Chapter 33

Work-related issues kept both Dara and Mac very busy all day on Thursday as they wrapped up things for their extended holiday break. They modified their travel plans so that they would leave Port Charles on the morning of Friday February 14 and spend Friday and Saturday nights in Buffalo with Dara's friends, leave Buffalo Sunday morning and Mac's surprise would begin, and they planned to return to Port Charles on Monday evening.

After meeting with an officer whose testimony was needed for an upcoming trial, Dara encountered Marcus Taggert in the 4th floor hallway of the police station. They both had a few spare minutes and they walked leisurely to the coffee break area for a chat. Leaning against a vending machine, Taggert asked Dara if she and Mac would be at the Valentine Day's celebration at Luke's tomorrow night.

Dara sat on a stool along the wall, stirring sugar and cream into her coffee. "No, Mac and I will be in Buffalo visiting my best friend, Janice Williams, and her family," Dara explained.

Envy surged through Taggert as he thought Mac's next step after visiting the best friend would be visiting Dara's family. Realistically, Taggert knew that there was no reason for him to be jealous. He had his chance with Dara and he blew it. Now it was time to be mature (ha!) and wish the best for his friends. Giving a somewhat strained smile, Taggert remarked, "Good luck with the weather. They're forecasting a winter storm starting Sunday. I'll be sticking close to home this weekend and plan to drop by Luke's tomorrow night."

When Dara asked if he was going alone to Luke he told her that Donna Richards would be his date for the evening. Dara rightly didn't picture the handsome lieutenant as someone sitting around having trouble finding a date. Yet she was inexplicably happy that he was going to the Valentine Day bash. Maybe having a very active social life would keep her friend from making negative comments about her relationship with Mac.

"I've only gotten to know Donna recently but she seems really nice," Dara said generously. "Plus, she's a stunning beauty, even in a police uniform," Dara added teasingly.

"Yeah, " Taggert agreed, with an embarrassed smile. He admitted to himself that he was looking forward to his night out with Donna and had no reason to begrudge Mac and Dara their getaway weekend. "We should have a good time tomorrow night. You and Mac have a great time this weekend, too."


"They're here! They're here!" Patrick Williams had been watching all morning on Friday for the arrival of his godmother Dara and her friend when he finally saw Mac's SUV enter their driveway. After obeying his parents by buttoning his winter coat and putting on his boots, Patrick raced out of the front door to greet them.

Laughing at his son's excitement, Robert joked, "Dara must think that Patrick wants to bring the town crier back as a profession because he certainly acts like one every time she comes here." Glancing at his wife he continued, "Janice, I'll go out and welcome them first. Leave everything and come out as soon as you can." Robert turned off the flame under the saucepan and prepared to leave the kitchen. After hearing his wife vent for weeks about Dara and her new boyfriend, Robert attempted to give Janice one final warning before meeting their guests. "Remember, Dara and Mac drove up here to spend an enjoyable Valentine weekend with us, and that's exactly what I expect to happen. So let's get into our gracious host mode, O.K.?"

Janice widened her already big brown eyes and said in a mockingly shocked voice, "Why would I be anything but that darling?" Her husband let out of whoop of laughter as he shook his head and left the kitchen. Janice took off her apron and was only a few steps behind Robert when Mac, Dara, and Patrick entered the house. When everyone finished exchanging greetings, Janice led Mac and Dara upstairs so they could unpack and freshen up before dinner. Janice had a mischievous smirk on her face when she opened the door to a bedroom at the end of the hallway. "Dara, this is your room." The bedroom was large and was furnished with a canopy queen-sized bed, a chest of drawers, and a dresser with a lovely mirror on it. The bedroom also had its own private bathroom. Turning to Mac, Janice smoothly said, "Mac, I hope you don't mind, but there is an extra twin bed in Patrick's room down the hall and you'll have to share the room with him tonight. But tomorrow he'll be sleeping over at a neighbor's house and you will have the room all to yourself."

Dara hadn't been in the house for 10 minutes and she was on the verge of exploding. Of course it was Janice's prerogative to insist on separate bedroom for unmarried guests, especially since Patrick was in the house. However Dara silently noted Janice's opinion on sleeping arrangements had changed considerably since their college days. But what aggravated Dara most was that Janice gave no hint that there would be an issue with the sleeping accommodations and she sprung this unpleasant surprise. She was ready to pick up her bags and head with Mac to a nearby hotel when Mac unexpectedly clasped Dara's hand and caressed the back of her hand with his thumb.

