Part Four

Sonny swaggered toward Marcus with a smirk on his face and contempt in his eyes. It was all Marcus to do to keep his rage in check. Throwing the other man to the ground and beating him senseless would have sated his rage, but Marcus was a man of the law. He couldn't succumb to his base emotions. That's what scum like Corinthos did. No, Detective Marcus Taggert was above that. He knew what he came there to do and nothing would make him forget that.

"What's this about?" Sonny asked. "It's a little early in the morning for a donut run, isn't it, Detective?"

Marcus inhaled a sharp breath. He wouldn't allow Corinthos to get to him. Marcus remembered the law.

He whipped out his handcuffs and had them around Sonny's wrists before the man or his bodyguard could blink an eye.

"What the hell are you doing?"

"You're under arrest," Marcus said. "You have the right to remain silent--"

"I know my rights!" Sonny yelled. "I also have the right to know what I'm being arrested for! Where's the warrant?"

"You're under arrest for rape, and I don't need a warrant for that."

Johnny tried to block Marcus' path. He gave the bodyguard a hard glare that convinced Corinthos' guard to stand down. Marcus shoved Sonny inside the open elevator car. Just as the doors started to close, Sonny called out.

"Call Alexis! Have her meet me at the station!"

The doors eased shut. Marcus focused on breathing and remaining calm. The enclosed space was a strong temptation. He could do a lot of damage to Corinthos inside these tight four walls, but he wouldn't. That was the coward's way. And Marcus was no coward.

"What's this really about?" Sonny asked.

Marcus remained silent. If he broke his concentration, Sonny was a dead man.

"This is trumped up bullshit," Sonny said. "You fucked up today, Detective. I'm getting your badge for this one."

Marcus let Corinthos' idle threats roll over him. Nothing else mattered except making Corinthos pay for what he did to Dara. That lawless asshole would pay for ever putting his slimy hands on her.

# # #

Lois followed Dara into the dining room and gasped. "Look at all that food!"

"Lois, please," Dara said, tossing her friend an apron. "Don't start. Just help me get rid of it."

"Breakfast is one of my three favorite meals of the day," Lois said, "but I can't eat all of that."

Dara couldn't summon the energy to laugh at her friend's joke. Her emotions were too raw, battered and bruised. All she could do was shrug instead. "Eat it, toss it. I don't care. But I can't leave it here."

"This is too much to waste," Lois said. She grabbed plastic storage containers from the kitchen cabinets. "We can take this to the homeless shelter on Eighth and Oak."

"Whatever."

The women worked in silence, packing the food into containers and placing the containers into plastic shopping bags. Dara felt Lois' eyes on her, and she knew that Lois would soon demand to know why Dara called her over while bawling uncontrollably. Dara was glad that Lois came over without hesitation, but opening up to her was gonna hurt like hell. All over again.

"That's done," Lois announced as she filled the last shopping bag. She untied the apron and tossed it over the back of a chair. "You wanna tell me why you cooked enough to feed an army?"

The misery of the past haunted Dara. Heaviness centered in her chest, and she slowly found the words to answer Lois' question.

"I had to tell Marcus about Micha--my past."

Lois' blue eyes widened. "You told Marcus about you and Sonny? Ohmigod, Dara! Why? Did you tell him everything?"

Dara swallowed the fresh batch of sobs that lodged in her throat. She nodded. "I told him about our baby...about Hope. Needless to say, Marcus didn't take it very well."

She couldn't hold the tears at bay. They flowed down her cheeks like a waterfall. Lois gathered her into her arms and gently patted her back.

"We talked about this before, and you decided not to say anything to him," Lois said quietly. "I'm disappointed in Marcus. I hoped he wouldn't be so predictable."

Dara pulled away from Lois and grabbed the box of Kleenex that rested on the countertop. She headed for the living room and Lois followed. "He hates Sonny," Dara explained, wiping her eyes.

"His love for you should be stronger than his hatred," Lois reasoned. Dara sat on the sofa and Lois joined her. "You lost a baby. That pain runs deep. He should be here with you and not somewhere placating his wounded male ego. I swear, men are worse than babies."

"I didn't lose her," Dara said. "Hope is alive."

"What?" Surprise livened Lois' face. "Are you sure?"

Dara nodded. "I saw her. She came to me yesterday right after you all left. She just stood there on the doorstep..."

"Where is she?" Lois asked, looking around the apartment. "What's gonna happen now?"

