Chapter 42

~Loose Lips Sink Ships~

After his conversation with Carlotta and Quentin, Vinnie had a lot on his mind. He knew they were sincere in their insistence for him to stay, but that didn't lessen the feelings of failure that tortured him. His former training as an undercover cop should have left him better prepared. Leaving Dawn wide open even as he knew that Magic Fingers was on the loose was an unforgettable error. Sure, his employers could trust him after making such a horrible mistake, but he couldn't trust himself.

He spent most of the night thinking and he still hadn't found a resolution. Maybe it would be best for him to go with his gut instinct. Leave. Bail out. Scram.

But wasn't that what cowards did? Cut tail and run?

Vincent Michael Terranova might be many things, but he wasn't a quitter. Damn, this was hard.

"Good morning, Vinnie."

Dawn's greeting caught him by surprise and he stared at her for a moment without responding. Then, he frowned. "What are you doing out here? You should be inside."

"No," she swatted at his hands when he moved to pick her up. "I like it out here. Yes, it's a wee bit chilly, but it's nice, too. At least for a little while."

He looked around at the outlying blanket of snow. The grounds were beautiful and the natural setting peaceful. It was nice. "I suppose a little while won't hurt," he mumbled.

"Thank you," she said. Patting the small space beside her, she added, "Come. Sit with me and tell me why you were out so early."

Vinnie accepted her invitation to sit, but didn't exactly elaborate on his early morning. "I was out thinking. Why are you out so early?"

"The same," she murmured quietly. "I thought the fresh air would help."

"Has it?"

A slight frown creased her brow and she shook her head. "I'm not sure. I went from always knowing what to do to not being sure about anything."

He laughed softly and gently caressed her cheek. "Sounds like you're in love, ragazzina."

Her lips curved into a beautiful smile. "I am. And it's not like before. Nikolai and I are different this time, and it feels so much more splendid than the last. Do you know what I mean?"

"I think so," he said. "I've been there. It's an incredible feeling. You're invincible yet vulnerable as hell. Right?"

Her soft laugh tinkled in the air. "Right. With the contradictions, how do you know what to do?"

Vinnie gave her a stern look. "You do what feels right to you and not let anyone pressure you to do otherwise."

"Oh, pooh!" She playfully hit his arm. "I'm not talking about that! He and I are already clear on that one. Well, sort of."

He released a theatrical sigh of relief. "Good! If I may be so bold, what exactly are you talking about?"

Her expression became serious. She clutched his hands and said, "You have to promise me you say or do anything. Promise me."

"I can't make a blind promise like that. Just tell me."

"Vinnie… I trust you. I know you'll do the right thing so I'll just tell you. Jason was here last night. We talked."

He cupped her cheek. "Are you okay?"

"Yes. He didn't threaten me, but he was upset. You were right," she admitted quietly. "He cared for me more than I wanted to admit. He's hurt now and I don't know what to do. I wanted to tell Nikolai, but I don't want him to get hurt. What should I do?"

"You did the right thing by telling me," Vinnie told her. "I'll take care of it."

"What are you gonna do?" she asked him as he stood up. "Please, just leave it be. Please."

He squeezed her hand and then released it. "There's nothing more to worry about. Let's get you inside."

Dawn frowned, but she nodded in acceptance. "Very well." She lifted her arms for him to pick her up.

Vinnie laughed. Lifting her into his arms, he said, "Be careful you don't get spoiled by this attention."

He carried her towards the terrace doors. A slight scuffling sound came from the other side, and when they entered, no one was there.

"Who was that?" Dawn asked. "If that was Nikolas, that means he heard us. Oh, no!"

He set her down near the fireplace in the sitting room. Patting her shoulder, he said, "Don't worry. I'll find him. Just sit tight."

"I'll try to," she murmured as he hurried out the doors.


Morning came and Mac told Keesha it was time for them to call it a night. They staked out the hotel where Mancusi spent the night. Nothing strange happened, so reinforcements were called in. Whatever he did in the morning Taggert and Garcia could handle.

The house was quiet, warm and inviting. Mac smiled as he shrugged off his coat and put his badge and gun away. Coming home to Dara felt so good it hurt. He hated that their honeymoon was interrupted, but he certainly planned to make it up to her…after he got some rest first, of course.

