Chapter 34

~ Everything in Its Due Time ~

Ellen canceled their lunch and Dara was glad. Hours later, her hands still shook. Sonny had no right to play games with her life. Damn him!

Unable to put her lipstick on without making herself to look like a clown, she put the cover back on and tossed the tube down onto her dressing table. She backed away from the mirror and began to move around the small room like a caged panther. What was she going to do? Could she really tell Mac what was going on? Would he understand that sex with Sonny meant nothing to her? Did he truly understand that she accepted his proposal because she wanted to be his wife and not because she was running away from Corinthos? Would Mac get that?

Her restless movement came to a stop. A quick glance at the telephone did little to calm her nerves. The glitter of her engagement ring flashed in the mirror that faced her. Did it mock her, too?

"Dara Jensen, you are not about to punk out," she said aloud in an attempt to get a handle on the situation.

That was true. She wasn't a punk. As a kid, she had always faced down the bully. Lots of times she won. Her days in court hadn't always been successful, but that wasn't due to lack of trying. She was a fighter dammit! She wouldn't let Sonny Corinthos have the upper hand in her life. She'd tell Mac herself and if he didn't understand… Well, maybe he wasn't the man for her after all. Whatever happened she'd live to tell the tale. Dara Jensen was a survivor.


"Hey, Tony. Do you have a minute?" AJ stood in the doctor's doorway and waited for an invitation to enter.

"Sure," Tony replied with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. After learning that Carly had lied to him, his smiles had become few and far between. Time with Lucas would have had helped, and it did…when Bobbie allowed him to see him. With a quiet groan, he rubbed his hands over his face. It was said that every cloud had a silver lining. He wondered what happened to the lining in his clouds. He hoped that they weren't all filled with dark showers. He wasn't sure how much more he could take and he was hesitant to find out.

AJ hesitated before crossing the threshold. Tony beckoned with his hand, "Come on in, AJ. I'm just catching up on busy work and could use a break. Have a seat. I haven't seen you much lately. Are you still my neighbor or did you move back into that mansion on the hill?"

He laughed softly as he shook his head. "Nah, I haven't gone back there. I'm still your neighbor. With work and other stuff, I've been pretty busy."

"Well, busy is a good thing, I guess," Tony offered with a shrug. "What can I do for you?"

"Actually," AJ began, shifting slightly in the guest chair that he had occupied, "well…there's something that I wanted you to hear from me first."

"Your tone is so ominous, AJ," Tony said with a faint attempt of humor. He frowned when AJ didn’t laugh. His expression sobered. He sat back against his chair, linking his hands together in his lap. "Something tells me I won't enjoy this conversation. Is it personal or professional?"

"Personal," AJ answered, bluntly. "I'm not about to beat around the bush with this especially since I take full responsibility for my actions."

"Go on," Tony murmured when AJ paused.

"There's a chance that I'm the father of Carly's child-"

Scarlet spots of humiliation dotted Tony's face. His voice and face became hard. "So, you had her, too."

"It wasn't like that," AJ denied. "On the night you and she broke up, I was getting smashed at Jake's. She came in and joined me. It wasn't planned, Tony and it only happened that one time. She left the next morning and I had a complete blackout. Even after I had moved in across the hall from you, I didn't remember her or that night. It all didn't come back to me until after you became engaged. With a baby on the way and wedding plans, I didn't think what happened with her mattered and I didn't think that the baby was mine. It never entered my mind." "What made it enter your mind?"

"Well, do you remember when I had that other blackout?" AJ waited for Tony's nod before he continued. "I hadn't been drinking then. After the initial blackout, I was determined to get my life together. The second blackout was caused by Carly. Flashes of what happened between us started coming back to me. She got scared that I'd realize that the baby could be mine and didn't want me to tell you so she drugged me and made me think I'd gotten drunk. I almost fell for it, but with Keesha's help, I realized what happened and confronted her."

The remembered disgust and humiliation bubbled like bile in his throat. Tony swallowed hard to hold himself together. "So, what do you want from me? Why are you telling me this now?"

"I don't want anything," AJ answered him. "I just wanted you to know. To hear the truth from me. I felt I owed it to you."

"I would never have had to know, AJ, unless… I thought Jason was the baby's father. She was with all three of us? God!" he exclaimed, unable to keep the disgust out of his voice. "And to think I wanted to marry her. I left my family for her. How could I have been so stupid?"

"Tony, she's fooled a lot of people. She has a way about her. I can't speak for what happened with you and Bobbie, but I know how Carly operates."

Tony listened with half an ear. "I should have been stronger than that."

AJ nodded. "I guess you should have, but it's never too late to start over again."

