Chapter 40

Three months later...

The steam and hot water spraying on his back felt heavenly to Mac as his lingered a bit longer in the shower of the Port Charles Health and Racquetball club. Smiling to himself, Mac hummed a popular tune and experienced a feeling of unadulterated pleasure and he reflected over the events of the last few months. Felicia stopped her campaign to fight the divorce shortly in February and their divorce would be final any day now. Both he and Dara were doing well professionally recently with Moreno's conviction and several high-profile arrests of New York state criminals. And of their personal life, Mac knew he had never been happier than he was now with Dara. For the first time in a very long time Mac had a life outside of work that made him feel complete. Knowing that Kevin was probably already out of the shower and getting dressed, Mac shook himself from his pleasant musings and turned the water off and quickly dried himself, heading to the locker room.

Kevin, bare-chested and stepping into a pair of brown dress pants, teased his friend, "I thought you had fallen asleep in there and I was ready to come looking for you."

Mac tossed his wet towel at Kevin and responded, "I know, I know. I was thinking how great things are for me right now and I guess I lost track of time."

Kevin smiled knowingly at Mac and was secretly thrilled that for the first time in a long time, he too could feel positive about his personal life. "You and Dara are doing great."

"Yes, we are," Mac acknowledged with a beaming smile. "And I have to thank Ellen. You haven't been taking out your anxiety on the basketball or racquetball courts recently and my poor aging body appreciates it." Both men chuckled heartedly at the truthfulness of Mac's joke. As their laughter subsided, Mac asked in a more seriously tone of voice, "Really Kevin, you do seems happier and less brooding these days. How are things going with you and Ellen?"

Buttoning his tailored crisp Oxford shirt, a slight frown creased Kevin's brow as he took his time to respond to Mac's query. "We are doing fine. We're spending a lot of time together and taking things slowly. If you're talking about only 'Ellen and me', we're doing fine. It's other people who are having problems."

Mac wasn't surprised that Lucy Coe wasn't going to give up Kevin without a fight. "Lucy?" he asked.

"Of course Lucy. That's to be expected. What's surprising me a bit more are the folks at GH and how they are treating Ellen. It's all very subtle and nebulous, but some of the staff members there have been somewhat aloof and standoffish with Ellen because she broke up with Matt to be with me. Which is pretty ridiculous when you think of the GH staff members who have bed-hopped from one person to another. But somehow they are holding Ellen to a higher standard and somehow see her action as more egregious." Kevin's blood started to simmer as he thought of the numerous slights and petty insults, primarily from the nursing staff and led by Grace Sullivan, made against Ellen in his presence. Ellen rarely spoke of the incidents but he could imagine what was going on outside of his earshot.

Shaking his head in disbelief, Mac remarked, "Well, Ellen doesn't seem to me as the type of woman to take a lot of nonsense from anyone, especially from work."

A crooked grin appeared on Kevin's face. "You're right about that. Ellen throws it right back at them." Then his expression became somber again as he continued, "But some of the remarks do hit home a bit because both Ellen and I know that Matt was hurt by us. But we're working through it."

Interrupted by someone calling "Mac," the two men looked towards the door to see Scott Baldwin entering the locker room. For an instant Mac thought Scott must be the bearer of bad news if he had to track him down at the health club, but the look on Scott's face dispelled the notion from Mac's mind.

Placing his briefcase on a bench and opening it to retrieve a sheath of thick legal papers, Scott looked at Mac and explained, "I was in the courthouse today talking to a clerk who was just getting ready to put these papers in the mail to you Mac. But she did me an unorthodox favor and allowed me to bring these papers to you personally. These are the final divorce papers Mac; it's official as of today. You and Felicia are no longer married."

Ecstatic, Mac let out a whoop of joy and clasped Scott's hand into his, thanking him profusely for all of his help. Understanding Mac's desire to see Dara as soon as possible and give her the news, Kevin quickly agreed to cancel their plans for a drink at the Outback after their workout and urged Mac to go on and meet Dara now. Scott and Kevin watched with slightly amused grins as Mac fairly raced out of the locker room with the papers in hand. Upon Mac's departure, Scott asked Kevin if he'd like to still go to the Outback for a drink, but Kevin shook his head and declined the offer. "Another time, Scott. I just thought of a stop I need to make tonight."

Kevin powered on his cellphone and asked for the number of the American Express travel agency.


At the nurse's station, Ellen huddled over the medical charts with Dr. Laura Jensen, a young pediatrician who joined GH late last year. The attractive redheaded Dr. Jensen was popular among the young patients and her medical diagnostic skills were excellent. Dr. Jensen was consulting Ellen about a seven-year-old boy who was admitted this morning after injuries in a massive car accident when Matt approached. Both women looked up and greeted Matt simultaneously. Stiffening slightly, Ellen's expression became blank when Matt quickly said, "Hi," to Ellen and settled his gaze with his expressive brown eyes on Dr. Jensen and asked, "Are you ready to leave now Laura?"

"Oh my," exclaimed the doctor as she glanced at her watch. "Yes, I'm ready. I think that Ellen has given me all of the information I need." Laura Jensen gathered the documents from the counter and walked towards Matt, who grabbed Laura's free hand and pulled her towards him for a kiss. Blushing, Laura said goodbye to Ellen and the two nurses at the nurse station and she and Matt entered the elevator and left. Ellen noticed Matt never made eye contact with her again after he quickly said hello and looked only at Laura. This was typical of their behavior recently; other than brief acknowledgements and purely professional discussions, Matt and Ellen rarely spoke.

