Sonny stood at her bedside watching his daughter sleep for a very long time. He heard Dara in the other bedroom, settling in and a few times, he felt her presence behind him. Still, he didn't move. He couldn't. Hope had him glued.
Later, the aroma of fresh brewed Colombian blend drifted into the room. He glanced over his shoulder. Dara, looking comfortable in gray sweats and thick, white socks, padded into the room. She held two steaming mugs in her hand and gave one to Sonny.
"Thanks," he murmured before taking a sip. Three sugars and two creams. The coffee was just the way he liked it. He was a little surprised that she remembered. Commenting on it seemed dangerous so he just turned back to their sleeping daughter.
"It's a miracle, isn't it?" Dara said softly. "There she is, and it's not a dream."
"A dream?" he repeated. "Yeah, it was a dream I had, too. Life would have been different... That doesn't matter now."
"No, it doesn't."
Hope stirred in her sleep. She clutched the comforter and snuggled deeper underneath it. Sonny reached out and smoothed dark strands of hair from her forehead. He bent forward, kissed her cheek and rose to his full height. Turning to Dara, he said, "We should let her rest."
He followed Dara down to Jason's living room. The furnishings were sparse, but comfortable. Whatever Jason did with his earnings, he certainly didn't waste it here. Dara moved to the sofa, curling her legs underneath her and continued to sip her coffee.
The clock on the mantel chimed softly at midnight. He hovered at the bottom of the staircase, unsure what to do. His head was telling him it was time to go back to his place, but his heart...his heart was upstairs and he wasn't ready to leave it behind.
"I wouldn't mind if you wanted to stay for awhile," she said. "Go ahead. Sit."
He hesitated for half a second before claiming the stuffed chair adjacent to the sofa. "I doubt if I could sleep anyway."
"I'm afraid to," she confided. "Afraid that when I wake up, she'll be gone."
"Me, too." He swallowed more coffee. "This is a good a time as any. We gotta talk long term, Dara. What's the situation between you and Taggert?"
"That's none of your business."
"Hope makes it my business," he stated firmly. "He arrested me for rape. I'd guess that he's not thrilled with our bundle of joy. I don't want him around her if he's on one of his trips. His beef is with me. I won't allow him to take it out on Hope."
"He won't," Dara said coolly. She set her mug on the end table and hugged a throw pillow to her chest. "What about Carly? The door slamming and her usual hysterics...I don't want Hope around that. Your wife has a habit of creating drama, and that's the last thing Hope needs right now."
"It's taken care of," he muttered.
"How? By walking out?" she asked. "If Hope thinks she's the cause of your marriage breaking up, that won't be good either."
"She's not the cause and I won't let her believe that she is." Sonny lowered his mug onto the coffee table. He rested his forearms on his thighs and leaned forward. "Let's leave Carly and Taggert out of this. It's time to deal with us."
She shook her head. After leaping from the sofa, she began to pace in front of the fireplace. "There's nothing to deal with."
He became still and watched her closely. "You're wrong, and you know it. Otherwise, you wouldn't be wearing a hole in Jason's carpet."
Her footsteps came to an abrupt halt. Her back, stiff and proud, faced him. Her warrior stance. Sonny drew in a harsh breath. He read her body language loud and clear. Obviously, they hadn't forgotten anything about each other.
He stood and went to the door and opened it. "You win this time. Goodnight, Dara. Sleep tight."
# # #
"Are you sure these things are accurate?" Dara asked, looking closely at the home-pregnancy test. "I'm probably just late because of stress." She handed the small, rectangular cardboard box back to Lois. "Here, take it back. I don't wanna take it."
"Just do it!" Lois shoved the box back toward Dara. "All you have to do is pee for goodness sakes! Five minutes later, you'll know."
Dara's fingers trembled as she ripped the box open. Her hands shook so badly that she dropped the instructions and the box's contents onto the floor. "Lois, I'm scared. I can't do this."
Her friend grabbed everything from the floor and set them on the bed. She went to Dara and wrapped her arm around her shoulder. "I know you're terrified, but you still gotta know. Either way, the truth will come out. Wouldn't you feel better if you know for sure?"
Dara shrugged. "I don't know. Right now, I'm too scared to feel. We always used protection. This wasn't supposed to happen."
Lois released Dara and picked up the instructions. As she scanned them, she asked, "Have you told Sonny? I know things are weird between you now, but he should know."
"There's nothing to tell."
Lois muttered a few choice Italian words under her breath. "You shouldn't be scared like this alone. Talk to him."
"How?" Dara asked. "He's unreachable."
"That's because you're not trying."
