Bodyguard Max Giambatti stepped out of the coffeehouse. “Mrs. C,” he declared fervently, “there is nothing inside that place that is a threat to you.”
Dara frowned at his odd choice of words. “So I can go inside now?” she asked patiently.
“Oh, yeah! Sorry!” Max hurried to hold the door open for Dara. “Just remember what I said. No threat!”
Max's choice of words became clear as soon as Dara stepped into the coffeehouse owned by her ex-husband of eight days. Michael was seated at a table on the far side of the room. His guest was a slender, handsomely dressed woman who sat with her left hand familiarly placed on Sonny's forearm. Sonny did not rise at Dara's entrance, but his conversation came to an immediate halt.
Dara squared her shoulders and crossed the room to Sonny's table. “Hello, Michael.”
Sonny's female companion swiveled around to take a look. With a practiced eye, she took in every detail of Dara's appearance – from the attorney's expertly coiffed hair to the elegant Jimmy Choos adorning her feet. “Interesting outfit,” the woman finally commented. “The lines almost look like something Donatella Versace would have done. Almost .” She stood, deliberately blocking Dara's view of Sonny. “I am Kate Howard. The designer.” She did not offer to shake hands with Dara. “Wherever did you get that dress? It's… not terrible,” Kate Thomas said grudgingly.
“From Donatella,” Dara replied shortly. She did not add that it was her close connection to Faith and the Cassadines that made such a statement possible. Dara stepped to one side. It was an obvious dismissal of the other woman. “Michael, may we talk for a moment?”
“Michael?” The designer was smarting – both from Dara's unexpected response and her casual dismissal. “I thought I,” Kate Howard lowered her voice suggestively, “was the only woman who always called you Michael.”
Sonny rose from his chair. “ She's the only one that counts.” He extended a hand to Dara. “Let's go in my office, Counselor. We can talk there.”
The couple made their way into Sonny's private office. As soon as they crossed the threshold Sonny stopped and searched Dara's eyes. “Before we go any further, should I read anything into the fact that you're wearing the outfit you wore when we got married?”
“Yes,” Dara replied. “I am wearing this for a reason.” She halted Sonny's advance with an outstretched hand. The darkening of his eyes sent a clear signal of his intentions. “No.” She met and held his gaze. “We have some things to settle between us… things I can't afford to be distracted from.”
Sonny reluctantly agreed. “Fine, Counselor. We'll talk. Just answer one question for me first. Are you wearing everything you wore when we got married?”
Dara's ears grew hot. Immediately she knew that Michael referred to the daring silk lingerie that her cousin Ellen had gifted Dara as a wedding gift. “Yes,” the beautiful lawyer raised her chin. “I'm wearing that, too.”