In time Ellen hoped they could at least be able to talk to one another, but for now the pain was still to great for both of them. At least Matt seemed to have found some solace in his relationship with Laura and Ellen wished the best for them. Turning her gaze abruptly from the closed elevator door Ellen was slightly startled to see Grace Sullivan staring dead at her. After their breakup Ellen knew she had no right to care about who Matt dated, but she was mollified to see that Grace didn't benefit from her machinations that night at Luke's Valentine Day's party. Ellen decided to forgo her seemingly daily verbal swordplay with Grace and without a word left to finish some work in her office before meeting Kevin for dinner.


Discarding the paper containers, Dara was placing the take-away Chinese food in serving dishes on the dinette table when she heard the front door open and knew that Mac had arrived for dinner.

"You're early," Dara entered the living room of her apartment to greet Mac, who was beaming with obvious joy. With no apparent reason for Mac's attitude immediately coming to mind, a puzzled Dara found herself wrapped in Mac's arm and receiving a breath-taking kiss. She screamed her lover's name as Mac then lifted Dara's petite body off the floor and whirled her around the room while continuing to kiss her. Within a few minutes Dara was able to lead Mac to the living room sofa where she was able to finally get Mac to sit down and she promptly straddled him while bracing her hands on the sofa right behind his shoulders. Finally breaking the seemingly endless stream of kisses with Mac, Dara caught her breath and asked, "Mac what is it? What's going on?"

"Look at the papers in my jacket pocket," Mac cryptically responded.

Still in a state of wonderment and confusion, Dara retrieved and unfolded the papers from Mac's windbreaker pocket and immediately recognized the papers as a final divorce decree effective as of today's date. Biting her bottom lip, Dara couldn't stop the tears from filling her eyes.

Mac's heart momentarily filled with anguish as he realized how difficult it had been for Dara to compromise her principles to be with him and love him these past 6 months. He silently vowed to himself and to Dara then and there that he'd never give her a reason to regret her decision. Gently cupping her face with both hands, Mac's thumbs attempted to wipe away the tears that were now falling freely on Dara's cheeks. "It was selfish of me to become involved with you before I had this piece of paper but I couldn't help myself. I needed you so much and I loved you so much. Please forgive me."

Dara shook her head and softly kissed the palm of one of Mac's hands. "Don't apologize Mac. I walked into our relationship with my eyes wide open. I could have said no and told you I'd wait for you until you were free. But I chose not to do that; I didn't want to wait any longer to be with you. I loved you Mac. I'll always love you."

Using one hand to pull Dara's head to his for a searing kiss, Mac snaked his arm around Dara's waist so that he could turn her body. Within a few seconds Dara was lying with her back on the couch and Mac was hovering over her, gliding his body against hers. She moaned when Mac settled himself on top and with unspoken words bade her to open her eyes and look at him. Mac slowly, gently, and deliberately made love to Dara that night and in the future they would look back on this evening when they both truly loved each other completely, freely, and with no reservations.


After having dinner together at the Port Charles Grille, Kevin and Ellen decided to enjoy the pleasant spring evening and leisurely walked to a coffee bar located a few blocks from Ellen's apartment. Over two cappuccinos Kevin shared the news Ellen of Mac's divorce and the couple knew both Mac and Dara were rejoicing with the turn of events.

"I couldn't be more happy for them," Ellen declared, clasping Kevin's hand in joy. "Tomorrow we should try and get together with them to celebrate."

Their conversation drifted briefly to work topics and Ellen asked if Kevin had finished his speech he was due to present at an international mental health conference in Rome, Italy in two weeks. Replying that he had indeed finished his speech, Kevin added he had also just picked up his tickets for the Italy trip and he handed a thick envelope to Ellen for her perusal. Ellen was proud of Kevin that he was presenting at this prestigious conference and it was great publicity for General Hospital also. But during the last few months the two of them have become almost constant companions and she was going to miss him during his trip.

Opening the envelope, Ellen discovered two Alitalia plane ticket to Italy and two first-class train tickets routed Roma-Venezia-Milano. After gazing in amazement several seconds at the travel documents, Ellen looked up to see Kevin looking lovingly at her.

"I want you to come to the psychology conference with me in Rome. I'm speaking on the second day of it and afterwards we can leave for a few nights in Venice, and then we can fly back to the States from Milan." Choosing his words carefully and remembering how Ellen had planned on a honeymoon with Matt in March, Kevin continued, "You have the vacation time I think. And I don't want to be away from you for a week. Ellen, we'll have a wonderful time in Italy. I can't think of a more romantic place to be or anyone else I'd want to be there with. Will you come with me?"

A lovely, dimpled smile spread across Ellen's face. Except for a few trips to Canada and a vacation long ago to Mexico, Ellen had never traveled outside of the U.S. And abiding by their agreement to take things slowly, the pair as of yet hadn't consummated their least *technically* they hadn't, and knowing Kevin was leaving soon prompted thoughts of taking their relationship to the next level before his departure. Upon hearing Kevin's suggestion, Ellen concurred with Kevin that there wasn't a more romantic place than Italy.

Nodding in agreement, Ellen answered, "It's a beautiful suggestion Kevin. I will come with you." Kevin pulled Ellen close to him to capture her full lips in a sensuous kiss and whispered, "I guess we'll have our own great news to share with Mac & Dara tomorrow, won't we?"

***The End***

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