Chapter 29

Mac grinned broadly, catching Dara surreptitiously glance for the umpteenth time at her pager. They were driving to return a textbook to Maxie, who left the book at Mac's apartment on the previous night, before heading out to dinner and a movie. "Dara, don't worry, you'll be the first person they'll page when the jury comes in with a verdict in the Moreno trial."

Laughing at being 'caught', Dara offered, "I was just checking that the battery was still good, really!" Slipping the pager in her coat pocket, she clasped Mac's right hand as he continued to steer the car with his left hand. "I've been through hundreds of trials, but waiting for this verdict is almost unbearable," Dara confided. Squeezing Mac's hand gently, she flashed him a grateful smile. She couldn't believe how happy she was that they loved each other and were beginning to share their lives together. "Thanks for trying to take my mind off of the trial this weekend. It really has helped; otherwise I'd be a total wreck by now."

"Anytime, beautiful." Mac intertwined their fingers. He was still somewhat amazed how a simple smile from Dara could dazzle him so and make his heart skip a beat. After a few moments of pleasant silence, Mac asked in a nonchalant tone of voice, "Hey, have you had a chance to talk to Ellen since dinner the other night?"

Shaking her head, Dara replied, "No, I tried to call her yesterday but she wasn't in her apartment." Looking at the time on her wristwatch, Dara remarked, "Matt is due to arrive back in Port Charles tonight so they're probably together now. I'll try to make contact with her tomorrow." Tilting her head slightly, Dara gave Mac a quizzical look. "You know, you're not the only partner here who's good at observing. That's the third time this weekend you've asked me if I've called Ellen. What's going on? I mean, is something wrong?"

Kevin wasn't answering his cellphone nor had he returned Mac's calls this weekend. Mac made definite plans to contact Kevin on Monday, when he knew Kevin had office hours at General Hospital. In an attempt to gain time in answering Dara's query, Mac asked, "How would you describe Ellen's demeanor on Friday night?"

"Inconsistent, a bit thoughtful," Dara answered after a moment of reflection. "One moment she'd seem to be enjoying herself immensely and seemed very comfortable. Then the next minute she'd be somewhat nervously quiet or on-edge. In the end I figured she was feeling guilty about having a great time while Matt was busy working at a technical conference," Dara observed with a smirk.

Mac released Dara's hand and used both hands to grip the steering wheel, and remarked, "She was probably feeling guilty alright." Knowing that his comment puzzled Dara, Mac explained. "While you were making coffee that night, I walked back into the living room. Kevin was holding Ellen's wrist and they were staring at each other, not talking, and listening to a song on the radio about friends becoming lovers. They didn't see me. Shortly after that song they made their abrupt exit from the apartment." A horrified expression came over Dara's face as she listened to Mac. "Oh my God. Mac, are you sure?" Trying to offer a better interpretation of what happened Friday night, Dara argued, "Are you sure you didn't misinterpret what you thought you observed? Besides, even if your observation was correct, that doesn't mean anything happened after they left. Ellen hasn't said anything at all to me. I don't know Kevin well at all but you do. Has he said anything to you?"

Mac shifted uncomfortably in his car seat and confessed, "He didn't mention Ellen by name, but last week Kevin said to me that he cared very deeply for a woman who was involved with someone else, but he was going to try and have a relationship with her."

"Do you think that Kevin would try to take Ellen from Matt?" Dara asked incredulously.

"Do you think Ellen can be taken from Matt by Kevin?" Mac countered, not really wanting to answer Dara's question.

"Before Friday I would have said absolutely no. But looking back on that evening now, everything makes more sense. All evening I felt that there was this undercurrent. And I remember how Ellen didn't want to talk about the wedding or Matt. Mac, should we do anything? I mean, Kevin is your friend and I'm Ellen's friend. I'd hate for either one of them to be hurt but if what we're thinking is true...." Dara couldn't finish the sentence. From her impression of Kevin, it didn't seem like he was the type of person who was looking for a casual relationship with someone, especially with someone who was already his friend. And Ellen was not the type of woman to promptly abandon a partner because someone new or better might have come along. In Dara's mind, someone was in for some heartache.

Mac pulled into the driveway and placed the transmission gear in park, but left the car running so the heat could operate. Unbuckling his shoulder belt he finally looked at Dara to respond to her last question. "I'm going to talk to Kevin tomorrow and hopefully everything is o.k. I don't think that you should bring up anything to Ellen unless she wants to talk. But from what I've observed of her, if she did reject Kevin's advances, I don't think she will be talking about it to anyone." Mac reached in the backseat of the car to retrieve Maxie's textbook and told Dara that he'd be right back. Dara watched Mac as he sprinted up the walkway, careful to avoid the icy patches, and rang the doorbell. She couldn't see very well who came to the door but after a few moments of conversation, Mac returned to the car with the textbook still in his hand. Mac had an unreadable expression when he opened the car door and turned off the engine. He sat in the driver's seat and placed his right hand on Dara's cheek and chin to gently cup her face. "We have to go in for a few minutes Sweetheart. Robin's home."

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