"I can't get close enough to try!" Dara countered. "He's in too tight with that Scully guy. Every time we're together, one of Scully's goons come around and Michael leaves. Michael keeps getting in deeper and deeper and it scares me."
"Sonny wouldn't hurt you."
Dara swallowed a deep breath and said quietly, "No, but Scully would."
End of Flashback
# # #
Desperate for changing Starving for truth I'm closer to where I started
Chasing after you
Jason got minimal sleep. With Keesha's warm, nude form curved against him, the last thing he wanted was to be unconscious. He lay quietly watching her and thinking. Something had to give. They couldn't go on like this. He couldn't keep pretending. Things had to change. They had to face the truth.
I'm falling even more in love with you Letting go of all I've held onto I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
She moaned softly in her sleep. Her arm closed around his waist while her thigh slid up his. Jason's lower body responded accordingly. Biting back a groan, he lay perfectly still. He'd often wondered how waking up with her in his arms would be. He knew that once years ago the body he lived in experienced that pleasure, but since he couldn't remember that time, it didn't matter to him. Holding her now did. It mattered to him a lot.
His gaze continued to study her face, memorizing every nuance. The darkened caramel tint of her skin. The high, exotic cheekbones. The tempting curve of her mouth. Jason took in a sharp breath. Just looking at her full, rounded lips created a mild explosion inside him. No, he couldn't go on like this. Waking up with her in his arms couldn't be a once in a lifetime moment.
I'm living for the only thing I know I'm running and not quite sure where to go I don't know what I'm diving into
Just hanging by a moment here with you
As the sunlight began to peek through the bedroom curtains, Keesha's eyelids fluttered open. Jason's breath caught and held as he waited. Her initial reaction would tell him everything he needed to know. If they shared the same truth.
A slow smile curved her mouth. Her eyes shone with sleep and remembered passion. Her hand slid from his waist to rest on his bare chest, over his rapidly beating heart.
Then, just seconds later, the expression changed. She sat up quickly and grabbed the sheet, holding it protectively in front of her. "What are you doing here?"
"Keesha, I couldn't leave."
"Why not?" she asked, pulling the sheet with her as she left the bed. She grabbed the comforter from the floor and tossed it over him. "Coming last night was a mistake and you know it. Now, it's morning. If anyone sees you leaving here... Dammit, Jason! You shouldn't have come!"
"That's not what you said last night," he said, not moving just watching her.
"Well, you got what you wanted," she argued. She shrugged into a robe and tied the robe tightly around her waist. "You got laid. You can go now."
"That's not what I wanted." She gave him a look that screamed liar. A muscle flickered at his jaw and he nodded. "It wasn't all I wanted."
"What else is there?" She glanced at the bedside clock and gave him a hard look. "Just go!"
"No!" He jumped from the bed. Cold air hit his nude body and Jason barely noticed. Everything he had was focused on her. "I'm not leaving until I tell you the truth. It's not just sex. I love you."
Forgetting all I'm lacking Completely and complete I'll take your invitation
You take all of me
Her mouth dropped open. Her brown eyes looked panic-stricken. "I don't believe you."
"Liar." He moved across the room, stopping just inches from her. "You know it's true. I can see it in your eyes."
"You're imagining things," she muttered, averting her gaze from his.
"No." He cupped her face and brought her gaze back to his. "I don't know how. I love you, Keesha, and I respect you. Sneaking in and out of the Starlight Inn disrespects you. I won't do it anymore."
Water glistened in her eyes. She swallowed hard. Her voice was hoarse as she spoke. "What do you want from me?"
"I just want to be with you."
She gasped and took a step back. "It can't happen."
"Why not? You haven't said the words, but I know you feel the same. I can feel it here." He pointed to his heart. "Can you deny the truth?"
"But what?" Jason asked. "Tell me. Tell me what to do so that I can wake up with you in my arms again. This morning was so good and so right. Keesha, come on..."
He moved to take her into his arms. She pressed her hands against his chest, refusing his embrace. "No, Jason. Regardless of how good and right it felt, it's wrong. I'm a cop. You're Sonny Corinthos' right hand man. We both know that you're not legit. I can't jeopardize my career. I've already compromised my morals for you. That's as far as I'll go."
Jason knew it would come to this. He responded without hesitation.
I'm falling even more in love with you Letting go of all I've held onto I'd standing here until you make me move I'm hanging by a moment here with you I'm living for the only thing I know I'm running and not quite sure where to go I don't know what I'm diving into Just hanging by a moment here with you
# # #
Carly stayed at Deception all night. She called Bobbie to check in on Michael. The little boy was loving life at his Grandma's. Carly was glad about that, but her happiness faded when her mother mentioned Sonny. He had stopped over to see their little boy. Bobbie didn't go into detail. She didn't have to. Just the mention of Sonny's name sent Carly into a tailspin.