"Are you the poster boy for the 12-Step Program now?" Tony asked, a little sarcastically.

AJ's smile was genuine. "Not, yet." He rose from the chair and went to the door. Tony called out to him before he opened it. "Yeah?" he asked, pausing to look at the older man.

"You told me this sordid tale for a reason. Why?"

He shrugged. "I needed to tell you the truth."

"If you were a saint, I'd believe you," Tony replied. "Do you think Michael is your son instead of Jason's?"

"I don't know, Tony, but I aim to find out."

Tony understood the younger man's sentiment. He gave AJ a tight smile. "God help you if he is."


Carly put Michael in his stroller and left the penthouse without a clue as to where she was going and what she wanted to do. She considered visiting Virginia at the hospital, but thought better of it. The staff wouldn't let her enter with Michael and she really didn't want to go back to the cold, sterile environment. Before and after classes, she'd sat at Virginia's bedside. She needed a break.

A cold wind breezed in as the automatic doors of Harbor View Towers swung open. Carly zipped up her coat and pushed the blankets in tighter around Michael. When they were ready to brave the cold, she left the building.

The remnants of the winter storm were nearly gone. The city street sweepers had cleared the slush away and the ice had melted. A few puddles remained on the sidewalks, but there was nothing that was too much of a hassle to avoid. She pushed Michael's stroller through and wandered aimlessly down the sidewalk. Across the street, the word 'SALE' beckoned to her like a lighthouse on a foggy night. After looking both ways, she crossed the street and went straight into the department store.

The place was filled with late afternoon shoppers on the hunt for a good bargain. The stroller came in handy as Carly used it to push her way through a group of middle-aged women who were hogging the aisle. The clothing section bored her and so did accessories. To her right, the elevator doors opened and Carly rushed in. She quickly read the store directory and decided to see what the Furniture section on the third floor had to offer. When the elevator doors opened, she breathed a sigh of relief that the place was nearly empty and pushed the stroller out onto the floor.

Her latest class assignment came to mind and she decided to do some research. Decorating a den would be a cinch with the items on display. Carly smiled happily as she headed for the back where the sofas, recliners and other suitable furniture were kept. A salesperson immediately came to her aid, and parking the stroller beside a mod-styled black sofa, she followed the young man to his computer.

"I'd like to see any catalogues you have," Carly told him. "Are you online, too?"

The conversation continued with Brandon, the salesperson, going into detail as to what they had to offer. The materials were of the finest quality, the workmanship impeccable and the prices reasonable. Carly nodded and smiled as she had half a mind to buy the entire display. Inside, she smirked when she thought how heartbroken the fella would be when he realized he'd get no commission from her.

As the conversation came to an end, she accepted the catalogues that he gave her with promises to contact him with her decision within the week. As she turned to leave she nearly laughed out loud, but a firm voice nagged at her and her senses went on alert. With an angry, frantic frown, she whipped around to confront the Brandon. "What happened to my stroller?"

"Excuse me?" he asked, his face a mask of confusion. "What stroller?"

"The stroller with my baby in it! It was just here!" she shouted, running to the empty space where she knew she had parked Michael. "Where is it?"

"Miss, I don't know what you are talking about," Brandon explained. "I didn't see a stroller, but I will alert security immediately."

"You do that!" she snapped while inside her belly quivered with anxiety. Where was her baby?


"I'm confused," Tommy admitted, looking around at the adults who filled up Felicia's living room. "If Magic Fingers worked for Moreno and Moreno ordered a hit on Morgan, then…well, that's good, right? The cops have to know this, go after all of them and then Lynn will be safe again. Right?"

"Wrong," Spenser said, shaking his head.

"Dead wrong," Magnum agreed.

"Hah!" Hawk nodded from his stance in front of the window.

Tommy threw up his hands. "Now, I'm really confused. Flea, this should be simple now. Tell me the truth. Is Lynn in more danger now or less?"

Felicia patted the young man's hands and offered him an understanding smile. "I know how hard it is to understand, but when these guys are warring with each other, it just makes everything worse."

"Why?" Tommy demanded to know.

"Because we don't know what their situation is," Magnum explained. "The attack on Morgan's so-called girlfriend could have been a warning, a promise or an act of desperation. Unless we know how Moreno and his partner Mancusi operate, we don't know what they're up to."

"I've done some work with Mancusi," Hawk admitted and the room became silent. "Years ago, but men like that don't change."

"So?" Spenser prompted.

"He wouldna called it like that unless he was desperate and when he's desperate, nobody's left standing at the end."

"So, they goofed," Spenser reasoned.