"She's angry. She thinks I gave her up for adoption. I told her I thought she died at birth, but I'm not sure if she believes me." Dara inhaled a deep breath. "She ran away, and now I have to find her again. Now, that I know she's alive out there, nothing matters until I know she's alright."

"What about Marcus?" Lois asked. Then, her mouth dropped open. "What about Sonny?! Have you told him? Dara, you have to tell him. He has to know that your baby didn't die. Does she know about him, too?"

Dara nodded. "She knows. She had news clippings of both of us. I plan to tell Sonny, but first, I have to find my daughter. She's been in and out of foster homes for the last ten years. The people she's with now... She said the man's tried to molest her. I have to find her, Lois. Marcus and Sonny will have to wait until I find my child."

She stood and Lois did the same. "I'll help you," Lois promised.

Dara's looked into the concerned eyes of one of her oldest and best friends. "Thank you."

# # #

Jason with Alexis fast on his heels stormed into the police station. As his footsteps strode through the squad room, Jason's eyes scanned the large, noisy space for a sight of Keesha. When he finally spotted her--standing next to the coffee machine and chatting with some guy--Jason's steps faltered. He hadn't seen her in this setting before. He knew she was a cop, but that was something that didn't matter within the walls of Room 23 of the Starlight Inn. Looking at her now, he had the strangest feeling that it still didn't matter.

"Jason?" Alexis clipped, interrupting his thoughts. "It's this way. Are you with me?"

"Right there, Alexis."

He followed her inside Commissioner Alejandro Garcia's office and closed the door. All of the bigwigs were already in attendance: the Commissioner, the DA Justus Ward, and the new mayor, Mac Scorpio. The arresting officer, Detective Taggert, stood tall and Jason could taste the man's outrage from across the room. For the first time, he wondered if Sonny really had raped someone and the thought sickened him.

"Okay, Alexis, we're all here," Alex said, folding his arms across his chest. "You know the charges. Your client is being held on them. I think that's cut and dry."

"Not in the least. Your Detective," she sneered with contempt," has a vendetta against my client. Until I know exactly who filed this alleged rape charge against my client, I'm not leaving. If these charges are bogus, which is what I firmly believe, I'm filing charges with the Attorney General's office against all of you!"

"Relax with the threats, counselor," Justus said. "We're all here to see that justice is done."

"Which kind, Justus?" Jason asked, and then gave Taggert a cold look. "Legal or personal?"

Marcus' expression didn't change. He stared straight ahead, ignoring all of them.

"Corinthos is downstairs in lockup," Alex informed them. "If you wish to speak with him, you may do so."

"Oh, I fully intend to speak with him," Alexis said. "But before I do, I want to know who filed charges against him."

All eyes focused on the detective. He opened his mouth and a hushed silence fell across the room.

"There have been no charges filed," he said. "I'm acting on the victim's behalf."

"This is ridiculous!" Alexis cried. "I want him released now!"

"No!" Marcus said.

Alexis' cheeks turned bright red. Her brown eyes flashed. "We're supposed to take your word? Who is this phantom victim? Produce a name or release Mr. Corinthos this moment!"

The detective drew in a harsh breath. His jaw clenched as if he wouldn't answer.

"Marcus?" Mac prompted. "Who's the victim?"

The muscles in Taggert's jaw flickered. Then, he answered, "Dara is. Dara Jensen was assaulted by your precious Sonny Corinthos." He gave Alexis a hard stare. "He's still a threat to her, and he shouldn't be released!"

# # #

Griffin, Laura and Carly's Man Friday, entered the Deception conference room with a fresh pot of coffee and a platter of pastries. He set the platter in the center of the table in front of the two women and promptly began refilling their mugs of coffee.

"The girl I saw this morning would be the perfect Face of Deception," he chattered. "She had smooth, flawless skin and dimples that made me--"

"Spare us the gory details," Carly said, accepting a mug of the steaming brew from him.

"You've rattled on about this mysterious girl all morning," Laura said. "Why didn't you bring her in with you and we could have been finished with these meetings hours ago?"

"I would have brought her," he said, giving Laura a mug that contained more cream and sugar than coffee, "but she bolted. Took off as if I was some dirty old man. I was offended!"

Carly chuckled. "You are a dirty old man. The girl has good instincts. I like her already."

"That's wonderful," Laura said with a hint of sarcasm, "considering you haven't liked anyone else who's walked through that door."

Carly rolled her eyes. "They're all wrong for what we're representing. We want someone fresh. Not someone who's already used up."

