Chapter 7b

"Her mom came to Port Charles as soon as she found out about Michael. Like any mother would do. Her second pregnancy ended with Robertís premature death. Iím sure sheís scared about the pregnancy and missing her mother. Maybe being in Florida is helping her feel closer to her mom and her past."

Sonny stared off into space and contemplated Daraís words. He had never thought about it like that. Sometimes he neglected considering Carlyís feelings, but thatís because Carly could be so infuriating. He spent so much time dealing with her surface feelings, they never really got a chance to discuss their fears, their worries, the things that made them who they were. Never having met Virginia, he thought of Bobbie as her mother. Her adoption and how she came to town were subjects they never talked about. As much as he missed his mother, Carly must miss hers equally as much.

Dara brought up a good point. Robertís death must be weighing heavily on her mind. It was never far from his. The one time he tried to broach the topic with Carly, she quickly changed the subject. Dr. Meadows had assured them that this baby would be fine. She hadnít detected any heart problems like those Michael had suffered from. This news had relieved some stress in his life, but not all of it. If having the baby in Florida was something that Carly wanted, then he would make sure that it happened. He chuckled. In some ways Dara was a total stranger, yet she was helping him understand Carly in ways he had never thought about.

Sonnyís chuckling snapped her back to the present. She shared an inside joke with Sonny. What was she doing? She wasnít friends with him. She shouldnít be giving him advice about Carly or having private jokes that were reserved for friends like Marcus, Alex, or Mac. She needed to make an appointment with Kevin or Gail because this was ridiculous. But Daraís heart warred with her mind; she was attracted to this side of him. She felt like she was a member of an exclusive club that had the privilege to see the warm, caring, funny man that Michael Corinthos, Jr. was. He made her open up like no one before. Neither Marcus nor Justus knew about Jack. Something about Sonny said you could trust him. Dara sipped her coke. Needing to put some space between them, she excused herself from the table.

"Of course," Sonny said as she stood up and walked away.

What an odd world, he thought, as he watched her leave. The woman who tried with all her might to send him to Statesville for the rest of their lives, was now the same woman he kept running into at the strangest places, yet having the most wonderful conversations with. It was nice to see this other side of the counselor.

He had noticed her in the well-tailored blazers with skirts that stopped just at the top of her knees, in the courthouse, the police station, and around town. Her skirts and dresses tantalized the hell out of him. He was always hoping for a glimpse of thigh, but it never happened, except when she wore her power suit. She only wore it on critical court dates, the split in the back showed a hint of skin. On those days, he made sure to go to court with Alexis and to always walk behind Miss Jensen. He smiled at the thought of that particular skirt, though he was enjoying the casual Dara.

He liked seeing her relaxed. Not since the beginning of his relationship with Brenda could he remember having this much fun with a member of the opposite sex. It wasnít like this with Lily, Hannah, and definitely Carly. There was something about Dara that was making- -

"Daddy, Daddy!"

Sonny looked up to see his constantly in motion son come barreling towards him with a dark-haired boy in tow. They skitted to a stop right in front of the booth.

"Daddy, we had so much fun," Michael declared enthusiastically.

"Thatís good, but who is we?" Sonny asked in his best parental tone.

"Sorry, Daddy." Michael apologized. Pointing to Stone, "Daddy, this is my friend Stone. Stone, this is my Daddy, Mr. Corinthos," he said proudly.

Sonny studied the dark-haired boy he had heard so much about. The dark hair and eyes reminded him of his own Stone. This little boy could have been what Stoneís and Robinís son would have looked like, well if the world were a fair place. But it wasnít. "Nice to finally meet you, Stone."

"Nice to meet you," Stone replied looking Sonny dead in the eyes. He shook Sonnyís hand with a firm grip.

Sonny liked this kid. He was about to engage Stone in a bit of conversation when he noticed that Stone kept looking around the pizza parlor. Sonny looked around also, but only saw a few workers cleaning up for the night.

"Who are you looking for?"

"My aunt," Stone replied.

Sonny looked at his watch. "She should be here- -"

Stone took off running to the returning Dara. He leapt into her arms and she caught him happily.

Was this her secret, she was babysitting, Sonny asked himself. No, that couldnít be it. That would be way to simple.


With Stone on her hip, Dara returned to the booth and began gathering her belongings.

"Hi, Miss Jensen," Michael said remembering her from the park.

"Hello, Michael. Itís good to see you again," she replied genuinely. She tried to quickly finish putting everything in her briefcase.

"Aunt Dara, you know my friend, Michael?" Stone asked in amazement

"Yes, but I didnít realize we were talking about the same Michael," she responded.

