s command to enter the Police Commissioner's office, Scott Baldwin poked his head through the slightly opened door. Seeing that Mac was alone in his office Scott inquired, "Can we speak a few minutes before heading over to Denise Latham's law office?"

"Sure Scott." Mac stood and offered Scott a seat. "We have 15 minutes before we have to go and meet with Felicia and her lawyer." Mac came from behind his desk and sat on the edge of it in front of Scott. Watching Scott's body language as he sat in the offered chair, Mac sensed that whatever Scott was preparing to say would not be pleasant.

"Mac, I just want to prepare you for the meeting. You initially hired me because Felicia's lawyer was giving your previous lawyer the run-around when it came to moving forward with the divorce proceedings. Denise Latham hasn't been any more cooperative since I've been representing you but at least I was able to force her to meet us today. The operative word here is force. Mac, it's obvious that Felicia is going to pull out all of the stops in contesting this petition for divorce. I know what you went through with Felicia's involvement with Luke Spencer." Scott laughed silently to himself, grimly thinking his last comment was an understatement. Scott knew exactly what Mac was going through. He himself had been deeply in love with a woman who fell under Luke Spencer's inexplicable spell. But even up to when his divorce from Laura became final, Scott would have done everything that he could to save his marriage; he had loved Laura that much. Scott wanted to make sure Mac truly wanted this divorce because he anticipated things could turn nasty quickly, and there were two children involved.

Mac interrupted, "With all due respect Scott, I know of your history with Luke and Laura, and I know you were in the courtroom when Felicia testified about the night she spent with Luke. But you don't know the half of all of the mess I went through with Felicia. With New York being a no-fault divorce state I don't want to revisit those issues. But understand this, I want this marriage in name only ended as soon as possible."

"No matter what the cost is?" Scott persisted. "Do you really what every detail of your marriage discussed in open court if Felicia contests the divorce?" Wanting to see if Mac was open to an alternative, Scott made a suggestion. "You know, if you are legally separated for a year or more, it would be much easier to get the divorce, with or without Felicia's consent. We will do our best today to move forward but if Felicia decides to contest the divorce, you might want to continue the legal separation for another 9 months. After that, you can be granted a divorce in as little as sixty days, with or without Felicia's consent."

Mac took a deep breath after hearing Scott's proposal. Being an excellent lawyer, it was Scott's job to tell Mac all of the legal options in pursuing this divorce. But there was absolutely no way that he intended to stay married to Felicia for almost an additional whole year. He believed in his heart that Dara truly loved him and that if necessary; she would wait a year for him to be free of Felicia. But in his mind there was no reason that they should wait. "Scott, do whatever you have to do. I want the divorce finalized as soon as possible."

Sighing, and steeling himself for an acrimonious encounter, Scott understood his client's wishes. "O.K. Mac. Let's go do it."

Walking into the luxurious walnut-paneled offices of Attorneys Spiegel, Latham, and Barnes, Mac hazarded a guess as to how many embattled divorces contributed to the success of the firm. Scott and Mac were seated only a minute in the reception area when an assistant escorted them to a large meeting room. Felicia and her attorney were already seated at the large mahogany conference table with their backs facing the office windows. After perfunctory introductions, everyone took their seats.

Scott began speaking, "Ms. Latham, my office has sent you the divorce petition, all information regarding my client's assets and financial information, requests regarding visitation rights, and a proposed financial settlement for your client and her daughters. I have not received one official response from you, which is why we are meeting today. My client wishes to finalize the divorce with all deliberate speed and in a manner which is fair to all parties."

"Well we have a problem Mr. Baldwin," Denise Latham stated. "My client does not wish to terminate the marriage and is willing to do everything possible to accomplish this goal. Apparently Felicia has tried several times to discuss this with her husband without the presence of lawyers and Mr. Scorpio has been unwilling to hear her out. My only purpose for being here today is to facilitate in a reconciliation of Mr. and Mrs. Scorpio's marriage."

Mac immediately interrupted Felicia's attorney by commenting bitterly, "Well then you're wasting everyone's time because I can tell you now what you're asking is not going to occur." He glared at Felicia who noticeably flinched for a second upon hearing Mac's comment, but she remained quiet and was content to let her lawyer do her job.

