Chapter 27

*New Beginnings*

The Hawaiian sunset cast a warm glow over the endless stretch of sand. Brenda wiggled her toes and sighed. Port Charles was home, but Hawaii was heaven. She doubted if she'd be able to leave when the time came for them to go back.

"We should move L&B here," she said. "This should be our base."

Ned poured sunscreen into his palm and began to massage the lotion onto her shoulders. "Why is that? I thought you loved PC."

A warm breeze blew her hair into her eyes. She brushed the tendrils away. Her gaze took in the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean while her thoughts drifted back to her painful past. The mistakes with Jax, Sonny standing her up, the nervous breakdown...the last two were the darkest moments of her life. She squeezed her eyes shut. "I do, but Hawaii... In Hawaii, you feel like anything is possible."

He laced their hands together. "Anything is."

She smiled, trying hard to ward off the memories.

"Sweetheart," he said as he moved behind her, "I've been thinking about the future." He closed his arms around her. His cheek brushed against hers. "And I've been thinking that I can't imagine a future without you."

Brenda held herself in check. She dreaded to think where the conversation was headed. Maybe she was wrong. "Me either. L&B will be a force to be reckoned with."

"That's not what I meant." He bit gently on her earlobe. "I'm talking about us, Brenda. You and me. I love you. I want to have a life with you outside of L&B. I'm asking you to marry me."

Seconds passed. Brenda didn't know what to say. She didn't want to hurt Ned, but although she was in love with him, marriage seemed out of her realm. She feared it.

"Brenda?"

"I wasn't expecting…"

He rubbed her arms. "You need time. That's fine. I'm willing to wait."

Yeah, she thought, but for how long? Who knew how long it would take her to know with full certainty that both Sonny and Jax were completely out of her system?

~*~

Dara hung up the phone. The hollow ringing echoed painfully inside her head. Mac wasn't there. Or if he was there, he was too busy to answer a ringing telephone. No doubt Katherine had locked her arms around him and Mac was unable to--or didn't want to--tear himself away.

Well, Mrs. Mac Scorpio had had enough. Dara refused to sit around a hotel room waiting for a conversation that would never happen. Hawaii, with its tropical breezes and delicious pineapples, beckoned. And since this was a free trip, Dara planned to enjoy every second of it. To hell with Mac!

She quickly changed into a mandarin orange and white floral sundress. The orange sandals she slipped into complimented her mocha limbs and freshly polished orange toenails. Dara finger combed her shoulder-length tresses, checked her make-up, grabbed her purse, and left.

She had no particular destination in mind. A few tourist shops caught her attention. She picked up some gifts for friends. Nothing for Mac. Okay, that was childish. She hated pettiness. The trait wasn't like her. Where did it come from? Was she jealous of Katherine? Or did it go deeper than that? Was Dara really angry with herself for jumping into a marriage that was quickly suffering from lack of attention?

Handsome, bare-chest Hawaiians waiters lit torches along the boardwalk. Dara remembered a note about a luau. A shiver went through her at the thought. Memories from her previous trip to Hawaii returned. A dark night. A bountiful luau. And a handsome stranger who ceased to be a stranger as they made mad, passionate love night after night.

Goosebumps prickled her arms. Dara wrapped her arms around her waist and moved quickly toward her hotel. She wasn't ready to call it a night, but attending the luau was out of the question. Maybe a mai tai at the bar would warm her and silence the questions that continued to consume her mind.

~*~

For two days, Sonny was busy with labor negotiations. On the third day, he rested. He told his supplier that he needed a break. A compromise would be reached. Later. At that moment, he wanted a cool drink and a laid back atmosphere. He found both at the bar of his hotel.

Sonny spotted her the moment the elevator doors opened. His breath lodged in his throat. The thin straps of her dress revealed smooth flesh that he reminded him of their nights together. He remembered running his tongue over her shoulders until she shivered and then nibbling on her neck until she cried out. Sonny sucked in air and adjusted the crotch of his pants. Seeing her again in Hawaii and looking as beautiful as ever disturbed him. She was married now. Off limits. It would better for him if he kept his distance.

He stepped from the elevator. A group of drunk teenagers brushed past him. He silently cursed. Hopes for a clean getaway vanished. Their eyes locked. His feet grew a brain of his own. The next thing he knew, he was at the bar. Right next to her.

He watched her throat constrict as she swallowed air. Finally, in a scratchy voice, she said, "You planned this."

Sonny shook his head. "No."

"Well, I don't believe in coincidence." Her voice was a little stronger, but not much.

"Neither do I."

Silence followed. He took advantage of the quiet, and his gaze took in everything. The tiny lines from her eyes. The unhappiness that hung over her like a dark cloud. The need that reached out to him.

She blinked and looked at the bar. A fresh drink sat in front of her. She reached for it. Her slender fingers wrapped around the glass. Sonny placed his hand beside hers. His fingertips casually brushed her knuckles. A rush went through him. He heard her sharp intake of air. He noticed immediately how she didn't move.

"Mac wouldn't like this," he said. He didn't end the caress. If she pulled away, he'd back off. But if she didn't…

"I don't care."

As Sonny took her hand and led her from the bar to his suite, he realized that he didn't give a damn either.

 

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