Mac remarked, "You have a lovely home Janice. Thanks for putting us up tonight and tomorrow night. Let me head on to Patrick's room now and we'll meet you downstairs in about 10 minutes." No doubt about it, both Dara and Mac caught the look of amazement and a hint of reluctant admiration on Janice's face. She left Dara to show Mac the location of Patrick's bedroom and the guest bathroom. Alone now, Dara sighed, hoping that her best friend wouldn't pull any more childish pranks or make any catty remarks this weekend, and proceeded to unpack. Ten minutes later, just as she finished washing her face, someone knocked three times on her bedroom door. Knowing it was Mac, Dara grinned broadly and opened the door.

"Is that the secret knock?" teased Dara, as she literally pulled Mac into the room.

"You know it beautiful. No one other than me gets in with that signal," Mac replied, wrapping his arms around Dara and capturing her lips for a searing kiss. He smiled when he broke the kiss. Mac was so happy to spend Valentine weekend with Dara and have a reason to celebrate he wasn't about to let anything annoy him this weekend.

As Mac continued to hold her and gently stroke her cheek with his fingertips, Dara apologized for the sleeping accommodations. Mac winked at Dara as he took her hand and led her downstairs to join everyone. "Don't worry," he promised, "you'll need the rest because you won't get any we're on our own Sunday night." Dara's jaw dropped; she was unexpectedly shocked by Mac's suggestive reply. But she quickly recovered her aplomb and murmured wistfully, "Promises, promises..."


Nervousness wracked Ellen's being as she sat stiffly in the lounge chair in her apartment and waited for Matt's arrival. In a few minutes they would be on their way to meet Kevin and Lucy at Luke's. For the last few days Ellen seriously thought of feigning illness at the last minute and not going tonight. However, in the end, she felt if she and Kevin could make it through the evening without any mishaps, then the tension between them would be eased tremendously. No matter what happened, Ellen planned to talk to Matt sometime this weekend and tell him about her changed relationship with Kevin. Strangely that fateful discussion worried her more than anything that could happen tonight at Luke's. Ellen herself didn't understand her feelings for Kevin so how could she explain them to Matt and hope that he would understand and accept them? Ellen knew that she loved Matt. Of that she had no doubt. But she also strongly felt something for Kevin, and this was what she found so totally frustrating and unbelievable. This was so unlike her. Regardless how much she tried to wish them away she couldn't get rid of those feelings for Kevin. Ellen jumped slightly when she heard a key in the lock of the apartment door. Realizing that Matt had arrived, she stood up and had just reached the door as it swung open. Matt was looking as handsome as ever, and on his lap was a bouquet of red roses.

"Hello sweetheart, happy Valentine's Day," Matt said as he rolled himself into the apartment. After closing the door, Ellen turned around and leaned toward Matt.

"Happy Valentine's Day to you too." Matt gently pulled Ellen's face to his as they kissed passionately. Coming up for air, Ellen caught her breath, smiled seductively at Matt, and said, "Are you sure you really want to go out tonight? I can call Luke's right now and give our apologies to Lucy."

"Don't tempt me," Matt replied with a gaze filled with desire. First he had been away for more than a week in New York City and this past week he had a very busy schedule at General Hospital. During the last two weeks he had seen very little of Ellen and he longed to spend an extended period of time with her alone. Kissing her once again, he whispered, "We'll put in our appearance for an hour or two and will head back here for our own private celebration." For a fleeting moment Matt thought a brief look of dismay marred Ellen's lovely face. "I must have imagined it," he reflected as he watched her place the roses in a vase. No, there was something wrong. Watching Ellen closely he saw her hand shake as she placed each rose in the vase. Moving towards her Matt clasped both of her hands within his and held them to his lips. Kissing them softly he raised his eyes to look in Ellen's eyes and asked, "Ellen, what is it? Is something wrong?"

Ellen blinked her eyes and contemplated talking to Matt now. But what would she say? What would she say about her feelings for Kevin? With a slightly strained smile Ellen returned Matt's gaze and said, "No, nothing's wrong. We just need to spend some time together and talk this weekend. We'll talk after we get back from Luke's tonight." Ellen gathered her coat and the engaged couple headed to the Valentine party.

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