He ascended the staircase with more energy than he expected to have. He guessed love did that to him. Chuckling softly to himself, he quietly pushed open the bedroom door. As he stood at the entrance, he pulled off his shoes and then padded inside.

Dara lay in the middle of the bed. Curled on her side, she hugged his pillow to her breast. Mac watched her for a few moments before taking a quick shower. When he returned, he slid in beside her. Leaning on his elbow, he faced her. She slept like an angel. Her breaths were even and deep, and a serene expression graced her face. "So beautiful," he murmured as he brushed his lips against her cheek.

Dara stiffened. Still asleep, she protested and moved away. "No, Sonny," she mumbled. "No, it's over. It's over."

Mac reared back as if he'd been struck. What was she talking about? "Dara," he said, gently squeezing her upper arm. "Dara, sweetheart, wake up."

Her eyes fluttered open. She smiled at him. "Mac. You're home. When did you get in?"

"This morning."

Her arms reached for him, and he hugged her to him. "I missed you," she told him. "Please, tell me you don't have to go back."

"I don't." As their embrace ended, he asked, "How was your night? What did you do?"

A shadow crossed her face. She averted her eyes. "I watched some old movies and then I went to bed. Of course, that wasn't fun without you."

"Of course not," he agreed, watching her closely. When moments passed and she continued to look away, he cupped her cheek and turned her head toward him. "Did you do anything else?"

She shrugged. "No. Not really. Why do you ask?"

"You were talking about Sonny in your sleep. It worried me," he answered honestly.

"What did I say?"

"That you didn't want to see him anymore. Sweetheart, are you having nightmares about him? I promise you that you're safe from him. He won't get to you-"

"It's too late," she said quietly. "He was here last night."

Mac's blood ran cold and fury almost choked him. "What? When?"

She shuddered visibly and pulled the covers over her. "He came after you left. I was watching the movie, heard a noise and there he was. I don't even know how he got in."

"Did he touch you?"

"No, but the way he looked at me…" Unshed tears glistened her eyes. Mac roughly pulled her into his arms and held on tightly to her. "He knew you were gone, and it was bizarre. I thought he was gonna try something, so I yelled at him. Then he switched and said he'd leave me alone."

He rubbed her arms and back in broad strokes. Her trembling subsided, but Mac's rage boiled. For her sake, he kept it in check and with more gentleness than he felt, he murmured, "It's over now, love. I'm here now and you're safe."

She snuggled against him. "I know and let's just leave it. He said he'd leave me alone now. We're together and he won't bother us anymore."

"You're right," he vowed. "He'll never bother us ever again."

Silently he added, because I'll see him dead first.


Bobby Mancusi returned to the Recovery Room just in time to catch the morning rush of hospital staff. Most of them moved briskly to the counter, picked up their orders and left. Most, but not all. One perky brunette lingered and Bobby sauntered towards her. As he got closer to her, he read her name tag. Grace. Okay, let it roll, he decided.

Pulling out a fake badge, he stepped in front of her as she left the counter. "Grace. I'm with the Marshal service and I need to speak to you."

The color drained from her face and she nodded. "Okay. What's this about?"

"Do you know this man?" he asked, shoving a picture of Eric aka Matt Harmon under her nose.

"Yes, I do," she nodded. "Is he in trouble?"

"Yes, he is," Bobby answered. "It's imperative that I find him. Lives are at stake. Do you know where he is?"

"Sure. Follow me."

Bobby rolled his eyes as he followed the woman to the back of the restaurant. This was just too damned easy. Pop, your boy is doing good, he thought.

"He lives back here," she said. She knocked on the door, but there was no answer. "He's been sick so maybe he doesn't hear me. Hold on. I have the key."

She unlocked the door and they entered the empty apartment. The space was deserted. Grace frowned. "I'm sorry. He should be here. He was just released from the hospital."

"Is there anywhere else he would go?" he asked. "Does he have any friends who'd put him up? You do realize it's important that I find him as soon as possible."

"Yes, I understand that," she emphatically nodded. "If he's not here… Well, I suppose there's one other place he'd go. It's not too far from here, but we'll need to drive. Let me call in and let them know I'll be a little late-"

"We don't have time for that, Grace. We must move now."

"Okay. Come with me. My car is right there."

Piece of cake, Bobby thought as he followed her. Before the day was over, Eric would finally become a memory. Lynn was next. Her days of running were coming to an end. Once they were married, everything would be his.

Piece of cake.

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
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