Hawk shook his head. "Mancusi don't make mistakes."

"Maybe he didn't call it," Magnum suggested.

"Could be Moreno called it," Hawk said. "Man's nervous about his little niece on the run…antsy about Morgan's power. Could be he got nervous."

Tension coiled around the pit of Tommy's stomach. "So, now what? Thomas, are you sure that she's safe at your friend's estate? Her uncle may be liable to do anything now."

Magnum nodded. "She's safe there. I've spoken with Robin. If anything happens, he's given me the okay to have her relocated to another of his estates. But trust me, nothing will get to her at Robin's Nest. She's in very safe hands."

Tommy felt a small sense of relief at that. "What should we do now? Should we tell the police what we know?"

Three voices—Hawk, Spenser and Magnum—shouted, "No!"

"Okay!" Tommy agreed.

"Guys, come on," Felicia piped up, "PCPD is good."

"If they were good," Spenser quipped, "they would have gotten them by now."

"That's not fair," Felicia stated.

"You didn't see what I saw last night," Spenser told her. "A girl I've known since she was a baby almost died yesterday because the police failed to live up to their obligations to serve and to protect."

"She put herself in that situation," Felicia countered. "She shouldn't have attempted to draw the mob out. She's only a kid."

"Little Miss Hunter-Christofides made her move because The Man moved too slowly," Hawk said in his deep, quiet voice. "They knew why her man was shot and who was behind it. Their delay could have killed her."

Felicia shook her head but didn't say anything more. Tommy broke the silence. "I would have done what she did," he admitted. "She doesn't even live here and knew about Jason Morgan. I can't believe she'd know more than the cops. I agree with them, Flea. The cops should have done something long before now. For all we know, maybe they're on the take."

"Now, wait a minute!"

"Flea," Magnum interrupted with hardly a smirk, "he has a point. I know you think your ex is a great guy and maybe he is, but we don't know what's happening at his station. The Cassadine kid took a bullet in his neck in the parking lot of a crowded jazz club. I find it hard to believe that nobody saw anything that would lead to an arrest. It doesn't add up. We can't trust the department. It's best to leave them out of it. By the way, how is your friend's daughter?"

"She'll survive," Spenser answered.

"Not so for Morgan," Hawk stated. "The Little Prince wants medieval justice."

"I'm for that," Tommy stated. "Whatever it takes so that Lynn is safe again."

Magnum looked at Hawk. "You know them. Can you get this rolling?"


Tommy smiled with relief as he clapped his hands. "Good! In the meantime, I wanna meet this Prince. Maybe if we all work together, we can get what we want."



Dawn gave Nikolas a tentative smile as he stood in the doorway. "Hi," she said in a hoarse whisper. "Come in."

He greeted her parents who returned his greeting before leaving the young couple alone. As he came closer to her, Dawn saw the bruises on his face and noted how his hand rubbed his abdomen. She held out her hand to him and gestured for him to come closer. "Nikolai! What happened to you? Were you in an accident?"

He took her outstretched hand and brought it to his lips. Taking a seat on the bed beside her, he said, "It wasn't an accident."

"You fought?" she questioned in disbelief.



He caressed her cheek, smiling tenderly. "For you."

Something clicked in her mind. "Jason. You fought with Jason Morgan, didn't you?"

Nikolas shrugged. "I won't deny it. The next time I see him, I'll kill him."

"Don't!" she briefly pressed her hand against his soft, full lips. "You must never say something like that."

"I'm not afraid of him," he said, bristling. "He is nothing more than a common thief. He is not a threat to me."

"You don't understand what you're saying," she told him. "He can be dangerous-"

"Did he hurt you?" Nikolas demanded to know.

"No." She shook her head. "I've seen how his men revere him. They fear him, too. There must be a reason for that. Please, don't give him a reason to hurt you. I couldn't bear losing you, Nikolai. Not again."

"You won't lose me," he promised. "I'm here for you for as long as you will have me."

Suddenly shy, heat flamed her cheeks as she murmured, "I hope you mean that."

"I mean it," he told her. He leaned forward to claim her lips. The kiss was slow and tender. When he raised his head, his eyes shone with deep emotion. His voice shook when he spoke to her. "I know what you were doing with him and why. I wished that you hadn't, but I'm flattered that you did. I love you, too, Dawn. The words seem so small in comparison, but they are true."

She rejoiced in his admiration of her. His declaration of love made her heart sing with joy. Tears of pleasure fell down her full cheeks. Without conscious thought, she wiped them away with the back of her hand. "Those words are not small. Not to me. Not ever to me."