"Mac," Scott warned his client. Knowing that Scott wanted him to be quiet, Mac leaned back in the swivel chair in an effort to calm down, but his hands tightly gripped the armrests. Everyone - Kevin, Taggert in a stupid way, Dara, and Scott - warned Mac that Felicia was not going to act reasonably about the divorce. Looking at her sitting confidently across the conference table from him, the realization finally became clear to him also.

Continuing, Felicia's attorney informed them, "Our proposal is that Mr. Scorpio immediately moves back into the family home with his wife and children and Mr. and Mrs. Scorpio attend marriage counseling sessions for a period of at least 6 months. If, after that time, both parties feel that the marriage should not continue, a divorce can be granted within as sixty days."

"Are you going to address anything in the divorce petition which was served to your client?" Scott asked.

Replying as if she were speaking to an imbecile child, Felicia's lawyer stated, "As I said just a moment ago, that was not our purpose for meeting with you today."

To hell with this Scott thought. He acknowledged to Mac in a brief glance that he was in agreement; continuing this meeting would be a waste of time. "Let's go Mac."

Knowing that if Mac walked out of the office, there would be no possibility of getting him to move back into the house in the near future, Latham quickly stated, "Even if your client insists on getting a divorce, our proposal is the quickest way for him to do so with the least amount of trauma. It will take at least three months before a judge will hear this case. And then, does he really want to discuss all aspects of his marriage in an open courtroom? After all, your client is a public figure. And he should consider the effect of an open divorce hearing on the two young girls."

Fed up with these arguments to coerce him to move back in with Felicia again, Mac looked directly at Felicia and countered, "If we have a divorce hearing it won't be the first time that the problems of our marriage will be aired in a public courtroom."

Felicia stood quickly and slammed both hands on the table. "Mac, stop and listen to reason!" Felicia shrieked. Pent-up rage from watching Mac resist every proposal offered by her lawyer was beginning to show in her demeanor. "Mac, can we talk now for a few minutes? Looking at her lawyer and then Scott, Felicia asked, "Please, leave us alone for a few minutes." Mac gave Scott an affirmative nod of his head and both lawyers left the meeting room, leaving Mac and Felicia alone.

Motioning for Mac to sit down again, Felicia moved to the seat next to his in hopes that their conversation would not become confrontational. "What possible reason do you have for not moving back into our home with me, Maxie, and Georgie for a few months? Why don't you want to give our marriage another chance?"

Not unsympathetic to her plight, Mac gazed directly into Felicia's tear-filled eyes as he softly spoke. "Felicia, you can't say that I didn't give our marriage several chances, not just one or two. I don't want this divorce to be about blame. I just want to move on with my life and hopefully you can move on with yours."

"We still aren't communicating Mac. I'm sitting here talking about our marriage and you're talking about a divorce." Unclenching the hand in her lap, she reached out to touch Mac's face. "Can you honestly tell me that you don't love me anymore?"

With closed eyes, Mac felt Felicia's palm pressed gently against his face. As he opened his eyes he took her hand into both of his. "Felicia, I no longer love you. I did once, for a very long time. But it's not there anymore."

Felicia shocked gasp told Mac that she hadn't believed he would actually say those words. She immediately snatched her hand from Mac's grasp. "I don't believe you Mac. You're still angry and hurt about what happened with Luke and you want to make me pay, you want to hurt me. Well you have, you've hurt me deeply. Shutting me out of your life. Flaunting your affair with Dara. I want it to stop now Mac. I want you to come home."

Not willing to listen to anymore of Felicia's demands, Mac stood to leave the office. The sight of Mac walking out on her - literally and figuratively - infuriated Felicia. Physically blocking his access to the door, in a taunting tone of voice Felicia said, "You're such an advocate for honesty, why don't you be honest with me and yourself? Why don't you admit the real reason you want the divorce is so that you can clear your conscious about sleeping with Dara? It's just cheap, tawdry, commonplace sex, Mac. It's not love or commitment or the history we've shared. Don't throw away our marriage over this. A divorce won't make you feel better about being with her."

"Don't go there Felicia," Mac warned. "Don't confuse Dara and me with your relationship to Luke Spencer. You don't know anything about us."

