It was official, she needed a bigger house, Dara thought as she moved toys, crayons, baby paraphernalia and books out of the way in order to sit down on her own sofa. A few months ago, her house was clean and pristine. You could’ve eaten off the floor, but now while Stone was awake you’d be lucky to find the floor. How her life had changed.

She watched as Stone and Michael laughed and sang along with Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, and Nia waved her arms. Dara wasn’t sure if the arms were in beat to the music or to Nia’s own personal tune. She thought it was probably the latter. Yet with all this going on, she had never felt more at peace then she did now.

Feeling tears welling up in her eyes, she exited the living room unnoticed and went to her bedroom. This was all a dream, an illusion. Those weren’t her kids in the living room. And sooner or later, Brenda was going to walk through her front door and reclaim her son. And where would that leave her? Alone. In an empty house. The tears streamed down her face as she wrapped her arms around herself. She couldn’t imagine living in the quiet environment that she had once taken so much pleasure in. Maybe she needed to call her acquaintance at DCF and sign up for the foster/adoption classes. Maybe this time with Stone had been to prepare her and show her that she was ready to have a child.

But before she got ahead of herself, she needed to find a way to prepare for the loss of Stone. When he first stormed into her life everything happened so quickly, she didn’t know if she was coming or going. Falling in love with him never crossed her mind. Now she couldn’t imagine her life without him. And she felt Michael and Nia creeping their way into her heart. She couldn’t allow that. Those three children had families of their own and she wasn’t apart of them. She needed to protect herself, her heart, her soul. She had to distance herself because if she didn’t she wasn’t sure she could survive when they were ripped out of her life. She- -

“Hey,” Sonny greeted, ending her stream of thought.

Startled Dara jumped and spun around.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said apologetically.

Quickly turning her back to Sonny, she said, “That’s okay. Where’s Leticia? I thought she was picking up the kids.”

“I gave her the rest of the day off. What’s wrong?”


Taking her arm, he turned her around to face him. He gently wiped the tears from her cheeks. “So what are these?”


He frowned. “If you don’t tell me what’s wrong, I’ll lock the door until you do. And sooner or later the boys are going to be banging on the door telling us they’re starving and if we don’t answer they’ll decide to feed themselves. And by then, Nia will be hungry and they’ll feed her too. And knowing Stone that means Nia will have chocolate syrup in her formula.”

Her face cracked and Dara smiled. “And Michael will cook some peanut butter and jelly concoction.”

“And I won’t even imagine what the kitchen will look like after they finish or what they will look like. So save us from cleaning up a big mess and tell me the truth.”

“It’s Stone.”

“Is something wrong with him?” Sonny asked, instantly concerned.

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I was just imagining what life will be like once he’s gone. He’s changed my life so- -“ She fought so hard not to cry, but as soon as Sonny took her into his arms the tears flowed freely. Dara cried for the loss of a family that was never hers to begin with and she reprimanded herself for ever forgetting that. As her tears subsided, she became aware of the comfort Sonny provided. The safety. She never felt as secure as she did in his arms. Not with Justus, Marcus, or even Jack. Here she found the comfort she always longed for in the arms of an unavailable and dangerous man, dangerous both to her life and heart. Reluctantly, she tore herself away from his strong, supportive arms.

“Have you heard from Stone’s mom recently?” he questioned, handing her a handkerchief.

“His mom calls on a regular basis,” she replied. Brenda called whenever she was able to secure a safe line.

“I hate to be cruel. But isn’t this a part of foster parenting? Don’t they prepare you for this?”

Averting her eyes from his, she responded. “Yes, but knowing it and living it are two different things.” She walked to her bay window and watched the sunset. “He’s brought these amazing changes to my life. He makes me see the world differently.”

Sonny wrapped his arms around her and rested his chin on her shoulder. “Before Michael, I knew I wanted children but living with him every day teaching him, watching him, learning from him. It’s indescribable. And now I can’t imagine not sneaking into his room in the middle of the night to pull up his covers, watching Nia sleep with her little bow mouth open. I dread the day when Michael and Nia won’t start my day with a kiss and a hug. But what’s the alternative- -“

In silence, they watched the sunset both lost in their own thoughts, wrapped in each other’s arms.

Dara leaned into Sonny garnering strength from him. She hoped he was gaining strength from her also.

“All we can do is live on day at a time and enjoy each precious moment with them.” Closing her eyes and just feeling, she thought she could easily get used to this. She- -

“Aunt Dara, Uncle Sonny, Dad,” Stone and Michael shouted from outside her room door, knocking loudly.

“Come in,” Sonny said, not letting her go. He kissed the top of her head as the school age boys walked in.

“We’re hungry,” they announced.

“How about pizza?” Sonny suggested.

“Yipee!!!” Stone said with glee.

“Son- -“

“Hey, it’s Thursday. There’s no school tomorrow, thanks to the teacher’s conference so let’s live on the edge. Go get your coats.”

The boys shot out the room like bullets in a gun.

“Relax, take a long, hot shower, we’ll be back in an hour.” Stepping away from her, he left the room.

“I’ll make a salad.”

“No salad. We’re living it up tonight. It’s pizza and soda.”

The boys cheered.

“You guys want to get some movies?”

“Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can,” Stone and Michael sang in unison as they left the apartment with Sonny and Nia.

Live on the edge, she repeated to herself as she walked to the kitchen. Searching her cabinets, she found the brownie mix. As Dara mixed the brownies, she thought she was living on the edge. She wasn’t even disturbed that Sonny left a guard outside her apartment. In fact, she found it endearing that he was worried about her safety even when the kids weren’t around. She wasn’t suppose to know and never would have if it wasn’t for Felicia.

One evening the guard was caught watching her by Felicia. And then Felicia was off like a dog with a bone, until a few days later Felicia informed her that Enrique was one of Sonny’s guards shadowing her. Not wanting to answer

Felicia’s endless questions, she hid her surprise and told her friend that the guard was for when Michael was over. She knew Felicia didn’t fully buy the story, but kindly dropped the subject. She remembered noting in her files, when she worked in the DA’s office that Sonny protected and guarded those he loved and cared for deeply. She didn’t care to look too deeply into what the guard meant in reference to her.

Pouring the brownie mix into the pan, she pondered how her life ended up like this. She gave up prosecuting criminals to give herself more freedom on the type of cases she took and to find her love of the law again. She knew she never should have taken Brenda and Jason’s case. But if she hadn’t she wouldn’t have Stone in her life. And he was definitely worth it. She placed the pan in the oven, set the timer, and closed the oven door. Who would have ever thought she and Sonny would be working together, watching each other’s kids, and facing broken hearts together? Not her, never in a million years.