"Want me to go look for her?" Griffin offered.

"And how long will this take?" Laura asked. "Don't forget you were late this morning.

"I can make up for that! I wouldn't stop until I found her!" Griffin promised with a grin. "I'm telling you, the search will be worth it. She has a fresh face, and I think it's the one you've been looking for."

Laura looked at Carly. Carly shrugged. "Go for it. I'm tired of hearing you rant on about her. But be quick about it. You have two days starting now. Let Carmen know what you're doing and tell her she's taking your place."

Griffin headed to the door and paused before exiting. "No one could ever take my place."

He winked and both women laughed. The door closed behind him. Carly grabbed a croissant and tore it apart. "I hope that wasn't a cute way for him to mess around on our dime for two days."

"His ego is too big for that," Laura said. "He'll return with someone. I hope it will be the right someone. I'm tired of looking."

The conference telephone buzzed. Carmen announced that she had a message for Carly. Carly pushed the button for the speakerphone. "Go ahead, Carmen. What's up?"

"It's a private matter," Carmen began reluctantly.

"I don't care if Laura hears. What is it?"

"A reporter just called. He said that your husband has been arrested on rape charges and wants to know your thoughts on it."

"Shit!" Carly gritted her teeth. The lengths those parasites would take. "Dial the penthouse for me."

"Mrs. Corinthos," Carmen said, "the reporter isn't lying. It's been on the news. Your husband was arrested."

"Why didn't you tell me? Never mind! Don't answer that. Call my driver and tell him to have the limo ready at the curb."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Do you need anything?" Laura asked, as Carly rushed to the door.

"No, this is a big mistake," Carly said. "I'm sure Alexis is handling it, but I need to be with him. You can handle the auditions alone."

"Of course," Laura said. "Go and be careful of the reporters."

"Always."

# # #

Hope spent the night bundled up in an abandoned railway car. She thought some other kids must have used it since weird stuff was painted on the walls. A sofa and an end table covered one railway car wall and a blazing fireplace took care of the other one. The kids in Port Charles definitely had a lot of time on their hands.

She woke up hungry and cold, but she was used to that. Standing with a stretch and a yawn, she shook off the willies and took off. Her destination had already been decided. She might not get a meal there, but she was determined to get some satisfaction.

Hope reached the Harbor View Towers just as Sonny Corinthos was being stuffed inside the backseat of Dara's boyfriend's car. It didn't take a genius to figure out the old man had been arrested. Again. Hope grumbled. Now, she had to regroup. She couldn't just appear on his doorstep. The surprise wouldn't work if he wasn't there to greet her.

Damn.

Her stomach grumbled and she couldn't ignore it. She went over to a homeless shelter that she knew about over on Oak Street. Some do-gooder had dropped off a massive breakfast complete with Hope's favorites: scrambled eggs, grits and bacon. She wolfed the food down and escaped before one of the volunteers could bug her.

She wandered aimlessly for awhile and then some bozo appeared from out of nowhere and almost ran her over. As he apologized, his eyes roamed over her. He mumbled a bunch of crap about her becoming a model. She'd heard that line before. She wasn't buying. Hope shoved away from him and ended up right in front of Harbor View Towers again.

A young Latin woman struggled with a stroller and the doors. Hope held the door open and the woman pushed the stroller through. A young voice said, "Hi!"

Hope glanced down. Her heart missed a beat. The little boy looked a lot like she did at that age. Deep dimples and wavy black hair. The only difference was their skin tone. Hope was about a half shade darker than him. If anyone saw them together, they'd swear they were brother and sister.

"Michael," the woman was saying, "tell the nice lady 'Thank you.' She held the door open for us. Isn't that nice?"

"You don't have to make him..."

"Nah," the woman said, waving Hope's objections away. "He'll do it. Come on, Michael. Say it."

"Tank you!" His black eyes danced and his dimples flashed as he laughed.

Hope smiled back although she felt as if she'd been sucker punched. That cute little kid was her brother.

Two burly guys rushed out the door and nearly knocked Hope down. They walled the women and child between them. "Leticia, you should have waited for us," one brute said. "The boss would have killed us if something happened to his kid."

"Sorry, but the little guy is anxious."

The trio and the toddler moved down the sidewalk and headed toward the park located next door.

In a state of shock, all Hope could do was stare. Not only did she have parents who abandoned her. She had a little brother, too. Seeing him struck her more deeply than just reading about him in a paper did. He was real and the need to know him filled her heart completely.

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