Sonny smiled watching the interaction between Dara and Stone, until he felt a tug on his leg.

"Daddy, ask her," Michael whispered loudly.

Dara stopped what she was doing and looked at Sonny expectantly.

"Dara, would it be okay for Michael and Stone to play together while Iím in Florida?" Sonny asked politely.

A million things flashed through Daraís mind. She couldnít, didnít need to be any closer to Sonny or associated with him in any way, shape or form. Yet who better to protect Stone and by extension, herself, than Sonny. But didnít more time with Sonny put them in more danger?

She looked into the faces of Stone and Michael. Their eyes were begging her to say yes.

"Please, Aunt Dara," Sonny pleaded.

"Yeah, please, Aunt Dara," Stone and Michael joined in.

Stone had been uprooted from all heís ever known, with his mother being God knows where. Who was she to deny him spending time with the first friend heís made in Port Charles. Sonny would be out of town, and they could always meet at the park. She definitely couldnít have Michaelís nanny and guards come to her place and no way in hell was she going to the penthouse. Okay, the park it was. She tuned back into the conversation just in time to hear- -

"Aunt Dara is just keeping me until my mommy comes back," Stone said to Sonny.

Daraís heart stopped. Oh, my gosh. Donít panic, she repeated to herself and donít change your facial expressions or Sonny will notice.

"Right, Aunt Dara?" Stone asked.

"Right. Stone, go get your backpack and jacket, please," she said putting him back on his own two feet.

"Aunt Dara, Michaelís dad knows Aunt Lois, Uncle Louie, Granma, and Grandpa," Stone informed her.

Dara nodded, "Thatís great, now go get your stuff, so we can go."

Stone walked away with Michael, then he paused. "So may I play with Michael while his parents are gone?"

"Yes, you can."

With cheers, the boys ran off to get their belongings.

Sonny had watched the play of emotions on Daraís face and was now more suspicious than ever. How did Dara know the Cerullos well enough to keep one of their kids and whose kid was Stoneís?

"I didnít know you and Lois were so close," Sonny commented seemingly casually.

Dara wasnít fooled for a moment. Using his same tone, she replied, "We became close when she was trying to woo me away from the DAís office to sign with L&B."

Sonny nodded. "Which Cerullo does Stone belong to?"

She was ready for this. She and Louie had gone over this story millions of times. "Marioís son."

"Ah, Mario," Sonny shook his head. "Where is he?"

"Visiting his friends in the pen for the next five to ten."

"I guess Mario hasnít changed his ways," Sonny replied.

"Unfortunately not," Dara answered.

"Whereís the mother?"

"Regrouping, Iím just babysitting until she gets back." She really hoped he would stop with the questions. What was taking Stone and Michael so long?

"How did you get involved?" Sonny could tell she was getting annoyed with his questions, but something didnít seem right.

"Lois knew I had my license to be a foster parent, so she asked me if I would help out."

Sonny nodded. As he was about to continue his inquiry, the boys returned.

Dara quickly looked at her watch. "Itís late. Stone say, goodnight to Michael and his father, so we can go home and go to bed."

"Goodnight," Stone said to Michael and Sonny.

"Goodnight," Dara repeated as she headed for the door.

"Night," Michael yelled after them.

Dara kept stepping out the door.

"Counselor," Sonny called out.

Damn, she thought, so close to getting away from him and his nosy questions. She slowed her stride, but didnít stop completely. "Yes," she said.

Sonny walked over to her. He pulled her to the side to make room for the other parents coming to get their children.

Great. Now, other people have seen them together. Why did she ever let him sit down at her booth? "Yes?" She repeated.

"Your number?"

Her eyes widened. What in the world?

Sonny showed her the famous dimples. "For Leticia, so she can call you and make arrangements for the boysí play date."

"Of course, but why donít you give me her number. I got a new cell phone number and I canít remember it."

"I remember it, Auntie. 396-2079," Stone said proud of himself for remembering his auntís new number.

Sonny had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing at Dara. He took his pen and a card out of his inner jacket pocket and wrote the number down. He handed a second business card to Dara with Leticiaís number and his home number on it.

Dara reluctantly took it. "Thanks."

"You can call anytime," he said, with a grin on his face.

She could no longer contain her frustration with him and this evening. She rolled her eyes, "Whatever," she said under her breath.

Dara walked to the door, but Sonny beat her to it and opened the door. "Goodnight," he whispered softly for her ears only.

She felt his breath on her neck and it sent shivers throughout her body. She stepped up her pace without saying a word.

Sonny watched her and Stone get safely into her car and drive off. "Thatís one for me." He smiled; he finally got the best of her. He turned and walked back to his son.