There was plenty of work to keep her mind busy. For the most part, she pushed thoughts of her recent discord to the back of her mind. She reviewed the market reports. They were doing well in the teen and twentysomething age bracket. Having a new Face to promote their line would probably work wonders.
Finally as daybreak approached, she found a contact sheet on Laura's desk. Hope's face stared back at her. Sadness pierced her heart. Maybe staying at Deception had been a bad move.
"That's incredible," Laura said, entering her office. "I wonder if it would be poor taste to call them. I still think she'd make the perfect Face."
"You should wait, Mom," Lucky's deep voice responded.
"Could you hold it down?" Carly grumbled as she rose from Laura's sofa.
Laura jumped. "What are you doing in my office? Were you here all night?"
"Yes," Carly said. "Sorry."
She moved to storm past mother and son. Laura's hand shot out and caught her arm. "Wait. Lucky, would you leave us alone please?"
Lucky left, closing the door after him.
Laura released Carly and continued on to her desk. As she set her purse and briefcase down, she glanced at her desk. The contact sheet rested on top. Laura sighed. "I see you found it. Lucky dropped off your copy last night. He wasn't sure if you got it."
"I'm not gonna pretend," Laura said gently. "I know about Sonny and his daughter and if you need to talk--"
"Drop it, Laura. We're not pals. I don't confide in you."
Laura raised her hands in mock defense. "Fine. You're right. We're not buddies, but I thought that maybe... I can understand what you're growing through."
"No, you can't," Carly said, giving Laura her back. "No one does."
"My son re-entered my life when he was the same age as Hope. Teenagers are a bundle of hormones and dealing with abandonment issues--"
"Laura, please." Carly turned around. "It's hardly the same thing. You knew Nikolas existed."
"Yes, but Luke didn't. Our marriage was far from perfect, but we were happy. Things changed when Luke had to face Nikolas. My family fell apart. It wasn't Nikolas' fault that Luke and I weren't strong enough to stay together. I don't wish that on you and Sonny."
Carly drew in a harsh breath. Laura was living proof of her worst nightmare. She didn't want to lose her family, but Carly didn't know what to do. Maybe they weren't strong enough. Hell, maybe she wasn't.
# # #
Justus entered Mac's home, not surprised by the mayor's strange look at seeing him on his doorstep so early in the morning.
"Have a seat. Would you like coffee?"
Justus shook his head. "No, thank you. But if you want to, go right ahead."
"Nah, I'm fine," Mac said. He pointed to the sofa for Justus to sit while he claimed an armchair near the fireplace. "What's this about, Justus?"
"For now, this is strictly off the record," Justus said, rubbing his hands together. His palms had become damp. He guessed he was more upset by what he had to say than he thought. "It's about Dara, Marcus and Sonny Corinthos."
"So you know the truth about yesterday?" Mac asked.
"Yeah, Lois told me. That's why it has to be off the record for now. Agreed?"
Mac frowned. He seemed to be weighing his options. Justus stared at him, waiting as patiently as he could for Mac's response. Finally, the other man nodded.
"Okay. It's agreed. What you tell me won't go any further than this room."
Justus glanced behind him at the staircase and then across the room toward the kitchen. "Are we alone?"
"Felicia's taken the girls to school. She'll go to the Outback from there."
"Corinthos didn't rape Dara," Justus stated. "Marcus overreacted. Dara and Corinthos have a daughter--"
"What?" Mac sputtered. "I don't believe it."
"Believe it. Lois has known both Dara and Corinthos since they were kids. She said they believed the child was stillborn and parted ways after that."
Mac stood. Running his hand over his face, he sighed. "Do you know what this means? When this becomes known--and we both know it will--the DA's office will be called on the carpet! The media will have a field day with this. Every case Dara's had will come under review and they'll look for any connection to Corinthos. Any connection at all could prove disastrous."
"I know," Justus said, shaking his head. "It's the first thing I thought of. What should I do, Mac? Do I suspend her first and ask questions later? I don't question Dara's ethics, but nobody knew about her past with Corinthos. Including Marcus."
"This is the worst kind of surprise," Mac agreed. "As the mayor and Dara's friend, I'm in one helluva position. You are, too. We don't have a choice here, Justus. We'll talk to her and explain that we have no choice but to suspend her. At least, for the time being. Do you think she'll understand?"
"No," Justus said, "but like you said, we don't have any other options."
(Author's note: 'Hanging by a Moment' by Lighthouse.)