Mac was on automatic. His body had moved without his mind's consent. He wasn't sure why and had no idea what it meant, but the overwhelming need to go to the Outback gripped him and wouldn't let go. After leaving a message for Taggert, he grabbed his keys and left. By the time he pulled into the parking lot, the fog in his head had lifted. Dara had drawn him there and as he rushed through the restaurant to her dressing room, he hoped that his subconscious hadn't made a mountain out of a molehill.

He knocked once on her door and called out, "Dara? It's Mac. Are you in there?"

"Come in!"

He entered with a smile that soon faded as he took a long look at her. He'd never seen her so agitated before. Her hand trembled as it clenched her cellphone. Her brown eyes were large with an odd mixture of dread and hope. Her voice was dry when she spoke to him. "Mac, I was calling you."

Mac went to her and placed his hands at her waist. He smiled tenderly down at her. "See how that works? You think of me and I show up. Think how much we'll save on our phone bill."

"I have to talk to you," she began without preamble. "There is no easy way to say this so I'll just tell you straight out. While I was in Hawaii, I met someone-"

"Dara, unless you're about to tell me you plan to run off with this guy, it doesn't matter to me," Mac interrupted. "Whatever happened while we were apart isn't any of my business. You're a grown woman and I trust you to-"

"It was Sonny Corinthos," she said quickly almost as if she was afraid she'd lose her nerve. "We spent the last week together. When I left, I told him that I wasn't interested in-"


"I told him that I didn't want to see-"

"Dara," he said softly when the tears in her eyes began to flow freely down her cheeks. He grabbed a tissue from the dressing table and gently wiped her tears away. Then, he led her to the chair. She sat down and he perched on the edge of table in front of her. When he thought she was calm enough to listen to him, he said, "I told you that what happened then was none of my business."

"I know," she said in a raspy whisper. She lowered her eyes to her lap. "I know, Mac."

"But you told me anyway," he said.


"Do you think it changes how I feel about you?" he asked.

Dara's shoulders slumped. Still looking at her lap, she murmured, "I hope not."

"It doesn't," he said. He knelt at her feet and angled his head so that their eyes connected. He was saddened by how upset she was. Of course, he wasn't thrilled that she had been with Corinthos, but the important thing was that she was with him. Or so he thought… "Does it change how you feel about me?"

"Of course not!" she burst out. "No, Mac! I love you. I want to marry you, but if you don't…"

"I do," he said after her voice faded. Cupping her face, he searched her tearstained face. There was more to this and he needed to know what it was. "Has someone threatened you about this? The newspapers? Is that why you resigned?"

"I didn't resign because of him," she answered.

"But someone is threatening you?" he asked, picking up on what she had failed to say. "Tell me who it is and it will be taken care of. Nobody has the right to invade our private lives, sweetheart. I won't let anyone hurt you."

"It’s not the media," she said after a few moments of silence. "It's Sonny." She swallowed hard and quickly continued. "I think he wants to resume our…relationship. He knows about us and today, he threatened to tell you."

"He did what?" Mac clipped tersely. "He confronted you today? Where? When?"

"He pulled up beside me in the back parking lot a few hours ago."

"A few hours?" he repeated. "Oh, Dara, you've been tormented by this for hours? You should have called me immediately." He moved to encircle her within his arms. "You didn't have to deal with this alone. That bastard couldn't change how I feel about you."

She clung to him. "I wanted to believe that, but I know how you feel about him. If you looked at me differently or hated me…I had to build up to accept that. I'm glad it didn't work out that way. Oh, Mac, I don't want to lose you."

"You haven't," he affirmed, "and you won't. I think it's time we set a date, don't you?"

"The sooner the better," she murmured against his neck.

"Is Valentine's Day too soon for you?" he asked.

She pulled away and looked at with surprised happiness shining in her brown eyes. "That's less than a week away!"

"So?" he asked, his typical roguish grin in place. "You said the sooner the better. Are you wimping out on me already?"

"No! Hell, no!" She placed a wet, lingering kiss on his lips. "I am not about to wimp out on you, Mac Scorpio. Valentine's Day it is."

"Great!" he hugged her to him. A bright light had replaced the dullness in her eyes. He was relieved to have put that glow back on her face. With that accomplished, the next task on his list was handling Corinthos. That bastard had made his last threat. His day for reckoning had come.

General Hospital and Port Charles ©ABC
Wiseguy © Stephen J. Cannell Productions
Magnum, PI © Universal Studios
Spenser: For Hire © ABC
The Right Way(and all original characters) ©2000-2001 niklovr
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 35 | Home Page | The Stories | OLD Message Board | NEW Message Board | NEW Forum | Email me