"I know everything about you two," boasted Felicia. "Do you really expect me to let you end our marriage and run to, of all people, Dara Jensen?! You're there at her apartment every night disgracing your family and me. And you two had the nerve to go to a church..." Felicia abruptly stopped speaking, recognizing that she had said too much. Realizing that either Felicia was following him or someone on Dara's security team was keeping Felicia informed, Mac was furious with himself for not knowing the depths Felicia would sink to stave off the divorce. No matter what his suspicions were about Felicia and Luke's affair, not once did he consider tailing her, and he was appalled that she was collecting information about his and Dara's movements.

Mac's face was only an inch away from Felicia's and he gave her an intense stare. "It's over Felicia. Our over." Mac said the words slowly and deliberately as Felicia blinked her eyes in disbelief. "I want to be a part of the girls' lives and I want to be divorced as soon as possible. If you don't offer a response to the divorce petition by the end of today I'll instruct Scott to move forward to arrange the earliest possible date for a divorce hearing before a judge." Placing his hand on Felicia's arm, Mac moved her from the door and he exited the conference room. At he walked towards Scott, who was standing in the reception area, Mac heard Felicia vow softly as she walked a few steps behind him, "Oh no, Mac, you're wrong. It's not over. Not by a long shot."


"Who could that be?" Dara, wearing her ever-present Chicago Cubs baseball shirt, quickly raced across the living room to answer the doorbell. She had been trying to concentrate on some legal documents but her mind kept drifting to thoughts of Mac. She noted it had only taken a few weeks for him to become a significant part of her life, and this revelation took her by surprise. They had spent a wonderful weekend together and Dara missed him desperately today. She didn't expect to receive a telephone call from Mac until 10 p.m., after he spent time with Maxie and Georgie. Therefore she was startled to see Mac standing on her doorstep at 8 p.m. He looked weary and as if he'd been through a stressful day. Dara invited Mac in and offered him dinner after he told her that he hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. During dinner Mac explained that Felicia refused to let him see Maxie and Georgie tonight; he was only able to speak to them on the telephone for a few minutes. Dara massaged Mac's head, neck, and shoulders as he told her of the caustic meeting today at Latham's law office.

"It was awful Dara," Mac grimly sighed. "It is going to get a lot worse before things get better. Felicia is intent on making this divorce so unpleasant that I will give up rather than go through it." Mac mentioned Scott's suggestion about prolonging the separation in an attempt to bypass some of the nastiness of a divorce fight, but he let Dara know his feelings on the proposal. "I don't want to be in this limbo state for another year. Maybe when we saw each other in Kelly's before Christmas I shouldn't have asked you out, with the divorce not being final yet, but I couldn't stop myself. Years ago I had let opportunities to be with you pass when I wouldn't or couldn't make a move. In December I was grateful for the chance to be with you and I wasn't going to let it pass me by again. I know that you were uncomfortable introducing me as your boyfriend yesterday," Mac felt Dara's fingers immediately stiffen as he spoke and he quickly continued, " and I understand. I would want the divorce to occur quickly even if we weren't together. But I need to know how you feel about everything. If I push for the divorce, the mud Felicia will sling at me may touch you. To be candid, that is the only reservation I have about pressing for the divorce, and I don't want to lose you due to the nastiness of the fight. And I know that I will lose you if I'm not free soon." Mac sat up and turned to gaze in Dara's somewhat sad brown eyes. He stroked her face gently and whispered cautiously, "What do you want me to do, love? I don't want to lose you but also I don't want you to get hurt if you stand by me. I don't know what to do..." It was bad enough gearing up for this fight with Felicia, but that didn't scare Mac. What truly terrified him was the possibility of losing Dara if she was unfairly placed in the center of the divorce battle.

Dara kissed Mac's hand and held it to her face. "You're acting like I have a choice in the matter. Do you think that I would leave you because of some lies or accusations Felicia would throw my way? I know that it won't be easy Mac, and as you say, there will be some rough times ahead. But I have no choice. I love you, with all my heart. Whatever happens, we'll get through it together." Upon hearing Dara's declaration, Mac embraced Dara. As he passionately kissed her, his mind echoed its version of Dara's truthful statement. They had no choice in the decision to be made; they already loved each other.

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